Saturday, June 24, 2006

Ruth's Public Radio Report

Ruth: Imagine that you have information about Haliburton overcharging on their Iraq contracts awarded to them by the government. Imagine your name is Bunny Greenhouse. What do you do? You might think the first thing to do was to tell your surperior in the chain of the command or to carry your complaint to a governmental agency that oversees the issue. That is no longer the case.

On Monday, June 12th's broadcast of WBAI's Law and Disorder, Dalia Hashad, Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian and Michael Smith spoke to the Chairman of National Whistleblower Center , Stephen Kohn about the recent Supreme Court verdict in Garcetti v. Ceballos. The decision changed the playing field. Bunny Greenhouse can still go the press but, "under this Supreme Court case," Mr. Kohn noted her internal objections could result in her firing.

"Get rid of the whistle blower before they have the frustration or the audacity to go to the press," Mr. Kohn said explaining the practical implications.

Ms. Hashad noted that the verdict was a "strange decision" that said "you're not protected if you go to your manager and say there's something wrong here, I think we ought to fix it."

The reason for this is because the decision allows them to eliminate a potential whistle blower early on. It was also addressed that the pattern with whistle blowing is that someone does not immediately go to the press (ninety-percent of the time, Mr. Kohn explained, they first attempt to handle the matter internally). Traditionally, what happens is that they attempt to deal with the problem internally, repeatedly. When that does not result in the issue being addressed, they go to the press. So the verdict will allow a form of whistle blower screening for government managers. In addition, by denying the right of internal objection, it could also lead to a person being less likely to speak out since there is no protection for airing your issues internally.
Ms. Boghosian raised the issue of retaliation "when an employee goes directly to the press" and Mr. Kohn explained that retaliation was common place and why a national whistle blowers law is needed.

Mr. Ratner pointed out that the press is not that brave in and of itself so though one may hope that the ruling will lead to more people going to the press does not necessarily translate as more whistle blowers getting their stories out. One needs only think of the New York Times failure to explore the case of Sibel Edmonds to see how accurate Mr. Ratner's point is.

Monday, June 19th, on WBAI's Law and Disorder, they addressed another potential clampdown on dissent by focusing on the variety of ways in which the Bully Boy is illegally spying on Americans. Shane Kadidal, the Center for Constitutional Rights lead attorney on the NSA spying cases, was the guest. Mr. Kadidal has a blog at The Huffington Post for those interested in more on the developments and other Constitutional issues.

"The government is trying to pre-empt all the litgation" with the claim of "state secrets," Mr. Kadidal explained adding that all the government has to do is assert the claim, not prove it or leave it to the judgement of the ruling judge which translates as the administration "telling the courts which cases they can and cannot hear."

The issue of hope was raised by Mr. Ratner with Ms. Hashad offering her thoughts on the ridiculous explanation that "voting" will address this issue of spying. Mr. Kadidal offered his views on some of the proposals in the Senate.

Michael Smith boiled it down beautifully by stating, "This is more of a question of real state policy and I think [. . .], this is one aspect of government from the top down rather than the bottom up."

How does that tie into the war? If whistle blowers have little safety, there is little chance of the government correcting things internally and if objects must be silenced internally, there is little chance of a Daniel Ellsberg growing disgusted with the lack of response and deciding to go public.
A Daniel Ellsberg who does go public will, no doubt, need a attorney. If lawyers and their clients cannot speak freely, that is a problem. If everyone has to fear that their conversations are being monitored, a clampdown can set in.

Other segments of last Monday's broadcast were covered in Mike "Law and Disorder on tasers" and Cedric's "WBAI's Law and Disorder covered Mumia Abu-Jamal and David Gilbert." If it is not clear, I am again focusing on the issue of the illegal war. I am not sure if this will be my new format or not. Rebecca's post where she wrote of her grandmother making the point that, unlike in WWII, the press coverage (mainstream) of Iraq was sporadic, has led to the current emphasis for my reports. I remember so much more coverage, and serious coverage, during the Vietnam era. I also happen to believe that we should all listen more to grandparents. I am sure that the fact that I am a grandmother myself has no influence on that belief. Seriously, you can get strong coverage of Iraq currently. You can get it from any number of angles and perspectives. You are not able to get it from the mainstream/corporate media, however. So this is a report of a week's worth of coverage on the illegal war. I am one woman with only two hands and two ears so I am quite sure that I missed a great deal. Here are programs that I caught which explored Iraq from some perspective and that I recommend listening to. If you missed the broadcast, all are archived. Remember as well that there is no fee for listening online, there is no registration process. Pacifica is public radio, it is your radio. If you are able to contribute to it, I think you should; however, you should never feel that if you are unable to make a donation then it is not your radio. It is your radio and it may be the last refuge for real discussions and real reporting in these days of big media.

