Saturday, July 15, 2006

NYT: Selling the witchhunt through sourcing

Edward Wong is left alone to cover Iraq in this morning's New York Times. He files a think piece (I disagree with many of his conclusions but appreciate the effort -- more attempts at perspective then you normally see in reporting from a daily newspaper). The Go-Go Boys are bored, are a-getting bored and the war-ons aren't leaking on their y-fronts. There's bigger fish to fry and so we're left with Wong's "Radical Shiite Cleric Hints at Militia Attacks to Protest Israel’s Actions."

Here's what we'll focus on from Wong's article:

Another armed group here, the Islamic Resistance Movement in Iraq, issued a statement on Friday supporting Lebanese resistance against Israel and calling for more attacks in Iraq to support “our jihad brothers in Palestine and Lebanon,” according to the SITE Institute, which tracks jihadist Internet messages.

SITE. Rita Katz. Can the paper do an article without mentioning her? Apparently not.

Should they be noting her? (In other times, phoney names in an interview would have gotten your ass kicked out of the source-crowd.) Here's Rita Katz explaining how she's suited for the job of 'terrorist' hunter:

When you grow up in a place like Iraq, you understand maybe a little bit about how Arabs think, and also what they are capable of.

Read that statement again. You didn't read it in the New York Times, which would probably judge it as the hate speech it is. It's from Rita Katz. Benjamin Wallace-Wells quotes her saying that in his article in The New Yorker. Katz is Jewish. With all that's going on the Middle East right now, especially now, should they be turning to a Jewish woman who says: "You understand maybe a little bit about how Arabs think, and also what they are capable of."

If we changed that to "African-American," if Rita Katz was "tracking" African-Americans and stated: "You understand maybe a little bit about African-Americans think, and also what they are capable of" -- would we be offended? I think we would be. And I think we should be now.

Some of Katz's most offensive remarks have been made to the Israeli right-wing press. But they're known outside, those remarks have circulated.

From Wallace-Wells' article:

Katz has many critics, who believe that she is giving terrorists a bigger platform than they would otherwise have, and that the certainty and obsession that make her a dedicated archivist also make her too eager to find plots where they don’t exist; she publicized a manual for using botulinum in terror attacks, for example, which experts later concluded was not linked to any serious threat. It’s possible that her immersion in the world of terrorism has removed whatever skepticism or doubts she may have had. "Much as Al Jazeera underplays terrorist threats, the SITE Institute at times overhypes them," Michael Scheuer, the former head of the C.I.A.’s bin Laden unit, said.

Robert F. Worth, of the Times, is noted in the article (as "Robert Worth" -- well, at least it wasn't "Bobby Worth") saying: "You're thrown into Baghdad, and there are a million different groups out there you've never heard of claiming responsibility for attacks [. . .] Rita really knows what she's talking about--who's responsible for attacks, what's a legitimate terrorist organization and what's not."

If you're not able to make sense of it, how can you evaluate whether she's made sense of it? (Answer, you can't.)

This is typical of the work Rita Katz does at SITE:

Katz then called an American counterterrorism official stationed in the young man's country, and he, in turn, sent the jihadi's e-mails to local investigators. Within twenty-four hours, they had him under surveillance, and a week later they arrested him.

That was over a year ago. An arrest isn't a conviction. That does matter, something Katz should be fully aware of:

In 2004, after she spent months helping the Department of Justice prepare a case against a young University of Idaho computer scientist named Sami Omar al-Hussayen for giving material support to terrorists, a jury acquitted him.

The New Yorker leaves it at that. Reality doesn't leave it at that. Thanks to Rita Katz's "months helping the Department of Justice" more happened then her working to falsely accuse someone who was aquitted.

From Maria Tomchick's "The Real Domestic Terrorists" (Common Dreams):

After more than a year in jail, Al-Hussayen was acquitted by a federal jury on June 10, 2004. The case against him was so thin that his defense attorneys produced only one witness, former CIA Near East division chief Frank Anderson, who testified about terrorist recruitment methods and questioned the FBI's notion that people give up their jobs and family connections to go join a jihad in Chechnya or Palestine after simply reading a few postings on the Internet. After Al-Hussayen's acquittal, Anderson said, "I take satisfaction in the verdict. But I am embarrassed and ashamed that our government has kept a decent and innocent man in jail for a very long time."
Embarrassed and ashamed is not how Al-Hussayen feels. His wife and children have been deported, his studies interrupted, his friends and associates alienated, and his liberty and sense of personal security taken completely away from him. "Terrified" might be a better word to describe the pall that's settled over the muslim community in the small college town and within university community of which Al-Hussayen was once an active and much admired member.
Although Al-Hussayen won his case, he lost so much more. He will probably choose to leave the U.S., now that his wife and children are in Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, the FBI and the U.S. government, which had no case to begin with, still won their objective through sheer harassment.
For those of us who exercise our free speech rights frequently--or other Constitutional rights, for that matter--Al-Hussayen's case is a chilling example. It's meant to send a message: if the government doesn't like what you have to say or doesn't want you to protest in the streets, you can spend a really long time in jail, lose your job, be denied visiting rights from your family and friends, and spend thousands of dollars defending yourself. Or you can just shut up.

Not just if the government doesn't like what you're saying, it's also if Rita Katz doesn't like what you're saying. Katz is, by the way, currently being sued by Mar-Jac Poultry.

What she's doing isn't that different than an earlier witchhunt where someone cried "Communist!" She cries "Terrorist!" And her record is such that a responsible press should have no use for her. Forget her anti-Arab hate speech, just from her "results" alone, responsible press should run from this woman.

Instead, they repeat her claims. And people suffer for it. The Times can't even argue that they use her and her organization as balance because there's no one else they're citing (no other organization is ever presented as an 'expert') -- they present her as the final word, as the only word. Questions have been raised about her organization's translations for some time and the New York Times needs to quit disgracing itself by running the rants and rambles of a xenophobe. (Or else maybe they'll continue this trend by giving Thomas Friedman's column space to Oriana Fallaci when he goes on vacation?)

Many years ago, a wonderful book was published called Naming Names. Victor Navasky (The Nation, CJR) wrote an incredible book. Reading it, years ago, my own thoughts were that it was a wonderful cautionary document (as well as an incredible read) for future generations. Now I don't think so.

I could pick the book up and reread it today -- it would hold my attention. But I'm not sure how much was learned from that book because we're on the same road again and people are acting cowardly again. There's no strong effort to sound the alarms about Katz's work. There's no attempt to explain how hideous what she's doing is. People rush to prop up the Times when it's really not under attack (again, if the government brings charges against the Times and all the usual outlets don't rush to the paper's defense -- then worry about the government, worry about the system, right now it's just publicity for both groups -- the administration and the paper). Or they're still singing the theme to The Judy Miller Show (Gilda Radner had a wonderful skit and let's hope real life events didn't tank the way that was seen). But it's not just Dexy Filkins that's given a pass (no, he's not in the paper today, sadly, since I'm really geared for an entry about the higher education Dexy -- that comment's hopefully clear to anyone who's been following the last few days but for those who need another clue "delusion" was spoken), it's Rita Katz and SITE. It's a number of other things as well but we're primarily focusing on Iraq now. But what Katz is doing is part of a witchhunt that's been ongoing and I'm honestly surprised at how little attention she's received. (I'm not referring to bloggers. For all I know, they've tackled this subject repeatedly and weekly.)

Now maybe in twenty years time, a Victoria or Vince Navasky will come along with a wonderful book that captures this time period. It may make for a riveting read, but it will be meaningless unless we apply the lessons learned from it. I'm not really sure that we're applying the history and the lessons learned (the period that Naming Names covers).

There's a lot of reluctance to speak out on this topic. When a person can espouse such anti-Arab hate statements and still be treated as a serious source, there's no evidence that analysis of earlier witchhunts has taught us anything. (There was a lot of reluctance to speak out in an earlier time as well. Then some feared being labeled a "Communist" or "Communist sympathizer" and the only difference today is that the three syllable word ending with "ist" is "terrorist" and not "Communist.") (It's also true that there was a fear of getting burned. What if the Katz-types really did know something? That sort of fear silenced a lot of otherwise brave voices in the lead up to the Iraq war.)

