Friday, June 23, 2006

Other Items (Nadia McCaffrey discusses the Pentagon lying about her son on Democracy Now! today)

Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.
[. . .]
The program, however, is a significant departure from typical practice in how the government acquires Americans' financial records. Treasury officials did not seek individual court-approved warrants or subpoenas to examine specific transactions, instead relying on broad administrative subpoenas for millions of records from the cooperative, known as Swift.
That access to large amounts of confidential data was highly unusual, several officials said, and stirred concerns inside the administration about legal and privacy issues.
"The capability here is awesome or, depending on where you're sitting, troubling," said one former senior counterterrorism official who considers the program valuable. While tight controls are in place, the official added, "the potential for abuse is enormous."

The above is from Eric Licthblau and James Risen's "Bank Data Sifted in Secret by U.S. to Block Terror" in this morning's New York Times. If the article seems a little toothless (it is, note who they go to and who they don't go to), it's already leading to grandstanding from the administration. Martha notes Barton Gellman, Paul Blustein and Dafna Linzer's "Bank Records Secretly Tapped" (Washington Post):

The White House complained last night that the disclosure could hurt anti-terrorism activities.
"We are disappointed that once again the New York Times has chosen to expose a classified program that is working to protect Americans," spokeswoman Dana Perino said. "We know that al-Qaeda watches for any clue as to how we are fighting the war on terrorism and then they adapt, which increases the challenge to our intelligence and law enforcement officials."

Billie notes Norman Solomon's "This Is Your Life, Dan Rather" (Truthdig):

Sometimes, after the passions of war have cooled a bit, you've sounded briefly self-reproachful about journalistic excesses of zeal for the U.S. war effort. That was the case eight months after Sept. 11 when you told BBC Television on May 16, 2002, that fear of being labeled unpatriotic had caused American journalists to engage in "a form of self-censorship." And, to your credit, you added that "I do not except myself from this criticism."
But less than a year later, in April 2003, you went on CNN's "Larry King Live" and proclaimed: "Look, I'm an American. I never tried to kid anybody that I'm some internationalist or something. And when my country is at war, I want my country to win, whatever the definition of 'win' may be. Now, I can't and don't argue that that is coverage without a prejudice. About that I am prejudiced."
Well, Mr. Rather, I realize that no career can be summed up with just a few examples. Occasionally you were willing to go out on a limb to function as an independent-minded journalist and confront top U.S. government officials. More often, you were extreme in your fawning treatment of the powerful.
But most of all, you succumbed to the pattern that you aptly described back in a 1989 interview, pointing out that you--like so many other journalists--kept going back to "a shockingly small ... circle of experts [who] ... get called upon time after time after time."
While you’re leaving broadcast news, that kind of over-reliance on official sources and conventional wisdom seems to be more entrenched than ever.

Dan Rather, the creepiest of the creepies, the nuttiest of the nuttys. If you missed it, we didn't note it here because I was trying to find out where it was coming from, Rather (who has led some on the left to blather) has been said in some reports to have not seen the Mary Mapes produced segment until it was aired. Where is that twist in the storyline coming from? From Dan Rather. It was obvious from the reporting (AP had a lengthy article that mentioned it as an aside) but I wanted to hear it from someone at CBS so I called a friend to get him to track it down. Rather has put out that he didn't see the report until it aired. He's once again trying to save his own ass but behind the scenes so he can still maintain that he stood with Mapes. He's a sicko, he's always been a sicko. He's making crowd pleasing remarks now and the only reason for that is because, when he started it, he thought it would force CBS to keep him on. Now you've got blathering online like "We're with you, Dan" and "Welcome to the new media, glad to have you" and other nonsense. Dan Rather is in it for Dan Rather and always has been. He's in it to make Dan Rather "liked." Not admired for his news coverage, liked. That's always been his most serious journalistic crime. And since likeable changes from one minute to the next, he's had a public image that's veered to every extreme. He has not, however, had a career offering anything to be proud of. (Ava and I noted our feelings of Rather, briefly, in "Katie Was a Cheerleader.")

Danny Schechter gets a joke in (with a point) in "Dan Rather, RIP, Assassinated by the Media Company He Loved" (Common Dreams) but I'm wondering if anyone got it? The reason I wonder is because there are three e-mails on the article and all wondering about this sentence:
"Next to go was Murrow's partner/producer Fred Friendly who became News President only to resign when the network refused to pre-empt an 'I Love Lucy' entertainment show and cover a crucial Senate Hearing on the Vietnam War." The question is bascially did the Senate hold hearings in the fifties? No, but just as ABC aired That Girl repeats as part of their daytime schedule in the sixties, CBS aired I Love Lucy as part of their daytime schedule -- the difference is CBS waited until the show had ended production of new episodes. These were repeats of the fifties sitcom classic. (If that's cleared up any confusion, go back and read the article to enjoy Danny's joke.)

Remember to listen, watch or read (transcripts) Democracy Now! today:

* 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

Also remember that Giuliana Sgrena will be in New York City Friday June 23rd for an event with Amy Goodman at Columbia University. (Event starts at 7:30 p.m.) That's tonight.

And check out Cedric's "WBAI's Law and Disorder covered Mumia Abu-Jamal and David Gilbert" for Heidi Boghosian's update on Mumia Abu-Jamal's case from Monday's WBAI's Law and Disorder. (I'm tagging all of the things Cedric's noting on that broadcast because Technorati doesn't read his tags -- ever. If you've come here for Dalia Hashad or Michael Ratner or Michael Smith or something else from Technorati, provided they read these tags, and don't see it, go to Cedric's post.)