|May, 2004 link archive
Monday, May 3, 2004Scotland's Sunday Herald weighs the impact of what it calls 'The pictures that lost the war," and in an essay on TomDispatch, Juan Cole concludes that "The Bush administration, despite the savvy of its spinmeisters and Hollywood-trained publicists, has lost the war of images abroad," and that "cracks have increasingly opened up on the domestic front as well."
A Guardian correspondent visits the parking lot at Abu Ghraib to get reaction to the photos from Iraqis whose relatives are being held at the prison, and a Lebanese political analyst tells the Christian Science Monitor that "It simply confirms what people already think about the Americans. But it will be embarrassing for the Americans in Iraq, and that's where it's going to count."
As seven more U.S. soldiers are reprimanded in the alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski tells the New York Times that military commanders are trying to shift the blame away from intelligence officers still at work in Iraq. Robert Fisk writes that Karpinski "told me she had visited Camp X--Ray in Guantanamo and found nothing wrong with it. I should have guessed then that something had gone terribly wrong in Iraq."
On ABC's "This Week," Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, denied "categorically" that abuse of Iraqi prisoners has been systematic, but on CBS's "Face the Nation" he said, "I'm not sure of it."
Myers, who intervened to delay the CBS News broadcast on the prison scandal story, also claimed that he has not yet read Major General Antonio M. Taguba's 53-page report -- the subject of Seymour Hersh's "Torture at Abu Ghraib" -- which Myers said has been "working its way up the chain" since February.
Appalled by pictures of "naked, helpless, hooded men," Baghdad Burning's Riverbend writes that "my blood boils at the thought of what must be happening to the female prisoners."
As Marines pull back from Fallujah and Iraqi insurgents proclaim victory, the Christian Science Monitor reports that "Free Fallujah" is quickly gaining myth status, and an AP article debunks U.S. official assertions that "foreign fighters and terrorists" are driving the insurgency in Fallujah, quoting U.S. military leaders as saying that Iraqis make up 90 percent of the fighters there. Plus: Will ex-Hussein general stay or will he go?
Ten to One AP tally puts Iraqi death toll for April at 1,361, compared to "the figure of at least 136 U.S. troops who died during the same period."
In 'Wolfie's Fuzzy Math,' Maureen Dowd asks: "What can you say about a deputy defense secretary so eager to invade Iraq he was nicknamed Wolfowitz of Arabia... who doesn't bother to keep track of the young Americans who died for his delusion?" Earlier: Energy industry analyst says Wolfowitz's claim that Iraqi oil exports are at "pre-war levels" is "Simply not accurate."
Newsweek reports that Bush administration officials have been "briefed on intelligence indicating that [Ahmad] Chalabi and some of his top aides have supplied Iran with 'sensitive' information on the American occupation in Iraq," and Josh Marshall writes that "I'm told that the Jordanians have phone intercept intelligence, which they shared with the US government, showing that Chalabi had advance warning" of the August 2003 bombing of the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad.
Calling President Bush's endorsement of Prime Minister Sharon's plan to withdraw from Gaza "a huge gamble," a Washington Post analysis says the Likud Party's overwhelming rejection of Sharon's plan "has left the administration's credibility in the Middle East in tatters." Plus: Vote described as "a shocker for the Bush administration."
Leaking on Clinton Time reports that Bush is said to have told the 9/11 commission that former President Clinton appeared more concerned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the dangers of North Korea's nuclear program than terrorism, which Bush said Clinton "probably mentioned" as a national-security threat "but did not make it a point of emphasis." Plus: 'Bremer takes back statements about Bush.'
In an interview with David Corn, former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson, who also appeared Sunday on "Meet the Press," said of the FBI investigation into who outed his wife Valerie Plame as a CIA agent: "I'm appalled that they haven't gotten to the bottom of it yet, and I have to conclude that the reason is because administration officials in the know are simply stonewalling."
In "Defining Puppetry Down," Kautilyan details the extent to which New York Times' White House correspondent Elisabeth Bumiller went to defend Bush against charges that Vice President Cheney is pulling the strings.
Cheney was well-behaved at Florida State University, after more than 200 students signed a letter asking the school's president to seek assurances from Cheney that his commencement address would "not be another political diatribe aimed only at scoring points in the presidential campaign."
A Chicago Tribune op-ed says that "Kerry is so eager to run away from his past as a critic of the Vietnam War that he is losing sight of the future. The John Kerry of 2004 has a divided conscience -- torn between patriotism and humanity." Plus: 'Still life' with Kerry and Ralph Nader on the move.