SITE and Katz have their supporters. Those screaming "Communist!" had their supporters as well. If someone doesn't agree with my opinion of SITE and Katz, I could be wrong. (I often am.) But disagreeing with my opinion doesn't lead to "She's right!" It only leads to: she's very questionable and her work is very questionable. So why is the paper of record using her and her organization repeatedly as a reliable source (and, in fact, as the only source)?

And why is there so little criticism of that utilization? I hope Victoria or Vance is currently in high school or younger because, to be quite frank, if I'm still alive in twenty years and I come across a Naming Names type book written by someone who is in the press today, I won't take kindly to it. I won't take kindly to the fact that someone who could have made a difference in real time is profitting in post-time from a bit of "courage" that was lacking when everything was going down -- when some vocal and repeated criticism could have made a huge difference.

The Herald Tribune had several reporters who were happy to drum up the witchhunt fever. Though the Times now owns it (International Herald Tribune -- and that's the short version of that history), it's really sad to see the sort of 'reporting' that several decades ago would have been done by 'star' reporters at that paper now pop into the New York Times.

For those who'd like another take on the topic Wong's writing of, Aaron Glatnz' "Iraqis Call for Timetable, America Cracks Down" (Common Dreams) offers some things that probably fell to the cutting room floor at the Times (for space reasons, I'm sure):

Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld paid an unannounced visit to Baghdad Wednesday, after telling reporters the Iraqi government is not yet ready to determine the pace of U.S. troop reductions. "We haven't gotten to that point," he said.
So much for Iraqi sovereignty.
It's perhaps no accident that Rumsfeld's visit comes as the Iraqi Parliament prepares to vote on a measure that would demand a timeline for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
The U.S. military has been cracking down on proponents of the measure.
The U.S. military launched an assault last week on the movement of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, conducting separate raids in Baghdad and Babylon and killing and arresting dozens of people.
"We asked them to put a timetable on their withdrawal, and they think that they should stay. This is the main reason of the conflict," explained Sadr movement spokesman Fadil el-Sharra, adding it was Sadr's representatives in Parliament who had put forward the resolution demanding a timeline on a U.S. troop withdrawal.
U.S. military officials deny the raids have anything to do with Sadr's political stance.
"I'm not very concerned at all that there's a political element to this," Major Todd Brasseale said, "because frankly there's a political element to whenever we start up a Humvee over here. But our actions are done to counter the terrorist threat and provide security and stability in Baghdad."
Sadr has millions of followers across Iraq with dozens of seats in the Iraqi Parliament. Early on in the occupation, his Mehdi militia clashed with the U.S. military, but in the summer of 2004 he signed a peace agreement and agreed to join the political process.

Turning to Iraq today, though they war pornographers were turning their eyes elsewhere, Iraq, no surprise, isn't as "calm" as the media keeps attempting to reassure us it is. Right now the AP's telling you "about 30" people have been kidnapped. Reuters notes that, this in Baghdad -- 'crackdown' central, about thirty officials or atheletes and twenty-one bodyguards were kidnapped. (The AP has now upped their coverage to fifty.) Reuters covers the death of three brothers (two Iraqi soldiers) in Baquba (no, this isn't the item from earlier this week where three brothers were kidnapped and their corpses found the next day), a car bomb that killed two police officers in Baghdad, a roadside bomb that killed a US soldier, a computer bomb in Kirkuk that killed at least one person in an internet cafe, and two dead from armed clashes in Baghdad. The AFP states two were killed in the internet cafe and notes this on the brothers:
"To the east of Baghdad on Saturday, in the mixed Sunni-Shiite province of Diyala, another hotbed of sectarian violence, four people were killed, including three brothers who were ambushed just outside Baquba." The AP does note "a series of bomb blasts in a commercial area of the southern Saidiya district killed seven people and wounded 12."

And, from Reuters, will note this:

BAGHDAD - The U.S. military said initial reports indicated that an Apache attack helicopter that crashed in a dangerous area southwest of Baghdad on Thursday was brought down by hostile fire.

Now, if on Thursday, the domestic media hadn't played footsie with the military, Americans could have learned on Friday morning that the helicopter was brought down. We noted it here (Reuters or AFP) and the public account was full of "It's not true!" e-mails. Well, it was true. And there's a reason that you're only hearing of it confirmed (in a tiny item) days after. The crew was rescued before any press reports went out. The US military knew damn well what happened. But if most Americans started their weekend with the news that a US helicopter was shot down, we might not be ready for the chat & chews on Sunday which seem to exist largely to tell us that things are getting better. Things are not getting better. The military can delay confirmations (or reporting deaths) all they want, they can attempt to release news late and hope it gets buried in what passes for reporting (for most) on Saturday. You can't market an illegal war and 'stay-the-course-'till-everyone's dead' without delaying and distorting reality.

Carl notes Margaret Kimberley's latest, "American Infidels Rape Iraq" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):

How is a rape and murder planned? Does one man casually say, "She's hot, let's rape her," and hope that someone else says, "Hell yes!" Is the crime spelled out, or are there mutually understood winks and nudges. Is the conversation brutal or casual and banal?
Abeer Qasim Hamza and her family are now dead because of those chilling words, however they were spoken. Her countrymen and women are still being killed and imprisoned so they can be better off. That is what the president and most members of Congress tell us. Abeer and thousands like her have to be shot, imprisoned, raped and killed for their own good.

[. . .]
It is all spelled out in Green's arrest warrant.
According to SOI3 (Source of Information), GREEN and KP1 (Known Participant) proceeded to have sex with a woman. After GREEN was finished having sex with the woman, SOI3 witnessed GREEN stand up with an AK47 in his hand. GREEN walked over to the woman and shot her several times.
The murders took place on March 12, 2006 and were immediately reported to the U.S. military. No effort was made
to find perpetrators. It was dismissed as an Iraqi on Iraqi crime.
It is difficult to believe that no one in the military knew the truth. Americans were not officially suspected until two soldiers came forward with information during counseling sessions that took place three months later. By that time Green had been discharged with a "personality disorder." He now awaits trial in federal court as a civilian.
How many Abeers are in Iraq? It is hard to believe that she was the only rape victim in three years of occupation. How many Greens are there in the military? It is taboo to even ask the question. No American politician, even those speaking against the occupation, discuss it without reference to "our brave men and women in uniform."

This is really too strong for just one note so I'll try to remember to work it into Sunday evening's entry as well.

Here's what's scheduled for RadioNation with Laura Flanders this weekend:

Making sense out of the senseless, and supreme victories against surpeme odds. First the good news. Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, D-CA, on House renewal (without bad GOP amendments) of the National Voting Rights Act. And Bill Goodman, Center for Constitutional Rights legal director on its Supreme Court victory against torture at Guantanamo. Then, responding to a new wave of war. Jerry Levin, the CNN Middle East bureau chief taken hostage in Lebanon in 1984, on why force doesn't work and Robbie Damelin of Parent's Circle, the Israeli-Palestinian group of bereaved parents agrees. Plus singer-songwriter Chip Taylor, who wrote "Wild Thing" and other hits way back when on his new CD "Unglorious Hallelujah." And a report on getting home safe with Right
Our media rountable features Carol Rosenberg, Miami Herald reporter on Guantanamo and Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive. Then feminist, revolutionary historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz draws on connections between the Contra wars in Central America with todays wars in the Middle East and on the poor in the US.

Matthew Rothschild, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (CounterPunch) and Bill Goodman, among others. Should be something on the two shows for everyone.

Also remember: Saturday July 15th is a day of action calling for Suzanne Swift to receive an honorable discharge including a protest, "at the gates of Ft. Lewis (exit 119) beginning at 12 pm with a press converence at 3 pm" in Washington state -- while in Eugen, Oregon there will be a demonstration outside the Federal Building at noon.

