Thursday, June 29, 2006

Democracy Now: Norman Finkelstein, Dixon Osburne, Ben Wizner, Lawrence Norden

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that . . . [Bully Boy] overstepped his authority in ordering military war crimes trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees, saying in a strong rebuke that the trials were illegal under U.S. and international law.
[. . .]
The court declared 5-3 that the trials for 10 foreign terror suspects violate U.S. military law and the Geneva conventions.
The ruling raises major questions about the legal status of the approximately 450 men still being held at the U.S. military prison in Cuba and exactly how, when and where the administration might pursue the charges against them.
The above, from Gina Holland's "Supreme Court blocks Bush, Gitmo war trials" (Associated Press) and it will count as one of two headline for today. The other, selected by Erika is from today's Democracy Now! Headlines:

10 Members of Granny Peace Brigade Released in Philly
In Philadelphia, 10 members of the Granny Peace Brigade were arrested Wednesday after refusing to leave a military recruiting center.

Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for June 29, 2006

- Israel Arrests 64 Palestinian Lawmakers
- Supreme Court Upholds GOP Redistricting of Texas
- Ex-Guantanamo Detainees Speak Out
- Bush: Dems Are Waving "White Flag of Surrender"
- Marine Featured in Fahrenheit 9/11 Killed in Iraq
- 200,000 Gather at Lopez Obrador Rally In Mexico City
- Senate Committee Rejects Net Neutrality
- Committee OKs Creating As Many as 2000 New LPFM Stations 200,000 Ordered to Evacuate in Pennsylvania
- Former Public Housing Residents In New Orleans File Suit
- Berkeley Ballot Will Include Referendum on Impeachment

Los Titulares de Hoy: Democracy Now!'s daily news summary translated into Spanish

Israel Arrests Dozens of Hamas Lawmakers and Ministers as Assault on Gaza Widens

Israel has arrested dozens of lawmakers and ministers from the ruling Palestinian party Hamas as it continues its military assault to recover a captured soldier. Nearly half of the Gaza Strip remains without power following Israeli air strikes that knocked out a main power station. We go to Gaza to get a report from Chris McGreal of the London Guardian. [includes rush transcript]

AIPAC v. Norman Finkelstein: A Debate on Israel's Assault on Gaza

We host a debate on the situation in Gaza with Norman Finkelstein, a professor of political science at DePaul University in Chicago and author of "Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History" and Josh Block, the Director of Media Affairs for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). [includes rush transcript - partial]

Pentagon Spying on Gay, Antiwar Groups More Widespread than Previously Acknowledged

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network released documents earlier this week showing that the Pentagon conducted surveillance on a more extensive level than first reported late last year. We speak with the executive director of SLDN and a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who recently filed a federal lawsuit to force the agency to turn over additional records.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And the responses to your request, have they been saying that they have no material that meets your request or that they're precluded, in one way or another, from releasing it?
BEN WIZNER: No, we have not yet gotten the substantive request from the military saying that they don't have responsive material. Essentially they ignore us until a federal judge requires them to respond to us. But if we were in a functioning democracy, we wouldn't need FOIA requests to get to the bottom of what's going on here. The minute that report was leaked to NBC News, the minute NBC News reported that grannies and Quakers and people protesting “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” at law schools were in a Pentagon secret database, there would have been hearings the next week, and Don Rumsfeld and Stephen Cambone would have been dragged up to Capitol Hill, and there would have been a full airing of what was going on. And that really is what's needed here. I mean, we will find out more information through this FOIA, but Congress's silence here is really remarkable.
AMY GOODMAN: When you say if we were really functioning in a democracy, what exactly do you mean?
BEN WIZNER: What I mean is that we have not had any meaningful congressional oversight of any of these surveillance activities over the last five or six years. You know, I do know, Amy, I’ve been here on the program talking about what we've uncovered through our FOIAs against the F.B.I., F.B.I. surveillance of peaceful protesters. What's going on with the N.S.A. really is a constitutional crisis, and Congress has yet to play a meaningful role. The reason why the FOIA, the Freedom of Information Act, has taken on such great importance over the last four or five years is that there is no meaningful oversight whatsoever going on on Capitol Hill. And so, our only choice is to get this information, bring it before the public and hope that there's some pressure on the administration to change its policies.