The founding president of what was to be called Ronald Reagan University, said he was shocked to hear that Nancy Reagan had nixed the idea of naming the school after her husband: "I'm just sitting here watching Fox News and recovering with a scotch in my hand. When I wake up tomorrow, maybe I'll think about it some more."
April 30-May 2
Tuesday, May 4, 2004
The companies employing two contract workers implicated in the abuse of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison, tell the New York Times that they have heard nothing from the Pentagon and have not removed any employees from Iraq, and the Boston Globe reports that a legal loophole could allow the workers to escape punishment.
The Globe article quotes "Corporate Warriors" author Peter W. Singer as asking "What's left?" for the U.S. military to outsource. In 'Battlefield of Dreams,' Paul Krugman says that while the Bush "administration has privatized everything in sight" in Iraq, "What's truly shocking... is the privatization of purely military functions."
Appearing on PBS' "NewsHour," Seymour Hersh said that "One of the things the major general said in his report is you have a systemic problem... what you're seeing is the result of a decision made somewhere up high up in the line that we're going to turn our prisons essentially into... Guantanamos, they're all going to become factories for eliciting intelligence..."
'Continuity of Government' Billmon follows up on comments by a Lebanese journalist who appeared with Hersh and pointed out "The irony that these abuses were taking place in Abu Ghraib, the most notorious prison during Saddam's regime, a facility that should have been razed to the ground and in its place built a shrine or memorial to its many victims."
The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff say they have yet to read, or be briefed about the Army's report on abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, which was completed in February. Plus: 'Let the Wall of Silence Fall,' and 'From Fallujah to Photos, One Fiasco After Another.'
A proposal by the U.S. Selective Service System, that was presented to Pentagon officials before the invasion of Iraq and recently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, calls for registering women and extending the age of draft registration from 25 to 34.
Josh Marshall breaks posting fast to introduce Salon article on "How Ahmed Chalabi conned the neocons." Earlier: Muslim Wakeup! asked, "Is Chalabi dating Julia Roberts?", after his name popped up in Walter Scott's "Personality Parade."
The Washington Post reports that a Council on American-Islamic Relations study which found that anti-Muslim incidents in the U.S. increased by almost 70 percent in 2003, attributed the jump to "such factors as Muslim-bashing on radio talk shows and tensions surrounding the war in Iraq."
Ismail Zayer, the editor-in-chief of a U.S.-funded Iraqi newspaper has resigned, citing interference from the American company that oversees its publication. The article notes that Iraqis consider the paper to be a mouthpiece of the U.S.-led coalition, but in March, Zayer told the Los Angeles Times that "We are not the mouthpiece of the CPA."
Iraq and Cuba top list of world’s worst places to be a journalist.
The Christian Science Monitor reports that the Pakistani government has had zero response to an amnesty program designed to induce suspected Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in border tribal areas to register and lay down their arms.
Stumping for the Bush-Cheney campaign at the Nevada Republican Party's state convention, former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed urged delegates to join him in only watching Fox News. Plus: Howard Kurtz's printing of innuendo by Fox anchor Brit Hume inspires online ambush of Kurtz.
Media Matters and Pandagon look at plans by Fox News to counter "Nightline's" program on U.S. war dead. Scroll to comments for a reference to Fox headlining an article on the escape of truck driver Thomas Hamill, 'American Soldier Makes Daring Escape.'
A Boulder Daily Camera editorial asking "What's 'biased' about reading names of war dead?," notes the lack of "complaint when ABC and other news outlets aired the names of victims on the first anniversary of 9/11."
A community activist group is gathering ammunition for a challenge to Sinclair's license to operate WLOS, "Western North Carolina's News Leader," by taping the station's nightly news broadcasts. Earlier: Takin' it to the suites.
Alternet excerpts a new book from the editors of PR Watch: "Banana Republicans: How the Right Wing Is Turning America into a One-Party State." Plus: Class of '94 revisited and why it's almost impossible to lose reelection to a U.S. House seat.
A report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service says efforts by Bush administration officials to prevent the chief Medicare actuary from giving Congress estimates of the cost of Medicare legislation, probably violated federal law.
In a Columbia Journalism Review article on 'George W. and the Texas Press,' Bush-bashing author Lou Dubose is quoted as saying that while "Bush's presidency helped me... The prospect of another four years of this guy is too much. I don't want to write another book."
Boy George The Globe and Mail reviews a new book by Peter Singer, "The President of Good and Evil: The Morality of George W. Bush," excerpted here, which places Bush at the conventional stage of moral development, the stage, Singer notes, "typically reached by early teenage boys." Plus: A "mediocre CEO" to boot?
