Saturday, June 07, 2008
AI Index: AMR 51/057/2008 (Public)
Date: 06 June 2008
USA: James Corey Glass has right not to serve in Iraq
Amnesty International believes James Corey Glass to have a genuine conscientious objection to serving as a combatant in the US forces in Iraq, and would consider him to be a prisoner of conscience if imprisoned on his return to the USA. He is facing deportation from Canada on 12 June.
James Glass joined the army in 2002, enlisting in the National Guard where he was assigned to non-combatant duties in the USA. His unit was later ordered to deploy to Iraq, where he served five months of active service in 2005.
According to his statement, he had concerns about the legality of the war before his deployment to Iraq. While serving there, he developed further serious objections to the war, including what he saw as the abusive treatment of civilians by the US military and failure within the system to address such abuses. He stated that, whilst in Iraq, he reported his concerns to his superiors and asked to be relieved of duty. His request was denied but he was granted a two-week leave. He refused to return to his unit and went absent without leave (AWOL) in February 2006.
Since being in Canada, James Glass has become a member of the "War Resisters Campaign" and has spoken out publicly about his objection to the Iraq war.
US law recognizes the right to conscientious objection only on grounds of opposition to war in any form. James Glass was therefore unable to seek a claim for discharge from the army on grounds of his objection to the Iraq War. Other similar cases where US soldiers have sought to register their conscientious objection and apply for non-combatant status have been turned down.
If returned to the USA he faces a possible court-martial, where he could be imprisoned for between one and five years.
Some US military personnel who have refused to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan due to their conscientious objection to US policy and practice in the "war on terror" have been imprisoned solely for their beliefs. Amnesty International has considered some to be prisoners of conscience who should be released immediately and unconditionally.
Some of these conscientious objectors have been court-martialled and sentenced despite pending applications for conscientious objector status, others were imprisoned after their applications were turned down on the basis that they were objecting to particular wars rather than to war in general.
Amnesty International has declared a number of conscientious objectors in the USA to be prisoners of conscience. They included Camilo Mejia, who was sentenced to one year's imprisonment for his objections to the war in Iraq, and Abdullah Webster, who refused to participate in the same war due to his religious beliefs. Another, Kevin Benderman, was sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment after he refused to re-deploy to Iraq because of the scenes of devastation he witnessed there. Agustín Aguayo was sentenced to eight months' imprisonment for his refusal to participate in the war in Iraq. All four have since been released.
Amnesty International is of the view that the right to refuse to perform military service for reasons of conscience is inherent in the notion of freedom of thought, conscience and religion as recognised in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Amnesty International considers a conscientious objector to be any person who, for reasons of conscience or profound conviction, refuses either to perform any form of service in the armed forces or applies for non-combatant status. This can include refusal to participate in a war because one disagrees with its aims or the manner in which it was being waged, even if one does not oppose taking part in all wars.
Wherever such a person is detained or imprisoned solely for these believe, Amnesty International considers that person to be a prisoner of conscience. AI also considers conscientious objectors to be prisoners of conscience if they are imprisoned as a consequence of leaving the armed forces without authorization for reasons of conscience, if because of those reasons; they have taken reasonable steps to secure release from military obligations.
International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK
The above, noted by Brita, is "USA: James Corey Glass has right not to serve in Iraq" and it's about Corey Glass (we'll call him Corey Glass here, not James, Corey is what he chooses to go by). May 21st, US war resisters and Iraq War veteran Glass was informed that he had until June 12th to leave Canada or he would be deported. Tuesday's motion in the House of Commons was the voice of the legislature (and also the voice of the Canadian people). It is non-binding. Stephen Harper, the nation's prime minister, can choose to ignore it. If he does so, he is ignoring the will of the people and the legislature.
Canada stepped up to the plate this week. What are members of the US Congress doing? In 1969, then Representative Ed Koch was visiting Canada to meet with war resisters. By 1974, he had proposed four bills in Congress regarding amnesty. He was only one person but, due to having been mayor of NYC, he is someone whose name is still known. Where are today's members of Congress advocating support for war resisters?
The 2002 authorization was not a vote for war. But Congress has not stopped the illegal war. What are they doing to protect those who are standing up?
And for those who have forgotten, George McGovern, in his 1972 presidential run, spoke about war resisters, spoke about amnesty. What's the 'anti-war' Obama doing? Oh, yeah, not a damn thing.
AP reports 5 dead from Baghdad car bombings. That's probably not a 'presidential' 'issue' either.
Clyde notes Dianne Mathiowetz
's "Canada Parlaiment supports U.S. war resisters" (Workers World):
The Canadian Parliament voted favorably June 3 on a motion to halt the deportations of U.S. conscientious objectors who are seeking a safe haven in Canada rather than fight in the illegal occupation of Iraq. The vote in the House of Commons was 137-110, with all the opposition parties--the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party, the Bloc Quebecois and the Green Party-- voting for the motion, and the ruling Conservative Party voting against.
The motion is nonbinding and could be overruled by the Conservative ruling party. Nevertheless, it is an important escalation of the campaign against the deportation of GI resisters.
The motion to halt the deportations is a strong step against a series of recent reactionary rulings issued by the Canadian Supreme Court. The court's refusals to hear the appeals for refugee status filed by numerous GI resisters have paved the way for the possible deportation of dozens, if not hundreds, of conscientious objectors.
The vote in the Canadian Parliament comes on the heels of a deportation order given to GI resister Corey Glass. Glass, an Indiana resident, signed up for the National Guard in 2002. He was deployed to Iraq in 2005 and served five months as a military intelligence sergeant before going AWOL to protest what he deemed an "illegal and immoral" war. Glass moved to Toronto, Canada, in August 2006.
In a recent interview, Glass said of his decision to join the National Guard: "I signed up to defend people and do humanitarian work filling sandbags if there was a hurricane. I should have been in New Orleans, not Iraq." (Toronto Star, May 22).
On May 21, Glass was ordered to leave Canada by June 12 and return to the U.S., where he will likely face imprisonment. In the wake of the Glass ruling, and the run- up to the Canadian Parliament vote, GI resisters and their supporters in Canada and the U.S. have been intensifying the grass-roots struggle in support of more progressive policies towards GI resisters seeking asylum in Canada.
Court martial at Ft. Gordon, Ga.
You can add another name to the growing list of U.S. military personnel who are taking a stand against participating in the U.S. occupation army.
Pfc. Ryan Jackson, now age 25, joined the Army in May 2005, hoping that time in the military would offer a path to a college education and a future career.
He went to South Korea as part of the 35th Signal Brigade. There he began to question what purpose the U.S. military and foreign policy really served.
By the fall of 2007, Jackson determined that he would not participate in war and attempted to gain an administrative discharge. He went AWOL in December 2007, contacted Courage to Resist and other GI support groups, secured the services of a civilian lawyer, James M. Branum, and turned himself in at Ft. Sill, Okla., on April 4, 2008.
On the eve of Jackson's court-martial, a dozen or so supporters from Augusta and Atlanta, including members of the International Action Center, demonstrated outside the gates of Ft. Gordon. Another young soldier stopped by the vigil to express his solidarity and intent to start a chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War at the base.
The following morning, May 29, several anti-war activists attended Jackson's court-martial. He pled guilty to the charges but made an eloquent statement declaring his actions a form of "civil disobedience." He was sentenced to 100 days in confinement, reduction of rank to E-1, forfeiture of pay and given a bad conduct discharge.
Since he is being credited with time served, Jackson will be out in 29 days. He plans on speaking at the Veterans for Peace conference and going on a Courage to Resist tour later this summer.
A recent, nearly month long, anti-war march through upstate New York, initiated by the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), and attended by many GI resisters, was a marked success in helping to build support for GI resistance. The march through working-class towns of upstate New York--many of which are sparsely populated but have numerous community members in the armed services--was a crucial step in building broad-based solidarity with the brave men and women who have taken a principled stand against the unjust wars of U.S. imperialism.
GI resisters are courageously leading the struggle against unjust imperialist war. The movement in support of their brave actions must continually strive to match their sacrifice. For more information, see couragetoresist.org.
Articles copyright 1995-2008 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved. Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
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Yes, Bully Boy lied
The report, which ends a long congressional inquiry into prewar intelligence failures, pitted the statements of Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other Cabinet officials against information provided by intelligence agencies.
"Before taking the country to war, this administration owed it to the American people to give them a 100 percent accurate picture of the threat we faced," said committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. "Sadly, the Bush administration led the nation into war under false pretenses."
The report amounts to the most direct rebuke to date of the Bush administration's use of intelligence to build support for the Iraq war. But the document, which catalogs hundreds of statements by administration officials, stops short of calling for any further inquiry or punishment.
The above is from Matt Canham's "Senate panel: Bush purposely inflated Iraq threat in prelude to war" (Salt Lake Tribune) and is noted by a visitor who writes that this site is worse than Democracy Now because Amy Goodman covered this in a headline "at least" but "you never said a word about it."
That story broke on Thursday. It was covered on Thursday. From Thursday's "Iraq snapshot:"
Meanwhile in the White House today, spokesperson Dana Perino faced some semi-tough questioning and se danced away from every one of them with statements such as "I would say that the issue of pre-war intelligence on Iraq has been thoroughly reviewed over the years by the Congress, as well as by the independent WMD Commission." What was Perino avoiding? The latest report on Iraq from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The chair, Senator Jay Rockefeller, stated today, "Before taking the country to war, this Administration owed it to the American people to give them a 100 percent accurate picture of the threat we faced. Unfortunately, our Committee has concluded that the Administration made significant claims that were not supported by intelligence. In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led to believe the threat from Iraq was much greater than actuall existed."