Finally, the following sites have posted since yesterday evening:

Betty (of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man) continues substituting for Rebecca at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Trina of Trina's Kitchen;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz (Elaine's back)
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
and Wally of The Daily Jot

The e-mail address for this site is

Friday, July 14, 2006

Iraq snapshot

The Operation Happy Talk goes on.
Sean McFarland becomes the biggest doofus outside the administration by delcaring, "I think we have turned a corner her in Ramadi."  MacFarland is both an Army Col. and a Happy Talker. 
In news that's a little harder to Happy Talk, Antonio Castaneda (AP) reports that of the 1000 Sunni soldiers who made up the May 2006 graduating class  "only about 300 of them have reported for duty".
In other news from the real world, Reuters reports that the US Congressional Budget Office predicts: "The Iraq war could cost U.S. taxpayers between $202 billion and $406 billion more over the next 10 years".
These projections come at a time when, as Martha Burk has pointed out (Ms.), the US government has cut "[d]omestic-violence prevention by $35 million, Medicaid by $17 billion over five years and child care programs by 1.03 billion over five years."
In other costs paid, Reuters reports 12 corpses were discovered in Tal Afar. CBS and the AP note a corpse ("shot in the chest . . . signs of torture") discovered in Azizyah".
As noted earlier this morning, seven people were killed ("after Friday prayers") when a Sunni mosque in Baghdad was bombed.  Meanwhile Reuters reports that a mosque in Balad Ruz was hit by mortar rounds leaving at least two dead and four wounded while  a car bomber in Mosul who killed himself and five others. The AFP covers a mortar attack in Baghdad that left one person dead and nine wounded.
Shooting deaths? 
Reuters notes that two policeman were killed by a sniper in Tal Afar while a minibus near Kut was attacked "with machine gun fire" resulting in five dead ("including a wwoman and a child").  Meanwhile, the  AFP reports attacks in two cities: a car was "ambushed" in Tikrit by assailants who shot the father dead and wounded the son; and, in Mosul, two different attacks left a police officer dead as well as the bodyguard of a judge. And the Associated Press reports a drive-by in Baghdad that killed a taxi driver.
The BBC noted the death of several Iraqi soldiers (12 at that point) in Kirkuk when they were attacked with "rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns". AFX raised the number dead to 13 (citing "colonel Mahmud Abdulla").
Meanwhile, following yesterday's kidnapping attempt that left wrestling coach Mohammed Karim Abid Sahib dead, the AP reports that: "Iraq's national wrestling team [has] pulled out of a tournament in the United Arab Emirates".
In the United States, Saturday July 15th is a day of action calling for Suzanne Swift to receive an honorable discharge including a protest, "at the gates of Ft. Lewis (exit 119) beginning at 12 pm with a press converence at 3 pm" in Washington state -- while in Eugen, Oregon there will be a demonstration outside the Federal Building at noon. 
In DC (and across the globe -- over 22 countries), the fast led by CODEPINK and others continues.  As Thursday's The KPFA Evening News reported some Congressional members, including Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney and Lynne Woolsey took part in a one-day fast on Thursday. Ann Wright, who ressigned from the State Department on May 19, 2003 and is taking part in the actions stated: "The only reason we fast is to force us to remember what's going on here. That innocent Iraqis are dying every day, Americans are dying every day. We need to get this war ended. So, yeah, we're going to up the ante".
Lastly, Wednesday July 19th, San Antonio, TX will be the location for a "public hearing held by the the independent Commission on the National Guard and Reserves" -- "in the Iberia Ballroom of the La Mansion Del Rio Hotel, 112 College Street, San Antonio."
There will be two panels with the first lasting from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and focused on "roles and missions to funding requirements" and the second, lasting from 2:00 pm to 4 pm, focusing on how reserves were "involuntarily mobilized after September 11, 2001".

Yahoo! Messenger with Voice. Make PC-to-Phone Calls to the US (and 30+ countries) for 2¢/min or less.

NYT: Trying to give out that peaceful, easy feeling (someone break it to them -- they're a paper, not a rock group)

Predicting the future is never an exact science, but one technique is to establish an arc of past events that points toward what is likely to happen next. If one were to apply that approach to Iraq now, alarmed U.S. policymakers might be speeding to pull American troops out as fast as possible.
Another way to judge whether a policy is heading in the right direction is to go back to earlier milestones and ask whether a change of course then would have been a smart idea. If the answer is yes, it's fair to assume that the wrong direction before won't suddenly transform itself into the right one.
Except for die-hard neoconservatives and George W. Bush's staunchest followers, most Americans -- if allowed to turn back the clock to March 2003 -- would happily agree to give the United Nations weapons inspectors more time to complete their search for Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.
Though it’s a bitter pill for the Bush team to swallow, even with a swig of fine Bordeaux, the French were right. If their advice had been taken, more than 2,500 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis might be alive today -- and the United States might have averted a strategic disaster.
Even looking back at post-invasion high points, like Saddam Hussein's capture, many Americans might wish the Bush administration had opted for a "declare victory and leave" approach. But Bush saw each positive development as encouragement to press on toward a more total victory.
In retrospect, Bush’s policy might be summed up by the slogan, "Who knows? We might get lucky."
Grim and Grimmer
But, as the Iraq news grows grim and grimmer, the U.S. occupation of Iraq shows no sign of getting lucky.
Sectarian strife between Sunnis and Shiites continues to inflict widespread bloodshed, while some U.S. troops have been fingered as trigger-happy participants in the slaughter of Iraqis.
It also doesn’t help that the Bush administration -- by lowering standards to meet U.S. military recruitment goals -- has been sending unfit soldiers and even sociopaths into the baking-hot tinderbox that is today’s Iraq.

The above, noted by Zach, is from Robert Parry's "The Enduring Logic of Withdrawal" (Consortium News). (Hopefully no one reading the excerpt thought, "At last, the New York Times sees the light of day!" only to be disappointed when they realized it wasn't from the paper. Although a similar sort of moment has happened to a few who heard a certain correspondent for the paper speak at a college and be full of brave talk and bluster -- using terms like "delusional" to describe the administration's 'plan' -- only to go back to churning out the usual sop and happy talk.)

Now let's go to the Times, which isn't too concerned with Iraq today. Kirk Semple has "Carnage Eases in Baghdad, but Continues to Take Toll" and tries to walk the fine line between what the paper allows and reality. He trips. He stumbles. He falls. (Didn't the Mamas and the Papas warn it would be that way?) We'll note one specific example as he speaks of the calm by comparison (at least 31 killed on Thursday, on the calm day):

In the deadliest insurgent attack Thursday, a bomb exploded in eastern Baghdad, killing three street sweepers and wounding four, an Interior Ministry official said. An Iraqi policeman was killed and four were wounded in the predominantly Sunni Arab district of Ghazaliya in western Baghdad in a clash between gunmen and police officers, the official said.

That was the deadliest attack? (Even the figures go against other reports, but let's let that slide.)

One item from Reuters yesterday:

ABI SAIDA - A suicide bomber blew himself up in the city council of the town of Abi Saida, 80 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad, killing six people and wounding three, including the head of the city council, police said.

Six killed. "Including the head of the city council."

One would think that was a bit more deadly than the incident he goes with.

Guess what, it's Friday. It's getting worse. From Reuters today:

BAGHDAD, July 14 (Reuters) - A bomb planted in the street killed at least seven people and wounded five as they left a Sunni mosque in northern Baghdad after Friday prayers, police said.

(AP's still happy talking by the way.)

Sometimes it's hard to be a happy talker, giving all your spin, for just one illegal war.

Remember, this happened where a 'crackdown' has been going on for, what, a month now? With a Friday curfew. (By the way, Zach also notes Consortium on Plamegate.)

With other examples of violence not covered in the Times, Martha notes Joshua Partlow's "Iraq Given Control of Province" (Washington Post):

Violence flared again in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities Thursday, leaving at least 32 people dead as sectarian violence continued this week. In one incident, a bomb tethered to a bicycle exploded outside the city council office in Abi Saida, a town about 60 miles north of Baghdad, killing four people and wounding three, said Lt. Adnan Lefta of the Muqdadiyah police major crimes unit.
In the predominantly Shiite Muslim slum of Sadr City in Baghdad, a car bomb blew up near a gas station, killing seven people and injuring 16, according to Interior Ministry officials.
The coach of the national wrestling team, Mohammed Karim Abid Sahib, was killed when gunmen attempted to abduct him and one of his wrestlers near a sports center in the northern part of Baghdad, the Associated Press reported. The wrestler escaped.

I'm just not getting that peaceful, easy feeling.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

And the war drags on (Indymedia Roundup)

But she vows to continue being in the president's face. "I respect the office of the presidency," she says, "but I never worship at the shrines of our public servants. They owe us the truth. They owe us peace. America should never be a country that starts wars; Iraq has reminded Americans of that. We do not have the right to attack anyone we think it a potential enemy."
"The Washington press corps has the privilege of asking the president of the United States what he is doing and why," she continues. "We don't go into journalism to be popular. It is our job to seek the truth and put constant pressure on our leaders until we get answers. We threw in the towel after 9/11. But I think -- I hope -- we're more skeptical now. The press is coming out of its coma."

