Saturday, April 07, 2007

Ruth's Report

Ruth: To start off this report, I need to thank Dallas, Kat, C.I. and everyone who shared. I especially thank Dallas who checked out a number of details for me to verify that my recollections were correct. WBAI offered their report to the listeners this week and I really did want to address that. However, KPFA also offered their listener report and it allows me to address a number of issues that came up while I was not offering the report.

To highlight the positives from the report, it was announced that the KPFA website was going to contain more content with an indication that this may be text as well. I know Hilda's Mix is already a big hit in the community and I have done a report for next Tuesday's newsletter specifically about that; however, any members who have not signed up for Hilda's Mix should be aware that KPFA plans to up the content they offer online.

KPFA's report to the listeners aired on Tuesday, at noon PST. I still question the fact that it always airs during the week at noon. Across the country, people are asking their municipal governments to be more open and more responsive so it strikes as me as strange that KPFA can only offer the report during the work week at noon. Over the airwaves, which listeners are they reporting to? Why is this class of listeners better served than those who listen at other times? Would you be pleased with a city council that only met once a month and, instead of rotating the meeting, always held it at noon during the work week?

The second issue that bothered me, and I will be getting to Iraq shortly, was the fact that despite encouraging listeners to e-mail via the contact form at the website, despite stating that they would not be able to personally respond but could address those issues on the air, no e-mails were addressed. Since a large section of e-mails that came in while I was on the road included copy and pastes of what listeners had e-mailed KPFA, I know for a fact that there were a number of e-mails and a number of issues to be addressed.

There was time to giggle over a joke that aired. I did not need to hear that laughter is important and that we all need to laugh. I believe, in my old age, I already know that. What I did think, hearing that long discussion, was, "Is this how to conduct business?" My answer is, "No, but it is a way to eat up time." The joke aired on Larry Bensky's Sunday Salon and a guest host had opened the program with Christian-rock music and joked that the station had been taken over. The joke took less time than the amount used in the listener report to discuss it. One might also argue that it was a nice way to avoid discussing the very real issues of accountability that Larry Bensky had brought up in the second hour of his March 25th Sunday Salon. Minutes not being posted for months and months strikes me as much more important than a joke that was obviously a joke, so I did the see the long discussion of the joke as nonsense and a way to eat up time. Mr. Bensky is retiring shortly and apparently, with him, the advocate for serious issues.

Sasha Lilley? She is the co-host of Against the Grain and also the station's interim program director. That is a very big plate to fill and I am convinced that she has not been able to listen to the station as much as the job requires. The other alternative is that she is a liar. I do not think she is a liar, so I will conclude that she just does not listen.

Two callers raised the issue of Iraq and the issue of what actions the station elected to note last month on the Fourth Anniversary of the start of the illegal war. Ms. Lilley attempted to answer them but she has far less facts than she knows.

In defending the programming around the Fourth Anniversary, she asserted, "I think our programmers have done just a superlative job, in particularly with the Fourth Anniversary." Listeners may have scratched their heads over that and the claim of multiple programs exploring the topic of Iraq. On the actual anniversary, Monday the 18th, there were two and a half hours of live protest coverage. It is also true that The Morning Show devoted the first segment, always the shortest due to the fact that rest of the show has to be set up in the first half hour, to Iraq. It is very much true that the male guest was not content to discuss Iraq and frequently digressed to topics including Israel and Lebannon. That is truly sad that on the Fourth Anniversary, in what is basically twenty-two minutes on Iraq, a guest cannot even stay on the topic.

Otherwise on that day? Ms. Lilley mentioned cultural affairs and public affairs programming which, she felt, also covered Iraq. This Jewish woman is not remembering Anne Frank spending any time in Iraq but perhaps I have forgotten in my old age? Along with Anne Frank being the focus of one program that day, we were also treated to an exploration of menopause. I will assume it could have been tied into Iraq in some manner; however, it was not. In addition, the Women's Magazine began their broadcast that Monday with the acknowledgement that it was the Fourth Anniversary of the war and that there was an increase of violence against Iraqi women. However, while that statement still lingered in the air, we were quickly informed that instead of addresing the topic, "Today we'll be discussing the Porn Wars." Actually, Women's Magazine, dropping back to a complaint Lisa e-mailed on, began with a rap song performed by a male. To Lisa, I reply, "I have no idea why that was and am just as confused by it as you are."

Ms. Lilley was very 'jazzed' about a special on Iraq that Jim Bennet had a hand in. That aired on Saturday and, at four hours, it was the longest time KPFA devoted on any given day to the topic of Iraq. Well, to the topic of music and Iraq. Not Iraqi music, mind you, but jazz instrumentals. Mixed in with those tracks were poetry and speeches. Apparently, who knew, jazz instrumentals will end the war?

I did not hear that show in real time but, instead, while I was on the phone with Dallas. I was in DC when the show actually aired. Having now heard it, I need to note that, during Vietnam, shows like that were not considered "special programming," but instead were staples of FM radio. My point here is that the special could be done every week and, at a time when FM radio truly served listeners, such programming was. We could, and did, get discussions of the war mixed in with our music. Instead of applauding that special broadcast, the question I have is why all music programs are not already doing that?

Ms. Lilley asserted that events and actions were promoted and she was wrong. She stated that
KPFA had created a webpage to note various demonstrations in the listening area and across Northern California. KPFA did create a webpage, which she called a "website," but I see as a page on the KPFA website and not, in itself, a website. The webpage did not cover all of Northern California nor did it even cover the listening area which, as a caller demonstrated, includes Fresno. Search the webpage in vain for any mention of Fresno, Peta Luma, Salinas and a host of other cities in the listening area -- of which Kat can provide a listing. When issues are repeatedly raised about whether or not the station is serving its broadcast area, a webpage like that is not very helpful in silencing critics.

But where Ms. Lilley was really off the base was when she went on to state that, "Every day the news staff announced demonstrations, pointed people to the website."

After Rebecca and I finished laughing at that, I joked someone should e-mail Ms. Lilley to inform her that KPFA airs on 94.1 FM, just so she could tune in. Shall we start with Monday?

Aileen Alfandary is "news staff." Did she point people to the webpage listing the events? Ms. Lilley believes Ms. Alfandary did; however, that is not reality. On The Morning Show, airing 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. in the Bay Area, Ms. Alfandary gives the news in the first half hour, the second, the third and the fourth. As Ms. Lilley notes, KPFA is building the largest online archive of broadcasts. I encourage Ms. Lilley to utilize said archive. If she were to do so, she would find that on the actual anniversary of the start of the war, Ms. Alfandary never once mentioned the station's webpage.

On the first news break, Ms. Alfandary set her pattern for the day by noting one web resource and only one: "Details for the vigils are on the website." We need to address briefly, just to catch everyone up to speed.

They did not offer protests. They did not offer calls for an end to the war. Their candlelight vigils were meek and weak efforts that honestly remind me of the Ellen James movement in John Irving's The World According To Garp only no one need cut out a tongue because has no intention of using a voice.

The second news break, surely Ms. Alfandary plugged KPFA's webpage of local actions, correct? Wrong. Again she sent you to MoveOn.og. The third newsbreak found Ms. Alfandary stating, "Evening vigils will be held around the Bay Area. Details for the vigils are on the website." It was the same statements she made during the first news break, the same statements she made during the third and during the fourth. Ms. Lilley, where, in four news breaks during a two hour period, do you see news staffer Ms. Alfandary promoting the KPFA webpage?

Zach points to that broadcast as the start of the breakdown of accurate coverage on Congressional measures because it airs a report on U.S. Senator Barack Obama including the claim, presented as fact, that a bill "co-sponsored by" Senator Obama will result in "all troops home by next March." To correct Zach, C.I. said that report originally aired on Sunday March 18th's broadcast of The KPFA Evening News and Dallas verified that. This also goes to an issue Eddie raised but I will try to find a way to address his main issue at length in the near future. I am trying to do a very brief weekly column for Hilda's Mix so I may include it there.
To plug Hilda's Mix for any community member who has not signed up for it, I am basically doing what Ava and C.I. are doing, offering a critique and overview of radio programs geared towards explaing why they are or are not covered here or at other community sites. My columns are very brief, no more than five paragraphs, and not the analysis that Ava and C.I. do so well. But Hilda's Mix began last Tuesday and will publish every Tuesday. Hilda, who is deaf, is attempting to primarily serve disabled members of the community; however, the newsletter has appeal for everyone and I strongly urge to sign up if you have not already.

