Saturday, March 24, 2007

Dahr Jamail: "Another Casualty: Coverage of the Iraq War"

Iraq is the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. Along with names and dates, the Brussels Tribunal has listed the circumstances under which Iraqi media personnel have been killed since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. This extremely credible report cites 195 as dead. If non-Iraqi media representatives are included, the figure goes beyond 200. Both figures are well in excess of the media fatalities suffered in Vietnam or during World War II.
The primary reason why reporting from Iraq is dangerous for all journalists is the horrific security situation. Iraqi journalists reporting from the streets are in perpetual danger. If any of the countless militias does not want a certain story made public, it will make sure that the journalist has filed his or her last story. Not to mention the scores of reporter deaths which have been the combined handiwork of the Iraqi government, occupation forces and/or criminal gangs. Despite President Bush's assertion that life in Iraq is improving, a senior Iraqi journalist was found dead in the capital on March 3, 2007. On the same day the body of the managing editor of Baghdad's al-Safir newspaper, Jamal al-Zubaidi, was found shot in the head.
The Realities of Repression
The United States continues to claim that its military operations in Iraq bring freedom and democracy. But such freedom apparently doesn't extend to Iraqi journalists. Several journalists critical of the United States or the U.S.-backed Iraqi government have been killed. For instance, on March 4, 2007 gunmen killed prominent journalist Mohan al Zaher in his home. That Sunday, his column concluded with the lament, "...if this is the democracy that we (Iraqis) dreamt of." His earlier articles questioned U.S. policies in Iraq.
The U.S. military has also conducted direct raids on media establishments and representatives. During the invasion, on April 8, 2003, a U.S. warplane bombed the al-Jazeera bureau in Baghdad, killing 35-year-old journalist Tareq Ayoub. Britain's Daily Mirror later cited the "top secret" minutes of a meeting during November 2004 where George W. Bush attempted to get British Prime Minister Tony Blair to consent to the bombing of the al-Jazeera headquarters in Doha, Qatar.
More recently, on February 23, 2007, U.S. soldiers raided and ransacked the offices of the Iraq Syndicate of Journalists (ISJ) in central Baghdad. The soldiers arrested ten armed guards and seized ten computers and 15 small electricity generators meant to be donated to families of killed journalists. Youssif al-Tamimi of the ISJ in Baghdad told one of my close colleagues, "The Americans have delivered so many messages to us, but we simply ignored all of them. They killed our colleagues, shut down our newspapers, arrested hundreds of us and now they are shooting at our hearts by raiding our headquarters. This is the freedom of speech we received." Many Iraqis believe that the U.S. soldiers were conveying from their leadership to Iraqi journalists the message of zero tolerance for criticism of the U.S.-led occupation.

The above is from Dahr Jamail's "Another Casualty: Coverage of the Iraq War" (Foreign Policy in Focus). Lynda highlighted it and it's an opener or a closer -- so we've got two entries this morning.

Meanwhile, on the heels of Paul von Zeilbauer's "Army Revises Upward the Number of Desertions" (New York Times) report on the undercounting of self-check outs in the army, Gareth notes Colin Brown's "Ministers finally admit full scale of war casualties" (Independent of London) on the count of the British wounded:

Figures for casualties before 2006 are to be published for the first time next week by the Ministry of Defence. The MoD has been wary of issuing the figures, in spite of attempts by campaigners using Freedom of Information legislation to find out the casualty rate.
The Independent has learned the figures will show that 114 British soldiers were seriously hurt in Iraq from 2004, compared to 46 during the invasion of 2003.
In Afghanistan, the figures reveal that the casualty rate rose last year to 30 seriously hurt, compared to two for the previous year. The rise was caused by a Taliban offensive last summer, and raised fears that it could rise sharply again when the next, expected, offensive gets underway.
The number of British fatalities in both conflicts have been regularly released by the MoD. The number of UK troops killed in Iraq rose to 134 this week after a soldier died in Britain having been critically injured while on patrol. The number killed in Afghanistan since 2001 rose to 52 after the death on 8 March of Warrant Officer Michael Smith in Helmand province.
[. . .]
The figures also reveal that soldiers are at more risk from disease or non-battle injuries in Iraq. UK field-hospital admissions in Iraq since the start of 2006 were 1,460, with fully 1,324 of these suffering from disease or non-battle injuries.

Today the US military announced: "While conducting a dismounted combat patrol, a MND-B Soldier died when an improvised explosive device detonated near the Soldier's position south of Baghdad March 23." And another division of the US military announced: "A soldier assigned to Multi National Force-West died March 23 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." ICCC puts the current total at 3236. So two deaths announced since Friday when the ICCC count was 3234. We'll be returning to that number frequently in the coming months.

Violence has returned to Iraq! pants the press breathlessly (after most took Friday and Thursday off). Violence never left, only the coverage was absent. Reuters Factbox demonstrates this as they only today note the 26 corpses discovered on Friday in Baghdad.
Today, Reuters notes multiple bombings and multiple corpses throughout the country including
12 corpses discovered in Falluja and one was discovered in Diwaniya; bombings took place in Qaim (10 dead, 18 wounded thus far), Hilla (highest count is 16 dead, 45 wounded), Tal Afar (10 dead, 3 wounded), and Baghdad (20 dead, 26 wounded). Combine corpses with the bombing numbers and you have 69 reported thus far.

Randy notes David Swanson's " Versus Its Members" (

"A liberal is the kind of guy who walks out of a room when the argument turns into a fight." - Saul Alinsky
The Congress that was elected to end the war just voted to fund the war. Congresswoman Barbara Lee was not permitted to offer for a vote her amendment, which would have funded a withdrawal instead of the war. Groups that supported Lee's plan and opposed Pelosi's included United for Peace and Justice, Progressive Democrats of America, US Labor Against the War, After Downing Street,, Peace Action, Code Pink, Democracy Rising, True Majority, Gold Star Families for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Backbone Campaign, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Voters for Peace, Veterans for Peace, the Green Party, and disgruntled former members of
True Majority was a late addition to the list. The organization polled its members. Did they favor the Pelosi bill to fund the war but include various toothless restrictions on it, or did they favor the Lee plan to use the power of the purse to end the war by the end of the year? Needless to say, True Majority's membership favored the Lee plan.
MoveOn polled its membership without including the Lee alternative, offering a choice of only Pelosi's plan or nothing. Amazingly, Eli Pariser of MoveOn has admitted that the reason MoveOn did this was because they knew that their members would favor the Lee amendment.

Now, there's nothing here that's surprising. John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton called out the MoveOn "poll" in plenty of time for those who began reporting on Monday (KPFA, Democracy Now!, et al) to have been aware of it. The 'membership' didn't vote on all options. But repeatedly they presented this as coming from members. It didn't. We didn't hear Stauber or Rampton invited on the radio to discuss their article (or Stauber's follow up). We did get a guest on Democracy Now! who works with MoveOn -- though that wasn't disclosed on air. (If anyone was unaware, they can start checking mainstream reporting in 2004 when no article on MoveOn could be written, apparently, without including a quote from the jerk.)

On Stauber's update, which noted that 96% of what MoveOn claims its membership numbers are did not vote in the poll, a ridiculous excuse came in to the public account where it was noted that not everyone in America is polled by the New York Times. No, not everyone is. That's a polling of the nation. They use a sample. When you're going to speak for membership, you need to reflect membership which means a "poll" where only 4% of your supposed membership votes isn't a poll of anything. But, in fairness to WalkOn, I will note that I don't think they attempted to "sample," I think that number is reflective of the true number of members the organization has at this point. Membership based upon who signed up during the 2004 elections -- "members" who've never been "active" since -- isn't a sign of how many members an organization has. I think a little over 100,000 is how many members they actually have. As always, I could be wrong.

But who decided they were a liberal organization? Did anyone on KPFA not repeat that this past week when citing the "poll"? They're not a liberal organization and they've never been one.
People want to act surprised now but if you paid attention, you saw them drop Iraq right off the map as soon as the spin and myths of the November 2004 election began to take hold. And they were called out on that position in real time (Norman Solomon and Danny Schechter are but two who strongly noted it). Call them "center-left" if you must but they are not a liberal organization.

The (mainstream) press chased after them because they were a flavor of the month. There's no reason for the left to follow that lead. As Elaine pointed out, it needs to be driven home now that they do not stand with the left (they try to stand with the Democratic leadership) and if you doubt that, you need to realize that the 2008 primaries and elections are coming up. The damage needs to stop now. Not after they marginalize a candidate truly trying to end the war. And they will do that. They'll do it for the same reason they went with the Pelosi-measure. They do not fight for anything, they take the easiest path. To repeat, that is in their roots. Censure wasn't a serious option to anyone (of Bill Clinton) until they started floating it. Instead of attempting to stop the impeachment, they provided cover to the witchhunt by proposing censure. It was just the thing to do to win press acceptance -- refuting any measure would have been a slap in the face to the mainstream press which was selling impeachment like crazy. Those same finger waggers who cautioned the country of the dangers in not punishing a president who lied (about sex!) have not a word to say on the same topic when the Bully Boy's lied a nation into a war. This time, they again went with what the press supported.

That's how you get fawning profiles and no tough questions from the mainstream press. Why the independent press elected to play along is another issue. (In some cases, they've entered into relationships with MoveOn. Relationships that should cease immediately if they are the independent press and not an advocacy group.)

