Friday, June 23, 2006

NYT: Striving for tabloid (again)

First Lieutenant Ehren Watada became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse orders to deploy to the Iraq war at 2:30 Thursday morning. Hours before his refusal, Lieutenant Watada confirmed his steadfast opposition to the Iraq war: "I am opposed to this war and the misconduct within this administration. I am willing to sacrifice my freedom and my good name to end this war and save lives: both Iraqi and American."
Georgia Tagaras-Gordon is a public affairs assistant at Ft. Lewis in Washington state. She says: "First Lieutenant Watada remained within his battalion headquarters during manifest this morning. No charges have been brought against him and none will be brought until his commanding officers can review the facts of the case." She says roughly 4,000 soldiers are deploying with the 3-2 Stryker Brigade combat team. Lieutenant Watada is currently confined to base, and restricted to communicating only with his lawyer.
Eric Seitz is Lieutenant Watada's lead defense attorney. He says: "This morning Lieutenant Watada has been restricted to base without any actual charges or proper process. By placing a complete gag order on Lieutenant Watada, the military has again shown that their first concern is silencing Lieutenant Watada's speech in opposition to the illegal war in Iraq." Seitz says he will immediately challenge these restrictions.

[. . .]
Anti-war organizers have called for a solidarity action-set on Tuesday, June 27, in cities around the country. For information on these actions and the latest developments in Lieutenant Watada's case, see

The above, noted by Tom, is from Sarah Olson's "Lieutenant Watada Refused Iraq Deployment Orders Today" (Truthout). For more on that, in addition to Olson's article, you can visit KPFA's
archives and listen to Thursday's The KPFA Evening News. (You just can't flip through your New York Times because they've shown no interest in the story, to no one's suprise.)

Let's move over to the New York Times for a minute or two. "2 Soldiers May Have Died in Gunfight, Relative Says." We're not linking to it. I half-read the headline and thought, "Oh, they're finally writing about Patrick R. McCaffrey, Sr. and Andre D. Tyson (two who died in Iraq over two years ago and their families were told it was in combat but the reality, only revealed this week by the military, is that they were killed by Iraqis they were training). In that instance, you have a parent who very much wants to get to the bottom of what happened. But the story's about the two who were kidnapped Friday and were discovered dead this week and one of the families of the two (rightly) tells the New York Times to leave them alone. The other has a member the reporter uses to speculate. That's the sort of thing (to drop back to last night), that I don't see the point in. When you want to offer that one was beheaded but you don't know which one, then maybe it's not time for you to write the story just yet. Somone may think it's brave reporting but I don't. I don't see it as attempting to get to the truth (that would require knowing something and not just speculating). McCaffrey's family knows what happened now and they are attempting to make sure others know as well. The Times isn't interested in that (or truth -- on any level). They're interested in acting like a tabloid and chasing down this story because it's "hot." If they had covered the developments in McCaffrey and Tyson's deaths this week, they could argue that they were covering these other two deaths (the speculation as to how they died) because they were trying to get the truth out. But when they're just printing speculation without any proof at a time when the families are still grieving and one family doesn't want to speak to the press (the other appears, and this is not intended as an insult, to have designated an extended family member their spokesperson which would seem to suggest that they, as a group, want some privacy as well), they aren't interested in truth, they're just interested in sensationalism.

I'm not.

Best sentence in Sheryl Gay Stolberg's "Bush Sees Iraq Echo in '56 Hungary Revolt"? I think this one:

On a day when lawmakers in Washington were engaged in an intense debate over whether to withdraw troops from Iraq, Mr. Bush thanked the Hungarians for "playing a vital role" in Operation Iraqi Freedom, neglecting to mention that Hungary withdrew its own troops more than a year ago.

Bully Boy never seems more like Pat Nixon than when he's left the White House and is on an official visit.

That'll count as our (intended) laugh today from the paper and spare us having to go through John F. Burns' latest attempt to write up wire reports. (Green Zone Johnny may want to check one of the deaths he lists since other wire reports yesterday listed it as not happening on Tuesday and the Washington Post sticks with that in their reporting today.)

Martha notes Joshua Partlow's "Iraq Refines Its Amnesty Plan" (Washington Post):

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's new plan to promote reconciliation among Iraq's rival factions will offer amnesty to Iraqis who have "carried weapons" but not to those who have committed serious crimes, according to Iraqi politicians who have read the proposal.
The plan is the first formal initiative by Maliki's Shiite Muslim-led government to reach out to insurgents and create a political dialogue among factions. It has gone through several revisions, and the specifics are expected to be discussed in parliament Sunday.

Earlier proposals suggested offering pardons to Iraqis who have attacked U.S. troops but not to those who attacked Iraqis, an idea the U.S. Senate strongly denounced. The new plan does not make that distinction, Iraqi officials said.
"It says that the government will issue an amnesty for all those who have not committed crimes against the people of Iraq and the friends of Iraq," said Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh, an ethnic Kurd from President Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. "Those who attack U.S. forces are not immune from legal consequences. An attack on Iraqi forces or multinational forces are seen legally . . . as the same thing from the perspective of the government."

The Senate postured over that, as opposed to addressing withdrawal. It was dead in the water almost as soon as it was proposed (and we noted it then and noted it would get a great deal of attention then). But what might be the saddest thing about it is seeing some on the left rush in after the waste of time Senate vote in order to posture. Calling some (Republican) senators unAmerican and other nonsense. Is Iraq supposed to be (desired to be) a puppet government or an independent one? While scoring easy points and making crowd pleasing remarks, the idea of self-rule seemed to be disposable. How sad. Especially when the issue was dead in the water long before the Senate ever brought it up. [Note: That's not a tone argument. Call anyone whatever you want. But since America is supposed to be about democracy and democracy entails self-rule it seems a bit much to applaud another government passing a resolution about what another government should do as it attempts to seek peace.]

And I just read Rod's e-mail. Rachel always catches Democracy Now! on WBAI but she and Mia (and hopefully others) will be interested in today's show:

* Nadia McCaffrey on how the Pentagon lied to her about how her son, Army Spc. Patrick R. McCaffrey Sr., died in Iraq.
* Julia Wright on the case of Mumia Abu Jamal
* Nativo Lopez on the immigrants rights movement

Democracy Now!, as usual, covering what the New York Times can't or won't. (Referring to Nadia McCaffrey being a guest but it's true of all three.) Be sure to listen, watch or read (transcripts).

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