I am now caught up on all the e-mails that came in during the week Rebecca, Flyboy, Treva, Elijah, and I were traveling to Texas, that came in while we were in Texas, and the ones that arrived during the week we traveled back from Texas. From C.I.'s comments posted here, I knew KPFA listeners were enraged by the coverage of the Congressional measures; however, reading the e-mails, I see that may be putting it too mild. Gary may have summed up the feelings of many when he noted that "(a) double speak by the White House or Congress needs to be challenged regardless of political party and (b) repeating statements simply because they were said, with no attempt to analyse them, is the same sort of steongraphy independent media criticizes big media for." That certainly describes the report on Senator Obama that Zach highlighted.

The Evening News? On Sunday, the anchors noted various events and various webpages including one for DieIn, one for StopFundingtheWar and, of course, one for
Ms. Lilley would do well to listen to that broadcast and find where the two anchors promoted KPFA's own webpage? The answer, again, is that they did not. On Monday's Evening News, a website was plugged. Sandra Lupien began with, "To find out about a vigil in your area, you can visit the organization MoveOn at" and then proceeded to give out the web address.

Ms. Lilley is under the mistaken belief that KPFA's news staff promoted the webpage. Ms. Lilley is wrong and should probably do a bit of research before asserting on air, to issues brought up by callers during the report's live broadcast, that KPFA news staff "pointed people" to the station's web page. Ms. Lilley needs to correct that in the next listeners' report. Since this issue was raised by two callers, she needs to also provide an explanation for why, despite what she stated, the news staff did not promote the station's own webpage? She may consider it "old business" but it needs to be addressed.

It is also not good form for the program director, interim or otherwise, to not know what is actually being broadcast on the station's airwaves. It would be perfectly understandable to me, even if Ms. Lilley was not also a programmer, for her to reply to a caller, "I am sorry but I do not have that information. I do know we did create a webpage of actions and I do know that the webpage was supposed to be promoted on air by all news staff." However, that is not what Ms. Lilley told listeners. Ms. Lilley told listeners that the news staff "pointed" to the webpage repeatedly and that did not happen.

Why it did not happen still needs to be addressed. Brian e-mailed during that period to pass on that "the non-stop promotion of the website sounded like 'This program brought to you by Archer Daniels Midland'." Megan wrote that she kept waiting, on Monday March 18th, for Ms. Alfandary and Ms. Lupien to state, "Underwriting from made today's broadcast possible" and wondered why, since the Bay Area "has at least two Indymedia sites," one or both of them were not promoted. They did list local actions on both Indymedia sites.
Sticking with the to non-stop promotion of, Ken wrote, "Good to know. I'll cease worrying about pulling together from my own funds now that I know they have an underwriter."

On the topic of Iraq, if there is not enough coverage of issues related to Iraq, and there is not, the obvious problem goes to the fact that KPFA does not have a program covering Iraq. Though that issue was noted in a number of e-mails to KPFA in between this listeners' report and the last, that issue was not raised on air. As I noted before, despite Ms. Lilly encouraging listeners to use the contact form, there was nothing in the report indicating that, if someone bothered to use the contact form, their message would ever be read.

Someone who does read is the station's webmaster. That is not suggesting you write him about
problems with programs. Please do not because he has no control over what makes it to air. But twice last week, the KPFA stream went out. On Thursday's The Morning Show Andrea Lewis did mention there were computer problems at the station. That was the closest anyone came to mentioning it on air. Does it matter?

KPFA has a number of listening options. You can listen to KPFA, you can listen to KPFB, a mono broadcast, or you can listen to KCFC which carries most of KPFA's programming live. Here is what happened for online listeners Wednesday and Thursdays, they attempted to access the KPFA stream and could not. They then attempted the mono stream and could not get it to stream. Was something wrong with their computers? If they attempted to access the KCFC stream and used a Winamp player, they were informed that "the stream is full." If you had Winamp and you went through all the options, by the time you got to KCFC, you were informed that the problem was not your computer. Otherwise?

The webmaster explained in several e-mails that were forwarded to me by community members that he would have liked a message at the station's website explaining there were technical problems; however, they could not get into the station's website. That is perfectly understandable. But since KCFC had a huge number of listenrs, they should have set a record last week, KPFA hosts or news staff announcing on air that there was a problem with KPFA's stream and that it was being worked on would have been helpful.

Michael is the name of the webmaster or at least the name of the man responding to e-mail to the webmaster. I was asked by several members to please note that he was the only one who responded. I do not know if he responded to all who used the contact form. I do know that others, including the station manager, did not respond. To make things easier for Michael in the future, I would suggest that KPFA note on air when there was a problem with the stream. Those who have already switched to the KCFC stream will hear that and not wonder, "Do they know about the problem? Should I e-mail?"

Radio, Kimberley, Cockburn

Brady has a very funny e-mail praising Ruth (which has been passed on to her) and also wondered where the report was? Ruth has completed it (I've read it), it will go up during RadioNation with Laura Flanders and, if at possible, we'll try to interview Ruth for The Third Estate Sunday Review using Brady's comparison (which also made Ruth laugh).

RadioNation with Laura Flanders airs Saturdays and Sundays, live, 7:00 pm to 10 pm EST, over Air America Radio stations (or stations that carry their content, actually), XM satellite radio and online. This weekend's line up:

He did it! Florida's Governor Crist is re-enfranchising some Felons. MUSLIMA LEWIS, of the American Civil Liberties Union will tell us how it came about. The military have a new ruse to deny wounded service people benefits. Nation Contributor, JOSHUA KORS, ANDREW POGANY of Veterans for America, and Iraq veteran, JON TOWN spill the beans. Then, JONATHAN SCHWARTZ, of Headcount and MARC BROWNSTEIN, of 'The Disco Biscuits' model music making that swells the electorate.
In a big news week on the environmental front, we talk to author/environmentalist BILL McKIBBEN, whose new book is 'Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future.' CHIP WARD, formerly assistant director of the Salt Lake City Public Library, tells us why public libraries are doing double duty -- as unofficial homeless shelters. And our Blue Grit grassroots hero of the week is DORIS 'GRANNY D' HADDOCK, who is on another walking tour. All that, and your calls. We're live, and left, on the weekends....

Moving on to Margaret Kimberley's "Torture" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report), noted by Carl first:

Guantanamo is awash in confessions these days. Walid Mohammad bin Attash claims to have blown up the USS Cole. Khalid Sheik Mohammed confessed to planning 9/11, the bombing of U.S. embassies in Africa, and night clubs in Bali. He also confessed to killing of Daniel Pearl and perhaps Anna Nicole Smith, too.
An Australian prisoner, David Hicks, has confessed to terrorist activity. He spent 5 years at Guantanamo and recently pleaded guilty to providing material support for terrorism, which wasn't even against U.S. law until October 2006. The only way for him to return home was to confess. He also had to sign an agreement denying his
previous statements that he had been tortured. He had to promise not to sue the U.S. government, make any money from telling the story of his ordeal, or talk to the media for at least one year.
"These military tribunals have doomed our country."
These confessions are not taken seriously by any intelligent people in this country and they are certainly not taken seriously by anyone outside of it. Even the namby pamby Congressional actions on Iraq are sending the Bushites into a frenzy of show trials to justify waging endless war on the rest of humanity. The confessions will surely be repeated when the bombing of Iran begins.
Not only are these military tribunals a travesty and a great injustice to the people involved, but they have doomed our country. The hatred that spawned the 9/11 attacks has only grown with time. Now all Americans have bulls eyes on their heads because of the evil people who run this government.

Lynda notes Alexander Cockburn's "Dead Dogs Don't Bleed: How Giuliani Lost America" (CounterPunch) and thinks the two lines opening the excerpt below are so funny that it doesn't matter that the Rudy G commentary is left out of the excerpt ("People can use the link, those first two lines are funny!"):

Americans like their First Family to have a dog. They think it means at least one honest creature lodged at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Nixon used to put sesame seeds in the turn-ups of his trousers so his spaniel, King Timahoe, would nuzzle him in public. "Any man who does not like dogs and not want them about does not deserve to be in the White House," said President Calvin Coolidge.
Giuliani has been saying that as president, he would regard Judi as co-president--present at cabinet meetings, her hand next to his on the driving wheel. There are a lot of dog lovers who now see Judi's hand as one grasping an instrument of dog torture, unfit for any high calling.
So it looks like curtains for the Giuliani campaign. One of his main rivals, the choleric Senator John McCain is in trouble for claiming it's safe to walk around Baghdad. This puts the Republican governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, in a stronger position than he dared hope a few weeks ago. Romney is a Mormon, thus associated in the American mind with tolerance for marriages not even serial in their prolixity, like the Giulianis'. The Democrats have the choice of a woman (Clinton) who has raised truckloads of cash for her campaign, a black man (Obama), who has raised as many truckloads or a white man-- Edwards, whose popular wife Liz is bravely battling terminal cancer. Speculation at this stage in the game is idle. The first real test is nearly a year away, in Iowa--where Edwards may do well, even though Hillary for the moment is far ahead of her rivals--both in positive and negative measurements.