Cecil and Kendrick both noted Margaret Kimberly's "Andrew Young's Nobel War Prize" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report) on Thursday (others followed):

Andrew Young broke down and cried at the ground breaking of the Martin Luther King memorial on the Washington mall. What should have been going through his mind as he wept in Jesse Jackson's arms? "Martin must be spinning in his grave to see how low I have sunk."
How does one begin to describe the perfidy of Andrew Young? There is plenty of material to work with as examples of his bottom feeding grow exponentially. The man who made a name for himself as a trusted aide to Martin Luther King is now nothing more than a whore for corporations and crooked kleptocrats.
His correct title may be lobbyist or consultant, but the world's oldest profession is Young's as well. Actually, calling him a whore is an insult to the street walkers, call girls and rent boys who are at least transparent about what they do and why they do it. Young's client may be Jesse Jackson, or the Nigerian government, but the end result is always the same. He gets a big check and someone else gets the shaft. The shaftee may be a worker at Nike or Wal-Mart or millions of Nigerians suffering from environmental disasters and theft of their nation's resources.
"Calling Andrew Young a whore is an insult to the street walkers, call girls and rent boys."
Young's lobbying firm, the ironically named
GoodWorks International, is his source of ill gotten gains. The latest outrage emanating from GoodWorks is a sordid attempt to refurbish the image of a client who has stolen millions of dollars and participated in the killing of millions of people.
Olusegun Obasanjo is the outgoing president of Nigeria who also ruled as a military dictator in the 1970s. When the
Ibo people struggled for independence from 1966 to 1970, then Gen. Obasanjo participated in the slaughter of 3 million lives.
Young is now using the Nobel Peace Prize as a public relations tool for his thieving client, Obasanjo. A man who killed and robbed on a mass scale is now being promoted as a Nobel prize recipient by his lobbyist Andrew Young.
When Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize it was not just a great honor conferred upon a single individual. It was recognition from the world community of the terrible wrongs committed by American racism and recognition of the rightness of the American civil rights movement. Now Andrew Young, his hypocritical former follower, has sullied his past work and King's memory in order to make a dirty man appear clean.

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Politicians or citizens asks Howard Zinn

As I write this, Congress is debating timetables for withdrawal from Iraq. In response to the Bush Administration's "surge" of troops, and the Republicans' refusal to limit our occupation, the Democrats are behaving with their customary timidity, proposing withdrawal, but only after a year, or eighteen months. And it seems they expect the anti-war movement to support them.
That was suggested in a recent message from MoveOn, which polled its members on the Democrat proposal, saying that progressives in Congress, "like many of us, don't think the bill goes far enough, but see it as the first concrete step to ending the war."
Ironically, and shockingly, the same bill appropriates $124 billion in more funds to carry the war. It's as if, before the Civil War, abolitionists agreed to postpone the emancipation of the slaves for a year, or two years, or five years, and coupled this with an appropriation of funds to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act.
When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not to fall in meekly behind them.
We who protest the war are not politicians. We are citizens. Whatever politicians may do, let them first feel the full force of citizens who speak for what is right, not for what is winnable, in a shamefully timorous Congress.

The above is from Howard Zinn's "Are We Politicians or Citizens?" (The Progressive). Lloyd noted it and it says what's needed and a bit more. (A bit more? Elaine had the idea to use the suffragette movement to illustrate a point for something at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Zinn uses another example but makes the point she came up with. I called Elaine to point that out and she said, "Of course.") (Elaine is a huge admirer of Zinn's.) (That's the short version, she's going to open with this on Monday and talk a bit more about it.) So be sure to read it, it's as basic as Norman Solomon's points. And it's strange that these basic points are so obviously ignored by Party Hacks and Flacks. We're opening with it because it's important and more important than anything on Iraq in the New York Times this morning.

Staying with topics that matter, Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale gets another strong review -- Eric highlights John Freeman's "Two new books explore Iraq war" (Louisville Courier-Journal):

"Just a decade ago," begins this broken bottle of a book, "I was playing high school football, living in a trailer with my mom and stepdad, working at Kentucky Fried Chicken, and hoping to raise a family one day in the only town I knew: Guthrie, Okla."
All that changed for Joshua Key in 2002 when -- in his early 20s, his wife pregnant with their third child -- he decided to enlist with the U.S. Army in what he was promised would be a noncombat unit.
But Key was really slated for combat, and his training started right away. It's a familiar tale, full of barking drill sergeants and trauma, and Key's tale has a raw, dangerous, traumatized quality. Key describes without judging -- so the reader experiences along with him his journey toward rejecting the military.
In boot camp, as Key relates it, he and his fellow soldiers are taught Iraqis are "ragheads" and "sand n***ers." In the field, they're encouraged to ransack at will.
Key and his battalion were stationed in Ramadi, where on patrol they searched one to four houses per night. When nothing incriminatory is found, they simply destroy, and when there's nothing to destroy, they steal: gold, money, weapons, a TV. All men in the houses they search are taken away -- where, Key doesn't know.
Key describes other, more malignant scenarios: At checkpoints, he and others take out their frustration on civilians, who are beaten or killed outright, their bodies left to rot in the sun. In one grisly scene, spooked soldiers butcher a group of civilians by accident and then play soccer with their heads.
Key went AWOL while on home leave in December 2003 after being in Iraq for about six months. As an account of what that life is like,
The Deserter's Tale is not full of many surprises. But as a chronicle of the experiences that led one soldier to this irrevocable step, Key's is a grim and necessary book.

The Deserter's Tale really is a must read. It's getting strong reviews and that's coming from the left and the right (the John Birch Society is not the left -- or even the center). (Sunday, we noted Key's book in "2 Books, 10 Minutes.") So if you haven't read it yet, you're really missing something. (And remember, the US military was so enthralled with it, that they apparently started a traveling book club to seek out the author.)

Staying with things that matter, from Alexander Cockburn's "Where are the Laptop Bombardiers Now?" (CounterPunch):

There's plenty of blame to go round. You'd think these days that the cheerleaders for war were limited to a platoon of neocons, as potent in historical influence as were supposedly the Knights Templar. But it was not so. The coalition of the enablers spread far beyond Cheney's team and the extended family of Norman Podhoretz. Atop mainstream corporate journalism perch the New York Times and the New Yorker, two prime disseminators of pro-invasion propaganda, written at the NYT by Judith Miller, Michael Gordon and, on the op ed page, by Thomas Friedman. The New Yorker put forth the voluminous lies of Jeffrey Goldberg and has remained impenitent till this day.
The war party virtually monopolized television. AM radio poured out a filthy torrent of war bluster. The laptop bombardiers such as Salman Rushdie were in full war paint. Among the progressives the liberal interventionists thumped their tin drums, often by writing pompous pieces attacking the antiwar "hard left". Mini-pundits Todd Gitlin and Michael Berube played this game eagerly. Berube lavished abuse on Noam Chomsky and other clear opponents of the war, mumbling about the therapeutic potential of great power interventionism, piously invoking the tradition of "left internationalism". Others, like Ian Williams, played supportive roles in instilling the idea that the upcoming war was negotiable, instead of an irreversible intent of the Bush administration, no matter what Saddam Hussein did. "The ball will be very much in Saddam Hussein's court," Williams wrote in November, 2002. "The question is whether he will cooperate and disarm, or dissimulate and bring about his own downfall at the hands of the U.S. military." (In fact Saddam had already "disarmed", as disclosed in Hussein Kamel's debriefings by the UNSCOM inspectors, the CIA and MI6 in the summer of 1995 when Kamel told them all, with corroboration from aides who had also defected, that on Saddam Hussein's orders his son-in-law had destroyed all of Iraq's WMDs years earlier, right after the Gulf War. This was not a secret. In February 2003 John Barry reported it in Newsweek. Anyone privy to the UNSCOM, CIA and MI6 debriefs knew it from 1995 on.)
As Iraq began to plunge ever more rapidly into the abyss not long after the March, 2003 attack, this crowd stubbornly mostly stayed the course with Bush. "Thumpingly blind to the war's virtues" was the head on a Paul Berman op ed piece in February, 2004. Christopher Hitchens lurched regularly onto Hardball to hurl abuse at critics of the war.
But today, amid Iraq's dreadful death throes, where are the parlor warriors? Have those Iraqi exiles reconsidered their illusions, that all it would take was a brisk invasion and a new constitution, to put Iraq to rights? Have any of them, from Makiya through Hitchens to Berman and Berube had dark nights, asking themselves just how much responsibility they have for the heaps of dead in Iraq, for a plundered nation, for the American soldiers who died or were crippled in Iraq at their urging ? Sometimes I dream of them, -- Friedman, Hitchens, Berman -- like characters in a Beckett play, buried up to their necks in a rubbish dump on the edge of Baghdad, reciting their columns to each other as the local women turn over the corpses to see if one of them is her husband or her son.

Cockburn and Jeffery St. Clair's End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate is out. I'm only half-way through it but it's a strong book -- and not a rehash. Thursday night, we did the roundtable that ran in Friday's gina & krista roundrobin. One of the points Keesha made was that Bill Press, et al, started writing their bad books and suddenly the 'left' stopped appearing on the bestsellers list. That's because the pundit set ('left') were offering tired rehash. We'd already read brave books by other authors on the same topic. As those people (Greg Palast, et al) had done the hard work (and actually had something to say) it became something publishers saw as a 'sure thing' and too many 'authors' were given the chance to make a quick buck with PowerPoint presentations (they appear to have studied book writing under the aegis of James Carville and Paul Begala). Cockburn and St. Clair advance the topic they're covering, this isn't a rehash (or a PowerPoint presentation). I really loved Whiteout and I know a lot of members picked that up after Eli reviewed it for Polly's Brew, but I think this is an even stronger book.