Key points from the report summarized by Rockefeller include:
* Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa'ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa'ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.
* Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.
* Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.
* Statements by the President and Vice President prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq's chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community's uncertainties as to whether such production was ongoing.
* The Secretary of Defense's statement that the Iraqi government operated underground WMD facilities that were not vulnerable to conventional airstrikes because they were underground and deeply buried was not substantiated by available intelligence information.
* The Intelligence Community did not confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001 as the Vice President repeatedly claimed.
In a press conference today (here for audio or video), Rockefeller declared, "It has often been said that truth is the first casualty of war and today the Senate Intelligence Committee reports in detail that this was the case in the Bush administration's march to war in Iraq. You don't get to tell the truth just some of the time when going to war. The American people expect their government to tell the truth all the time, that being 100% of the time. Let's be clear as far too many of our own country men and their families know this is a very deadly serious matter Making the case for war is categorically different than any other approach to public policy. There is nothing more serious in public life than the decision to go to war. There is a fundamental difference between relying on incorrect intelligence and deliberatly painting a picture to the American people that you know is not fully supported by intelligence. The bottom line is this, we owed it to the troops and the American people to tell the truth about how we got there. These reports are about holding our government accountable and making sure that these mistakes never happen again." PDF format warning, the first report is on public statements (and runs 171 pages), also PDF, the second report focuses on the Counterrorism Evaluation Group and Office of Special Plans within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (and is 56 pages).
It was covered at length. We didn't cover the press coverage of it which was disappointing. The second report is really an indictment of Dick Cheney for anyone paying attention and, check your Real Media press outlets, no one was. I honestly expected (honestly and wrongly) that Panhandle Media would pick up on it Friday because it's cheap to cover that. A 'public' radio program just has to trot out the too-familiar faces who say the same things that they've said for the last five years. They all get to ego-stroke. There's not a member of this community that doesn't know Bully Boy lied to start an illegal war. Due to problems with Yahoo (the blank/white background being added to every e-mailed entry such as the snapshots), extra K is used (size is increased). 52K is pushing it when e-mailing something to the site. The white/blank screen means 52K is reached with far fewer words. On Thursday, I went back and forth on how much to include about the report but decided to include a healthy chunk of the snapshot on it because it was breaking and covering it Thursday meant we could cover other things on Friday -- like war resisters (the topic 'independent' outlets works so hard to ignore) and, you know, the illegal war that drags on.
I thought Panhandle Media would cover the report and use it as their excuse to claim, "Yes, we do cover the war!" (They rarely say "illegal," just "the war.") The fifth year mark was passed in March and where's the coverage of the very real, very ongoing illegal war?
Look in vain at most 'trusted' outlets. In addition, Iraq's fallen off the radar of Real Media. We noted this week that three US service members shot dead in Iraq on the same day, in the same incident, wasn't enough to get the front page of the New York Times. There's little to no interest in Iraq in All Things Media Big and Small.
The same visitor accusing this site of never noting the report (it was noted in the Thursday snapshot) apparently reads selectively because he also wants to know why LaVena Johnson wasn't covered in Friday's snapshot. (She's mentioned in Thursday's snapshot, which the visitor points to but apparently missed all the section of the Rockefeller report.)
I do what the community wants, not what drive-bys want. We linked to the website for Johnson and members checked it out. While not disliking Johnson (whose story we've covered many times before), they don't want that site linked to. That site has a link list that includes a number of sites that used sexism non-stop in the primary season. Maybe they can 'atone' by fighting for the truth about Johnson (most likely, they'll never follow the issue) but if all those sites are on board then (a) we're not needed and (b) we don't want to be part of a sexist community. (All the links are not the problem, four are. They are vile and disgusting sites and we don't promote them here and will not promote them by linking to things that link to them.) LaVena Johnson we've covered before but if the four pathetic sites are on board with the issue than we'll assume they'll cover it and find a better way to utilize our time and one that doesn't require our hopping in bed with misogynists.
We'll cover it in terms of VFP (and a friend with VFP asked for the link we gave on Thursday). But members went to the page on Johnson, that site (not linked to in this entry), and complained loudly in e-mails. I agree with them. I don't break bread with misognists. And I don't do anything to promote their work or 'traffic.' So they're on their own and the page's decision to get in bed with those people -- who ignore the Iraq War, to be clear -- means it's not an interest of the community's. Something may develop that means the issue gets included in a snapshot or two but we won't be linking to that site. Most likely, when the issue is noted it will be due to VFP or MSM.
That's life. There are many aspects of the ongoing, illegal war to cover. We'll find something else. We did our part early on. Now that others are noticing it, let them run with it. If past history is any indication, they won't run with it. They don't care about the illegal war today. They don't write about it. They don't call out the War Hawks. Every now and then, they work up a little energy to play, "Blame the Republicans!" That game got a little old several years ago. It was exposed as fraudlent when the Dems took control of both houses of Congress in the Nov. 2006 elections.
It's as pathetic and fake as the efforts to insist John McCain is just like the Bully Boy. John McCain, whether you like him or not (I don't like him, I do know Cindy McCain and have no ill will towards her), is not the same as the Bully Boy, does not hold the same beliefs as the Bully Boy. We have and will continue to call McCain out. We will not push a known lie just because MoveOn and the other liars feel it's okay to resort to any smear to destroy a Republican. There are plenty of reasons not to vote for John McCain (and though my ballot is my own business, I've long shared here that I would never vote for McCain). There are many things he's said, voted on and done that can destroy his candidacy.
MoveOn, et al's strategy not only depends upon lying it's a bust. It won't work. They're failures and didn't we see that with their 2004 efforts?
Bad enough that they lie, but they're not even smart enough to think up a workable lie. They cater to the fringes and are out of step with the average American who is not even closely following the election right now. The lie that McCain and Bully Boy are the same will not bring over swing voters to the Democrats. It will, instead, be used as proof that the Democrats lie. It wasn't real smart of MoveOn, et al, to attempt a strategy that would go against popular opinion and harm the Democratic Party but, then, those outlets aren't real smart to begin with.
To the average swing voter, McCain is a stand up guy. Now that can be discredited but doing so requires real work and not just repeating a lie that McCain's the same as the current White House occupant.
Someone in the Democratic Party should have strongly advised MoveOn that this effort was not needed or wanted but you see the Cult of Obama repeating the same thing. It's a losing strategy because to swing voters it is a lie. If you're caught lying, you lose credibility.
Anything the MoveOn faction now attempts to utilize will be built upon the original lie and will not go over well for obvious reasons, swing voters will remember the lie. And that's going to hurt them. It's going to hurt the campaign they're trying to build up as well.
At some point, these factions working with the Democratic Party need to be discplined because they're already setting up the stage for a losing campaign in November. You peel off support for McCain by exposing his record, not by repeating a lie over and over loudly.
Doing the latter just makes you a liar and, come November, a loser as well.
McCain and the current occupant of the White House have a long history and it includes opposition to one another (most infamously in the 2000 smears against McCain). You cannot paint them as being the same in the minds of swing voters. And when you chant "McSame," you come off like a petulant child and not as an informed adult.
But the 'left' appears to be heavy on petulant, loud mouth children today (all too old to qualify as children) so it appears likely that McCain will have a real shot at the White House in November.
You destroy McCain via his record, not by absurd charges that, if you missed it, Arianna already went off the reservation on, insisting McCain told her he didn't vote for the Bully Boy.
Whether he did or didn't, Arianna used all her limited authority to say McCain did not. And they still want to pimp the lie that the two men are the same?
I know McCain's record and statements and that's why I won't vote for him. He is not the same as Bully Boy, but he's not a candidate I can support (now or ever). I'm not going to invent lies to keep him from office. That's really pathetic and the sort of thing that Democrats used to decry when they still had any level of standards. They threw those away for the 2008 election and now they're so desperate that they think they can lie their way into a White House victory.
Swing voters will no doubt be the next to be smeared. They're out of touch, or maybe they're racists or any number of smears Panhandle Media has used to target Democrats that don't like Obama's policies, his voting record (his sleight voting record) or his actions.
It's going to be a long election as the 'left' demonstrates just how childish they are over and over, week after week. When "Pelosi Democrat" is used (to imply extreme leftist) by a Republican in a race against a Democrat, the Democrats decry that. But they have no trouble resorting to the same smears against McCain. That's a set-up for failure as well as an abandonment of any ethical standards.
They've already floated attacks on McCain to paint him as "crazy" based on his P.O.W. experience and that's shameful. Thing is, when the Bully Boy campaign did similar tactics in 2000, the 'left' called that out as shameful. Today, they engage in the same tactics.
I was against the illegal war in Vietnam in real time. I am not one of the 'left' today that practices revisionary tactics (as a number do). I am as against it today as I was then. And I find it offensive that McCain's P.O.W. experience is being targeted by the 'left' (meaning psuedo left). No American should have ever been sent to Vietnam. McCain was and he supports that illegal war. I don't but I don't turn around and chuckle over his P.O.W. experience. I don't find it something to smear him with. I'm very sad that there were any P.O.W.s on any side because that war was illegal and should never have happened. I'll cry for the dead and the wounded and the prisoners of that illegal war on all sides. I think the 'left' has demonstrated that the first thing they sacrificed for the 2008 election was their own humanity -- if they ever had it to begin with.
