Saturday, February 04, 2006

RadioNation with Laura Flanders: Frances Moore Lappe and Joel Dorn

Kat here, wondering why I'm even bothering to attempt this post since there's apparently some outage on Blogger. If you see this, remember the mirror site. Jim and Dona have already decided to utilize it for The Third Estate Sunday Review if the problems persist.

So a number of us are in DC and let me talk about that for a minute. I was depressed as anyone over Alito being confirmed and spineless Democrats refusing to filibuster. All week, I was asking, "Does anyone want to go to the World Can't Wait rally in DC?" Everyone was pretty worn out from the Alito battle. On Thursday night, I phoned C.I. and I could sense a waivering.
Friday morning, C.I. said, "Okay, Kat, I'll go with." Then Wally called C.I. and Wally ended up being up for it as well. We're in DC when Jim's calling C.I.'s cell to say that it may be a long overnight edition on The Third Estate Sunday Review because the gangs enroute to DC and had decided, "Well, we should be there." They were surprised to learn that we were already in DC.

So that's how some of us ended up in DC and what a turnout. The World Can't Wait. Drive out the Bully Boy regime! Now let's talk Laura Flanders.

This Weekend:
Something is rotten in Washington DC, but the political picture's brighter at Democracy's Edge.
Saturdays & Sundays, 7-10pm ET on Air America Radio
We'll hear from author FRANCES MOORE LAPPE. Then, in his budget next week, the President is expected to ask for new emergency funds for the Gulf, but has any of this money trickled down yet? Locals have a plan that needs your help. Plus, excerpts from an Alternative State of the Union. And JOEL DORN shares tracks from the golden age of Gospel.

Tune in. And if you missed it, a one-hour edited podcast of last week's broadcast is available at
It's all on RadioNation with Laura Flanders this weekend on Air America Radio.

Be sure to make time for it. Trina's going to be using the mirror site this evening so please check it ouf for her entry and for other entries. No one knows what the deal with Blogger is. Also, Shirley, Martha and Dallas are working with Ruth on getting an entry up. If it doesn't make it here, check the mirror site. If you see this several days later and say, "Gee Kat, a heads up would have helped if we could see it," I shoot back, "The mirror site exists exactly for this reason so you should have thought to check it on your own."

I have no idea what Blogger's problems are but I know I tried twice this week without success to get into my site. We've got the mirror site and, if it comes to it, we can always activate the mailing lists. C.I. checked the e-mail account and a number of you are wondering what's up with the site while a smaller number are freaking out. No need to freak out. We're prepared for emergencies even if we weren't prepared for this nonsense on a weekend most thought they'd finally be kicking back a bit.

NYT: David Johnston and Rachel L. Swarns

Here's what the New York Times tells you today.

David Johnston's"New Details Revealed on C.I.A. Leak Case" tells you that the court documents reveal Scooter Libby learned of Valerie Plame from Dick Cheney. Libby still claims it was from Tim Russert and Russert still claims that's not the case. From the article:

Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff told prosecutors that Mr. Cheney had informed him "in an off sort of curiosity sort of fashion" in mid-June 2003 about the identity of the C.I.A. officer at the heart of the leak case, according to a formerly secret legal opinion, parts of which were made public on Friday.
The newly released pages were part of a legal opinion written in February 2005 by Judge David S. Tatel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. His opinion disclosed that the former chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr., acknowledged to prosecutors that he had heard directly from Mr. Cheney about the Central Intelligence Agency officer, Valerie Wilson, more than a month before her identity was first publicly disclosed on July 14, 2003, by a newspaper columnist.
"Nevertheless," Judge Tatel wrote, "Libby maintains that he was learning about Wilson's wife's identity for the first time when he spoke with NBC Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert on July 10 or 11." Mr. Russert denied Mr. Libby's account. Ms. Wilson is married to Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador who has criticized the Bush administration's Iraq policy.

Billie notes Rachel L. Swarns' "Halliburton Subsidiary Gets Contract to Add Temporary Immigration Detention Centers:"

The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a contract worth up to $385 million for building temporary immigration detention centers to Kellogg Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidiary that has been criticized for overcharging the Pentagon for its work in Iraq.KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space, company executives said. KBR, which announced the contract last month, had a similar contract with immigration agencies from 2000 to last year.

So Halliburton's gotten a new contract (probably no bid). Why? Because of the wonderful job they've done in Iraq? Don't kid yourself. But where is this "unexpected influx of immigrants" coming from? Does that bother you? The fact that Homeland Security will be over them? Where is the influx coming from?

Ponder. And wonder if Bully Boy's going to scapegoat undocumented workers (which is bad enough) or if the I'm-above-the-law Bully Boy has something else in mind?

Stepping away from the Times. This is an e-mailed entry. Did you notice that? If you did, the good news is that this made it onto the site. Here's the bad news. No Ruth.
Not this morning. Not because of Ruth. She did her entry.

There are too many problems with Blogger/Blogspot this morning. This entry was done in the program and disappered while publishing (with a "post not found" message that's new to Blogger/Blogspot -- I've seen all the error messages). Last night, forget about posting anything because I couldn't log in. (Though I wasted two hours repeatedly trying.)

Betty, according to Mikey Likes It!, was able to log in, to write a post, and when she'd try to publish, she kept getting a message to wait ten minutes over and over.

I have no idea what's going on but I do know that it's a waste of time to keep trying to do entries when Blogger/Blogspot keeps losing them. I've spent three hours this morning trying to do entries and copying and pasting Ruth's e-mailed one in. That's all the time I'm giving this morning.

My apologies to Ruth.

The e-mail address for this site is You'll note no tags. You may also note that there are no links except to articles from the paper. I've done all that repeatedly this morning, I'm not in the mood to continue foolishly wasting time.

Shirley note: I'm publishing this within Blogger because it may be about to disappear from the site. Martha and Dallas are working on links and tags for Ruth's Morning Edition Report. UK Computer Gurus and myself are attempting to find out what's going on with Blogger. C.I. is in DC for The World Can't Wait rally along with Wally, Kat, Dona, Jim, Ty, Ava and Jess. UK Computer Gurus are also attempting to help Betty get her post from last night posted. The time stamp on the original post was 4:06 am. I'll put 4:10 am on this one because UK Computer Gurus want to see if the original immediately vanishes when this one goes up.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Democracy Now! in Doha: Bully Boy, Blair and Al Jazzera; Margaret Kimberley, Norman Solomon ...

World Can't Wait Activist Interrupts Rumsfeld Speech
And at the same press event where Rumsfeld spoke, an anti-war activist interrupted his speech.
  • World Can't Wait’s Heather Hurwitz: "You have committed crimes against humanity and and thousands are coming this weekend to drive you out of office, You and you whole administration. Step down Mr. Rumsfeld, Bush administration step down and take these programs with you. You are torturing people signing off on torture. It's happening. This world needs to wake up, stop this war, this criminal war."
Hurwitz is a member of the group World Can't Wait. The group is convening a protest in Washington Saturday calling on the Bush administration to step down. Thousands of people are expected to attend.
Bush Mulled Using Spyplane Painted In UN Colors To Provoke Iraq
In other news, a newly disclosed pre-war memo shows President Bush considered painting a US spyplane in the colors of the UN and flying it into Iraqi territory to provoke Saddam Hussein into war. The idea was discussed at a meeting held with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the White House on January 31st 2003 -- well over a month before the US and Britain invaded Iraq. The memo also adds further credence to accusations the President was set on war regardless of UN authorization and weapons inspections. According to the memo, Bush said "the US would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would: 'twist arms' and 'even threaten'." The memo continues: "But he had to say that if ultimately we failed, military action would follow anyway." The memo says Tony Blair agreed, but argued that "a second Security Council resolution would provide an insurance policy against the unexpected, and international cover, including with the Arabs." The memo was first revealed in the book "Lawless World", written by leading British human rights lawyer Philippe Sands.
Cheney, Libby Were Told Of Niger Doubts Before Plame Outing
Meanwhile, investigative journalist
Murray Wass is reporting Vice President Dick Cheney and his then-Chief of Staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby were informed in June 2003 that the CIA did not believe Saddam Hussein had attempted to purchase uranium from Niger. Despite receiving the CIA’s assessment, Cheney and Libby proceeded with a public campaign to discredit Joe Wilson -- the former US ambassador who had first investigated and dismissed the Niger allegation. The campaign to discredit Wilson led to the outing of his wife, CIA operative Valerie Plame.
Fitzgerald Says White House Has Deleted E-Mails From 2003
In related news, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who is investigating the outing of Plame's identity, has revealed that several White House e-mails from around the time Plame was exposed have been erased. In a letter to Lewis Libby's lawyers, Fitzgerald wrote: "We have learned that not all email of the Office of Vice President and the Executive Office of President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system."
The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Jonah, Cindy, Charlie and MollyDemocracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
Headlines for February 3, 2006