Rachel notes the following two upcoming programs (Sunday and Monday) on WBAI -- times given are EST and you can listen in the NYC area or online:

Sunday, April 8, 11am-noon
Post-Warholian radio artists Andrew Andrew and guest.

Monday, April 9, 2-3pm
Choreographer Lar Lubovitch on three new dances premiering at SkirballHall; actress/writer/co-creator Leslie Lewis Sword on her one-woman show,"Miracle in Rwanda"; and actor Morlan Higgins on his role as AndreHeguenet, "the Olivier of South Africa" in Athol Fugard's theatricalmemoir, "Exits and Entrances." Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

This is a rushed and late post, my apologies. I had intended to fly home Friday and ended up staying over. Also, big thanks to Trina who laughed as I complained this morning about the Times' article. If she hadn't laughed, indicating that someone would find it funny, I don't know what I would've written about this morning. Thank you to Trina, her husband and their son Mike for the hospitality Friday night and this morning.

The e-mail address for this site is

Birth Announcement: Judith Miller and Dexter Filkins are proud parents

With no knowlege that Judith Miller and Dexter Filkins were an item, the world was taken by surprise today to learn that they had a child together. Weighing in at approximately 4,000 tons (the baby's carrying the weight of the US administration), the child has moved beyond goo-gaa and today takes her baby steps across A6 of the New York Times under the banner "Chlorine Gas Attack by Truck Bomber Kills Up to 30 in Iraq."

Alissa J. Rubin is the child's given name -- her parents wisely grasping that to saddle her with either "Miller" or "Filkins" would doom her jounalism days to snorts and giggles -- and demonstrating her heritage and the skills taught by her wet nurse Michael R. Gordon, Rubin dishes like she's commanding attention at the least popular table in the middle school.

On Diwayaniya she tells that "soldiers distributed pamphlets asking people to cooperate with the American and Iraqi troops" and that's it. Which soldiers? She makes no mention of Polish soldiers or what their leaflets said. From yesterday's snapshot:

AFP notes at least one dead and that "Polish aircraft dropped leaflets over the city ordering local police officers to stay home, warning that anyone who went out with a weapon will be considered a target, a military spokesman confirmed."

She rewrites the US military statement on the matter for several paragraphs indicating she watched Daddy Dexy using his Article Helper from the box to round out his own pieces. (As the box of Article Helper brags: "Just add baseless assertions!")

On the chlorine attacks, she works in "Insurgents linked to Al Qaeda have become increasingly adept at stealing the chlorine . . ." Linked by whom? Taught so very well by her parents, she grasps that the Times only requries facts and backing when you're 'reporting' matches with official US policy. At those times, you bend over backwards to cite officials so that anyone who might question the 'logic' will immediately grasp that they are one voice up against an entire world. When your 'reporting' is on groups or people who irritate US official-dom (offical-dumb?), you can type up any assertion without proof. What Rubin didn't learn from her parents and her wet nurse, godmother Cokie obviously taught her. The sole question remains whether or not Dexy's gotten his figure back yet?

11 corpses were discovered in Baghdad on Friday and, for all her words and columns, that may be the only news Rubin provides this morning. File it under "When Embeds Procreate."

Ruth will have a report today. I'll be doing another entry (much) later today. This is rushed because I need to shower and catch a plane shortly. Things noted each Saturday will be noted in that entry.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
and Trina's Trina's Kitchen

The e-mail address for this site is

East Timor

News release e-mailed to the public account this week.

Media Release
Solidarity Observer Mission for East Timor (SOMET)

Independent International Election Monitors Gather in Dili

Dili: Catharina Maria/Jill Sternberg, (+670)
3313323; (+670) 734 2397;
New York: John M. Miller, (+1) 718-596-7668; (+1) 917-690-4391;

April 4, 2007 -- An international delegation of
election observers, has gathered this week in
Dili to monitor Timor-Leste's April 9
Presidential election. The Solidarity Observer
Mission for East Timor (SOMET), a coalition of
grassroots groups working to support new nation's
fragile democracy, will maintain a continuous
presence until the results of this month's
presidential contest and upcoming parliamentary election are

"SOMET supports a free, fair and peaceful
democratic process. We plan to stay in East Timor
until the last vote is counted and the results
are implemented," said Jill Sternberg, SOMET
Coordinator. "If we see shortcomings in the
process we will advocate with the appropriate
official bodies to correct them," she added.

Working cooperatively with nonpartisan East
Timorese organizations, SOMET will observe and
report on all aspects, positive and negative, of Timor-Leste's 2007

"We will act in an independent manner, not taking
the side of any party or candidate," said
Catharina Maria, SOMET Dili Coordinator. "All
SOMET observers are bound by a code of conduct
that stresses our non-partisanship and neutrality."

International solidarity groups organized the
non-partisan observer mission at the urging of
civil society organizations in Timor-Leste. Many
of the observers have long history with
Timor-Leste, election observation or both.
Several participated in the International
Federation for East Timor's Observer Project, the
largest the largest international observer
delegation for the 1999 independence referendum.

"Solidarity is not just for elections. Our
observers will return to their homes with a
deeper understanding of Timor-Leste and a
commitment to strengthening ongoing ties with the new nation," added

SOMET is a grassroots project of the U.S.-based
East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN),
Stichting Vrij Oost Timor (VOT) of the
Netherlands, Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition
(APSOC), Global Partnership for the Prevention of
Armed Conflict (GPPAC), and World Forum for Democratization in Asia

If no candidate in Monday's presidential contest
gains more than 50% of the vote, a run off will
take place on May 9. Timor-Leste's current
president has said he will not announce the date
of the parliamentary election until a new
president has been selected. The parliamentary
election can not take place until 80 days after it is announced.