Staying on the strong topics, but turning to radio, RadioNation with Laura Flanders (Saturdays and Sundays, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm EST, Air America Radio, XM radio and online) has this lineup for the weekend:

The Democratic party's contenders are courting Nevadans, especially the labor movement's all important ground troops. In a big weekend of meetings and rallies we'll check in with D. TAYLOR, Secretary-Treasurer of
Culinary Workers Local 226, the powerhouse casino workers union, and Assemblywoman SHEILA LESLIE, who wants the Democrats' health care policy to shape up. Then, JEFF KISSELOFF, author of the book, Generation on Fire: Voices of Protest from the 1960s, an Oral History, in which witnesses, like, GLORIA RICHARDSON, who was the coordinator of the Cambridge branch of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and PAUL KRASSNER, talk about their motives and actions during the protests of the 1960s.

Afghan activist, and Chair of the
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Dr. SIMA SAMAR on the dismal state of her homeland post invasion, and KATHERINE SPILLAR, Executive Editor of Ms. Magazine on how our misperception of that country is affecting our policy toward it. Plus, ANNABELLE GURWITCH on her 'full of laughs' film Fired!, which is premiering on the Showtime Network this month.

Now moving to the New York Times. If you have to read anything, Alissa J. Rubin's "9 Die as Assassins’ Blasts Wound Sunni Deputy Premier" which should be "Assassin's Blast" -- he was only wounded by the bombing near the mosque, not by the one near his home. We covered this in the snapshot, there's not much new here. On the topic of the attempted assassination of Salam al-Zobaie, Iraq's deputy prime minister, Leila Fadel and Mohammed al-Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reported: "The man believed to be behind the attack on al-Zobaie was a personal guard, Waheb al-Dulaimy, from the troubled Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiyah, said Omar Abd al-Saytar, a leading legislator from the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party." Rubin doesn't have the name in this report. She does note the corpse count for bodies discovered in Baghdad Friday was 26. Otherwise, ignore the paper unless you need laughter at the lack of skepticism given to Condi Rice (in keeping with the paper) and the latest claims that this time, honest, reconstruction is really, really going to start.

We don't note anything that utilizes the laughable SITE even if they note that there's no confirmation of SITE's 'findings.' Basic journalism should have long ago sent Katz and her organization out of the realm of any respectable or psuedo-respectable mainstream news outlet.

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

And there's a bit more to note so I'll do two entries this morning. The e-mail address for this site is

Friday, March 23, 2007

Desertion and the Pelosi measure

In today's New York Times (Friday's paper), Paul von Zeilbauer's "Army Revises Upward the Number of Desertions." From the article:

The Army's new figures also show a faster acceleration in the rate of desertions over the previous two fiscal years than the Army had disclosed. In 2006, for instance, desertions rose by 27 percent, not 17 percent, as the Army previously said, an Army spokesman said.

The article notes that the Government Accountability's Office's director over the DoD says it's "just unbelievable to the G.A.O. to hear that the Army does not know what the number is." von Zeilbauer attempts to explain the difference between desertion and AWOL and uses the unwritten rule that was tossed out the window with Augstin Aguayo.

Micah and Erika both e-mailed about the story. I didn't see it. It's on A11, the first page of the national section, and my paper was pretty much blank (the ink was barely visible) on that page. It was the national page and I didn't think much of it. (We all know that Times has no quality check and no customer care.) So thank you to both of them for pointing it out. We would have included this in the snapshot if I'd seen it. von Zeilbauer notes that the new figures do not include figures for the National Guard and Reserve soldiers. There is no noting, in the article, that the figures have been questioned for some time by those who counsel service members who are considering going self-checking out.

We'll pair that with one of the many things that almost gets noted each day but ends up being put on hold because something else comes up. This is an excerpt of Robert Fantina's "Deserting the Military: Teaching the Lessons the Government Won't Learn" (American Chronicle):

U.S. soldiers are deserting the military in ever-increasing numbers. Many who have actually fought in Iraq are illegally leaving the military and speaking out against the war. Lance Corporal Ivan Brobeck, who deserted after a tour of duty, witnessed the abuse of Iraqi detainees and the killing of Iraqi civilians. Sgt. Ricky Clousing, also a veteran of the war, deserted when he realized U.S. soldiers were not helping the Iraqis. His allegations of systematic abuse of Iraqi detainees are now being investigated by the military.
The list of brave men and women who served in Iraq, saw the war for what it actually is and subsequently deserted, is growing. Having proved their courage on the battlefield they are now demonstrating it again by opposing the most powerful -- and possibly most dangerous -- government in the world. They join a list of courageous soldiers that dates back to the American Revolution.
Desertion throughout the nation's history has had many common causes. Men and women enlist for a variety of reasons, many of them not at all related to feelings of patriotism. In the country's earliest wars financial rewards, called bounties, were offered to men for enlisting. Farming was a main occupation, and for many men struggling to sustain their families these bounties looked very attractive. The potential recruit could enlist and send the money home to help his family. However, once they enlisted too many men learned that the bounty would not be paid. This left their families back home in an even worse situation: there was no money forthcoming, and the person mainly responsible for farming duties was off at war. Many men finding themselves in this situation simply returned home.
Today, recruiters make a wide variety of promises to potential recruits, none of which they are legally bound to fulfill. The guarantees of stateside or time-limited deployment are simply not true: anyone enlisting today can be sent anywhere the government chooses, and once the enlistment period is over, the military can arbitrarily extend it. These promises made in 2006 are as meaningless as those made in 1776.
That soldiers enlist because they believe American interests are threatened in some way, then learn on the battlefield that the cause they were sold was nothing but lies and choose the only realistic option out of the U.S. military -- desertion -- is not new. Also not new is the government's desire to skew their reasons and try to show them as cowards. This lie becomes less credible every day.

That's an excerpt and the fact that it's been hold for days (and days) isn't a reflection on the quality of the piece, just that I wasn't able to figure out a way to include it in a snapshot. And, some days, just didn't have the time. There were two links to John R. MacArthur's piece in the snapshots this week and that was largely due to the fact that I'd been trying to work it in for some time -- Tom Hayden's comments was the way work it in this week. When a member highlights something, I do try to work it in and will force it in if I have to. But on things I stumble across, I'll hold them until I can find a way to make them fit. And, honestly, I will hoard a piece on war resisters because there have been huge dry spells where there was no news on war resistance -- not because there wasn't news but because no one was covering it.

And Brenda has a highlight, from Ken Silverstein's "Democrats Vow to Bring the Oil Back Home" (Harper's magazine -- this was posted online before today's vote):

The House will vote as early as today on the Democratic leadership's $124 billion supplemental appropriations bill. The bill funds the war in Iraq but calls for withdrawal of U.S. troops by September 2008. Democrats are arguing that while they don't have the votes to actually cut off war funding, by passing the bill they will effectively shut it down 18 months from now.
That's a dubious proposition given that President Bush has promised to veto the bill if it passes. Meanwhile, about halfway through the 80-page supplemental bill is a section that demands that the Iraqi government enact "a broadly accepted hydro-carbon law that equitably shares oil revenues among all Iraqis" by this fall. That sounds perfectly fine, but the law in question turns out to be one that the Bush Administration and American energy firms have been pushing for years and that, as Antonia Juhasz of
Oil Change International explained last week in a New York Times op-ed, would allow international companies to take control of much of Iraq's oil "for a generation or more," with no requirements to reinvest earnings in the country. Juhasz noted elsewhere that the Bush Administration dismissed nearly all of the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group Report--save for the recommendation that called for the United States to "assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise" and to "encourage investment in Iraq's oil sector by the international community and by international energy companies."

Brenda wanted it noted ("please, please") that Harper's wasn't schilling for the House resolution. That does deserve to be noted. Put them on the list, the very small list, of outlets that was more interested in the truth than in being a party organ. (Harper's really doesn't play party organ.)

To pad this out with a 'talking entry' portion, there were some questions about the delays in the second entry and how the second entry (each morning) was often longer than the first. That's been due to the e-mails. There are a number of issues in the second entries resulting from a large number of e-mails. When I'm doing the morning entries, I'm trying to get something up and if there's an issue coming up in a number of e-mails, I'm trying to read as many as possible before noting it. So the first entries this week have probably been tossed up quickly to provide time to read the e-mails. The time change is something I'm still adjusting to as well.

McClatchy Newspapers did do a roundup today of the violence. Mohammed Al Dulaimy was the author of the roundup and this is some of the reported violence that's not in the snapshot: in Baghdad, a roadside bombing resulted in two people wounded (the car bomb's death toll, noted in the snapshot, climbed from five to six), and 26 corpses were discovered (if you never use the link to the McClatchy roundups, just FYI, they usually break the number of corpses discovered down to the neighborhoods they were discovered in -- it's very specific); in Diyala Province, two people were wounded in shootings, and Colonel Ahmed Kahdhim Jawad was kidnapped; in Tikrit there was a roadside bombing with no injuries or deaths and a home invasion (Bassim Jassim's home) resulted in 2 women being shot dead as well as "a child less then 5 months old" being shot dead and one other person (unidentified by age or gender). And let's repeat that, 26 corpses were discovered. (And, though there wasn't time to note in the first entry today or yesterday, Kirk Semple has been noting the count for corpses discovered in the New York Times and deserves credit for that -- especially considering how often the count has been an undercount each morning.)

