|April, 2003 link archive
Tuesday, April 1, 2003In 'The Hubris of the Neocons,' David Corn writes that "It took U.S. policymakers and the American public many years, perhaps decades, to realize that hubris had played a crucial and negative role in the Vietnam tragedy... This time out, the nation is more fortunate: the perils of hubris have become evident within days of the first attack." Plus: Fanciful dreams die.
"Perhaps as a result of the coalition's difficulty in finding banned weapons," writes Brendan O'Neill, "some have noted a subtle shift in the coalition's PR campaign -- away from focusing on 'disarming Saddam' towards focusing on the 'barbarity of Saddam's regime.'"
He's No Hitler Pentagon says Saddam is the worst ruler in world history.
In 'Arrogant Propaganda,' Paul De Rooij writes that in the run up to war, "it became increasingly evident that propaganda has a diminished half-life. Whereas years ago the reigning technique was to repeat a lie often enough, now it seems to have given way to a constant barrage of lies or semi-lies with a very short half-life."
U.S. and Kurdish officials say that an American-led assault on Ansar al-Islam's compound in northern Iraq has yielded a cache of documents that provide evidence of ties to al-Qaeda, but no indication of any link to Saddam.
The article quotes Gen. Richard Myers telling CNN that "We think that's probably where the ricin that was found in London came [from]. At least the operatives and maybe some of the formulas came from this site." But in February, CNN reported that European investigators "have said that [ricin] arrests in Europe found suspected terrorists trained in biological and chemical weapons in the Pankisi Gorge region of Georgia and nearby Chechnya."
A U.S. military spokesman says that the night vision goggles that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld claimed Syria sent to Iraq have yet to be seen.
The Guardian reports that members of an interim government for Iraq have begun arriving in Kuwait, where the U.S. is drawing up a secret plan for post-Saddam rule that puts most of decisions on the government's makeup in U.S. hands, particularly those of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. More on the Defense Department's power grab for postwar Iraq.
Bill Moyers interviews The Center for Public Integrity's Charles Lewis, about the group's new study, "Advisers of Influence," which found that at least nine of the 30 members on the Defense Policy Board have ties with companies that have won more than $76 billion in defense contracts in the last two years. (scroll down for interview)
No "coalition of the rebuilding," as U.S. freezes out allies from post-war reconstruction projects.
Desperate Marines hit up Iraqi farmers for smokes.
The New Yorker's John Lee Anderson writes that "Rural life persists tenaciously in the heart of Baghdad. Vegetables are grown a block away from the Ministry of Information... In the early hours of the morning, I hear roosters crowing. Baghdad is big and sprawling and not really 'urban' in the conventional sense, except for the downtown area." Plus: Why reporters stay.
As antiwar groups plan April 3rd protests in front of Fox affiliates, Richard Blow says that lashing out at the media isn't really a reaction to its failings, but rather "a struggle for cultural power. Progressives have become American outsiders, as marginalized as conservatives used to be."
Views on the sacking of Peter Arnett from the World Socialists, the Wall Street Journal, Bad Attitudes Journal and Jonathan Turley, who writes that "The termination of Arnett fuels the view of many Arabs that the Western media present a tailored account of events; feigning objectivity while maintaining the pro-U.S. company line." Geraldo: "Quality journalism will always win out."
Arnett gets right back to work, says "U.S. optimism is justified," but "at what cost to civilians?"
Bob Dole tells the New York Times that for President Bush, Iraq "is the big enchilada... If it goes well, he's in great shape. If it doesn't go well, he's got problems. He knew that going into this."
Wednesday, April 2, 2003
"American and British citizens owe it to the supreme commander to forsake thought and rally behind their troops," writes Arundhati Roy. "Their countries are at war. And what a war it is."
'Playwrights go straight for the jugular' in the other theater of war.
Tony Kushner on the president and the war.
"At 4.45 pm yesterday came the sound of jets yet again, followed by a series of short, sharp explosions that lasted for up to a minute," writes Robert Fisk, from Baghdad. "They sounded all too familiar to my ears, the rumble of cluster bombs."
The Washington Post reports that "U.S. military commanders have shed their early caution in striking some targets in Baghdad and have embarked on more aggressive air attacks that run the risk of larger numbers of civilian casualties."
In Harm's Way The Independent reports that it has "pinpointed the cause of the explosion" at a Baghdad market on Friday that killed at least 62 Iraqis. The paper says that it's a Raytheon-manufactured missile, possibly a Paveway laser-guided bomb, or more likely, a High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM).
In response to criticism of a distribution plan that provides free water to Iraqi locals with access to tanker trucks, who then will be allowed to sell it, a U.S. civil affairs officer said "This provides them with an incentive to hustle and to work." Plus: Baghdad hits the hard stuff.
Murdoch-owned tabloid calls New York Times coverage of Iraq, "news by Saddam."
'Get me Rewrite: Rumsfeld versus the Generals.'
Revealed: President Bush's timetable for war.
An American reporter finds a discontented ally in India, and a former Indian Army officer, who has maintained friendships with Iraqi officers since training them in the 70s, gives his take on the war.
White House anti-drug office announces end of drugs-and-terror advertising campaign.
Thursday, April 3, 2003
"In the mysterious way that information flows even when censorship reigns and telephones do not function in a city at war," writes John Daniszewski, "all seemed to understand without being told that the battle for Baghdad is about to begin."
Poor people 'pay with their lives' in 'cratered' suburbs south of Baghdad.
Who's Next? Bill Berkowitz says that there's a 'traffic jam on the road to Pax Americana.'
Paper lauded for "leading the way and breaking the big stories" during invasion of Iraq.
The San Francisco Weekly's Matt Smith says that war in Iraq is exposing the irrelevancy of traditional media: "Nobody with any brains looks to the mainstream media for truth on the war these days." Plus: 'Lynch Party.'
Road to Baghdad? "Bizarre" Saddam billboard confuses and angers Albuquerquians.
Saddam's on the money, and other concerns about post-war Iraq.
Debka speculates that Saddam and sons may no longer be in Baghdad and that other top leaders may have bolted to a luxury resort in Syria. The U.S. is campaigning to sow doubts about Saddam's fate, following reports by American military officials that most Iraqis encountered by U.S. forces believe that he's alive. Plus: CBC documentary looks at psyops war on Iraq.
Retired Marine Corps colonel and Iraq war gamer, Gary Anderson, says "the assumption that Saddam Hussein is looking at the Battle of Baghdad as a glorious last stand is totally inconsistent with his character. There is likely a greater game afoot, and it is becoming clearer."
On a "Talk of the Nation" segment, Anderson, Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution and host Neil Conan, go out of their way to downplay the issue of civilian casualties in Iraq, with no mention of that morning's Independent article that fingered a Raytheon missile as the cause of the marketplace explosion that killed 62 Iraqis.
UNICEF warns that humanitarian food rations being distributed in Iraq are wrapped in the same yellow packaging as cluster bomblets. Following similar warnings in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said that it would change the color of the food packets.
Robert Fisk on 'victims of the day cluster bombs rained on Babylon.'
"Democracy Now!" interviews Israeli reporter Dan Scemama, who, along with three other "unilaterals," was arrested and held for 48 hours by U.S. military police on suspicion of spying for Iraq.
Photojournalist Mollie Bingham recounts her seven days in a Baghdad prison.
How slanted war coverage has made American TV news more like Al Jazeera.
Will Connie Chung, Peter Arnett and Geraldo be the new face of Al-Jazeera?
Protest Records offers free downloads here.
Friday, April 4, 2003
Former CIA Director James Woolsey, who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the job of information minister in postwar Iraq, told a UCLA audience that the U.S. is engaged in "World War IV" -- against the religious rulers of Iran, the "fascists" of Iraq and Syria, and Islamic extremists like al-Qaeda.
'Arabs warn U.S. not to use Iraq to pick new fights.'
A U.S. intelligence official tells Newsday that the CIA has no credible evidence that the government of Syria has had a role in the shipment of night-vision goggles and other military equipment to Iraq.
A U.S. intelligence report says that the Iranian government has decided to send irregular paramilitary units into Iraq to harass U.S. soldiers once Saddam is ousted, in an attempt to raise the cost of occupation.
End Games Bush administration devises strategy to declare victory in Iraq, even if Saddam or key lieutenants remain at large and fighting continues in parts of the country.
Atrios writes that "the War Hawks have already moved the victory bar so low, with the media happily following along, that it isn't clear anymore what a victory will mean."
A Los Angeles Times report on Iraq's dire financial condition, quotes economists who say that Bush administration officials are wrong to assume that petroleum revenue will pay for postwar reconstruction.