The above is Helen Thomas speaking to Ann McFeatters, from "Thank You, Ms. Thomas" in the Summer 2006 issue of Ms. The latest issue focuses on a number of issues and to cover what we can in this entry, we'll also note Martha Burk's cover story, "Crude Awakening: How U.S. War Policies Sell Out Women In Favor Of Big Oil" (it's avaible online) which traces the US embracing of the Taliban in the late nineties in the interest of Unocal and a pipeline. Though it's easy to forget now (as Nicky demonstrates repeatedly), feminists were speaking out publicly in the United States against the Taliban long before September 11th made the Bully Boy (who made his own overtures to them) suddenly an interest. Burk notes that, under Bill Clinton, the State Department announced it would begin relations with the Taliban because, as Glyn Davies (spokesperson for the department) announced, there was "nothing objectionable" about them.
Burk writes:

Only a concentrated effort led by Feminist Majority, NOW and allied groups prevented the Taliban from being recognized as the official government of Afghanistan, and kept the U.S. from sanctioning the abolishment of women's basic human rights in the service of the petroleum industry. (But then, once the oil-happy Bush administration came into power in 2000 -- both the president and the vice president are former oil executives -- it re-established talks with the Taliban about the pipeline.)
This is perhaps the starkest example of why the politics of oil is a feminist issue.

Burk goes on to take a look at various oil rich regions and the US' attitudes towards them as well as noting the realities of Afghanistan (another failed 'liberation'):

Meanwhile, four years after the U.S.-led war to remove the Taliban, the group is on the rise again in Afghanistan. Women who criticize local rulers or who are merely active in public life as political candidates, journalists, teachers or NGO workers face increasing threats and violence. Many women are still in the burqa, afraid to take it off because of the returning Taliban and the lack of security, and unable to travel without a male relative. Vicolence against women and girls remains rampant, including domestic and sexul abuse and forced marriages. According to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, over 300 girls' schools have been burned or bombed. In five southern Afghan provinces, at least 90 percent of school-age girls do not attend classes.

The reality that must never rain on the Operation Happy Talk parade.

Pumped up with false notions of success in Afghanistan, many of the American people were perfectly willing to 'kick some butt' in Iraq. The deterioration in both countries is only a surprise to those who bought the happy talk and those who feed it. (Thomas Friedman tries his con-job approach in Friday's paper as Betty's already noted in her latest chapter: "The War Paint Council.") As Thomas notes in the excerpt at the top, the towel was thrown in after September 11th.

Happy talk goes on today. Waves of it on Iraq, less so on Afghinstan. (There's very little talk of Afghanistan to begin with. The discarded first flame.) And everyone wonders which new war the Bully Boy was start next? Iran? North Korea? Venezuela?

Ms. has the result of their latest poll (1,023 respondents, "conducted May 19-22") and the news isn't good . . . for the Bully Boy. 67% of women and 57% of men "oppose the U.S. taking preemptive, unilateral military action." On Iraq, 55% of women and 43% want US troops withdrawn "immediately or in the next year." If Congress was as representative of the people as it's supposed to be, possibly the Kerry-Feingold measure could have found more than 13 senators to support it? (For those doing the math, 100 senators in the Senate so that means while the public supports a withdrawl by over half, the Senate supports it by only a little over 10 percent.) (The poll also found that 53% of women and 35% of men "consider themselves feminists.")

So then the war's over, right?

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.

-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Thursday, the American military fatality count was 2540. Right now? 2546. Which leads some like the AP to gush about the 'small' number. Yeah, things are peaceful. (The Washington Post went with at least 50 Iraqis dead from Sunday's violence and at least 45 from Wednesday's. At least 31 Iraqis dead today, as noted by The KPFA Evening News. Happy Talkers might want to rethink singing, "It's getting better . . . so much better . . . getting better all the time.") Those not trumpeting the 'small' number (of Americans, of course, it's a fish-out-of-water film to read much of the coverage) note reality.

One example is Cindy's highlight, Ruth Rosen's "The Hidden War on Women in Iraq" ( via Common Dreams):

Abu Ghraib. Haditha. Guantanamo. These are words that shame our country. Now, add to them Mahmudiya, a town 20 miles south of Baghdad. There, this March, a group of five American soldiers allegedly were involved in the rape and murder of Abeer Qassim Hamza, a young Iraqi girl. Her body was then set on fire to cover up their crimes, her father, mother, and sister murdered. The rape of this one girl, if proven true, is probably not simply an isolated incident. But how would we know? In Iraq, rape is a taboo subject. Shamed by the rape, relatives of this girl wouldn't even hold a public funeral and were reluctant to reveal where she is buried.
Like women everywhere, Iraqi women have always been vulnerable to rape. But since the American invasion of their country, the reported incidence of sexual terrorism has accelerated markedly. -- and this despite the fact that few Iraqi women are willing to report rapes either to Iraqi officials or to occupation forces, fearing to bring dishonor upon their families. In rural areas, female rape victims may also be vulnerable to "honor killings" in which male relatives murder them in order to restore the family's honor. "For women in Iraq,"
Amnesty International concluded in a 2005 report, "the stigma frequently attached to the victims instead of the perpetrators of sexual crimes makes reporting such abuses especially daunting."
This specific rape of one Iraqi girl, however, is now becoming symbolic of the way the Bush administration has violated Iraq's honor;
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has already launched an inquest into the crime. In an administration that normally doesn't know the meaning of an apology, the American ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad and the top American commander in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr. both publicly apologized. In a fierce condemnation, the Muslim Scholars Association in Iraq denounced the crime: "This act, committed by the occupying soldiers, from raping the girl to mutilating her body and killing her family, should make all humanity feel ashamed."
Shame, yes, but that is hardly sufficient. After all, rape is now considered a war crime by the International Criminal Court.

It is a war crime. Even if the bulk of the coverage treats it as if it's not. (Are we supposed to buy the few bad apples yet again? How many bad apples are there in Iraq, anyway? Or, more to the point, it's that an illegal war built on lies never bears 'good' fruit?)
31 people today

There's the cost paid in blood (by the Iraqis and the US) and there are other costs as well. Tom notes John Murtha's "What the Iraq War is Costing Us" (CounterPunch):

We are spending $8 billion a month in Iraq. that equates to 2 billion dollars a week, or 267 million dollars a day, or 11 million dollars an hour.
Attached are some comparisons between what we are spending in Iraq as we "stay the course" indefinitely and what those funds could be used for instead.
I've been fighting for our military to get out of Iraq because I'm concerned about the loss of our troops and the future of our military and also because I believe they have accomplished their mission there and the Iraqis must resolve their internal conflict themselves. However, I also wanted to demonstrate what these expenses mean to domestic policy in the United States and give you an idea of just some of the things that what we could accomplish with this amount of money.

Use the link for the breakdown of where the money's going and where it could be going.
So what stops the useless war? I agree with Ann Wright's comments on The KPFA Evening News, upping the ante. How so?

Remember this from CODEPINK:

TROOPS HOME FAST! On July 4, we launched an historic hunger strike called TROOPS HOME FAST in Washington, DC in front of the White House. While many Americans expressed their patriotism via barbeques and fireworks, we're fasting in memory of the dead and wounded, and calling for the troops to come home from Iraq. Read an interview with Diane Wilson to learn more. We're inviting people around the world to show their support for this open-ended fast by fasting for at least one day. Please sign here to to support us and encourage your friends to do the same. Click here to view photos of our latest actions, including July 4 arrests!

That's only one example. But on The KPFA Evening News, there was a report (actually two, one by Sandra Lupien and one by Katie Heim) on the ongoing fast in DC. The report discussed how some members of Congress, including Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney and Lynne Woolsey took part in a one-day fast today, joining the fasters in DC and the 3700 worldwide.

Ann Wright stated, "Most of us, this is the first time we've fasted and it's been a real interesting physical and psychological time. . . . The only reason we fast is to force us to remember what's going on here. That innocent Iraqis are dying every day, Americans are dying every day. We need to get this war ended. So, yeah, we're going to up the ante.

Diane Wilson intends to continue fasting until the troops come home and spoke of how some "People that think that you're going to stay on it 'till you die are thinking, in no way is that going to happen, the troops aren't going to come . I have a very strong faith that our committment here in Washington, DC and the thousands of people that are joining is going to be a catalyst for change."