On the attempted assassination of Salam al-Zobaie, Iraq's deputy prime minister, Leila Fadel and Mohammed al-Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) report:

The man believed to be behind the attack on al-Zobaie was a personal guard, Waheb al-Dulaimy, from the troubled Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiyah, said Omar Abd al-Saytar, a leading legislator from the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party.

In the snapshot, I noted that Al Jazeera's English broadcast had mentioned that the assassin was thought to be a guard of al-Zobaie's and a visitor wanted a link. That was a TV broadcast. It was near the top of the hour at 10:00 PST. At some point, their web site may include video clips but it doesn't currently.

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Iraq snapshot

Friday, March 23, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the Pelosi measure passes in the House, the deputy prime minister of Iraq is wounded in an assassination attempt, new developments in the US military's harassment of Joshua Key, and voices opposed to the Pelosi measure that small media wouldn't bring you.
Starting with news of war resistance.  Yesterday, a family in Toronto who had taken in US war resister Joshua Key and his family when they came to Canada seeking asylum explained how they were visited by three police officers (in plainclothes) saying that they were searching for Joshua Key.  This echoed an earlier attempt to harass US war resister Kyle Snyder; however, Key and his family now live elsewhere, so the 'police' were unable to detain him.  Today, Leslie Ferenc (Toronto Star) reports that not only does the Toronto Police say it wasn't them, there's "no record of local officers being dispatched" to the home.
Omar El Akkad (Globe & Mail) adds another detail to the story: "The U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Command has confirmed it is looking to question an army deserter now living in Canada about explosive allegations he made in his autobiography."  El Akkad quotes Chris Grey as the person confirming.  So were the three 'police' officers actually Toronto police are were they the US military?  
The incident echoes an earlier one.  Bill Kaufmann (Calgary Sun) reminds readers that it was February when police officers "barged into"  Kyle Snyder's home "hauling him out in his underwear in cuffs without a warrant and valid legal reason.  His crime that actually isn't one in this country: Refusing to rejoin his U.S. Army unit to maintain the futile occupation of Iraq.
. . .  Snyder claims federal officials told him they'd been getting pressure from the U.S. military to do something about his two-year presence in B.C. Canada Border Service Agency won't comment, but if it's even remotely true, what does it say about over sovereignty?" Immigration official, Joci Pen has confirmed Synder was arrested at the request of the US military.
The US military maintains that they only want to discuss Joshua Key's new book, The Deserter's Tale, apparently they're not just the military, they're also an international book club.  Maybe they grew interested when they read John Freeman's (Mineapolis Star Tribune) review? Or maybe it was the shout out from Newsweek that made them thing, "We need to read this book!"  Or maybe it was the recommendation fo the John Birch Society?  Joshua Key's  The Deserter's Tale has received good word from around the political spectrum.
Snyder and Key are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Dean Walcott, Joshua Key, Agustin Aguayo, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, 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.
In today's violence (reported) in Iraq, an attack on Salam al-Zobaie, the country's deputy prime minister, is getting the most attention.  In what's being reported as an attempted assassination, Salam al-Zobaie's home was targeted with one bomb while the mosque he was in at the time was also targeted with a bomb.  Al Jazeera English TV reports that "many people are saying that this was an insider job" and correspondent Imad Shahib says that the mosque bombing was conducted by a man who blew himself up, "he's one of his guards."  Robin Stringer and Heather Langan (Bloomberg News) note that the attack at th mosque took place "near the fortified Green Zone.  AFP reports: "Zubayi, one of the most prominent Sunni Arab leaders in the Shiite-led government was rushed to a US military hospital in Baghdad with chest and face injuries after the bombers strcuk while he was performing Muslim prayers" and notes that at least six people are dead and at least 15 wounded.  Elsa McLaren (Times of London) reports that Salam al-Zubaie was having surgery and also notes: "One aide said that the suicide bomber appeared to have been one of Mr al-Zubaie's own guards."  Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports that nine deaths are being reported by the police, up from six.  Christian Berthelsen (Los Angeles Times) also reports the 9 deaths and that 14 are wounded and that the bomber at the mosque (the one some reports are saying was an aide to al-Zubaie) wore a belt filled with explosives.
This follows the attack (in the Green Zone) yesterday.  Allen Pizzey (CBS News) observes, "And on the subject of targest, a short while ago a rocket slammed into the 'Green Zone' or, as the Americans prefer to call it, the 'IZ' short for 'International Zone', a word game that allows them to pretend someone other than America runs the place.  The rocket, fired from across the rive, slammed in about 50 yards from where U.N. Secretary-General Bank Ki Moon and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki were meeting the press.  Pool pictures from the scene showed the U.N. chief ducking, a not unnatural or unwise move, and then looking somewhat puzzled."
The Guardian of London reports that a Baghdad car bombing in the Sadr City neighborhood resulted in five deaths and 20 injured. Reuters reports one police officer dead and another wounded in a Yusufiya roadside bombing and  three police officers wounded from a car bombing -- for some reason they use the term "suicide bomber" which seems to imply the bomber would be dead but, although using the term, they note: "The suicide bomber surivived the blast and was captured by police as he tried to run away."
Oh come on.  What?  You don't know the drill?  There were no bullets exchanged on Friday!  Seriously, Friday everyone cuts out early.  McClatchy may file later today but everyone else pretty much ended the day several hours ago.  (Around 7:00 pm in Baghdad, actually.)
Reuters reports: "The bullet-riddled bodies of a woman and her teenage daughter were found in Diwaniya, police said,"
Turning to politics, the Apologist, Tinker-Toy-Sell-Out-Boy, wants to tell everyone 'how it is.'  How what is?  How it is to be a Party Hack?  Party Hack doesn't know how it is because Party Hack's not fought to end the war.  Party Hack's fought to work for congressional candidates, party flacks' fought for his right to write really bad books, he just doesn't know a damn thing about the war.  Thanks for sharing, Hack, now WalkOn,
CBS and AP report that Pelosi measure passed, 218 to 212.  Yesterday, US House Rep and 2008 presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich took to the House floor to offer "10 Consequences of A 'Yes' Vote:"
1) Keep the war going through the end of President Bush's term;
2) Provide money to fuel an attack on Iran;
3) Force the privatization of Iraqi oil;
4) Escalate the insurgency;
5) Increase the number of troops causalities in the middle of a civil war;
6) Increase the number of civilian causalities;
7) Create a demand for more troops;
8) Enforce cutbacks of the agenda of many in Congress because money that could be used for schools, healthcare, seniors and the environment would continue to be spent for war;
9) Forces the destabilization of the Middle East;
10) Erodes the public's confidence in Congress
CNN reports that before today's vote, Dennis Kucinich declared, "Four years ago we were told we had no alternative but to go to war.  Now we're told we have no alternative but to continue war for another year ot two.  The fact of the matter is we do have alternatives. . . .  Congress has the power to stop funding the war.  That's what we should do.  That's what we should have done and that's what I'm going to continue to work toward.  We have to get out of Iraq, period." notes US House Rep Mike McNulty's statement on why he voted against the Pelosi measure:
In the spring of 1970, during my first term as Twon Supervisor of Green Island, I testified against the War in Vietnam at a Congressional Field Hearing in Schenectady, New York.  Several months after that testimony, my brother, HM3 William F. McNulty, a Navy Medic, was killed in Quang Nam Province.  I have thought -- many times since then -- that if President Nixon had listened to the voices of reason back then, my brother Bill might still be alive.  As a Member of Congress today, I believe that the Iraq War will eventually be recorded as one of the biggest blunders in the history of warfare.  In October of 2002, I made a huge mistake in voting to give this President the authority to take military action in Iraq.  I will not compound that error by voting to authorize this war's continuation.  On the contrary, I will do all that is within my power to end this war, to bring our troops home, and to spare other families the pain that the McNulty family has endured every day since August 9th, 1970.
David Swanson ( compiled a list of the Democrats who voted against the Pelosi measure -- Kucinich, McNulty, John Lewis, Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Mike Michaud, Diane Watson and Lynn Woolsey -- and provides background on each of the eight.
Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) notes that Republican Ron Paul voted against the Pelosi measure because he has long opposed the illegal war, notes six Democrat War Hawks voted against it (John Barron, Dan Boren, Lincoln Davis, Jim Marshall, Jim Matheson and Gene Taylor) because they love an illegal war and that US House Rep Paul Kanjorski missed the vote due to illness while Mel Watt missed the vote but says he would have voted for it if he'd been there.
