Friday, June 16, 2023

Iraq snapshot

Friday, June 16, 2023.  Julian Assange is closer than ever to be brought to the US where he'd face a kangaroo court and be imprisoned for life, is self-censorship something we need to protest -- has it really come to that, we've checked off everything else, Cornel West is out of touch, Chris Hedges lies as a journalist and will probably get away with it as everyone looks the other way, all that and Barbra Streisand.

A lot to try to cover.  Let's start with the ongoing persecution of Julian Assange.

As Brian Becker notes above, Julian's appeal to stop extradition to the US has again been denied and he's looking at, if tried in the US,  a lifetime sentence in prison (a sentence of up to 175 years).

Julian is being persecuted for the 'crime' of journalism.  Julian Assange remains imprisoned and remains persecuted by US President Joe Biden who, as vice president, once called him "a high tech terrorist."  Julian's 'crime' was revealing the realities of Iraq -- Chelsea Manning was a whistle-blower who leaked the information to Julian.  WIKILEAKS then published the Iraq War Logs.  And many outlets used the publication to publish reports of their own.  For example, THE GUARDIAN published many articles based on The Iraq War Logs.  Jonathan Steele, David Leigh and Nick Davies offered, on October 22, 2012:

A grim picture of the US and Britain's legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.
Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.
The new logs detail how:
US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.

A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent deat

The Biden administration has been saying all the right things lately about respecting a free and vigorous press, after four years of relentless media-bashing and legal assaults under Donald Trump.

The attorney general, Merrick Garland, has even put in place expanded protections for journalists this fall, saying that “a free and independent press is vital to the functioning of our democracy”.

But the biggest test of Biden’s commitment remains imprisoned in a jail cell in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been held since 2019 while facing prosecution in the United States under the Espionage Act, a century-old statute that has never been used before for publishing classified information.

Whether the US justice department continues to pursue the Trump-era charges against the notorious leaker, whose group put out secret information on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, American diplomacy and internal Democratic politics before the 2016 election, will go a long way toward determining whether the current administration intends to make good on its pledges to protect the press.

Now Biden is facing a re-energized push, both inside the United States and overseas, to drop Assange’s protracted prosecution.

The 2022 Booker Prize-winning author Shehan Karunatilaka recently remarked: “Julian Assange, divisive figure that he may be—he is a hero to many writers in South Asia because freedom of speech is not something we take for granted… Journalism has been criminalised in our parts of the world and so we are looking to the west to see how this case is prosecuted and how it ends up.” 

There is little doubt that Karunatilaka’s description is representative of the prism through which most of the world views the case against my husband. And that concern does not just exist outside the west.
At Unesco’s World Press Freedom Day event this year, held at the UN in New York, the secretary general of Amnesty International, Agnès Callamard, said: “It is not just what is happening in Iran or in Russia that should worry us, it is also what is happening here. Who is imprisoning Julian Assange? Sadly, the playbook of autocracy, the playbook of control over conscience, or control over speech, has been well learned by our so-called democratic leaders.” The president of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Jodie Ginsberg, noted that the US case against Julian “if brought to fruition could effectively criminalise journalism anywhere, for journalists everywhere”.

Russia’s trumped-up “espionage” charges against Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich for his newsgathering activities mirror those brought against Julian for his newsgathering and publishing. The last US reporter to be prosecuted by Russia for “espionage” was Nicholas Daniloff in 1986. The playbook did not originate in America, but America has sunk to Soviet standards and revived it. It won’t stop there. That is why the Assange case is the greatest threat to press freedom worldwide.

Julian’s US accusers use “espionage” as shorthand for “journalism”. They do not allege that Julian was acting on behalf of—or colluding with—any foreign power. The WikiLeaks publications expose the killing of tens of thousands of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan; document evidence of torture and assassination squads; and reveal at least one potential war crime involving the slaughter of Reuters employees in Baghdad. The facts of the case are well-known and uncontested: the source, Chelsea Manning, was a US army whistleblower who acted on her conscience. She was sentenced to 35 years. The sentence was commuted by Barack Obama on his last day in office. 