It was noted that Wilson has prepared a will prior to starting the fast and that she would refuse feeding even if she passed out.

I'm amazed by their willpower. I'm going off after Friday. I may go back it on again, a point that needs to be made. If you want to take part for a day, you're free to do so. If you did a day and want to do another, that's fine too. You can start up now, this is an ongoing fast. You don't have to sign up at CODEPINK, that's just a way for them to keep track. If you're doing it, one point is to have an impact on the world around you and yourself. Again, signing up does allow a way for a count to be done, but that's up to you.

Take your face out of your hands
And clear your eyes
You have a right to your dreams
And don't be denied
I believe in a better way
-- "Better Way" written by Ben Haper, from the CD Both Sides of the Gun.

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Iraq snapshot

If you missed it, all is well and good in Iraq.

Or that's the latest Operation Happy Talk spin we're all supposed to get behind. The Associated Press leads the pack (I'm sure the Times will grab the baton tomorrow) in trumpeting the fact that a single province is now under Iraqi control. Any questions about the nature of this province could be put to rest by noting the dwindling coalition's fatality figures for that province (non-existant) but reality must never mar happy talk. As AFP notes: "Aside from Basra, most southern provinces are considered fairly stable and several are slated for security handovers in the next few months -- though coalition force officials admit that immediately following the handovers security may decline as insurgents test the system."

Which is why the AP trumpets the 'small' number of US troops who've lost their lives thus far this month (11) while burying the fact that Iraqi witnesses saw a US helicopter shot down today. ("Iraqi authorities said the helicopter was shot down near Youssifiyah, 12 miles southwest of Baghdad in an area where al-Qaida in Iraq and other insurgents operate. The Iraqis spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to media.") Reuters notes the helicopter was on a "combat air patrol."

Things look peaceful?

Earlier today, the AP reported on a bombing of a village council headquarters in Baghdad (bicycle bomb, at least four council members left dead) and the shooting death of a police officer -- in the city under a month's "crackdown." Terry McCarthy (ABC -- America) reports on how fake identification sells for the US equivalent of ten and fifteen dollars and many Iraqis are puchasing them to reduce risk to their lives at checkpoints. McCarthy reports: "Now many Iraqis carry two IDs in their pockets and will produce one or the other, depending on who is asking for it." Packing your fake i.d.? Don't forget your gun. Mariam Karouny (Reuters) takes a look at the conditions that lead many of Baghdad's seven million to arm themselves as the chaos and violence continues around the country and in the capital.

That's reality and some correspondents (such as reportedly one with the New York Times) calling the Bully Boy and his 'plan' for Iraq "delusional" at a college appearance is meaningless when he continues to churn out the sort of nonsense at his paying job that prolongs the delusion.

Other bombs across the country. Reuters reports bombs in Mosul (roadside, five wounded) where a bomber took his own life and six others in a city council in Abi Saida while a car bomb killed four people and wounded at least nineteen; a car bomber took his own life and that of three others in Kirkuk (at least eight more wounded); and mortar rounds in Baghdad left two wounded. The AFP reports a bomb in Baghdad took the lives of five "municipal road sweepers."


The AP reports a kidnapping attempt on a wrestler and wrestling coach that left the coach, Mohammed Karim Abid Sahib, dead (the wrestler managed to escape).


Reuters notes three corpses discovered near Muqdadiya (three brothers who had been kidnapped the day before).

And in the United States, Joe Biden is raising doubts about Nouri al-Maliki's efforts as prime minister.

But surely, the most important point today is that a restive province with little violence will now be babysat by Iraqi forces (who may find it not so restive, as the AFP noted). And surely, mainstream correspondents will continue to churn out the spin that prolongs the illegal war while wanting points for being "brave" while speaking to college audiences.

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Community note

First off, thanks to Ava and Jess who've really worked the e-mails this week (and thanks to them as well as Shirley and Martha who helped out last week). I've spent the morning in the e-mails and the subject just won't die.

There are also questions/concerns/fears that Democracy Now! will be linked to today.

It's not happening.

I'm not the Bully Boy. I don't see hardened opinion and think it will change. The opinion regarding the program is so strong in this community that I don't see it changing.

My own personal opinion? (Which many ask for in e-mails.) Even on a bad day, it's better than anything else we've got. I'm sorry that the opinion of the community is where it is but that's where it is and there's no point in denying it.

To address some of the topics coming up most frequently (or fiercly) in the e-mails.

The Gaza coverage.

Gaza is a difficult subject. It's got a long history that many listening (or watching or reading) may not be aware of. The events require a perspective (which Goodman & company -- my opinion -- provided). Providing that perspective may mean that a detail, even an important one, might get less attention or overlooked. Those who are very passionate about this issue find fault with the coverage and they're highly informed on the issue, they aren't "wrong." But the program reaches people other than those who have followed the issue.

When the e-mails started on this issue, there was a generic reply that went out from me which is if I put myself in Goodman's shoes, I don't think I don't know that I would've done it that much differently. (I wouldn't have apologized to a guest.) I did note that if you're bringing AIPAC on as a guest, due to the nature of an ongoing case, you have to ask them about that issue. It would be like having Bill Clinton on in the middle of the impeachment and never asking of the impeachment. (That's not likening Bill Clinton to AIPAC.) Though the impeachment, my opinion, was over nonsense, it was a serious issue to a presidency. By the same token that members who later were no longer with the organization (though they were with it when it was just an investigation, prior to charges being brought) are now the accused of spying is an issue. You can't bring an organization onto a news show with that in the air and not ask about it.

Kara and Brad wrote very detailed e-mails on the Gaza coverage, noting what was being left out. They weren't the only ones, but that's one of their big issues and they wrote the essay in the gina & krista round-robin on this. Were I in Goodman's shoes and had Kara and Brad prepping me for the interview, it would have gone differently. Left on my own, I can't say that it would have. (Other than I wouldn't have apologized to one guest and I would have asked AIPAC about the charges.)

Forgetting the coverage when the armed agression began and looking at the overall coverage in the last years, the program has (my opinion) obviously attempted to cover the subject.

War as an After Thought.

Mike captured that beautifully in his column that ran in Sunday's Polly's Brew. (And the comments weren't limited to one program.) What I can add to that is if you have someone a fast for peace who is also on the program to talk about an arrest and you pair him with another guest, the words, "We only have X seconds" shouldn't be said. That's a story in and of itself. You don't turn it into the quickie segment at the end. I'll pick up on this thread later on.

Ehren Watada.

The day of protest wasn't noted. It's felt that the issue was completely dropped until after the charges were brought. After that, it was felt that the coverage was very poor (waiting for the last segment, running out of time, questions not asking what was needed to be asked at the start when there would have been time to answer them). On every point in the e-mails, on all topics, I could see where the member was coming from with their remarks. On this issue, I was in the strongest agreement.

Where's the hypocrite charge?

I kept waiting for that. For the e-mail that called me a hypocrite for going after Edward Wong for getting the time of Steven D. Green's arrest wrong. My prepared reply was that Wong got it wrong on the same day Democracy Now! did and I didn't say anything. (I corrected the date in the descriptive paragraph of the segment we posted here and put a link on the date that took members to the BBC story that had the date correct.)

I didn't say anything about Wong, I didn't say anything about DN! They were both wrong and it was right after the Fourth of July so many people were playing catch up. Wong repeated the mistake in a major story in the New York Times. I called him out on it. The Times corrected it and we noted it here.

Democracy Now! got the date wrong again this Tuesday. (They're not the only ones getting it wrong. If you hear "last week" Green was arrested, you're hearing from someone who doesn't know their facts. He was arrested on Friday, June 30th. "Last month" would be accurate.) When they got it wrong on Tuesday, that wasn't one of the included highlights and the program was already the object of so many e-mails that I really wasn't in the mood for it.

But the e-mails never came in on that. They have gotten it wrong (first when Wong did, they've continued to be wrong whereas the Times has issued a correction). (Again, they aren't the only ones getting it wrong.) (As far as I know the Times has been the only one to correct it.) (If the program corrected it yesterday, I don't know. I was on the road out of state to speak at a college and didn't catch it. I thought I'd listen and read the e-mails while I did but the e-mails and the program weren't going to mesh so I turned off the radio.)