As the Des Monies Register reported, Brenda Hervey knows what's at stake -- her step-son Michael Hervey was injured while serving in Iraq, so, on Monday she was at the offices of her senator Charles Grassley and Tom Harkin asking that they refuse to continue to fund the illegal war. Hervey is a member of Military Families Speak out, so is Laurie Loving who shares some of the letter she wrote to her US House Rep Mike Thompson: "It is not ridiculous to expect the Democratic leadership to end this war by not giving it one more penny.  No money, the war ends.  There will be money to bring the troops home. . .  The House leadership is trying to get members who oppose the war, you, to support the appropriations bill by claiming it has provisions to support our troops.  In reality, the bill allows the president to indefinitely extend the withdrawal date of August 2008 if the troops are 'engaging in targeted special actions limited in duration and scope to killing or capturing members of al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations with global reach; and/or if the troops are 'training members of the Iraqi Security Forces.'  This provision could be used to keep tens of thousands of troops in Iraq for years."  A toothless, non-enforceable date of August 2008?  Why would that be?  So when Bully Boy uses the override they provided him with, they can point to that for the November 2008 election?  Would they then say/lie, "We tried"?
They didn't try.  They treated it like it was all a game and the only thing that mattered was setting up their own finger pointing for the 2008 elections.
These are some of the voices shut out by public radio and when I say "public radio," I'm, sadly, not talking NPR which did give Medea Benjamin the mikeFree Speech Radio News?  Well yesterday, the 'report' was an editorial about how tough it is to be in Congress (health care for life -- our hearts bleed for those poor Congress members).  And, in the best of the Sunday Chat & Chew 'balance,' listeners got to hear one person speak for themselves -- a Congress member who supported the weak Pelosi measure.  That passes for "Free Speech Radio News" to someone.  (Someone really dense and unfamiliar with the history of Pacifica Radio.)  Now when you shut out the voices of the people as well as Congress members opposed to the measure, there's no way you can tell your listeners (and The KPFA Evening News demonstrated that yesterday and all week) that the so-called "benchmarks" come with an out-option for the Bully Boy to excercise.  (Kat wrote of this yesterday.)  These voices were apparently judged unimportant and the issues not worth raising.
Rae (rae's CODEPINK road journal) writes of taking part in an action at Nancy Pelosi's DC office yesterday:
I am crying because the Democrats' support of another $100 billion for the war means that thousands more kids my age will be killed--kid soldiers and Iraqi kids. Pelosi's support of Bush's request for money for war is a death sentence for thousands of kids. After weeks of cute, colorful, passionate actions in the halls of Congress, from caroling with the choir to valentine delivery to dog bones for Blue Dogs to pink aprons and brooms cleaning House, today was an action of a different tenor. I felt like the floodgates had come down and the halls of Congress were gushing with a bloody river. Maybe it sounds dramatic. But it felt like we were drowning in tears, in pain, in the realization of something very, very wrong. And the tragic part was that the two secretaries in Pelosi's office sat there chuckling and picking up phones, and the press liaison came out and answered reporter's questions with a blank face. My heart was pounding so loudly that I wondered why it didn't just crack the walls of the marble building. Those walls felt more sturdy and guarded than usual. How have our Democratic leaders become so enchanted by the Republican language? Pelosi has helped them back into a corner where Bush will emerge victorious. And the tragic thing is that they will tout this as a victory if it passes tomorrow.
I visited Anna Eshoo's office after the action, and her press secretary tried to explain to me why Anna is going to vote for this supplemental. He gave me the analogy of a football game, where one must work strategically one play at a time to get the ball up the field to the goal. Here's why I think that's a bogus comparison: The compromise that Pelosi and the Dems are voting for is not one step towards peace; it is one step towards prolonging violence and destruction, and killing innocent lives for nothing. The press liaison listened patiently to my opinion, and then told me that we have the same goal, just different tactics. But I am quite certain now that we don't have the same goal. The Democrats want to win. I want to see the killing stop. I want to welcome our soldiers home with open arms and fully equipped medical services. I want to see justice done to the administration. The Democrats, well, they want to win--this vote, the election in '08, the power. If Pelosi would have just come out and said, "Look, I know that this bill (or ammendment like Lee's) may fail, but I am going to take this stand because I believe in the courage of my convictions, because I am more committed to the will of my constituents and the integrity of justice." But we'll never get to find out what Dems would have done if the supplemental had been straight with Bush's desires. And now it's a mess.
It is a mess.  And who usually gets stuck cleaning up the messes?
Women of the one world
We oppose war
Women of the one world
Dancers, sweepers, bookkeepers
We take you to the movies
Take you to the movies
Women of the one world
One world
-- "Women of the One World," written and performed by Laura Nyro, Live at the Bottom Line
Let's note Anna Quindlen (UPS via Herald News) conclusions from last month: "The people who brought America reports of WMDs when none existed, and the slogan 'Mission Accomplished' when it was not true nor likely to be, now say that American troops cannot leave.  Not yet.  Not soon.  Not on a timetable.  Judge the truth of that conclusion by the truth of their past statements.  They say that talk of withdrawal shows a lack of support for the troops.  There is no better way to support those who have fought valiantly in Iraq than to guarantee that not one more of them dies in the service of the political miscalculation of their leaders.  Not one more soldier.  Not one more grave.  Not one more day.  Bring them home tomorrow."
A number of women have been using their voices loudly and proudly (Ann Wright, Cindy Sheehan, Medea, Robin Morgan, Dahlia S. Wasfi, Missy Comley Beattie, Alice Walker, Maxine Hong Kingston, Diane Wilson, Kim Gandy, Laura Flanders, Kelly Dougherty,  . . .) but if all the women opposed to this war would use their voices and own their power, the war would be over.  The GI resistance is very important and it was important during Vietnam but it's equally true that women were actively leading the cry for an end to the war as well.  It's the group that's always 'forgotten' by history.
Back to the Pelosi-measure, the Green Party noted, "If Democrats (inculding MoveOn) really oppose the war, they should demand a cutoff of war funding and the immediate return of all U.S. troops" and they note Cres Vellucci (press secretary of the Green Party of California and Veterans for Peace member) stating, "The Democrats' resolution is a piece of phony and meaningless antiwar posturing.  By proposing a plan that effectively delays the withdrawal of U.S. troops until September 2008, Democrats are trying to set themselves up as the 'antiwar party' in the 2008 election, since it's obvious that President Bush intends to keep U.S. forces in Iraq throughout 2008 and long after.  If Democratic Party leaders really believe the Iraq War is a disaster -- as do the Green Party and most Americans -- they should support legislation compelling a rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces and reducing war funding to the amount it takes to bring our troops home safe and sound."
Steve Kretzmann (Oil for Change) points out, "Among the many problems with the Democrats War Supplemental is the not so small fact that it endorses passage of the Iraqi Oil Law. 'Democratic leadership is actively handing over Iraq's oil to U.S. companies as some sort of war bounty,' said Antonia Juhasz, analyst with Oil Change International.
Not so fast, say Dem Leaders and allies. Their 'clever plan' is that Bush's benchmarks will not be met in the next eight months, after which, the bill will require withdrawal. Its the best they can get right now, they say. Problem is, it'll be game over and mission accomplished for Big Oil in Iraq in that time. The oil law is on a fast track for approval by the Iraqi Parliament within the next 2-3 months, and the Bush administration is leaning heavily on the Iraqi government for quick passage. October 1, which is the date that the Democrats set for the Benchmarks, is too late. The Iraqi oil law will be completed in 2-3 months."
As small media has largely hopped on board to sell the Pelosi measure (or at least not report on it), it's like a flashback to the 90s when big media sold NAFTA.  Not everyone plays dumb.  Aaron Glantz (IPS) probes the pork aspect of the bill: "Among the so-called 'pork projects' listed by Citizens Against Government Waste: 283 million dollars for the Milk Income Loss Contract programme, 74 million dollars for peanut storage costs, 60.4 million dollars for salmon fisheries, 50 million dollars for abestos mitigation at the U.S. Capitol Plant, and 25 million dollars for spinach" and quotes CAGW president Tom Schatz pointing out, "None of this has anything to do with the war."
Dave Lindorff (CounterPunch) speaks to what could have been done (as opposed to the sop tossed out) and concludes: "I'm fed up with the gutless mini-politics of this Congress.  Who gives a damn whether they've passed a minimum wage bill?  It'll never get past Bush anyhow.  Neither will anything else of consequence that this Congress passes. Unless they start challenging the Bush administration directly and forcefull, Congressional Democrats aren't going to do bupkis in two years and people are going to start wondering why they were voted in in the first place.  People might even start to think seriously about letting the Democratic Party just wither away.  Wouldn't make much of a difference without it, really, and we might even come up with something better.  It wouldn't be too hard to do."
Meanwhile, Iran is not in the Pelosi measure.  Reports of the Iran and British conflict abound.  AFP reports the 15 British soldiers captured in disputed waters as follows: "In southern Iraq, details of the incident in which the British sailors were detained by Iranian naval personnel remained sketchy."  Not in the bulk of the Western media which, to read the reports, must be filed by eye witnesses, so sure of they of what happened.  Uzi Mahnaimi (Times of London) earlier reported on the disappearances of "senior officers in its [Iran] Revolutionary Guard" noting: "One theory circulating in Israel is that a US taskforce known as the Iran Syria Policy and Operations Group (ISOG) is coordinating the campaign to take Revolutionary Guard commanders."  The illegal war could expand at any moment and the Pelosi measure dropped Congressional approval for war with Iran.

