Sunday, December 03, 2006

Ruth's Report

Ruth: Last Monday, WBAI's Law and Disorder concluded their four-part series on the police state by taking a look at Iraq.

The first installment addressed 9-11 and the civil liberties and rights that we lost with the point made about how rights lost are very difficult to regain. The second installment focused on the power grab by the administration and creating the 'right' for the Bully Boy to declare people, including American citizens, "enemy combatants" and remove them from the legal process our nation is supposed to be founded upon. The third installment examined the illegal, warrantless, NSA spying, Judge Anne Taylor Diggs' verdit, and the case of U.S. citizen Brandon Mayfield who was wrongly accused of being part of a bombing in Madric and whose home was illegally searched which included obtaining an essay one of his children had written as a middle school assignment on the illegal war.

All of this leads to the fourth part because the illegal war did not just happen, ground work was layed for it. One segment, the last focused on Mohammad Munaf who is a US citizen facing the death penalty in Iraq for his alleged involvement with the kidnapping of three Romanian journalists. C.I. noted this on October 14th and was not thrilled with the defense being mounted which seem to be lacking. When Amy Goodman interviewed an attorney handling the case on Democracy Now! she asked the basic question of what did the Romanian government say and the attorney was unable to answer her basic question which indicated to me that the defense was still lacking. There is no evidence connecting Mr. Munaf to the kidnappings, the Romanian government, it is now known, does not connect him to the government, but in a closed meeting with the judge, American officials argued that Mr. Munaf should receive the death penalty. A closed meeting, not an open court, for which the defense was not present and to which the defense could not offer a rebuttal of whatever accusations or evidence was presented.

The American government is advocating for the death penalty in a kangroo type court while, allegedly, teaching Iraq something about "democracy." Does that concern you? It should.

In addition to addressing the case of Mr. Munaf, they also interviewed Navy Seaman Jonathan Hutto who is one of the organizers behind Appeal for Redress which is petition for members of the U.S. military to sign asking Congress to start using their oversight and bring the troops home.

The first segment was an interview with Anthony Arnove who is an author and activist. His most recent book is IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal. The interview addressed a wide range of issues including whether or not the nation was apethetic to the war which Mr. Arnove did not feel was the case. Nor do I feel that was the case and last summer's road trip with my friend Treva proved otherwise as we repeatedly found, in each town we visited, people who were very vocal about the war.

Who seems apathetic about the war? Mr. Arnove spoke of how Democratic leadership in Congress refuses to cut off funding to the illegal war and the soon to be Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is, in fact, advocating a $75 billion increase in funding. Recently, a New York Times columnist took to slamming people, 'the people,' for not caring about the war. I really believe a valid target would be Congressional leaders as well as media that refuses to address the war.

As Mr. Arnove noted, pressure must be brought on Congress to end the war. Without the pressure, the war will continue to drag around with occassional clucks from media pundits but do not expect any leadership there either. That last point is mine and not Mr. Arnove's.

Michael Ratner noted that Congress was no help at all on the issue of the prisoners in Guantamo. He was repeatedly told that now was not the time to address that. First, it was the 2002 elections, then it was the 2004 elections. At one point, he realized, and stated, that excuse was still going to provide the cover in 2008.

Mr. Ratner is one of the four hosts of the program, along with Heidi Boghosian, Dalia Hashad and Michael Smith. C.I. passed on that Monday's program will feature an interview with Marjorie Cohn who is the new president of the National Lawyers Guild. I know Mike is not alone in enjoying Ms. Cohn's appearances and you can hear the interview on WBAI's Law and Disorder at eighter link tomorrow. You can also utilize the links to listen to any of the four-part series on the police show or other past shows as well.

C.I. also passed on this from Zach regarding KPFA's special broadcasting this week:

KPFA Special Broadcast: Robert Gates Confirmation Hearing
Tuesday, December 5th, 06:00am
Live, gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Robert Gates Secretary of Defense confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill. With Larry Bensky, Aaron Glantz and our guest experts.

That will be nine a.m. for me and anyone else on the East coast, Central time zone listeners should note that the programing will begin at eight a.m., and those in the Pacific time zone should tune it at six a.m.

Finally, Margaret (Meg) Irish, of Stars and Stripes, wrote to pass on that, "Stars and Stripes is actually an independent, 1st Amendment newspaper, with all of the responsibilities that implies. Yes, we are a Department of Defense authorized newspaper. No, the Department of Defense cannot censor or control our content. We are editorially independent within our own 'chain of command,' which is headed by a civilian publisher. Our status is a matter of law and part of the public record. We operate under Congressional oversight and for years have had an ombudsman, who represents the interests of our readers, who twice annually presents Congress with a 'report card' on our performance."

This is in reference to my remarks last report, "Paula Zahn Now, Stars & Stripes, Associated Press, The Philadelphia Inquirer. Are these independent media outlets? I would argue that they are not. But in terms of war resisters within the military, that is where news consumers have had to turn."

While I appreciated hearing from Ms. Irish and am happy to note the independence built into Stars and Stripes, Ms. Irish and I define "independent media" differently. Ideally, the Department of Defense "cannot censor or control" CNN's content either but I would not argue that CNN is independent media.

I grasp Ms. Irish's point and am glad that she raised it. Stars and Stripes is not an organ of the Defense Department, there independence from that department, as well as any other, is built in.
But I do not consider it independent media which, by my definition, often exists on a shoe string budget and depends upon listeners, subscribers, donations and purchases. Democracy Now! is an example of my definition of independent media. I also do not consider PBS or NPR to be "independent media."

Due to the nature of Stars and Stripes, it could be misread as an organ of the Pentagon. It is not that which I am more than happy to clarify.