Wednesday, May 5, 2004
MSNBC puts the full text of the Taguba Report online, Knight Ridder reports that the U.S. is investigating the deaths of 25 overseas prisoners in American custody, and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says the airing of the torture story means that "the system worked." Plus: a prisoner's story and a profile of Gen. Antonio Taguba.
Slate's Timothy Noah wonders if Rumsfeld will read the Taguba report, now that it's available online, and Phil Carter, also writing in Slate, examines the options for disciplining private military contractors that break the law.
A WSWS article predicts that the real "Iraqi Klondike" for private security contractors will occur immediately after the promised June 30 handover, and Karen Kwiatkowski calls this outsourcing the Soylent Green of the military industrial complex, an "artificial nourishment whose actual ingredients are not known by the public." She also says today's revolving-door contractors are the "third-generation spawn of Smedley Butler's racketeers."
Billmon hears echoes of "The Battle of Algiers" in the Iraq prison torture story, particularly in the question posed to a journalist by a French colonel: "Should France remain in Algeria? If you answer 'yes,' then you must accept all the necessary consequences."
Tom Engelhardt introduces "The Year-Zero Strategy" wherein Dilip Hiro explains why President Bush's imperial mission remains unaccomplished. He writes that Hiro "puts his finger on the main failure -- which is to transform Iraq into a 'client state.'" Plus: Time for a U.S. U-turn in Iraq?
Molly Ivins supports Peter Galbraith's proposal for an Iraqi federation allowing Shi'ites, Kurds and Sunnis to each choose their own form of government, and recommends Christopher Buckley's parody of Bob Woodward, 'Man of Attack.'
Harold Meyerson says Sen. John Kerry is weighing three bad options on Iraq, with Ralph Nader staking out a position shared by more than 40 percent of the electorate. A Salon article by Tim Grieve finds the New York Times covering Kerry in 2004 as though he were Clinton in 1992.
Kevin Drum shows how the Wall Street Journal doctored a pull quote to give the impression that John O'Neill, a Republican critical of Kerry, served alongside him in Vietnam. Media Matters looks at the selling of O'Neill, and the newly formed group that he's associated with, "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth."
The CJR Campaign Desk flags the ultimate "pull quote" in a CBS News story on President Bush addressing a rally: Dan Rather introducing 3 seconds of silence.
The Dubuque Telegraph Herald reports that a military veteran was denied tickets to see President Bush because he didn't support him in 2000. The article quotes a ticket holder as saying he supports Bush because "He does what he says. He doesn't go off polls."
As National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice warms up the Arab viewing audience for the main event, Juan Cole looks at the air war in Iraq, noting how the U.S. has gutted the Arabic service of the Voice of America.
The Walt Disney Company is blocking distribution of Michael Moore's "Farenheit 911" by its Miramax division, reports the New York Times, quoting an unnamed Disney executive as saying "It's not in the interest of any major corporation to be dragged into a highly charged partisan political battle." Moore said, "If this is partisan in any way it is partisan on the side of the poor and working people in this country who provide fodder for this war machine."
Moore responds to the article, which also says that according to Moore's agent, Disney CEO Michael Eisner "expressed particular concern that it would endanger tax breaks Disney receives for its theme park, hotels and other ventures in Florida, where Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor."
In 'The Divine Calm of George W. Bush,' Rick Perlstein explores "one of the abiding mysteries of the Bush presidency: that when feces start hitting the fan, the man at the center seems not to have a care in the world." Earlier: 'The Jesus Factor.'
Walter Kirn writes that the proliferation of Christian pop culture in America "isn't a fresh Awakening so much as a populist, media-savvy continuation of the fervor that first swept the seaboard colonies, then the frontier and, much later, my family home in a middle-class neighborhood of Phoenix."
Pat Tillman's younger brother delivers an anti-eulogy at a memorial service for the former NFL player-turned-soldier. "Pat isn't with God,'' he said. "He's f -- ing dead. He wasn't religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he's f -- ing dead.''
Thursday, May 6, 2004
The Washington Post has obtained more photos from Abu Ghraib, which it reports "were among those seized by military investigators probing conditions at the prison."
Seymour Hersh said on "Hardball" that CDs with photos from Abu Ghraib were "spread all over" and that Army investigators were trying to contain their further distribution by seizing computer files. Interviewed by Bill O'Reilly, Hersh predicted that the scandal is "going to get much worse...There are many more photos even inside that unit. There are videotapes of stuff that you wouldn't want to mention on national television."
When New Yorker editor David Remnick called Hersh on Wednesday to tell him he had won a National Magazine Award for his coverage of the buildup to the Iraqi war, Hersh reportedly said, "I have a general on the other line" and returned to that call. Accepting Hersh's award, Remnick told ceremony attendees: "I recently read Bob Woodward's first book about the war in which the president said, 'Sy Hersh is a liar.' Isn't that rich?"
