Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Other Items

Leading Congressional Democrats, after months of division over Iraq, have called on President Bush to begin a phased redeployment of troops by the end of this year, a unified statement signaling they have concluded that the war could hurt Republicans in the midterm elections.
[. . .]
"Mr. President, simply staying the course in Iraq is not working," the Democrats wrote. "We need to take a new direction. We believe these recommendations comprise an effective alternative to the current open-ended commitment, which is not producing the progress in Iraq we would all like to see."

The above is from the New York Times. Adam Nagourney felt the need to scribble so he turned in "Democratic Leaders Ask Bush to Redeploy Troops in Iraq." Seven little paragraphs (last one/last word goes to Ken Mehlman). How much of this is due to the institution he works for (which hasn't, remember, called for the troops to come home -- they must be polling more than any other party involved in the public dialogue to see if it's time yet to dust off some editorials from a previous generation) and how much of this is due to Bill Keller's desire for short and snappy (or even short and soggy) pieces? Keller indicates, Nagourney rushes to follow.

For over a year now, we've spoken here about the paper's move to 'short and snappy' -- if this is what lies waiting for subscribers of the paper -- easy, breezy, superficial -- don't be surprised if that's the thing that finally sends many elsewhere. All along, we've heard that it won't hurt the coverage, this move to glorified briefs passing as reporting. The Democrats finally get it together for something (not enough in my opinion but I don't worship at the halls of Congress the way Nagourney does) and this is what readers get on the topic? Good thing Mehlman sent out that press release yesterday -- otherwise Nagourney might have had to some actual work.

So is this what subscribers can expect in the future? Maybe they'll go elsewhere? If so, Martha would probably suggest the Washington Post and she notes this article (an actual article, not a glorified brief) Charles Babington and Jim VandeHei's "Hill Democrats Unite to Urge Bush to Begin Iraq Pullout:"

With the midterm elections three months away, and Democrats seeing public discontent over Iraq as their best chance for retaking the House or Senate, a dozen key lawmakers told Bush in a letter: "In the interests of American national security, our troops and our taxpayers, the open-ended commitment in Iraq that you have embraced cannot and should not be sustained. . . . We need to take a new direction."
The 12 Democrats, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), include liberals and centrists who have differed over Iraq in the past. The signers included the top Democrats on the House and Senate committees dealing with armed services, foreign relations, intelligence and military spending. Their action puts party leaders on the same page, and it helps clarify the Nov. 7 election as a choice between a party seeking a timeline for withdrawing troops from an unpopular war and a party resisting any such timetable.
For all its passion, the letter has more significance as a political statement than as a policy alternative. Most Democrats previously have embraced the general idea of beginning a troop drawdown this year, and the letter adds no specifics about how many troops should be withdrawn or how rapidly.
Senior Republicans quickly denounced the document as defeatist.
But this rebuttal came as a number of GOP lawmakers are joining Democrats in criticizing the war's progress.
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) last week called Iraq "an absolute replay of Vietnam." Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-Minn.) recently returned from Iraq with a call for U.S. troops to pull out. In Democratic primaries in several states, meanwhile, voters are venting their unhappiness.
Pelosi said the impetus for the letter was growing concern that Iraq is dangerously draining the military's readiness and that Bush's plan to shift more U.S. troops to Baghdad is ill advised. "We're united around a proposal for responsible redeployment, and we want it to begin before December," Pelosi said in a telephone interview from Boston.

That's five paragraphs, the excerpt above, and guess what? There aren't only two paragraphs remaining to be read if you use the link. Is the Beltway, like the Green Zone, a source of chaos and violence? Was Nagourney filing from a hot spot that limited what could be told, what could be written, who could be spoken to? No. It's just not important news. To the Times. Why didn't the press question the so-called 'reasons' for the illegal war? One defense/excuse is that the opposing party (Democrats) didn't. It's a weak defense/excuse, but many in the press have offered it. When the Democratics in Congress finally get behind something (no, not as much as I'd like either), the paper's still not interested. Maybe Nagourney could have teased out a blind item about Maureen Dowd for a few paragraphs before naming her and that would have held his interest?

Thom Shanker offers (in the Times) "General in Abu Ghraib Case Retires After Forced Delay" which runs down the latest on Geoffrey D. Miller -- high enough up the tree not to fall below and become known as one of the "few bad apples" apparently. From the article:

At his retirement ceremony Monday, General Miller received the Distinguished Service Medal, which is awarded for exceptionally commendable service in a position of great responsibility, Army officials said.
John Sifton, a lawyer who is a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said giving the medal to General Miller "is not just a disappointment, it's an outrage."
General Miller, Mr. Sifton said, "has a lot of questions he hasn't answered" about the policies he drafted at Guantánamo Bay and the recommendations he made in Iraq.