Tuesday afternoon on KPFA's Against the Grain, rebroadcast an interview Sasha Lilley conducted with author, journalist, film maker and activist Tariq Ali. Mr. Ali spoke of the echoes from Vietnam that resonate with Iraq today. He also spoke of the process by which the resistance to the American intervention in Vietnam "got going." He spoke of various campaigns that began to form in opposition to the war and how, with each demonstration, the numbers would grow. "The first demonstration was 10,000, the second demonstration was 20,000, and the third demonstration was 100,000-plus." He spoke of how the opposition in England prevented then Prime Minister Harold Wilson from sending troops to Vietnam and contrasted that with the current Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and his actions today. Mr. Ali feels, that with the exception of Venezuela, the 21st century is the story of wars and counter-revolutions.

Tuesday evening, Nora Barrows-Friedman interviewed Dahr Jamail on KPFA's Flashpoints. Focusing on Ramadi, Mr. Jamail spoke of how the U.S. snipers and the bombing from U.S. planes has many afraid to leave their homes. He reported that the hospitals biggest complaint is that people are too scared to come in when they need assistance due to the violence. Since the water has been shut off, people are going to the Euphrates River to gather water; however, they cannot boil the water before drinking it because the power has been cut off.

Ms. Barrows-Friedman raised the issue of the use of loudspeakers being used by the military to threaten residents. Mr. Jamail explained that, in violation of the Geeneva Convention, the people were not being advised of safe routes out of the city or provided with any, nor are they provided with supplies. Instead, they are being used to threaten, "Hand over so-called insurgents from your neighborhood or we're going to turn Ramadi into another Falluja," is the threat that has been reported to have been made over the loudspeakers. This is terrorism and a violation of international law as well as the Military Code of Justice.

Wednesday morning on Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman interviewed Eve Ensler and Kimberle Crenshaw. Democracy Now! always covers the war and it is noted elsewhere but, for this report, I am working three broadcasts in. An exchange worth noting from the interview with Ms. Ensler and Ms. Crenshaw:

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I wanted to read from an explosive U.S. government document about the situation in Iraq that was recently leaked to the Washington Post. It's an internal memo from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad that describes the situation in the Iraqi capital.
This is from a subsection titled, "Women's Rights," and it says, "Two of our three female employees report stepped-up harassment beginning in mid-May. One, a Shia who favors Western clothing was advised by an unknown woman in her Baghdad neighborhood to wear a veil and not to drive her own car. She said some groups are pushing women to cover even their face, a step not taken in Iran, even at its most conservative. Another, a Sunni, said people in her neighborhood are harassing women and telling them to cover up and stop using cell phones. She said the taxi driver who brings her every day to the Green Zone has told her he cannot let her ride unless she wears a head cover. A female in the cultural section" -- this is in the U.S. cultural section -- "is now wearing a full abaya after receiving direct threats.
"The women say they cannot identify the groups pressuring them. The cautions come from other women, sometimes from men who could be Sunni or Shia, but appear conservative. Some ministries, notably the Sadrist-controlled Ministry of Transportation, have been forcing females to wear the hijab at work."
Now, again, that's from an internal memo from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and at the end of the memo, it's the name of the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Khalilzad. Your response. You have gone to Afghanistan repeatedly. In fact, we last spoke to you on a mountain in Afghanistan. But can you talk about this?
EVE ENSLER: Well, we have been supporting women -- Yanar Mohammed, we've been supporting, who's running the women's organization in Baghdad. We have been in touch with women now for the last three years, and everything we're hearing about the situation of the women in Baghdad is just -- it is shocking, and it actually really mirrors what happened in Afghanistan. It is the Talibanization of Iraq. And if we look at the fact that sex trafficking has escalated, honor killings have escalated, women's security is abysmal, we are talking about the reversal of women's rights, in terms of Sharia law being reintroduced into the constitution.
What most people forget is the status of women in Iraq during Saddam Hussein was actually far better off than many women throughout the region. It has now been completely undermined. And we have this illusion in this country that we have freed women in Afghanistan and freed women in Iraq. Every report we're getting now from Afghanistan is that the situation is terrible and that warlords are everywhere, and the Taliban is completely present.
As a matter of fact, Sarah Chayes, who is in Kandahar, who I think you may have had on, recently wrote to me that there is so much activity happening with the Taliban that 74% of the people living in Kandahar actually believe that the U.S. and the Taliban are in cahoots. So we are seeing no real security having happened for women and them being absolutely used to justify this war, used to say we need to go and free the women of Afghanistan, when, in fact, that is not happening.