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The US military posed as Toronto cops?

They told her they were Toronto police officers and wanted to speak with her former houseguest about his new book.
But the unannounced March 13 visit from three men in suits and trench coats raised a red flag for Winnie Ng. It was too suspicious and she wondered why they really wanted to find U.S. war resister Joshua Key.
"They took me by surprise," said Ng, among a number of Canadians who have opened their homes to U.S. war resisters and consciencious objectors who crossed the border to escape having to fight in Iraq. About 40 are in Canada.
"They asked about Joshua and (his wife) Brandi – asked where they live and said they weren't there to arrest him, but to talk about his book," Ng said. The visit took her off guard, she says, so she didn't note names or badge numbers. And though they were polite, Ng said she couldn't help feeling "gentle intimidation."
There is no record of local officers being dispatched to Ng's home last week, Toronto Police spokesperson Const. Victor Kwong confirmed yesterday. "Toronto Police Service was not involved in this."

The above is from Leslie Ferenc's "U.S. deserter hunted in T.O.? Trio told woman they were Toronto police, but weren't" (Toronto Star). We're on the topic of war resister Joshua Key and the case has new turn. Joshua Key served in Iraq and then self-checked out. He and his family, wife Brandi Key and their children, attempted to figure out what to do because, having seen what was being done in Iraq, he couldn't return (as he notes in his book, The Deserter's Tale, he knows from right from wrong). Online, he learned of Jeremy Hinzman who was already in Canada seeking refugee status. (So don't say coverage doesn't have an impact.) In March of 2005, he and his family crossed the border into Canada and have attempted to make their life there. So that's the basic backstory for anyone who's arriving late. As Ferenc notes, the Toronot Police says it wasn't them. Who was it?

From Omar El Akkad's "U.S. Army criminal branch seeks to talk to deserter: Questions raised about allegations in Canadian resident's autobiography" (Globe & Mail):

The U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Command has confirmed it is looking to question an army deserter now living in Canada about explosive allegations he made in his autobiography.
"I can [confirm] for you that CID is attempting to locate and speak with this individual," army spokesman Chris Grey said in an e-mail yesterday.
"We are attempting to contact him to follow up on some of the allegations he has made to [determine] if there is enough credible information to investigate further. We take any and all allegations of criminal wrongdoing very seriously."

Who came to Toronto searching for Joshua Key? It appears it was the US military. It appears it was the US military posing as Canadian police. Lying. Dishonoring the uniform and breaking how many laws in the process? Joshua Key's attorney, Jeff House, will agree to a meeting provided an audio recording or a transcipt of the meeting is kept and provided to Key and House but, despite contacting the US military with that offer (left as a message), he's received no return call. Which calls into question the US military's claim that, like a traveling book club, they just wanted to meet with the author of a book they'd read. The article also notes that it's "odd" that the US military would side step Canada's Foreign Affairs department. One wonders what the declared intent was when they crossed the border?

The book that supposedly has so enthralled them is The Deserter's Tale -- worth reading.

So where to start with other news? A highlight. Seth notes "Democrats are Exploiting Antiwar Sentiment for Political Gain" from the Green Party:

Green Party of the United States
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Contacts:Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624,
Starlene Rankin, Media Coordinator, 916-995-3805,
Greens condemn Democratic resolution for U.S. troop withdrawal by 2008, calling it a phony antiwar posture to give Democrats an advantage in 2008
If Democrats (including MoveOn) really oppose the war, they should demand a cutoff of war funding and the immediate return of all U.S. troops, say Greens.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Green Party leaders strongly criticized a proposed Democratic resolution in the U.S. calling for withdrawal by September 2008, and demanded that Congress take action to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq with legislation that would effect an immediate withdrawal.
The Green Party of the United States has opposed the U.S. war on Iraq since late 2002, when President Bush announced plans for an invasion, and has called for impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for a list of high crimes and misdemeanors, including lying to the American people to justify going to war.
Cres Vellucci, member of Veterans For Peace, Vietnam War veteran (military information specialist), and press secretary of the Green Party of California:
"The Democrats' resolution is piece of phony and meaningless antiwar posturing. By proposing a plan that effectively delays the withdrawal of U.S. troops until September 2008, Democrats are trying to set themselves up as the 'antiwar party' in the 2008 election, since it's obvious that President Bush intends to keep U.S. forces in Iraq throughout 2008 and long after. If Democratic Party leaders really believe the Iraq War is a disaster -- as do the Green Party and most Americans -- they should support legislation compelling a rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces and reducing war funding to the amount it takes to bring our troops home safe and sound."
Anthony Gronowicz, Ph.D., 2005 Green Party Candidate for Mayor of New York City:
" has limited its support to the bill for delayed withdrawal, and has refused to publicize alternative legislation. As the war enters its fifth year, Democratic leaders and their supporters in MoveOn are willing to keep American military personnel in Iraq another 18 months. That means another 18 months of Iraqi civilians, U.S. troops, and U.S. contractors, facing death and injury, so that Democrats can gain a political advantage in the 2008 election."
Nan Garrett, co-chair of the Green Party's National Women's Caucus:
"The fact that Democrats are about to approve another $120 billion for President Bush's war shows that they're as ready to indulge the Bush Administration's imperial designs as they were in October 2002, when many of them voted to surrender Congress's constitutional war power to the White House. The result has been mass death and mayhem, destruction of Iraq's infrastructure and civil society, a brutal civil war, empowerment of repressive theocratic movements in Iraq, and rage against the U.S. around the world, especially in Muslim nations. Even worse, if President Bush acts on his threats to attack Iran or Israel launches an assault on Iran with U.S. support, we'll see a regional war for years to come that's likely to turn into a global confrontation, possibly nuclear, as Saudi Arabia and other nations are drawn into a wider Sunni-Shiite conflict and powerful countries like Russia and China choose sides. Congress must act as quickly as possible to head off the Bush-Cheney agenda. The first step is to end the occupation of Iraq."
Rebecca Rotzler, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States, Deputy Mayor of New Paltz, New York and a member of the Green Party's Peace Action Committee (GPAX):
"Democratic leaders in Congress are using passage of the 'hydrocarbon law' in Iraq as a benchmark for withdrawal of U.S. troops. The new law would privatize and allow foreign control over Iraqi oil resources, and would subject Iraq to World Bank and IMF structural adjustment policies that impoverish people while enriching corporations. In other words, Democrats are happy to prolong the war for the very reasons that President Bush launched it in the first place -- profits for U.S. oil companies, as well as U.S. political and corporate dominance in the region and the strategic interests of Israel."
MORE INFORMATIONGreen Party of the United States 1700 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 404
Washington, DC 20009.202-319-7191, 866-41
GREENFax 202-319-7193
Green Party News Center
[. . .*]
"Dems Aren't Urgent Enough About Withdrawal"By John Nichols, The Nation, March 9, 2007
"Iraq: Why Won't MoveOn Move Forward?"By Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, Center for Media and Democracy, March 18, 2007

[*We don't link to that RS article which is insulting on so many levels. Normally, I don't edit a press release but I don't need calls all day from friends at RS or who have left RS complaining that we linked to the crap.]

The party hack has a laughable claim in a Washington Post article. We'll again note, you're not a journalist if you go back and forth. If you work on campaigns and then you're a journalist and back and forth and back and forth, you're nothing but a hack. I could cite fifty independent media critiques of New York Times reporters who had done just that. The same critique should be applied to independent media. And those who don't apply it -- or worse, run his 'reporting' -- look like hypocrites.

So the Apologist wants to provide a lecture on realism (I heard about that last night, I hadn't read the article). And we're all supposed to say, "Thank you for your faux pearls of wisdom"?
Not so fast. Why doesn't he go back to writing his Thomas Friedman-like columns where he's screaming war on Hugo Chavez?

Party hacks are party hacks. And, something to watch for, who will note the Green Party's statement? They haven't bothered to invite John Stauber or Sheldon Rampton on to discuss their article from the start of the week. Possibly, they feel it's "generous" to refer to it in terms of "some critics"? That's what you've gotten (with the exception of Common Dreams, BuzzFlash and CounterPunch).

So Pelosi strong-armed and got what she wanted. Big surprise. Congress always caves. That's why people have to demand. The Apologist doesn't understand that (any more than camera operators understand how to film that face made for radio -- there's no way to, not since Shannon Doherty has a face been more off balance and he lacks her charisma). The Dems have fallen in line and, it bears noting, created the kind of pork bill they haven't been able to since before the days they were driven from Congressional power. There are countless stories in that, but don't expect them to be covered. We've noted here before that we've killed off one Cokie only to see a hundred Cokie's sprout in her place. The new James Carvilles received far less attention.

Melanie highlights this from Corporate Crime Reporter on The Apologist:

After graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 1998, he worked in various Democratic Party campaigns, did a stint at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington, D.C., was the press spokesperson for Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), and then moved to Montana, where his wife now works for Governor Brian Schweitzer.

Melanie was surprised to see AIPAC in the credits (that's not a full list). Why? It fits perfectly. (Melanie was shocked considering that he has three print outlets -- three magazines supposedly very distinct, supposedly with a brand, supposedly with their own 'independent' missions.) It's interesting because, once upon, the opinion journals tried to offer thinkers. Now it's little party hacks who write 'book' that don't sell. (The Apologist didn't write a book. He took a PowerPoint presentation and had it printed in book forum.)

Well, as with the Democrats, it's their war now. They've never demonstrated that they care all that much about, but they own a parcel of it now. They kept their non-thinkers close by, just to avoid anyone asking the uncomfortable questions.

And in other corruption news, AP is reporting:

Former Deputy Interior Secretary Steven Griles will plead guilty to one count of obstruction of justice in the Jack Abramoff corruption investigation, The Associated Press has learned.
[. . .]
The former No. 2 official at the Interior Department has agreed to a felony plea admitting that he lied five times to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and its investigators about his relationship with Abramoff, people involved in the case told the AP.

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NYT: Displacement and Green Zone

When Hazim Said and his family returned to their house in southwestern Baghdad on March 1, two months after fleeing a murder and intimidation campaign by Sunni Arab insurgents, Mr. Said's wife and two sons collapsed to the floor in tears of joy and kissed the walls.
It mattered little that insurgents had looted the house of computers and other electronics and used it as a hide-out, or that most of the neighbors had taken flight and not returned, leaving their block empty and forlorn.
They had their home back. "The only thing I have is this house," explained Mr. Said, a 35-year-old Shiite minibus driver from Baghdad's Amil neighborhood, which for months has been a battleground between sectarian militias. "Without this house, I have nothing. That's the only way I can express it to you."
Under the protective cover of the latest Baghdad security plan, begun Feb. 13 and dependent on the infusion of American troops into the capital, a small number of families who had fled their neighborhoods because of soaring sectarian violence are hesitantly returning and trying to reclaim their lives. Many are finding, however, that the threat of violence that drove them away in the first place remains very real.

