Saturday, July 08, 2006

NYT: What's covered, what's not

On July 5 the US Army brought charges against First Lieut. Ehren Watada, an infantry officer stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, who has refused to deploy to Iraq with his unit because he believes the war there is illegal. Watada faces up to eight years in jail and a dishonorable discharge. But in trying the 28-year-old officer, the Army is really putting itself, the Iraq War and the Bush Administration on trial.
At the June 7 press conference announcing his decision, Watada
argued that the Administration's invasion and occupation of Iraq was "manifestly illegal" because it "violates our democratic system of checks and balances. It usurps international treaties and conventions that by virtue of the Constitution become American law. Watada also said, "As the order to take part in an illegal act is ultimately unlawful as well, I must as an officer of honor and integrity refuse that order."
His refusal to deploy was an act of courage. It was also the product of profound reflection on taking personal responsibility for halting the US government's careening course toward authoritarianism and criminality--and of the legal justification for such acts of responsibility.

Wow! That New York Times is really something this morning, eh? Wrong. It's Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith's "Watada, the War and the Law" from The Nation -- the Times still remains silent on Watada. All those reporters on staff and they can't spare one to cover Watada? Probably, they're all hard at work explaining how women are deciding to have it all by leaving the work force or some equally fact-free 'trend' story. It's as though they think they can wish Watada away. That's the reporting, right? What about the op-eds?

I don't know Lt. Ehren Wataba, but I know his mother, and spoke at length with her back in May in Hawaii about how Ehren morally did not want to go to Iraq and how he was being harassed by other members of his unit for his beliefs that the war in Iraq was wrong and that he didn't want to kill innocent people for BushCo.
Ehren tried everything he could within regulations and legal means to be excused from going over to the war crime in Iraq and becoming a war criminal himself; nothing worked, so he refused to be deployed with his unit.
Today he was charged with missing movement, contempt towards officials and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. Conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman! Are they kidding me? Are they kidding the world and hiding behind an ancient code while they are pretending that anything about Iraq or our government is "gentlemanly?"
How about looking at the Commander in Chief of our armed forces, George Bush, for one? George Bush is a dry drunk who runs our country like he ran all of his failed businesses - with an attitude that if he screws up, his daddy, or his daddy's friends, will bail him out. He has already said that the problem of Iraq will be solved by "future presidents" which absolves and excuses him from cleaning up the murderous mess that he has made.
George Bush and his daddy used their contacts to get him a spot in the Texas Air National Guard during Vietnam. When he was transferred to the Alabama Air National Guard he never showed up to complete his military commitment to the United States. Now I have no problem with Georgie, or "I had other priorities" five-deferment Dicky, getting out of going to the war crime in Vietnam, but to grow up and strong arm your way into the CIA to fix intelligence and to deceive a country and play on its fears to lead us into another war crime is inexcusable and cowardly.

Oops. That's Cindy Sheehan's "Conduct Unbecoming" at Truth Out, not in the Times. In the Times, and possibly this is why there's been so much coverage of the election in Mexico, we're urged (by a strong voice) to advocate the US be "a good neighbor" and "urge" a recount. In the LA Times, there's an article (no link, I'm busy this morning) talking about the election and how Vincent Fox may have interfered so the move may be made to ask that the entire election be nullified and a new one take place. I don't think that's a winning strategy for hearts and minds. More importantly, it's exactly the action that Greg Palast decries in Armed Madhouse -- waiting until after the election to attempt to address problems. If there's a lesson here, maybe there is, it's what Greg Palast argued before the 2004 election and is arguing currently: You don't start carrying about the turnout and the recording of votes after the election.

If Fox's commercials during the campaign were wrong, maybe you object to them in real time and not after the fact? And if you want to win an election, we're back to focusing on the US now, you pay attention to what's going on before the voting takes place. You pay attention when the voting is taking place. You don't wait until the results come back and then make your first objections. That's how you get charged "sore loser." Because to people just learning of it, that's what you look like. If you're concerned with Fox's actions, you file your complaint in real time, not after the election in an attempt to nullify the results.

Count all the votes is one thing. Emerging details that were hidden during the election is a valid reason for sounding alarms. Waiting until after the election to complain about ads that run and ask for a new vote: Foolish.

Back to the New York Times. (It's a transition!) They do a 'for the record' correction, to their credit, acknowledging that Steven D. Green was arrested two Fridays ago and not on Monday of this week. They also note that this is the second time they ran the wrong information. (Both times in articles by Edward Wong.) Kirk Semple has "Joint Raid Captures 2 Linked to Rebel Shiite Leader" which is worth noting because he tells you that the raid the US was acting as press flack on yesterday was a joint raid. That's not a slap at the Post
(Jonathan Finer and Saad Sarhan's "Iraqi Soldiers Clash With Shiite Militiamen in Baghdad"), their writers noted the curious details on Friday, as did the AFP and the Associated Press. At some point, maybe we can ask the question of why the US continues to do this?