On "Talk of the Nation," military analyst William Arkin said that "the hidden picture here is the enormous carnage that is being unleashed" on the Iraqi military. "It's going to be a difficult problem for the U.S... every one of their family members will be thinking that the U.S. slaughtered their kids." (audio only)
In an interview with Editor & Publisher, Chris Hedges says that knowing Shakespeare is the best preparation for covering a war.
Wal-Mart stores located near military bases cope with wartime grief of employees and customers.
After four years, justice comes to Tulia, Texas.
Wall Street Journal article used to illustrate disinformation techniques.
Independent defends Robert Fisk against "innuendo" by British Defense Secretary.
CBS News scrubs two Iraq war articles from its Web site.
"In case you haven't gotten it yet," writes Brian Morton, "here it is in a nutshell. Criticizing the president is not the same thing as criticizing the troops. Criticizing the president is not the same as criticizing America. And criticizing the president is not 'giving aid and comfort to the enemy.'"
Portland anti-war activists stage fake pro-war rally as April Fools prank.
"The charm of Donald Rumsfeld is something that is really hard to figure," writes Matt Taibbi. "It is hard to imagine him really enjoying anything other than utterly compliant media attention or military violence."
Monday, April 7, 2003
Brand New War As it baits and switches from weapons of mass destruction to "Operation Iraqi Freedom," the Bush administration has, says a marketing professor, "distilled a huge geopolitical conflict with multiple underlying political causes down to a simple message of 'freeing 23 million Iraqis.'" Plus: Launch spawns dizzying array of new products.
As locating WMD drops to number four on the Pentagon's list of objectives, Antonia Zerbisias -- who says that CNN failed to note this shift in strategy -- quotes a correspondent for the Middle East News Agency, who told the New York Times: "Why the new tack on the message track? Because there's been plenty of gun smoke but no smoking gun." '
A Washington Post/ABC poll finds that 69% of respondents said that going to war with Iraq was the right thing to do even if the U.S. fails to turn up biological or chemical weapons, up from 53% in a survey taken the day after the war started. 'Where are the WMD?'
According to a Los Angeles Times poll, nearly 80% of Americans "now accept the Bush administration's contention... that Hussein has 'close ties' to al-Qaeda. And 60% say they believe he bears at least some responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- a charge even the administration hasn't levied against him." Earlier: 'Polls suggest media failure in pre-war coverage.'
A U.S. soldier surveying the state of a seized presidential palace in Baghdad said: "This used to be a nice place. They should make it like a Six Flags, or something."
As British troops express bafflement at their coalition partner's heavy-handed approach to Iraqi civilians, an Indian columnist says that Americans could learn a lot about being good imperialists from the "Great Gamers" of the British Empire.
If it's Tuesday, this must be regime change.
Steve Perry writes that "If Baghdad does indeed fall without a whimper, you'll want to avoid the hype about the Great Liberation in the ensuing days, and watch the reports from the countryside instead." Plus: Downstairs Baghdad and Saddam hits the ground.
Congested Sky So many planes, so little air space.
One Baghdad hospital has reportedly admitted as many as 100 patients an hour, and a Greek doctor arriving in Jordan says that Baghdad's surgeons are amputating the limbs of children and adults with too few anesthetics to block the pain and too few antibiotics to protect the patients.
"This war is more destructive than all the previous wars," said one doctor. "In the previous battles, the weapons seemed merely disabling; now they're much more lethal."
President Bush's special envoy for Western Hemispheric Initiatives, Otto Reich, warns Caribbean nations against criticizing the U.S. over the war, and the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, allegedly tries to gin up a coup plot against the government.
Thomas Friedman says that two groups will try to hijack post-war Iraq for their own ends. One from neighboring Arab states, and the other, "ideologues within the Bush team" who will try to install an Iraqi exile leader to run Iraq: "I don't know any of these exiles, and I have nothing against them. But anyone who thinks they can simply be installed by America and take root in Iraqi soil is out of his mind."
The New York Times reports that shortly after Defense Secretary Rumsfeld warned Iran and Syria, one of President Bush's closest aides informed him that the unpredictable Rumsfeld had just raised the specter of a broader confrontation: "Mr. Bush smiled a moment at the latest example of Rumsfeld's brazenness, recalled the aide. Then he said one word — 'Good' — and went back to work."
Lebanon's foreign minister says that U.S. pressure on Syria is designed to forestall Syrian criticism of a Middle East plan favorable to Israel -- "to make sure that at the next stage, Damascus will be too busy looking after its own affairs." Plus: 'War provides cover for a fresh Israeli crackdown.'
Necessary diversions from images of war and death.
Rolling Stone follows up on "Democracy Now's" interview with Michael Franti, in which he said that the government was surveilling a member of his band, Spearhead, whose sister is deployed in the Persian Gulf.
Franti tells Rolling Stone that "Labels are afraid to put out [protest songs] as singles and bring them to the radio stations out of fear for what happened to the Dixie Chicks. Now it's coming to the Internet, which is great. But it's unfortunate that we live in a time and in a country where radio is so centralized and under the control of so few voices. Our musical heroes all spoke to the times, but this time around we're not able. Not in the same way."
David Neiwert offers numerous examples which illustrate that "the intent of the 'pro-war' crowd is not so much to support the war, but rather to attack anti-war protesters."
Charles Lindbergh's hometown debates taking the French flag down from a city park named for Le Bourget, the Paris suburb where Lindbergh landed.
A Humvee driver tells the New York Times that "When I turn on the TV, I see wall-to-wall Humvees, and i'm proud... I'm proud of my country, and I'm proud to be driving a product that is making a significant contribution." Plus: Fewer mpg than a Hummer?
Pentagon says no relief for 'embeds.'
Tuesday, April 8, 2003
Salon interviews Bill Moyers, who it says has "arguably become the lone radical on television, openly challenging our national failure to confront fundamental issues of class, money and power."
Moyers refers to an "On the Media" segment with UPI correspondent Martin Walker, who says that war in Iraq is reviving a "pan-Arab, nationalist, patriotic consciousness, and I'm seeing this not just in traditional leftist papers or papers of radical governments but even in the newspapers of America's friends."
'From Cluster Bombs to Cocooning' Jon Carrol suggests some story ideas for "Hi," a new "lifestyle, consumer magazine" about American culture that the U.S. State Department will publish and distribute in 22 Arab countries.
Bradley Fighting Vehicle "The buzz in Washington and beyond," writes the Journal Sentinel's Bruce Murphy, "has been that President Bush's attack on Iraq came straight from the playbook of the neoconservatives, a group of mostly Republican strategists, many of whom have gotten funding from Milwaukee's Bradley Foundation."
U.S. intelligence officials say that when four U.S. bombs hit a Baghdad house and restaurant, during what was thought to be a meeting of Baath Party officials that may have included Saddam Hussein, the men were discussing how to flee the city.
Strike plane pilot told "this is the big one."
Five journalists killed in 24-hour period, as the U.S. bombs the Baghdad offices of Al-Jazeera and Abu Dhabi TV and shells the Palestine Hotel, in what a U.S. commander said was a response to small arms fire coming from the hotel.
Al-Jazeera, which claims that U.S. troops also fired on one of its vehicles, says that it has provided the Pentagon with "all relevant information on the locations of its offices and the residences of its special envoys covering the war against Iraq and asked it to pass on the information to forces on the ground."
"American cable television can actually make live coverage of a real war dull," writes Charley Reese. "CNN, MSNBC and, of course, the joke of the lot, Fox, are just talk radio with a few pictures."
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank says that the Bush administration has been especially clever in using the demand for immediate news by sending out small bits of information: "There's no time to question it, or Fox or MSNBC are going to have it. By the time we catch up and say, 'Maybe that's not true,' we're already on to something else."
'Bush, Greed and God’s Ministers' John Kenneth Galbraith, now 95, talks to TomPaine.com about the Bush administration's tax plan, the influence that the corporate elite have over economic policy and what prompted FDR to call him a "congenital idiot."
"Not only will we civilians not have to pay for the war," writes Mark Shields, "if we're successful enough we'll get a tax break for our troubles... Class warfare is now over -- the richest won."
In responding to criticism leveled at John Kerry for saying "we need a regime change in the United States," Paul Krugman writes that "The biggest test of a politician's patriotism is whether he is willing to sacrifice some of his political agenda for the sake of the nation. And that's a test our current leaders have failed with flying colors." Plus: 'Kerry finds fodder in GOP criticism.'
Is it possible to support the troops while criticizing the president? It was in 1998.
Readers criticized the San Francisco Chronicle for running a full-page ad calling for the impeachment of President Bush and other administration officials for war crimes. "Most of the calls were from people who said it was distasteful to run the ad while our troops were dying overseas," said the paper's ombudsman.
Santa Cruz librarians shred documents to protest Patriot Act.
It's the Law! Iraqis justified in launching attacks in America, as long as they're in uniform.
The Associated Press has obtained a 'suicide-themed' tape, purported to be of bin Laden, in which he calls on Muslims to rise up against countries that support the war on Iraq.
Fears of an anti-French backlash have caused Disney to step up security around the France pavilion at Epcot. A "MousePlanet" staff member reportedly "witnessed a group of rowdy American men storm through the pavilion as they shouted epithets and made obscene gestures at the cast members." More on theme park dangers.
Sen. Norm Coleman is taking heat for telling Roll Call that "To be very blunt and God watch over Paul's soul, I am a 99 percent improvement over Paul Wellstone. Just about on every issue." Coleman says that he was comparing his relationship to this White House to Wellstone's.
Wednesday, April 9, 2003
'Baghdad: a battle that did not happen.'
An Iraqi shopkeeper asks a Reuters correspondent: "You are a journalist. Please tell me what is going on. Where is our government? To whom do we belong now?"
Meet the New Boss Residents near Najaf say that a little-known militia -- the Iraqi Coalition of National Unity (ICNU) -- backed by U.S. special forces, is looting and terrorizing their neighborhood with impunity. The head of the ICNU announced on Tuesday that he was acting mayor of Najaf and that his group had taken over administration of the city.
After a local militia of several thousand armed men with ties to the opposition Iraqi National Congress took control of a city in southeastern Iraq, without the help of U.S. special forces, a CIA officer reportedly threatened them with bombing unless they withdrew.
A CIA report slams Ahmad Chalabi, saying that the 'Pentagon's favorite Iraqi' would not be an effective leader to replace Saddam Hussein because many Iraqis don't like him. Plus: David Corn on James Woolsey, 'the Pentagon's (CIA) man in Iraq.'
Elite teams of former U.S. soldiers secure news outlets.
A U.S. State Department official tells Syria, North Korea and Iran to "draw the appropriate lesson from Iraq."
U.S. government confronts mysteries of Iraq as it begins putting together plans to rebuild the country's economy. Saddam Hussein's regime published its last map of Baghdad in 1973 and released its last budget in 1978.
Josh Marshall floats a proposal to divide up Iraq's oil wealth like the state of Alaska does.
Robert Fisk asks: 'Is there some element in the U.S. military that wants to take out journalists?'
Geraldo Rivera given a hand by U.S. troops.
LOL at CNN The Toronto Star's Vinay Menon explains why "It's near impossible to watch CNN war coverage and not: 1. Shake your head; 2. Roll your eyes; 3. Laugh out loud.
Speaking out against deregulation, Barry Diller told the National Association of Broadcasters that today's "vertically integrated giant media conglomerates" are driven only to gain "world media dominance...There are real dangers in complete concentration. The conventional wisdom is wrong. We need more regulation, not less."
Senate Republicans are reportedly discussing a proposal written by Sen. Orrin Hatch and backed by the Justice Department, that would repeal the sunset provisions of the Patriot Act and make the law's new powers -- many of which are set to expire in 2005 -- permanent. Plus: How bad is it?
U.S. prison inmate population tops 2 million mark for the first time.
Although Cuba's closest allies have criticized the recent arrests and convictions of about 80 dissidents, diplomats say that plans to toughen a draft resolution that would result in censure by the U.N. Human Rights Commission, may be difficult given the anti-American atmosphere generated by the war in Iraq.
Editor & Publisher covers the coverage of Iraqi civilian casualties.
The U.S. military says it killed 11 Afghan civilians by mistake when "a bomb dropped by coalition aircraft landed on a house... near the Pakistan border."
Thursday, April 10, 2003
Robert Fisk records yet another historic day in the Middle East, one "that began with shellfire and air strikes and blood-bloated hospitals and ended with the ritual destruction of the dictator's statues... Men who, for 25 years, had grovellingly obeyed Saddam's most humble secret policeman turned into giants, bellowing their hatred of the Iraqi leader as his vast and monstrous statues thundered to the ground." One man told Fisk: "You'll see the celebrations and we will be happy Saddam has gone. But we will then want to rid ourselves of the Americans and we will want to keep our oil and there will be resistance and then they will call us terrorists." Update: Fisk on 'the day after.'
BBC correspondents report from Arab capitals on reaction to the fall, including from Damascus where Syrian state television chose not to air the celebration, and Kuwait City, where one man said: "We will miss watching the Iraqi information minister -- we enjoyed his lies." Is he the next Joe Isuzu?
The picture of the day "was an inspiring moment of celebration at the apparent end of a brutal dictator's reign," writes Robert Jensen. "But as U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has pointed out at other times, no one image tells the whole story." More by Jensen.
"As usual throughout the coverage of the war, pictures spoke louder than words," writes Tom Shales, "but not necessarily more truthfully." And the Chicago Tribune's TV critic notes that "Few of the American news outlets emphasized how small the crowd of Iraqis around the statue really was."
An Independent commentator says that the Internet has won the war news war.
Baghdad Gefallen View the front pages of more than 200 newspapers from around the world, many of which feature the photo of a U.S. Marine draping an American flag over the face of a Saddam statue. "What a moron," wrote Slate's Fred Kaplan. "The very picture of neo-colonialism, which will make front pages all over the Arab world."
U.S. flag flies high, as an additional 137 are liberated.
Baghdad loot booty includes everything and the kitchen sink.
The Washington Post reports that the Iraqi leadership vanished: "U.S. military commanders said they suspected that some leaders had headed to Hussein's hometown of Tikrit for a final bloody showdown and that others had fled to Syria."
Newsday reports that according to an intelligence source, "Rumsfeld last week ordered the drawing up of contingency plans for a possible invasion of Syria and that Defense undersecretary Douglas Feith is working on a policy paper highlighting how Syria's support of terrorist groups is a threat to the region." Plus: "Syria and Iran Must Get Their Turn."
Hundreds of Muslim fighters, many of them non-Iraqis, were putting up a stronger fight for Baghdad than Iraq's Republican Guard or the regular army, said U.S. Brigadier-General John Kelly: "They stand, they fight, sometimes they run when we engage them. But often they run into our machine guns and we shoot them down like the morons they are."
CalPundit looks at two recent Washington Post polls and finds that in addition to a vast majority of respondents seeing no need to find weapons of mass destruction to justify the war, one in six think that anti-war demonstrations should be illegal while troops are in the field. Scroll down for 'Fighting Liberals.'
In 'Bush's Alderaan,' Robert Parry writes that "what is disturbing to many war critics about the American reaction to the war is that Bush secured majority backing by misleading the U.S. public about key facts -- and the majority of American people don't seem to care." Plus: Been there, spun that.
Is "The Daily Show" the new satirical model for left-wing comedy?
Let's Fete A group of German university professors, angered by the war against Iraq, have launched a campaign to substitute popular English-language words used in Germany with French terms. "Okay," "T-shirt" and "party," would be replaced by "d'accord," "tricot" and "fete."
What About Private Lori? A Guardian reporter travels to Tuba City, Arizona, hometown of Lori Piestewa, roommate of Jessica Lynch and the first native American in the U.S. army to be killed in combat and the only American servicewoman to die in the war.
Hundreds have offered to help an Iraqi boy who lost both his arms in a missile blast.
Friday, April 11, 2003
Jeffrey Sachs uses the example of Bolivia -- which he says has been brought to the brink of economic collapse by Bush administration policies -- to argue that the president "is presiding over the ruin of U.S. foreign policy." Earlier: U.S. ambassador 'threatens' Bolivian democracy.
John Perry Barlow on 'The most emotionally healthy culture on the planet.'
Low and Away The president of baseball's Hall of Fame said that he canceled a 15th anniversary celebration of "Bull Durham," because anti-war comments by co-stars Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, "ultimately could put our troops in even more danger." Update: Author Roger Kahn cancels Hall of Fame appearance in protest.
Michael Kinsley says "victory in the war is not victory in the argument about the war," because the serious case against war in Iraq was never that the U.S. might lose it militarily. "The serious case involved questions that are still unresolved." Plus: Paul Krugman on 'Conquest and neglect.'
"Some argue that it's too simplistic to say this war is about oil," writes "No Logo" author Naomi Klein. "They're right. It's about oil, water, roads, trains, phones, ports and drugs." And if the drive to privatize "isn't halted, 'free Iraq' will be the most sold country on earth." Plus: 'The military's silent takeover of U.S. diplomacy.'
The no bid Pentagon contract given to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root to fight oil well fires in Iraq, is revealed to be worth as much as $7 billion over two years. Plus: European Union investigating U.S. contracts in Iraq.