As usual, Rebecca says what everyone's thinking but is afraid to voice. I haven't read her post (and probably won't since I'm mentioned it) but I have heard about it repeatedly. "That's what I was afraid of" was the basic sentiment of many phone calls this morning from young activists who've been working on the immigration issue -- how a mass exodus to Mexico to protest the election will play into the right-wing's hands on the immigration issue?

It's a valid fear. The flag non-issue was used to tar and smear many and to question how 'dedicated' they were to the United States. If there's a mass exodus, the right will have a field day. (I heard, on the radio, that they were expecting, quote, "millions.") The best thing for the immigration issue was no legislation from the current Congress. There's no legislation that's helpful to immigrants. Bully Boy's taken to the road to try to get the ball rolling (which the activism stopped) and there are dog & pony show discussions going on throughout the country.
There's a natural fear in some areas of the country (stoked by many) where immigration may not be an obvious issue. Good people, who would otherwise be welcoming and supportive, can have their fear factors stoked. Rebecca noted the elephant in the room.

I didn't listen to yesterday's show but would assume that with Palast (as opposed to blow hards) as the guest, it was a discussion of what his investigating had turned up. But there was no excuse for the Zapatistas being Ralph Nadered the week prior.

I've written about that here at length so I think my feelings on the damage that does has already been covered.

(One phone call said Rebecca wrote of an episode from 2004. I had a question on that and the caller didn't remember it being in there. If she covered it, she and I have never spoken of that segment, it didn't stand out so let me make the point here. The guest brought on to 'debate' should not have been allowed on the program at all. When you trash Pacifica in a well known 'journalistic' article that refers to 'crackpots,' you're off that radio network -- my opinion. It doesn't matter what organization you're with or not with. You're off the air. He should never have been on as a guest. The fact that he trashed the network for precisely the sort of show Goodman was attempting to do should have precluded him from being offered up in a 'debate.' Others could have been brought in as the opposing guest if a debate was wanted. Including one who was just on the show in May or June discussing Plamegate.)

Am I offended that others are writing of it?

Why would I be? Those are their sites. I did read Mike's entry because I know how much the program meant to him and how much he had not said last week (with the hope that it would improve). Everyone's writing in their own voices, their own truths. There's nothing wrong with that. I don't think, as a visitor fears, it's 'fed into' a mood. The mood was there all last week when everyone was avoiding the issue. The mood was there the week prior when Rebecca was very vocal about how poor she felt the Gaza coverage was. (Mike phoned this morning while I was in the shower. If Tony or Nina reads this before class -- Mike's at work and I'm not going to bother him at work -- he doesn't owe me any apology. He felt strongly on the issue. I knew that. I knew it sent him into a tailspin of deep depression last week. I wasn't surprised by how strong his feelings were about the program or how he expressed those feelings. No apologies necessary. I'll call him this evening but if Tony or Nina can pass that on before he goes into class, it would be appreciated.)

What's up with the show?

Ask the program. I have no idea. I'm not a part of the program. Charlie feels it's sliding into Larry King Live territory. If that's true, it may have to do with someone spreading themselves very thin. Speeches, events and a daily show take a toll. A critic in The New Yorker, shortly after the televised immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, wrote of various anchors that we didn't need to know so much about them or see so much of them outside of their programs. Whether you agree with that or not, that's not really an option for Democracy Now! which doesn't have a big network advertising budget. Word of mouth is very important for that show's health. That the primary host has been so willing to travel around the country and around the world speaks to dedication and a belief in the program.

But at some point, a break is needed and, I'll offer my personal opinion, when a death that effects you tremendously happens, you need to take the time needed. That's a lesson I learned the hard way. (Elaine would say I never really dealt with, only with getting through it. Which may be true.)

Everything will have a natural up and down cycle. I don't think it's a leap to say the program's been on the down cycle of late. That may be due to the above (it may not be) or it may be due to losing some valued staff (and I'm sure the new staff will excell at their jobs when given the time to develop their own strengths -- at which point the show will be on an up cycle).

I think the primary host works very hard.

The site

I had no idea on that. I've stated before I had no idea why they were pushing what was basically a "2 cool 2 be 4-gotten" yearbook entry in their daily e-mail. I don't think it plays well. I know it hasn't played well with this community from the e-mails. I also know if Rebecca's former mother-in-law is saying that it's tainting the host as a "social climber" by association, that's not a good thing. (Consider the woman the Anthony Kennedy of the Court. That's the justice you might be able to sway. If you can't sway her, you're case doesn't stand a chance.)

I know that site is not a site that members care for. I know various reasons for that. We had a prankster, as most members of any length will remember, who added it and Atrios to our links on the left. Sometimes with the names visible, sometimes hidden under another title. I didn't care for the site. When we finally got that settled I explained in an e-mail to the prankster that I would stop this site before I'd promote a site where women were leaving because they felt they'd been dismissed, mocked and ridiculed. The agreement we worked out was that Atrios would stay. (I've never visited that site and no one's ever complained that it's host is sexist or dismissive.)

Along with the association to the social climber there's another association that it has to another site. That's come up a great deal in the e-mails.

I really don't have much to say on that.

And just deleted a long passage on it. I'd prefer that we not talk about it here. If we were promoting the site, it would be different. A joint-entry led some to believe we would talk about it here. I asked for a contribution and that was what I was sent. Jess saw it in the e-mails on Sunday. I had a problem with it in terms of the fact that it really wasn't something I was wanting to become a main topic here. But I asked if there was something that was worth linking to.

We had a long discussion on that (over two days). At one point, Jim said, "Let's make it a Third Estate Sunday Review News Round Up and whomever wants to bring it up, can." (If someone wants to cover the issue, they can. That's their right.) Jim had a good suggestion but since it wasn't about legal issues and since it was a joint-entry (and since we were all sick of talking about and needed to get the damn thing done so we could get on with our own 4th), I said we'd do it as an entry. It was thought that, due to the scope, we'd put it in a technology update and I think it worked out well within that context. But that's the extent of it here.

If we were linking to the site, it would be one thing. We're not. (We did link to something at Third in the Casey Junior post. It has been noted here at some point. Other than that, I'm aware of no link.)

E-mails are raising the association of the program to a site associated with the one we're avoding. That goes to the fact that you have to be careful with what you're seen as endorsing.
I noted that in a long entry at the mirror site that I never got around to cross-posting here. I noted that we'd recently linked to something and, as with an earlier writer linked to, there was more than most knew. When that comes up, we stop linking to that writer. Friends are very good about saying, "Wait. You don't want to link to them and here's why."

For some people, that's put the program's credibility in question. That's why you're careful about your associations. On what we're not going to talk about (in terms of legal), I will note that a lot of people, sites, orgs, that continue that association are being questioned so it's a bit much for the program to plead ignorance if they wanted to try that tactic.

The person's basically under a gag order. At some point, when it's lifted, there may be a good reason for it or there may be a chance at redeeming. But right now, a lot of people are blowing their credibility. Why the program wants to risk their own is beyond me.

But it wasn't just that, it was a series of events. Last week, I continued linking in entries. I won't do that anymore. I'm not Bully Boy. The community has turned on the show. It's the number one topic in e-mails and has been since the Gaza issue/coverage. Marcia no longer wants her name mentioned. (She came up with the catch phrase "always worth watching" in 2004 which became "always informing you" in 2006 because not everyone who follows the program watches it.) That's her right. Marcia was as big a supporter of the program as Mike and if they've lost her, they've lost the community. She was a listener before it ever entered into other forms.

They've also lost Franciso, Miguel and Maria. Last week, Miguel was supposed to do the highlights. He e-mailed that, due to the Zapatista "slams and dismissals" he wasn't comfortable noting it. I understood that and called Maria. She was even more vocal about why she wouldn't do it. Francisco did it as a favor to me. I appreciate that. But I spent all last week trying to do damage control on the show. I'm tired of that. When Maria phoned yesterday and told me that they had all three decided to no longer do it, I told her I understood. I do.

The community's turned against the show. It didn't help that a youth movement, which was how the immigration rallies began, was largely covered via older adults as guests. It didn't help that (and this was the most complaints we ever got about the program until recently) a mainstream media type was brought on to share his mainstream observations and wasn't questioned but allowed to be 'just one of us' (Francisco said that). The fact that he was speaking of one rally in particular -- one in an area so many members are from and that those members saw him, before he ever came on the show, as a lap dog and not a brave voice -- didn't help.