There's a reason. They're trying to sell a notion that Iraqis are coming together just the way Bully Boy told you they would. That's not happening. And some of the reports yesterday read like episodes of Lassie as the US version was retold which is basically: "We gave them a list and said go get 'em!" Are Iraqis Lassie? I thought they were citizens of their own country. Obviously the US administration never sees it that way.

Semple gets credit for going beyond the obvious press releases. He does note the hospital's version of the events. I'm not sure he spoke to them or pulled it from a wire report? If he pulled it from a wire report, he left out the details of how Iraqis sleeping on the roof due to the extreme heat -- and lack of electricity -- are also said to be fatalities of a raid supposedly targeting (according to this year's Vinnie Brooks -- Todd Breasseale) "only those were firing weapons at" the 'joint' forces.

James Glanz? No credit, no link. (No woman, no cry.) "A senior Army Resever officer" (Bruce D. Hopfengardner) is supposedly offering to plead guilty to his actions in taking both bribes from contractors and $120,000 cash. Sounds intriguing, sounds like an actual piece of reporting. Then Glanz tries to sweep over reality. The "how" of the money. "Chaotic time" doesn't cover it. People were invited in, not Iraqis of course, in the Bremer days, to help themselves to cash. As Bremer prepared for his big "Don't Cry For Me, Green Zone Occupants!" swan song, he invited anyone in and all in to 'claim' cash that was 'owed' to them. It wasn't chaos. It was criminal, it was careless, it was reckless, but it wasn't chaos. Glanz glides over reality. A smooth ride most Iraqis aren't likely to have offered to them.

A bit stronger is Eric Schmitt and David S. Cloud's "General Faults Marine Response To Iraq Killing:"

The second-ranking American commander [Peter W. Chiarelli] in Iraq has concluded that some senior Marine officers were negligent in failing to investigate more aggressively the killings of 24 Iraqi civilians by marines in Haditha last November . . .
General Chiarelli faulted the senior staff of the Second Marine Division, commanded at the time by Maj. Gen. Richard A. Huck, and the Second Regimental Combat Team, then headed by Col. Stephen W. Davis, and recommended unspecified disciplinary actions for some officers, said the two defense officials [unnamed], who have been briefed on General Chiarelli's findings. They said they would discuss the report, after being promised anonymity, because it showed that the military takes these incidents seriously and fully investigates them.

At least when they result in a storm of press coverage. That's left unstated but it needs to be said. There have been too many Hadithas that have gone unnoticed. So what will happen to the report? It's likely it will be buried. Or it will be whitewashed. Maybe it will see the light of day? Maybe it will lead to Congress finally seriously using their oversight powers? Contrary to what Bully Boy thinks (as he endlessly poses as Commander-in-Chief), in this country, the military is supposed to be under civilian control. As Congress made a multitude of excuses for not dealing with Abu Ghraib, you wouldn't realize that. It is, however, the way the country was set up and it was set up that way for a reason.

It's Saturday, so here's an excerpt from Margaret Kimberley's latest "Obama Gets Religion" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):

"I agree with Senator Warner that the message should be 'we really mean business, Iraqis, get on with it.'" -- Sen. Barack Obama, on the Senate floor.
It is always a bad sign when Democrats publicly proclaim agreement with Republicans. Lately Senator Barack Obama has given pause to progressives every time he makes one of his over rated and endlessly praised statements. If he isn't supporting the occupation of Iraq he is campaigning for his mentor, the right wing Democrat in name only, Joe Lieberman. Most recently he gave credence to GOP talking points about progressives and religion.
According to Republicans, the lap dog corporate media, and now Barack Obama, the Democrats give religious Americans short shrift. In his keynote address at the Call to Renewal Conference Obama lectured us in typical Democratic Leadership Council style. He argued for the truthfulness of phony Republican premises, in this case, that Democrats don’t have enough of that old time religion and are mean to church people.
Obama was hopefully speaking for himself when he referenced "Our failure as progressives to tap into the moral underpinnings of the nation…" Progressives have never been shy about making moral arguments and have never been shy about referencing religion. The groveling pundits and opportunistic politicians who claim a progressive bias against religion can never seem to actually quote anyone who wants to send religion packing. They hope that making a specious argument often enough will make it true.

Ruth goes up later today (in two parts, we're working on where to do the break) and Mike's "War as an after thought" covers a segment of Law and Disorder as does Cedric's "Law and Disorder on the Green Scare" (they're covering different segments).

And added as I've held this entry this morning, Jonah just e-mailed to note something that's at the website of the Times but not in the paper, Eric Lichtblau and Scott Shane's "Ally Told Bush That Failing to Inform Congress of Spying Projects Might Be Illegal:"

In a sharply worded letter to President Bush in May, an important Congressional ally charged that the administration might have violated the law by failing to inform Congress of some secret intelligence programs and risked losing Republican support on national security matters.
The letter from Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, did not specify the intelligence activities that he believed had been hidden from Congress.
But Mr. Hoekstra, who was briefed on and supported the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program and the Treasury Department's tracking of international banking transactions, clearly was referring to programs that have not been publicly revealed.

And I'll add, they haven't been by the Times which continues to sit on more than it reports.

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