In response to calls by American art dealers for a relaxation of Iraq's tight restrictions on the ownership and export of antiquities, A British Museum official said: "Once there is American blessing they have got a market for these antiquities and it becomes open season. The last thing we want is condoned looting."
Reporter finds American pop culture cache in home of Iraqi former deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz.
Fifteen companies "Shock and Awe" the trademark office.
"Wall Street supports this war," writes Matt Taibi. "How do you think it would react if all 30 percent of the country that opposes the war decided one day to dump all of its stock?... CNN and Fox are making a killing waving a flag for the Pentagon. Why not start boycotting their advertisers one at a time until they pull their spots? If even this minority of the population could go a month without over-consuming, it would give corporate America an aneurysm."
Second Wave The Southern Baptist Convention says that it has 25,000 trained evangelists ready to enter Iraq to provide humanitarian assistance.
Ace in the Fox Hole Troops to be dealt playing-card decks of most-wanted Iraqis.
The head of CNN news says that the network had many horrific stories about the Iraqi regime that it didn't report, because doing so would have jeopardized employees and sources. Earlier: CNN works with the regime to maintain a presence in Baghdad.
Although the U.S. military denies that it stage-managed the toppling of the Saddam statue in Baghdad, the Marine who covered its head with the American flag -- the one that flew over the Pentagon on 9/11 -- said that "I was just doing what I was told to do by my commanding officer."
David Corn says that since "the Bush administration has killed and wounded thousands of Iraqi civilians -- unintentionally -- as part of an endeavor to enhance America's security," the U.S. should pony up to help civilians maimed during the war, as well as Iraqis who lost civilian family members, homes or businesses.
Red Cross says that "Baghdad's medical system has all but collapsed because of combat damage, looting and fear of anarchy."
Sunday, April 13, 2003
Monday, April 14, 2003
"The military has gotten very good at using the media for its own purposes," writes Jerry Broeckert. "I should know -- I taught them how to do it."
New York magazine's Michael Wolff says that he became very popular among his "unilateral" colleagues in Doha, after asking a daily Centcom briefer the question they had been asking each other: "Why are we here?"
"The media, with few exceptions," writes Nat Hentoff, "are failing to report consistently, and in depth, precisely how Bush and Ashcroft are undermining our fundamental individual liberties." Plus: 'FBI snoops at libraries.'
Hentoff refers to "Civil Liberties and Human Rights Eroded by Changes to U.S. Law and Policy," a new report from the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights.
During an interview with Bill Moyers, Hentoff said that Sen. Orrin Hatch had told him "When I was reading 1984 I could never have imagined that it would ever become real. Here we have the Total Information Awareness System. That's going too far."
There's a name for "people who hate big government budgets and world-changing government programs," writes Steven Greenhut "yet whose faces turn purple with excitement when that same government racks up huge debts to pay for world-changing programs that involve bombs, troops and missiles."
An Iraq specialist at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, who met with Defense Department officials three times to urge them to protect Iraq's archaeological heritage from looters, said that "I thought I was given assurances that sites and museums would be protected."
Francis Deblauwe has an exhaustive collection of links to museum looting coverage.
CBS reports that U.S. Marines have found an underground vault containing the detailed files of Saddam's secret police, in a "massive complex of offices over an area the size of two football fields, littered with millions of documents -- detailed records that stretch back more than three decades."
Ha'aretz's Ze'ev Schiff writes that "The leading concept in Syria today is that Iraq should be to the Americans what Lebanon was for Israel - namely, to cause terror attacks and suicide bombers and generate as many American casualties as possible."
The U.S. military says that special forces detained 59 military-aged men traveling toward the western border of Iraq, carrying $630,000 in 100-dollar bills and letters offering rewards for killing U.S. soldiers.
The Observer reports that the U.S. has pledged to Israel that it will tackle Hizbollah in the next phase of its war on terror, as part of a deal designed to entice Israel into the road map to peace.
The Guardian's Jonathan Freedland asks: "Will Washington choose to accentuate the negative, in order to turn what could be the reluctant co-operation of nations like Iran and Syria into confrontation?"
Armed Kurds have reportedly expelled thousands of Arabs from their homes near Kirkuk, an area where many Arabs live in houses seized from Kurds years ago, as part of the Baath Party's forced expulsion.
The Independent's Andrew Gumbel writes that although President Bush, in his State of the Union address, "was quite specific about the materials he believed Saddam was hiding: 25,000 litres of anthrax, 38,000 litres of botulinum toxin and 500 tons of sarin, mustard and nerve gas. These days, he does not mention weapons of mass destruction at all, focusing instead on the liberation of the Iraqi people – as if liberation, not disarmament, had been the project all along."
Ann Louise Bardach says that Fidel Castro's imprisonment of 75 Cuban writers and dissidents and his execution of three men who had hijacked a passenger ferry, follows a pattern: "Whenever it looked as if Cuba was on the path to rejoining the world, Mr. Castro has done something to derail its progress."
While recent polls indicate that a majority of Cuban exiles in South Florida now favor negotiations with Havana, an anti-Castro paramilitary group is training for a possible invasion of Cuba.
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Iraqi doctors dispute the notion that Pfc. Jessica Lynch was dramatically rescued from a Nasiriyah hospital during a midnight raid by U.S. special forces. They tell the Washington Post that there were no Iraqi soldiers or militiamen at the hospital that night, with one doctor saying "They made a big show. It was just a drama. A big, dramatic show."
The Center for Digital Democracy's Jeffrey Chester says that "It is likely that decisions about how to cover the war on Iraq -- especially on television -- may be tempered by a concern not to alienate the White House," ahead of the FCC's impending ruling on media ownership. Earlier: 'U.S. media dig deep for politicians.'
President Bush may be running the war, but who's writing the script?
Robert Fisk witnesses the 'final chapter in the sacking of Baghdad' -- the burning of Iraq's National Library and Archives and the library of Korans at the Ministry of Religious Endowment.
In an article on the anguish over civilian casualties, the New York Times John Burns quotes an Iraqi antiques merchant telling fellow mourners that "The cause is not Saddam, the cause is oil." He went on to say that U.S. troops in Baghdad have made no attempt to protect any government building from looters except the Ministry of Oil. "They won't let the looters go anywhere near it."
Military analyst William Arkin says that the U.S. should 'Heed the Pain' of grieving Iraqi families.' He writes that "we are likely to find that a surprisingly high number of Iraqis died in this short war... What is important is that every one of those deaths -- civilian and military -- left a grieving family that we have to now acknowledge."
Arguing that depleted uranium has no long-term effects, the U.S. military says that it doesn't plan to remove the debris left over from DU weapons it is using in Iraq.
In a detailed account of the inconsistencies between President Bush's rhetoric and his policies, the American Prospect's Drake Bennett and Heidi Pauke write that "Other presidents have had problems with truth-telling... But George W. Bush is in a class by himself when it comes to prevarication. It is no exaggeration to say that lying has become Bush's signature as president."
U.S. officials tell the Guardian that the White House "has privately ruled out suggestions that the U.S. should go to war against Syria and has blocked preliminary planning for such a campaign in the Pentagon." The article also notes that because Syria is not a signatory to the chemical weapons convention, it wouldn't be breaking international law by possessing them.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger tells the BBC that "If George Bush decided that he was going to turn the troops loose on Syria now, and Iran after that, he would last in office for about 15 minutes... even I would feel that he ought be impeached." Earlier: Eagleburger sings a different tune on Fox.
With the shooting of three peace activists in the last month, some members of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM) believe that they are being deliberately targeted by the Israeli military.
Afghan gangs with anti-Western causes reminiscent of the Taliban have attacked and burned seven schools in Kandahar province in the past two months.
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
Ur, Iraq The Washington Post's Keith Richburg talks to disgruntled representatives of Iraqi political parties, who were in Ur to protest their exclusion from the U.S.-led meeting to plan a new government. Ur site.
Will Iraq's Shia Muslims choose religion or nationalism?
'No Normal Looters' A CNN reporter who toured Iraq's National Museum says curators now believe "that some of the items were taken [by art and cultural] professionals. Among other things they found were glass cutters that they said are not sold in Iraq."
The Guardian reports that "tens of thousands of Iraqis have lost their savings as a result of looting which has left the country without a single functioning bank." Baghdad's banks are said to have been pinched by professional gangs who placed armed men in front to prevent rivals from getting into the buildings. Plus: Guess who's coming to dinars?
A new Memory Hole section compiles the U.S. Treasury Department's weekly reports of corporations that have been penalized for trading with the enemy.