- Egyptian Ferry Carrying More Than 1400 Sinks In Red Sea
- Cartoon Showing Prophet Mohammad With Bomb Sparks Outrage
- Boehner Elected To Replace Delay As House Majority Leader
- Bush Mulled Using Spyplane Painted In UN Colors To Provoke Iraq
- Cheney, Libby Were Told Of Niger Doubts Before Plame Outing
- Fitzgerald Says White House Has Deleted E-Mails From 2003
- Venezuela Expels US Navy Attaché Over Alleged Spying
- World Can't Wait Activist Interrupts Rumsfeld Speech
Democracy Now! in Doha...The Story Behind the Other Downing Street Memo Where Bush Told Blair He Wanted to Bomb Al Jazeera

We broadcast from the headquarters of Arabic TV network Al Jazeera in Doha, Qatar - the place President Bush allegedly told Tony Blair he wanted to bomb. The report came out last November in Britain's Daily Mirror, citing a secret British memo revealing that Bush told Blair in April 2004 of his desire to bomb the news outlet. Bloggers have pledged to publish the memo if it is leaked. We speak with British blogger Daniel Mason, who has been tracking the story of the Downing Street Memo. [includes rush transcript]
Democracy Now! in Doha…"Why Did You Want to Bomb Me Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair?": Al Jazeera Director Demands More Information on Secret Memo

Days after the Daily Mirror cited the memo that allegedly reveals President Bush told Tony Blair in April 2004 of his desire to bomb Al Jazeera, Wadah Khanfar, Managing Director of Al Jazeera, arrived in London to petition for a meeting with Blair to discuss the leaked memo. We speak with Khanfar about his demands for more information about the secret memo.

11AM: Rally at 17th & Constitution

2PM: March around the White House

Speakers includeMissy Comley Beattie (Gold Star Families for Peace),   Elaine Brower (GSFP),  Kathleen Chalfant,  Doris "Granny D" Haddock,  Joe Madison (the Black Eagle),  Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights,  Boots Riley (the Coup),  Representative from 1199 SEIU United Health Care Workers East,  Rebecca Schaefer (Georgetown Law School Student),  Rev. Al Sharpton,  David Swanson (After Downing Street),  Sunsara Taylor,  Juan Torres (GSFP),  Ann Wright (Veterans for Peace),  Rev. Lennox Yearwood (Hip-Hop Caucus),  more TBA pending schedule confirmations.
World Can't Wait.  This Saturday, DC.
Vernon notes Margaret Kimberley's "Bin Laden's Wasted Warning" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):
With the help of the media, the Bush administration managed to avoid all blame and responsibility for the attacks of September 11th that took place on their watch. If a Democrat had been president on that day Republicans would not have pretended to be supportive. They would have issued calls for impeachment and the media would have joined in the witch hunt.
The co-opted press are in the process of helping the Bushmen wage a new war. We are on the verge of attacking Iran, a nation that has not and cannot harm us, because Israel and its American right wing allies demand it.
Israel is already a nuclear power, a fact that is rarely mentioned in the media. Despite the recent comments of Iran's president, it is Israel that has the power to wipe Iran off the map, not the other way around.
The wimpy opposition, the Democrats, and the press are of no use at this moment in history. Other institutions are also afflicted with co-opted and complicit leadership.
Preachers say nothing about the thousands of people killed by the U.S. military. They reserve their outrage for movies that depict gay cowboys or boy wizards. Instead of stepping up to the empire they wait in line for a Faith Based Initiative hand out. Speaking truth to the powerful is not on their agenda.
And that begins the highlights for Friday. Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King,
Iraq and more.  Let's start with the way the legacy of MLK is manipulated.  Sarah notes Norman Solomon's "Smothering the King Legacy with Kind Words" (CounterPunch):
Today, a slick rhetorical formula enables current generations of such miserly politicians to keep praising the legacy of Martin Luther King while sticking knives into it.
Such duplicity is facilitated by a baseline of media coverage that automatically recycles the truncated versions of history promoted by the politicians who dominate Washington. At least dimly, those political hacks understand a key axiom described by George Orwell: "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past."
Don't want to deal with calls for progressive change in the nation's economic power structures? Then don't mention Martin Luther King's statement, "True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."
Don't want to acknowledge King's assessment of global class war? Then just keep referring to his 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech while carefully bypassing his later oratory about "capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries."
Want to keep King boxed as scarcely more than a Jim Crow foe? Then ignore his fierce opposition to the Vietnam War and his broader denunciations of what he called "the madness of militarism."
On the topic of Coretta Scott King, Cindy steers us to Derrick Z. Jackson's "The King Who Led On World Peace" (Boston Globe via Common Dreams):
In the shadows of history, Coretta Scott King, who died yesterday at age 78, stoked her husband's fire until the blaze could not be contained. She was active in the global peace movement before her husband. In 1962, she traveled with an American delegation to Geneva, Switzerland, to monitor nuclear test-ban talks. In her 1969 autobiography, she said the delegation was received by the US representative to the talks as if they were ''hysterical females."
Coretta Scott King joined the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. After her husband received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, she said she told him many times, ''I think there is a role you must play in achieving world peace, and I will be so glad when the time comes when you can assume that role."
A symbol of how her husband was not quite ready to assume that role came late in 1965. King, burned by the backlash of his first attempts to criticize the war, backed out of an address to a peace rally in Washington. His wife kept her commitment to speak, saying, according to Taylor Branch's new book ''At Canaan's Edge," that America had to stay true to the ideals of democracy ''in spite of the bombings in Alabama as well as in Vietnam."
King built the case for his 1967 speech, raising the temperature a few additional degrees with each new speech. By the beginning of that year, he said, ''The promises of the Great Society have been shot down on the battlefields of Vietnam." But even though the April speech came with deliberate speed, he was again criticized by civil rights giants Roy Wilkins, Whitney Young, Ralph Bunch, and Jackie Robinson and panned by The New York Times, Newsweek, and Life.
Coretta Scott King kept stoking the fire. She said she told her friends, ''Those persons who do not agree with my husband now do not understand the meaning of his whole life. You cannot believe in peace at home and not believe in international peace. He could not be a true follower of the nonviolent philosophy and condone war. You think of him as a politician, but he feels that as a minister he has a prophetic role and must speak out against the evils of society. He sees war as an evil and therefore he must condemn war.
Coretta Scott King stood up for peace and we need to stand up for peace today.  Kyle notes news from Iraq via Dahr Jamail's "More Bad News for the Brits" (Iraq Dispatches):
"Multinational forces" is the term preferred by the Pentagon now-sounds better than the more truthful "occupation forces" or "members of the invading army." Yet their use of the term "multinational" is quite liberal when Japan has recently announced it will pull all of its troops from Iraq by this May, Italy announced it will withdraw 1,000 of its 2,600 troops by June and the Australian government is under increasing pressure to withdraw it's massive contingent of 1,320 troops as well.
In sum, when the Pentagon says "multinational forces" in Iraq, it usually tends to be a safe assumption that they mean U.S. soldiers, as the U.S. still maintains by far and away the largest number of troops with at least 160,000. On that note -- the second largest member of the "coalition of the willing" are the mercenaries -- who tally anywhere between 20,000-70,000 in their private militias.
Meanwhile, pressure on the embattled Prime Minister Tony Blair has skyrocketed in Britain as the 100th British soldier being killed in Iraq sparked a wave of protests across England and fresh demands for a British withdrawal.
And the way things are shaping up in southern Iraq, that 100 number could be outdated if the heavy-handed tactics of the British soldiers don’t change.
Want to be or get active but not sure how? 