Julian acted for the public’s benefit, and he is accused—of conspiracy to publish, and of receiving, obtaining, possessing and communicating “national defence” information—under a statute from 1917. The classification system was only invented 35 years after that law was written. There is no US “Official Secrets Act”. “National defence” information is whatever the US government says it is. 

Journalist and professor at Open University of Catalonia Patricia Simon tells Virginia Fernández and Dale Zaccaria (PRESSENZA):

I don’t know if he will be released, but it would be vitally important to free him. Firstly, because Assange’s freedom means the defence of democratic values and the right to information and freedom of the press, secondly because it is a recognition that we owe him, because thanks to him, everything we sensed about the illegal invasion of Iraq and the intervention in Afghanistan, we know to a large extent what the United States and its allies, including Spain, did. And thirdly, it is the least we can do, bearing in mind that for us defending human rights does not mean any risk. To defend Assange is to defend the rest of the journalists who daily face persecution, imprisonment and murder in most countries of the world.

ALJAZEERA offers an illustrated history showing the links between The Pentagon Papers and Julian Assange with a story by Danylo Hawaleshka, art direction by Mohamed Dris and artwork by Midjourney AI.

And let's use that to knock out one of the topics coming up in e-mails in the last 48 hours.  Matt Taibbi is in a tizzy.  Censorship!  Censorship!  

And why am I not weighing in?  Wasn't really following.  Not a fan of trash novels.  To me a trash novel is a fake ass novel.  Jackie Collins was a friend but even if she hadn't been, I wouldn't have accused her of writing a trash novel -- she created her own worlds in print, fully committed to them.  These poser writers like Elizabeth Gilbert?  Their work never interests me.  So I don't know why I'm being asked about it to begin with.  Wasn't following it.  So she's written another presumably bad book and it was supposed to be published and she was promoting it on her Twitter account where she now has a pinned Tweet explaining that it's not coming out.


Cried Matt Taibbi.  I don't know maybe he's jonesing for another EAT PRAY LOVE fix -- someone must be, right?  Well this novel was going to be set in Russia but because of Ukraine the small town US gal doesn't feel it's appropriate to publish right now.

Most of us could just take the win from knowing that the world was safe from at least one bad book for the moment but Matt wants to scream censorship.

As it's been explained by the author, she made the decision.  In which case, it's self-censorship.

So presumably . . . we're all supposed to meet Matt this afternoon outside Gilbert's home where we will march and carry signs declaring "FREE ELIZABETH GILBERT!"  and  "STOP ELIZABETH GILBERT FROM SILENCING ELIZABETH GILBERT!" 

It's self-censorship.  

Let's all relax.  Is it a stupid move on her part?  Completely.  But it's not shocking.  Her books are nothing but poses.  Why are we now surprised that she's struk yet another pose?

Now let's talk real censorship.  A friend has a YOUTUBE video and wants me to post it.  No. I don't post stupidity unless I'm going to mock it.  And they're talking about how the world has gone to pieces (possibly) and how you can trace it all through the last ten years and . . .  No.  Our current state has been a long time coming.  The friend notes the media conglomerations among other things.

Daniel Ellsberg was censored.  Like Julian Assange, Daniel tried to bring the truth to the people.  Richard Nixon persecuted Daniel Ellsberg.  Tricky Dick is a dirty joke and a criminal and he's forever remembered for Watergate, for his enemies list and for what he did to his enemies like Daniel Ellsberg.

Daniel is, sadly, dying.  He's lived a life to be proud of.  Joe Biden should realize that he can end up the next Richard Nixon in history or he can do something heroic and stop the persecution of Julian Assange.

Daniel Ellsberg was on Nixon's enemies list.  Plural.

Another person on that list was Barbra Streisand.  In May of 1973, Barbra did a fundraiser for Daniel.  It was held at the home of film producer Jennings Lang and those present could hear Barbra sing whatever requested song they pledged money for and she also sang over the phone at the benefit as well (also for donations).  She did a lot of standards like "You're The Top" and "Someone To Watch Over Me."  She even sang a duet with Carl Reiner.  Barbra was signed to  COLUMBIA RECORDS.  