Throughout the nineties, there was a split on the left. The 'left' thought the answer was an echo chamber like the right-wing had. The real left believed that getting the truth out made the difference. Campaign 2008 has demonstrated what faction won out (the psuedo left). It's going to be really embarrassing in the coming months and though we've tried to be welcoming of all on the left, on this I have no problem drawing lines. This site will not knowingly repeat lies just because it might mean a 'victory.' At what cost? I'm not willing to sell whatever's left of my own humanity. I can be a real ass (and admit that upfront) and I can be wrong more often than right (ditto) but I do not knowingly repeat lies here.
I loathe the slaughter in Vietnam to this day. But I will not take part in trashing McCain for being a prisoner of war or implying that being held captive means he may have been brainwashed or he may be crazy. That is appalling. It's nothing but the gutter politics of the right-wing. If you missed it, a number of those right-wingers have migrated over to the left in the last ten years. There's a reason they've been warmly embraced and it goes to an admiration of gutter politics. (To be clear, I am not speaking of David Brock. Brock wrote at length about his own awakening and Media Matters tries to stay focused on the issues.)
A lot of the smears may be coming out of fear. When you've rallied behind a candidate with no record to speak of and one who has electoral college challenges, you may be left with nothing but smear techniques. That's why the false charges at ABC for the April debate were so hilarious. It'll only become more hilarious as The Cult of Obama insists every question to Obama is unfair, is smearing him by association, et al while they do the exact thing to McCain.
Again, I'm not voting for McCain. This isn't a McCain site. But we won't be repeating the latest echo chamber lie about McCain just because all the howlers monkies supposedly on the left are doing it at their websites, in their magazines and on their radio programs. We do have standards here. When you give up your standards, you have nothing, even in so-called victory.
Elaine's "Norman Solomon cries oink-oink" went up last night. She missed one thing. I read the essay she's commenting on and agree with her comments; however, she missed a section. She said, "I read as much of his crap I could." Understandable. But along with the sexist oink-oink, Solomon's engaging in exactly the tactics we're talking about here. It's embarrassing and Norman knows better.
We hope to address it at Third tomorrow.
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Friday, June 06, 2008
Friday, June 6, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Barack isn't 'pledging' to do anything on Iraq, the VA computer systems lack all security, Nader qualifies for Arizona ballot, and more.
Starting with war resistance. Teviah Moro (The Orillia Packet & Times) reports that the Quakers in Orillia will demonstrate tomorrow in an attempt to register their support for war resisters in Canada. Ottawa, Nelson, B.C., Victoria, B.C., Port Dover, Sarnia and Strathory will also hold demonstrations. Moro notes: "Organizers of the Orillia rally, to be held outside the Opera House from 12:30 to 1:30 p. m., aim to explain the underlying issues of the pending deportations and will have petitions on hand."
Meanwhile, It was two years ago today, as Austin Jenkins (OPB News) notes, that Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq in June 2006. In August 2006, he faced and Article 32 hearing. In February, he faced a kanagroo court-martial. Judge Toilet (aka John Head) declared a mistrial over defense objection as Watada was about to take the stand (after which the defense would have rested and the military jury would have reached a decision). Judge Toilet forgot a lot that day. He announced that a new court-martial would take place in March but that was really beyond his call (and why no court-martial took place then). He also forgot about the US Constitution, popularly known as "the law of the land," and it's provision against double-jeopardy. In November of last year, as Judge Toilet repeatedly tried to force another court-martial, US District Judge Benjamin Settle ruled that no action could take place until the double-jeopardy was resolved. Watada has been in limbo since. William Cole (Honolulu Advertiser) speaks to Ehren's father, Bob Watada who has "suggested to his son's attorneys that they somehow force a conclusion to the issue" and whom Cole quotes stating, "The attorneys are talking to the Army. They aren't telling me what they are saying, but they are talking to them." Austin Jenkins (OPB News) quotes one of Watada's two civilian attorneys, Ken Kagan, declaring, "It's conceivable that the appeals process in the 9th Circuit could consume anywhere from 18 months to three years. So that is a limbo that is very hard for Lt. Watada to imagine but he's prepared to do what he needs to do."
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
Shhhh. Listen? It's the sound of hundreds of computers in Panhandle Media booting up over their sobs as they force determination to yet again sell their political crush as someone who will end the illegal war. Media anointed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is not 'anti-war' and is not seriously opposed to the illegal war. But if you didn't have Tommy Hayden, Laura Flanders and the gang lying for him non-stop, people wouldn't think otherwise, now would they? (Those two named because they have both -- in February -- talked about how Barack's feet need to be held to the fire and yet they've never done so. Someday I suppose, as the Mighty Bosstones once sang.)
The Press Trust of India reports that Barack told CNN he would "not tule out the possibility that conditions on the ground could alter his policy of immediately beginning a troop withdrawal and that Barack insisted of his 'pledge' to end the illegal war, "Well, you know, I'd never say there's 'nothing' or 'never' or 'no way' in which I'd change my mind."
Confronted with his statements on withdrawal policy, Obama replied, "Well, you know, I'd never say there's 'nothing' or 'never' or 'no way' in which I'd change my mind". He spoke of "broader perspective"s and offered praise for Gen David Petraeus. It's shocking only if you've trusted the liars of Panhandle Media. Barack has changed his position on the Iraq War repeatedly. While running for the US Senate, he told Elaine and I at a big money, private fundraiser that he didn't favor withdrawal. His attitude was that the US was in Iraq now and had to win. (Neither Elaine nor I contributed to his run. We both immediately walked out of the fundraiser.) At that point he was a myth of the radical left, an "anti-war" candidate. The press picked up on that and he became the "anti-war" Senator which required ignoring not only his public statements (his many public statements) but his continued voting for the illegal war once he got into the US Senate. Throughout the campaign, he has signaled (and sometimes stated) to the mainstream press that his stance is far from it's portrayed. "Hopelessly Devoted To Barack" Tom Hayden made a real ass out of himself doing a quickie write up of an NYT article co-written by Michael Gordon. The reality of what was what was in the transcript of the interview which the paper posted online. In February, after his advertsiments where he robotically declared that his mother died of cancer, the campaign went into overtime with an advertisement that played like the Pepsi Generation (truly, it was the late 60s and early seventies Pepsi generation commercials). To a bad 'rock' guitar, the commercial opened and featured quick shots of Barack barking out sentences while groupies swooned. "We want . . ." he barked over and over, a laundry list of demands. The Iraq War was on it. But Barack wasn't running to be "we," he was running to become the nominee of the Democratic Party and then the president. There were no "I will end the Iraq War." All he did was offer what "we" wanted. It got the psychos in Panhandle Media excited. Of course, were he serious about ending the illegal war, his campaign would have stolen not the Pepsi commercials of that period, but the Coke commericals: I'd like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony . . .
There was no "pledge" or "promise" made to end the illegal war, despite the groupies like Tom Hayden going bug-eyed crazy in their efforts to pretend otherwise (a fleeting sentence delivered in Houston, TX, as ginned up by Hayden into a new plan for Iraq). Then came the crash and burn of his advisor (a counter-insurgency supporter and War Hawk) Samantha Power. The pathetics in Panhandle Media made themselves laughable -- and include John Nichols, Davey D and BuzzFlash at the top of that list. Poor Samantha "fired" (Power resigned) for calling Hillary Clinton a "monster." Poor sweet Sammy. No, she resigned because of the damage she did with the press in England. The "monster" insult was the trivia the MSM pumped out. On that same trip, she insulted Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the UK and presumed ally of the next US administration regardless of who becomes president, and she gave an interview (that Panhandle Media refused to cover) to the BBC where she explained that Barack would be not be held accountable, if elected president, to any 'pledges' about Iraq he's making on the campaign trail. She explained, as an advisor to Barack and a campaign insider, that any plans about what to do in Iraq would be decided only after he entered the White House. Had that interview gotten the attention it should have, Barack would have faced tough questions. That didn't happen. It wasn't of interest to the corporate media (which still wants the illegal war) to give it much traction and the rejects of Panhandle Media are in love with Barack because of his 'connections' (his using of) Saul, Bernardine and Bill. They deluded themselves into believing he was a Socialist when he is just a user who will use anyone regardless of political ideology in his efforts to climb to the top.
The Queen of the Beggars, Amy Goodman, wanted credit for a few minutes (two?) she aired of her speaking with Barack. In it, he basically repeated what Samantha Power had said. Goody never pursued that in panel discussions (all panel discussions accepted the lie that he was against the illegal war and would immediately end it). Goody never connected it with the Samantha Power BBC interview (though Barack was making the same points Power had months prior) and she never wrote one of her bad columns, where she recycles some segment of her show, on the topic. It was lie, lie, lie, denial, denial. They worked overtime not to include Eli Lake (New York Sun) report in the narrative. Lake reported that the "day-to-day coordinator" of Barack's campaign had just written a paper which argued for 60,000 to 80,000 US troops to remain in Iraq "as of late 2010, a plan at odds with the public pledge of the Illinois senator to withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office."
Among the very few who have tried to maintain perspective and stick to reality about War Hawk Barack are Phyllis Bennis, John Pilger, Doug Henwood and Juan Gonzalez. It's a very small list. By contrast, most have offered 'reasons' of support for Barack like the insane Dave Lindorff who believes Barack should be supported because Barak is "a black candiate who has risked jail by doing drugs."