11AM: Rally at 17th & Constitution

2PM: March around the White House

More information where?  At the World Can't Wait website.
Remembr " World Can't Wait Activist Interrupts Rumsfeld Speech" at the top of this entry? Heather Hurwitz stood up.  Even over some loser yelling "Shut up!"  A lot of people are standing up and a lot more are going to be joining them.
Last highlight, on people who stand up, Tori notes Frida Berrigan's "Walking to Gaunatamo: Peace marchers aim to keep the abuse of 'enemy combatants'" (In These Times):
It was tough getting used to being a spectacle, but that is exactly what we were--a motley gaggle of gringos walking through Cuba in short pants and matching gray T-shirts that read "Witness Against Torture: A March to Visit the Prisoners at Guantánamo." Wearing straw hats and sunglasses, we trailed clouds of sunscreen and bug spray.
Our journey did not start on a Cuban road. We had met and prepared for months to get to this point. Our conversations started as an exploration of ways to resist the "war on terrorism" and respond to the suffering of its victims--and ways to do that as Christians in the tradition of the Catholic Worker movement. Dorothy Day, one of its founders, is famous for having called privileged Catholics out of their church pews and into the streets, where they put the works of mercy--feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, visiting the prisoners--into action. Day also emphasized resisting what she called the "filthy rotten system" of war and injustice that keeps people poor and homeless.
When men imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay Naval Station went on a hunger strike this summer, we knew what to do: walk from Santiago--Cuba's second largest city--to the U.S. base with the intention of visiting the prisoners. We figured we were only taking up an invitation President Bush made to European Union leaders last year in response to allegations of torture and human rights abuses there. "You're welcome to go down yourselves ... and tak[e] a look at the conditions," Bush said.
By walking, we would deal transparently and openly with the Cuban government and we would draw strength from the rich history of nonviolent marches for social and political change--from Gandhi's salt march to the Selma-Montgomery March to the Continental Peace March.
And remember the Bully Boy's "win" in Afghanistan?  From the Associated Press:
Taliban insurgents launched four attacks in the southern Afghan province of Helmand on Friday and three policemen and 20 Taliban were killed, the province's deputy governor said.
About 200 insurgents were involved in the fighting, and some of them had ambushed police reinforcements going to the scene of the initial clash, said deputy provincial governor Mullah Mir, who was in a police convoy that came under attack.
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Relax. Yahoo! Mail virus scanning helps detect nasty viruses!

Other Items

Senate Democrats on Thursday angrily accused the Bush administration of mounting a public relations campaign to defend the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program while withholding details of the secret eavesdropping from Congressional oversight committees.
An annual hearing on national security threats, led for the first time by
John D. Negroponte, director of national intelligence, was overtaken by acrimonious partisan debate about the program. In response to the Democrats' complaints, Republicans and top administration intelligence officials said the real problem was leaks about N.S.A. eavesdropping and other classified matters.
Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the Senate Intelligence Committee's ranking Democrat, compared the administration's public disclosures of limited information about the N.S.A. program in the six weeks since it was first disclosed to what he described as a similarly misleading use of intelligence before the war in Iraq.
"I am deeply troubled by what I see as the administration's continued effort to selectively release intelligence information that supports its policy or political agenda while withholding equally pertinent information that does not do that," Mr. Rockefeller said.

The above is from Scott Shane's "Senate Session on Security Erupts in Spying Debate" in this morning's New York Times.

Remember that Pacifica will air the hearings live:

Next Week: Live Coverage of Senate Hearings on NSA
Join host Verna Avery Brown Monday, February 6 at 9:00 am, for an all-day broadcast of Senate hearings probing the
National Security Agency's Domestic Spying Program.
9:00am-5:00pm: Gavel to Gavel Coverage with interviews and guest analysts during breaks.
5:00pm-6:00pm: Stand-alone wrap-up show with recordings of highlights and guests. Listener call-ins may be possible.

NPR? Now do you really think their corporate sponsors are going to support live coverage of any news event? A sports event, maybe, but not a news event.

Brad notes that "the reporters at NYT know Coretta Scott King died" and steers us to Brenda Goodman's "King Funeral Has Surprise in Site Choice:"

Coretta Scott King's funeral will be held not at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where her husband once preached, but at a much larger suburban megachurch where her youngest daughter is an elder, funeral planners said Thursday.
Thousands of people, including world leaders and celebrities, are expected to attend the service at noon on Tuesday at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, the funeral director, Willie A. Watkins said.
The news surprised many people who had assumed that the funeral would be held at Ebenezer Baptist, the historic chapel in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his father and grandfather preached, and where Mrs. King was a board member until she died on Monday at age 78.

And the editorials? Nothing on King again today. Op-eds? Two guest op-eds on the Pope. Coretta Scott King? Still not a word. (If you're new to this discussion, check out this entry from yesterday on how the Times editorial pages have yet to find King's death a topic worth devoting serious attention to.)

Rachel notes Julia Preston's "Public Misled on Air Quality After 9/11 Attack, Judge Says:"

Christie Whitman, when she led the Environmental Protection Agency, made "misleading statements of safety" about the air quality near the World Trade Center in the days after the Sept. 11 attack and may have put the public in danger, a federal judge found yesterday.
The pointed criticism of Mrs. Whitman came in a ruling by the judge, Deborah A. Batts of Federal District Court in Manhattan, in a 2004 class action lawsuit on behalf of residents and schoolchildren from downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn who say they were exposed to air contamination inside buildings near the trade center.
The suit, against Mrs. Whitman, other former and current E.P.A. officials and the agency itself, charges that they failed to warn people of dangerous materials in the air and then failed to carry out an adequate cleanup. The plaintiffs are seeking monetary damages and want the judge to order a thorough cleaning.

Misleading statements? From Christie Todd Whitman? The 'reasonable Republican' set on taking back 'her party, too' (cry if she wants to, cry if she wants to) who found time in her non-busy schedule to show up at the Judiciary Committee hearings on Alito and lecture the senators on why they should support Alito? Christie Todd Whitman make misleading statements? Which is also known, in the real world, as "lying." Imagine that. It's 'her party, too' and she can lie if she wants to, lie if she wants to. She demonstrated that (and much more) when she put New Yorkers lives in danger with her lies about air quality.

On the scent of another disgraced Republican (do they come in any other flavor?), Neil A. Lewis tells readers that Scooter's raised two million dollars already for his defense in the charges brought against him for his role in the outing of now former-CIA agent Valerie Plame. Of particular interest should be Fred Thompson's sitting on the steering committee for the Free Scooter So He Can Compromise National Security Again! Why is that? Well NBC brass went into a freak-fest over Martin Sheen's political activities. Should a Law & Order star really be helping to raise money for someone involved in the outing of a CIA agent? Thompson has the right to do whatever he wants. That's not the point. The point is NBC won't even blink an eye at this but they freaked over Martin Sheen's activities. I'm glad Thompson's so public. He was always a creep and now it's out there for all to see. Might Tim Russert now stop having Thompson on to address "national security"? Fat Tim. ("Fat Tim" equals "fat chance.")

Continuing to own the Abel Danger story, Rory O'Connor's latest should please many members because he breaks down the basics to the complicated story in an easy to follow manner. From
O'Connor's "Able Danger Twenty Questions" (Media Is Plural,

Everything you always wanted to know (but were afraid to ask, or the answers were classifiedŠ) about the controversial Able Danger data mining project, which identified four 9/11 hijackers a year before the terror attacks.
1. Did Anthony Shaffer, or anyone on the Able Danger team, obtain a photo of Mohamed Atta from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), as Shaffer's interview with Government Security News (GSN) states?
The photo of Atta came from an information broker who provided it and others. Shaffer's comments were made to GSN based on his knowledge at the time, which came from his knowledge of what the US Army's Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) operations center had access to. Shaffer's interview with GSN took place before civilian analyst JD Smith came forward and clarified the issue. Shaffer did not know in 1999-2000 all the specifics of how Smith and company were doing the detailed data mining - it was Shaffer's belief at the time that the photo had come from INS records. LIWA did have access to INS documents - and a Defense Department intelligence program called the Foreign Visitor Program, in which not only photos of foreign nationals but also their entire visa application were provided - but Shaffer was not aware of LIWA's use of information brokers.
2. If Atta was identified as early as January or February of 2000 - as Captain Scott Phillpott has said - when were the other three hijackers (Shehhi, Mihdhar, and Hamzi) identified by Able Danger?
Within the same timeframe, since the missing chart contained the names of all four of the then-future hijackers. They were all listed in what Phillpott had called "the Brooklyn Cell" - not that they were all in Brooklyn, but they met the search criteria that linked them to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
3. Did anyone on the Able Danger team know that any of these four were ever in the US? If so, when did they find out and how?
They did not know, as it was not Able Danger's job to track individuals in the U.S. (based on legal restrictions.) Once it was determined by Defense Department (DOD) lawyers that the "Brooklyn Cell" information could not be used for offensive planning by the Able Danger planners, the Able Danger team then attempted to pass the information to the FBI for its use. At any given time, there was no specific knowledge of where the terrorists were regarding the continental United States. The Able Danger effort, and targeting of specific individuals, was focused on overseas locations.
4. By early June 2000, these four were the only ones to have entered the US. Most of the hijackers entered the US after May 2001. Is it reasonable to predict that Able Danger could have identified the others, had it not been shut down by then?
When the 2.5 terabytes of data were destroyed by LIWA in the summer of 2000, all information relating to the terrorists was destroyed as well. However, Able Danger II, which started from scratch (i.e. a 90 day full time search of the open Internet and open data sources to re-create the data base), did detect the same basic information about the Brooklyn Cell - and in addition discovered the Al Qaeda activity in the Port of Aden in Yemen.