Bill O'Reilly unloaded on guest Ted Rall over his cartoon about Pat Tillman, and called Rall "a far left guy" who "makes [Gary] Trudeau look like Rush Limbaugh." Earlier: Editor & Publisher readers criticized Rall's cartoon and the story about it.
In a Los Angeles Times op-ed, O'Reilly says Trudeau crossed a line with "his exposition of a fictional U.S. soldier who loses his leg in fighting in Iraq," and Media Matters reports Limbaugh's comments about U.S. guards at Abu Ghraib: "I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You... heard of need to blow some steam off?"
The head of a U.S. military police unit at Abu Ghraib is being investigated for allegedly secretly photographing female American soldiers as they showered, and the AP reports that according to a British human rights envoy to Iraq, "U.S. soldiers who detained an elderly Iraqi woman last year placed a harness on her, made her crawl on all fours and rode her like a donkey."
In a WSWS commentary headlined 'Washington’s hypocrisy over Iraq torture,' Bill Van Auken contends that "since 'everything changed' on September 11, 2001, the U.S. political establishment" has been conducting a "campaign to inure the American public to government torture..." Plus: Sidney Blumenthal on America's new gulag.
"I have never known a time in my life when America and its president were more hated around the world than today," writes Thomas Friedman. "It's no wonder that so many Americans are obsessed with the finale of the sitcom 'Friends' right now. They're the only friends we have, and even they're leaving."
Friedman says President Bush should do more than just scold Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and the Washington Post editorializes that decisions made by Rumsfeld "helped create a lawless regime in which prisoners in both Iraq and Afghanistan have been humiliated, beaten, tortured and murdered -- and in which, until recently, no one has been held accountable."
The Guardian reports that the scientist who was the Iraqi government's main link to the U.N. weapons inspectors before the U.S. invasion and who repeatedly insisted that Iraq had destroyed its WMD, has been held in solitary confinement since he turned himself in to the U.S. more than one year ago.
"It seems the president is allergic not just to the words but to the concept of responsibility that underlies them," writes Slate's Fred Kaplan about Bush's refusal to say "I'm sorry" during his Arab TV interviews. "To apologize would be to admit he'd made a mistake. And mistakes are forbidden in the Bush White House." Earlier: George Will on 'W's Careless Talk...'
The Washington Post reports on the controversy stirred up by "Casualty of War," a GQ article on Secretary of State Powell, in which his chief of staff said Powell was tired "mentally and physically" and would be unlikely to stay with the administration if Bush is reelected.
Also in the article, Powell "mentor" Harlan Ullman disputes National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's claim that no friction exists between Powell and Vice President Cheney. "I can tell you firsthand that there is a tremendous barrier between Cheney and Powell," said Ullman, adding that "Condi's a jerk." AMERICAblog has more juicy quotes from the article.
Cannes Job? Marc Cooper says "it seems clear that Disney never intended to distribute" Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911" and that "Moore is whining now only to hype the pre-Cannes buzz."
Bases Bloated Ads for the movie "Spider-Man 2" will be placed atop bases during major league baseball games from June 11-13. In response to the placement of advertising on uniforms for this season's opening series, Ralph Nader wrote in a letter to commissioner Bud Selig that "Now, you have sunk to a greedy new low."
The Atlantic Monthly's Joshua Green hires a gag writer for his cable news show appearances to get a feel for the funny business of politics, which he says relies on "a network of comedy writers in Washington and Hollywood, who collectively account for most of what politicians utter that is funny."
It's the National Day of Prayer and blogger What Would Dick Think traces the history of the bill establishing it and reprints President Bush's "stirring" proclamation. This year's honorary chairman is Oliver North. Plus: When prayer alone isn't enough.
Friday, May 7, 2004
The New York Times reports that Arabs found President Bush's Abu Ghraib damage-control efforts unconvincing, and the Washington Post's Robin Wright reports the consensus opinion that damage to U.S. interests will be long term. "It's a blinding glimpse of the obvious to say we're in a hole," says Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who sees an even greater backlash in Europe than in Arab countries.
The Times also reports that violence at Abu Ghraib may have gone far beyond the humiliation of prisoners, based on an analysis of photos of dead men. An MP who served at the prison tells Reuters that he "saw beatings all the time," and the Guardian reports that a British soldier says he saw Iraqis beaten until their faces looked "like haggises."
A Juan Cole reader raises the table-turning possibility that Israel's image in the Middle East is now being damaged by its association with the U.S., and others suggest an Israeli connection to the Abu Ghraib scandal, with one citing "blogger" Joe Ryan. Billmon who broke the story about Ryan's prison diary, looks at how it's being treated by the mainstream media.
Toronto Star columnist Haroon Siddiqui argues that "breach of the rule of law has been the norm under the Bush administration: a pattern of abuse in Iraq, in American-controlled Afghanistan, and in America itself." A Los Angeles Times op-ed says that's what's going on at Abu Ghraib is made in America, and the Red Cross says its reports are worse than the photos.
The Nation's Matt Bivens says the photos should be seen in context: "While some agents of our government were making grown Iraqi men perform mock fellatio on each other, others were dropping 500-pound bombs on a small one-story town and in the process killing, among others, hundreds of women and children."
Corrente says that President Bush's "sorta" apology used "a lot of words where two would do."
'The Buck Stops Where?' Media Matters identifies four groups that have been blamed for the Abu Ghraib scandal: women, feminists, Muslims, and the academic left. Hullabaloo ponders the "relative indignance" of "The Beltway Boys" and their right brethern, and Robert Parry on 'Washington the Unaccountable.'
DefenseTech's Noah Shachtman makes the case against Rumsfeld, asking: 'Now Bush Is Unhappy With Rummy?' He also notes that CACI, the private military contractor whose employees are at the center of the Abu Ghraib scandal, is hiring.
The WSWS reports that some of the private security contractors in Iraq have a history of providing paramilitary union-busting services in the U.S., and a New York Times article says many contractors are sent abroad without complete background checks and are barely supervised while in Iraq.
The Independent's Andrew Buncombe reports from Fort Ashby, West Virginia, on 'The couple at the centre of a scandal that horrified the world.' A correspondent for Australia's Daily Telegraph gets the locals talking and the family of Pfc Lynndie England flees town to avoid the "stream of reporters."
Beyond Fallujah "I want the American soldier to return to his camp," says the Iraqi former general installed to secure Fallujah. "What I want more is that he returns to the United States." Plus: 'Deal brings old uniforms back in style.'
CNN's William Schneider says the latest Gallup poll, in which 45 percent of respondents say they disapprove of President Bush's handling of terrorism, carries a clear message: "Bush is in trouble." And, writes Andrew Sullivan, he's campaigning as if he knows it. Plus: A challenger sounds the call as pundits urge Sen. John Kerry to drop his liberal leanings and run it up the middle.
ABC previews interview with Maria Teresa Thierstein Simoes-Ferreira Heinz Kerry, during which she says that "Iraq, although it was in terrible, terrible shape in terms of Saddam Hussein, had nothing to do with terrorism, nothing!"
David Corn reports on the Kalamazoo Seven, college sophomores who claim that they were turned away from a Bush-Cheney campaign rally after event volunteers "fingered them as liberals who did not support Bush." Plus: Bus tour's dirty little secret.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that Sen. Lindsay Graham has slipped a proposal written by the Energy Dept. into a defense authorization bill, allowing the government to clean up the meaning of highly-toxic radioactive sludge by reclassifying it as "low-level waste," and the Los Angeles Times compares the $6.6 million raised by the utility industry for Bush and the GOP since 1999, with the billions in relief from pollution regulations the industry has enjoyed.
President Bush accused of politicizing the National Day of Prayer. The head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State said: "It's not like he is ignoring other religious groups, but he knows that this day is the one where he signals 'I am an evangelical Christian. Remember that in November.'" Plus: 'In God, er, the GOP we trust?'
Monday, May 10, 2004
'Postcards From the Edge' In establishing the post-9/11 penal system, Bush administration officials "determined the camera angles and set up the cameras, so to speak," writes Tom Engelhardt, "but when the pictures came back they had no stomach for them... Under 'torture,' it's they who have folded."
The U.S. is "right on the edge in Iraq," says Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, as a joint editorial in civilian-owned military papers accuses the U.S. Defense Secretary and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman of "a failure that amounts to professional negligence," and says "accountability is essential, even if that means relieving top leaders from duty in a time of war." Plus: President Bush praises Rumsfeld following "war council session."
The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh follows the investigation into "The Torture at Abu Ghraib" up the "Chain of Command," reporting that "retired and active-duty officers and Pentagon officials said that the system had not worked. Knowledge of the nature of the abuses -- and especially the politically toxic photographs -- had been severely, and unusually, restricted." Distilling Hersh, uggabugga diagrams the chain.
Hersh, who also reports that the magazine has a series of photos similar to the one it posted Sunday of a naked man being threatened by two attack dogs, said on CNN that evidence suggests taking the photos was part of the interrogation process, and included threats that the photos might be shown to families and friends of the prisoner.
Hersh's article cites a 2002 statement by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld that complaints about U.S. treatment of prisoners in the war on terror come mainly from "isolated pockets of international hyperventilation." On Monday, one of those "pockets" issued a report saying that the abuse of prisoners represented more than isolated acts, and that the problems were not limited to the Abu Ghraib prison.
The Baltimore Sun interviewed two military intelligence soldiers who were assigned interrogation duties at Abu Ghraib. They said the "abuses at the prison were not caused by a handful of rogue soldiers poorly supervised and lacking morals," reports the paper, "but resulted from failures that went beyond the low-ranking military police charged with abuse." Plus: General told MPs to 'soften up' prisoners.
The choice at hand, says MaxSpeak, is to support the troops and investigate the chain of command, including the contractors, or support the command and join the lynch mob forming for the soldiers in the pictures.
"Shades of the Roman Coliseum and gladiators?," asks TalkLeft, noting that a U.S. soldier's May 19 court martial trial allows "enough time for the prosecution to parade the soldier's action before the world but not enough time to compel the Government to furnish the defense with sufficient detail about the chain of command to allow it to prepare a credible defense..."
The Guardian reports that the sexual humiliation techniques used on Iraqi prisoners by contractors and soldiers not trained in administering them are in fact taught on both sides of the Atlantic under the slogan "prolong the shock of capture."
In a reminder that the abuses of Abu Ghraib are hardly unknown in the U.S. prison system, the New York Times cites the case of a mentally ill Utah inmate who died after being restrained naked in a chair for 16 hours, leading to the resignation under pressure of the man later picked to reopen Abu Ghraib. Plus: 'As American as Apple Pie.'
In 'The Price of Arrogance,' Fareed Zakaria writes that whether President Bush wins or loses in November, his "legacy is now clear: the creation of a poisonous atmosphere of anti-Americanism around the globe." Pollster John Zogby says 'election is Kerry's to lose.'
Conservatives tell the Washington Post that they are worried about a Bush White House "policy malaise" and expect no "remedy" until the election. The Left Coaster notes that the paper's lead editorial "mirrors this concern by pointing out that Bush has accomplished relatively little." Plus: 'Right's Wrong Turn.'
Remember the Main! Knight Ridder reports on events within the last two weeks that have been drowned out by the Iraq prisoner abuse scandal, but "are the most recent indications that the threat of Islamic terrorism - and the transnational battles against it - are intensifying."
In what Reuters describes as a "rare" interview, Ismail Khan the "emir of Herat" and Afghanistan's most powerful governor, warns against plans by President Hamid Karzai to disarm regional fighters. Plus: Two foreigners stabbed and stoned to death in Kabul.
With the cost of the Iraq war projected to reach $150 billion by 2005, three times what the White House had originally claimed, the number of coalition troops in Iraq is about one-third of what is needed, based on earlier conflicts and a Rand Corp. study titled "Burden of Victory."
The Washington Post finds no shortage of senior officers who believe the U.S. is in serious danger of strategic defeat in Iraq. One, who lost a brother in Vietnam, says: "Here I am, 30 years later, thinking we will win every fight and lose the war, because we don't understand the war we're in." Plus: Frank Rich on "The War's Lost Weekend.'
'World Turned Upside Down' The Bush administration is reportedly insisting that U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi change his proposal for a transitional Iraqi government, and allow prominent roles for people with ties to political parties, including the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which has close ties to Iran, and the Communist Party.
America's global brands are said to be withstanding the ill will generated by the invasion of Iraq.
Tony Hendra gets a Swiftian kick imagining a conservative research project offering "overwhelming evidence" that "Arabs are not, by any prevailing scientific standard, human." Earlier: Hendra on 'The Rise and Fall of the National Lampoon.'
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Seymour Hersh begins an interview on "Democracy Now!" by saying, "The most important thing I covered is that most of the people in the chain of command weren't really informed about what was going on... it's not even a cover-up. It's so much more profound than that." Plus: 'Army tightly guarded pictures of prison abuse.'
Citing the report by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, Hersh said at least 60% of the Iraqi detainees were civilians. According to the Red Cross report that broke in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, coalition military intelligence officers estimated "between 70 percent and 90 percent" of the detainees in Iraq "had been arrested by mistake."
Top Bush administration officials dispute the Red Cross president's take on a January meeting warning about prison abuses, and a Reuters article says Arab commentators reacted with "shock and disbelief" to President Bush's backing of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. A new poll asks: 'Is Rumsfeld the best ever?'
The Washington Post reports that U.S. officials now plan to reduce the number of Iraqis in military custody from more than 8,000 to fewer than 2,000, sending "legions of prisoners, many of them angry and hardened by their incarceration, home to Sunni Muslim-dominated parts of north-central Iraq where resistance to the U.S. occupation has been fiercest." Plus: Former prisoner describes photo session and iPod meets Abu Ghraib.