Including recommendations and reports he made to Rumsfeld -- Miller was in constant contact with Rumsfeld. Here's Rebecca writing of Janis Karpinski's May 3rd appearance on KPFA's Flashpoints (it should be archived at both sites -- station and program's site):

1 key point was on the testimony of general sanchez where he told congress he didn't know anything about the photographs. karpinski: 'but nobody asked him the real important question' "did you know anything about the authorizations for the techniques that we saw in the photographs?" because he would have to say yes, if he were telling the truth.'
she added, 'he signed an 8 page memorandun ... authorizing a laundry list of techniques ... to include all of those techniques listed on that rumsfeld list stripping them naked, using unmuzzled dogs ... but nobody asked him that question while he was testifying under oath.'
she was very clear that 'he authorized what was going on.' and she clarified that, 'in those photographs ... there wasn't any interrogation taking place in those photographs.
but they were not, those photographs were not taken in the course of interrogations. in fact, those photographs were going to be used interrogations to get the prisoners, the detainees to start talking.'
she said a laptop would be opened, they'd show the person the photos and tell them to start talking or 'tomorrow, you're on the bottom of the pile.'
dennis bernstein asked about the abuse of women prisoners. karpinksi noted that 'there were photographs of women being abused' and that there were 'several pictures of women directed to raise their shirts and show their breasts.'
but most interesting to me was her comments on november 2003 when an investiagtion occurred over 3 military intelligence soldiers (interrogators) who 'went to cell block 1b where the female prisoners were held and 1 stood guard 'while the other 2 went and abused female prisoners . . . some statements that they actually physically raped female prisoners.'
this got out because the 3 men were bragging about what they did. the 3 were given a written reprimand (general papas did this) and sent the men back to the united states. don't you feel safer knowing that?
chain of command? she said, 'secretary of defense does not operate in a vacuum so everything that he was doing to be crystal clear he would have talked to his boss the vice president ... if you recall during his confirmation hearings ... they just rescinded the memorandum and said "it's been rescinded so it's not"' an issue (i think she said 'an issue' at the end, but i'm not sure so i'm leaving it out of the quote). she then traced the authorization gonzles gave (the 'quaint' memo) which went to gonzales and then to the commanders in the field and you trace it back up to the bully boy.
on rumsfeld, she noted that general miller was giving rumsfeld reports, he was informed. he was interested in knowing which techniques worked quickest, etc.

Courage to Resist has their latest newsletter up and Brad and Micah each note one item from it.
"'No Blood for Oil 12' Sentenced in Colorado:"

"No Blood for Oil 12" Sentenced in Colorado
photo by Ellen Jaskol/Rocky Mountain NewsOn July 28th, 12 Colorado activists referred to as the "No Blood for Oil 12" were found guilty of trespassing for blocking the entrance to a Lakewood, CO recruiting center on November 18th, 2005.
The demonstration was held as part of
"National Stand Down Day," a day of demonstrations and non-violent resistance at recruiting stations across the country, demanding an end to the Iraq war.
Five of the convicted protesters have chosen to serve 10 days in prison, while seven have elected to perform 24 hours of community service. Two of the five who will serve prison time will fast during their stay behind bars.
In response to his conviction and choice to go to jail, Drew Edmonson said; "As a disabled vet, USN 1969-72, I felt an obligation to make a visible statement against the deceit perpetrated by recruiters. I will pay no fine and force them to jail me…I am just a regular person. Like anyone, I am capable of doing something difficult. What I am doing…anyone can…"
This case represents an important trend toward more determined actions and heightened solidarity among those committed to opposing and ending the Iraq War and occupation. It also represents a heightened level of repression that the government is bringing against those who resist.

And "Support from Iraq Combat Veterans Continues to Mount for Lt. Ehren Watada:"

On August 17, U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada will face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq. "It is my conclusion as an officer of the armed forces that the war in Iraq is not only morally wrong but a horrible breach of American law. The war and what we’re doing over there is illegal," explained the first military officer to publicly take such a stand.As supporters internationally gear up for the "National Day of Education" on Aug 16 to ask the question "Is the Iraq War Illegal?," support from Iraq combat veterans continues to mount for Lt. Ehren Watada.

If you aren't already signed up, you can sign up to receive their newsletter by going to the
Courage to Resist website.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.