COLUMBIA needed Streisand product always.  They were constantly churning it out.  In 1971, for example, she released two best selling albums -- one platinum, one gold -- studio albums STONEY END and BARBRA JOAN STREISAND.  That's 1971.  1972, it was LIVE CONCERT AT THE FORUM -- the concert she did for the George McGovern presidential campaign.  It was now May 1973 and no product.  Not even a greatest hits or compilation.  COLUMBIA needed product.  

Barbra had her performance at the benefit for Daniel recorded.  COLUMBIA wanted product.  Barbra singing torch songs live?  They loved the idea.  But Barbra also wanted the money the album raised to go to Daniel's defense fund.  


COLUMBIA was part of CBS.  CBS was already facing 'issues' with the Nixon White House over their coverage of Watergate and over Walter Cronkite's THE SELLING OF THE PRESIDENT documentary that they had done.  The corporate order came down that they didn't need any more pressure and the album was killed.   It's still in the vaults by the way, it could be released now as a way to honor Daniel Ellsberg while he's still with us.

But the point is there is censorship that is imposed from outside and we can and should protest that.  Self-censorship? I've real problems and issues to deal with.  Second point is, our current situations have evolved for decades to bring us to this point.

Now let's turn to the hot mess that is Cornel West.

The video above has a little bit of a discussion of the interview that we included last time where BLACK POWER MEDIA interviewed Cornel West. The video below is Renee Johnstone sharing her take on the interview.

For those who missed it, despite last week announcing he was a US presidential candidate for The People's Party, Cornel is now one of potentially many candidates for The Green Party's presidential nomination.  He's gone from candidate for president to someone seeking a presidential nomination.  It is a downgrade but they're still giving frequent flier miles.  Or at least a lot of fluffing.

He went on Bri's show yesterday and was hysterical.  If you miss the 90s, that is.  I said it before, he can't adapt.  He's stuck in the past.  RFK Jr.'s must be on the crack pipe.  Didn't he just say that about Joe Biden?  Yes, he did.  It's his same, crusty old joke.  That's never really funny.  But he can speechify and we're supposed to all chuckle like idiots.  Grow the hell up.

And for those of you who really want him to win the Green Party nomination, buy a damn clue.  You're not helping him with your attacks on Howie Hawkins or your other efforts.  You're not of the Green Party.  It is a political party.  You've sneered at it for years and years.  

That's all of left media. DEMOCRACY NOW! -- as we've pointed out since 2008 -- gives a headline -- if they're lucky -- to the Green Party's national convention.  They do a week for the Democratic Party, a whole week.  They do a week for the Republican Party.  And Amy Goodman's one of the few people that does cover it. 

You're not of that party.  Stop White-manning-it into a foreign country.  You are not of that party, you do not control that party.  When you start attacking a Howie Hawkins or anyone else, as a non-Green, you're not helping Cornel West.  

Ann has  been a Green her whole life.  Her parents are Greens, she was raised a Green.  While you've spent decades now ignoring that party -- or hurling abuse at it insisting it's stealing votes from your candidate on the Democratic ticket -- the party has emerged.  And it's not going to take bullying or insulting so you're trying to do so on behalf of Cornel is only going to hurt his campaign because, unlike you, the Green Party turns out to support the Green Party.  You're temporarily fascinated but people have spent their lives building this party and they're not going to take kindly to outsiders telling them what's going to happen and who they're going to support.

Okay, let's note Paul Rudnick and then we'll return for the climatic closing where we explain Chris Hedges' latest bit of journalistic malpractice.

Chris Hedges.  Chrissy Lynn.  "Why does it matter that he lied about Iraq?"   An e-mailer asked that.

Honestly, I think the answer is that it doesn't matter to you.  

Why that is, you'll have to ask yourself.  I don't know you.  And seriously doubt that I'd want to at this point.