According to recent New York Times/CBS polls, the percentage of respondents who think the U.S. and its allies are winning the war on terror has gone up from 45% to 62% in the last six weeks. 'Has the Iraq war left the world a safer place?'
What gets the Democratic presidential candidates hot?
Michelangelo Signorile's detailing of the coordinated smear campaign against "Blinded by the Right" author David Brock, by Matt Drudge and Washington Post columnist Lloyd Grove, is an insightful look at how the gossip business works. Plus: He's no Walter Scott.
Iraq war's trashiest piece of propaganda?
Military spokesmen say that the capture of Abu Abbas is a vindication of the U.S. decision to invade Iraq. Italy wants to try him, the Leon Klinghofer family wants him tried in the U.S. and the Palestinian Authority wants him released, saying his detention violates a 1995 interim Middle East peace deal stating that PLO members must not be held or tried for matters they committed before the Oslo peace accord of 1993.
In 'Please, no more made-in-the-USA monsters,' Col. David Hackworth recounts the CIA's decades-long support for Saddam.
A visit to the mother of all battlefield attractions, prompt's the Guardian's Matthew Engel to draw an analogy between Lincoln's retrospective justification for the Civil War and the Iraq war, "where the liberation veneer was added belatedly to the original casus belli about weapons of mass destruction."
Read an excerpt from George Saunders theme park satire: "CivilWarLand in Bad Decline."
Amnesty International says the U.S. is putting petroleum before people in Iraq.
Many of the same Bush administration hawks who led the campaign for war against Iraq, signed a report released three years ago that called for using military force to disarm Syria of WMDs and to end its military presence in Lebanon. 'World media ask: why Syria?'
Who will be the Dan Rather of Iraq?
Thursday, April 17, 2003
A Dutch photographer who was embedded with the U.S. Marines, tells Le Monde what he saw on the outskirts of Baghdad.
As cluster bomblets litter the trees and lawns of one Baghdad neighborhood, many Iraqis, after a week of chaos, are turning their anger toward the U.S. Plus: Doug Ireland on the Pentagon's "low nation-building IQ."
"The official U.S. line on all this," writes Robert Fisk, "is that the looting is revenge – an explanation that is growing very thin – and that the fires are started by 'remnants of Saddam's regime.'... But people in Baghdad don't believe Saddam's former supporters are starting these fires. And neither do I."
Neal Pollack says that the Iraq war is driving Americans insane, and he has the fight stories to prove it.
The Christian Science Monitor reports that the Russian military has been jolted by the defeat of its Iraqi clone, but one general says: "The Americans bought the Iraqi military leadership with dollars. One can only envy a state that is so rich."
Were the Russians blogging for Saddam?
With weapons orders from potential U.S. adversaries reportedly picking up, Pravda sees a banner year for the Russian arms trade, provided that the U.S. doesn't try to cut it off.
Ilana Mercer takes the U.S. TV networks to task for their "slutty sell-out" to the Pentagon: "As farsighted as Washington has been in controlling and shaping the emerging information, not least through the embed program, the degree to which the networks have morphed into shills for the administration must exceed its wildest expectations."
Mercer also notes that the Pentagon "has begun to prime the American audiences (no other population would swallow the bait) with a new twist: The looters removed the evidence. Better still: The Syrians spirited the weapons away. Even better: Onward to Syria!"
Scott Ritter says that if no banned weapons are found, it will undermine the Bush administration's legal argument for invasion -- that U.S. action was justified by Iraq's being in material breach of its obligation to the U.N. to disarm: "But if there are no weapons of mass destruction, there is no material breach." Plus: "He's got them."
Brendan O'Neill sees more to America's hunt for weapons than a desire simply to justify the current campaign: "U.S. forces appear to be searching, not just for dodgy gas, goggles and guns, but for some vindication of their entire international mission."
U.S. special forces in western Iraq have reportedly been told that they can enter Syria to launch a "snatch-and-shoot" raid for Saddam if they track him to a hiding place there. Commenting on the questionable legality of such a move, a U.S. military source said: "We respect international law. But if it was the ace of spades, it would be different."
55-Card Monte A CentCom briefer said that the "most wanted" Iraqis deck of playing cards would serve as "a handy guide" to soldiers in the field. But Stars and Stripes reports that fewer than 200 decks were actually printed and that none have been distributed to soldiers, suggesting that their real utility lies elsewhere.
The Times of London follows up on a Washington Post article about the rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch, that, according to Iraqi witnesses "was not the heroic Hollywood story told by the U.S. military, but a staged operation that terrified patients and victimised the doctors who had struggled to save her life."
See the obituary graphics that CNN has prepared in advance for Dick Cheney, Ronald Reagan, Fidel Castro, Bob Hope, Pope John Paul II, and Nelson Mandela.
TalkLeft looks at the Double Standard in the Terror War: "When individuals are charged with doing business with enemy states or listed terrorist groups, there are press conferences and press releases, evidence leaks, criminal charges, ruined reputations and more likely than not, jail time. When it happens to a corporation, the penalty turns out to be a slap on the wrist."
The Pentagon is being tight-lipped about the bombing of Iranian guerrilla forces based in Iraq.
Friday, April 18, 2003
Palestinian boys talk about their arrest by the Israeli Defense Forces for throwing rocks, the charge levelled at the majority of the 300 Palestinian minors being held in Israeli jails, prisons and detention facilities.
Time pulls 1998 essay by George Bush Sr. and Brent Scowcroft -- "Why We Didn't Remove Saddam" -- from Web site.
The Detroit Free Press reports on the rumor circulating among Dearborn's Arab-Americans, and throughout Arab communities worldwide, that Saddam made a deal with the U.S. government to escape Iraq with his money and his life.
Iraq's charge d'affaires to Brazil leaves Saddam hanging.
B-Laden? Todd Morman offers an instructive history of Hezbollah, in response to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage's claim that Hezbollah may be the terrorist "A-team," while al-Qaeda "may be actually the B-team."
But Syriously Brendan O'Neill looks at what's behind all the 'mouthing off.'
Origin of the phrase "fog of war" enveloped in controversy.
Hesiod at Counterspin Central notes that April 19 is a quadruple-witching anniversary.
Three cultural advisers to the Bush administration have resigned in protest over the failure of U.S. forces to prevent the looting of Baghdad's antiquities museum. One told Reuters that "We certainly know the value of oil but we certainly don't know the value of historical artifacts."
A University of Chicago professor attending a U.N.-sponsored meeting of art experts and cultural historians, said that "It looks as if part of the looting was a deliberate planned action... I have a suspicion it was organized outside the country, in fact I'm pretty sure it was."
In an examination of the laws pertaining to the rights and obligations of "Occupying Powers," international law professor Michael Schmitt writes that "although there have been assertions that the coalition forces are not police, in fact occupation law imposes policing responsibilities on them during an occupation." Plus: Been there, looted that.
"From the moment that statue of Saddam hit the ground," writes Arianna Huffington, "the mood around the Rumsfeld campfire has been all high-fives, I-told-you-sos, and endless smug prattling about how the speedy fall of Baghdad is proof positive that those who opposed the invasion of Iraq were dead wrong. What utter nonsense. In fact, the speedy fall of Baghdad proves the anti-war movement was dead right."
'Young voice' says not so fast on declaring victory.
Less than 24 hours after issuing a press release criticizing the U.S. military's attempts to oversee humanitarian intervention in Iraq, Voices in the Wilderness was banned from meeting with the U.S. Civil Military Operations Center, or with international journalists working out of the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad.
An AP report on Bechtel's being awarded the lead reconstruction contract in Iraq, notes that President Bush recently named former Bechtel executive Ross Connelly, as COO of the Overseas Private Investment Corp (OPIC). And the New York Times in an article on Bechtel's ties to Washington and Iraq, points out that in February, Bush named Bechtel's chief executive to serve on his Export Council.
In January, Bechtel denied that information contained in the redacted page of Iraq's U.S. weapons declaration, proved that it helped Iraq beef up its military in the 1980s.
Major Barbara deconstructs the reconstruction at Arms and The Man.
Kids and overseas private investment: How young is too young?
Michael Kinsley says that reserving government contracts in Iraq for domestic companies not only violates international law, it's also bad trade policy.
Katrina vanden Heuvel blogs articles on war profiteering and some legislative proposals designed to reign it in.
Monday, April 21, 2003
Iraqi Shiites are exhuming their war dead from makeshift graves and transporting them to the sacred city of Najaf, for a proper burial. Photographer Michael Robinson-Chavez narrates an accompanying slide show: "Najaf's City of the Dead."
Al-Jazeera reports that U.S. forces have booby-trapped a Baghdad power station and barred oil ministry employees from re-entering the building. But according to a Financial Times article, employees whose names were on a list given to U.S. troops by the self-declared "mayor of Baghdad," were allowed back into the building.
"These are tumultuous, frightening days for Iraqis," writes Australian correspondent Paul McGeough, who leaves Baghdad after a two-month stint: "A despised regime crumbled in the face of overwhelming force, but the invading army is yet to get a grip on the chaos it has created... in the early days of what many Iraqis still feel is an occupation, not a liberation." Earlier: Robert Fisk hits the streets.
Palast's article, "The Great Florida Ex-Con Game," is a National Magazine Award finalist in the public interest category. It ran in Harper's, which was nominated along with Mother Jones for General Excellence among magazines with a circulation of 100,000 to 250,000. Complete list of 2003 finalists.
The Palm Beach Post reports that a state legislator has proposed that the electric golf carts used by residents of Disney's Celebration and other exclusive Florida communities, be exempted from state sales tax.
Anti-tax advocacy group attacks two Republican senators for "standing in the way" of Bush's tax cut plan. The Club for Growth is running ads showing French flags fluttering beside images of the senators.
After falling for a Nigerian "advance fee fraud" to the tune of an estimated half-a-million dollars, a true believer conned friends, family members and business associates out of an additional $250,000 to keep hope alive.
Read the first chapter of "Drake's Fortune," the story of how Oscar Hartzell swindled tens of thousands of midwesterners out of their life savings, by claiming that an up-front investment would get them a piece of the Sir Francis Drake estate. When Hartzell was caught, many of his marks refused to believe they had been duped.
An article on the World Socialist Web Site provides a detailed look at how the American Council for Cultural Policy, a lobbying group that represents wealthy art collectors, is working to undermine attempts by "source" countries to protect their archaeological sites and museums. Plus: Baghdad exhibits reportedly for sale in Switzerland and Japan and U.S. army ignored warnings on looting.
The treasurer of the ACCP debates the president of the Cambrian Archaeological Association on "Democracy Now!"
See illustrations from the only detailed catalog of the museum, "Treasures of the Iraq Museum," published in Baghdad in 1975 and '76.
New museum exhibit has international flavor.
The Independent's Andrew Gumbel follows up on last week's 'So where are the weapons of mass destruction?,' with 'Anthrax, chemicals and nerve gas: who is lying?' Plus: An Independent editorial asks: 'So where are they Mr. Blair?'
The New York Times' Judith Miller reports that an Iraqi scientist is said to have told a U.S. military team that Iraq destroyed chemical weapons just days before the war began, secretly sent unconventional weapons and technology to Syria starting in the mid-1990's, and more recently cooperated with al-Qaeda.
Eric Umansky has more on Miller's agreement to submit a draft of her article "for a check by military officials." (scroll down)
In an article on "Unfinished Business" in Iraq, the head of the Non-Proliferation Project tells Time that "It may be that there aren't as many weapons as the President said, in which case we have a major intelligence failure, a huge embarrassment for the President and a huge blow to U.S. credibility—and that's the good news."
The Times of London quotes a U.S. Marine Sergeant on the use of cluster bombs in Iraq: "They are a huge pain in the ass. The only way to get rid of them is to explode them one by one. What I heard is that they began using the cluster bombs because they ran out of high-explosives."
In a report titled "Carving Up the New Iraq," Scotland's Sunday Herald picks reconstruction's big winners.
Philip Weiss on Tim Russert and Thomas Friedman, the 'Bloviating Pillars Of American Empire.'
Cable news channels return to regularly scheduled programming.
Frank Rich on the 'Perfect Pitch' of the "Daily Show's" Jon Stewart.
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Robert Parry frames the debate: "The pro-empire side argues that only a militarily assertive United States can address what Bush calls 'gathering dangers' facing the nation – even if that means tighter constraints on liberty at home and freer use of U.S. troops abroad. The pro-republic forces say Bush’s imperial strategy is a sham – false security that cedes life-and-death national decisions to the dictates of one man."
Colman McCarthy says U.S. TV networks turned the tube "into a parade ground for military men -- all well-groomed white males -- saluting the ethic that war is rational, that bombing and shooting are the way to win peace, and that their uniformed pals in Iraq were there to free people, not slaughter them." He praises C-SPAN for being alone in offering "the left wing, the right wing and the whole bird."
Ba'ath Party members are going back to work, reports Suzanne Goldberger: "It has become increasingly apparent that Washington cannot restore governance to Baghdad without resorting to the party which for decades controlled every aspect of life under the regime."
Goldberger notes that the Iraqi Writers' Union - who were paid to write poems for Saddam - now claim to have been secret opponents of the regime. In 2002, Al-Hayat wrote about the group's boffo PR blitz for a novel attributed to Saddam: "Never in the history of modern Arabic literature has any book been the subject of so many favorable reviews, and never has an author, anonymous or named, been so highly lauded."
Spying on the Media Newsweek reports that Iraqi intelligence "routinely recycled old newspaper clips from foreign media and passed them off as secret reports from 'informants of high reliability.' In a mid-2002 memo, the chief reported that Saddam himself had ordered 'a reassessment of our people abroad because information that the stations overseas send in are all in the public domain or from the media.'"
A reader sends a heads up on a group that is working to preserve a piece of Iraq's cultural heritage.
A Salon correspondent looks at the "veil of secrecy" surrounding the issue of Iraqi soldiers -- "how many died or were wounded, how many deserted or fought to the end, where they are now. Neither the U.S. forces in Iraq nor the Iraqis themselves seem to be willing to delve into it too deep."
Layover An aircraft-leasing plan by Boeing and the U.S. Air Force proposes to employ Enron-like off-the-books financing.
AP reports that a group of Christian Congressmen live in Washington DC housing maintained by a secretive organization alternately known as the "Fellowship" and the "Foundation," that brings together world leaders and elected officials through religion.
Killing the Buddha's Jeffrey Sharlet went "undercover among America's secret theocrats" for a March 2003 Harper's article on "the Family," yet another name for the "Fellowship" and the "Foundation." In "Jesus Plus Nothing," he writes that "Sometimes the brothers would ask me why I was there... I told my brothers that I was there to meet Jesus, and I was: the new ruling Jesus, whose ways are secret." Plus: What they don't like about Sharlet's article and Harper's.
The New York Times reports that President Bush's re-election strategy will revolve around staging the latest nominating convention in his party's history, to allow him to begin his formal campaign near the third anniversary of the 9/11 attacks: "The back-to-back events would complete the framework for a general election campaign that is being built around national security and Mr. Bush's role in combatting terrorism, Republicans said."
Just Asking The Washington Post's Dana Milbank reports that the White House's "less-is-more communications approach reached its logical extreme" in a pair of briefings in Texas last week by deputy press secretary Claire Buchan. "In an exchange of nearly 3,800 words, the spokeswoman managed not to answer about 75 questions."
Slate's Jack Shafer on the "slippery" deal struck between New York Times reporter Judith Miller and the U.S. military, in which "she consented to pre-publication review—oh, hell, let's call it censorship!—of her story by military officials."
"Today Show" cuts the mic on Tim Robbins.
Richard Cohen suggests "a prize for the worst in journalism. It should be called the Murdoch. The first Murdoch would go to Rupert Murdoch himself, a media mogul who has single-handedly lowered the standards of journalism wherever he has gone." Sounds like the P.U.-Litzers.
How much damage did the Dixie Chicks do to their career by bashing President Bush? Scroll down for pictures of Iraq's soldier-kissing Zelig.
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
The Other Air War Activists says that the Bush administration has taken advantage of the Iraq distraction to stealthily enact its anti-environmental agenda.
"Democracy Now!" has the transcript of its interview with a Reuters photographer who was standing next to the AP cameraman who was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier in Nablus last Saturday.
You've got (fake hate) mail!
Bush administration officials tell the Washington Post that they "underestimated the Shiites' organizational strength, and are unprepared to prevent the rise of an anti-American, Islamic fundamentalist government in the country."
Dilip Hiro says that while the post-war power vacuum in Iraq is reminiscent of Iran in 1979, it's unlikely that an Ayatollah Khomeini-like figure will emerge: "The only viable solution for the transient Iraqi authority is likely to be a collective of three leaders — one Sunni, one Shiite and one Kurd. But Washington would be ill advised to establish that tripartite government. Iraqis would more readily agree to outside interference only of other Muslim states, either through the Arab League or the United Nations."
"Even as they stifle their Pax Americana impulses in Iraq," writes Maureen Dowd, "the imperialists swagger with a Pox Americana at home."