More information can be found online at see

Friday, April 06, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, April 6, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, lies of war get exposed but Cheney continues to lie, the US military aids a terrorist group (designated as such by the US State Department) in Iraq -- aids and escorts, and airstrikes hit the Diwaniya province.
Starting with war resistance, approximately 40 US war resisters have self-checked out, moved to Canada and filed paperwork to be legally granted asylumn in Canada.  (Approximately 40 have filed papers, hundreds have gone to Canada and are not attempting to go through the legal process.)  Reuben Apple (Eye Weekly) notes that war resisters appearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board to argue their case are prevented from saying "We think this killing is unlawful" and they "are asking our Federal Court of Appeal for the right to say" those six words.  Apple notes that attorney Jeffry House -- who represents many war resisters -- is a Canadian citizen today because of the country's policies during an earlier illegal war (Vietnam) when a real prime minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, didn't cower before Tricky Dick Nixon but instead declared, "Canada should be a refuge from militarism."  Tricky Dick's response to that statement and policy was to call the Canadian prime minister an "asshole" and Trudeau's comeback was that he'd "been called worse things by better people." 
Apple notes war resisters Ryan Johnson ("wake up and get involved with something, nuclear disarmament, the Canadian Peace Alliance, the War Resisters Support Campaign, anything, because it's the people that can end this"), Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key: "Two weeks ago, three big men in trench coats, claiming to be 'Toronto police,' came with questions to the home of Winnie Ng, a campaigner who once hosted Key.  According to Toronto Star reports of the incident, it seems American military authorities would like to speak with Key.  If they want to discuss The Deserter's Tale with its author, they can go to his next talk, or they can call his lawyer, Jeffrey House.  Key has legal status in Canada as a refugee claimant, and officials should tell the American government that our police, if those men were our police, are not their messengers."
Earlier this week, Monday, on Canada's  Gorilla Radio, host Chris Cook interviewed the War Resisters Support Campaign's Lee Zaslofsky on the topic of US war resisters in Canada. Zaslofsky spoke of what was known and what wasn't known -- such as Kyle Snyder was detained by Canadian police (and that was on the US military's orders though Zaslofsky didn't note that) but he was not deported.  During this "mistaken arrest," Snyder was told he was being deported. (He legally cannot be deported.)  Cook noted that when a war resister appears before the Refugee and Immigration Board, they are not appearing before a group of people, the board has one person designated to hear that case.  Like attorney Jeffry House, Zaslofsky came to Canada during Vietnam as a war resister.  Zaslofsky noted that Synder's status in Canada has changed as a result of the fact that he is now married.  (That would be to Maleah Friesen, whom Zaslofsky didn't note.)  As Friesen's spouse, Snyder has more avenues available to Canadian citizenship.  March 19th, Zaslofsky noted, Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey were before the Federarl Court of Appeals and are awaiting a decision which, if necesarry, Zasolfsky states, "We'll appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada."
Snyder, Key, Hinzman and Hughey are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Ehren Watada  Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson,  Corey Glass, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Dean Walcott, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
From war resistance to reality as we dig into some of the lies of the illegal war.  From yesterday's Flashpoints:
Robert Knight: Also in Iraq, a spokesperson for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is today denying reports that Sistani rejected a new draft law that would allow former members of the Baath party to retain or regain government employment.  Sistani's Beriut based representive, Hamed al-Kafaf said, "What some news agencies said, quoting who they described as an aide to al-Sistani about his position on the de-Baathification law was not true."  Recent reports that Sistani was against the draft law can be traced to a meeting earlier this week between Sistani and the prevaracating US intelligence asset Ahmed Chalabi who heads the so-called de-Baathification commission and who remains dead set against an easment of the anti-Baath legislation imposed by the occupation forces.  Sistani's representative added, "We are surprised by attempts trying to get the Shia clerical establisment involved in a case which is the speciality of constitutional organizations."
And in other news, the overnight release of 15 British sailors by the Iranian government has generated mixed signals in what some say was a quid pro quo that in regard to the 5 Iranian diplomats who were seized last Janurary by American forces in Iraq.  Iranian media reported overnight that an Iranian diplomatic official would be allowed to meet with the five diplomatic detainees.  But Secreatary of Defense Robert Gates said today that the Bush administration was not planning to release the five who were abducted in a raid on the Iranian consulate's office in the northern Iraqi city of Ibril.
And in a related note, a captain among the detained British sailors who were released was revealed to have admitted that there mission the Shaw al abray waterway between Ira1 and Iran, unsurprisingly did indeed involve elements of intelligence gathering Britain' s Murdoch owned Sky News is reporting today that Sky News went on patrol with Captain Chris Air and his team in Iraqi waters close to the area where they were arrested and just five days
before the crisis began, in an interview recorded the Thursday before the seizure that happened two weeks ago,  Captain Air stated to the interviewer that his crew's assignment was "To gather intelligence.  If they do not have any information because they're there for days at a time, the people on the boats can share it with us.  Whether it's about piracy or any sort of Iranian activity in the area  obviously we're right by the bufferzone with Iran."  And that's some of the news of this Thursday April 5, 2007.  From exile in New York, I'm Robert Knight for Flashpoinsts.
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes today that "British Defense Secretary Des Browne defended the intelligence operation.  Browne said it was important to gather intelligence to 'keep our people safe'."  Goodman also noted that Sky News sat on the story "until the release of the sailors."
Turning to other lies of war, R. Jeffrey Smith (Washington Post) reports today that a US Defense Department report (declassifired yesterday and written by Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble) states the obvious -- in 2002 the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency both knew the claims that Saddam Hussein had a links to al Qaeda were incorrect.  Smith notes the report was released yesterday, "on the same day that Vice President Cheney, appearing on Rush Limbaugh's radio program, repeated his allegation that al-Qaeda was operating inside Iraq 'before we ever launched' the war".  Dick Cheney's remarks are not merely 'incorrect,' they are lies. Peter Speigel (Los Angeles Times) reports that "The Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA each 'published reports that disavowed any "mature, symbiotic" cooperation between Iraq and Al Qaeda,' the inspector general's report found."  AP notes that US Senator Carl Levin "requested that the Pentagon declassify the report prepared by acting Defense Department Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble.  In a statement Thursday, Levin said the declassified document showed why a Defense Department investigation had concluded that some Pentagon prewar intelligence work was inappropriate."  Strangely in the face of Cheney's lies about terrorism, Michael Ware (CNN) reports that the US military is currently protecting a non al Qaeda group in Iraq that the US State Department has "labeled a terrorist organization"  -- Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) -- and that "[t]he U.S. military . . . regularly escorts MEK supply runs between Baghdad and its base, Camp Ashraf."  Why?  MEK is an anti-Iranian group.  Ware reports that the Iraqis government wants the group out and quotes Iraq's National Security Minister Shirwan al-Wa'eli stating, "We gave this organization a six-month deadline to leave Iraq, and we informed the Red Cross. And presumably our friends the Americans will respect our decision and they will not stay on Iraqi land."
Returning to the topic of the lies that led to war, they were lies in real time -- scary lies to some -- they're sad lies now.  Another popular lie is "if only we knew then . . ."  US Senator and 2008 presidential candidate Chris Dodd tells that sweet little lie: "Had we known before the war what we know today -- that there were no weapons of mass destruction; that there were no links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda; that there was no imminent threat from Iraq to America's security or vital interests -- Congress would never have considered, let alone voted to authorize, the use of force in Iraq."  A comforting lie to some, but a lie nonetheless.  In October 2002, (PDF format warning) US House Rep Dennis Kucinich provided an analysis of the US administration's false claims and noted, among other things: "There is no proof that Iraq represents an imminent or immediate threat to the United States.  A 'continuing' threat does not constitute a sufficient cause for war.  The Administration has refused to provide the Congress with credible intelligence that proves that Iraq is a serious threat to the United States and is continuing to possess and develop chemical and biological and nuclear weapons.  Furthermore there is no credible intelligence connecting Iraq to Al Qaida and 9/11."  The analysis makes the point repeatedly:  "There is no credible intelligence that connects Iraq to the events of 9/11 or to participation in those events by assisting Al Qaida. . . . There is no connection between Iraq and the events of 9/11."  125 Democrats in Congress voted against the Iraq war resolution.  Kucinich, who is running for President, was among the 125. 
To suggest that 'we were all wrong' is to replace one lie with another.  Professor Francis Boyle was interviewed by Bonnie Faulkner for the March 28, 2007 broadcast of KPFA's Guns and Butter and he shared the experience, from March 13, 2003, of joining former Attorney General Ramsey Clark for a meeting with Congressional Democrats where the subject was impeachment of the Bully Boy and how impeachment could stop the war.  Though there was strong interest in that, an appearance by John Podesta deralied it as he screeched that doing so would hurt the Democrats 2004 election chances.  As Kat notes of that interview, Boyle and Clark "were both getting their cabs" after and Boyle asked Clark what had happened?  Clark explained that Democratic leadership wanted the illegal war.  Boyle also discussed the meeting with Dori Smith for Talk Nation Radio in May 2006 (link takes you to audio and transcript via Information Clearing House) where he noted: "The main objection" to impeachment "was political expedience and in particular John Podesta was there.  He had been [Bill] Clinton's White House chief of staff.  He stated he was appearing on behalf of the Democratic National Commitee and that as far as the DNC was concerned it was going to hurt their ability to get whoever their candidate was going to be in 2004 elected President if we put in these bills of impeachment.  I found that argument completely disingenuous when the Democrats had no idea who their candidate was going to be in 2004 as of March 2003."
From Howard Zinn's A Power Governments Cannot Suppress (City Lights Press), pp. 199-200:
Now that most Americans no longer believe in the war nor trust Bush and his administration, and evidence of official deception has become old news, we might ask: why were so many people so easily fooled?
The question is important because it might help us understand why Americans -- members of the media as well as the ordinary citizen -- rushed to declare their support as the president was sending troops halfway around the world to Iraq.
A small example of the innocence (or obsequiousness, to be more exact) of the press is the way it reacted to Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation in February 2003 to the UN Security Council, a month before the invasion, a speech that may have set a record for the number of falsehoods told in one talk.  In it, Powell confidently rattled off his "evidence": satellite photographs, audio records, reports from informants, with precise statistics on how many gallons of this and that existed for chemical warfare.  The New York Times was breathless with adminiration.  The Washington Post editorial was titled "Irrefutable" and declared that after Powell's talk "it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction."
The truth was that a small army of UN inspectors could not find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  A large army of 100,000 soldiers marauding through the country could not find them.  But back in February 2003 the White House said: "We know for a fact that there are weapons there."  Vice President Dick Cheney said on Meet the Press: "[W]e believe Saddam has in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."  On March 30, 2003, Rumsfeld said on ABC TV: "We know where they are."  And Bush said on Polish TV: "We've found the weapons of mass destruction."
The only weapons of mass destruction in Iraq turned out to be ours: bombs and missiles raining down by the thousands, cluster bombs spewing out deadly pellets, the arsenal of the greatest military power on earth visiting destruction on yet another country.
Self-determination for the Iraqis becomes an ironic claim as the new officialdom, headed by wealthy exiles, is flown by U.S. planes into Iraq and positions of power.  In Vietnam there was a similar claim as Ngo Dinh Diem was flown into Saigon to rule South Vietnam in the interest of U.S. hegemony in Southeast Asia.
Which brings us back to the points Robert Knight was making earlier about Chalabi.  On Tuesday, Edward Wong (New York Times) reported that Ahmad Chalabi was stating that al-Sistani was opposed to allowing former members of the Baath party to rejoin the government (Wong notes that Chalabi heads up the commission and that it was "set up L. Paul Bremer III, the American pro-consul who governed Iraq from May 2003 to June 2004.  Mr. Bermere's very first order was to purge former Baathists from the government, a task that Mr. Chalabi's commission pasisonately carried out").  On Wednesday, Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reported that: "An official spokesman for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani distanced the ayatollah from reports published Monday and Tuesday saying that the marjiay, the most senior Shiite clerics, disagreed with the plan, which was proposed jointly by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and President Jalal Talbani."  Which begs the question why any serious outlet would take a word from Chalabi's mouth seriously?  The exile who helped sell the war is attempting to position himself back to the top of the puppet regime.  But, as Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) notes today, Chalabi's got competition from another US backed exile: "Some politicians say they believe the talk of a new parliamentary alliance is a cover for an attempt by Allawi to take another run at ruling Iraq.  Allawi was installed as interim prime minister in mid-2004 by the U.S.-led government in Iraq, but he was swept from office by the groundswell of support for religious parties in January 2005."  That's Iyad Allawi a one time prime minister of Iraq who was then and is now also a citizen of Britain.   Allawi and Chalabi aren't only exiles (heavily funded before the illegal war with US tax dollars), they're also related.  The current puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki (emphasis on "current") is another exile who returned to Iraq only after the US invaded. Which must mean that around kitchen tables across Iraq, children are being told, "Clean your plate, spend some time in exile, and some day you can grow up to be Prime Minister."
Most attemtnion is on Ramadi today where a bombing has claimed multiple lives.  CBS and AP report the death toll at "at least 27" and many more are wounded from "A suicide bomber driving a truck loaded with TNT and toxic chlorine gas [who] crashed into a police checkpoint in western Ramadi".  CNN notes at least 30 wounded and that two police officers are among the dead.  AFP calls it "the biggest chemical attack by insurgents in Iraq since the invasion"  and notes that it took place "next to a market and residential buildings".
Reuters notes a Hawija bombing that left four police officers wounded, two Kirkuk bombings that left six people wounded and mortar attacks in Baghdad which killed three and left five wounded.
Al Jazeera reports that "in the city of Diwaniya, Iraqi and US forces clashed on Friday with fighters loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shia leader in a major operation. . . .  Residents and an Iraqi security source in Diwaniya said a curfew had been imposed and that troops were blocking streets and conducting house-to-house searches."  DPA notes "at least 30 men were killed and many others wounded" and that "US military aircraft flew over the city and all roads were sealed off . . .  The local authorities also imposed a curfew all over the city."  Steven R. Hurst (AP) reports: "Dr. Hameed Jaafi, the director of Diwaniyah Health Directorate, said an American helicopter fired on a house in the Askari neighborhood, seriously wounding 12 people as the assault began."  Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports, "A man named Jassim, from Sadr's Diwaniyah office, said that U.S. troops had entered the city before dawn from three locations with tanks and helicopters flying overhead, taunting the Mahdi army fighters. . . . He claimed that two civilians had been killed by snipers as they tried to go to work" which the US military denies. AFP notes at least one dead and that "Polish aircraft dropped leaflets over the city ordering local police officers to stay home, warning that anyone who went out with a weapon will be considered a target, a military spokesman confirmed."
Reuters reports Sheikh Ghazi al-Hanash was shot dead in Mosul, three police officers were wouned by gunfire in Baghdad, Sheikh Karim Omran al-Shafi was injured in an attack in Hilla, and two people were shot dead "in the Amil District in southwestern Baghdad."
Reuters notes four corpses discovered in Tal Afar.  As noted in yesterday's snapshot, the corpse of Khamail Khalaf was discovered yesterday.  Bloomberg News reports: "An Iraqi reporter for a U.S.-backed radio station has been found dead in Baghdad after going missing two days ago.  Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said on its Web site that the body of Khamail Khalaf was found with bullet holes in her head and wounds on her body" and the article notes she had worked for RFE "since 2004."  This was noted yesterday but she has been reported as a TV journalist -- which she was until the start of the war.
Finally, on Thursday, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) explored the latest developments in governmental spying "a secret FBI intelligence unit helped detain and question a group of protesters in a downtwon parking garage in April 2002.  Some of the protesters were interrogated on videotape about their political and religious beliefs."  Excerpt:
Amy Goodman: We're also joined by Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, an attorney and co-founder of Partnership for Civil Justice. Mara, talk about the significance of this, of the years of denial that the FBI were involved.
Mara Verheyden-Hillard: Well, as Nat said, the FBI and the Metropolitan Police Department have steadfastly held that it didn't happen. We believe our clients. We know that this happens. We have evidence in other cases of FBI involvement in intelligence gathering on political protesters. And in discovery request after discovery request, in sworn responses in hearings before the court, over and over again, the FBI, the MPD have done everything they can to suggest that this is somehow complete fabrication. And we have sought for years, as well, to get a particular document, the document that now places the FBI squarely at the scene of the arrests and doing intelligence gathering. And that's the running resume. It's a document that indicates, line by line, what the MPD and federal police and other law enforcement agencies are doing during protests. We've been able to obtain them in virtually every protest case we're litigating in D.C. And in this case, they actually told us it didn't exist, and they swore it didn't exist -- and now we know why. This document says very clearly FBI intelligence is on the scene and the protesters are being questioned. And the only way this finally came up is they gave it to us the one business day before a deposition we were taking of one of the MPD members who's responsible for developing this document.
Juan Gonzalez: And what has been the response of the law enforcement officials who kept saying that they didn't have any records of this?
Mara Verheyden-Hillard: Well, we want a response. We have filed a motion for sanctions with the court. As well, the FBI has filed a motion to dismiss themselves from the case. We don't see that there can be any basis for their dismissal -- and this situation is really important, because we think it's sort of the tip of the iceberg. We think it's one tentacle coming up that's quite visible of a larger operation. The questions that they were asking protesters, the questions about who were you with, what are your political beliefs, where are you staying -- associational, political questions -- that's programmatic questioning. It's not random questioning. It's the kind of information you collect when you're building a database, an associational database and a network database of information. And it's all purely political. It's all First Amendment-protected political activity, political association.