In a "NewHour" discussion on 'Prosecuting Abuse,' a law professor says the soldiers in the photos were "clearly operating in an environment in which what they were doing was not just permitted but actually encouraged, and that means that somebody higher up created that environment...which made our ordinary foot soldier so contemptuous of the basic human rights of these detainees."
Josh Marshall catches word of "chatter in Pakistani intelligence circles that the U.S. has let the Pakistanis know that the optimal time for bagging 'high value' al Qaida suspects in the untamed Afghan-Pakistani border lands is the last ten days of July, 2004."
A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of likely voters that saw President Bush's approval rating drop to 46 percent, the lowest of his presidency, also found that since mid-April he has opened up a 5-point lead over Sen. John Kerry in 16 states that were close in the 2000 election.
Support the Troops While 54% of respondents said it was not worth going to war in Iraq, the same percentage said the U.S. did not make a mistake in sending troops there. Scroll to question #10. More poll results from Gallup
The editor of the Los Angeles Times slammed Fox News in a lecture titled "The Wolf in Reporter's Clothing: The Rise of Pseudo-Journalism in America." He cited the PIPA study showing that Fox viewers were more likely to hold misperceptions about the Iraq war than consumers of other news outlets.
Eric Alterman responds to Bill O'Reilly calling him a "Fidel Castro confidant." Scroll down to 'Who wants to sue a multimillionaire?'
Who Loves Ya? The Rev. Jerry Falwell said of this year's commencement speaker at his Liberty University: "I am greatly impressed with his wisdom, dedication to President Bush and his love for Jesus Christ." Scroll up for a new term in the War on Terror.
As war supporters turn on President Bush, Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell speculates on when the first major newspaper will call for a pullout in Iraq. He notes that none have even explored retired Army Lt. General William Odom's call for a phased U.S. pullout over the next six to nine months, which he aired on "Nightline" last week.
Mitchell called the "Nightline" episode "remarkable," but neither word of that night's show, nor Ted Koppel's Ambien-sponsored "Closing Thoughts," appear to be available on the show's Web site. After the word "Nightline" was mentioned in a "Minnesota for Dean" posting, an Ambien bot was quick to pounce.
'Howard and Me' "This American Life's" Ira Glass says that recent FCC rulings make his show vulnerable to the same kind of fines imposed on Howard Stern, who he calls "more honest, more emotionally present, more interesting, more wide-ranging in his opinions than any host on public radio."
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
'Horror Show' Farhad Manjoo writes that "gruesome digital images are forcing us, and forcing the government, to confront the awful reality of war... The lesson from Abu Ghraib, or from Nick Berg, is that you never know what technology can reap. Digital cameras were never meant as a tool for documenting torture, and the Web was not invented as a way for fanatics to broadcast pictures of their murders. But here we are."
The AP reports that Berg's family blames the U.S. government for "creating circumstances" that led to his death and believes that he "might still be alive had he not been detained by U.S. officials in Iraq without being charged and without access to a lawyer."
In March of this year, NBC reported that three times between June 2002 and January 2003, the Bush administration rejected Pentagon plans to strike Berg's purported killer, Abu Musab Zarqawi, at an isolated camp in Northern Iraq: "Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam."
The New York Times reports on the "unusual public sparring" between Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba and undersecretary of defense Stephen Cambone, who disputed Taguba's finding that military police officers should not have been involved in conditioning Iraqi detainees for interrogation, prompting Sen. Edward Kennedy to ask: "How do you expect the M.P.'s to get it straight if we have a difference between the two of you?"
Juan Cole says the hearing revealed that Taguba "doesn't know he is supposed to lie about some things," and a Washington Post editorial clears up what it calls Cambone's "smoke screen." Plus: "Gitmoizing Abu Ghraib."
The Senate hearing was told of a briefing given to "a top Pentagon civilian official" by Lt. Gen. William Boykin, the evangelical Christian who came under review for saying that his God was superior to that of the Muslims. Boykin's subject: methods military interrogators could use to extract more intelligence from Iraqi prisoners.
Vice President Cheney told Fox News Radio that "there are a lot of equities involved" with the decision to release additional Iraq-prison photos "besides just satisfying the desires of the press that want to have more pictures to print." The Washington Post has published 10 of the 1,000-plus photos that the executive editor says it has.
The New York Times editorializes on 'The Abu Ghraib Spin': "accuse Democrats and the news media of overreacting, then pile all of the remaining responsibility onto officers in the battlefield, far away from President Bush and his political team." AmericaBlog smells "a vast right-wing conspiracy brewing" and Slate's Timothy Noah asks: 'Is the liberal outrage really worse than the torture?'
