Thursday, June 01, 2006

And the war drags on . . . (Indymedia Roundup)

Fear and exhaustion is evident in our TV newsrooms along with a continuing failure to recognize what is going on. The lack of insight is stunning; the quality of most of the news, pathetic.
Even CBS's brave Kimberly Dozier ---may she fully recover--was not only embedded in practice with the US military when she was wounded, and her crew killed, but she seemed embedded mentally seeking our a "feel good" story to cheer the homefront that the Bush Administration wants so badly to stay the course of his "long war."
In an email sent to CBS, and only discovered after she went from being an embed to being in a bed--at a military hospital in Germany no less--she described the story she was going to be doing before another IED did its awful damage.
Reported the LA Times:
"When producers of the 'CBS Evening News' arrived in the newsroom Monday morning, there was an e-mail waiting from correspondent Kimberly Dozier.
"In a note written Sunday night, she detailed a Memorial Day story she planned to do about a U.S. soldier wounded in Iraq who insisted on going back to the battlefield, a piece about 'fighting on in memory of those who have fallen.' "
What a tragic loss---TV journalists dying not in search of deeper truths but to send back another picture-rich but patriotically-correct story along the same good news lines as one filed for 60 Minutes by CBS's now chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan. She glamorized the tactics of a brainy American colonel heroically stopping terrorists in the town of Tel Afar.
A Washington Post journalist, filing a report from the same town, debunked CBS’s storyline. He found no terrorists killed in what was a sectarian and internal political fight.

The above, noted by Janis and Brenda, is from Danny Schechter's "Media Crimes Santize War Crimes in Iraq" ( (also available at Common Dreams by clicking here).

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.

-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Thursday, the official American military fatality toll in Iraq was 2463. Tonight? 2472. What else has changed besides the body count? Well the puppet government still can't appoint a full cabinet. (Sorry, puppet government in Iraq -- it's confusing, I know. Bully Boy is our, the United States' puppet.) We're also learning more and more about the slaughter in Haditha. And there's news, Jonah highlighted it, from the New York Times which would normally not get a mention in these entries but it's important. From David S. Cloud's "Military to Charge 8 in Iraqi Civilian's Death:"

Military prosecutors are preparing murder, kidnapping and conspiracy charges against seven marines and a Navy corpsman in connection with the shooting death of an Iraqi civilian in April, a defense lawyer said Thursday.
The eight men, who are in the Third Battalion of the Fifth Marine Regiment, have been in confinement at Camp Pendleton since last month, when they were ordered home from Iraq, the Marines have said.
Jeremiah Sullivan III, a defense lawyer representing one of the men, said Thursday evening that military prosecutors had prepared charges that could be made public shortly. The names of the eight men have not been made public.

And that's not the end of it. Dahr Jamail's noted, repeatedly, that most of it is unreported. But now we have two shocking revelations. Will there be a third this week? Yes, there will. Polly notes "New 'Iraq massacre' tape emerges" (BBC):

The BBC has uncovered new video evidence that US forces may have been responsible for the deliberate killing of 11 innocent Iraqi civilians.
The video appears to challenge the US military's account of events that took place in the town of Ishaqi in March.
The US said at the time four people died during a military operation, but Iraqi police claimed that US troops had deliberately shot the 11 people.
A spokesman for US forces in Iraq told the BBC an inquiry was under way.
The new evidence comes in the wake of the alleged massacre in Haditha, where US marines are suspected of killing up to 24 Iraqi civilians in November 2005 and covering up the deaths.

That's three and, you know what, that's not even noting Falluja, either in April of 2004 or November of 2004.

Dahr Jamail hasn't spun. He hasn't taken part in Operation Happy Talk. I have an entry planned for tomorrow (fingers crossed) and we'll be noting this (which we've noted already this week, yes, but Nick asked if we could note it tonight and we can always note Dahr Jamail), from his "Countless My Lai Massacres in Iraq" (Truthout via Iraq Dispatches):

