Monday, December 18, 2006

Other Items (Dahr Jamail & Sara Olson on KPFA's The Morning Show)

The military's trying harder to continue the war. That includes the decision to court-martial Ehren Watada in Feburary. As part of that effort, they are attempting to legally compel journalists Dahr Jamail and Sarah Olson to testify for the prosecution. Monday, on KPFA's The Morning Show, 7:00 a.m. PST, 9:00 a.m. Central and 10:00 a.m. EST, Mr. Jamail and Ms. Olson will be among the guests addressing this development.

That's from Ruth's latest report and the program airs this morning.

Now let's take a look at Sabrina Tavernise's "Blair Pledges His Support During Surprise Visit to Iraq" in this morning's New York Times. She's reporting on a number of things including Tony Blair's visit to Iraq and, as an after thought, US Senators John Kerry and Christopher Dodd's visist. But let's focus on the following:

Shortly before Mr. Blair spoke in Baghdad, less than a mile away, gunmen dressed in police commando uniforms walked into an office of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society and seized 25 employees, witnesses said. The men did not say why they were taking people, but they asked about tribal affiliations or specific names.
Six hostages were later released; at least one was Shiite. Control of the neighborhood, which is in the heart of the capital, was given to the Iraqi police in November.
[. . .]

In Washington, a debate is unfolding over the way forward in Iraq, with the Bush administration conducting a review of its policy here. Among the proposals is an increase in American troops to try to quell the sectarian killing.

"The way forward in Iraq"? That's reporting? That's repeating slogans. That's really disappointing that Tavernise is reducing herself to a slogan-neer. Most refer to the "crisis in Iraq" or the "war in Iraq" but Tavernise is happy to sell White House spin.

Though she manages to mention "security vehicles," she fails to note, as other outlets have, that they are the type used by Iraqi security forces. So were these "gunmen" dressed as police or were they police? On Friday the Iraqi Red Crescent criticized the US military and the US occupation. A 'gunman' is reported by Tavernise to have told one person at the Baghdad offices, "You work with bad people." Tavernise sees that as backing the sectarian conflict but it could just has easily referred to the statements made on Friday.

Then there's this section:

Hazim Hamis stood in the winter cold in socks and sandals on Sunday, shouting to anyone who would listen that his brother, a driver for the Red Crescent, was among the captives. He had lost four relatives in a large bombing in a central square last week, and he demanded in a voice that verged on hysterical to know where his brother had been taken.
"I need to talk to the deputy minister," he shouted. "I need someone to protect me and give me a place in the Green Zone, like the minister. If the minister is a strong man, let him walk in the street."
He later got his wish. His brother, Qasim, was released around 6 p.m., in an area called Shaab that is controlled by Shiite militiamen. He told of hours in a blindfold and handcuffs, of kicks and punches, and of questions about his last name, his tribe, and his address. Mr. Hamis said his brother overheard his captors saying, "This is not the name we were looking for."

His brother was returned. However, he did not get a place in the Green Zone nor did the deputy minister walks the streets outside of the Green Zone.

Tavernise has a lot to cover and US troops don't fit into the story despite the fact that story should include the news on that three US soldiers died in Baghdad (the city Tony Blair -- whom she can't stop chattering about -- visited) Saturday and the US military announced that Sunday. Marc Santora's write up in Sunday's paper didn't cover it and it goes unmentioned today as well.

In addition, today the US military announced: "One Soldier assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died Dec. 15 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." Earlier on Monday they announced: "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Dec. 16 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province."

Maybe if the press ignores it, the 59 US troops dead so far this month won't have died? Is that the thinking? Or is someone worried about the holiday 'mood'? Who knows, but there's no excuse for the Times not to note the deaths and today it's Tavernise's subject to report on. Moss is covering the prison story and no one else is filing from Iraq. This isn't the first time that Tavernise has given the "Today in Baghdad . . ." report and failed to note the deaths of US troops on the day she's reporting on. As noted the last time this happened, it is news, you do report it. Now they continue to ignore Carne Ross' statements -- though no one can fall back on the excuse offered on the failure to report the Downing Street Memos because this time the AP has covered it. And they can ignore the Cheney-Poe pregnancy which was news but Jim Rutneberg has to wait until Bully Boy speaks to People magazine to report on it (in yesterday's paper). And the reality on both is that no official source was talking about it. The US military announced the Saturday deaths (on Sunday) that Tavernise ignores today in the paper. Even by the Times frequently laughable concept of 'news,' the deaths fit. They still didn't get noted.

Tavernise notes that the Iraqis corpses discovered in Baghdad on Sunday were 32. That's news, it belongs in the story. So do the US troops deaths and at least three of them were announced long before she filed. The mass kidnapping was news and is covered in the story but the Blair show visit (that doesn't say anything new -- it's the same statements that the British government has been making for months now) takes top place. That's the Times' own bias. Even that doesn't excuse the failure to note the death of the US troops.

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