Study: All Electronic Voting Machines Vulnerable to Software Attacks

A major new report on electronic voting by the Brennan Center for Justice has concluded that the three most common types of electronic voting machines are all vulnerable to software attacks. We speak with the chair of the Brennan Center Task Force on Voting System Security.
AMY GOODMAN: Your major findings are shocking. Go through them.
LAWRENCE NORDEN: Well, first of all, we did find that there are serious vulnerabilities in electronic voting machines. What we also found, importantly, was that there are relatively simple and straightforward ways to make those systems substantially more secure, to remedy the vulnerabilities that we found that we were most concerned about, but that unfortunately right now very few jurisdictions have those remedies in place.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Now, explain the vulnerabilities and also the different voting systems, different companies that produce them, in terms of what you found with each of them, if at possible.
LAWRENCE NORDEN: Sure. Something that was different about, I think, this report, as opposed to previous reports on electronic voting machines that have come out, is that we weren't looking at specific anecdotes or focusing on one particular vendor. What we were doing is looking at all of the major electronic voting systems. This is a new architecture. Something like 50% of Americans are voting on new machines over the past few years, and they require new security measures.
So one of the systems that many people will be using across the country are what are called optical scan machines. These are machines where you fill in a ballot, as you might fill in in an SAT exam, and you then scan that ballot electronically. It's read electronically, and the vote total is electronically recorded in the machine. And the other machine that many people are familiar with are the touch screens, the DREs. And these are like ATM machines or computer screens that a voter presses directly onto the machine to record her vote. Again, stored electronically. In some cases these have paper trails, where voters can check to see that their vote was recorded correctly. In other cases there are no paper records.
What we found is that in all cases, for all of these systems, there are enough points of vulnerability, there is enough access, that somebody could insert a software-type program and reach enough machines, so that they could potentially change the votes on the machines, shut down the machines, do other things like this. Now, again, I want to emphasize that there are things that can be done to prevent this to make this much more difficult.

Iraq snapshot.

Chaos and violence continue.

Stooges, fools and cheerleaders allow it to continue. Meanwhile the so-called coalition continues to shrink.

Romania becomes the next to tell the Bully Boy, "Catch you on the flip-side." Retuers reports Calin Tariceanu (prime minister of Romania) announced today that Romania would pull all troops by the end of the year -- before Romania's 890 troops can be pulled the Supreme Defence Council has to give its approval. Romania's president has slammed the proposal as had American ambassador to Romania and Advance Auto Parts merchant Nicholas F. Taubman. Bully Boy pioneer Taubman expressed his "impression that not all of the relevant parties, whether within Romania or beyond, were consulted before this proposal was announced." "Within Romania or beyond"? Spoken like a big donor, not like an ambassador, but Advance Auto Parts isn't known for turning out diplomats.

This as Rocky Mountain News reports that the Colorado Army National Guard's 169th unit will ship 100 soldiers to Iraq in July (with 300 of the "2/135th Aviation Company" currently training in Texas with orders to deploy in Septemeber).

Despite yesterday's 'coverage' of the "insurgent-poll" nothing really changed. It was another day of violence and chaos in Iraq.

Australia's ABC reports that Australian troops were "under attack" in southern Iraq. The Associated Press reports that "Iraqi and U.S. troops battled Shi'ite militiamen in a village northeast of Baghdad" -- still ongoing when the AP filed their report. Reuters notes, on this incident, that a police commander was shot dead by a sniper and two others were wounded.

Those were among many of the deaths in Iraq. As Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show, there were multiple victims of violence today: trash collector, head of security for Baghdad University (Kadhim Challoub), merchants, baker, electrical worker and a woman who'd been waiting in her car with her two children (the children were wounded, not killed) among them. Reuters notes, in Kerbala, the death (by gunshot) of "a criminal intelligence policeman" as well as the death of two Iraqi soldiers (as well as one civilian, with one soldier and two other civilians wounded) in Faulluja, and one Iraqi soldier dead with seven more wounded from a roadside bomb in Riyadh. In Kirkuk, a car bomb exploded at a Shi'ite soldier's funeral initially claiming the lives of at least four. Reuters would later put the number of those dead at seven.

As Mark Mericle noted on yesterday's KPFA The KPFA Evening News, "People gathered in 34 cities around the country yesterday to show their support for Lt. Ehren Watada" introducing a news report by Julie Sabatier from Portland.

Two other items noted on yesterday's KPFA Evening News, the 'apologetic' Joshua Belile, who once apologized (or 'apologized') for his song while advising others to "let it go," has now announced that he will be releasing "a professionally recorded version of the song in a few weeks" and in Berkeley, the city council has put a "symbolic" referendum on the ballot calling on Congress to impeach the Bully Boy due to his lies that led us into an illegal war. (June 27th was also declared Cindy Sheehan day.)

Reuters notes that seven corpses were found (male) in the Tigris River ("gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture"), while two more corpses (male) were discovered in the Euphrates River ("gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture"). Reuters notes that: "Morgue officials say 30-50 bodies are found in Baghdad alone every day." In Kirkuk, the AP reports the corpse of a fifteen-year-old female was discovered -- "kidnapped five days ago." The AFP puts the count of corpses discovered throughout Iraq today at 18.

File it under "No one could have guessed," Condi No-One-Could-Have-Guessed Rice had a "testy exchange" with Russia's Sergei Lavrov (Russia's Foreign Minister) in a "closed-door meeting" from which the audio feed was accidentally left on. "What does that mean?" Rice asks at one point, to which Lavrov responds, "I think you understand." In what might have been her most honest reply, she declared, "No, I don't." On that, we believe you, Condi, we believe you. The issue was how to word a statement on the security situation in Iraq and the anger spilled over publicly after the meeting, in front of reporters when Rice responded to Lavrov's comments about changes in America that he'd seen since he first visited in 1979, "So when did you go and where did you go in the United States in 1979 that you saw so much change? I am really interested." Though Rice may have forgotten, her current title is Secretary of State.

What gets play and what doesn't? One might think that Nancy A. Youssef breaking the news Monday that the US government, despite claims otherwise, was indeed keeping body counts of Iraqis. You might think that would be news . . . but you'd be wrong. What gets runs with?

Not truth. July 4th's a-coming, can't have families getting together in the United States without some false hope or Bully Boy might get a trashing that wouldn't bode well for the November elections. So nonsense gets tossed out by the puppet government and the media amplifies it.

Yes, we're speaking of the nonsense that "insurgents" are on the two-year-withdrawal bus. Since the domestic, US media has never explored the terms "insurgent" or "resistance," who knows what they mean? The AFP notes: "At the same time, a foreign diplomat raised questions about the identity of armed groups reportedly in contact with the government and whether they carry any real weight in the nationwide insurgency." Al Jazeera notes that eleven groups have met with occupation puppet Nouri al-Maliki and that eight of them are the ones being referred to. Do they carry any weight? A good question to ask. (Instead, it's easier to report/"report": "Insurgents meeting with Maliki!") Al Jazeera, which may be the only news organization that's going by more than government sources (it's spoken to representatives for the groups) reports that "the 11 groups operate north and north-east of Baghdad in increasingly violent Salahuddin and Diyala provinces."

Increasingly violent. This isn't Anbar, this isn't even Baghdad. These, if Al Jazeera's reporting is correct, are groups from, for Iraq, relatively restful provinces that are growing "increasingly violent." It's a nice bit of happy talk to send us all into the holiday weekend. It's not, however, reality. Having never explored the issue (other than to guess fighting is fueled by Iran -- wait, no! it's Egypt), they now want to get behind eight groups or eleven groups and the news consumer is left uninformed. (Possibly that's the point of it all.)

Reality was Nancy A. Youssef's report. Have we seen that covered in the New York Times? Have we seen it covered elsewhere? Maybe the silence is due to the fact that the administration being caught in yet another lie seems more "redundant" than "newsworthy"?

Ethan notes this from Danny Schechter's News Dissector site:

Panel on Threats to the press and democracy; Friday night, June 30th, 7:30 PM, SUNY Ulster, Stone Ridge, from Congressperson Maurice Hinchey, Amy Goodman, Danny Schechter and Jeff Cohen, Alan Chartock, emcee,
Sunday, July 2nd, 5:00 PM, Rosendale (NY) Theatre -- sneak preview of my new film In Debt We Trust. (For more on film, See
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