The media feeding frenzy around what has been referred to as "Iraq's My Lai" has become frenetic. Focus on US Marines slaughtering at least 20 civilians in Haditha last November is reminiscent of the media spasm around the "scandal" of Abu Ghraib during April and May 2004.
Yet just like Abu Ghraib, while the media spotlight shines squarely on the Haditha massacre, countless atrocities continue daily, conveniently out of the awareness of the general public. Torture did not stop simply because the media finally decided, albeit in horribly belated fashion, to cover the story, and the daily slaughter of Iraqi civilians by US forces and US-backed Iraqi "security" forces has not stopped either.
Earlier this month, I received a news release from Iraq, which read, "On Saturday, May 13th, 2006, at 10:00 p.m., US Forces accompanied by the Iraqi National Guard attacked the houses of Iraqi people in the Al-Latifya district south of Baghdad by an intensive helicopter shelling. This led the families to flee to the Al-Mazar and water canals to protect themselves from the fierce shelling. Then seven helicopters landed to pursue the families who fled … and killed them. The number of victims amounted to more than 25 martyrs. US forces detained another six persons including two women named Israa Ahmed Hasan and Widad Ahmed Hasan, and a child named Huda Hitham Mohammed Hasan, whose father was killed during the shelling."
The report from the Iraqi NGO called The Monitoring Net of Human Rights in Iraq (MHRI) continued, "The forces didn't stop at this limit. They held an attack on May 15th, 2006, supported also by the Iraqi National Guards. They also attacked the families' houses, and arrested a number of them while others fled. US snipers then used the homes to target more Iraqis. The reason for this crime was due to the downing of a helicopter in an area close to where the forces held their attack."
The US military preferred to report the incident as an offensive where they killed 41 "insurgents," a line effectively parroted by much of the media.

The media parroting official lines, without questions, without attempting to get eye witness reports from those not belonging to the military, why they'd never! (Click here from this morning for the most recent example.) That keeps the illegal war going. Imagine if the press had reported, months and months ago, that they couldn't leave the Green Zone without military escorts? Or that the rest of the country wasn't Baghdad? Or that even within in Baghdad they had to confine themselves to the Green Zone?

What if, instead of telling you that some school was painted, they told you the unemployment rate in Iraq? (Over 60% in 2005.) Or they talked, more recently, about the UNICEF report on the widespread malnutrition among Iraqi children? Or they addressed the Iraqi water problem with something more than a yearly report? Or the situation with hospitals? Or, what if, Dexter Filkins had told the truth about Falluja when completing his "award winning" piece in November of 2004 -- appeared many, many days after the incident he was reporting on. Who had to clear that report? Who'll be the first to ask Filkins that? (Not Terry Gross, we know that.)

It wasn't just that the corporate media silenced dissent, shut it out of the discussion, before the war. It was that they continued the policy. They ran (with few exceptions, but there were a few exceptions) military press releases and padded it out (sometimes) with a wire report and called it "reporting." More recently, you saw a music reviewer in the New York Times do something very interesting. (Kat documented some aspects of it in "Kat's Korner: Dixie Chicks Taking The Long Way home while NYT gets lost along the way" -- this is a different aspect.) Which was to say that the Dixie Chicks needed to, basically, learn some humility. Couldn't they be good sports about war?

Well Dexter Filkins and John Burns certainly could. They're such good sports that they walk around wondering how to please American tax payers -- because 'reporting' requires that, as opposed to what actual reporting requires, conveying the news. They're such good sports, those Go-Go Boys Gone Wild in the Green Zone.

So the Dixie Chicks basically needed to get over it, lectured the music critic. How dare they, she wondered, base an album on what they went through! Well, considering that they became some of the most hated people in the country, it's worth them exploring it. It's an experience worth exploring. But they're supposed to be good sports and just get over it. The trash that is Reba McEntire has nothing to answer for. She can support the war and crow about that all she wants and it's never a problem. But let the Chicks have their say and it's a problem?

Now, the reviewer would argue that McEntire doesn't crow about it these days. Of course not, she's trash, not stupid. With the nation turned against the war, she's not going to cheerleader to hard even for her penpal's son in the oval office.

With the Chicks in real time, it was how dare they discuss the Bully Boy in London. As though war with Iraq was a national matter and not a global one. Nonsense that free speech didn't apply to Americans when they were off American soil abounded. Then, when things got a little hot and even Karen Hughes worried, she asked the Bully Boy to throw them a bone. Which he did in an interview with Tom Brokaw. The "bone" was petty, mean spirited and said in a nasty manner but, hey, what else do we expect from the Bully Boy?

So last week, we saw that nothing had really changed. The ones to attack were the ones who warned against a rush to war, not the ones who cheerleaded it. And Reba McEntire was presented as someone who just told a joke. If the Times doesn't see something seriously wrong with that, they're more screwed than most of us think.

International or national, the press still acts like they did before the war, they've dropped it down a notch or two, but it's the same bad-person-who-spoke-out-against-the-war-even-if-you've-been-proved-right.