The above is from Kirk Semple's "Reclaiming Homes, Iraqis Find Peril Still at Door" in this morning's New York Times. For those who only read the excerpt, he does note Sunnis as well. Does he note beyond that? No. Either because he doesn't know or because he thinks the reader doesn't or for another reason, no. But then the Times doesn't do a good job of covering minorities in this country either. McClatchy Newspapers did a very strong article on this awhile back. The Times approach tends to focus on the displaced and take the attitude of stuff happens. The displacements didn't just happen, they happened while the puppet government looked the other way.

Semple also contributes "As U.N. Chief Meets Premier of Iraq, the Zone Is Shelled:"

Seconds before the shell struck, Mr. Ban said he was considering expanding the United Nations presence in Iraq because of an improvement in the security situation. The deafening explosion seemed to unnerve the secretary general, who like almost everyone else in the room ducked his head as windows shattered outside and flecks of plaster drifted down from the ceiling. Mr. Maliki barely shifted.
A bodyguard rushed up to Mr. Maliki and grabbed his arm in an effort to lead him to another room, but the prime minister brushed him away, saying sharply, "It's nothing." When the bodyguard did not relent, the prime minister turned to him and snapped, "Go!"

Yes, we noted it yesterday. But it's worth noting again. Semple notes it happened in the Green Zone, the heavily fortified Green Zone. Where the 'crackdown' is taking place. He also notes:

The military announced early Friday that four American service members were killed in combat operations on Wednesday and Thursday: two soldiers in Baghdad, and a soldier and a marine in Anbar Province.

That's three noted in yesterday's snapshot plus: "A MND-B Soldier died when an improvised explosive device detonated while the unit conducted route clearance operations in a western section of the Iraqi capital."

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

Gathered in the lobby at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, the participants arriving for the Stopping Merchants of Death (SMoD) Strategic Conference looked pretty innocuous. Except for the telltale signs of stacks of WIN Magazine and various other pamphlets and literature, one may never have guessed that an international conspiracy to stop war profiteers from pillaging the world’s resources was underway.
From September 29 to October 2, more than 60 activists from 37 different grassroots organizations throughout the country and beyond descended on the Twin Cities to share information and build and strengthen relationships. Participants represented a wide variety of groups including religious communities, environmentalists, veterans of the anti-nuclear movement, and student organizers and teachers. Each brought a particular focus and expertise to the overall struggle to expose and disarm war profiteers.
The conference was the result of a year-long collaboration between veteran organizers of the Honeywell Project, War Resisters League's Anti-Militarism Program, and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. The Honeywell Project, a successful 30-year campaign to force the Honeywell Corporation to get rid of its military contracts in the wake of Vietnam, hosted the event from their home base in Minneapolis. The collective is now known as Alliant Action and continues its work against Honeywell's spin-off corporation Alliant Tech, the makers of depleted uranium munitions.
The opening session of the conference began with a screening of Robert Greenwald’s documentary film, "Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers," which was followed by comments from several panelists based on their extensive research and experience. Frida Berrigan of the Arms Trade Resource Center began by pointing out the enormous implications of a study mentioned briefly in the film. Commissioned by in 1992 by then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, the study was conducted by Halliburton and ultimately determined that privatization of formerly military contracts or outsourcing military logistics was both feasible and profitable. That same year, Berrigan explained, "Dick Cheney left public office to become the CEO of Halliburton, exemplifying the revolving door between government and corporations profiting from 'reconstruction;. These same corporations then influence public policy, instigating endless war."
David Meiran from the Uprise Tour on counter-military recruitment and corporate globalization suggested incorporating lessons from the struggle of Act Up! and other organizations who worked against drug profiteers in the 1980s. A successful strategy in those campaigns, Meiran says, was focusing on "pressuring individual CEOs and executives by exposing their deeds to the people in their own local community was very effective." He also stressed the importance of differentiating between "front end" merchants of death--companies that develop resources and military infrastructure to support war--and "back end" merchants, who are engaged in lobbying and clandestine efforts to further corporate globalization.

The above is from Mimi LaValley's "Reflections on Stopping the Merchants of Death Strategic Conference" (WIN -- periodical of the War Resisters League) and we're starting with it to make the point that a lot of activism goes on that you never hear about. Possibly, you can't devote all your 2007 time to covering the 2008 election and still find time to inform people who pay for your magazine of conferences. Besides, if you did, you might not be able to get in your slams about what you think the peace movement's doing wrong -- which is really all the coverage the peace movement gets from our biggy independent print mags. Before 2007 ends, you'll know every detail about a candidates personal life (nothing about their actual records other than sweeping generalities -- the sort of crap that allows some to pass Obey off as a "progressive" or "left" leader), but you won't be informed because American Idol: The Political Process isn't intended to inform, just to gas bag and waste a lot of time.

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, AP's number for the US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3194 and ICCC's was 3207. AP's count is 3230, ICCC's is also 3230. For those who forgot (or missed it, it got very little coverage), the 3200 mark was mid-week, last week. Over 30 deaths since the middle of last week. Do you see that covered? Big or small media? Do you see it covered? You get nonsense about how someone in DC knows more about a bombing (that they wouldn't give the day on -- later they would say it was Sunday) than the US military in Baghdad where the bombing took place, that gets a big story. That they run with. Inflated figures (which a number of outlets had to correct today) on bombings, that they run with. But telling the American people that, in the midst of the crackdown, in the midst of the escalation, we've seen thirty US service members die in approximately a week (a week and one day), that's not a story. And why do you suppose that is? 64 for the month. Imagine that no other US service members died for the rest of the month, that would still be approximately two deaths a day.
Where's the media, big and small?

Before we get to that, we'll note the report on today's violence in Iraq by Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers): 25 corpses discovered in Baghdad, 2 people shot dead in Baghdad, one police officer dead in Baghdad from a roadside bomb, and five wounded in a Baghdad mortar attack; in Basra: five prisoners are injured at Shi'aiba Prison, a clash between two militias led to one person killed and four injured and "A women's rights activist killed. Tuhfa Al-Bachari, was assassinated in her home, in Al-Jem'iyat neighborhood, 7 km west of Basra City centre, yesterday. She is sister of Belsem Al-Bechari, Member of the Governorate Council of Basra, and was head of a women's organization." And Reuters which took the day off (didn't announce it, didn't explain it)? Even at this late date they can't report what Issa did or, for that matter, what AP and others were able to. For a laugh, read their Factbox for today -- one that was updated "one minute ago"! And they can't even tell you the corpse count.

So where are they? Where is everyone? Largely covering for Democrats. Let's note David Swanson's "Why the Progressive Caucus Should Vote No on War Money" (Democracy Rising) which Lynda e-mailed to highlight:

The Supplemental spending bill proposed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi funds the war. It gives Cheney and Bush roughly another $100 billion. And you can be quite sure they will spend it as they choose, which may include attacking Iran. In fact, a measure in the bill requiring Bush to get Congress's approval before attacking Iran (an attack that would violate the US Constitution and the UN charter) has been removed.
The bill also requires Iraq to turn much of its oil profits over to foreign corporations. This illegally rewards the Bush and Cheney gang for their illegal war.
Beyond that, the bill does a number of things to nudge Bush in the direction of limiting the war, but most of them are for show.
This bill pretends to ban torture. Torture was always illegal. The framers of our Constitution sought to leave such practices behind in England. The US is a party to international treaties banning all torture. Nonetheless, the last Congress, the Republican Congress, banned torture, and Bush used a signing statement to announce his intention to ignore the ban. Now Pelosi wants credit for pretending to ban torture again. You cannot ban torture under a dictator who has publicly announced that he will ignore your bans. You can only end torture by ending the pretense that there is not a dictator living in the Vice President's house.
The bill also intends to pretend to limit how many days a soldier or Marine can be kept in Iraq. The Republican Congress did this in 2003, and Bush threw it out with a signing statement.
Some previous presidents had used signing statements, but never to announce their intention to disobey the law. And in many cases, including the two I've just mentioned, we know that Bush has in fact disobeyed those laws.
And don't imagine that Nancy Pelosi is unaware of this. She's a step ahead of you. She's included in the bill a right for the president to waive the restrictions. So, this time, no signing statement will be needed. Instead we'll get a waiver. I'm sure that'll make the soldier on his or her third tour of Iraq feel better when they're told that they're going to stay a little longer this time. In polls last year our troops in Iraq said they wanted to all come home last year.