The entry on the Church Committee finally was completed and posted late last night, "On the Dangers of an Unchecked Bully Boy."

Again, Democracy Now! "continues its special broadcast from Doha, Qatar." Make sure to check it out (listen, watch or read transcripts) today. We're almost on schedule. (I'll try to get the entry on the former Blanketta done this weekend.) However, finishing it meant dropping indymedia roundup (among other things). I swore I would take this evening off but I'm looking at several items that were e-mailed in and I'm thinking we need it this evening. So . . . looks like we're doing it.

The e-mail address for this site is

NYT: "Surveillance Prompts a Suit: Police v. Police" (Jim Dwyer)

The demonstrators arrived angry, departed furious. The police had herded them into pens. Stopped them from handing out fliers. Threatened them with arrest for standing on public sidewalks. Made notes on which politicians they cheered and which ones they razzed.
Meanwhile, officers from a special unit videotaped their faces, evoking for one demonstrator the unblinking eye of George Orwell's "1984."
"That's Big Brother watching you," the demonstrator, Walter Liddy, said in a deposition.
Mr. Liddy's complaint about police tactics, while hardly novel from a big-city protester, stands out because of his job: He is a New York City police officer. The rallies he attended were organized in the summer of 2004 by his union, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, to protest the pace of contract talks with the city.
Now the officers, through their union, are suing the city, charging that the police procedures at their demonstrations -- many of them routinely used at war protests, antipoverty marches and mass bike rides -- were so heavy-handed and intimidating that their First Amendment rights were violated.

[. . .]
The lawsuit by the police union brings a distinctive voice to the charged debate over how the city has monitored political protest since Sept. 11. The off-duty officers faced a "constant threat of arrest," Officer Liddy testified, all but echoing the complaint by activists for other causes that the city has effectively "criminalized dissent."

The above is from Jim Dwyer's "Surveillance Prompts a Suit: Police v. Police" in this morning's New York Times. West was the first to note the article in this morning's e-mails and he noted that it reminded him of an episode of The Simpsons "when Lisa gets all the students to protest and the police are called in but instead of busting up the strike, they end up joining the students."

Also from the article, on questions reportedly asked by the police at a 2003 anti-war rally:

The dozen people who submitted affidavits said the interrogations went far beyond basics. Among the questions, they said, was whether the country would be better off if Al Gore had been elected, whether they hated President Bush, whether they belonged to other antiwar groups, what schools they attended, and whether they were politically active. The police denied asking those questions.

We'll note Danny Schechter's "Reporting From the Gulf: What's Next For Al Jazeera?" (

Doha, Qatar, February 1: Doha is the capital of the country pronounced Cutter. It is a Gulf state run by a modernizing Emir not unlike the fictional wannabe killed in the movie Syriana.
The ruler, His Highness (HH) Sheikh Hamad Bib Khalifa Al Thani, presides over the country on a Peninsula. He rules an incredibly wealthy desert nation, with just 743, 000 people, that sits on top of one of the world's largest reserves of natural gas. He has two American bases in one corner of the country and US universities building medical schools and other institutions of higher learning in another. He's launched an airline that is already one of the best in the world, and has turned this city into a giant construction site with a humongous airport and new skyscrapers in the works.
Yet, Qatar is not really known globally for these audacious and expensive accomplishments. It's known for an Arabic language satellite channel -- that until recently was squeezed into a building one Arab leader called a "matchbox" -- Al Jazeera.
Many Americans think of Al Jazeera as tied to terrorism because they occasionally air tapes recorded by Osama bin Laden. In the West it has inspired fear, been denounced on Fox News as "terror TV" and "culturally Arab" in pejorative putdowns, and reportedly President Bush once discussed bombing its headquarters, as in "taking it out." (Channel executives say they have still not had any official explanations from Washington for these "documented threats.")
Al Jazeera turns ten this year. It was a child of a failed BBC-Saudi partnership. When that relationship self-destructed, its journalists found a patron in the State of Qatar that invested over a hundred million dollars to turn an idea into a global brand - some say the 5th best known in the world -- and force in broadcasting news that has won the confidence of nearly 40 million Arab people worldwide.
Al Jazeera has been embattled. Two of its offices were bombed by the US military. Two reporters have been killed and another is in Guantanamo. Another was accused of supporting terrorism in a trial that most press freedom groups found deeply flawed. Several governments, including Iraq, have closed their offices.
That's why it is sponsoring a forum this week to discuss "Defending Freedom, Defining Responsibility." is here along with a wide international gathering of journalists, media scholars, press freedom groups and intellectuals. U.S. Independent media is well represented with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman, Stephen Marshall of Guerilla News Network, and Iraq reporter Dahr Jamail among others. There are delegates from England, France, South Africa, Turkey and all over the Arab World.

Remember that Democracy Now! "continues its special broadcast from Doha, Qatar" today (listen, watch or read).

The e-mail address for this site is

Thursday, February 02, 2006

On the Dangers of an Unchecked Bully Boy

What begins as surveillance moves to wiretapping, then COINTELPRO tricks, and finally to murder -- a diagram of what happened to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and why the illegal NSA surveillance is so alarming.

The above is from Joan Mellen's "HOW THE FAILURE TO IDENTIFY, PROSECUTE AND CONVICT PRESIDENT KENNEDY’S ASSASSINS HAS LED TO TODAY’S CRISIS OF DEMOCRACY" and Eddie had asked that we note it when we do the entry on the Church Committee.

So what was the Chuch Committee? Background. Watergate. Nixon steps down to avoid being impeached. The Watergate break-in is only the tip of the icebergs. There were enemies list (the recently deceased Jack Anderson was one of the reporters who broke the story on the enemies list). Are we moving too fast?

Richard Nixon's administration went after Daniel Ellsberg who passed the Pentagon Papers onto the press (the papers revealed that there was no "win" in Vietnam and that the government, despite constant happy talk, had known that for many, many years). But you didn't have to be Ellsberg. You could be anyone opposed to the Nixon administration, speaking out against it. Ask Donald Sutherland, ask Jane Fonda, ask Jean Seberg. Oh, wait, we can't ask Seberg.

If you were a Quaker opposed to the illegal war in Vietnam, speaking out, that's all it took to be on the enemies' list. Once you made the list, the administration encouraged all government agencies to monitor you: customs (if you crossed the border), the IRS (with regards to your tax returns) and, of course, the FBI, the CIA and military intelligence (when it came to spying on you). Illegal wiretaps, surveillance, warrantless searches, intercepting your mail . . . Go down the list, there's very little that wasn't done. Including attempts to stop the peaceful Ring Around Congress (Jun 21, 1972). As information bubbled out during the Watergate hearings, outrage demanded action.

As Joan Mellen points out, it starts with shirking the law, it starts with thinking you are above it and that rules don't apply. Presumably, the committment to an earlier Bully Boy (Nixon) was more important than the rules of law (or the foundations of a democracy) and the people 'following orders' felt that their duty was to protect the president and not the Constitution or the country. We're back in those days now. We have been for sometime.

Diane Sawyer making an ass out of herself attempting to publicly shame the Dixie Chicks by repeating the nonsense of "the commander-in-chief" should have been a tip off. A journalist repeating a lie (over and over) should have warned us that democracy was once again in troubled waters. (Bully Boy is the commander-in-chief of the military and the military only. No president is commander-in-chief of the nation. We don't live under military rule.) There were other signals as well. There was Colin Powell, supposedly the one with "integrity" in the administration, and his constant talk of 'service' that just flew over the heads of the mainstream press. This wasn't service to the nation, this wasn't living up to the highest calling. He was speaking of putting his loyalities to Bully Boy ahead of everything else. That's not democracy.
The oath that is taken is to the Constitution, not to any president.

Presidents come and go. What the founders of the country were attempting to create was a democracy. The republic has had to adapt over the years because original notions of citizenship were very limited and because democracy is a living thing. Give a Bully Boy a "Pearl Harbor" like event and suddenly he can get away with anything. The recounts are buried, Dan Rather goes on the BBC and speaks of how you only report so much for fear of reprisals, idiots like Diane Sawyer jump on the flag waving bandwagon. The flag is a symbol. The Constitution is what we're supposed to live under. But Sawyers and her kind didn't wave the Constitution.

