Bonus entry, not on Iraq. A friend called ticked off with the New York Times over an article by Bill Carter. I avoid the arts section these days. It's called "'West Wing' to West Coast: TV's Aueter Portrays TV." "Read it!" my friend said. There are two mistakes in the article that I see (and probably more, but I just scanned it). Rob Reiner is quoted, by Aaron Sorkin, saying that the best thing about the new show Sorkin's doing is that when they show sketch comedy bits they just have to show "the good parts" ("You don't have to end a sketch, just do the good parts and get out"), not like Saturday Night Live (where, according to Sorkin quoting Reiner, they have to end all sketches). Sorkin is a press-created genius, as opposed to a real one, and anyone who knows anything about SNL is familiar with the phrase "drop the cow" and why it exists. That's an error. (And, for visitors, if you don't grasp it, educate yourself. That's not my job. I wouldn't even be doing this entry if a friend wasn't offended by the article.) Sorkin tells big tales, lot of reporters get caught up. Carter's on shakier ground with: "It could be because viewers want to see Matthew Perry in his first show after 'Friends' or Amanda Peet in her first television role."
Her first role? Amanda Peet came to the attention of many on the WB's Jack & Jill opposite Ivan Sergei (Peet played Jack). In addition, she's logged many TV guest roles as well as done a stint on One Life to Live. In Jack & Jill, Pete and Sergei were the top billed -- hour long romantic comedy/drama, that ran for two seasons on the WB. For various reasons, I'll assume that's the mistake that stood out. However, I'm sure there are others.
This isn't an Iraq entry. It's an extra entry -- it does not count towards the three we will have on Iraq. While we're noting entertainment, Brady notes that KPFA had a five hour music special on the Power to Peaceful Festival (click here to listen). Michael Franti & Spearhead, Blackalicious and others.
And we'll end with Cindy's highlight. Saturday we noted the documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon and noted that the implication that all of Lennon's FBI file was released (impression given by ABC's news summary) was incorrect. With more on that, Cindy steers us to Jon Wiener's "John Lennon -- Still a Security Threat: The Bush administration, obsessed with secrecy, is busy reclassifying government documents -- from 1971" (Common Dreams):
Along the way, the FBI spied on and harassed Lennon -- and kept detailed files of its work. The bulk of them were released in 1997 under the Freedom of Information Act after 15 years of litigation. I was the plaintiff.
But the agency continues to withhold 10 documents in Lennon's FBI file on grounds that they contain "national security information provided by a foreign government." The name of the foreign government remains classified, though it's probably not Afghanistan. The FBI has argued that "disclosure of this information could reasonably be expected to cause damage to the national security, as it would reveal a foreign government and information provided in confidence by that government."
U.S. District Judge Robert Takasugi rejected this argument in 2004 and ordered the documents released. The FBI is appealing that decision.
The Lennon FBI files vividly illustrate the administration's problem. "Our democratic principles require that the American people be informed of the activities of their government" -- those are the words of President Bush in his 2003 executive order on classified information. And he is right.
The Freedom of Information Act is necessary because Democrats and Republicans alike have secrets they want to keep -- secrets about corruption and the abuse of power. But now the White House wants to shield information from with a new rationale for secrecy -- protecting the homeland from terrorists.
The administration acknowledges that it has dramatically increased the number of documents classified "confidential," "secret" or "top secret." Between the time Bush took office in 2001 and 2004, the most recent year for which figures are available, that number has nearly doubled. In 2004 alone, 80 federal agencies deemed 15.6 million documents off-limits. And that figure doesn't include documents withheld by Vice President Dick Cheney, who refuses to report to the National Archives the number of documents his office classifies even though Bush's executive order requires him to do so. Cheney claims his office is exempt.
Again, bonus entry. (And if that wasn't what my friend wanted to note regarding the Bill Carter article, Ava and I will pick it up next Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review in our TV thing.)
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