The violence continues every day in Iraq and Barack, not even having the nomination, already signals it's a-okay with him. In some of today's reported violence . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a home bombing in Sulaiman Beck, a Jalwla roadside bombing that wounded one person. Reuters notes a woman blew herself in at a Ramadi police station claiming the life of 1 police officer and injuring four more and, dropping back to Thursday, that 4 people were killed in Sadr City from a US air strike.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 suspects shot dead in Al Anbar Province, 1 police officer shot twice in Al Anbar Province and wounded and 1 civilian shot in Kirkuk. Reuters notes 3 police officers were shot dead in Dour.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person kidnapped in Kirkuk.
Yesterday CNN's Jamie McIntyre broke the latest Department of Defense news on CNN Newsroom:
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Asked to resign, which is code for firing, is the top civilian in charge of the Air Force, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and the top military general in charge of the Air Force, Air Force Chief of Staff General Mike Moseley. The two top leaders of the Air Force are being replaced because Secretary Gates has received a highly critical report of how the Air Force has reacted to an embarrassing incident last year which a B-52 bomber flew across country with six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles that nobody knew were live nuclear weapons until the plane landed in Barksdale , Louisiana .There were supposed to be big changes made from that. But a recent inspection of the base was less than satisfactory, and Secretary Gates just got a report on his desk from an independent investigator, a Navy admiral who has been in charge of reviewing what the Air Force has done to take care of this. It's not just this issue though. There have been a number of leadership issues in the Air Force including questions about a conflict of interest around a high-profile public relations contract that was left from the Air Force. And all of that together led Secretary Gates to decide that he was going to take decisive action.It's not unlike what he did when he heard about the shortcomings at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital . In that case, he fired the Army secretary and head of the hospital there, as well -- Brianna.
There have been a number of issues with the Veterans Administration Dept as well but no heads are rolling. At the start of the week, Mary Mosquera (FCW) reported, "Sensitive data on about 1,000 patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military hospitals might have been compromised, Walter Reed spokesman Chuck Dasey said. The names of the patients, who are enrolled in the Military Health System, their Social Security numbers and birth dates were among the personally identifiable information in a computer file that was shared without authorization, officials said June 2." AP broke this news about the May 2006 breach at Walter Reed. The key point of the reports is how the Office of Management and Budget issued orders, in 2006, for increased securit on the part of the VA. But they broke it with the government explaining this week about the 2006 computer breach. We (Ava and C.I.) revealed earlier this week that there's a VA breach that took place after the breach the government is now admitting to. This breach has nothing to do with Walter Reed. The basics are that an over-forty-years-old male (who name rhymes with "Los Lobos" and who is a veteran) used a civilian computer to access veterans records. The government is not only aware of the breach, they investigated it. They didn't do a very good job. The government does not know what the person viewed or changed. They know that, from the basement of a non-federal government building, he used a PC to enter the VA's computer database without permission or authorization. Present when he did this was a woman (also a civilian and one who has never served in the military) whom the government never questioned. What the government did do was call together the suspect's superiors at his place of employment -- a four story building whose fourth floor is not used for anything (the basement counted as a floor makes for five floors) -- on the second floor in what passed for an investigation. Those civlians 'assisting' in the investigation of the breach that happened at their place of business were known as "administration." (E.g., they spoke with "administration.") The investigation could not figure out whether the supsect was telling the truth about why he entered the VA system without permission and, certainly, to know about that they should have spoken with the woman present when the breach occurred. The suspect offered two versions of his story and that may be what confused the investigators (though it was very simple for us to track down the particulars). They do know, due to the suspect admitting to it, that the records of someone who served during Vietnam (and only during Vietnam) were accessed. (Hint to reporters, that leads to your human interest angle). The suspect briefly told government investigators a story regarding that Vietnam era veteran that the investigators did not buy; however, it was easily checked out had they bothered to speak to the Vietnam veteran (which they never did). There is fear that the suspect altered the Vietnam veteran's record (we are told by civilian sources that no alteration of that record took place). Why does the government think that? It goes to the human interest angle. In terms of hard news, the angle is the "how." The "how" of it goes to a huge flaw that was supposed to have been addressed and was never addressed. It goes to lack of oversight at the VA.
We're not here to spoonfeed news outlets, get off your lazy asses and don't expect two media critics to do all your work. (It's as if today's Woodward & Bernsteins expect you not only to spill the beans, but also type up their reports and then wipe their asses.) The federal goverment made a big deal this week about honesty and 'fessed up to problems in May of 2006. The 2007 breach is more serious not because of the suspect or what he may or may not have done but how he got into the system without authorization. The breach should never happened and were basic guidelines followed (guidelines that any civilian computer system would follow), it never would have happened. The big story is the "how" of the breach, not the "who." And it goes to the OMB's orders not being followed. The first three digits of the civilian location where the breach took place are "312." The street has "East" in it. And the street's name was also the name of a long running TV show but in singular not plural. We're done spoonfeeding the press except to advise NYT that Ralph should have had this story.
This is our third (here's the second) and last spoonfeeding. After the "how," the "who" still isn't the next big story. The big story then is how the federal government attempted to bury the breach. That wasn't just by still not telling the public about it. It also included a rush to wrap up the investigation before it was complete (the orders for the wrap up came from high up). That's why the woman who witnessed the breach was never interviewed. It was that woman's computer that was used to breach the VA system. There's no reason not to interview her. All this time later, she's still not been interviewed by the government. When the investigation was ongoing, a family emergy meant she was "unaccessible" (to her place of employment but nothing prevented the investigators from seeking her out away from her place of her work) and the rush to wrap up the investigation and keep the entire matter on the down low meant she was never interviewed. The big story is the "how" and goes to the lack of security. The next angle is the rush to keep the story as quiet as possible which includes rushing through an investigation. The suspect himself is really not a huge part of the hard news story. (And the suspect, for the record, is the only person we have not spoken to.) (There are feature articles to be found throughout.)
In other news, the UN Rights of the Child Committee is calling out the US government for (a) the imprisonment of juvelines in Iraq, Afghanstan and Guantamo and for (b) military recruitment of under-18-year-olds in the US.
Turning to US political news, Team Nader reports that US presidential candidate Ralph Nader needed nearly 22,000 signatures to get on the ballot in Arizona and that over 65,000 were collected. Ralph Nader and his running mate Matt Gonzalez should now be on the ballot in Arizona -- barring any dirty tricks on the part of the DNC. Despite Nader's strong polling when his name included in the polling, there is an effort on the part of the MSM and Panhandle Media to ignore his campaign. Today, Team Nader points to another example of how the independent candidate is shut out of the discussions and argues the case for Nader-Gonzalez as the only agents of change:
"How do you get people to vote against their own self interest? That's the trick.
One way is to make people believe in a dream. That's what all of the mainstream politicians are doing - feeding that dream. Obama is feeding a dream - a dream of change and renewal. He's feeding a dream that the conditions that surround us - Iraq, the economy, the racial divide, the class divide in this country - that they are magically going to go away by voting for this centrist Democrat. That is nonsense, of course. Obama is not proposing any structural changes. McCain is feeding us the dream, the fantasy of power and control. That somehow the military might of the U.S. will prevail across the globe. These are fantasies that are being fed by the politicians. They are not so much lies, as delusions. But we will have brought it on ourselves by supporting these politicians.
By ignoring any candidate or any ideas that might conflict with those dreams. The Obama moment is a feel good moment. It makes us feel good. But the programs Obama is proposing - up and down and all around - are the same centrist Democratic positions.
The same people are going to be running the show. All of the corporations are rapidly switching their contributions to the Democrats."
These are the words of the American novelist Russell Banks.
We heard Banks the other day interviewed by Chris Lydon on Radio Open Source. (Listen to the interview here.) What wasn't mentioned was Nader/Gonzalez. So, let us say it loud and clear. Nader/Gonzalez. Shift the power from the few to the many. Free our government of corporate domination. Restore the sovereignty of an engaged people. Don't fall for the trick. Help us put Nader/Gonzalez on the ballot. We're on our way to give the American people a choice in November. But we need your help. And we need it now.
You can give up to $4,600. But please, give whatever you can. Shift the power.
Feed the living, breathing people-powered alternative. Support Nader/Gonzalez.
Corey Glass, Ehren Watada
What's going on? Tuesday Canada's House of Commons passed a motion granting war resisters safe harbor. The motion is non-binding but it is hoped that the country's prime minister, Stephen Harper, will honor it. It is especially important with regards to US war resister Corey Glass. May 21st, US war resisters and Iraq War veteran Glass was informed that he had until June 12th to leave Canada or he would be deported. That is six days from now. Will the non-binding motion prevent the conservative Harper from ordering Glass' deportation? Rick Salutin (Toronto Globe & Mail) doesn't seem optimistic noting that from an AIDS conference (global conference) to any other issue, Harper loves to say no to the people: "Lately, it's been no to a safe-injection site in Vancouver; provincial climate plans; Ontario's budget; an inquiry into the Bernier case; letting U.S. war resisters stay. For a government, the Conservatives are uniquely, bizarrely litigious, the sign of a mentality that loves to fight."
With more on that, this is from Michael Werbowski's "Canadian MPs Vote to Save US 'Deserters'" (OhmyNews International):
The parliamentary move, which was first proposed in the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in December 2007, effectively gives those solders wishing to stay in Canada as "contentious objectors" the right to remain in Canada and thus avoid eventual prosecution or court martial in the US, were desertion is considered a capital crime punishable by death.
The three-party unified vote urges the government to "immediately implement a program to allow conscientious objectors and their immediate family members... to apply for permanent resident status and remain in Canada; ... the government should immediately cease any removal or deportation actions... against such individuals."