This is an important subject and, when two guests -- dubbed Prissy and Spoiled Prince -- took to the airwaves to offer another wave of Operation Happy Talk it was noted that they completely avoided the reality of life for women in Iraq under the illegal occupation.

Later on KPFA's The Morning Show, Andrea Lewis and Philip Maldari spoke with independent journalist Dahr Jamail. Mr. Jamail is focusing on what is going on with Ramadi. As with Falluja in April 2004, when the US first attempted to take the city, the military is going neighborhood to neighborhood, the landline phones are out due to air strikes on the telephone companies. Mr. Jamail stated that Ramadi was "twice the size of Falluja geographically with about 100,000 more people who live there." He noted that this action against Ramadi had been an ongoing one over "the last several weeks but it's been ramped up" by "using war planes to conduct strikes within civilian neighborhoods" leading many families to 'hole up' in their homes out of fear.

"They have the city sealed," Mr. Jamail said. "They have had electricity and water cut there and are using snipers very heavily within the city so it's generating another huge refugee outflow from the city, at least 50,000 people, that's the most conservative estimate, and probably more like 200,000 people have left the city, going to Baghdad, Falluja, trying to get into another city. So it is another crisis situation probably along the lines of, similar to the U.S. April 2004 seige against Falluja."

Chris Tensing, of the Middle East Research and Information Project, stated that "the U.S. and other foreign military presence in Iraq is not the cure" for the violence in Iraq and "these kind of attacks will persist as long as there is a foreign military presence in Iraq." He also noted that, of the opposition to the United States, "the largest component is a national resistance fighting for the end of occupation of their country."

Mr. Jamail spoke of how the Iraqi people overwhelming wanted the American troops out. He gave examples such as the "collective punishment" handed out to civilians and the fact that there are still problems with electricity and water as well a lack of jobs.

The impact of Japan's withdrawal will have an impact, Mr. Jamail stated. He used Ramadi as an example of how they were not enough troops to do "what they want" which has led to the neighborhood to neighborhood searches.

Thursday morning on Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez interviewed Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena on how being released by her kidnappers resulted in violence and death when she, a driver and Nicola Calipari were headed for the airport and fired upon by U.S. troops in an incident that still has unaswered questions:

AMY GOODMAN: And one other question on the issue of what happened that night: Aren't there Army logs, Army diary, that is kept that night, a record of what happened?
GIULIANA SGRENA: Yes. During, of course, all the commands during the -- when there is a patrol, when there is a checkpoint, there is a recording of all what happened during -- all the commands, the communication exchange. And when the -- there was a commission, inquiry commission, made by Americans, and they accepted two Italian inside this commission, but when they asked where are the taping of this communication, they said, "Oh, normally we destroy them, because we can't keep all these recording." But if there is a man killed, it's very strange that the recording of the communication disappeared and there is no sign of this communication, because from that we could know what happened and who was the fail, who was the responsibility.
AMY GOODMAN: They say they destroyed the tapes, everything?
GIULIANA SGRENA: Yes. Because they say, "after" -- when finished the duty -- "we destroyed."
AMY GOODMAN: And yet, this was a massive event, even for the United States. I mean, here was President Bush's -- one of his closest allies, his Prime Minister Blair of England and the prime minister of Italy, Berlusconi. Calipari was very close personally, as well as professionally, to Berlusconi, and Berlusconi for one of the first times was outraged at Bush, and this was immediate that night.
AMY GOODMAN: Yet they say they destroyed the Army logs, the Army diaries of what happened, the record?
GIULIANA SGRENA: Yes. And they destroyed -- when the two Italian named by the Italian government to participate in this commission, they arrived in Baghdad. Also, the place where happened the so-called accident, it was cleaned. No bullet there, nothing at all. And they ask why. Normally, you leave all the place of the crime.
AMY GOODMAN: A crime scene.
GIULIANA SGRENA: They said maybe they can -- all the wheel of the -- all of the -- AMY GOODMAN: Car?
GIULIANA SGRENA: Yes, of the car. So it's really -- I don't know. It's something more than hidden the proofs. It’s something that --they think that the Italians, they are stupid, I think.
AMY GOODMAN: Where is the car?
GIULIANA SGRENA: The car now is in Italy.