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Other Items

Watada, based at Fort Lewis, is charged with missing movement and conduct unbecoming an officer. If convicted, he could be sentenced up to six years in prison and be dishonorably discharged.
A second court-martial is scheduled to begin July 16.
Honolulu-based military defense lawyer Eric Seitz had been representing Watada largely for free. But Seitz said the Seattle law firm Carney Badley Spellman has picked up the case. Watada's new Seattle attorneys are Kenneth Kagan and James Lobsenz.
"We will be taking the position that a second trial is barred by the double-jeopardy clause" of the Constitution, Kagan said. "Some (legal observers) have opined that double jeopardy does not apply to soldiers as it does to civilians. We will take the position that there was no manifest reason for the judge to deal a mistrial, and as a result a subsequent trial is barred," Kagan said.

The above, noted by Portland, is from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's "Army war resister takes on new lawyers for retrial." The war resister is Ehren Watada. Portland notes the visitor (see last night's entry) who had an issue with my mentioning James Lobsenz in the snapshot yesterday when he wasn't mentioned in any of the press reports. Portland suggested the visitor read the above. Doubtful that will happen since the visitor already has e-mailed since last night's entry to state that if I can't "prove that lawyer exists, you shouldn't write about it." Who knew one line could upset someone so? ("Another is the strong lawyers working for the firm such as Jim Lobsenz.") But if the visitor stumbles by, there you are, via Portland, a link you can use that might convince you Lobsenz is at the firm and that he does exist.

Lloyd notes Joshua Partlow's "Putting Faith in the Masses To Forge New Secular Rule" (Washington Post) and highlights this key point about the talk of changes in parliament:

Some politicians say they believe the talk of a new parliamentary alliance is a cover for an attempt by Allawi to take another run at ruling Iraq. Allawi was installed as interim prime minister in mid-2004 by the U.S.-led government in Iraq, but he was swept from office by the groundswell of support for religious parties in January 2005.
Some members of Allawi's current political alliance are worried that rushing to fashion a new structure out of Iraq's fledgling democracy could mire the nation in more brutal violence.

Yes, Allawi wants back in. And you better believe some in the US administration want him back as well.

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How many US service members have died in Iraq?

Does Kirk Semple work for the AP? Reading "6 Americans and 4 Britons Are Killed in Attacks in Iraq" in today's New York Times, you should note this:

In the four years since the American-led invasion in March 2003, at least 140 British soldiers have been killed in Iraq, Iraq Coalition Casualty Count said.

If you read "And the war drags on" last night, you know that the AP ran a similar line in all their stories filed yesterday. When it was 4 US service members announced dead, the story included the 140 figure, when it was five, when it was six, when it was eight . . . But never did the AP tell you the count for US fatalities since the start of the illegal war.