The vote comes just in time for US army recruit Corey Glass, 25, a war resister who came to Canada in 2006 and was recently told to leave Canada by June 12 or face removal to the United States, welcomed the vote. Upon hearing the news of the motion passed by the lower house, Glass expressed his appreciation for the parliamentarians, "I'm thankful that the MPs voted to let me and the other war resisters stay in Canada. I'm also thankful to all the Canadians who urged their MPs to support us."
[. . .]
If the Conservatives despite this vote proceeded with the deportations of "resisters" such a Private Corey it would likely publicly be seen as another example of the authoritarian style of government adopted by Stephen Harper and also perhaps be interpreted as a clear sign that the current prime minster continues to kowtow to Washington's wishes with total disregard for the will of parliament in the process.
Oh, no, bad news for the Harper government. Some not familiar with Canada's system, may think that or think it means some minor conflict with the press or something. Harper's government can be toppled at any moment. In December, Ava, Kat and I were in Canada about this motion and speaking with Liberal and NDP MPs. Back then, one of the things (and this is in a December snapshot*) that would delay the war resisters motion was the fact that members of both parties were exploring taking down the Harper government. Did they have the votes for it?
By February, it was decided they didn't. As important as the war resisters motion is, it's equally true that it, more than anything else so far, draws a line in the sand. All parties banded against the conservatives to vote for the motion Tuesday. If Harper elects to ignore the motion (a motion immensely popular with the Canadian people), he's ignoring the will of the people and making it all the easier for the Parliament to dissolve his government.
[*That was noted in a December snapshot, the possible recall of the Harper government. After the snapshot went up, I was told by several MPs that it wasn't supposed to be public. We never mentioned again. I wouldn't have put it in back in December if I had realized people were speaking off the cuff. I was taking notes -- pen to paper -- during the conversations. I was repeating the comments back to make sure I was understanding what was being said. No one objected at that time and several knew about The Common Ills -- the ones complaining after the fact, certainly knew. As a result of the complaints, we did not mention it here again. I believe Mike wrote about it on his blog in January. If it wasn't him, it was Kat who wrote of that day in reference to "four went over, three came back" -- meaning the Canadian border. The difference is that was months ago and it applies to what can happen now and an MP I spoke with on the phone this morning stated he was fine with it being mentioned now.]
Turning to war resistance in the US (and due to the delays in this morning's entries, don't be surprised if most of this later appears in the snapshot word for word), Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq in June 2006. In August 2006, he faced and Article 32 hearing. In February, he faced a kanagroo court-martial. Judge Toilet (aka John Head) declared a mistrial over defense objection as Watada was about to take the stand (after which the defense would have rested and the military jury would have reached a decision). Judge Toilet forgot a lot that day. He announced that a new court-martial would take place in March but that was really beyond his call (and why no court-martial took place then). He also forgot about the US Constitution, popularly known as "the law of the land," and it's provision against double-jeopardy. In November of last year, as Judge Toilet repeatedly tried to force another court-martial, US District Judge Benjamin Settle ruled that no action could take place until the double-jeopardy was resolved. Watada has been in limbo since.
Austin Jenkins (OPB News) notes that today is the second anniversary of Watada going public and that:
Today the legal wrangling continues. Watada’s attorney -- Ken Kagan -- expects the case will eventually make its way to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Ken Kagan: "It's conceivable that the appeals process in the 9th Circuit could consume anywhere from 18 months to three years. So that is a limbo that is very hard for Lt. Watada to imagine but he’s prepared to do what he needs to do."
Watada's service contract ended in December 2006. The limbo has included his continuing to report to duty each day at Fort Lewis. Contrary to some idiots' claim, Watada is not a "deserter." He never failed to report to base, he never went AWOL. He refused an order and did so because the Iraq War is an illegal one. As he has stated, his oath is to the Constitution. The implication being (I'm saying, not Watada), he swore to uphold the Constitution, he did not swear to violate it because some whack job was in the Oval Office and wanted to lie a country into war.
Last week, William Cole offered "Next legal steps for Ehren Watada remain a mystery" (Honolulu Advertiser):
His father, Bob Watada, says the Army doesn't seem to want to, and his son remains in legal limbo.
The 1996 Kalani High graduate is still at Fort Lewis, Wash., pushing papers after he refused to go on his Stryker brigade's deployment to Iraq in June 2006.
Ehren Watada, 30, denounced the war as illegal and unjust, and said if he went, it would make him a party to war crimes.
The Honolulu man, who said he would have served in Afghanistan, was the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the Iraq war.
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The federal government's got problems
A top aide to then-secretary of defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, however, shut down the 2003 investigation into the Pentagon officials' activities after only a month, and the Defense Department's top brass never followed up on the investigators' recommendation for a more thorough investigation, the Senate report said.
The revelation raises questions about whether Iran may have used a small cabal of officials in the Pentagon and in Vice President Dick Cheney's office to feed bogus intelligence on Iraq and Iran to senior policymakers in the Bush administration who were eager to oust the Iraqi dictator.
The above is from John Walcott's "Did Iranian agents dupe Pentagon officials?" (McClatchy Newspapers). It's not a 'fun' time to be in charge of the Pentagon. Consider what CNN's Jamie McIntyre broke on CNN Newsroom yesterday:
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: We've got breaking news to tell you about that's coming to us from the Pentagon, and specifically from the Department of the Air Force. We have just learned that the top Air Force leadership is out, fired.Let's head straight to the Pentagon and our senior correspondent there Jamie McIntyre. What's going on, Jamie?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, this is an example of Defense Secretary Robert Gates no-excuses management style. As you said, heads are rolling over the issue of the handling of nuclear weapons and other leadership issues in the Air Force.Asked to resign, which is code for firing, is the top civilian in charge of the Air Force, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and the top military general in charge of the Air Force, Air Force Chief of Staff General Mike Moseley. The two top leaders of the Air Force are being replaced because Secretary Gates has received a highly critical report of how the Air Force has reacted to an embarrassing incident last year which a B-52 bomber flew across country with six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles that nobody knew were live nuclear weapons until the plane landed in Barksdale , Louisiana .There were supposed to be big changes made from that. But a recent inspection of the base was less than satisfactory, and Secretary Gates just got a report on his desk from an independent investigator, a Navy admiral who has been in charge of reviewing what the Air Force has done to take care of this.It's not just this issue though. There have been a number of leadership issues in the Air Force including questions about a conflict of interest around a high-profile public relations contract that was left from the Air Force. And all of that together led Secretary Gates to decide that he was going to take decisive action.It's not unlike what he did when he heard about the shortcomings at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital . In that case, he fired the Army secretary and head of the hospital there, as well -- Brianna.
Staying with government scandals but dropping back to the joint-entry Ava and I did Wednesday where we noted the VA computer systems being breached. It'll be in the snapshot in some form today and Jim will either by himself or with others not including us, write about it at Third on Sunday. A 'news' producer accuses (in an e-mail to the public site, I'm not friends with Fox "News") Ava and I of 'teasing' it out and having nothing.
We had no plans to mention and didn't go looking for it. Mike was present when we were speaking to ___ and, as he noted last night, we were talking about the 2006 computer 'problems' which AP had just broken after the government had released the information on that. In the course of that conversation a comment was made and we (Ava and I) nodded and then, a few seconds later (because we knew the AP coverage of the 2006 incident), we realized this wasn't the 2006 story he was talking about. ____ clammed up and we worked the phones. As we stated on Wednesday, the VA computer system was breached in the second half of 2007. This is not "heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend who heard it from another you've been messing around" (REO Speedwagon) or, as the Fox "News" person accuses, us "pulling a Larry Johnson." We know the name of the suspect (and we believe "suspect" doesn't have to be used). We have not spoken to him. We have spoken to one person over the investigation. We know that what civilian computer was utilized for the breach, we know what building it was in and what floor it's on. We know that the investigation led to the building holding a second floor meeting/investigation and we know that from two civilians present during various parts of the questioning. We know who the government did and did not investigate. We know a civilian was present during the breach and the government never interviewed her -- yes, it is a her. We know the address of the building where the breach took place, we know the room number in the building where the breach took place. We know two versions the suspect gave during the investigation for the breach. We have spoken with people involved in the government and we have spoken with civilians at the site where the breach took place.
We included it in the joint-entry Wednesday because we were working the phones while writing that and were just appalled because either the investigation's findings were a white wash or, just working the phones, we were able to find out more than the government did. (That may be because the woman present during the breach never spoke to the government.) We have not spoken to the veteran who got into the VA system and he may be the only person on civilian or government sides that we haven't spoken to.
We were doing our joint-entry on Hillary and reading yet another round of guess work passed off as journalism, rolling our eyes and insulting that guess work while we wrote. We were talking (to each other) about how much time is being wasted with gas baggery and how it's being passed off as news and then decided that point needed to be made. That there is actual news out there and where are the news outlets?
Not covering it.
Not even aware of it.
We used the story to make a point.
It will be mentioned in the snapshot today (the first time it will make into a snapshot) and Jim will write or lead the writing of something for Third (that we won't participate in) this weekend. Our big concern was always with Jim who loves this sort of thing while we take the attitude of we-don't-break-news. We will not comment on what Jim writes. We will answer some specific questions for Jim. We know Mike will be more forthcoming about the conversation between ___ and ourselves that he observed. If the incident becomes news before this site goes dark, it's very likely Ava and I will provide commentary on what the MSM is missing as they report it. The government's official version is not reality. Again, we found out more than the official investigation (summarized for us on the phone by someone participating in the investigation) found. In the end the suspect is of far less interest than what happened and how. There are breaking news stories to be found in that story as well as human interest ones. On the latter, there's a human interest angle that the media will most likely miss because it's not in the official investigation and when we found out about that (from civilians) and called ____ (who was surprised we had run down as much as we could) we were told that those investigating did not believe the suspect about that portion of the story. That portion was actually true. It does seem outlandish but if the breach becomes news and it's left out of the MSM, that will be surprising because it's the easiest thing to prove (all it requires is for people to use their own eyes and is as basic as whether the sky is blue or red).