(I have no idea what Ruth's doing on her upcoming report. I saw Tracey's comment in Mike's entry and that was the first I knew of it. It's her space and she can do whatever she wants in her report.)

Thomas Friedman's rant against Hugo Chavez didn't help.

It's been a snow ball building for some time now. My preference would be to note it. I am not the community. I am one member. The community is very clear on this so we won't note it anymore. If something changes, it changes. I don't see it changing. (And this entry isn't an attempt to change anything. Only to stop the e-mails so we can focus on more important things.)

Two Sundays ago, Mike did a column for Polly's Brew (his first column) where he noted who was informed of Nancy A. Youssef's article (that the US was keeping body counts). All those sites on that list were put on a hold in terms of noting. If a member went to the trouble of contacting someone and asking for coverage and the coverage didn't come, that says something. The only exception I allowed was Democracy Now! That may have intensified the anger towards the program.

I'd prefer not to take down the link but if, in a few month's time, that is the feeling of the community, we will. We have the online, latter day Dylan up for his archives and hopefully we can keep this link up for the same reason if no other. If not, so be it.

I did defend the program last week. It did no good. I'm one member only and the feeling of the community is quite clear. So we won't be noting it anymore.

I don't see that changing. The opinion has hardened. I haven't read Wally's entry. I ended up being asked if I'd speak to two other groups yesterday and was running way behind. When I was done, I called Wally and apologized for the lateness of the call. He said he'd already posted and asked that I not read it. (Which I honored.) [and Wally of The Daily Jot to give him his link but avoid going to the site -- I copy and pasted that from Third -- because if I go, I might be tempted to read the entry he asked me not to.]

I know he's upset. I know Mike is a very passionate person. I know Wally's a more detached personality. It's not one member or a small group that feels the program's lost it. Wally was upset with it (and most media) only once before. When the hurricane in Florida (which left many without electricity for around a month but the news media wasn't too interested in that), it was very personal to him. It effected his friends, his family and especially his grandfather. I think the media missed a wonderful opportunity to underscore how there is no "homeland security" and how the lack of response to Katrina wasn't a rogue happening. If, after Katrina and all the "never again"s, a milder hurricane, by comparison, can result in what a number of people in Florida experienced, it demonstrates that the current administration has no 'game plan,' has no interest in formulating one and that when something awful happens (natural or human made), all the money poured in on "homeland security" has been wasted.

Wally was very upset about that and it's the only time I've know him to be that upset (I understand completely why he was so upset). When he would discuss it and note how little media attention it was receiving, I was tempted to suggest he request coverage. Tie a happy bow around it and say, "Here's what to do." Instead, I just provided an ear (which was all he wanted). But, as Mike's first column demonstrated, requesting coverage doesn't make a difference.

Aaron Glantz and Nancy A. Youssef were among the few who even bothered to note that the US was keeping body counts. "We don't do body counts" has been repeated over and over. They have been doing them. For at least a year. That wasn't news to people. Even when members attempted to make it news. That Democracy Now!, which has often had Youssef on as a guest, was among those who were contacted about the story but still refused to note it is really sad.

That added into the turning. But I think what it comes down is too many guests who you wonder, "Why are they on?" Then, as you watch, they're allowed to say whatever they want. Little of which gets questioned (Friedman's rant on Chavez resulted in no comment -- a win for him, he gets to come onto a popular show and slam Chavez and there's no follow up to it). That's been happening too often. We criticize it in the mainstream media, we need to criticize in the non-mainstream.

So for that and the other reasons listed in this entry, we're no longer noting it.

Personally, I'm trying to see the positive. There are too many mistakes being made. There's too much that we can't note for that reason. (I'm referring to facts.) It's also not fair to hold the Times to one standard and the program to another. I can argue, we'll this isn't the X draft, but live coverage. That explains on air goofs that everything on air will make. But to repeatedly get something wrong (example, when Green was arrested) is just not a mistake that I can explain away.

I was hoping to not write this entry and, honestly, am rather depressed. It's obvious, I'm sure, that I'd prefer to continue to note the program. (That's not asking for a series of, "Okay, C.I., we can keep noting the program." The decision's been made.) I think it does much good and hope it's just been on a down cycle of late.

If the "Iraq snapshot" isn't noted this afternoon, it will be this evening. I'm depressed and crawling into bed on that note. Correction, Blogger/Blogspot now has a message up about an outage later today. I have no idea how long that will last. If you don't see something here, check the mirror site. The start time is also when many of the community evening sites post so I have no idea what will happen there. (All can use the mirror site if they'd like.)

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Paying attention?

Previous entry should raise an eye brow of anyone paying attention to what's going on in Iraq.
From Paul von Zielbauer and David S. Cloud's "More Troops May Be Needed in Baghdad, U.S. General Says" in this morning's New York Times:

Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the senior American commander in Iraq, said Wednesday that . . . there might be a need to move more American forces into the capital to prevent the deadly cycle from worsening.

Sometimes, as with the Beatles' White album cover, it doesn't take much to make a point.

As Dahr Jamail, among others, have pointed out re: Ramadi, there are not enough troops to do what the US military would like to do. Instead, a large number of US troops have been taking part in the "crackdown" in Baghdad. (That's only done more to increase violence which isn't surprising when you grasp that foreign occupiers have always been one of the key sources of tension.)

Buried in the Times on Tuesday (page A17, National Briefing) was one paragraph ("Military Recruiting Successful") which announced, to little surprise, that the Amry had met it's recruiting goals for June. (No surprise because June is always a good month in a bad economy.) (High school graduations.)

So quick to trumpet non-news as news, the military's prepared a little "fact" sheet (it's pdf, click here, if you're interested) where they make the comment: Everyone joining the military is rigorously screened for a variety of medical and physical factors that bear on succesful military performances -- often under austere conditions." Now explain that much trumpeted 'anti-social personality disorder' that led someone currently in a high profile case to be discharged?

The facts are that June's always a strong month (again, in a bad economy, following high school graduations, that's not surprising, and June numbers are never a surprise though it is a surprise that the military continues to trumpet them as news or surprising).

Where are the troops coming from that Pace is calling for? (We've noted in various snapshots, the various squads getting ready for deployment to Iraq over the next few months -- including, most recently, news from Colorado.)

The Army figures, a friend in the military said this morning, are the ones to watch because they are "the ground forces." And he says they don't have the numbers, they still don't have the numbers. The numbers needed weren't met in 2005, they weren't met in 2004. And that was when things were easier to portray as rosy in Iraq.

Those illusions are gone (for all but the administration). What's being done, as many have noted, is that the standards for enlistment are continuing to drop. And that's what you have to do to recruit for an increasingly unpopular war.

Another thing to remember, pointed out over the phone this morning, is that the number of countries making up the so-called coalition continue to dwindle as countries pull out or announce that they are pulling out -- this while Afghanistan is thought to demand additional troops (that just aren't there).

Deploying the huge number to Baghdad and instigating the crackdown hasn't resulted in a less violence in Iraq. The Times low balls yesterday's fatalities (again) going with "at least 30" while the Washington Post goes with "at least 45" (that's the figure most are going with -- but the Times reporters were traveling with Rumsfeld).

The Post (Joshua Partlow and Josh White's "22 Slain in Raid at Iraqi Bus Station: Rumsfeld Visit Coincides With 4th Day of Intensified Violence," noted by Martha) offers:

Casey said more U.S. troops might be needed in Baghdad to combat the violence, but both he and Rumsfeld said it was too early to say whether U.S. force levels across Iraq would shrink or grow in coming months. Defense officials have said they would like troop levels to drop from 129,000 to about 100,000 by the end of the year.

Micah notes an AP article the Times carries ("Gloomy Assessment by Afghan Defense Minister"):

The Afghan Army cannot secure the country without at least 150,000 troops -- five times what it has -- the defense minister said Wednesday.
The minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, said that a plan to increase the army to 70,000 troops from 27,000 was inadequate, and that the American-led coalition should divert funds from its own operations to strengthen Afghan forces.
Mr. Wardak said a 70,000-member army could not end a surge of Taliban-led violence like the one that flared recently, or protect the country from outside threats.
The minimum number, he said in an interview, was 150,000 to 200,000, "which should also be well-trained and equipped, with mobility and firepower and logistical and training institutions."