Quickly a chill sets upon the nation (as Tim Robbins rightly pointed out) and you've got the supposed free press rushing in to shame anyone who speaks out against the administration. Regardless of who occupies the oval office when that behavior surfaces, it should alarm everyone. But it was left to the alternative press to call this toady-ism out. It was left to brave voices (Sibel Edmunds, for example) to speak out with little support from the supposed free press.

Congress? They were scared of their own shadows with very few exceptions. (They're still scared.) "Strategy" (bad strategy as we saw in the 2002 election) trumped their oath of office.
The mainstream press likes to pin the blame for any issue they don't cover in recent times on the fact that the Democrats in office didn't challenge the official spin. Toady-ism saw the New York Times, NPR, many Democrats in office (as well as bean counters passing as journalists on CNN) and countless others smear Cynthia McKinney for something she never said. You saw people stand in line to savage Susan Sontag for asking that we not be foolish. It has been one witchunt after another. Some were done openly in public, some were a little more clever (such as the planting of false rumors in the foreign press that were then trumpeted by the Murdoch house organs -- the New York Post and Fox "News").

All of that should have been alarming as well as how quickly it took place as everyone rushed to prove their "patriotism" which they read as little-to-no serious crititicsm of the Bully Boy. As many have pointed out, "terrorism" is the new "communism" menace and those who can't be dubbed "terrorists" must be "terrorist supporters" is what passes for "logic."

We have seen massive roundups and deportations of people guilty only of being Muslim. Congress and the press can claim they went along just to give Bully Boy the benefit of the doubt but they were being cowardly and refusing to stand up for their country. Rounds ups? After the national shame of our interment of Japanese-Americans, suddenly roundups were back in style. Criminal defense attorney Lynne Stewart is tarred and feathered as a "terrorist" and your brave mainstream press either remains silent or goes along with that nonsense. Jose Padilla is locked away (still) year after year without ever having a day in court and your mainstream press won't speak out.

For all the talk of "national security," these and other actions aren't done in secret. But out of fear and lack of a spine, we look the other way and act like none of it is happening. We spy on the UN and what little coverage the spying gets in this country from the mainstream press (I'm not remembering anyone in Congress objecting -- but, if they had, it's unlikely the press would have covered it anyway). Abuses go unchecked and the Bully Boy grows more and more bold.

As Tim Robbins noted:

Any acquiescence or intimidation at this point will only lead to more intimidation. You have, whether you like it or not, an awesome responsibility and an awesome power: the fate of discourse, the health of this republic is in your hands, whether you write on the left or the right. This is your time, and the destiny you have chosen.

That was in 2003, you'd think we'd be further along now then we are but we aren't. The mainstream press, with few exceptions, doesn't cover the Downing Street Minutes, doesn't cover anything that points to the serious abuses of this administration.

Now comes the revelations that the Bully Boy's ordered warrentless spying on Americans, by the NSA, and we're still seeing spin promoted as "legal strategy." That's where we are today and we need to think about that before we look back.

Following Nixon's exit from the national stage in disgrace, and the revelations of his misdeeds, Congress began to look into the activities of our government. The Church Committee began its task in 1975 and was chaired by Frank Church, a Democratic senator from Idaho. From 1975 to 1976, the committee published reports, fourteen in all, but some of the committee's work is still classified to this day.

What did America learn from the Church Committee? At the time, a great deal, but surprisingly (or not), this episode of our history doesn't appear to have made it into our national curriculum. Most of the mainstream press, when noting the Church Committee (or the Pike Committee) due to the recent revelations of the Bully Boy's spying, toss it out as an aside, a shout out. A sentence or two passes for summarizing the work of the Church Committee.

What the Church Committee discovered went beyond spying but let's start with some of that. The FBI spied on Americans, targeted them. Spying on the Communist Party included spying on the National Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee as well as on civil rights leaders. Footnote fourteen to the Church Committee's Book II: Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans reads:

For example, the entire Unitarian Society of Cleveland was targeted because the minister and some members circulated a petition calling for the aboliton of the HUAC, and because the Church gave office space to the "Citizens for Constitutional Rights". (Memorandum from FBI Headquarters to Cleveland Field Office, 11/ 6/64.)

Spying on them, on the Black Nationalists (defined in the report as the Black Panthers, the SNCC, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference "and included every Black Student Union and many other black student groups"), the New Left and assorted other groups and organizations, was illegal. The report found that:

The acts taken interfered with the First Amendment rights of citizens. They were explicity intended to deter citizens from joining groups, "neutralize" those who were already members, and prevent or inhibit the expression of ideas.
In achieving its purported goals of protecting the national security and preventing violence, the Bureau attempted to deter membership in the target groups.

From Book II:

Instructions to "preclude" free speech were not limited to "black nationlists;" they occurred in every pgoram. In the New Left program, for instance, approximately thirty-nine percent of all actions attempted to keep targets from speaking, teaching, writing, or publishing.
The cases included attempts (sometimes successful) to prompt the firing of university and high school teachers; to prevent targets from speaking on campus; to stop chapters of target groups from being formed; to prevent the distribution of books, newpapers, or periodicals; to disrupt or cancel news conferences; to interfere with peaceful demonstrations, including the SCLC's Poor People's Campaign and Washington Spring Project and most of the large anti-war marches; and to deny fcilities for meetings or conferences.
As the above cases demonstrate, the FBI was not just "chilling" free speech, but squarely attacking it.
The tactics used against Americans often risked and sometimes caused serious emotional, economic, or physical damage. Actions were taken which were designed to break up marriages, terminate funding or employment, and encourage gang warfare between violent rival groups. Due process of law forbids the use of such covert tactics whether the victims are innocent, law-abiding citizens or members of groups suspected of involvement in violence.

The Church Committe found out a great deal more (probably a great deal more than we know, hence the continued classification of some details) but let's focus on the people.

In the hazy tributes over Mark Felt last summer (which we didn't engage in), reality often left the room. Mark Felt wasn't a "hero" or a "good guy." His being Deep Throat didn't change who he was. (And, as Daniel Schorr pointed out on NPR, it's very likely his motives for whistle blowing had to do with his being passed over for a promotion. I don't think you can examine the record of Felt and find any strong support for notions of democracy.)

But apparently are amenesia regarding recent history was great enough to allow some to hail Felt as a "hero." When you want reality, skip the mainstream press and head over to Democracy Now! Specifically, "EXCLUSIVE... Jennifer Dohrn: I Was The Target Of Illegal FBI Break-Ins Ordered by Mark Felt aka 'Deep Throat:'"

AMY GOODMAN: Tell us about what happened to you. Where did you live?
JENNIFER DOHRN: I lived in New York primarily. I was based in New York. I was very, very active in the anti-war movement and in support of the Black Freedom Movement and the Puerto Rican liberation struggle, and I was followed night and day by the F.B.I. I had my apartments, several apartments, wiretapped. Apartments next to me were rented by F.B.I. agents who kept continuous 24-hour surveillance of every sound made in my apartment. I was followed up and down the streets. I would get a job, the F.B.I. would go in after me, and I would then be fired from the job. It was around-the-clock harassment.
AMY GOODMAN: Were you aware of it at the time?
JENNIFER DOHRN: I was aware of a lot of it. I was certainly aware of being followed a lot. I was -- assumed that perhaps my phones were tapped, and I had no idea of the level of extent under which I was being surveilled. I had no idea that break-ins were repeatedly happening into my apartments. I remember when I was pregnant with my first born feeling extremely vulnerable because I was being followed a great deal of the time, and then it was revealed when I received my Freedom of Information Act papers, over 200,000 documents, that there actually had been developed by Felt a plan to kidnap my son after I birthed in hopes of getting my sister to surrender.

When you are already breaking the laws, subverting the Constitution, kidnapping is just another step along the way. The rules of law matter but the Bully Boy has attempted one power grab after another. He wants to be unchecked by the two other branches. This isn't a new development. Just as the administration refused to release items on Dick Cheney's energy commission, they refuse to release the 'legal opinions' that okayed their NSA spying.

Instead of serious and hard questions, many in the mainstream press have returned to their apparently dreamed of careers as sports commentators -- which must be why reality leaves the reporting and instead the "success" or "failure" of the spin campaign (what Amy Goodman's dubbed "Why We Spy") is their focus. The press is failing at it's job (the mainstream press). The same press that bent over backwards to run to Vicky Toejam and others for the talking points on why no crime was committed by outing Valerie Plame, now bend over backward to avoid addressing the obvious (in reporting, the New York Times would point to their editorials, they can't point to their reporting).