Later, on WBAI's First Voices Indigenous Radio, Mattie Harper took an extended look at Native Americans and military service. Ms. Harper noted that they are the "ethnic group with the highest proportion of military enlistment" because "compared to the general population nearly three times as many Native Americans have served in the armed forces as non-Indians during the twentieth century." PTSD (post traumatic stress disorders) are on the rise with the current war in Iraq. A large number of veterans applying for PTSD treatment are Vietnam veterans.

Ms. Harper spoke with Vietnam veteran Larry Stillday who is the outpatient supervisor at the Ponemah Health Center. When Mr. Stillday returned from Vietnam there wasn't a name for the disorder. What was helpful for him, and Ms. Harper noted this was true of many Native Americans, were Native American ceremonies addressing the issues of life and death. For Mr. Stillday, the standard medical treatments addressed only a specific problem and not the root causes. To address the underlying problems, he found help and solace from the elders and the ceremonies.

"When I returned home, home was not the same, at least for me," Mr. Stillday explained. Addressing the alcoholism only was addressing his response to the changes and not the root cause of the changes. He spoke of a woman who came up to him in Vietnam, touched his arm and said "Same, same" which made him connect what was being done in Vietnam with what was done to the Native Americans in this country. He spoke very openly, and bravely, about how the healing was ongoing to this day.

We honor the veterans who returned, we honor the wounds that they came back with and our communities, our tribal communities, honor the wounds and the scars. . . . But we also honor the ones that didn't come back, the fallen ones.

Ms. Harper also interview Gulf War veteran Sean Fahrlander who is a member of the Anishinaabe tribe. Mr. Fahrlander was only diagonsed with PTSD last December and found relief in the diagnosis which explained a number of things to him. Ms. Harper spoke of a Vietnam veteran who, years ago, had sought traditional treatment and the doctors increased his medications when they learned he was making daily offerings because their own cultural barriers and lack of awareness led to that behavior being termed "crazy" instead of being recognized for what it was, a traditional form of his spiritual worship. Mr. Fahrlander spoke of how there is an acceptance of the Judeo-Christian form of spirituality as the norm which leads to a lack of understanding about Native American spirituality. One of the way he addresses his experiences is through poetry and he shared two poems "Days of Faded Glory" and "Questions." I am noting the first one; however, both were powerful. This was spoken and the print version is probably much different.

"Days of Faded Glory"
I remember days of faded glory, marching in formation, going nowhere.
Somehow my uncle's stories pushed me to stand tall with boys of blue.
I never gave one thought to what became of my young friends when the fields were overgrown.
How we'd be forgotten, some dead on bloody-bloody sands, some dead but did not pull down.
And a few of us who walked away unscathed, left to deal with faded faces.
I do not tell my nephews how I marched on fields in formation.
I do not want them to know.
The sacrifices made on behalf of them by my uncles and me
Should be enough to purge any debt
And I should be able to bury deep in shame the things I have done in their name.
Of this I'm sure, some day will come
Another voice asking them to serve and pay a debt
Already paid by in full by the blood of those who came before.

Thursday afternoon on KPFA's Living Room, Kris Welch interviewed Sherry Glaser who was staging a protest the next day, "Breasts Not Bomb" to protest the war and military recruitment. They discussed the role of public theatre as well as the role of baring breasts. (The latter issue was also addressed on WBAI's Women's Journal Thursday morning.) Ms. Glaser is an activist, actress and playwright. The previous week, a selection from her play Oh My Goddess was played on KPFA's Women's Magazine June 12th.

Friday morning, on Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman interviewed Nadia McCaffrey. Ms. McCaffrey's son Patrick McCaffery died in Iraq in 2004. The military told her that he and Andre Tyson had been killed by "insurgents" when the reality, only confirmed by the U.S. military this week, is that Mr. McCaffery and Mr. Tyson were killed by Iraqi police that they were training. As with the death of NFL athelete Pat Tilman in Afghanistan, someone made the decision that the truth might hurt the 'war effort' and that a lie would be much more useful to selling the war. Ms. McCaffery has fought very hard to get the truth of how her son died. She has fought the administration before and I will note this excerpt from the interview:

AMY GOODMAN: Let's explain the idea that you called the national press to be at Sacramento airport, international airport, when Patrick's body came home, because President Bush had issued this executive order, saying that you shouldn't videotape, photograph, film the flag-draped coffins of the soldiers coming home. But you defied that?
NADIA McCAFFREY: Yes, yes. I didn't want to. That was my son. Frankly, I didn’t really care, you know. I needed to do it this way for us, and I wanted to honor my son. I was not going to pass him in the dark, returning home, no. He didn't leave in the dark; why should I do that when he comes back? No.