Semple goes to ICCC to cite the 140 figure but somehow forgets to tell readers what the US count is. Now when the New York Times toyed around with rebranding their International Herald Tribune with the Times' name, they quickly learned how little the paper impresses Europe. So the Times should be fully aware that their primary audience is domestic. That requires listing the US total. Fairness and basic rules of journalism also dictate listing the US total. When your article says 4 British troops dead, 6 US troops dead and you give a total for one, you really are obligated give a total for the other. Since Semple's using ICCC for the British total, he could use it for the American total as well.

3266 is the US total at ICCC and it was the total last night. Last night, the total of US announced dead on Thursday was 8, not 6. Martha notes Joshua Partlow's "Eight U.S., Four British Soldiers Die in Scattered Attacks in Iraq" (Washington Post):

The U.S. military deaths, from roadside bombs and small-arms fire, were scattered in and around Baghdad. One U.S. soldier was shot to death Tuesday while patrolling in eastern Baghdad, parts of which are strongholds for Shiite militiamen. Another soldier was killed and a third was wounded that day in small-arms fire while on foot patrol in the southern outskirts of Baghdad.
Four soldiers were killed and four others were wounded Wednesday in two roadside bomb attacks, one in Baghdad and one on the northern outskirts of the city, the military said. Another soldier died from gunfire while on a reconnaissance patrol in eastern Baghdad.
An eighth soldier was killed and two were injured when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle in Diyala province, north of Baghdad.
The rate at which U.S. service members are dying in Iraq has remained fairly constant in recent months, even with heightened security measures imposed by the Baghdad security plan and an influx of thousands of troops to the capital. At least 80 U.S. troops were killed in each of the first three months of this year, while 18 Americans were killed in the first four days of April, according to Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, an independent Web site.

Martha finds the last paragraph above "very interesting" and references "And the war drags on" not from yesterday but from the Thursday of the week prior. She's referring to the nonsense claimed by the Council of Foreign Relations about a decreasing in the number of US service members killed. It was nonsense when they made it.

Martha also notes R. Jeffrey Smith's "Hussein's Prewar Ties To Al-Qaeda Discounted" (Washington Post):

Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides "all confirmed" that Hussein's regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report released yesterday.
The declassified version of the report, by acting Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble, also contains new details about the intelligence community's prewar consensus that the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda figures had only limited contacts, and about its judgments that reports of deeper links were based on dubious or unconfirmed information. The report had been released in summary form in February.

The report's release came on the same day that Vice President Cheney, appearing on Rush Limbaugh's radio program, repeated his allegation that al-Qaeda was operating inside Iraq "before we ever launched" the war, under the direction of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist killed last June.
"This is al-Qaeda operating in Iraq," Cheney told Limbaugh's listeners about Zarqawi, who he said had "led the charge for Iraq." Cheney cited the alleged history to illustrate his argument that withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq would "play right into the hands of al-Qaeda."
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), who requested the report's declassification, said in a written statement that the complete text demonstrates more fully why the inspector general concluded that a key Pentagon office -- run by then-Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith -- had inappropriately written intelligence assessments before the March 2003 invasion alleging connections between al-Qaeda and Iraq that the U.S. intelligence consensus disputed.

The article notes that the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency had confirmed the non-link in 2002. The lies used to sell the illegal war were known to be untrue by 2002. Cheney's still repeating them. Martha wonders if the New York Times cover this today? Yes, they run a Bloomberg News article on it online. In print nothing. That should be sufficient because the New York Times was not part of selling the illegal war and they have nothing to clarify or feel any guilt over.

What? Oh, yeah, Judith Miller, Michael Gordon . . . Yeah, they probably owe it to every reader to run this story and then some. But they're too busy pushing LIE-ALL's stenography from the US Embassy in London. Rebecca mentioned that Robert Knight, on yesterday's Flashpoints, or The KPFA Evening News (archive) yesterday covered the fact that Murdoch's Sky News reported that the British soldiers who were captured were on an intelligence gathering mission.
The basis for that report was an interview with one of the captured soldiers done before the soldiers were captured. Somehow Lie-All's got a lot, lot more to write about in today's paper.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

In 1969, Trudeau said Canada should be a refuge from militarism. Today we have an opportunity to live up to his legacy by welcoming the hundreds of US army deserters who have come here fleeing the illegal war in Iraq
Americans, insurgents, militiamen and others fighting in Iraq have killed 30,000 Iraqis, if you believe US President George W. Bush, or over 600,000, according to researchers at John Hopkins University. There is near-unanimous agreement that the United States did not invade Iraq in self-defence, and the United Nations did not say America could attack. The new Iraqi oil law and Abu Ghraib are examples of systematic plunder and torture.
The International Criminal Court has a statute that says soldiers must refuse to participate in this sort of behaviour. Now American war resisters who deserted their army and have come to Canada are asking our Federal Court of Appeal for the right to say six words before a court, one for every 100,000 dead: "We think this killing is unlawful."
If they are allowed to make that claim, the hundreds of US soldiers who have come here may be able to stay. If not, they and future American deserters could spend years in American prisons for quitting a mission they know constitutes, in legal terms, an "aggression" and more than one "war crime." In 2005, the Immigration and Refugee Board ruled that the war's legality, which is central to these soldiers' claims for refugee status, is not relevant. It is. The soldiers deserted largely because they realized they had been deceived by their government and were participating in serious crimes. Soon, the court of appeal will be able to tell the board to either hear that the Iraq War is illegal or grant these soldiers refugee status immediately.
Lawyer Jeffry House evaded the draft during the Vietnam War and, he says, "reported to Canada instead." At the cost of his time and energy, he advocates for Iraq War deserters, people who generally can't pay standard fees, if they can pay any at all. House is the kind of citizen Canada earns when we accept the moral best that America cannot always keep for itself. House says that "to imprison someone for refusing to participate in war crimes is persecution," exactly what our refugee policy is designed to prevent, but he knows this case has a "political component." Prime Minister Stephen Harper should not be so considerate of presidential feelings.

The above, noted by Vince, is from Reuben Apple's "War resisters welcome" (Eye Weekly). It's one of the most powerful pieces written on war resisters in any magazine. Granted, The Nation hasn't tried to take part in that competition. The fears appear to be (a) possible governmental response if it appears they are advocating soldiers self-check out and (b) they might lose the mushy middle they've courted -- they're the same "lefties" that keep writing in, week after week, complaining if The Nation offers a weak ass article on immigration. That's a wonderful audience to have, xenophobes screaming. In all the time I've subscribed to the magazine, I've never been more shocked by readers' letters than when immigration comes up these days. So their fear keeps them silent on the topic? (Let me be clear, that was put forward, the two possibilities, by two friends who are with the magazine.) Well it's certainly true that they've done very little while Muslims were rounded up in this country, while the Patriot Act was passed and renewed. And when you're timid and bringing in a host of new writers (predominately male), they're smart enough to internalize (the same way it works at the mainstream media). Let's remember that this is the magazine that could have published Christopher Ketcham's "What Did Israel Know in Advance of the 9/11 Attacks?" and "The Kuala Lumpur Deceit: a CIA Cover Up." When Salon killed the topic, The Nation bravely stood up and said "We will publish." But bravery comes and goes based on polls and this season's clothes. Which is why you read the articles in CounterPunch and not The Nation. As Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Claire's "Ketcham's Story" (CounterPunch) noted:

Ketcham took the story to a number of other magazines and got nowhere. Then, in the late summer of 2006 he took it to the Nation, whose editors said that yes, they wanted the story, but wouldn't schedule it till after the crush of political coverage in the run-up to the November elections. The target publication date was December 8. At the last minute, the Nation pulled the piece.

Do you get that? They had the story. They were going to publish it. (Unless this was a case of jerk the writer around -- which The Nation has a long history of doing.) They had it in the summer of 2006 and wanted to publish it. The earliest would be December 8, 2006. They had it in the summer but couldn't publish it then, couldn't publish it in the fall, but could make time in winter. They were too busy focusing on the election because surely the country would have suffered if they couldn't have discovered the 'kinder' qualities of Harold Ford Jr. (he lost his race, for the record). When we did "The Elector" (The Third Estate Sunday Review), we were joking to a degree (it's a parody) but, as Ava pointed out, who knew they'd prove us right? People seem shocked that the 2008 election craze has started (craze, not coverage). Well why not? One joke in "The Elector" was:

Our special issue that continues our non-stop 2006 election coverage that we'll only drop in a few weeks when we gear up for the 2008 election. No one owns The Elector!

We thought it was just a joke but didn't it turn out to be true? You can 'thank' The Nation for the craze (not coverage -- if you think a legal professor's musings on a candidate's bio qualify for anything other than sop, you need to up your intake on reality). Everything had to be shoved aside from summer 2006 for the 2006 election apparently. Maybe that's why they couldn't cover war resisters or Abeer? Here's a question people need to be pondering: What's the next lie? Here's another: How long can voters be tricked?

