Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Other Items (today's national day of action call to stand up for Ehren Watada)

To my eyes, The New York Times has not been aggressive enough. It held the NSA spying story for more than a year, and it let Judith Miller cozy up to the Iraq War cheerleaders and placed some of their propaganda on the front page.
"Our biggest failures have generally been when we failed to dig deep enough or to report fully enough," Bill Keller, editor of the Times,
acknowledged in a letter to readers on June 25.
He also revealed just how solicitous the Times has become of the Administration’s views.
"Our decision to publish the story of the Administration’s penetration of the international banking system followed weeks of discussion between Administration officials and The Times, not only the reporter who wrote the story but senior editors, including me," Keller wrote. "We listened patiently and attentively. . . . We weighed most heavily the Administration's concern that describing this program would endanger it."
But the President doesn't deserve a seat at the editorial meetings of The New York Times--or any other newspaper. That is not his place. He is commander in chief, not editor in chief.
It is up to reporters, and editors, and publishers to decide what is news--not the branch of government they are supposed to be covering.
Once the President takes over that job, the fourth estate has lost its function.
So before Gonzales, Cheney, Bush, and King throw Bill Keller and Arthur Sulzberger Jr in the hoosegow, they might want to consult a copy the Constitution, if they can still find one lying around.

The above is from Matthew Rothschild's "Bush Goes After The New York Times" (This Just In, The Progressive). He's covering the administration's attempt to swift the focus from their own actions onto the press (which, for the record, didn't rifle through anyone's financial papers). After Dexy, we needed to open with reality. Wally's take on the above is "THIS JUST IN! A SMELL WAFTS IN AND BULLY BOY POINTS TO OTHERS! " and Elaine's is "When does the spying stop?"

Brenda notes Lizette Alvarez' "Military Fails Some Widows Over Benefits" in this morning's New York Times:

As Holly Wren coped with her 6-month-old son and the sorrow of losing her husband in Iraq last November, she assumed that the military's sense of structure and order would apply in death as it had in life.
Instead she encountered numerous hurdles in trying to collect survivor benefits. She received only half the amount owed her for housing because her husband, one of the highest ranking soldiers to die in Iraq, was listed as single, childless and living in Florida -- wrong on every count. Lt. Col. Thomas Wren was married, with five children, and living in Northern Virginia.
She waited months for her husband's retirement money and more than two weeks for his death benefit, meant to arrive within days. And then Mrs. Wren went to court to become her son's legal guardian because no one had told her husband that a minor cannot be a beneficiary. "You are a number, and your husband is a number" said Mrs. Wren, who ultimately asked her congressman for help. "They need to understand that we are more than that."
For military widows, many of them young, stay-at-home mothers, the shock of losing a husband is often followed by the confounding task of untangling a collection of benefits from assorted bureaucracies.
While the process runs smoothly for many widows, for others it is characterized by lost files, long delays, an avalanche of paperwork, misinformation and gaps in the patchwork of laws governing survivor benefits.
Sometimes it is simply the Pentagon's massive bureaucracy that poses the problem. In other cases, laws exclude widows whose husbands died too early in the war or were killed in training rather than in combat. The result is that scores of families -- it is impossible to know how many -- lose out on money and benefits that they expected to receive or believed they were owed, say widows, advocates and legislators.

Brad notes Gary Younge's "If Wanton Murder is Essential to the US Campaign in Iraq, It's Time to Leave" (Guardian of London via Common Dreams):

So it is with the slew of alleged atrocities committed by the US military in Iraq. Many have produced their own investigation, occasionally their own sanction, and inevitably their own version of shock and bore among the American public. Amazement that American soldiers could be involved in such despicable actions is soon followed by a lack of interest in the consequences.
Last week the US military charged eight marines with kidnapping and murdering a disabled Iraqi civilian in Hamdania on April 26. According to the charges, they dragged Hashim Ibrahim Awad, otherwise known as "Hashim the lame" because of the metal plate in his leg, from his home and bound his feet and hands. Locals say the marines then shot him four times in the face. According to prosecutors they put an AK47 and a shovel next to his body to make it look as though he had been digging a hole to plant a roadside bomb.
This is not to be confused with the alleged execution of 11 Iraqi civilians, including four children, near the city of Balad. Or the investigation into the murder of three Iraqis held in custody in Salahaddin province, north of Baghdad. Or the two soldiers charged in connection with the murder of an unarmed man near Ramadi who then placed an AK47 next to his body. Which, in turn, should not be mistaken for the atrocities at Haditha, where marines killed 24 civilians - including 10 women and children and an old man in a wheelchair.
Let us leave aside for the moment that these are just a few of the atrocities reported in Iraq, that there have almost certainly been atrocities that haven't come to light and that untold thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed by US forces in conditions considered insufficiently atrocious to be worthy of investigation.
To treat even these few incidents as isolated chapters is to miss the broader, enduring narrative. For these are not the unfathomable offshoots of this war but the entirely foreseeable corollaries of it. This is what occupation is; this is what occupation does. There is nothing specifically American about it. Any nation that occupies another by force will meet resistance. For that resistance to be effective, it must have deep roots in local communities where opposition to the occupation is widespread. Unable to distinguish between insurgent and civilian, occupiers will regard all civilians as potential insurgents and all territory as enemy territory. "Saying who's a civilian or a 'muj' [mujahideen] in Iraq, you really can't," one marine under investigation told the New York Times recently. "This town did not want us there at all." Under these circumstances, dead women, children and disabled people are the price you pay for being invaded.

Remember today is a day of action for those wanting to stand with war resister Ehren Watada. To sign a petition in support of Watada by clicking here. More information on today's national day of action can be found at ThankYouLt.org and Courage to Resist.

Cindy notes two highlights coming up on KPFA (times given are Pacific, you can listen online for free, no registration required):

Against the Grain
Tuesday, June 27th, 12:00p.m.
Elizabeth Kolbert: Can climate change be reversed?

Against the Grain
Wednesday, June 28th, 12:00p.m.
Victor Navasky, longtime editor and publisher of "The Nation" magazine discusses the media, politics, and more...

Remember to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today. The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.