Bruce Springsteen defends the Dixie Chicks in a statement published on his Web site: "The pressure coming from the government and big business to enforce conformity of thought concerning the war and politics goes against everything that this country is about - namely freedom."
In speculating on why the terror alert was lowered, Michelangelo Signorile asks: "If there were 'indications' days before the war began that al-Qaeda was planning to use weapons of mass destruction—in 'multiple attacks,' no less—why would such elaborate, delicate, time-consuming plans suddenly become nonexistent, just two days after Bush decided the war in Iraq had finished?"
The New York Times Judith Miller tells Ray Suarez that the yet-unnamed Iraqi "scientist," who she wrote about without the benefit of an interview, is being characterized by the military unit that she is embedded with, as not just a smoking gun, but as a silver bullet. Plus: Iraq isn't the easiest place to plant evidence.
Ambitions and the Man Reuters reports that some U.S. officials have "begun to suggest that finding scientists who will testify to Saddam's arms ambitions could be enough to fulfill America's justification for the Iraq war -- even if the weapons themselves are never located."
Four Kings U.S. soldiers arrested for trying to steal nearly $1 million of the $700 million in U.S. currency found on the grounds of the Baghdad estates of fleeing Ba'ath Party officials.
U.S. troops arrest Free Iraqi Forces for looting of homes in a Baghdad enclave where Ba'ath party members lived.
We Loot, You Decide The Guardian's Jonathan Steele visits Iraq's foreign ministry, which is being policed by the Free Iraqi Forces. He says that they're now, a la Saddam, assigning minders to reporters, after an American television network took carloads of documents and several U.S. TV reporters removed key treaties from Iraq's diplomatic archives.
"E.N." has a question for the Belleville News Democrat's "Wartime Answer Man": "I have a friend trying to convince me that the United States was at least partially responsible for giving Saddam Hussein the weapons of mass destruction that we now have been fighting to destroy. Can he be right?"
Iraqi tribe claims a Saddam surrender plan was derailed when U.S. bombs leveled the home of the tribal chief while he was meeting with Saddam's emissary, killing the chief and 17 members of his immediate family.
Trailer Trashed! Drunken confrontation gets writer forcibly removed from mobile home park.
Thursday, April 24, 2003
The U.S. military is warning Iraqis against unilaterally claiming authority in their country. "The coalition alone retains absolute authority within Iraq," said the commander of U.S. ground forces there.
The Independent's Kim Sengupta reports that the Shia pilgrimage to Karbala "took on a strident political and martial note yesterday with demands for the establishment of an Islamic state and threats of a jihad against the 'American occupiers'.
Was the Bush administration actually surprised by Shiite calls for an Islamic state? (Scroll to April 23)
The AP reports that "Massive arms caches abandoned by Iraqi forces and cleaned out by scavengers have put automatic weapons in the hands of anyone who covets one."
Conservationists are hopeful that Iraq can get back to the garden.
Brand New Iraq The Antic Muse says that "when it comes to instituting American-style democracy in Iraq, the news will be less important than the commercial breaks." Plus: Is "AmeriCooning" the next big thing?
Neoconservatives are promoting the return to Iran of Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, eldest son of the former Shah. Earlier: Pahlavi and other expats beam subversive content into Iran from a "hellhole of a TV station" in Hollywood.
According to an Israeli newspaper report, the country's Mossad intelligence agency, now under the direction of a former political adviser to Prime Minister Sharon, has shifted its focus from collecting intelligence, analysis and research, to employing overseas commando operations aimed at fighting "Islamic terrorism."
Salon challenges Bill O'Reilly to an e-mail debate, saying that he "wildly misrepresented" its article on the fall of Baghdad, "Liberation Day." Plus: O'Reilly attacks Robert Scheer, calling him a "traitor" and "blatantly anti-American."
New York Times colleagues of reporter Judith Miller question the deal that she made with the U.S. military for her article about an Iraqi scientist who claimed that banned weapons had been destroyed in the days leading up the war. One unnamed source at the paper called it a "wacky-assed piece," and said that there were "real questions about it and why it was on page 1."
More questions about the article and Miller's pre-9/11 reporting on the U.S. biological weapons program. Slate's Jack Shafer asks: 'Is the New York Times breaking the news—or flacking for the military?'
"Bush and his national security team have already violated their prewar commitment to the United States and the world," argues David Corn. "They claimed that finding and eliminating WMD in Iraq was the prime reason for the war. Yet they -- of all people -- do not seem to have taken the threat seriously, for they failed to draw up adequate plans to deal with it."
Cynthia Cotts says the fact that war promoters, who couldn't wait another week for UN inspectors to do their job, are now saying their own WMD search may take months, "is all so peculiar it calls for a heightened level of skepticism. But after weeks of false alarms, some major media outlets have fallen into the habit of unironically reporting, the absence of news."
Reporters get fed up with White House spokesman Ari Fleishcher's tactics, with one saying "Hold on. We're entitled to follow up, Ari -- this isn't homeroom."
What to do when 10,000 nuclear weapons isn't enough?
With high gas prices idling Cuba's Soviet-made tractors, the ox is back in vogue.
SARS impact on world trade is beginning to work its way through the U.S. economy.
Friday, April 25, 2003
Body Politics Soundbitten's Greg Beato asks why it was left to a bunch of volunteers to track the deaths of Iraqi civilians: "How come CNN, or Fox News, or the New York Times didn't create their own versions of Iraqbodycount.net?"
Former BBC chief news correspondent criticizes "macho" coverage of the Iraq war.
The director general of the BBC slams American TV and radio networks for their "shocking" and "gung-ho" coverage. He also said that the U.S. has "no news operation strong enough or brave enough to stand up against" the White House and Pentagon.
CNN's Eason Jordan tells Howard Kurtz: "I went to the Pentagon myself several times before the war started and met with important people there and said, for instance, at CNN, 'Here are the generals we're thinking of retaining to advise us on the air and off about the war.' And we got a big thumbs-up on all of them. That was important."
A prominent Republican fund-raiser who once said that Bill Clinton was "a lawbreaker and a terrible example to our nation's young people," has pleaded guilty to production of child pornography.
An AP reporter to Sen. Rick Santorum: "I'm sorry, I didn't think I was going to talk about 'man on dog' with a United States senator, it's sort of freaking me out."
Wal-Mart frowns on satire encouraging consumers to print their own bar codes.
PETA's Dead Meat The president of the animal-rights organization says that she has drawn up a will directing that her flesh be barbecued and her skin used to make leather products. She also instructs that her liver be vacuum-packed and sent to France to be used in a campaign to persuade shoppers not to buy foie gras.
About Rep. Richard Gephardt's proposal to scrap the 2001 tax cut and use the reclaimed revenue to provide health benefits to the uninsured, Paul Krugman asks: "Why shouldn't the typical citizen, faced with a choice between Bush-style tax cuts and a plan to provide health insurance to most of the uninsured, choose the latter?"
During a trip to Ohio, President Bush talked down the "little bitty" $350 billion tax cut senators approved, and spoke to a prediction that his plan would create more than a million jobs: "That's not my projection. That's the projection of a lot of smart economists who have analyzed the package." But Washington Post reporters point out that it's actually the prediction of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, and that independent economists dispute it.
Writing in The New Republic, Eli Lake says that bureaucratic infighting over competing U.S. plans for governing Iraq "is sowing confusion, delaying reconstruction, and leaving the political field largely open for the worst kind of anti-Western, anti-democratic leaders to rise."
Seat of Power A New York Times correspondent says that the removal of ornate furniture from presidential palaces and the hiding of weapons and cash, suggests that Iraqi leaders were expecting to ride out the war in their bunkers and return to power. Plus: U.S. Army alleges soldiers snatched $13.1 million of found money.
What's the deal about a deal between Bush and Saddam?
The Washington Post reports that the death rate for SARS has doubled -- from 3 to 6 percent -- in recent days, and scientists don't know whether it's a statistical fluke or SARS is becoming more deadly.
Turn Out the Lights? The parents of Jim Morrison are suing two of their son's former Doors bandmates, claiming that the musicians, now touring in a reformed version of the group, have "maliciously misappropriated" the band's name and logo and are using Morrison's poetry and photos without permission.
Monday, April 28, 2003
Following up on CIA Director George Tenet's prediction that the "domino theory of the 21st century may well be nuclear," the Cleveland Plain Dealer looks at how insecure countries are taking the technology provided for civilian purposes by the U.S. and others, and using it to make bombs. Plus: Why Japan may be next.
A report by an Oklahoma TV station on the U.S. government's secret spraying of biological agents during cold war-era tests in 239 cities, includes an interview with an Oklahoma City man who recently discovered that in 1965 he was given VX, Sarin and LSD. Scroll down for a Wall Street Journal article on the tests.