Over a million Iraqis are dead because of an illegal war.  I don't fake ass.  I'm not Tulsi Gabbard lying to Joe Rogan and then revealing her real colors on the debate stage when she's finally standing next to Joe Biden and can call him out but chooses not to and goes even further by excusing his vote for the Iraq War and then spending the following days repeating that excuse to anyone who will put her on camera.  With that face -- she might consider a chemical peel -- she's never going to get many chances to be on air.  FOX "NEWS" needs her so they ignore her cult membership and the fact that the cult is extremely anti-Christian.  Remember that the next time FOX tries to pose as though they're devoted church goers.

Over a million Iraqis are dead.  

In the desert sun
Every step that you take could be the final one
In the burning heat
Hanging on the edge of destruction, oh
You can't stop the pain of your children crying out in your head
Oh, they always said that the living would envy the dead

Tina Turner singing her hit "One Of The Living" written by Holly Knight.

And it's the truth.  The dead are the luckier ones of the two, they're gone.  It's their children and friends and family that are left behind to suffer the loss.

Or they don't matter as much as your need to fan-boy Chrissy Lynn?  "Friend of the show," Katie Halper calls him.  Do journalism ethics not matter to Katie Halper?

His lies are not to be overlooked.  

For example, look at the following which he wrote last week:

I have known Cornel for many years. We drove together, leaving at 3:00 am from our homes in Princeton, New Jersey, to attend the trial at Fort Meade of U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning. I was in the visitors room at the prison in Frackville, Pennsylvania, as Cornel gripped the shoulders of the political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and told him “You have Frederick Douglass in you, brother!” Tears streamed down Mumia’s face. Cornel and I held a People’s Hearing of Goldman Sachs in Zuccotti Park during the Occupy movement where those who were evicted and bankrupted by big banks testified against the heartlessness and greed of corporate capitalism. We have spoken together at rallies in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the Israeli-apartheid state. We walked three miles on a sweltering July day in Philadelphia with thousands of homeless people to the Wells Fargo Center during the 2016 Democratic National Convention, because housing is a human right. 

I was with Cornel when Bernie Sanders delegates, disgusted by the machinations of the Democratic National Committee against their candidate and his endorsement of Hillary Clinton, walked out of the convention. Cornel turned to me and said presciently, “Bernie lost his political moment.” 

We have taught classes together in East Jersey State Prison. We have spoken on stages at universities where Cornel has demanded reparations for Black people and called for a guaranteed income for all citizens. I have heard him denounce the prison industrial complex as “a crime against humanity.” I have listened to him call for  universal health care, canceling student debt, free university education, freedom for Julian Assange and heard him thunder against those who deny women access to abortion.

Cornel officiated, along with the theologian Dr. James Cone, at my ordination as a Presbyterian minister. We spoke, and wept, at James’ funeral in 2018 at Riverside Church. James wrote that we must stand, no matter the cost, with the crucified of the earth. 


Check my math but I believe the column that's from is 30 paragraphs long.  Those are the only paragraphs in the column -- about Cornel West being the People's Party's presidential nominee where Chris talks about knowing Cornel.  And the comments are from "when we spoke about his decision" on that car ride he mentioned in the above excerpt.

Do you see the problem?

Maybe not.  But it's a lie.  It's a full on lie.  When Chrissy published his lies, he thought he could get away with it.  I mean the garbage we just quoted from SCHEER POST -- but actually, he thought he could get away with it at THE NEW YORK TIMES as well.  He got away with it at THE TIMES.  It was years before Jack Fairweather at MOTHER JONES and FAIR's COUNTERSPIN noted Chrissy's Iraq lies.  Then it was circle the wagon and protect the creep.

Which is why everyone knows Judith Miller's name today but no one knows Chris Hedges in regards to pimping a war on Iraq.  Judith Miller wasn't the co-author of the piece Dick Cheney waved around on MEET THE PRESS -- Chrissy was.

Chrissy lies.  It's a pattern he cannot break.

And he lied at SCHEER POST.  Oh, he shared how they were friends and all the times they did this and that.

So people think he told the truth about Cornel and about the nomination.  They think he did.  But he lied.

And he might have gotten away with it if the nomination from The People's Party hadn't blown up in Cornel's face. 

We noted it yesterday, refer to that interview with BLACK POWER MEDIA.  Stream it.
[Video added below for those who had trouble finding it on their own.]