Our point in including it on Wednesday was that we were sick of the MSM typing up gas baggery and printing it on the front page. Cheap, easy, phoned in crap passed off as news and as news worthy of the front page. We offered one example of a story we knew about that was actual news and was not being reported. I'll add one more thing to that, the New York Times regularly files from the location (not NYC) of the city the breach originated in. (The city where the civilian computer was used to breach the VA's computer system.) A breach takes place, a government investigation ensues (in a city not know for a lot of big news happening -- my opinion and not trying to be insulting), how do reporters there not know about it?
So we'll mention it in the snapshot, Jim will write (or lead the writing of) something on it at Third and, except as media critics, Ava and I are done with it other than deciding whether or not to pass it on to friends in Congress. It is a story, it is news and it goes to how unsecure the VA computer system is.
Part of the reason for the delay in this morning's entries is Jim saw the Fox "News" e-mail and has badgered me to write something here. My attitude was to laugh (Fox "News" offering insults and I'm supposed to be offended?). So blame Jim for the delays in anything going up here. (Seriously, not joking.) I have no interest in originating 'breaking news.' You can consider the snapshot later to do as by Ava and myself since she'll be pulled in for this part of it. Whatever Jim writes will involve a great deal of speculation. We're not outing our sources and Mike only knows one of them. I doubt that source will provide Jim with information but he may be willing to listen to what Jim thinks he's gathered and say "yes" or "no." Whether Jim nails it or is off the wall, I won't be commenting on what Jim writes Sunday. Ava and I spoke with primary sources in the government and out. We spoke with people involved the investigation and over the investigation, we spoke with people at the building where the breach took place. We spoke with civilians present during parts of the investigation. We spoke with people that the government never spoke with even though those people could offer key pieces to the puzzle.
I told Jim the big issue he needs to focus on is not the who but the how because that is the most damning part of the story. Whether he does that or not (he's gone through our cells trying to figure out which numbers on outgoing calls are people who provided us with information), is up to him. But it's the same thing I'd toss to Fox "News" or anyone at an actual news outlet. Don't get bogged down in the person/suspect (who did, by Ava and my research, breach the VA system), focus on how. That takes the story far beyond one person and one breach. (And the 'official version' uses conjecture when it comes to the suspect -- we were able to find out exactly why the person breached the system and have no need to use conjecture because we spoke to the woman present during the breach. Someone, again, that the government never saw fit to interview. We are taking her word for why the breach occurred and we're going by the gut on that, yes. But we're also going by other aspects of the story and the fact that we find her completely believable.) The "who" is part of the story but the big story is the "how." The "who" really doesn't matter in the big picture but the "how" goes to the weaknesses in the VA system and "how" it will continue to happen. We think higher ups at the VA should be paraded before Congress to explain how the "how" happened.
Now when Ava and I write whatever it is will be writing shortly, Jim will probably hit the roof, I've already written more here than we've given Jim verbally. Chances are that will be the case in the snapshot as well. That's not my problem, I didn't want to cover this. As a result, Jim may end up with nothing but a summary but that his fault because he insisted that this be covered here.
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Thursday, June 05, 2008
I Hate The War
Let's head straight to the Pentagon and our senior correspondent there Jamie McIntyre. What's going on, Jamie?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, this is an example of Defense Secretary Robert Gates no-excuses management style. As you said, heads are rolling over the issue of the handling of nuclear weapons and other leadership issues in the Air Force.
Asked to resign, which is code for firing, is the top civilian in charge of the Air Force, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and the top military general in charge of the Air Force, Air Force Chief of Staff General Mike Moseley. The two top leaders of the Air Force are being replaced because Secretary Gates has received a highly critical report of how the Air Force has reacted to an embarrassing incident last year which a B-52 bomber flew across country with six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles that nobody knew were live nuclear weapons until the plane landed in Barksdale , Louisiana .
There were supposed to be big changes made from that. But a recent inspection of the base was less than satisfactory, and Secretary Gates just got a report on his desk from an independent investigator, a Navy admiral who has been in charge of reviewing what the Air Force has done to take care of this.
It's not just this issue though. There have been a number of leadership issues in the Air Force including questions about a conflict of interest around a high-profile public relations contract that was left from the Air Force. And all of that together led Secretary Gates to decide that he was going to take decisive action.
It's not unlike what he did when he heard about the shortcomings at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital . In that case, he fired the Army secretary and head of the hospital there, as well -- Brianna.
CNN's Jamie McIntyre broke the above story on CNN Newsroom today. It should have made the snapshot today but it will make the snapshot tomorrow.
Why didn't it make it today? This is a talking post, if you haven't already figured that out.
If you look at the snapshot, you'll see some white background. That wasn't added by the person I dictated the snapshot to. It's some new Yahoo feature.
We'll come back to it. I was dictating 'live' -- meaning not to tape. Some friends tape my dictation and then type it up. This was live. When I'm doing it live, it's saved repeatedly because otherwise the whole thing can end up lost. The first indication of a problem came when my friend couldn't save. It turned out it was saved but Yahoo's features had changed. It offers an auto save now (option? if it's an option, how do you turn it off?). In the past, when doing that live, the person would end up with 12 or more drafts. Now each time you save, it's the same draft. So he was saving but seeing only the one in the draft and thinking the more recent was lost.
On my end, the big concern was when he told me we had reached 56K. 52K is risking that the snapshot will not hit the site when it's mailed. Ideally, we stop at 49K. Otherwise, I have to make time to copy and paste in because the e-mail never hits. (I copied and pasted Tuesday when it wouldn't hit. Which is why you had it here, and then when two e-mail versions finally hit, here and here.) So when my friend stopped to save and said we were at 56K and there were still things to be noted, that abosultely had to be noted, it was figure out what to pull. I didn't think it felt like 56K at that point but I'm not typing it, I'm just dictating.
It wasn't. It's shorter than a 49K for example. Click here and look at the bottom of the snapshot after the links. The archives are still running down the side. April 10th was 52K. It was 56K when the dictation was finished and then 4K was cut out to make sure it would hit the site when e-mailed. You'll notice the archives running down the left side end long before the snapshot does.
So why was it taking up so much K? This blank page (white page) feature that's showing up behind today's snapshot. That's apparently taking up K. Will it still hit if we take that into account and go over 56K? I don't know. But that's why there was no room for the CNN story or Leila Fadel's report today or two other things.
"The type is so much smaller" is a big complaint in the e-mails. I agree with you. But that's the new Yahoo. That's not anything that was done by my friend when he typed it up. I have no idea what to do other than try utilizing another e-mail. We did Yahoo because it's easy to add links. Most of the time, I go in and put the links in. Then a friend logs into the account and I dictate around the links. But usually there's at least one thing breaking since I did the links and if a link has to be added, it can be added easiest in Yahoo.
So that should answer the questions in the e-mails today regarding the snapshot. As for tomorrow (and the immediate future), I don't know what to do. We may switch to another e-mail system for dictating. We may try using Yahoo and copying it into another e-mail system. Most likely, the same process will be used tomorrow just because I won't have time to play around and see what can or cannot be done.
Moving on to the ungrateful. Tuesday's snapshot went up three times and older members (I'm not calling them ungrateful) e-mailed to point that out and how I generally delete it when that happens so there's only one. We display 5 entries on the main site, for anything else you have to go into the archives. (Otherwise, the main page takes too long to load for those with older computers and/or dial up. We dropped down to 5 entries per page in 2005 for that reason.) Tuesday's snapshot stayed with three postings for three reasons. 1) I didn't know until Wednesday morning that had happened. 2) When I did know it didn't bother me because the snapshot covered Tuesday's historic vote in Canada's House of Commons. 3) It knocked something else off the main page after Wednesday's two morning entries went up.
The third is the ungrateful. I was e-mailed and asked to highlight something from a stranger. It's not a friend. And I did highlight it. In full, no edits even though someone needs to explain to ___ how you write a press release. (Press releases are supposed to be short.) In that press release (job application form, if you're searching your brain for what highlight I'm referring to), there were links to other things including the person's presidentail race page.
Two members posted comments on that page: Martha and Deidre. Martha pointed out that all candidates (except a Crowley in one of the Carolinas whose name wasn't on many if any Democratic primary ballots across the country) had links with one exception: Hillary Clinton.
The reply comment was "I'm busy! I'm an activist! It's not my problem!" No, it is your problem. When you've created a page -- and done so some time ago -- it is your problem. When you're promoting it as a resource and you're providing people with the ability to click on all known and semi-known candidates and you're not providing them with that option for Hillary, it is your problem.
When you're known as a Hillary Hater, it is your problem. That page has been up for months (I've never visited it but we've promoted it here before and I believe at Third as well). There was more than enough time to fix it so you could click on Hillary the same way you could John McCain, Cynthia McKinney, John Edwards, et al. You chose not to fix it (and had been alerted by a member over a month ago to the need to make it clickable). Martha called you out on it publicly and you tried to play like you never noticed.