It's a screwed concept of morality. Does the rest of the nation share it? That's a question worth asking as we note Lawanda's highlight, the conclusion of Tom Hayden's "Looks Like Long War, Friends" (Common Dreams):

The moral question, which matters at least in civil society, is whether there is any point at which the destruction will become intolerable for those Americans who worry that the violence will only worsen if the US withdraws. As evidence of the destructiveness of the occupation continues to grow, as bad news accumulates, as a few Americans die everyday for what most Americans consider a mistake, the breaking point in American patience may come sooner than expected by the Bush Administration and fence-sitting Democrats. Already, whenever one tells an audience to be prepared for a "long war", the gasps and groans are palpable. Those are the birth pains of a growing populism, not seen in many years, at home.

As Anthony Arnove (IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal) remarked to C.S. Soong on KPFA's Against The Grain (Wednesday) of the details of the slaughter in Haidtha, "In fact they just underscore the fact that the longer the United States stays, the more harm it causes to the people of Iraq. The situation in Haditha is a symptom of an occupation. Just as the torture we saw exposed in the Abu Ghraib detention facilities is a sympton of a much deeper problem."

That's reality. Working out your grudge against the Dixie Chicks may be fun for some, but it's got nothing to do with the reality in Iraq.

The reality is that these horror stories are the occupation and they'll only become more common. (As if beheaded corpses and the death and destruction isn't horrorific enough.) Brady notes Ted Rall's "For Iraqis, American Atrocities Are Old News" ( via Common Dreams):

As usual, the U.S. government tried to cover up the mass murder--it initially claimed that the victims were blown up by an insurgent IED. But, as Time reported in March, the "civilians who died in Haditha on Nov. 19 were killed not by a roadside bomb but by the Marines themselves, who went on a rampage in the village after the attack, killing 15 unarmed Iraqis in their homes, including seven women and three children." As at My Lai, the bloodlust was not easily sated. "The raids took five hours and left at least 23 people dead."
Jane and Joe Sixpack are shocked. Congressional Democrats are calling for an investigation and, for once, will probably get one. Political analysts worry that the Haditha massacre could hurt U.S. propaganda efforts even more than the infamous photos of torture at its Abu Ghraib concentration camp.
So far reaction to Haditha has been the reverse of what you might expect. Republicans and other pro-war types are running around like it's the end of the world. Meanwhile the streets of Arab capitals, recently ablaze over the Danish Mohammed cartoon controversy, are quiet.
The reason is simple: For Iraqis, American atrocities are old news, dating back to the invasion in March 2003 and a full decade earlier. (U.S. planes dropped so many bombs on Iraqi schools, hospitals and power plants during the 1990s that they ran out of targets.) So are the boulevards of New York, San Francisco and other cities where hundreds of thousands of American lefties once marched against the invasion of Iraq.
"As the war in Iraq rages on," CBS News' Dotty Lynch asks, "Where are the young people this time around? Where are the campuses? Where are the new Tom Haydens and Sam Browns and where are the Noam Chomskys, William Sloane Coffins and Daniel Berrigans?" Well, Chomsky's still around. Over a million young Americans, many of them college students, protested Iraq. They certainly had allies in the media. (Hi.)

So do the emerging details change anything? Rachel notes Joe Conason's "Three Years Later, No End in Sight" (New York Observer):

After three years, tens of thousands of lost and ruined lives, hundreds of billions of squandered dollars and incalculable damage to the respect for America around the world, it is strange to look back on the earliest days of the war in Iraq. On this unhappy anniversary, it is worth recalling the triumphal mood of that moment, and how the neoconservative ideologues celebrated the successful culmination of their campaign for war.
Holding the authors of the war accountable for their mendacity and stupidity is imperative--in hope that their advice will be ignored in the dangerous days to come.
Back then, popping open champagne corks while the carnage unfolded, the neoconservatives gleefully announced that anyone who had questioned this great expedition would be held accountable. Page after page of their punditry from the spring of 2003 was devoted to gloating, along with lengthy blacklists of the bad people who had expressed doubt about the wisdom of going to war. Honors would flow to the wise and courageous proponents of war, while the foolish and pusillanimous opponents would suffer eternal disgrace. And so on.
Nobody ranted more loudly in "victory" than the editors of The Weekly Standard, the small but very influential and belligerent magazine sponsored by the right-wing media mogul Rupert Murdoch. The Standard gang could scarcely contain the urge "to run through the streets, laughing hysterically at all the people who were so blinded by hatred of President Bush--or general anti-Americanism, or their own sheer foolishness--that they continued to prophesy doom even after the war had begun and was already being won." Their magazine applied that insulting description indiscriminately to everyone who had opposed the war, from patriotic elders like the retired Gen. Brent Scowcroft to the Congressional Black Caucus, the United Nations, the denizens of "Hollywood" (which magically expanded to include Manhattan and Connecticut), a few prominent journalists, many film stars and numerous members of the liberal clergy.