Then go back and read Chrissy Lynn's lies.  Grasp that Chrissy is just a detached observer in his 'report' on the news.

But the reality is that it's Chris who recruited Cornel for that nomination.

It's Chris who planned to be his running mate -- but Chris' wife said no at the last minute.

That's not in the 'report,' is it?

A backroom deal took place and Chrissy, in 'reporting' on the news, leaves all that out.

Again, he didn't expect to get caught or, rather, outed.  He thought he'd get away with lying yet again.  What happened though was Cornel made a huge mistake -- huge -- and wasn't ready to sink with the ship by himself.  Or, if we're being charitable, maybe he just saw Chrissy as a life preserver.

Floatation device or not, Chrissy lied.  If he'd done that at THE NEW YORK TIMES, he would have been fired on the spot.  If this column had been published by THE NEW YORK TIMES when he worked there, he would be fired.  Not warned.  Not written up.  Fired.

You do not get away, as a journalist, with writing about a campaign that you instigated when you're not revealing that detail.

Why didn't he?

Is it somehow damaging?

Doesn't let him present himself as just an observer, no, but he flat out lied.

Robert Scheer is a huge disappointment and has been to most on the left since at least the mid-seventies -- which is why when THE LOS ANGELES TIMES dumped him, no other paper came forward.  Then he had TRUTH DIG until he didn't.  Now he has SCHEER POST -- however much longer that lasts.   It shouldn't last a day more since it won't correct Chrissy's lies -- there will be no needed note such as :"We were disappointed to learn -- after publishing this column -- that Mr. Hedges was actually active in seeking and securing the presidential nomination for Cornel West.  At SCHEER POST, we take disclosure seriously and would never knowingly attempt to deceive our readers."

Oh, well, Chris survived his plagiarism scandal, he'll probably survive this as well.

My favorite quote in that article about Chris plagiarized for a piece on poverty that he submitted to HARPER'S?  The HARPER'S fact checker explaining, "Hedges not only used another journalist’s quotes, but he used them in first-person scenes, claiming he himself gathered the quotes. It was one of the worst things I’d ever seen as a fact-checker at the magazine. And it was endemic throughout the piece."

Remember that when you're reading Chrissy Lynn or when you see him on a YOUTUBE program.  Remember that he's a liar.  Not just Iraq, not just Cornel but a serial liar in print.  Over and over.  

I don't like being hustled.  I don't like being lied to.  And Cornel only squealed because he was on the spot and trying to save his own ass.  Do you really think a journalist has a right to write about a presidential campaign and not to disclose that he is the one who brokered the nomination and, that when he did, he was planning to share the ticket with Cornel, to be his running mate?

Those aren't minor details.  And Robert Scheer, if he doesn't issue a correction to that column, just flushed whatever was left of his reputation down the drain.  (And he already knows a number of people are biting their tongues until he passes at which point they plan to talk loudly about Scheer's journalism issues.)  So it's win-win for me.

Big brave truth teller exposed as a liar?  I'm loving it. Read that linked to article and love it when the fact checker explains how Chrissy tried to hush the whole thing down after he was caught by rushing off to Rick MacArthur (owner of HARPER'S).   You really need to read the article.  I'd forgotten how good it was.  Chris even ripped off the writer's wife.  I'd forgotten how bad the plagiarism was and how he went off on a UT professor for catching his plagiarism of Hemingway.  He's a nasty little thing, that Chrissy Lynn.  Marvel over how he lies that the stuff he stole from the wife's reporting was supposed to block quoted:

But he never addressed why he made so many small changes to the original text: the tweaking of some sentences and lines but not others, the adding of a hyperlink not in the original, the changing of phrases such as “my local reporter” to “a local reporter.” 

He even tries to lie about how his piece was rejected, blaming it on one person, when it was an editorial decision that involved the publisher.

But mainly note how Robert Scheer, Katrina vanden Heuvel and others deny that plagiarism.  At least Naomi Klein, whom he also stole from, just said "No comment." 

I can't stop laughing at that article.  It really should be required reading for all of Chrissy Lynn's accolades.  

The following sites updated: