Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ruth's Public Radio Report

Ruth: For this report, I am focusing on Iraq coverage that I caught last week, from Sunday through Tuesday. I will cover WBAI's Law and Disorder next time. I had hoped to address it this week by using their coverage of the Supreme Court decision that strikes down whistle blower protection. If you missed that decision, whistle blowers no longer have protection for making complaints internally. They can take an issue to the press and they will be protected; however, if they attempt to work it out within their branch or division by tipping up off someone, they have no protection. This has implications, and the hosts noted that, for the war including in the way contracts are awarded and how they are executed.

Cedric covered the Law and Disorder segment on prisons last week and Mike covered the segment on tasers. I was supposed to grab the first segment on whistle blowing and I may bring it up in this weekend's report. However, I will instead note three programs that covered the war. One was very disappointing, two were worth listening to if you missed the broadcast.

Sunday June 11th, on KPFT's The Monitor, Joe Galloway, recently retired as a reporter from Knight Ridder and now a columnist, discussed his e-mail exchange with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld over a retired general's comments on the illegal war in Iraq, "about five exchanges" in all. Secretary Rumsfeld felt that he could not be responsible for "every bird that fell out of the tree." From there it went into a discussion of military gadgets (submarines, "rubber zodiac boats").

Mr. Galloway feels that more money needs to be spent "building up our army and our marine corps." Money for equipment to build up the hardware or the human component of war. It was a discussion of war, it wasn't a discussion that I felt added a great deal to ending the war. It was over twenty minutes into the program, Sunday evening, and I had other things to do then listen to people haggle over war strategies.

At various times, I would walk back into the room and hear something, a sentence, that I'd think would lead to something. It never did. Haditha? "It happens in every war." That comment was reflective of the entire "view" offered. The host then wished him well on his upcoming book and guessed that he would find "even more fans in the military." I would guess so as well from the generals on down as Mr. Galloway himself noted.

If that seems harsh to anyone reading, my question for them would be, "Are only Americans in Iraq?"

How do you discuss Iraq without ever discussing Iraqis? Mr. Galloway had much to say about the U.S. military. I never heard a discussion, serious or superficial, about Iraqis. They are in Iraq. You read of a roadside bomb, a kidnapping or any other topic and Iraqis are present in the article. Some writers are not interested in giving them a voice or even representing them beyond "Iraqis," but they are mentioned so I know Iraq contains Iraqis. Somehow, Mr. Galloway appears to have missed that fact.

Last Monday, June 11th, on KPFA's Against the Grain, C.S. Soong spoke with Pacifica journalist Aaron Glantz, author of How America Lost Iraq, about Iraq for the hour. (Iraqi and Pacifica intern Salam Talib was also present for the first third of the interview.) Mr. Glantz spoke of a number of issues including Haditha. Haditha, where the deaths of twenty-four civilians had led to a U.S. military investigation, Mr. Glantz reminded listeners that, at the time of the deaths, Haditha was under seige by US forces. The hospitals had been taken over, the power-lines had been cut. He also reminded listeners that this was the case currently for Ramadi, even if the mainstream media refused to give it much coverage. He also addressed Vietnam and noted the current situation there, revealing how laughable a previous generation's War Hawks were with their own "We must stay the course" talk.

C.I. covered Mr. Glantz appearence here and Elaine covered his Tuesday appearance Tuesday's KPFA's The Morning Show. Speaking with Philip Maldari and Andrea Lewis, Mr. Glantz discussed how the country was having the talk on Iraq, repeatedly, without any leadership from D.C. His book promotion tour has led to interactions with people across the country and the people he's encountered are quite different than the ones living in Ruth Conniff's neighborhood whom, you may remember, give her the impression that the war's not a topic that people in this country are interested in discussing. Mr. Glantz gave many examples and highlighted the need for such a discussion to take place now, not later. Both interviews with Mr. Glantz are highly recommended.

Tuesday on KPFA's Flashpoints, Dahr Jamail was a guest discussing the media silences on Iraq. On Haditha, Mr. Jamail stated, "It's already being characterized and minimized as was done with Abu Ghraib." He noted Aurn Gupta, of NYC Indymedia, and Mr. Gupta's coverage of the U.S. backed "militias," death squads, killing civilians in Iraq. They are equipped, trained and funded by the U.S. government.

"Where is the corporate media coverage on this?" Mr. Jamail wondered.

Tuesday's program also provided excerpts from a War Crimes Tribunal held at U.C. Berkeley. Rebecca covered Monday's Flashpoints which included, as guests, candidate Michael Berg, whose son Nick was beheaded in Iraq, and journalist Patrick Cockburn. Last Wednesday, on KPFA's Guns and Butter Bonnie Faulkner interviewed Kevin Ryan and Kat covered that.

Again, I will be covering WBAI or Law and Disorder this weekend. My original plan was to cover yesterday and the Monday prior in this report; however, mid-day Monday, I spoke to a friend who had experienced some bad news and that weighed heavily on mind throughout the day.