Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Democracy Now: Nancy A. Youssef, Eric Boehler,

Army Lt. Refuses Iraq Deployment
Meanwhile, a US army officer has announced he's refusing his deployment to Iraq slated for later this month. The officer, First Lt. Ehren Watada, says he first asked for permission to resign his position in January. He says he wrote: "I am whole-heartedly opposed to the continued war in Iraq, the deception used to wage this war, and the lawlessness that has pervaded every aspect of our civilian leadership." Lt. Watada is believed to be the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq since the invasion. Simultaneous news conferences by his supporters are expected to be held today in his home state of Hawaii and in Olympia, Washington. Military officials told Watada he cannot attend the news conference because he is barred from speaking publicly about his case while on duty at the base.
Pentagon Resists Documenting Troop Concussions
USA Today is reporting the Pentagon is resisting efforts by military doctors to track the number of concussions suffered by combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The doctors say thousands of troops are risking permanent brain damage by returning to combat with undiagnosed concussions. An estimated 20% of troops in front-line infantry units have suffered from the concussions. According to USA Today, the Brain Injury Center wants the Pentagon to use a screening procedure to identify possibly dangerous concussions. But the Pentagon has declined. Angela Drake, a neuropsychologist with the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, said: "I think they're afraid. The sheer numbers are overwhelming. This is a worrisome thing. It's like opening a can of worms."
Vermont Peace Activists Disrupt Negroponte Speech
In Vermont, two peace activists were arrested on Monday for disrupting a commencement address given by National Intelligence Director John Negroponte at St Johnsbury Academy. Moments after Negroponte began his address, a protester stood up and yelled: "In the name of democracy I object to this man speaking. He has blood on his hands from his work in Central America and Iraq. He shouldn't be at the podium, he should be in jail. He is a war criminal." As the protester was being escorted away, Negroponte said "Now it's my turn." But before he could continue, another protester stood up and accused Negroponte of overseeing torture, killings and rape in Honduras, where he served as ambassador in the 1980s.
Louisiana Gov. Says She'll Sign Abortion Ban
In Louisiana, Democratic Governor Kathleen Blanco has announced she will sign a bill to ban nearly all abortions in the state -- even in cases of rape or incest. The bill, however, would go into effect only if the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion. Under the law, any person who performed or aided in an abortion could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Specter To Put Off Subpoenaing Telecom Execs
On Capitol Hill, Republican Senator Arlen Specter has announced he will not subpoena phone company executives to talk about their roles in the National Security Agency's domestic spy program. Specter is chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. On Tuesday, he said he agreed to put off the subpoenas after the White House offered to cooperate with his legislation that would seek a federal review of the surveillance program. Specter said he couldn’t make the executives talk because a company lawyer and Vice President Dick Cheney said they could not discuss classified information. Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy responded: "Why don't we just recess for the rest of the year? Vice President Cheney will just tell the nation what laws we'll have."
Documents Disclose CIA Knew of Eichmann’s Whereabouts
And newly released CIA documents have provided fresh details of the US government's lax and at times cooperative attitude towards Nazis after the Second World War. According to the New York Times, the CIA learned the pseudonym and whereabouts of the fugitive Holocaust administrator Adolf Eichmann in 1958 -- but took no action. Eichmann helped implement the policy of extermination that killed millions of people, mostly Jews. Two years after the CIA found out he was in Argentina, Eichmann was kidnapped by Israeli agents. He was tried and executed in Jerusalem in 1962. The documents also reveal the CIA successfully lobbied Life Magazine to delete a reference to a former Nazi government official who went on to serve in the West German government. The reference appeared in Eichmann’s memoirs, which Life magazine published in 1960. The CIA made the request on behalf of the Western German government, which did not want the official’s role to become publicly known.
The above six items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Tim, Brady, Rachel, Maria, Yazz and NolandaDemocracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
Headlines for June 7, 2006

- EU Diplomat: Iran Nuclear Talks Showing Progress
- 600 Iraqi Prisoners Released From Jail
- 3 UK Soldiers Acquitted in Drowning of Iraqi Teen
- Army Lt. Refuses Iraq Deployment
- Pentagon Resists Documenting Troop Concussions
- Specter To Put Off Subpoenaing Telecom Execs
- Vermont Peace Activists Disrupt Negroponte Speech
- NY Subpoenas Records of Landlord Company Pinnacle
- Documents Disclose CIA Knew of Eichmann’s Whereabouts
Family of Unarmed Iraqi Killed by U.S. Forces Says Marines Had Asked Him to be Informant

U.S. military investigators believe the killing of an unarmed Iraqi man in Hamandiya in April was planned by a group of Marines who shot him in the face and then planted a shovel and an AK-47 rifle at the scene. Friends of the victim told Knight Ridder that Marines had approached him several times asking him to be an U.S. informant. We go to Baghdad to speak with the bureau chief for Knight Ridder.
Time Magazine: Military Investigators Place Officer in Charge During Haditha Massacre in 2 of the Houses Where Killings Took Place

We speak with one the Time Magazine reporters who broke the story of an alleged massacre of 24 unarmed Iraqis by U.S. marines in Haditha last November. He reveals that military investigators have place the officer in charge of the unit that day -- Sgt. Frank Wuterich -- in at least two of the houses where the killings took place and that there may also be surveillance tape taken by a military drone that was operating in the area.
How the Press Rolled Over for Bush: Media Critic Eric Boehlert Takes on the Corporate Media

We speak with journalist Eric Boehlert about his new book, "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush." In it he argues that the mainstream media essentially gave up its role as defenders of the public interest and instead succumbed to pressure from the Bush White House and the conservative right.
AMY GOODMAN: You talk about the close personal relationship between reporters and the people they cover.
AMY GOODMAN: Name some names.
ERIC BOEHLERT: Well, I point out in the book, that's not new. I mean, you know, Ben Bradley, when he was the editor of the Washington Post was John F. Kennedy's neighbor and close confidant for years so that's been going on inside the beltway for a long time. But I think recently the titanic shift in terms of how the press has dealt with this White House compared to the last one I thought maybe it offered some clues as to sort of this shrieking timidity.
I looked at, for instance, Ted Koppel and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Good friends, you know. They don't really talk about it, but if you're in the beltway, you know from sort of these roast dinners that they're very good friends. They hang out together, which is interesting, but then I went back and looked after Colin Powell gave his famous U.N. presentation right before the war, a presentation that has been sort of even dismissed by him as sort of a fiasco and an embarrassment. A year after that he gave three sit-down, exclusive interviews with Ted Koppel. His presentation to the U.N. literally never came up. I mean, Ted Koppel asked him 60 questions over three exclusive interviews and they simply did not talk about what was Colin Powell's most embarrassing episode. Bob Schieffer was a good friend of President Bush. Bob Schieffer's brother was a former business partner with President Bush.
AMY GOODMAN: An ambassador?
ERIC BOEHLERT: Right, Got exclusive interviews when Bush was governor. Bob Schieffer talked about in his book, The History of Face the Nation, how proud he was of an interview Bush gave “Face the Nation" during the New Hampshire primaries, so it was almost sort of like a father-son relationship.
AMY GOODMAN: This is particularly interesting given that Dan Rather was forced out of his position as anchor and Schieffer replaced him.
Thomas Friedman on "Petropolitics", Iraq, Israel-Palestine and the "Excuse Makers"

Three-time Pulitzer prize winner Thomas Friedman turns from print to the screen with the television news special "Addicted To Oil: Thomas Friedman Reporting." The program focuses on the politics of the US reliance on oil. We talk to Friedman about "petropolitics", as well as his views on Iraq, Israel-Palestine, and the people he calls the "Excuse Makers."
AMY GOODMAN: Are you concerned today in this country about people who are fiercely critical of the war in Iraq, the occupation, being called unpatriotic, being called hate mongers, being put on government lists?
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Amy, if you read my column, one of the biggest critics of the war is the woman I live with, and I’ve probably mentioned -- I don't know how many times, in my column -- my wife's criticism of the war. I believe it's honorable. I believe it's a perfectly moral position. I would be disgusted by anyone calling them traitors.
Hold it there, Thomas Friedman!  Don't you try to hide behind Betinna Freidman.
Many e-mails have come in from members basically saying,  "If it wasn't Wednesday, Betty could write about this!"  With the help of Kat, Betty has written about it. It's called "Thomas Friedman, the Jayne Mansfield of the New York Times."  Cedric's "Law and Disorder on Ahmed Omar Abu Ali" noted that Betty's dealing with her promotion at work and was planning avoiding tackling Thomas Friedman for another week.  Betty says she's cobbled together the "scraps" of three things she was working on "so no one should expect much."  (Read it, it's funny.)
Iraq snapshot.
Chaos and violence continue.
Though most press reports lead with "nearly 600" reporting on the prison release program or note that 13 kidnapped victims have been found alive (out of the over fifty kindapped), it's not all the Operation Limited Happy Talk some reports might convince you of.
The AFP reports on one of the released prisoners, Raed Jamil, who says of the amount of people released, "It's nothing, because on an average they are arresting 1,000 people daily." The same AFP report also breaks from the pack regardding the kidnapping news.  The kidnappers released seventeen hostages.  The police found eight "wandering aimlessly together late at night on Canal street" and then began searching for others (a group of seven and a group of three were found).
CNN reports that "Iraq's Interior Ministry . . . launched an investigation into whether Iraqi police, or insurgents posing as police, were responsible for the kidnappings." CNN notes that Sunni politicians have accused "the government of involvement in the abduction" and noted that along with the 'commando uniforms' the kidnappers drove "at least 13 vehicles with Iraqi police markings." The Associated Press notes: "Suspicion has fallen on militias, which are believed to have infiltrated police forces and have killed hundreds in sectarian violence, personal vendettas and kidnappings for ransom."
That's reality.  Howard LaFranchi (Christian Science Monitor) explores possibilities regarding what is being seen as occupation puppet and Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki "tougher stance" towards the United States.  Former State Department analyst Henri Barkey tells LaFranchi, "The trick for the US is to boost this guy, because there may not be another one after him."
Meanwhile, KUNA reports that Tony Blair has "welcomed news of the innocence of three UK servicemen suspected of killing an Iraqi young man."  Less welcoming may be the ongoing talks in the British House of Commons regarding the situation in Basra? Especially considering the dueling reports on a shooting in Basra today.  The Associated Press reports that British soldiers fired on civilians and did so because 100 people (presumably adults) were stoning them, Iraqi police say that the "people" were children and that a thirteen-year-old boy was killed and a twelve-year-old girl was wounded.
Certainly less welcoming news for Tony Blair (and the Bully Boy as well) is the confirmation by the "new Italian administration .. . [that] all Italian troops would withdraw from Iraq by the end of the year" (Guardian of London).
In the United States, Dan Whitcomb (Reuters) reports that the defense of marines accused of murdering 24 Iraqis will be "chaotic battle conditions . . . if they are charged with murder." Reuters' source states that the coverage has been limited with no one pointing out that the slaughter could have been "an accident or collateral damage."  Certainly 24 Iraqis can't point that out -- they're dead.
The BBC reports that, in Hawija, a "Sunni mosque preacher" was shot to death.  The AFP notes that he was first dragged from his home.  The Associated Press reports "three rockets landed on a house" killing a man inside and "wounding his two brothers." China's People's Daily notes the death of six police officers -- four were killed when they were attacked in Baghdad, two more died from a roadside bomb in Baghdad.  Reuters notes that two police officers were also wounded in that roadside bombing.  In Mosul, the AFP notes three college students were killed (gunfire) as they waited at a bus stop. Also in Mosul, Reuters reports that a police officer and two other people were killed in a drive by shooting. The AFP esitmates that "at least 20 people" died today from violence in Iraq.
Two other events that seem to mark life in Iraq also took place.  Kidnappings?  Reuters reports that "[f]our Iraqi oil employees" were kidnapped yesterday and the police acknowledged the kidnappings today. The other regular event?  The discovery of corpses.  CNN notes that five were found on Wednesday, the AFP identifies the gender of the corpses, three male, two female ("all of them were shot to death).
Meanwhile, Ferry Biedermann (Financial Times of London) interviews Ali Baban (Iraq's minister of planning) who feels that foreign donors "spend too much of their aid to Iraq outside the country and ordinary Iraqis do not feel they are behing helped by the international community."  And the Associated Press reports that the US army's 2nd Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division is being readied for deployment to Iraq "leaving unclear when and if a sizable reduction in U.S. troops levels will begin this year."
Finally,  CBS and the AP report that CBS reporter Kimberly Dozier is returning to the United States "where she will be admitted to Bethesda Naval Hospital near Washington."
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