For those with short memories, voters in the November 2006 election voted largely on the war. And they were sold that. If the Democrats get just one house in Congress, you will see real change. Well they got two houses in Congress and what have we seen? Not real much. So now the lie is, "They need more in each house!" Really? Do you remember the magazine calling out candidates other than Joe Lieberman? Do you grasp that some of the ones given coverage are the same ones who wouldn't go near Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey and Maxine Waters' bill?

It's never good for a supposedly independent magazine to become a party organ. But as the lies and hype continue to mount, does anyone stop to wonder what they'll top it with after 2008? What's left? "Democrats need every seat in the House and in the Senate to effect real change!"
Now if they weren't so interested in being a party organ (as a magazine, there are a few real writers left), they could promote real change as opposed to cheerleading. That's on Iraq and other issues. Like a lot of readers of the magazine, I miss the magazine that wasn't afraid to advocate for and demand real change -- which is the purpose of an opinion journal. On one campus, I was corned by six professors wanting to know what the problem with the magazine today was? That's the problem, everything above. And it has failed on Iraq.

If it had any guts left in it currently, you would be reading an article on the topic of war resisters. The opinion journal would step away from the non-stop stroking of the Democrats long enough to weigh in and use the power they have. They don't. Why does the war drag on?
There's one example.

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, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3244 and AP's number was 3244 (take one off the number in Friday's snapshot). Tonight? First, let's note that there have now been 8 announced deaths (by the US military) of US service members today. And you can find that in Kim Gamel's report for AP which, like all of the AP reports today, mentions how many have died since the start of the illegal war: 140. What? 140 is the number . . . for British troops. Though AP began the day reporting the four announced British deaths and the four announced US deaths, they made it through the whole day forgetting to note how many US service members had died. Pick any AP article on the deaths today and you will easily find the sentence telling you that the four deaths of British soldiers brought the total for England to 104. Does AP not grasp that it is a wire service predominately for the US? How do they do that? How do they offer up, at the start of the day, '4 British soldiers dead, 4 US service members dead. The total for British soldiers is now 104' without ever noting what the total for the US is? Seriously, how do you do that? How do you write that and not notice that you've provided the British tally but forgotten to provide the US tally?

Here's an example (CBS and AP) where the count rose to 5 US service members killed (and the number for British troops killed was still 4). "Overall, the deaths raised to 140 the number of British forces to die in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion and to 109 the number killed in combat" is the sort of statement AP ran all day and never noted the tally for the US. Sometimes they went with: "The latest casualties raised to 140 the number of British forces to die in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion--109 in combat" (for the story covering 8 US service members, 4 British troops announced dead).

ICCC reports that the count is now 3266. That's 22 more than last Thursday.

On the four British soldiers announced dead, Geoff Marshall (Daily Express) reports:

TWO women were among four British soldiers killed in a roadside ambush in Iraq, it was revealed tonight.

Polly noted the above. On other disclosures, Anne notes this from Greg Mitchell (Editor & Publisher):

Two soldiers killed in Iraq in February may have died as a result of friendly fire, Army officials said Wednesday, not from enemy fire, as the press reported.The military suspected friendly fire later in February but did not inform the dead soldiers' families of these new doubts.
One of the soldiers died just hours after arriving in Iraq -- and was one of those troops rushed to the country in the "surge" who did not receive full training. The Army said it is investigating the deaths of Pvt. Matthew Zeimer, 18, of Glendive, Mont., and Spc. Alan E. McPeek, 20, of Tucson, Ariz., who were killed in Ramadi, in western Iraq on Feb. 2. The families of the soldiers at first were told they were killed by enemy fire.

12,000 National Guard troops will now be depolyed to Iraq. The war's not ending. And silly little puff pieces on candidates aren't going to end it. Ignoring the number of US troops who have died in the illegal war isn't reality and it isn't ending the war (AP's responsiblity is only to the former). On ending the war, maybe if your goal (despite claims of 'independence') is to elect Democrats, then party organs have to embrace party leadership and let the war drag on and on with the hope that voters are idiots?

Tomorrow, in the gina & krista round-robin, my column's answering questions from members that came in this week. For this talking entry (I'm at Rebecca's and we're both talking as we work on getting something up at our sites), I'm going to do the same with some questions from visitors in today's e-mails (and I only read the top 60 e-mails in the public account). Two visitors are upset that they went to the trouble of transcribing radio programs and they weren't noted in the snapshot. Why? There are two reasons. First, I didn't see them. I didn't go into the public account until tonight. I was speaking most of the day. When I did check e-mails, I checked the e-mail accounts for members. Second, if I had seen them, I wouldn't have used them. If I didn't hear a program and someone e-mails a transcription, I'm going to quote from it? If they're a member, sure. I know the community members. If they're a visitor? No. I don't know you and I'm not going to follow up a snapshot with a correction of "Woops! The whole transcript was false!" A member can make a mistake as easily as I can. (I did this week, Robert Knight said "flak" jackets, not "flap" -- I realized that after it went up and advised everyone to correct it. I went into the snapshot as soon as I could and changed it here.) But there's a difference between an honest mistake and a deliberate attempt to mislead. I trust members, I don't know visitors. I stated this morning that if a member wanted to transcribe . . . Member. That wasn't an open invitation.

Jordan (not member Jordan) wrote that I could use his name and his question is about the snapshot's mention of Watada getting new representation and my mentioning an attorney at the firm. Jordan accessed all the links on that and didn't find the attorney's name mentioned once. It wasn't mentioned in the reports. That was a comment from me based on what I know.

Another visitor wondered why war resisters trumped a "report by Leigh Ann Caldwell"? Caldwell's gotten praise here and she, and pretty much most outlets, has been criticized for her coverage of the Pelosi measure. (By me. What others do with their space here is their business.) The fact that Caldwell clarified the claims is the only reason the comment even made it into the snapshot today. Congress isn't doing much. War resisters are important and the goal is to cover them in every snapshot. On Wednesday, Robert Zabala was the bigger story. I had limited time and went with transcribing the full report by Aaron Glantz. It was important, it mattered and Zabala got very little coverage. So a war resister would trump almost anything and, again, Glantz had a strong report.

A member (who didn't want to be named) had asked if we could include Caldwell's comment? I noted that this morning and said if someone would transcribe that portion, we would. Two members did and we included it. If it was nonsense, it wouldn't have been included (unless I was making a comment about what nonsense it was). I didn't have time. I didn't even hear Democracy Now! today (four members have noted one segment and it will be included in tomorrow's snapshot). On good days, there are always things that could make the snapshot that don't. Some won't work in that day's. Some there's just not time for. Some I try to carry over later in the week (or the next week -- one thing waited three weeks before I had the time and it fit with other things in that day's snapshot). On Wednesday, when Zabala was getting even less attention than the day before, the most important thing to include was the Glantz report. We have members who can't listen online due to computer issues or work issues and we have members who, if they accessed a stream, wouldn't be able to hear it due to physical issues. Glantz report was too important not to include in full. That would have been true if Zabala had received a ton of coverage. It was a very strong report.

Adam wrote (names noted only if the visitor says they can be) to ask if I listened to the Monday radio broadcast I plugged? I don't always have time to listen to things plugged here. I rarely hear programs on Sunday, for instance, because I'm up all night Saturday working with everyone on The Third Estate Sunday Review. So there's always a chance that upcoming broadcasts noted here may not be listened to by me. In terms of the Monday broadcast, that was a war resisters story. I frequently parcel those out. I knew we'd have the Watada story this week and the Zabala verdict. Otherwise? I didn't know what we'd have. So Monday's broadcast was always going to be noted on Friday. It will be noted tomorrow (and, yes, I listened to it on Monday). Again, the goal is to always have something on war resisters in each snapshot.

Ginny praised Wally and Cedric's work (I share her high opinion of their work) and noted she discovered the snapshot through their sites. She wondered why it didn't also go up on Saturdays and Sundays? I don't have the time. It should go up. But I don't have the time. Saturday night, we're all working on The Third Estate Sunday Review. That's always an all nighter. I'm worn out by Sunday morning. Saturday day, I'm usually trying to take care of things I've put off all week because I didn't have time. But, I agree, there should be Saturday and Sunday snapshots. I just don't have the time. On Memorial Day, there may or may not be one. I'll play that by how much is going on that day. Also, at some point during the upcoming months, between now and September, I need to visit a friend who lives high up in the mountains and I can forget dictating a snapshot or typing one myself. I'm trying to figure out when to take care of that. But it's very likely it will be a week day and there will not be a snapshot. (Rebecca is pregnant and I also want to be there for the birth of her child. There may not be a snapshot that day -- if it's a week day.) Otherwise, the snapshot should be up here every Monday through Friday. And, Ginny's correct, there should be one on Saturday and Sunday as well (especially since there's usually more reporting coming out of Iraq on Saturdays than on Sundays).