Friday morning, on KPFA's The Morning Show, Andrea Lewis interviewed UCLA Davis professor Bob Ostertag about his new book People's Movements, People's Press: The Journalism of Social Justice Movements. His book examines the history of the social movement press and covers a number of movements. He shared that he had discovered, "This history is more that people make papers and then the papers make organizations."

A number of movements were addressed but I will zero on his comments regarding the underground G.I. press during the Vietnam era. "This is on nobody's radar," Mr. Ostertag stated. He noted that it was a history that was "unclaimed" even among those who participated.

To combat the myths, manipulations, and revisions on Vietnam, Mr. Ostertag pointed out that, "In 1975 there was a public opinion survey that found that 75% of members of the American military were opposed to the Vietnam war. . . . Soldiers fighting the war were the most anti-war sector of the American population and yet what we've inherited is this image of peace activists spitting on loyal American soldiers which is a myth -- it never happened."

He spoke of how those serving and opposed to the war used a variety of means to express their opposition. Underground publications were published on all bases, naval carriers, etc. They covered many topics such as "how to get out of the army, how to survive in the army, how to survive in the brig" and the people putting out these publications were risking a great deal (such as "years of hard labor at Fort Levenworth and people did").

Friday on FAIR's CounterSpin, Peter Hart addressed the issue of a June 12th New York Times column written by Karen Spears Zacharias in which she falsely maintained that "anti-war protesters" were disrupting military funerals. Mr. Hart did a fine job of noting the problems with the article. Rather than repeat his commentary, which I recommend you listen to, I want to note a few things that were not noted. C.I. makes a point not to comment on specific op-eds and editorials in the New York Times and, in fact, rarely reads them.

Here is the correction the New York Times eventually ran:

An Op-Ed article on Monday, about demonstrations at military funerals, hospitals and memorial services, incorrectly described the protesters at the military funerals discussed in the article. In some cases, the protesters were members of an anti-gay group, not people opposed to the Iraq war; in others, the families of the dead service members were unable to determine the affiliation of the protesters.

Mr. Hart noted a number of reasons this was insuffient. As a FAIR alert noted:

In a response to one reader, Zacharias acknowledged that further research revealed that the widows she spoke with were all referring to Phelps' group.

The correction above does not note that. The paper should note that the people she spoke with were referring to Phelp's group. If you are wondering who this Phelps is, it is Fred Phelps, and Rebecca wrote about this group on March 8th. What I would like to point out is who gets printed and who does not. Alice Walker, an author of considerable talent and fame, pens an anti-war column and the paper chooses not to run it. Another woman pens a column that distorts the truth and is riddled with lies about the peace movement and what happens? The paper runs with it. Rebecca knew about the Phelps ' group on March 8th. The paper has no excuse for not knowing of it in June. Did they know they were printing lies? I cannot say. But they knew they were once again airing anti-peace views and the paper is quite happy to do that day after day.

Kat covered KPFA's Wednesday broadcast of Guns and Butter, so be sure to read that if you missed it during the week.

As Elaine has noted, KPFA will be honoring LGBT Pride Day Sunday. Among the programs airing Sunday (times given are Pacific Standard Time):

Sunday Salon
Sunday, June 25th, 09:00a.m.
An LGBT Pride Day Special...
Hour 1: Elders in the Queer Community;
Hour 2: Coming out after 30

Act One Radio Drama
Sunday, June 25th, 7:30p.m.
Top Girls by Caryl Churchill.
A bold comedy from a playwright that critics have called "one of the best writers today." Obie Award Winner!

Sunday on WBAI, they will also honor LGBT and some of their programs include (all times given are Eastern Standard Time):

10:00 am-6:00 pm: LGBT Pride Special
Join the Out-FM collective, the Beyond the Pale collective and programmers from sister station WPFW for 4 hours of the LGBT Pride Special, then listen to programmers from KPFA give their views on pride from Berkeley in the remaining 4 hours.

6:30-7:00 pm: Equal Time for Freethought
Brian Trent on:"Keeping the Darkness at Bay, or How to Avoid Reliving the Lowest Moment in Human History." Just before the dark ages began, there was a moment, when centuries of the total accumulated evidence-based knowledge, as well as the empirical approach to knowing, had people struggling for it not to be eviscerated by the forces of superstition, faith, and authoritarianism.

9:00-11:00 pm: Everything Old is New Again
Judy on film, Judy on radio, Judy on television, Judy in duets, Judyin concert--yes, it's our 28th Annual Judy Garland Broadcast!