The Church Committee not only discovered spying and efforts to disrupt movements (as well as destroy lives). From Book II of the Church Committee:

The Bureau also contacted employers and funding organizations in order to cause the firing of the targets or the termination of their support. For example, priests who allowed their churches to be used for the Black Panther breakfast programs were targeted, and anonymous letters were sent to their bishops, a television commentator who expressed admiration for a Black Nationalist leader and critized heavy defense spending was transferred after the Bureau contacted his employer, and an employee of the Urban League was fired after the FBI approached a "confidential source" in a foundation which funded the League.

When not doing that, like Gladys Kravitz on Bewitched, the intelligence community (including military intelligence) was fond of spreading rumors to spouses of infidelity -- the sort of actions that Americans would feel the KGB would do but never our own agencies were done and then some.

Coretta Scott King just passed and there's been reluctance on the part of the New York Times to note that on their editorial or op-ed pages. Possibly they don't want to delve too deeply into the Church Committee findings? The committee found gross violations of "the law and fundamental human decency" with regards to the FBI's actions against Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Strong language and the FBI more than earned it:

The Committee devoted substantial attention to the FBI's covert action campaign against Dr. Martin Luther King because it demonstrates just how far the Government could go in a secret war against one citizen. In focusing upon Dr. King, however, it should not be forgotten that the Bureau carried out disruptive activies against hundreds of lesser-known American citizens. It should also be borne in mind that postive action on the part of high Government officials outside the FBI might have prevented what occurred in this case.
[. . .]
The FBI's campaign against Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began in December 1963, four months after the famous civil rights March on Washington, when a nine-hour meeting was convened at FBI Headquarters to discuss various "avenues of approach aimed at neutralizing King as an effective Negro leader." Following the meeting, agents in the field were instructed to "continue to gather information concerning King's personal activites . . . in order that we may consider using this information at an opportune time in a counterintelligence move to discredit him."
About two weeks after that conference, FBI agents planted a microphone in Dr. King's bedroom at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. During the next two years, the FBI installed at least fourteen more "bugs" in Dr. King's hotel rooms across the country. Physical and photographic surveillances accompanied some of the microphone coverage.
The FBI also scrutinized Dr. King's tax-returns, monitored his financial affairs, and even tried to determine whether he had a secret foreign bank account.
In late 1964, a "sterilized" tape was prepared in a manner that would prevent attribution ot the FBI and was "anonymously" mailed to Dr. King just before he received the Nobel Peace Prize. Enclosed in the package with the tape was an unsigned letter which warned Dr. King, "your end is approaching . . . you are finished." The letter intimated that the tape might be publicly released, and closed with the following message:

King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You have just 34 days in which to do (this exact number has been selected for a specific reason, it has definite practical significance). You are done. There is but one way out for you . . .

Dr. King's associates have said he interpreted the message as an effort to induce him to commit suicide.
At about the same time that it mailed the "santized" tape, the FBI was also apparently offering tapes and transcripts to newsmen. Later when civil rights leaders Roy Wilkins and James Farmer went to Washington to persuade Beureau officials to halt the FBI's discrediting efforts, they were told "if King want[s] war we [are] prepared to give it to him."
Shortly thereafter, Dr. King went to Europe to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The Bureau tried to undermine ambassadorial receptions in several of the countries he visited, and when he returned to the United States, took steps to diminish support for a banquet and a special "day" being planned in his honor.
The Bureau's actions against Dr. King included attempts to prevent him from meeting with world leaders, receiving honors or favorable publicity, and gaining financial support. When the Bureau learned of a possible meeting between Dr. King and the Pope in August 1964, the FBI asked Cardinal Spellman to try to arrange a cancellation of the audience. Discovering that two schools (Springfield College and Marquette University) were going to honor Dr. King with special degress in the spring of 1964, Bureau agents tried to convince officials at the scools to rescind their plans. And when the Bureau learned in October 1966 that the Ford Foundation might grants three million dollars to Dr. King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference, they asked a former FBI agent who was a high official at the Ford Motor Company to try to block the award.
A magazine was asked not to publish favorable articles about him. Religious leaders and institutions were contacted to undermine their support of him. Press conference questions were prepared and distributed to "friendly" journalists. And plans were even discussed for sabotaging his political campaign in the event he decided to run for national office.
[. . .]
The "neutralization" program continued until Dr. King's death. As late as March 1968, FBI agents were being instructed to neutralize Dr. King because he might become a "messiah" who could "unify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement" if he were to "abandon his supposed 'obedience' to 'white liberal doctrines' 9non-violence) and embrace black nationalism. Steps were taken to subvert the Poor People's Campaign which Dr. King was planning to lead in the spring of 1968. Even after Dr. King's death, agents in the field were proposing methods for harrassing his widow, and Buereau officials were trying to prevent his birthday from becoming a national holiday.

As the committee noted, these activites happened to many less well known people as well. It was open season on anyone who thought free speech and democracy meant that you might actually be able to publicly criticize your government. And agencies had nothing better to do then plot against Americans and sneak around. Take Joan Baez's 1967 concert tour of England where the CIA . . . Wait, let's go the New York Times, February 21, 1967, via Baez's And A Voice to Sing With:

. . . Press reports allege that an American, indentifying himslef as Harold Cooper, a CIA man, had ordered the Japanese interpreter, Ichiro Takasaki to substitute an innocuous tranlation in Japanese for Miss Baez's remarks in English on Vietnam and Nagasaki's atom bomb survivors. Mr. Takasaki was cited as the source for these allegations . . . This morning, Asahi Shimbun, a leading Tokyo daily, printed a long account of the affair. The newspaper quoted Mr. Takasaki as saying, "It is a fact that pressure was applied on me by a man who said he was from the CIA." Mr. Takasaki's interpretation surprised bilingual Japanese listeners when the national Japanese television network carried a tape recorded replay of Miss Baez's concert on January 27th.
[. . .]
When Miss Baez had referred to Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Mr. Takasaki said simply that "the show would be televised." And when she said that she had refused to pay taxes because she did not want her money to be used to finance the Vietnam war, Mr. Takasaki gave this translation: "Taxes are high in the United States . . ." Mr. Takasaki explained that before the concerts began, a telephone call came to him on January 12th, apparently from the American Embassy. The caller said he was an interpreter for someone named Harold Cooper, of the American Embassy, and reportedly said, "You are free to act as master of ceremonies, but Mr. Cooper hopes that you will not make any political statements." . . . Next day, a man who called himself Harold Cooper, telphoned him directly . . . After saying that he was a United States intelligence agent, he asked that Mr. Takasaki change the meanings when Miss Baez made political statements . . . "If you don't cooperate, you will have trouble in your work in the future." Each year Mr. Takasaki works in the United States about two months . . .
Mr. Takasaki decided to cooperate, since he felt if he refused he might not be able to obtain visas for the United States in the future. Mr. Takasaki told the Asahi Shimbun that he had actually met Mr. Cooper four times, and that each time Mr. Cooper made strict demands concerning Miss Baez's concerts. He said that at one time Mr. Cooper said, "Japan is in the midst of general elections, so be especially careful about Miss Baez' statements. Since many of her fans have a right to vote, political statements made during concerts have a major influence. . ." On February 3rd, Mr. Cooper called Mr. Takasaki at his home and reportedly said, "Thank you for your cooperation. I am now leaving for Hawaii . . ."
"It was a most strange case," said Takasaki. "I knew that Miss Baez was a marked person who was opposed to the Vietnam War and who had been tacitly boycotted by the broadcasting companies in the United States. American friends also repeatedly advised me not to take on the job. But I took it on as a business proposition, since the Japanese fans were coming not to hear her political statements, but her music. I met Mr. Cooper once in the presence of a Japanese Times reporter, but even in that meeting he openly demanded that I mistranslate.

Joan Baez concerts as a threat to national security? Sounds like something only the Bully Boy could dream up but it happened. (Pages 144 - 145 of And A Voice to Sing With, by the way.)

As abuses abuses came to light via the Church Committee and other Congressional committees, the FISA court was created in 1978 to prevent abuses of the Constitutional rights of American citizens. When the New York Times first broke the story of Bully Boy and NSA spying on American citizens without warrants, the spin was that it had to be kept quiet. Part one of the Why We Spy spin was that to go to FISA might have alerted the "terrorists." That went over about as well as his attempts to fine tune the economy, which is why Bully Boy's latest Why We Spy spin is that he has the authority to order spying without a FISA warrant.