A visitor wrote that she's looking for an organization and noted the ones on the left (the ones linked to). She wondered who she should be working with? That's up to her. They all have their strengths and it will be a matter of your personal taste (and the time you have -- you might be able to work with more than one). Another thing to consider might be which ones are active in your area? (She didn't say where she lived in the e-mail.) There are local groups, that aren't linked to, in most cities and towns. There is a great deal of activism going on around the country that never gets noted but it is happening. Talk about the war to the people around you and you'll probably find out that there's something in your area.

Sarita noted she'd read something at Mikey Likes It! and wondered about that: the fact that in 2005, I said the war wouldn't be over before the 2008 elections. That was my feeling, I would've loved to have been wrong. There wasn't then the level of activism to end the war (though it had picked up tremendously by the point and has continued to do so). She found that very depressing. I do as well. And I'd love to be wrong on that. But currently Congress isn't trying to end the war. The level of activism is rising and it could rise enough that Congress was forced to end the war. If that happens, I'll be thrilled to be wrong. (And I am often wrong, so see it as a challenge or my dopey opinion and not anything set in stone.)

In 2004, we were all steered away from Iraq to focus on candidates. Hopefully, we realize now not to drop Iraq to hop on board a campaign train. Iraq can't be dropped if you want the war to end. Some outlets will drop it. Some already have and won't pick it back up. But if the Dems play War Hawk in the summer of 2008, as they did at the convention in the summer of 2004, people need to call that out. We don't need to hear from Party Hacks about how we should fall in line. We don't need any advice from a Party Hack who confuses himself with Congress and refers to Congress as "we." Who you vote for is your business and your decision, but Iraq doesn't need to be dropped. Nor do people need to hold their tongues about Iraq out of fear that they'll upset a campaign. Campaigns for public office need to be responsive to the people. People who do not work for campaigns do not take marching orders from them. Real journalist (as opposed to Party Hacks) never tell a person that they need to be 'happy' with whatever sop got tossed their way. The comeback from the 2004 elections was a rough period. You had Nagourney and others pushing the newly invented myth of 'values voters.' (With 'values' only being values if they reflected an extremely right-wing view of the world.) You had Party Hacks desperate to run from the war. You had a lefty outlet (not a magazine) offer a laughable (or maybe pitiful) piece on how the war needed to go on. The independent press needs to be indepentent but some of it won't be. If they're not independent, they need to be called out.

The illegal war isn't going to end because we're all steered into pinning our hopes on one person. It won't end because we stay silent or because we leave the decision up to elected officials. Cindy Sheehan truly sparked the movement (shocked?) back to life. But, and members know this story, if you go back to the real time coverage of Sheehan, you'll see a lot of distortions at some outlets. One wanted to claim that she wasn't for bringing the troops home. And when a member of this community (Martha) corrected the person on that, the reply was that it wasn't up to Cindy Sheehan or to us to make a decision about that, it was up to Congress and experts.
This was a left blogger saying that. Apparently the blogger thought they came off as one of the 'experts' or 'insiders' who was so wise. In reality, the blogger came off as ignorant of history, ignorant of a topic (Sheehan) that the blogger chose to write about, and no friend to democracy when you say that the people need to keep their opinions to themselves and allow Congress and 'experts' to figure out what to do. Maybe the blogger was suffering Sunday Chat & Chew damage, but that's not how a democracy works.

People need to claim and own their power. They need to use their voices. Dropping back to a question about which organization should be supported, all have done amazing work. They've forced the issue, they've created the space where dissent could be raised. The peace movement's done an amazing job -- with a lot of work still in the future -- and when you grasp how little support they've had from so-called independent media, you should marvel over what they've accomplished. The ones standing in the way long ago stopped being the right-wing. The number still believing (or thinking they can fool people on the right) probably hasn't gone down all that much but they're not able to shout down now -- the people turned against the war in the summer of 2005 and that's only gotten stronger. Now days it's the friends or 'friends' who try to steer you towards silence that hurt the peace movement. And the ones who've been silent (and continue to remain silent) also hurt the peace movement. It still amazes me that so many rushed to sing Molly Ivins praises (she deserved that praise) never once offered (or were asked) how they intended to honor the legacy of the woman they say they admired so much. The obvious way to honor her would be to continue what she wasn't able to -- use their voices to focus on Iraq.

Last highlight goes to Alfred who notes Nicola Nasser's "Playing US Politics with Iraqi Blood for Oil" (CounterPunch) which addresses a number of things including the way this plays out outside the US:

Would the Democrats' alternative end the occupation? Nothing is concrete and on record so far to indicate it would. Would it end the civil war? On the contrary it will make it worse as all statements by Democrat leaders point only to a "military redeployment" to extricate their troops out of the harm's way. How could a sectarian ruling elite, which is an integral part of the sectarian divide, end a sect-based strife on its own when they were unable to do so with the combined US-Iraqi forces? Moreover, is this so-called alternative essentially different from the Republicans' strategy? On the unity of Iraq, oil, long-term US military presence, civil war and the "benchmarks" set for the new Iraqi rulers both alternatives are essentially the same. Their looming showdown over deadlines for combat operations in Iraq would neither set a deadline for the end of Bush era in Iraq nor herald an end to the US era in the country.True the House on March 23 voted 218 to 212 to stop paying for U.S. combat operations in Iraq as of August 31, 2008; on March 27 the Senate voted 50-48 for a deadline on March 31, 2008. The narrow margin of both votes emboldened Bush to confirm he will veto both. Congress obviously doesn't have the two-thirds majority necessary to override his veto. It is almost certain Bush is going to keep his combat troops in Iraq for as long as he wants, until the deadline set by the US constitution for his exit on January 20, 2009.Only then the Bush era will end in Iraq to make room for carrying on the US era in the country either by a new Republican or Democrat administration, which will depend on the outcome of playing politics with more Iraqi blood. The congress will continue the deadline play after its recess for two weeks.Meanwhile Bush, in defiance of American public opinion and his Democratic rivals, is sending more troops to Iraq instead of bringing some back home, in a race against time to achieve a military success on the ground to pre-empt a Democratic electoral success next year, while the Democrats are manoeuvring to bet on his failure in Iraq to secure a victory in the US. Under the Bush administration's new Iraq policy announced earlier this year, the Pentagon has increased force levels in Iraq by about 30,000 troops. The United States has about 145,000 troops in Iraq.Arab observers could not miss facts like that the Democrat-approved $124 billion supplemental funding was more than Bush himself requested; "We gave him more than he asked for, we gave him every dime that he asked for," said House Majority Whip Democratic Rep. James E. Clyburn. The Senate March 27 vote on a withdrawal schedule was nonbinding on the President. Democrats only require Bush to seek Congressional approval before extending the occupation and spending new funds to do so. All these factors and more boil down to simply empowering Bush to continue his bloody war for at least one more year, until the eve of the next election; the Democratic leadership is viewed merely to appear to oppose the war while continuing to fund it.Common Ground on 'Benchmarks'Nor are Arab observers, especially Iraqis, missing the fact that the Democrats have adopted the same benchmarks laid out by Bush for the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Noori al-Maliki. The House bill of March 23 mandates these benchmarks for the Iraqi government. If the Iraqi government fails to meet those benchmarks, U.S. troops would be withdrawn at an earlier date. These benchmarks and the bipartisan consensus on them could only be interpreted as a bipartisan decision to empower the pro-US ruling Iraqi coalition to serve as Washington's proxy to combat the Iraqi anti-occupation resistance and terrorism, which boils down to nothing less than a decision to "Iraqize" the war, forgetting that the "vietnamization" was a bad precedent that failed to save the American neck in the Vietnam war."Iraq must take responsibility for its own future, and our troops should begin to come home," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. The difference is only one of approach: Democrats seek to extricate US troops from the civil war militarily by redeploying them out of population centres and assigning their mission to Iraqis and diplomatically by engaging regional powers particularly Syria and Iran; Republicans want US military to enforce security first and install their Iraqi protagonists in the secured community centres before redeploying.A second Bush-set and Democrat-adopted benchmark that the government of al-Maliki must meet concerns Iraq's oil industry and Iraqi multibillion-dollar oil revenues. Both rivals agree that the new Iraqi oil law should be adopted this year to favour investing foreign oil companies with 70 percent of oil revenue to recoup their initial outlay, then companies can reap 20 percent of the profit without any tax or other restrictions on their transfers abroad. Both parties seek to distribute the oil revenues on ethnic and sectarian basis in accordance with the new draft hydrocarbon law. The Democrats had proposed that by July 1 of this year Bush must certify that progress is being made on these issues or US "withdrawal" will begin within 180 days. The wide spread Iraqi opposition to this law is a major contributor to the civil war.

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and the war drags on