You noticed and, in fact, you intended from the start not to provide a link because you don't like Hillary, because you voted for her as your senator (why, I have no idea, she's not a Green and you are) and you're just so pissed at her and so mad at her and blah, blah, blah. It doesn't matter. You promoted that as a resource for all presidential candidates. And yet for Hillary, you short changed her. Martha was right to call you out on it.
So she took a nasty attitude with Martha (who laughed about it when I checked to make sure Martha was okay with the nonsense). Then other members saw her nasty attitude with Martha and the thing got copied and pasted and e-mailed around. That's when I started hearing about it. That may be when the decision was made not to allow it (Wednesday morning) to display on the main page after the two morning entries were up (those two plus the snapshot posted three times were the five). But everyone was ticked off and Deidra went and posted. Like many Greens in the community, she's about had it with Green Party 'leaders' (and the woman we're referring to is married into that party structure though she may claim to be 'just a Green'). Deidre wrote something about the attacks on women (and may have tied that into the woman's rush from Cynthia McKinney -- whom she'd led a draft Cynthia campaign for in the fall of last year -- as it looked like Ralph Nader might run on the Green Party ticket). She noted that this was a pattern and typed something like "If I'm wrong, please provide me with the link where you call out the sexism in this campaign season." Instead of providing a link (there are none, that woman has engaged in hateful, sexist commentary throughout the campaign season), the woman took an attitude with Deidra.
There's no reason a Green has to praise Hillary. That's a given, it's two different political parties. But the Greens didn't play, "Bad Democrats." They praised Barack (as that woman did over and over, gushing in the worst Ruth Conniff fashion -- think about her love for Joe Klein) and attacked Hillary. Over and over. Which led to Jess calling a phone conference with several community members who were Greens and led to his e-mailing all the rest. Jess is a Green and he found that outrageous. He found the psudeo Green I-Need-Attention Benjamin's actions appalling. Greens were trying to influence a Democratic primary by lying (and it is lying or ignorance, take your pick) about Barack and demonizing Hillary. That doesn't play.
Because the party structure has refused to call out sexism in this campaign season or to curb their members' behaviors, we may soon pull the link to the national party. We will not promote their national candidate whomever it is. Greens in this community will be voting for Ralph Nader. Like Nader, they've seen a really ugly side of the national party and they're not taking part in that.
Early on, while really working her Hillary hatred, the woman (White) felt the need to e-mail Ty. Now Ty's the only one other than me who really replies to her. Ava did twice and lived to regret it. But Ty and I have replied to her frequently. Ty was outraged by what she wanted highlighted and I explained that in an e-mail to her because Ty was too upset to write her. He found what she wanted highlighted to be condescending and racist. She wanted to disagree with Ty about what African-Americans suffer in this society. The White woman wanted to disagree with African-American Ty about what it was like to be Black.
And she didn't understand his outrage and offense?
She wanted to play what Cedric's dubbed White Momma (after the Bette Davis TV film). And it grates on the nerves of every African-American in the community when they see that nonsense.
I love Betty's father and listen to his complaints which are always valid. Had White Momma sent her crap to this site (that offended Ty), it wouldn't have been highlighted. Betty's father was the first to be outraged by the way the MSM was portraying Jeremiah Wright as 'normal' and as 'typical' of Black churches. He's a deacon in his church and he found it offensive that, across the country, people who had never been inside a Black church were being told it was normal to repeat crackpot theories (the US government created the AIDS virus to wipe out African-Americans) and to thrust your hips and imitate the sexual act. Betty found it offensive (as did he, but she pointed it out first) that a preacher/pastor would curse from the puplit with a variety of words (stronger than damn) and that would be presented as normal. She has three children and, as she's noted, if any pastor tried that stunt while she was in church, she and her children would immediately exit. Her children are not (will not, two are very young) allowed to curse like that and she would not belong to a church where they were exposed to that and taught it was church behavior.
So along comes White Momma with her justifications and excuses and praise for what Wright did in church. White Momma who is not religious herself.
Betty's father takes this very seriously because he's lived long enough to know that when White people get 'creative' with the facts, it will blow up at some point and, when it does, it won't be White people who get blamed. It will be, "Oh, that's another Tawana Brawley! Oh, you can't trust 'them'." A lot of 'helpful' White people do a lot of damage and it's the African-American community that gets stuck with the blame after it's all over. He can provide one example after another of that. It is not 'helpful.'
So that's White Momma I. Let's move on to White Momma II. Marcia writes about her, Sharon Smith, tonight.
Sharon Smith first became an irritant to this community when she chose to attack Naomi Klein in a 2005 article. Then my position was we have tremendous respect for Naomi but people can disagree. My take on the latest stunt is very different. It's exactly what Betty's father warns about. (And Three Cool Old Guys take on Sharon Smith in tomorrow's gina & krista round-robin. I haven't read the column but Gina passed that on, so check your inboxes tomorrow morning.)
Sharon Smith, who is perfectly happy to call out Naomi Klein, showed up today to shovel some Hillary Hatred. It was time to sing Barack's praises. Sharon Smith is a Socialist. I have no idea where she sees Socialism in Barack or in his campaign. But in some knee-jerk manner, he must be elevated and Hillary must be ripped into shreds. (I'd love to see Bob Somerby take on Smith's nonsense but he generally ignores Panhandle Media.)
White Momma II wants to break down what's what, toss out the 411. It's a pity she wasn't as concerned with facts.
At one point she's smearing Hillary by saying Hillary provided the photos of Barack in the native garb of a country he visited. Proof, Sharon? She has none. She wrongly says that Insight magazine said Hillary did it. Matt Drudge said Hillary did it. Socialists are now taking the word of bottom feeder Drudge?
She praises the crazy Bob Herbert who's disgraced himself so much this campaign season that his work is a lot like the alarmist (although then he was calling innocent African-Americans crooks) junk that he produced at the New York Daily News. Herbert is a columnist for the New York Times today. I thought Socialists called out the New York Times? I guess they use them when it's helpful to them. I'm reminded of the exchange about a prostitute in The Two Jakes.
Sharon Smith tells you that Hillary supporters from Michigan and Florida were protesting in DC last weekend. The people bussed in were Florida and Michigan voters. Some were Hillary supporters, some were not. The AP had to correct their own false claim earlier this week but, hey, no one asks Smith to be factual. If truth mattered, her little rant never would have been posted.
That same weekend, she tells you, Hillary's brother said he wasn't sure he could vote for Barack if he was the nominee. Another example, in Sharon Smith's demented mind, of racism or a racist plot. In February, on national TV, Michelle Obama was asked if she would vote for Hillary if Hillary were the nominee. Sharon Smith apparently missed that and Michelle Obama's response. Missed it or, more likely, chooses to pretend she missed it.
With one column, Sharon Smith has made herself total and complete trash. You do that by putting your name to something that you either know is repeatedly false (not once, not twice, but over and over) or by being so stupid that you repeat lies without even knowing. In a functioning Real Media, Sharon Smith would now be locked out. She would have no comeback (we don't have a functioning Real Media -- but that is what the standard's supposed to be).
That may be hard for Panhandle Media to grasp. For those who've forgotten, they worked overtime to defend Jayson Blair who was fired from the New York Times for lying, for making up stories and details the paper ran, for telling the paper he was reporting from Jessica Lynch's hometown when, in fact, he was still in NYC.
That Panhandle Media defended. And they're so all knowing that they wanted to insist that his lies didn't hurt anyone (his lies hurt journalism) but Judith Miller's lies got people killed.
Did Judith Miller lie? Her reports don't hold up, no question. But where is the proof that she lied? In Iraq, she 'commandeered' US soldiers to search for WMD. The public record indicates she believed what she was told. Her mistakes were in being so gullible, so quick to report just one side and so eager to shut out dissent. It got her fired in the end because her name was mud. Call her a bad reporter and I won't question you. Call her a liar and you better have some proof when, at the same time, you're defending an admitted liar.
That's what Jayson Blair is. He made up reports. He plagiarized the work of other reporters (also a no-no). He lied to his employers and falsified where he filed from. Just one of those things is enough to get you kicked to the curb (and should be). Instead you got LOSERS like Amy Goodman saying poor Jayson Blair.
Obviously, Goodman knows nothing about journalism. If she did, she'd know that everything Blair did was a breach of the public trust and he got caught so he got fired.
Judith Miller? Too close to her sources, too close the government, too little interested in dissenting voices. She set herself up for her own fall. All of that goes against what journalism is supposed to stand for. Some speculate she got addicted to the trip of being the first with the story. I have no idea. But there's nothing in the public record that indicates she intentionally lied about WMD. Her actions in Iraq indicate she believed every half-baked claim she repeated as fact in her 'reporting.'
But Judith Miller wasn't the only one to do that. She became the scapegoat for all the press failures and let's not kid that it wasn't because she was a woman. List the ones practicing bad 'reporting' in the lead up to the illegal war and it's predominately a list of males (because, in part, women under-represented in today's press corps). Some critics of the press coverage list two papers and only one of them is the New York Times. Judith Miller didn't work at the other one. Why have none of the male reporters for that major daily become as infamous as Miller did? Miller's gone and still their work is not explored.
Miller's gone and her writing buddy Michael Gordon remains at the New York Times. Gordo was never called out like Miller. Gordo could have, in fact, slinked away unscathed like most males who practiced the same sort of 'reporting' that Miller did. But Gordo wanted war with Iran and he utilized the same 'reporting' to get that. Only after that went on forever did some begin to call him out. All this time later (and he's been selling war on Iran for approximately two years ago as well as filing War Porn from Iraq), he's still not as well known as Miller -- who left the paper approximately two years ago. Why is that?
