Monday, June 26, 2006

Democracy Now: David Markus, Max Rameu, Nativo Lopez, Dave Zirin

350 Iraqi Civilians Killed at US Checkpoints in '05
Meanwhile, the US military has announced 350 innocent Iraqis were killed at US checkpoints last year -- an average of at least six killings per week. A senior intelligence official told Reuters that out of a total 4,000 incidents in which US troops responded to a perceived threat -- less than two percent were later found to have posed an actual threat.

Two National Guard Charged In Killing of Unarmed Iraqi
In other Iraq news, two National Guard members have been charged in connection with the February shooting of an unarmed Iraqi near the town of Ramadi. The guard members are currently being held in Baghdad where they will face pre-trial hearings.

Iraq Makes Amnesty Offer To Insurgents
And also in Iraq, the government has announced an offer to grant amnesty to insurgent groups. The amnesty would not apply to those who have killed Iraqis or US troops. The proposal is part of a national reconciliation plan drafted with close consultation with US political and military leaders. Despite prior speculation, the plan does not include a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

E-Mails Link Reed, Norquist To Abramoff Scheme
New details have emerged from the investigation into the activities of indicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. According to a Senate report released last week, a group headed by prominent right-wing activist Grover Norquist was one of several tax-exempt organizations that funneled money on Abramoff's behalf. The groups -- including Norquist's Americans for Tax for Reform (ATR) received a cut in return. The funneled money was used to support a series of lobbying efforts. At least $4 million s was delivered to campaigns waged by Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed. Reed is currently running for Georgia's Lieutenant Governor. In one e-mail, Abramoff told a colleague that Norquist would be willing to fight a tax proposal if the client would become "a major player" with Norquist's ATR. Abramoff wrote: "What is most important however is that this matter is kept discreet. We do not want the opponents to think that we are trying to buy the taxpayer movement."

Norquist Secured White House Meeting For Abramoff Client
Meanwhile, the e-mails also reveal Norquist was able to arrange a newly disclosed meeting between President Bush and Abramoff's tribal clients in 2002. Previous documents have already shown Bush met an Abramoff client the year before. In the newly disclosed e-mail, Norquist asks Abramoff if his clients could contribute $100,000 to fund a Washington trip of state legislators and tribal leaders who had passed resolutions backed by the White House. Norquist wrote: "When I have funding, I will ask Karl Rove for a date with the president. Karl has already said 'yes' in principle and knows you organized this last time and hope to this year." Norquist delivered on his promise. Abramoff's clients met President Bush for the second time; and the clients subsequently donated to Norquist's ATR.

Rep. King: Prosecute NYT Under Espionage Act
Meanwhile, the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee is calling for the prosecution of all New York Times staff members who were involved in exposing the financial spying. In an interview with Fox News Sunday, New York Republican Congressmember Peter King said the New York Times should be prosecuted for violating the Espionage Act.

The above six headlines are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Anne, ???, Lyle, Tori, Kyle and KeShawn. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for June 26, 2006

- GOPers: Bank Spy Reports Hurt National Security
- Rep. King: Prosecute NYT Under Espionage Act
- Critics: Financial Spying Echoes NSA Wiretapping
- 4 Russian Hostages Killed in Iraq
- Report: 50,000 Iraqi Civilians Dead Since Iraq Invasion
- 350 Iraqi Civilians Killed at US Checkpoints in '05
- Palestinian Incursion Kills 2 Israeli Soldiers, Kidnaps 1
- East Timor PM Resigns
- Media, Rights Groups Call For Inquiry Into Khan Slaying
- Norquist Secured White House Meeting For Abramoff Client

"Aspirational Rather than Operational" - 7 Arrested in Miami Terror Plot

Seven men were arrested in Miami last week on charges of conspiring to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and FBI buildings in five cities. It appears the entire case rests on conversations between the group's supposed ringleader and an FBI informant posed as representative of Al-Qaida. We go to Miami to speak with a defense attorney and a community advocate. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the phrase the government is using, that the plans were "aspirational," not operational?
DAVID MARKUS: Right. It's interesting, because I think even the government is trying to lower expectations in their case, because they know that nothing was actually done. I think the most that was done were these guys got some boots from the informants, some military boots. They have to be able to prove that they were able to carry this out, that they were going to do something. And based on the mere words, that's going to be difficult to do. We have to hear what was said on the tapes, how far these meetings got. But based on words and the government's talk as aspirational plans, they may have some tough hurdles to get over.
AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk about other cases? Have there been similar ones like this in Miami and Florida?
DAVID MARKUS: There have been. The most recent one, of course, was Professor Al-Arian, who in Tampa got an acquittal for -- what the defense was -- just talking. Now, that case is different in a lot of respects, but I think there are some similarities to be drawn in the way that the professor's defense was this was just talk, there was nothing more than talk. You're allowed to talk about this kind of stuff. And at the end of the day he was acquitted of most of the charges. I think that's going to be part of the defense here, in addition to the entrapment and that this was just fantasy on the part of the seven. There have been some other defenses floated around, like that these guys might have just been bad conmen trying to get $50,000 and some guns from somebody who came around. Who knows whether the defense is going to be entrapment or that they were conned or that this was just talk? But there are potential defenses being talked about that have been successful in the past.
AMY GOODMAN: David Markus is a defense attorney. Max Rameau is with Miami CopWatch, which is a project of the Center for Pan-African Development. Max, you are from Liberty City, where the people who have been arrested are from. Can you talk about what you understand has happened, how this has affected the community, the community that these men come from?
MAX RAMEAU: Well, Liberty City, I live at. It's about 20 -- I live -- my home is about 20 blocks from where the raid occurred. I have a lot of friends who are right in that area. The community obviously is very shocked, because of the show of force which was there and shocked because of the incredible and overwhelming news coverage of this. However, as things now are starting to calm down, as the dust is settling, we're taking a closer look at it, and I think a lot of concerns are being raised about the disparate treatment that these men are receiving as compared to what members of other communities receive who might be accused of doing the same thing or might have been planning the same thing or even further along in the plans. So we have a long history of local law enforcement and the FBI, as well, attacking and targeting the Black community and groups in that community, and we're concerned that this is another example of that.

Nativo Lopez on Immigration Legislation and the Future of the Immigrant Rights Movement

House Republican leaders announced last week they would take the unusual step and hold public hearings across the country on the Senate immigration bill that was passed last month. We speak with immigrant rights activist, Nativo Lopez.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you glad that the bill, overall, has been tabled now?
NATIVO LOPEZ: Absolutely. Our position has been: no bill this year is better than a bad bill.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you have confidence in the Democrats? You just said that your two senators have voted for the Senate version that also militarizes the border and supports the wall. If there were a Democratic Congress, let's say, in the next elections -- I mean, under Democrats, for example, under Gore and Clinton, you had NAFTA passed. They were behind the Telecommunications Act that passed that led to more media consolidation. Do you have any faith in either party?
NATIVO LOPEZ: Well, I want to remind you of something, Amy. Prior to the Easter recess, we spoke, and I had mentioned that we had tremendous fears the Democrats would try and cut a deal behind the backs of the immigrant movement that had risen up throughout the United States, and certainly that happened. We were happy, for example, when Senator Harry Reid did not allow the Hagel-Martinez immigration version -- legislation version to come out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but then he was beat up politically by the National Catholic Conference of Bishops, the Cardinal, the Mayor of Los Angeles, the national leadership of SEIU, the National Council of La Raza, the National Immigration Forum.
I’m naming names, because these are people that went to Harry Reid and basically beat him up politically and demanded that he allow the Hagel-Martinez bill to see the light of day, and they were confident that some type of a compromise could occur, that a better version could come out of the Senate facing the Sensenbrenner House version. And, in fact, what we have today is a worst version of the original Hagel-Martinez in the Senate Judiciary Committee. It was a major, major strategic mistake committed by these individuals.
AMY GOODMAN: And the key points of Hagel-Martinez?
NATIVO LOPEZ: Well, before that, the point is that prior to the Easter recess, we won. We had defeated the Sensenbrenner bill. We changed the discourse nationally in the debate about immigration reform. The Hagel-Martinez bill essentially mirrors the Sensenbrenner version, slightly less onerous. For example, instead of a felony offense, it would be a misdemeanor offense against an individual but nevertheless still criminalize an employer and the immigrant worker. Now, the effect of that is that an immigrant individual who has that misdemeanor defense against him or her would never be able to legalize his status in the United States forever.

The World Cup: War, Peace and Racism in the Biggest Sporting Event on the Planet

Four weeks. Thirty-two countries. Sixty-four matches. One billion viewers. The FIFA World Cup underway in Germany right now is the most-watched sporting event on the planet. We take a look at the global significance of the World Cup with sports writer Dave Zirin.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the significance of these games?
DAVID ZIRIN: Incredibly significant. And it's been particularly significant here in the United States, because normally to be a soccer fan in the United States is to be in the witness protection program of sports. I mean, you are watching these games in the dark of night, under cover, communicating over email lists about your favorite players. But this is really the time for soccer to take center stage.
And even though one may not see it take center stage on ESPN, anybody who goes to any of the neighborhood bars in your local city know that this has the pulse of the neighborhood. I mean, in Washington, D.C., where I’m from, you go down to U Street where they have the Eritrean or Ethiopian bars, I mean, they are just buzzing. You go to the Irish pubs on Connecticut Avenue, you can hear the cheers in the streets. And especially in Adams Morgan, where there’s a wonderful place called the Ghana Café, I mean, when Ghana beat the United States, you would have thought you were in Accra, because people were pouring out into the streets, singing songs, waving flags. And that's the aspect of the World Cup that I think people find so appealing.
AMY GOODMAN: What about the significance of that, Ghana beating the United States?
DAVID ZIRIN: Oh, it's tremendously significant, I mean, first and foremost, because the United States was very favored going into this tournament. They made the quarterfinals four years ago. And Ghana, as you mentioned, this was their first ever World Cup. And very few people predicted that Ghana would make it to this point. And what's so exciting about the Ghanaian team is that they seem to be fulfilling the prophesy of the great Pele, who predicted almost 30 years ago that by the year 2000, an African team would win the World Cup. That hasn't happened yet, but to see Ghana playing with such flare and beauty and excitement really has people excited about the future of soccer in Africa.

Iraq snapshot.

Chaos and violence continue. Bombings continue, kidnappings continue and a corpse was discovered.

In what might get the most attention today, reporting from Baghdad, Nancy A. Youssef (Knight Ritter) breaks the news that the United States now admits to keeping some figures on Iraqis who have died during the illegal war. Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli tells Youssef that "the number of civilian dead and wounded" via US troops "is an important measurement." Chiarelli reveals that "he reviews the figures daily." The US government has denied that any figures were being kept.


In Baghdad, Reuters reports that a roadside bomb killed one and wounded at least five and that another bomb resulted in two police officers dead and at least four wounded.
Also in Baghdad, the Associated Press reports that the convoy of Adnan al-Dulaimi ("Iraq's most senior Sunni Arab politician") was attacked and at least one of his bodyguards was killed.

Elsewhere, KUNA reports that two "civilians" were killed in Baquba. Reuters notes that, in Mosul, a police officer was killed Monday with six wounded in an attack while another died was wounded, along with a civilian, as a result of a roadside bomb. And in Hilla, Reuters reports that a bomb has taken the lives of at least 30.

The Associated Press estimates today that "nearly 40 people have been killed in the last 24 hours" in Iraq. This as Hiba Moussa and Michael Georgy (Reuters) report that an estimated that at least 130,000 Iraqis have been displaced due to violence across the country.


Ibon Villelabeitia and Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) report "10 young men, all students from Sunni towns near Baghdad, from a building in the capital" were kidnapped by unidentified "gunmen." In other kidnapping news, CBS and the AP report that "Russian news agency Interfax" is reporting "that the Foreign Ministry has confirmed the death of the Russian hostages in Iraq." In a separate report, the AP notes that "Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed doubt Monday over the authenticity of the video" allegedly showing three of the four Russian diplomats (kidnapped June 3rd in Baghdad) being killed. The four are: Fyodor Zaytsev, Rinat Aglyulin, Anatoly Smirnov and Oleg Fedosseyev


Reuters reports that the corpse of a police officer ("bullet wounds . . . head and chest") was found near Falluja.

Today on KPFA's The Morning Show, Brian Edwards-Tiekert noted that Sunni leaders are stating that the resistance in Iraq will continue until foreign troops are withdrawn. Edwards-Tiekert also noted that Tariq al-Hashimi has noted Nouri al-Maliki's proposed plan (or "plan") falls for short of the needed goals. Ibon Villelabeitia and Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) explore some of the Shi'ite criticism and some of the Sunnie criticism of the plan/"plan".

Tomorrow is Tuesday, June 27th and that means? Alex Fryer (Seattle Times) reports: "Atlanta peace activists plan a vigil for him at the Georgia state Capitol. In Charlotte, N.C., an anti-war group will show a film and hold a lecture at the public library. In Cleveland, Ohio, there will be a rally at the federal building. And in New York, protesters will converge at an Army recruiting station, an event billed to 'support Lt. Ehren Watada and other resisters of the war in Iraq.'" This as the Seattle Times editorializes that Watada shouldn't serve time but the military should instead "consider a dishonorable discharge." To sign a petition in support of Watada by clicking here.
More information on tomorrow's national day of action can be found at and Courage to Resist.

And finally, next week, July 4th (Tuesday) CODEPINK will be demonstrating against the war in the form or a hunger strike:

TROOPS HOME FAST! On July 4, we will launch an historic hunger strike called TROOPS HOME FAST in Washington, DC in front of the White House. While many Americans will be expressing their patriotism via barbeques and fireworks, we'll be fasting in memory of the dead and wounded, and calling for the troops to come home from Iraq. Read an interview with Diane Wilson to learn more. We're inviting people around the world to show their support for this open-ended fast by fasting for at least one day. Please sign here to join us in DC or to support us in your hometown and encourage your friends to do the same.


Laura Flanders, of RadioNation with Laura Flanders and much more, fills in,
from Monday, June 26th to Friday, June 30th, for Mike Malloy on his The Mike Malloy Show. which airs live on Air America Radio from ten p.m. to one a.m. EST.

Announced guests:

Monday --Bob Fitrakis on Monday, Mimi Kennedy (PDA, and of course wonderful actress)
Tues -- Fred Clarkson
Wednesday -- Alexander Cockburn (CounterPunch)
Thursday -- Dave Zirin
New Orleans will be the topic for Friday (a male guest whose name I'm not familiar with, sorry)

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