Have they apologized? (Has McEntire?) Get real. And Don says "Get voting!" He notes that he is supporting Hong Tran for US Senator in the Democratic primary (against incumbent Maria Cantwell) and steers us to Josh Feit's "Crashing the Party: Challenging the Democratic Party and Its U.S. Senator" (Seattle Stranger):

"No signs?" Tran asked. "What about all the Cantwell signs?" The volunteers didn't have a response. Rather than making a fuss, however, Tran turned her attention to working the crowd, hyping her antiwar position at Cantwell's expense. (Cantwell voted for the war in 2002, and has alienated the Democratic base by failing to denounce the war.)
Tran reserved her anger over the Whittier slight for Washington State Democratic Party Chair Dwight Pelz, to whom she sent an e-mail the following Tuesday, May 23:
"As you well know, the state party established the Coordinated Campaign to allow Democratic Party candidates to pool resources to get out their message. The event at Whittier Elementary School was an event sponsored by the Coordinated Campaign. The event would have been more accurately advertised as the Cantwell Campaign Event... I contacted you long before the event so the party had ample notice to include me. However, as is becoming evident, the Democratic State Party does not believe in fairness as it relates to other Democratic candidates."
The Coordinated Campaign says the Whittier event--which featured Senator Russ Feingold--was indeed a Cantwell event. "Senator Feingold came out here to help Senator Cantwell," Coordinated Campaign spokesman Kelly Steele says flatly.

Will the war hawks wake up? If they don't will they continue to cheerlead a war? It's strange that they're so eager to send others. As they roll over on the illegal spying, roll over on the Patriot Act, roll over on everything, do they kid themselves that they're still protecting the Constitution or the citizens? What does it take?

All the weary mothers of the earth will finally rest
We will take their babies in our arms and do our best
When the sun is low upon the field
To love and music they will yield
And the weary mothers of the earth shall rest
[. . .]
And when the soldiers burn their uniforms in every land
The foxholes at the borders will be left unmanned
General, when you come for the review
The troops will have forgotten you
And the men and women of the earth shall rest

-- "All the Weary Mothers of the Earth (People's Union #1)," words and music by Joan Baez, available on the album Blessed Are. . .

And Russ asked if we could note "an activism item even though it's not about the war because it fits with this week's song pick." Absolutely. Joan Baez's life is about activism and music (and much more) and we can always note her but considering the song that was this week's pick, I'd argue the items do fit. This is from LA Indymedia:

Joan Baez, Julia Butterfly & John Quigley Begin Tree Sit at South Central Farm
LOS ANGELES, May 23, 2006 -- Faced with possible eviction this week and the destruction of their farm, the farmers and their supporters are converging on the farm to defend it by any means necessary. Famous tree sitters Julia Butterfly & John Quigley are currently sitting in the oldest tree on the farm, a large walnut tree. They have been joined by the world famous folk singer, Joan Baez. Farmers are camped out at the farm around the clock to defend it.
The farmers have exhausted all legal challenges to the eviction in the courts and a contract option deal with the trust for public land to buy the property as expired. The mayor's office which had promised 10 million in funds has failed to keep that promise. The judge at court hearing this Wednesday is expected to release the order for evictions. If so the farmers could face eviction as early as midnight Wednesday (12:01 AM, Thursday) From the Newswire:
Joan Baez, Julia Butterfly & John Quigley Begin Tree Sit at South Central Farm Living in Trees at South Central Farm by Jennifer Morris
Press Conference to Save the South Central Farm South Central farmers resist eviction by Christina Aanestad VIDEO: Joan Baez Sings At South Central Farm Julia Butterfly Hill - Tree Sit
More Reports
THE SOUTH CENTRAL FARMERS STAND UP TO EVICTION. JOAN BAEZ TREE SITS. Breaking News: Press Conference About the Eviction of the Farmers Cop Watch Report on the South Central Farm Commentary: Two weeks ago they came for Atenco Now they come for the South Central Farm by Autonomous People's Collective

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