Want to pretend it's not about Bash the Bitch? Michael Gordon wrote a really bad article this year. We didn't link to it. We called it out. But Amy Goodman included it as 'news' and did so in her headlines. She didn't credit Gordo -- had she, her audience might have hissed -- instead she said "The New York Times reports . . ."
I'm confused. Is Gordo to be trusted now?
I have a hard time believing that, were Miller still at the paper, Goodman would be using Judith's questionable scoops as headline material. But Gordo gets a pass.
We have always said, "If Judith Miller got the US into Iraq, a lot of people kept us over there." "If" because Judith Miller reported for a newspaper. If you saw her on your TV and no one questioned her, that goes to the programs that booked her. (That includes Oprah's failing daytime show.) But there were no WMDs. And that should have been obvious to most Americans shortly after the illegal war started and certainly after the fall of Baghdad. The illegal war has dragged on for five years and counting. So when do the ones who filed their feel-good, rah-rah-rah stories get called out? That's what's kept the US in Iraq. But those men (they are largely men) don't get called out. John Burns and Dexter Filkins, to name but two, are not household names the way Judith Miller is. And those two are more responsible for the garbage after the illegal war starts than any others. Throughout his years reporting in Iraq, Dexy would come back stateside and as much as a year prior to completing his time reporting from Iraq, Dexy would tell audiences he was booked to speak to that the war was lost. But he never filed those stories for the paper, did he? Was it the paper refusing to let him report the truth? If that's the case, you'd think he be disciplined by the paper for those many public speeches. That never happened. What appears to have happened is Dexy grasped how unpopular the illegal war was and tailored his speaking remarks to fit his audiences.
But that didn't prevent the 'left' from praising him. CounterSpin, via the Washington Post, has confirmation that when the US military wanted to plant a story in the press, they always knew they could count on Dexy. They never explored that. It was more important to 'explore' what crackpot Bill O'Lielly said.
So let's all stop pretending that the mighty and all powerful Judith Miller is responsible for everything. And let's try to grasp that what Jayson Blair did -- intentionally lying to the public -- is not something that can be justified no matter how hard Amy Goodman tries to. Journalists are not supposed to betray the public trust. They do, but they aren't supposed to. When they're caught doing that, they get fired. That's how the system is supposed to work. Allowing known liars to continue to work in the Real Media destroys the public trust in the profession. Jayson Blair was fired for good reasons.
Judith Miller 'reported' badly. There's no indication that she intentionally lied, just that she was happy to play stenographer and never met an extreme claim that she wouldn't peddle as fact because she fell for it. And she fell with prodding. That goes to the paper itself. Judith Miller did not decide what ran on the front page. She did not decide assignments. The paper went along with and promoted her 'reports.' With Abu Ghraib we hear (rightly) that those at the top aren't being punished. The problems with Miller's 'reporting' go above her. Reporters, even good ones, can get too caught up in a story. That's what editors and publishers are for. They are supposed to question. They are supposed to use judgement. Where were they? Waiving through Miller's 'reporting.'
None of the above is a defense of Miller. It is noting she was one of many reporters at many outlets doing her part to sell an illegal war. Who else was fired? It is noting that at the New York Times, she was not the last say. She was a reporter. A star reporter, no question. But that's not supposed to prevent editors and publishers from questioning and using their own judgement.
The same lack of judgement the New York Times continues to demonstrate by keeping Michael Gordon on the payroll and front paging his 'reports.'
We all know that the same paper can sit on stories. Bully Boy's wire was sat on, the illegal warrantless spying was sat on. They have no problem telling some reporters 'no.' They could have done the same with Miller. They didn't.
No one's telling Sharon Smith "no" either. She wrote an article that wouldn't get printed in the MSM even though it is a greatest hits of many the MSM smears against Hillary. It wouldn't pass the fact check of even a lazy editor. But because it attacks someone that the outlets hate, it gets waived through. It's the same as Stephen Zunes and Jar-Jar Blinks writing that Hillary only visited Iraq once (Feb. 2005!) when, in fact, Hillary visited Iraq in 2003 in a well publicized and documented trip. When the objective is to spew hate at a target the outlets hate, there's no need to be concerned about facts.
Sharon Smith likes to say she's a feminist. But Sharon Smith has written no article decrying the sexism in this campaign cycle. Sharon Smith like to pretend she's a feminist but happily repeats lies about another woman. Sharon Smith likes to say she's a feminist but there's no indication in any of her recent writing that she is one.
The reality is that Sharon Smith is a feminist. But no one could tell it by reading her recent output. When I started saying that Panhandle Media was toxic and viral that's exactly what I meant. I wasn't saying, "It's garbage!" It is that. And I've called it that. But when I say toxic or say that it has poisoned the well, I'm talking about this sort of thing.
When people can abandon willingly all the standards they supposedly value because it's more important to trash Hillary than to be journalists or feminists, they've been infected with the toxic nature of Panhandle Media. It's past time for some mea culpas on their part because this campaign season will be studied for years to come and it will not be favorable to Panhandle Media. Women are always the targets. Sharon Smith was happy to make Hillary her target but, guess what, it cuts both ways. The ones who will be called out for their toxic natures the loudest will most likely be women. A David Corn (who has gone completely batty) will be let off with a pass while people will point to women. Sharon Smith decided to go into whack-job mode and it is her and women like her that future analysis of this campaign cycle will target.
If Sharon Smith doubts that, she can ask Judith Miller. Or she can look at the scorn and abuse heaped on Katie Couric. That started from the first announcement, months prior to Couric's first broadcast. In April, Panhandle Media finally noticed Charlie Gibson. That would be "I moved from Good Morning America to World News Tonight." Ava and I called Gibson out repeatedly. We pointed out that to install him, you had to get rid of not one but two anchors -- one injured in Iraq, the other pregnant. But while Couric was Today! and made so many so nervous, no concern was expressed over Charlie moving from a daytime entertainment program (that he went to by choice) and taking over the nightly news. Katie Couric does the same thing and gets piled on and we're supposed to pretend that Panhandle Media has any standards?
Women are always singled out for attack. There's a non-actress who's been doing TV. Ava and I caught it at the urging of friends with the show who want us to re-evaluate the show. We passed because that woman has been the source of enough scorn. She can't act. We passed on explaining that and how bad she was on the program.
When a woman's the object of a pile on (and it's usually woman that are), the feminist thing is to find something else to cover. If you can't do that, it should either be because this is your 'beat' or because the woman has broken laws. (Laws, not mores.)
There's another woman who is an actress. I like her, she's a sweet young woman trying to find her way and making a lot of mistakes. And don't we hear about it over and over? But how many times is the former lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots going to get busted for drugs before we get the hand wringing that we do over any number of young women? A man does it, or does it and bites a police officer (to mention another), and it's no big deal. A woman does and it's non-stop, international 'news.' Let's stop pretending the real 'crime' wasn't gender.
This week, Today put Danny Bonaduce on as an 'expert' to talk about Tatum O'Neal whom he has never met. But he was there weighing in. And you had to wonder, how long is this 'rehab' going to last for Danny? (Disclosure, I've known Tatum for many years.) Tatum's the object of ridicule and scorn but how many chances has Danny had and how many times was he given a pass? Men in the same or worse circumstances are "Bad Boys" -- regardless of age. Women are, by contrast, public disgraces and called out repeatedly.
Now you can take either approach but if you have any standards, you'd apply your 'judgment' to men and women equally. To return to Scott, formerly of STP (whom I loathe), think about all the women or just think about Courtney Love. What do we hear with Courtney? She's a mother! Well, guess what, Scott's a father. But the tut-tut police don't make a point to grand stand on that 'issue' when it comes to Scott, do they?
A woman who wrote for Rolling Stone (wrote some fine and outstanding pieces) died this decade. The New York Times ran an insulting and moralizing obit. Her behavior was not of Gonzo proportions. But she was called out. We apparently love our "Bad Boys" but our "Bad Girls" can go straight to hell and, if we fear they may not, we're more than eager to help them along the way.
You saw the same thing in the drug deaths of the early seventies. The men were "artists." Janis? She was "pathetic." She was a "transgressor." The men were following the muse, drawn to the muse, living wild and exciting lives. But it was 'poor Janis.' The sexism is nothing new. That it continues at this late date is just sad. And Sharon Smith rushing to take part in a public stoning of Hillary Clinton and doing so with what can't even be called 'half-truths' is really pathetic. Repeating, when a pile-on takes place, real feminists need to ask what they think they're adding or contributing by joining in. If they take a second to stop and look around, they'll notice the loudest yellers are men. They'll notice that the men are screaming vile and sexist things. That alone should make them recoil. But Panhandle Media is toxic and, a few years from now, a number of women will have to claim they are in 'recovery' to justify their actions this year.
In March of last year, Kat reviewed Show Up. That's Holly Near's latest CD. It's an amazing CD and my favorite track is the second one, where Holly sings "The war against women rages on, Beware of the fairytale" ("Somebody's Jail"). That is a war too and one of the oldest but no one's supposed to notice. Certainly most women (and men) in Panhandle Media elected to ignore it. Because, hey, it's just women and how important are we?
The treatment of women says a great deal about a society. And one that regularly attacks women is one that readily (and eagerly) goes to war outside its own borders.
It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)
Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4083. Tonight? 4092. Just Foreign Policy lists 1,221,154 up from 1,217,892 as the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the Iraq War.
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i hate the war
thomas friedman is a great man