Does he have that right? No. From Democracy Now!'s "An Impeachable Offense? Bush Admits Authorizing NSA to Eavesdrop on Americans Without Court Approval:"

JAMES BAMFORD: Well, before I get into that, just one other comment on what we just have been talking about. When the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was created in 1978, one of the things that the Attorney General at the time, Griffin Bell, said -- he testified before the intelligence committee, and he said that the current bill recognizes no inherent power of the President to conduct electronic surveillance. He said, 'This bill specifically states that the procedures in the bill are the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance may be conducted.' In other words, what the President is saying is that he has these inherent powers to conduct electronic surveillance, but the whole reason for creating this act, according to the Attorney General at the time, was to prevent the President from using any inherent powers and to use exclusively this act.

Bully Boy is again trying to render the other two branches of the government useless. He's saying that he has the power as commander-in-chief. But he's not commander-in-chief of the country. (Someone grab Diane Sawyer, she just fainted.) He's commander-in-chief of the military. The Geena Davis show doesn't seem to grasp the difference either. The country doesn't have a commander-in-chief over it because we're not a military junta, we're a democracy (or we're supposed to be).

While this goes on, as Patricia J. Williamson notes in "Foggy Bottom" (February 6, 2005 issue of The Nation, not available to nonsubscribers of the magazine):

The debate is playing out in the media fuzzily, haltingly, perhaps because of the conflation of two questions. One is whether the executive can eavesdrop on citizens at all. It can. The other is whether exercise of that power rests entirely upon the say-so of the President or his agents. It does not. Yet breathless radio and TV debates pit those two issues against each other. "He has the power to protect us by listening in!" versus "He has no power to invade our privacy!" The issue is better stated by interconnecting the two premises: He has the power to listen in when he has gotten permission by presenting reasons to do so that are within a warrantable range of relevance to law-enforcement goals.
The law is hardly burdensome, as should be well understood by now. The President must go to a special court set up for the purpose of vetting the underlying reasons or suspicions necessitating such intrusion. That court is secret, in deference to matters of national security. If time is of the essence, a warrant may be obtained from the court after the fact. The President may also seek the approval or waiver of members of Congress. These requirements are simple but not at all equivocal: The President must get permission to wiretap, period. It is not a deep or mysterious point of law. If there is law, then this is it. If there is due process, then this is the procedure that is due.

Another talking point of Why We Spy is that a fully staffed Alberto Gonzales can't prepare the necessary paperwork for a FISA brief withinin three days after the fact. Apparently Gonzales and all those under him are on vacation? If it's worth spying on an American citizen, shouldn't the Justice Dept. be in the loop immediately? And shouldn't Gonzales and his staff be able to do the job that they are paid to do? It's more spin that gets passed off in the press as 'legal strategy' as though all of this has about as much impact on our nation and who we are and who we become as a tennis match does.

After Bully Boy blusters that he doesn't need to go to the FISA court, Gonzales comes along and says "It's too burdesome and I'm not able to do it in the time frame." And this is 'strategy' to be cheered on by a lazy press? As each talking point goes against the previous one, instead of being called on it, the press rushes to play it as though this is up in the air and just a jolly match to sit back and enjoy. This isn't up in the air.

And when one spin point doesn't work, they offer another and the press runs with it. Did anyone in the mainstream press, reporting on Gonzales' talking point, note that his explanation was contradictory to Bully Boy's claim that he didn't need permission? If they're going to argue that he doesn't need permission, what does it matter whether or not Gonzales can process the paperwork required for FISA?

It doesn't matter. But the press is to busy providing color commentary on "plays" to do the basic job of informing the public. Mia wanted Michael Ratner's "Tomorrow is Today: the Time for Resistance is Now" (CounterPunch) noted and this is probably the best place for it because it speaks to what is at stake:

In other words, the republic and democracy is over. In Germany what did they call that? They called that the fuhrer's law. Why? Because the fuhrer was the law. That's what George Bush is saying here. George Bush is the law.This assertion of power is so blatant so open, and so notorious, that it is finally shocking some people like former Vice President Gore to speak up. I'm sure many of you are familiar with what he said in his recent speech on Martin Luther King's birthday. "The President of the United State has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently." He was referring to the NSA spying scandal. And then he went on to say, "A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government." And then he said what that means to a Republic: "An executive who acts free of the will of Congress as this president says he can, or the check of the judiciary, as this president says he can, becomes the central threat that the founders sought to nullify in the Constitution." And then Gore quotes James Madison to the effect that what President Bush has done is the very definition of "tyranny." So there you have it. It's not just us, its not just progressives, but even someone like former Vice President Gore is saying this government is the very definition of tyranny.

Next week the Senate holds a hearing on the issue of NSA spying. It may be the only hearing we get. It may be a whitewash. It may not be. But regardless of what happens in the official chambers in DC, we need to be watchful and we need to be vocal. In a previous time, the citizens of this country were able to stand up to these sorts of abuses. Granted, we had something resembling a working press (in the mainstream) then. We have to call this abuse out and we have to do it loudly. There's too much at stake. The point in noting the recent past (always referred to as an aside when noted in the mainstream) is to point out that we've been down this road before. We stopped it before. We can stop it again. But that won't come by waiting for the New York Times to decide to actually report. It won't come from hoping our senators do their job. We need to be active and we need to be vocal.

This is our country, this is our democracy. In the 2000 recounts (that weren't a full recount), one of the talking points was that the military ballots had to be counted because they protect this country and preserve our liberties. No offense intended to the military, but our liberties at home have always been preserved and protected by the citizens. Whether it was MLK, Cesar Chavez, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, the Congressional staffers working on the impeachment indictment of Nixon, movements that forced the nation to address an issue or face reality, the person who wouldn't shut up even though everyone told her/him too . . . We're the ones who can ensure that this country remains a democracy. We can also look the other way and allow it to slide into something that the framers warned us against. We have that power and it can't be taken away, not even by the New York Times or the Bully Boy. But it can be given away if we choose not to use it.

As Norman Solomon points out in War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death (page 236), "fear is not a viable long-term foundation for building democratic structures or finding alternatives to future wars." Fear and apathy, the national crisis -- though it can't push obesity off the cover of the news weeklies. It's time to understand that we've been through this before (and will probably go through it again). The only thing that stopped the abuse before was engaged and outraged citizens. That is the "special interest group" that's feared the most. Obviously, or the government wouldn't abuse the law so often to spy. We've stopped it before and we can do it again. Make yourself heard and follow the hearings next week.

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Note of thanks to everyone who provided input. That includes Mia and Eddie who noted quotes that they wanted include. It also includes five friends who read over what I thought was the completed/nearly completed draft of this and were honest enough to say, "It's too factual, too little passion." The result was a radical reworking of this entry that threw out pretty much everything (though not my typos, I'm sure). Thanks to multiple friends who phoned during the five hours that have been spent on this version of this entry -- thanks for listening and offering suggestions (including, "delete that whole section"). (Those include, but are not limited to, Cedric, Betty, Rebecca, Ava, Jess and Kat.) (Special thanks to ___.)

Democracy Now! in Doha: Al Jazeera; John Nichols, Barbara Ransby, Sharon Smith ...

Report: US Far Behind In Reconstructing Iraq Health Clinics
In Iraq, USA Today is reporting the US has failed to open any health clinics in the country -- despite initially promising to open 180 clinics by last December. Iraq's deputy health minister said the US has completed construction on only four clinics.

World Can't Wait Protesters Arrested in North Carolina
And in Greensboro, North Carolina, seven protesters are facing charges after being arrested Tuesday night during a State of the Union protest. The protesters reportedly got into an altercation with an undercover police officer who was photographing protesters. The Greensboro demonstration was one of 68 protests held around the country Tuesday night calling on Bush to step down. The main group behind the protests -- World Can't Wait -- is also organizing a protest on Saturday in Washington.

House Grants Patriot Act Temporary Extension
Meanwhile, the House approved a measure Wednesday to extend the USA Patriot Act until early March. The vote marked the second time in just over a month Congress has granted the Act a temporary reprieve. A long-term extension has been held up over bi-partisan concerns the legislation lacks adequate safeguards for civil liberties.

The above three items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Bonnie, Zach and Doug. Democracy Now! in Doha ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for February 2, 2006

- House Passes Bill Targeting Health, Welfare Programs
- GOP Tax Cuts Outsize Budget Bill's Spending Cuts
- House Grants Patriot Act Temporary Extension
- White House Rebuffs Requests for Spy Program Legal Views
- Bush Administration Says Mideast Oil Pledge "Purely an Example"
- West VA Governor Calls For Mining Halt After 2 More Deaths
- Officer Videotaped Shooting Unarmed Iraq War Veteran
- Capitol Police Apologize, Drop Charges Over Sheehan Arrest

Democracy Now! in Doha... How Arab TV Challenged the News: A Look at Al Jazeera's Origins

Over the years, the Arabic satellite television network Al Jazeera has come under intense criticism from governments around the Arab and Western world. Some leaders in the Gulf have objected to Al Jazeera's presentation of views critical of governments in the region, and members of the Bush administration have claimed that the network is biased against the U.S and its policies. We talk with author Hugh Miles about the origins of the network.

