Sunday, January 14, 2007

NYT: Baghdad Bureau gets benched

The New York Times is the New York Crap this morning with regards to Iraq. "The Struggle For Iraq," as they bill their Iraq news coverage, rates two stories -- only one of which was written by the paper (the other is an AP story). In terms of the moneys spent to keep the Baghdad operation (the Green Zone operation) open, the money's being wasted. (Money's also being wasted on the ever changing datelines to Michael Gordon's stories.) So the only Iraq story the paper carries today was filed in? There's no dateline. It was reported on and from the United States. Sounding like a punch line in a short story by Woody Allen, the reporter's name is N. R. Kleinfield and the article is entitled "Among Troops and Families, Mixed Reaction to American Expansion." Possibly you get a mixed reaction when you limit the pool of people you will even speak to? Possibly, if you're truly interested in the reactions of military families then you are quite aware that Military Families Speak Out, to cite only one organization, can provide people to speak and you use such resources. Kleinfield isn't interested. Which is why he manages to find two parents worth quoting and how many think the escalation (or the war itself) are wrong?

If you guessed zero you knew the Times was still selling the illegal war.

When you set the odds ahead of time, it's very easy to 'win' and the Times knows how to do that, if little else. The article's an embarrassment in other spots but the fact that they're apparently the only news source that is unable to find a parent opposed to the escalation has to rank high among the many embarrassments in their Iraq coverage.

We'll note two other stories, not about Iraq. (Only because it's Sunday and there's no Iraq news in the paper by the paper.) First up, Eric Lichtblau and Mark Mazzetti's "Deletions in Army Manual Raise Wiretapping Concerns:"

Deep into an updated Army manual, the deletion of 10 words has left some national security experts wondering whether government lawyers are again asserting the executive branch's right to wiretap Americans without a court warrant.
[. . .]
The original guidelines, from 1984, said the Army could seek to wiretap people inside the United States on an emergency basis by going to the secret court set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA, or by obtaining certification from the attorney general "issued under the authority of section 102(a) of the Act."
That last phrase is missing from the latest manual, which says simply that the Army can seek emergency wiretapping authority pursuant to an order issued by the FISA court "or upon attorney general authorization." It makes no mention of the attorney general doing so under FISA.

Now pair that with another article by Lichtblau and Mazzetti, "Military Is Expanding Its Intelligence Role in U.S.:"

The Pentagon has been using a little-known power to obtain banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage inside the United States, part of an aggressive expansion by the military into domestic intelligence gathering.
The C.I.A. has also been issuing what are known as national security letters to gain access to financial records from American companies, though it has done so only rarely, intelligence officials say.
Banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions receiving the letters usually have turned over documents voluntarily, allowing investigators to examine the financial assets and transactions of American military personnel and civilians, officials say.
The F.B.I., the lead agency on domestic counterterrorism and espionage, has issued thousands of national security letters since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, provoking criticism and court challenges from civil liberties advocates who see them as unjustified intrusions into Americans' private lives.
But it was not previously known, even to some senior counterterrorism officials, that the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency have been using their own "noncompulsory" versions of the letters. Congress has rejected several attempts by the two agencies since 2001 for authority to issue mandatory letters, in part because of concerns about the dangers of expanding their role in domestic spying.

It's interesting how when some work up an outrage about the illegal spying that took place in this country, they zoom in on the CIA and FBI but they always either are dumb or play dumb with regards to military intelligence. They spied on peace activists and others throughout Vietnam. That's why, here, we always express concern when someone from military intelligence suddenly leaps over the civilian side of the government. And of course, we already know that the Pentagon has spied on activists during the current illegal war.

Today, Reuters reports:

The Baghdad morgue took in about 16,000 unidentified bodies last year, the bulk of them victims of death squads and other sectarian violence, a source at the morgue told Reuters on Sunday.
About 1,350 bodies were received in December, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Iraqi government has banned officials from releasing data on casualty rates. As throughout the year, between 80 and 85 percent of these were victims of violence.
The morgue data -- for Baghdad only -- suggest that a figure of 12,320 civilian deaths in "terrorist violence" in 2006, given two weeks ago by Interior Ministry sources, does not include all the victims of the bloodletting in Iraq. The Interior Ministry statistics exclude violent deaths classed as "criminal".
Since the morgue statistics also do not take account of the many deaths outside Baghdad, nor indeed of all violent deaths in the capital, the total death toll is certainly higher.

To that, we'll again note that not every death results in a trip to the morgue. Reuters also notes that, in Baghdad, a roadside bomb took a life today and left six others wounded, two people were shot dead; in Mosul, two people were shot dead ("incluing a lieutenant colonel") in one attack, an Iraqi army captain was shot dead in another attack, a dentist was shot dead, three people were shot dead and three wounded in another attack, two other attacks killed two more people, five people were wounded in a mortar attack, and nine corpses were discovered; in Kirkuk, one corpse was discovered.

Xinhua reports that a bombing in Falluja killed three Iraqi soldiers and they also report: "A U.S. marine took his own life by putting a bullet through his head on Sunday morning near the restive city of Fallujah, local police source said." Police source said. The US military hasn't confirmed this event. (That's not questioning Xinhua's reporting, just noting that they're the only ones with that detail.)

And Megan notes a letter by Janine Carmona and Josh Sonnenfeld (Students Against War at UC Santa Cruz), "Military denies First Amendment rights" (Santa Cruz Sentinel):

Members of the military have never had the right to free speech. Believe it or not, this isn't because of student protesters. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice UCMJ, enlistees are specifically denied their First Amendment rights.
Take Lt. Ehren Watada, an Army officer opposed to the war in Iraq, for example. He's currently being court-martialed for "making public remarks disparaging his chain of command," i.e. saying that he believes Bush lied to us and the war in Iraq is illegal. He could get up to six years in prison for a mere four speeches made in public.
When the military comes to UCSC for recruitment purposes, they are coming as representatives of the U.S. Armed Forces, and, by extension, the U.S. government. They are here to enlist bodies for the U.S. to wage war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. They aren't here to engage in philosophical debates. When protesters disrupt military recruiters' activities, it is not "free speech" we are challenging, but their actions.
Interfering with military recruitment through education, direct action, and other tactics is a strategy to end war -- a way in which we try to save the lives of all those harmed by militarism. If our generation both within and outside the military refuses to fight, and if recruiters are consistently unable to meet their quotas, the government will be unable to continue their misadventures overseas.

That's an excerpt. New content at The Third Estate Sunday Review:

Truest statement of the week
A Note to Our Readers
Editorial: The unmentionable
TV: Ugly Betty, Beautiful TV
Escalation: The non-plan
Abeer and Ehren
The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf
File it under "Thank God she was born in 1925!"
MyTV's Fascist House

The e-mail address for this site is Patience on Isaiah's newest comic. Rebecca and I worked on making it larger and making an older one larger as well. (Both were multi-paneled.) His latest will be going up shortly.