Lynda wonders if the Dems are pushing this because of the oil? She wonders if, after Iraq's oil is privatized, suddenly Dems in Congress will be in agreement that it's time for US troops to withdraw? Who knows? It's a topic our independent media can't explore because they're too busy providing cover for the Dem leadership in the House. As Kat points out, in a devastating critique, even Free Speech Radio News' Leigh Ann Caldwell slants the coverage. That's really sad. When even Free Speech Radio News is slanting their coverage (and the editorial -- it was an editorial by Caldwell -- and only allowing a US House Rep who supports the measure to speak is slanting the coverage), it's really sad. I really thought the high minded purpose of journalism was to inform and it's really sad to see the usually dependable KPFA team be so eager to sell anything (the Pelosi measure in this case) that they're really not interested in informing but they are interested in slanting. That's really sad. By the way, Zach noted Kat's critique. And like Kat and myself, Zach listen to KPFA around the clock. It's been really sad.
Zach says he's not even sure if he's up to listening tomorrow. I understand. I heard Joy of Resistance (WBAI) today for that reason. I called a friend in NYC and said, "Please tell me WBAI has an actual program on with real information." He put the phone to the radio and I heard the NOW's New Jersey president talk about the importance of impeachment, Congress' need to listen to the people and also a lengthy report on women in Iran. After that, I held my nose and listened to NPR. I'll do that when I'm on the road and have no choice but you can count on one hand the number of times I do that when I'm home.

It's really strange to see KPFA marginalize the voices for peace. To act like it's some small group. It's not. It's bad enough when the likes of Obey want to lecture about how responsible they are, it's even worse when KPFA provides cover for that. (I'm referring to the news department.)

Now let's talk about the realities of responsibility. The Congress has been irresponsible. The Congress has allowed the illegal war to go on for four years. The Dem leadership didn't include Iraq in their 100 day list. The Congress only began doing what little they have done as a result of pressure from the people.

Apologists can offer all the excuses they want. They can talk about the pressure and how hard it is and blah blah boo hoo blah. If they want an easy job, they can resign. They ran for office. This is their job. An illegal war is dragging on, if that's too much for a Congress member to address, they need to offer their resignation. Iraqis don't have the opportunity of escaping reality. US service members serving in Iraq don't have the luxury our Congress does. Family members and friends who've lost someone or go through each day hoping that this isn't the day the military pulls up to deliver an announcement don't have the easy lives of Congress.

Poor Nancy Pelosi, she's having to serve a district and to be a national figure. Well, she wanted it. She got it. It's not just magazine covers and interviews. She's there to do the people's work, to work for the people.

They pulled the "no" to war on Iran, they gave Bully Boy easy outs that allow him to ignore their so-called "benchmarks." A lot more but we can't get coverage of that. We can get justifications, we can get excuses. Now you expect that from Congress -- which only acted this much due to significant pressure coming to bear -- but you don't expect apologists from the supposed left to pop off about how Obey's a nice guy and you just stop picking on him! And you don't expect KPFA or Free Speech Radio News which fought like crazy to be independent to throw out sop to listeners. I enjoy the work Caldwell has done but that editorializing was embarrassing. It was so against the principles that led to Free Speech Radio News that I honestly wondered why so many of us fought to save KPFA. That's how disappointed in KPFA's coverage. I found myself thinking today, "Maybe they should have been sold off."

People who fought for that station to be free did so with the understanding that they would be independent. When Caldwell's offering excuses (masking as reporting) for the Dem leadership, that's not independence -- it's not straight reporting either. And if KPFA does too much more of that, they better hope they don't come under attack again because too much more of that will result in people not fighting this time, listeners saying, "What's the point?"

The Evening News tonight? Never so much booing. A full house of people (over fifty, I didn't do a head count) booing as the evening news refused to report that the "benchmarks" had outs built in. They don't have to be for or against the Pelosi measure, they do have a responsibility to tell the listeners the truth about it. Mia shared similar sentiments in her e-mail and noted this (and that it wasn't noted on KPFA today), "Progressive Democrats of America: Disappointed in Democratic Leadership" (via Common Dreams):

WASHINGTON - March 22 - As the House debates the Iraq Supplemental, Progressive Democrats of America director Tim Carpenter issued this statement on the Democratic leadership's refusal to allow a vote on Barbara Lee's Amendment for fully-funded, orderly Iraq withdrawal by end of 2007:
"It is antiwar sentiment that put Democrats into majority control of Congress. The recent USA Today-Gallup poll showed 58 percent of Americans want U.S. troops out of Iraq within a year, or earlier. We are profoundly disappointed that the Lee Amendment – which reflects majority sentiment in the country -- was not allowed to be debated and voted upon by the full House."
Continued Carpenter: "In a free vote, we believe roughly 90 members of Congress would have supported the Lee Amendment and the desires of most Americans to get out of Iraq. Having prevented that vote, the leadership's weak supplemental that prolongs funding of an unwinnable occupation is now more susceptible to wrong-headed attacks from Republicans and certain media circles as somehow risky or extreme."

"We commend Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey and Maxine Waters for their years of brave leadership right up to this morning in the struggle to end the U.S. occupation -- a struggle that helped shift control of Congress last November."

A struggle? You wouldn't know it to listen to KPFA.

Pelosi and Reid have a job to do. The antiwar movement has a job to do. The jobs are not the same. This should be obvious -- but, judging from public and private debates now fiercely underway among progressive activists and organizations, there's a lot of confusion in the air. No amount of savvy Capitol-speak can change the fact that 'benchmarks' are euphemisms for more war. And when activists pretend otherwise, they play into the hands of those who want the war to go on . . . and on . . . and on.

That's from Norman Solomon's "The Pragmatism of Prolonged War" (CounterPunch) (which we picked as "Truest statement of the week" for last week. The peace movement's job is to keep the pressure on until the troops come home. It's job is not to hear lectures from weak asses who really shouldn't pass themselves off as "media" anymore than James Carville should -- if you work on campaigns, you shouldn't be considered journalists. The revolving door hasn't helped the maisntream and it doesn't help independent media. (I'm referring to the Obey apologist.) Now NPR, among other outlets, has in place what someone can and cannot cover if a spouse is working for a campaign. What does independent media have in place? Does anyone know? What about disclosures? Mike points out the laughable disclosure offered by Peter Rothberg. AlterPunk wants to create a Bloggers Council but it seems like he should worry about independent media policing itself.

One of the misconceptions of Democrats is that there was a "need" to build up think tanks, et al. There were already think tanks. True ones, not Democratic mills. Chief among them The Institute for Policy Studies. (There are a number of others, I'm not in the mood to hunt down links so I'll just note that one.) We already had organizations -- Center for Constitutional Rights, National Lawyers Guild, etc. We had FAIR. The Clintonistas (non-recovering -- I've admitted I was a big Bill Clinton supporter) with their Democratic organizations have a place and some do some strong work but there's no reason for The Nation to form alliances with them. (Some? The only one I've seen that does solid work is Media Matters. It's also the only one we link to and it's upfront about being a Democratic watchdog.) An Air America Radio (as it turned out) wasn't needed. (We've noted the exceptions before -- they're very few.) A noise machine for the Democratic Party wasn't the answer to the truth. It might be an answer to getting Democrats elected, but it's not an answer to the truth. In fact, many have hurt the truth. When Michael Ratner's trying to get Congress to take action on Guantanamo, which of the partisan organizations are backing him up by adding pressure?

As the same do-nothings who did nothing but provide cover for the Democrats inaction on the war, for the Democrats appeasement of Republicans, for the Democrats' silence on Guantanamo, they rushed out to assure you that this was what we had to settle for (whatever "this" was at the moment -- dependent upon the talking points being handed down at that moment), they now rush out again to tell you this is what everyone has to settle for, pipe down, don't object, fall in line.

Those organizations, if you don't remember, didn't do a damn thing to make Congress move on the war. And there's no reason to listen to an Obey apologist now. That The Nation has tied themselves to those organizations explains why there is so little independence in that magazine today.

Here's what happens if you listen to the apologists and take the happy pill: Congress goes back to doing nothing. The less they do, the Dems, other than scold Republicans, the better it is for the 2008 elections. The more problems they highlight (but don't solve), the more they can sell, "You need us in 2008." They're like drug pushers giving you a tiny fix to try and keep you coming back. Can the Democratic Party take brave steps? Yes, they can. If they're forced to stand upright. Can that happen between now and 2008? Who knows? (I think not.) But the only way anything will be accomplished is by people demanding action (on all issues) and by people owning their power which is not limited to the ballot box.

There's something very sick about the apologists (such as the one featured on Democracy Now! today) being disturbed by the fact that the people want to be heard, that the people want to demand action. Independent media's role is not to win elections. It's role is to provide the truth. Puff pieces on candidates isn't the truth. Independent media, like big media, will always fail. Like big media, it may get a fact wrong, but it shouldn't fail because it's hooked up with party organs. There's more that could be said but I'll leave it at that because we're talking about a piece for The Third Estate Sunday Review on this and other topics for Sunday. But it bears noting that when you hook up with MoveOn, you are not independent media. When you work with them on events or books, you aren't independent. You are a party organ.

The Nation didn't force Congress to act (as little as the Congress is acting). They didn't care about Iraq for all of 2006 (we're talking print edition). They didn't help the peace movement so they really have no right to hector it. They've never written about Abeer. They've never covered the destruction of women's rights in Iraq or the violence that women are targeted with.
Online, they've added a new blog. If you think it's about Iraq, you've missed the current state of the magazine -- it's a campaign blog. For those who didn't get enough in each week's issue. I'm going to word this poorly (I'm tired and want to get this posted) but Robert Parry (who is an independent journalist and not a partisan) can call out the Democrats on their collaboration with Republicans over the last few years. (And before. He's not one of the ones being silly and telling you that the press fall apart when Bill Clinton was running for president in 1992.) He could form alliances. It would probably allow Consortium News to be floating in the cash. But that's not journalism, so he struggles each year. The same thing with And those are the outlets The Nation should be working with and highlighting. It's rather sad that instead they seem addicted to Clintonistas.

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and the war drags on