Meanwhile Dahr Jamail's enroute for Iraq. From his "This is going to be a big war" (filed in Damascas):

The fighting is everywhere, he tells me. Now that the U.S. military/Rumsfeld (who was just in Baghdad) and Khalilzad have declared war on the Shia Mehdi Army, accusing them of terrorism, all bets are off. Of course, the timing of this with Israelis attacks against Hezbollah couldn't be more perfect. Coincidence?
"The fighting is everywhere, and there is no way the Americans can control it now," Abu Talat adds, "The Shia are fighting each other for control of Basra, while also fighting the Sunni."
"It is civil war now in Iraq, no doubt," he continues, "But no matter who you ask, no one will admit it. Because people are too afraid to admit this. People prefer to deny it."
Even back at our hotel, there are at least two other Iraqis, who have come here for surgery, since all of the senior doctors have long since left Baghdad to save their own lives.

But still the happy talks flows from the administration's mouth and mouth pieces. The United States has turned against the war but to address the reality seriously would mean more than poll responses of wanting to the troops home to seriously demands upon Congress to do something. (Some do take it seriously -- some, however, seem to think responding to some form of a poll on the war is somehow weighing in. At this point, being against the war is a common sense position like, today, being opposed to lynchings. And some seem to think about as much action is required.)

Though the chat and chewers will gather on Sunday to put their usual far-removed-from-reality spin on it, the reality's getting harder to spin.

We'll close with Cindy Sheehan's "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be Soldiers" (Common Dreams):

Tragically, I don't know anyone, war supporter or not, who raised their children to be war criminals. I would hope that there are few people in our country who have hoped against hope that one day that their son would grow up to rape Iraqi girls and kill innocent Iraqis in cold blood. The Mahmoudiya and Haditha incidents are horrible atrocities, but unfortunately, are not isolated incidents in the Iraq war crime. War breeds atrocities. I wish to God, and everything that anybody holds holy, that Mahmoudiya and Haditha were isoloated incidents, but we know that they are not. When the neocons despicably spit out the blather that we need to "Stay the course," I wonder what that means? Rape and murder? That is a horrible course. I think we should change it now.
To be honest with ourselves and our children, instead of the flags and Man Scout badges that our soldiers decorate their uniforms with, they should have their suits covered with corporate logos like NASCAR drivers. A Halliburton patch here and an Exxon patch there. I also believe, like Gen. Butler said: during times of war, CEO's of war profiteers should only be allowed to earn as much as a common soldier.
Sounds fair to me and I believe war will end if the war profiteers, politicians and Generals were required to send their own children to fight for their ill-gotten gains before they sent ours.
Our nation forgot the lessons of Vietnam where not one person over the rank of Lieutenant was even tried for war crimes. It is incumbent upon this generation of war victims to make sure that this unspeakable episode does not repeat itself. The people responsible for sending our children to this war crime should not get off scot-free. BushCo should be the ones sent to federal prison for crimes against humanity and crimes against peace.
Holding our leaders accountable for unnecessary war and killing innocent people? It's a new concept, but I think one that just might work. Let's try it this time.
But more importantly, don't let your babies grow up to be soldiers.

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NYT: "More Troops May Be Needed in Baghdad, U.S. General Says" (von Zielbauer and Cloud)

Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the senior American commander in Iraq, said Wednesday that . . . there might be a need to move more American forces into the capital to prevent the deadly cycle from worsening.

The key part of the opening sentence in Paul von Zielbauer and David S. Cloud's "More Troops May Be Needed in Baghdad, U.S. General Says" in this morning's New York Times.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Iraq snapshot.

The daily life continues to be marred by chaos and violence. And apparently role playing Geoffrey Miller, Donald Rumsfeld went from Afghanistan to Iraq with violence following in his wake as he apparently pulled the strings of Nouri al-Maliki, US puppet of the illegal occupation.

As noted this morning: "AP is reporting that a bus station in Baghdad was stormed by 'gunmen' and at least 24 people were seized with at least 20 of those 24 being killed."
The AFP reports that 22 corpses were discovered ("Blindfolded, hands tied behind them, and most shot in the head") and that the number kidnapped was much larger than 24, "up to 80." For those who question that number, the AFP quotes "Senior Shiite MP Jaladdin al-Saghir" saying: "There was a very serious breach of security in Diyala province today when 60-80 Shiites were kidnapped from the bus station".

The AP reports, on the corpses discovered from the mass kidnapping, "Relatives wept over loved ones, with one man leaning over an open coffin and kissing the hand of a victim."

The AFP notes. of the continued violence in the the city where the "crackdown" is ongoing. "Violence in Baghdad has raged despite the fact that more than 50,000 troops, mostly Iraqi, have been patrolling the capital's streets since last month."

Other shootings? Reuters reports: "clashes . . . between Iraqi policemen and gunmen" in Baghdad that left a civilian and a police officer dead as well as two patrol cars burned; in Tikrit, a police officer was shot dead; in Kirkuk, a police officer was shot dead; and, in Baghdad, a "Baghdad University professor" was shot dead.


CBS and the AP report a car bomb exploding "near an Iraqi army base in Haswa" leaving eight wounded. Reuters notes that a civilian died in the blast (and spells it "Hasswa") and notes two bombs in Baghdad. One "suicide bomber" entered a restaurant, engaged the bomb killing himself and seven people while leaving twenty more wounded. Reuters also notes a roadside bomb that wounded three ("including a child").


Reuters reports that two corpses were found (carpenters) in Tikrit, while another corpse ("gunshot wounds and signs of torture") was discovered in Kirkuk.

As Dahr Jamail and others have noted, Iraqis are fleeing the country. The BBC offers the stories of three who have left (in their own words). The fleeing continues though the AP notes that "flyers circulated in a predominately Sunni area north of Baghdad, uring Shi'ite families no tto flee and warning people not to hurt members of the majority sect."

Meanwhile the AFP is reporting that 150 women "protested at Baghdad's Yamuk club and demanded that the former soldier Steven Green be tried as a 'war criminal.'" The former 101st Airborne Division Green was the first person arrested in the alleged rape and murder of 14 year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi as well as the murder of three of her family members. (That arrest, FOR THE RECORD, took place on Friday June 30th and not "last week" as too many keep misreporting.)

The Associated Press reports that following all the scandals, Dick Cheney's former company Halliburton has lost a "multibillion contract" and that the Army will "rebid" it which seems strange wording since, as the article notes, Halliburton's Iraq contracts with the US have included "no-bid contracts" with Halliburton. Can you re-bid what was a no-bid? Does the AP know more than they're telling?

Meanwhile, the AFP is reporting that Parsons Global Services has also had its US military contract cancelled "due to cost overruns and incompetency".

Shh. Can you hear that? The sound of a hundred War Hawks sobbing.

And the US administration's walking scandal, Secretary of Defense Donnie Rumsfeld visited Iraq where he pompously declared, "I don't talk deadlines." Of course Tommy Franks infamously said "we don't do body counts" at the start of the illegal war and we now know that was a lie. (We know that. Big media and indymedia failed on that, but here we know the truth.) On June 26th, Nancy A. Youssef broke the story that the US was keeping a body count on Iraqi civilians. Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli went on the record and confirmed it, saying that it was a form of 'measurement' by the US and the US has been doing that since at least "last summer."

CNN reports that Rumsfeld, speaking inside a heavily guarded military base, declared,
""Each time I come to Iraq, I see progress" -- revealing he is both a liar and blind.

Rumsfeld breezed through to pull the puppet's strings and Nouri al-Maliki stated, according to Reuters, that this was the Iraq's 'last chance for peace' -- which no doubt struck many in Iraq as strange since nothing resembling "peace" has been seen since the start of the illegal occupation.

But apparently feeling stand-up might be his next profession, after the US government tires of him and replaces with yet another prime minister, al-Maliki stated: "We all have a last chance to reconcile and agree among ourselves on avoiding conflict and blood. If we fail, God forbid, I don't know what the fate of Iraq will be" (CBS and AP).

The dire warning was in direct contrast to his stated remarks yesterday: "I don't see the country falling into a civil war despite the regrettable activities of certain people who ignore that Iraq is united . . . The security services are still in control of the situation and we would like to see matters move towards political (compromise) rather than resort to force" (AFP).

Possibly Rumsfeld pulled the strings too tight or else he's cracking up during the crackdown, but al-Maliki is also now threatening TV stations with being shut down. That move would be neither democratic nor smart. On the latter, Paul L. Bremer could explain to him the probable reaction when you try to shut down the press.