The Los Angeles Times profiles former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who is reviled by the right and shunned by the left for his embrace of unpopular causes. Clark says that if Saddam -- who he has met with five times since 1991 -- is captured and prosecuted for war crimes, he would be willing to defend him.
Kles Nakne! Norwegian newspaper publishes photos of U.S. soldiers forcing Iraqi men -- suspected of trying to steal weapons -- to walk naked through a Baghdad park.
Start Making Sense The head of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee says that it's time for Arab countries to stop sending laughable characters like the Iraqi information minister in front of the cameras.
Slate's Jim Lewis says that Diane Sawyer's interview with the Dixie Chicks, in which she "prompted the three of them to ask for forgiveness, in a gruesome moment of utterly fake primetime piety... was one of those broadcast moments that make you want to put your foot through the television."
Brawl of Confusion Iraq war songs not sure where they stand.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz reportedly had two words for Al Franken, who approached him at the White House correspondents dinner and asked: “Clinton’s military did pretty well in Iraq, huh?”
ABC reports that some Bush administration officials now privately acknowledge that the primary reason for war in Iraq was a global show of U.S. power and democracy: "The administration emphasized the danger of Saddam's weapons to gain the legal justification for war from the U.N. and to stress the danger at home to Americans. 'We were not lying,' said one official. 'But it was just a matter of emphasis.' "
The Times of London reports that British intelligence officials are downplaying the significance of documents found in Baghdad by a Telegraph reporter, appearing to show that the Iraqi government hosted an al-Qaeda envoy in 1998.
Oil-for-Food Program The policy director of OxFam says the U.S. choice to head agricultural reconstruction in Iraq, Dan Amstutz, a former senior executive of Cargill, "is uniquely well-placed to advance the commercial interests of American grain companies and bust open the Iraqi market -- but singularly ill-equipped to lead a reconstruction effort in a developing country."
Burger Giant Gets Religion Spanish Catholic Church picks McDonald's to feed the masses during papal appearance.
April 25 -27
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
Girls Gone Missing Jeanne D'Arc at Body and Soul wonders why no one commented on the fact that crowds at the toppling of Saddam's statues were all men. She looks at the prospects for women's rights in post-Saddam Iraq, be it in a theocracy or a government stocked with Iraqi exiles.
Sasha Undercover wonders about the disappearance of Condoleeza Rice: "Less than a month ago you couldn't pick up a newspaper or turn on a Sunday morning talking head event without happening upon her countenance... Could it be that the administration was using her gender to put a kinder, gentler face on the impending war and now that the hostilities are about to be declared at an end they no longer perceive a need to put that particular spin on the invasion."
'When the Bombs Hit Home' A writer for Sacramento's alternative weekly interviews three generations of women from one Iraqi-American family, about what it was like to watch the war unfold on Al-Jazeera: "Imagine if your hometown was being bombed, and all you could do was watch... spellbound by the bombings, the fires and the steady progression of the allied forces...Through TV, they saw their homeland blown to bits, an experience that many Americans can’t comprehend."
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld heralds 'first strike' era, compares toppling of Saddam with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the liberation of Paris.
Howard Kurtz interviews New York Times correspondent John Burns, who talks of the fine line between telling the truth about Iraq and maintaining access: "I was also trying to strike a balance. I would look at my thesaurus and try to find ways of avoiding such words as brutal, repressive, dictatorship, fear, terror."
Kurtz also notes that conservatives defending Sen. Rick Santorum are taking aim at the AP reporter who interviewed him, because she's married to Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign manager. Spinsanity looks at how the debate is being fueled by misrepresentations of what Santorum said.
William Greider says that "movement conservatives" are busy trying to implement their plan for 'Rolling Back the 20th Century': "Governing authority and resources are... returned to local levels and also to individuals and private institutions, most notably corporations and religious organizations. The primacy of private property rights is re-established over the shared public priorities expressed in government regulation. Above all, private wealth -- both enterprises and individuals with higher incomes -- are permanently insulated from the progressive claims of the graduated income tax."
Documents disclosed as part of the $1.4 billion settlement between the government and 10 Wall Street investment firms and 2 stock analysts, reveal the firms' disregard for the individual investor. In one e-mail message, a Lehman Brothers analyst told an institutional investor that "ratings and price targets are fairly meaningless anyway... but, yes, the 'little guy' who isn't smart about the nuances may get misled, such is the nature of my business." Earlier: 'The A-B-Cs of crony capitalism.'
A former telemarketer for Epixtar Communications, which sells telecommunications services to small businesses under a variety of different brand names, including a flag-waving "One Nation Calling Plan," reveals the tricks of the "cramming" trade. Epixtar's stock price has gone from 28 cents a share last November, to a Monday close of $4.38.
In 'Total Information Control,' Peter Phillips takes full advantage of the opportunity that war offers to observe the symbiotic relationship between government and corporate media. Earlier: 'Corporate media defaults on 9/11.'
Following up on reports by ABC and the Independent that call into question the stated reason for going to war in Iraq and examine the factual distortions used to justify it, Paul Krugman asks: "Aren't the leaders of a democratic nation supposed to tell their citizens the truth?... Did the news media feel that it was unpatriotic to question the administration's credibility?"
Joe Conason says that avid fans of Krugman's colleague Thomas Friedman "must be badly confused by now." On April 27 Friedman wrote that "As far as I'm concerned, we do not need to find any weapons of mass destruction to justify this war," noting the excavation of the skeletons of Saddam's victims. "That skull, and the thousands more that will be unearthed, are enough for me. Mr. Bush doesn't owe the world any explanation for missing chemical weapons (even if it turns out that the White House hyped this issue)." Conason contrasts this with earlier columns in which Friedman argued how important it was that the war be justified to the rest of the world.
USA Today's Don Campbell writes that "If weapons are found and their authenticity confirmed, Bush will have the I-told-you-so moment of his presidency." But, if "Bush deliberately misled Americans to gather support for the Iraqi invasion -- or unwittingly was misled himself by gung-ho advisers... either should carry a heavy political price."
"60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft looks in on Halliburton's extended family.
EPA officials say that the agency's criminal agents are being diverted from their normal investigative work to perform personal assistant duties for agency head Christie Whitman.
Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Phoenix New Times looks at how Southern California surgical clinics are employing rent-a-patients, most of whom are immigrants, to undergo unnecessary and sometimes risky medical procedures for the purpose of scamming insurance companies.
The Gettin's Good Four of Tom Ridge's senior deputies at the White House are now working as "homeland security" lobbyists: "There is nothing unusual about former government workers lobbying their old colleagues," notes the New York Times. "The surprising thing about Mr. Ridge's former aides is how quickly they chose to take up new careers as domestic security lobbyists."
The Times refers to an analysis by PoliticalMoneyLine, showing that as of last week, 569 companies and organizations had used the words "homeland," "security" or "terror" on the registration forms in describing their lobbying activities, up from 457 at the beginning of this year, and 157 at the beginning of 2002.
With the U.S. announcement that it will withdraw its military bases from Saudi Arabia, bin Laden's main demand is met.
Iraqi National Congress head Ahmad Chalabi says Al-Jazeera is "completely infiltrated by Iraqi intelligence."
Military analyst sees Fourth Generation warfare in Iraq.
Baghdad's prostitutes take advantage of power vacuum, return to work.
Israel's ambassador to the U.S. calls for "regime change" in Iran and Syria, but says that war is not the answer. He advocates diplomatic isolation, economic sanctions and "psychological pressure."
At a press conference following what was supposed to be a fence-mending meeting in Moscow, Vladimir Putin taunted Tony Blair: “The question is, where is Saddam Hussein? Where are those weapons of mass destruction, if they were ever in existence? Is Saddam Hussein in a bunker sitting on cases containing weapons of mass destruction, preparing to blow the whole place up?” Plus: 'Russia's mood misjudged as friends fall out.'
Editors of "The Iraq War Reader" have launched a blog to complement their just-published anthology and to keep the debate alive. In a Village Voice interview, co-editor Micah Sifry says that he sees "this as a battle between the neocons and their fellow travelers, and their sense of assurance that they know what's best, and everybody else who has read the same history and learned that it doesn't always work out that way."
Norman Mailer says that the war in Iraq was fought to boost the ego of a besieged demographic group.
The Daily Howler says that Diane Sawyer's treatment of the Dixie Chicks "painted the portrait of a corrupt age." He wonders where Sawyer and other journalists were when the Rev. Jerrry Falwell was peddling a tape on his "Old Time Gospel Hour," which -- among other things -- accused then-President Clinton of murder.
New York Times reporter accused of lifting quotes from San Antonio paper.
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