Friday, June 09, 2006

Democracy Now: Michael Berg, Arun Gupta (Robert Parry/Ruth Conniff on KFPA's Living Room)

31 Killed in Violence; Vehicle Traffic Banned in Baghdad
Meanwhile, at least 31 people were killed Thursday in three separate bombings across Iraq. In the day's worst violence, 13 people were killed in an attack at a Baghdad fruit market. The Iraqi government has imposed a daytime vehicle ban in Baghdad in anticipation of violent retaliation for Zarqawi's death.

US Shows Images of Zarqawi's Body
Shortly after announcing he had been killed in an air strike, the US military displayed images Thursday of the body of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- Iraq's most wanted man. The pictures showed Zarqawi with visible cuts and bruises to his face. The Iraqi and U.S. governments say Zarqawi was killed when U.S. fighter planes dropped a pair of 500 pound bombs on a safehouse outside of the town of Baquba. To many Zarqawi was the face of the Iraqi resistance. He was accused of carrying out countless bombings, murders and other acts of violence including the beheading of hostages in Iraq.

Senate, House Leaders Agree on $65B for Iraq, Afghanistan Wars
Meanwhile, lawmakers have finalized a budget agreement that will provide $65.8 billion dollars for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The budget agreement comes as a new poll shows a record 59 percent of Americans believe going to war against Iraq was a "mistake."

House Passes Controversial Telecom Bill
Meanwhile in the House, lawmakers passed the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act, known as the COPE bill. The controversial telecommunications legislation would permit phone and cable companies to operate Internet and other digital communications service as private networks, free of policy safeguards or governmental oversight. The bill would effectively end what is known as "net neutrality" which is the concept that that everyone, everywhere, should have free, universal and non-discriminatory access to the Internet. The bill would also cut back the obligation of cable TV companies to devote channels to public access and fund the facilities to run them. And the COPE bill would replace local cable franchises with national franchises.

Ohio Sec. of State Accused of Disenfranchising Voters
In Ohio, the state's top electoral official is being accused of trying to fix the upcoming November elections. Democrats and voter-registration groups charge Secretary of State Ken Blackwell has drafted draconian rules that could easily lead to penalties against people who register voters. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now -- known as ACORN -- says the rules are so vague the group has cut back its voter-registration efforts while lawyers review the new guidelines. Democrats say Blackwell is attempting to prevent black, low-income and Democratic voters from voting in his upcoming gubernatorial race against Democratic Congressmember Ted Strickland

The above five items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Tina, KeShawn, Brandon, ??? and Portland. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for June 9, 2006

- US Shows Images of Zarqawi's Body
- Bush, Iraqis Praise Zarqawi Killing
- 31 Killed in Violence; Vehicle Traffic Banned in Baghdad
- Israeli Strike Kills Senior Hamas Leader
- CIA Support for Somali Warlords Draws Internal Criticism
- Hawaiian Self-Governance Bill Fails in Senate
- Senate Rejects Estate Tax Repeal
- House Passes Controversial Telecom Bill
- Ohio Sec. of State Accused of Disenfranchising Voters
- Delay Bows Out With Defiant Speech

Zarqawi's Death "Another Step in the Endless Cycle of Violence" -- Father of Beheaded Iraq Hostage

We get reaction on the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi from Michael Berg, whose son, Nicholas Berg, was captured and killed in Iraq two years ago. It is believed he was beheaded al-Zarqawi.
AMY GOODMAN: Michael Berg, do you believe that Zarqawi beheaded your son personally?
MICHAEL BERG: I don't know, and I say that because I have been lied to so many times by the F.B.I., the State Department, and by George Bush -- we've all been lied to by George Bush -- that I neither believe nor disbelieve anything that I hear they said or that I hear them say. So I really can't -- I really don't know. I don't even know if Zarqawi was alive at that time or whether he's been dead for a long time, whether he ever existed.
AMY GOODMAN: Why are you -- why do you have these questions?
MICHAEL BERG: Again, because I've been lied to so many times. I don't believe anything the American government says. I don't believe anything the F.B.I. says. I don't believe anything the State Department says because I have been lied to by them. The F.B.I. came to my house on March 31 and said, "We have your son." On May the 11th, they denied they have my son. The State Department sent me an email. I still have the original email saying, "your son is being held in a military prison in Iraq." A couple days later, they said -- a couple of weeks later they said that that was wrong, that he wasn't held in a military prison. George Bush lied to us about weapons of mass destruction. He lied to us about the Al Qaeda presence in Iraq before he destabilized the country, and he lied to us about Iraqi involvement in 9/11. How can I believe anything that any of these people say? The whole thing can be orchestrated. Maybe many people are Zarqawi, maybe not. I don't believe, nor do I disbelieve.

In Death, Zarqawi's Influence Remains A Matter of Debate

We continue our coverage of what Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death will mean for Iraq. Indypendent editor Arun Gupta, editor with the New York City Independent Media Center's newspaper, The Indypendent, joins us with his analysis.

Student Takes on McCain Over Iraq War Support at New School Graduation

We play what may have been the most controversial speech at a college campus this spring when 21-year-old student Jean Sara Rohe blasted Sen. John McCain (R - AZ) -- who delivered the keynote address at the ceremony -- over his support for the Iraq war.

House Passes Controversial COPE Telecom Bill, Rejects Amendment to Protect Net Neutrality

The House voted on legislation yesterday that could determine the future of the Internet and public access television in this country. We examine the implications of the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act -- known as the COPE bill -- with Anthony Riddle of the Alliance for Community Media. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think this is payoff to the telecoms for cooperating with the government and the N.S.A., and handing over the phone logs of tens of millions of Americans?
ANTHONY RIDDLE: I don't want to sound cynical, but I think that's absolutely what happened. I think, you know, the government goes and they say, you know, we've got this massive legislation that's really important to you, this is what you really want, you wrote it, we can pass it, this is what we need of you. You bring up a really good point, because what we're talking about is handing over the complete communication system to people who have no regard for your privacy, who will hand stuff over without warrant or anything. I think people really need to be up in arms about this.
AMY GOODMAN: When does the Senate vote?
ANTHONY RIDDLE: We keep hearing different things, it's hard to tell. I know they all want to get out before summer starts so that they can get back and campaign, because it's campaign season. But if the people check in really heavily on net neutrality, on public access --
AMY GOODMAN: Where do they find that information?
ANTHONY RIDDLE: They can go to the Alliance website, which is, they can go to, and they can also go to the Free Press site, which is Save the Internet. We implore all organizations -- we've even got the Christian Coalition and the N.R.A. involved in this, because everybody understands that if you have anything that's remotely not mainstream, that this can be blocked if these measures go through.

A Mother Under Occupation: Palestinian Journalist Laila El-Haddad on Life in the Occupied Territories

We speak with Palestinian journalist and mother, Laila El-Haddad about life in the Occupied Territories. El-Haddad writes for and maintains her own blog titled "Raising Youssef: A Diary of a Mother Under Occupation." She lives in Gaza and the U.S.

Iraq snapshot.

Guess what? Chaos and violence continue.

As Amy Goodman noted, Baghdad had a traffic curfew Friday. The AFP notes that traffic curfew applies "from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm local time" and that the curfew also applies to Baquba. China's People's Daily notes "[a] night curfew for traffic and people movement was also imposed in Diyala province from 8:00 p.m. (1600 GMT) to 6:00 a.m.(0200 GMT) for three days".

Yesterday, on KPFA's Flashpoints, Robert Knight noted the "bruised but remarkably presevrved corpse" of what is alleged to be al-Zarqawi. (Those without audio options can read Rebecca's summary.) Did someone panic as people started noticing? Who knows but today's spin is that al-Zarqawi lived through the bombing and died on the stretcher. That's the spin and it's all over. No one, apparently, can write of it without noting it. Here's what few are noting: Bully Boy was "smiling and joking with aides" before he put on his let-me-look-constipated-so-people-think-I'm-concerned face (Julian Borger, Guardian of London). KUNA reports it might not have been as fun today for Bully Boy's father -- Poppy Bush "arrived at the Yorkshire Events Centre, northern England" where he was greeted by peace activist Lindis Percy who "unfurled a United States flag and accused Bush Senior's son of doing terrible things in the world."

While Bully Boy got his chuckles on Thursday and Poppy got the "boo"s on Friday,
Muthana al-Badri was kidnapped. Reuters notes of Badri that he is, "in his 60s, has always worked for SCOP." (SCOP is "Iraq's State Company for Oil Projects".)
In other oil related news, the AFP reports that three oil engineers and two other people were killed "on the road between the refinery town of Baiji and the northern city of Tikrit," while in Kirkuk "gunmen attacked soldiers guarding a piepline" (one civilian dead, three soldiers wounded). This as the AFP reports: "World oil prices climbed as concerns resurfaced over tensions in crude-producing countries Iran and Iraq".

Australia's ABC reports the death of "34-year-old Australian" from a roadside bomb -- also dead were three people traveling with him all dead. The man has not been identified but, in a later ABC report, they identify him as a "security worker" and he hailed from Queenslander and Australia's prime minister John Howard states, "We do recommend that Australians stay away from Iraq for very obvious reason."

CBS and the AP note CBS journalist Elizabeth Palmer's report of a "firefight" in Ghalibiya that led to at least five civilian deaths and "five houses . . . demolished."

Meanwhile Reuters reports that the Iraqi police announced today the Thursday death of Zuhair Muhammad Kshmola who was "the brother of the governor of Mosul province." The Associated Press provides the update: "Gunmen opened fire on Friday's funeral procession for the brother of the governor of the northern city of Mosul."

Reuters notes that "two civilian trucks" headed "for the U.S. base in Ramadi" was attacked and the drivers kidnapped. And just as kidnappings are a regular event in Iraq now, so the discovery of corpses. The AFP reports that "five corpses, including one of a woman" were discovered in Baghdad.

So much for what, as Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show today, Iraq's brand-new interior minister (Jawad al-Bolani) termed, only yesterday, "a new beginning for Iraq."

Finally, CNN reports that the body of Hashim Ibrahim Awad's body is in the United States. Awad died in the April 26th incident that his family described to Knight Ridder's Nancy A. Youssef as: ""U.S. Marines took him from his home in the middle of the night and killed him. The Marines then used an AK-47 assault rifle and a shovel taken from another home to make him look like a terrorist." CNN reports that the body was exhumed, with the family's permission, "for forensic analysis."

Two highlights.

Stan notes Dahr Jamail and Jeff Pflueger's "Propaganda and Haditha" (Truthout):

Propaganda is when the Western corporate media tries to influence public opinion in favor of the Iraq War by consistently tampering with truth and distorting reality. It is to be expected. And it is to be recognized for what it is. On occasions when the media does its job responsibly and reports events like the November 19, 2005, Haditha Massacre, it must also be willing and able to anticipate and counter propaganda campaigns that will inevitably follow. It is to be expected that the responsible members of the media fraternity will stick to their guns and not join the propagandists.
This piece is a summary of five most commonly deployed crisis management propaganda tactics which the State and Media combine that we can expect to see in relation to the Haditha Massacre. Listed in a loose chronological order of their deployment, the tactics are: Delay, Distract, Discredit, Spotlight and Scapegoat. Each of the five public relations campaigns will here be discussed in the context of the Haditha Massacre.
Al-Jazeera channel, with over 40 million viewers in the Arab world, is the largest broadcaster of news in the Middle East. It has been bearing the brunt of an ongoing violent US propaganda campaign. Their station headquarters in both Afghanistan and Baghdad were destroyed by US forces during the US invasions of both countries. In Baghdad, the attack on their office by a US warplane killed their correspondent Tareq Ayoub. Additionally, al-Jazeera reporters throughout Iraq have been systematically detained and intimidated before the broadcaster was banned outright from the country. These are somewhat contradictory actions for an occupying force ostensibly attempting to promote democracy and freedom in Iraq.
On November 19, 2005, the day of the Haditha Massacre, al-Jazeera had long since been banned from operating in Iraq. The station forced to conduct its war reporting from a desk in Doha, Qatar, was doing so via telephone. Two Iraqis worked diligently to cover the US occupation of Iraq through a loose network of contacts within Iraq. Defying the US-imposed extreme challenges, al-Jazeera, by dint of its responsible reporting, had the entire Haditha scoop as soon as it occurred, which they shared with Western and other media outlets, while the latter were content to participate in delaying the story nearly four months by regurgitating unverified military releases.
Two days after the massacre, was the only free place on the Internet that carried al-Jazeera's report translated into English (it could be viewed at for a fee).
The anchorperson for al-Jazeera in Doha, Qatar, interviewed journalist Walid Khalid in Bahgdad. Khalid's report, translated by, was as follows:
Yesterday evening, an explosive charge went off under a US Marines vehicle in the al-Subhani area, destroying it completely. Half an hour later, the US reaction was violent. US aircraft bombarded four houses near the scene of the incident, causing the immediate death of five Iraqis. Afterward, the US troops stormed three adjacent houses where three families were living near the scene of the explosion. Medical sources and eyewitnesses close to these families affirmed that the US troops, along with the Iraqi Army, executed 21 persons; that is, three families, including nine children and boys, seven women, and three elderly people.
Contrast this to the reportage of the slaughter by the New York Times, the "newspaper of note" in the United States. Unquestioningly parroting the military press release, their story of November 21, 2005, read: "The Marine Corps said Sunday that 15 Iraqi civilians and a Marine were killed Saturday when a roadside bomb exploded in Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad. The bombing on Saturday in Haditha, on the Euphrates in the Sunni-dominated province of Anbar, was aimed at a convoy of American Marines and Iraqi Army soldiers, said Capt. Jeffrey S. Pool, a Marine spokesman. After the explosion, gunmen opened fire on the convoy. At least eight insurgents were killed in the firefight, the captain said."
The organization Iraq Body Count (IBC) immediately endorsed this, clearly demonstrating how its tally of Iraqi civilian deaths due to the war is way below the actual numbers. Exclusively referencing samples from the Western media that willingly embrace the official propaganda, IBC can hardly constitute an unbiased or truthful source of information.
In April 2006, their database of media sources cited an AP story and a Reuters story from November 20, 2005, along with a March 21, 2006, London Times article. This is how IBC distilled the stories; "Haditha - fighting between US Marines and insurgents-gunfire" and the number of civilians killed was recorded as 15. It is difficult to understand why IBC has once again opted to cite US fabrications mindlessly repeated by the Western media rather than take into account the readily available English translation of al-Jazeera's Haditha report.
On June 6, 2006, the Haditha Massacre is recorded by IBC as "family members in their houses and students in a passing car" and the declared number of victims is 24. One cannot help wonder how many uncorrected, unverified and unchallenged pieces of US military propaganda lurk in IBC's database. Haditha could be just the tip of the iceberg.
It wasn't until four months after the event that the Western corporate media started to straighten out the story. On March 19, 2006, it was Time Magazine that "broke" the Haditha story in a piece titled "Collateral Damage or Civilian Massacre in Haditha." The primary sources for this piece were a video shot by an Iraqi journalism student produced the day after the massacre and interviews conducted with witnesses. Another glaring evidence of how a few simple interviews with Iraqis and some readily available photographs and video can drastically correct the glaring errors in the Western media's representations of the occupation.
It is significant that this "exclusive" story came from the same publication that graced its cover with George W. Bush as the 2004 Person of the Year for "reframing reality to match his design." That brazen advertisement for the most unpopular re-elected US president in history more than establishes the fact that the magazine has an agenda that has less to do with responsible journalism than it does with influencing public opinion. That Time set its clocks back four months in regard to Haditha, when evidence was readily available the day after the event, only supports the charge that it willingly participates in US state propaganda. Journalists should aggressively expose the truth that Time, like its acclaimed 2004 person of the year, also reframes reality to match its design. If journalists do not look at Time's story with a skeptical eye as an exercise in PR before jumping on the Haditha bandwagon, they too risk shortchanging the public's trust with a meaningless opportunity to participate in a PR crisis anagement campaign.

Zach notes that Ruth Conniff (The Progressive) and Robert Parry (Consortium News) will be talking with Kris Welch on today's Living Room (noon Pacific, two p.m. Central, three EST). Living Room broadcasts on KPFA, you can listen online (no registration, no fee required).