Democracy Now! in Doha... The Opposite Direction: Why This Al Jazeera Talk Show Draws Fire From Arab & Western Governments

We speak with Dr. Faisal al-Qasim, anchor of Al-Ittijah al-Muakis, or "The Opposite Directions." The political debate show is one of the most popular and controversial shows of its kind in the history of Arabic television and has drawn official protest and complaints from officials. Hugh Miles joins the discussion.

Democracy Now! in Doha... Al Jazeera Correspondent Ahmed Mansur On the Horror of the U.S. Siege of Fallujah

We now turn to another of Al Jazeera's most prominent journalists, Ahmed Mansur. He was in Fallujah in April, 2003 during one of the bloodiest assaults by U.S. forces in Iraq. He reported from Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation was brutally beaten while covering the elections in Egypt a few months ago.

There are a few things we need to note but first off, Pru notes this from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

100th British soldier killed -- Bring the troops home now

Bush and Blair's illegal and immoral war on Iraq claimed another life on Tuesday of this week as, tragically, the 100th British soldier died.
Rose Gentle, the mother of Gordon Gentle who died in Iraq in June 2004, said, "Soldiers in Iraq have told me they don't want to be there.
"They want to come home. They have told us to step up our campaign of resistance to this government's war policies. We must act now, bring the troops home and end this illegal occupation."
Respect MP George Galloway said, "These 100 deaths are the all too predictable consequences of the illegal and immoral war in Iraq. I don't want another British soldier to die occupying other people's countries.
"That's why all the British troops must be brought home now from Iraq and from Afghanistan and there must be an end to the threat of action against Iran."
John Rees, Respect's national secretary, added, "The full disastrous consequences of the British government's war in Iraq has now been brought home by the death of the 100th British soldier. This underlines in the most tragic way the foolishness of the current threats against Iran and the imbecility of committing another 3,500 troops to Afghanistan."
Vigils were being held across the country this week to remember the victims of the war--British and US soldiers, and over 100,000 Iraqis, whose exact number of dead the occupiers refuse to count.
Continued occupation of Iraq is increasing the horror for ordinary Iraqis.
There are daily bombing raids by US warplanes, death squads have been unleashed by pro-occupation forces, and the occupiers have attempted to play up ethnic and religious devisions to strengthen their grip on power.
Far from presiding over a gradual transition to democracy and peace, the occupation is making things far worse.
The horror will not end until all of the troops leave the Middle East.
That's why the Stop the War demonstration on Saturday 18 March, part of a global day of action, is more crucial than ever.
The following should be read alongside this article:
» Chavez backs anti-war demo

© Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original and leave this notice in place.

From the war to Coretta Scott King. We have a a highlight but before we get to that . . . Does the New York Times believe that Coretta Scott King's passing didn't matter?
This week Wendy Wasserstein passed away and it was a tragedy. On the day the New York Times front paged their article on Wasserstein, they also featured a lengthy editorial (signed by Gail Collins). One would assume, with Coretta Scott King's historical significance (a level few ever reach but she did), that at the minimum she would receive the same level of coverage as a playwright.

That still hasn't happened. The Times editorial board either doesn't appear to know King died or they just don't care. In addition to refusing to run an editorial on King's passing, there have been no op-eds on her passing. It's not Bob Herbert's job (as the only African-American columnist on the op-ed pages of the Times) to cover every 'Black' issue so the Times doesn't have to be bothered. Coretta Scott King is historical for every race in this country.

And let's not pretend Herbert covers Coretta Scott King today. He doesn't. He opens with a quote by her and she's not mentioned again until the second to last paragraph of a 21 paragraph column. The Times can't pretend that was a column about Coretta Scott King. (Check my math and I'm including the quote that opens the column as a paragraph.)

Exactly when will the New York Times get around to noting that Coretta Scott King passed away. Was she not friends with Gail Collins? Is that the criteria for getting an editorial on your passing written? At present, they have noted her death with only one article (which they did front page) and her passing is mentioned in a column today by Herbert (a column that's not about her life or her passing -- it's a state of the world column).

Now maybe some people missed it, but they want the King Center to be turned over to the government, the paper does. No surprise there, we noted that here before the editorial made it into the paper (ahead of the editorial by many days, I believe five or six days ahead of the editorial being printed). What to do with property, on that they have something to say. With regards to Coretta Scott King, they're strangely silent.

Sally notes Barbara Ransby's "Coretta Scott King was more than civil rights widow" (The Progressive Media Project, The Progressive):

The real strength of her character, however, is perhaps best evident in the work she did and the stances she took after her husband's death. She used the platform his name gave her to deliver some courageous and compelling messages.
For nearly 40 years, Ms. King was a syndicated columnist, public speaker and protester.
The founding president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Atlanta, she joined civil disobedience actions to protest the racist system of apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s and later traveled to that country to express her solidarity with its people.
She lectured at Harvard University, St. Paul's Cathedral in London and in churches, schools and community centers all over the United States.
She called for more funding for HIV/AIDS treatment and research.
She demanded a moratorium on the death penalty.
She supported gun control legislation and a cancellation of Africa's debt as a strategy for development.
And in a significant move, when black ministers in Atlanta rallied in 2004 to oppose gay marriage, she opposed them as shortsighted and wrongheaded. She defended gay rights as a form of civil rights, and condemned gay bashing.
In short, she took stances on issues that went well beyond the civil rights consensus of the 1960s.

Taking stands on issues brings us to the arrest of Cindy Sheehan. Miguel notes John Nicols' "The War on T-Shirts" (The Online Beat, The Nation):

Before the arrest, media reports buzzed about official concern regarding Sheehan's presence. And, as she was being dragged from a room where the President would shortly extol the virtues of freedom and liberty, police explicitly told Sheehan that she was being removed "because you were protesting."
Capitol Police and other security officials, whose rough treatment of Sheehan was witnessed by dozens of people who attended the State of the Union event, said she was arrested for "unlawful conduct." Conveniently, she was held until after the President finished speaking.
Is there really a law against wearing a political T-shirt to the State of the Union address?
The Capitol Police, who on Wednesday dropped the charges against Sheehan, have acknowledged in an official statement that: "While officers acted in a manner consistent with the rules of decorum enforced by the department in the House Gallery for years, neither Mrs. Sheehan's manner of dress or initial conduct warranted law enforcement intervention."
What they have not acknowledged, and what is truly troubling, is the evidence that Sheehan was singled out for rough justice.

Now on the topic of Alito we have two highlights. First Brad notes Sharon Smith's "Alito and the Faux Filibuster" (CounterPunch):

Thus the tide began turning, as one Democrat after another reluctantly jumped on the filibuster bandwagon. Just two weeks earlier, California Sen. Diane Feinstein announced she would not block Alito's nomination unless he was guilty of "moral turpitude.'' By Friday, she issued a statement that she, too, would vote to delay his confirmation.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry M. Reid made his opposition to a filibuster clear last week, repeatedly urging that the decision be made "without too much more talking." But by Saturday he had joined the growing list of influential Democrats, including Senators Russell Feingold, Joseph Biden, and Barack Obama, along with Minority Whip Dick Durbin, vowing to vote to filibuster.
Their lack of enthusiasm was nevertheless notable last weekend. Reid told reporters, "everyone knows" Senate Democrats could not garner the 40 votes needed to win. Obama told ABC News' This Week, "These last-minute efforts-using procedural maneuvers inside the Beltway-I think has been the wrong way of going about it." Biden commented on CNN's Late Edition, "I think a filibuster makes sense when you have a prospect of actually succeeding"-but predicting that this effort was doomed.
If Democrats had sincerely intended to organize an opposition to Alito, they would not have waited until the eleventh hour to be dragged toward a last-minute filibuster attempt.

And Martha notes Eleanor Smeal's "Alito Confirmation Must Be a Wake-Up Call" (The Smeal Report From Inside Washington, Ms. Magazine):

Fifty-eight Senators turned their backs on progress for women and civil rights for all people. People, especially women, concerned with progress for human rights must be a significant force to change the current balance of the Senate. Women cannot take a backseat but must be in the leadership of this change.

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Font and three words in the first paragraph on Coretta Scott King corrected by Jess.