Mark Levine argues that the debate over who's responsible for Abu Ghraib has "managed to avoid a basic truth: the occupation is essentially one giant war crime." The WSWS reviews instances of U.S. torture of prisoners since 2001, along with what it calls "examples of how the U.S. media lobbied for torture."
Former Master Sgt. Lisa Girman who was discharged from the Army over abuses at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq, denies her batallion commander's claim that she meted out "vigilante justice" against Iraqi POWs that she believed had raped Jessica Lynch. On Wednesday evening, CBS' "60 Minutes II" will broadcast a soldier's home video from Camp Bucca and Abu Ghraib
In an interview with a Denver TV station, Army Pfc. Lynndie England said she was ordered to pose for photos taken at Abu Ghraib, including one where "I was instructed by persons in higher rank to stand there and hold this leash and look at the camera." Plus: Soldiers who served at Abu Ghraib detail a wild life on the inside.
A former Afghan police colonel tells the New York Times that he was was subjected to abuse, including beating, kicking, sleep deprivation, taunts and sexual abuse during about 40 days he spent in American custody last summer. In its March 2004 report on 'Abuses by U.S. Forces in Afghanistan,' Human Rights Watch noted that soldiers were said to refer to a detention facility in Kandahar as "Camp Slappy."
FAIR's Peter Hart discusses the group's contention that the Disney Corporation may have forbidden its Miramax division from distributing Michael Moore's "Farenheit 911" because of its financial involvement with a member of the Saudi Royal family who owns a major stake in Eurodisney.
Stoop to Counter? Appleton's Post-Crescent says that its editorial urging readers to send letters to the editor to "help us 'balance' things out," was not "an unabashed solicitation for people to weigh in on the side of the incumbent president." Plus: "When an editor chases 'balance' over a cliff."
In 'Mock the Vote,' Damien Cave writes that although "Federal and state courts have clearly established that students have the right to vote where they go to school... election officials all over the country are erecting illegal barriers to keep young voters from casting ballots."
David Corn sounds what he says "should be the battle cry of the forces of anti-Bushism... It's the incompetence, stupid."
In an excerpt from Washington Times' reporter Bill Sammon's book, "Misunderestimated: The President Battles Terrorism, John Kerry and the Bush Haters," Bush speaks expansively about his media diet. He says he doesn't read editorials or columnists, but "I can scan a front page, and if there is a particular story of interest, I'll skim it... My antennae are finely attuned I can figure out what so-called 'news' pieces are going to be full of opinion, as opposed to news."
Tippling Point Brazil cancels the visa of a New York Times reporter following his article saying President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has a drinking problem. As 'Brazilians rally behind Lula,' one politician said, "If we are going down this path of bad manners, I'd say what is drunk is U.S. foreign policy." Brazil's ambassador to the U.S. responds to the article.
Thursday, May 13, 2004
'Heart of Darkness' The psychology of abusive behavior is the subject of a "NewsHour" discussion and a New Scientist article that quotes a British psychologist as saying that abuse at Abu Ghraib appears to have been "a well thought through process" and that "a lot of people had to be in the know for this to happen." Slate's William Saletan challenges the notion that Philip Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment explains what happened at the prison.
One day before his surprise visit to Abu Ghraib, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld responded to a Senator's charge that certain Iraq interrogation techniques "go far beyond the Geneva Conventions," by saying they had been checked by the lawyers. But military lawyers, reports the Washington Post, appealed to the New York State Bar Association to try to persuade the Pentagon to revise its practices. Plus: Secretary of State Powell contradicts Rumsfeld and President Bush.
"Why did the president praise Mr. Rumsfeld rather than fire him?," asks Thomas Friedman. "Because Karl Rove says to hold the conservative base, you must always appear to be strong, decisive and loyal. It is more important that the president appear to be true to his team than that America appear to be true to its principles." The New York Observer's Tish Durkin finds that "Nobody in Iraq gives a tinker’s damn" whether or not Rumsfeld loses his job.
The New York Times reports on "growing concerns" within the CIA that its "coercive interrogation methods" against high-level leaders and operatives of Al Qaeda could expose the agency to the same kind of public exposure as the military now faces because of the Iraq prison abuses.
With Americans "coming face-to-face with what occupation means," writes Jaffer Ali. "We are now waiting for U.S. outlets to step back from the blur of their news-of-the-minute reportage to provide American audiences with perspective on an occupation gone awry."
Ali raises the issue of "terrorist" wristbands, which was addressed in the Red Cross report, and mentions footage recently aired by French television that shows an Iraqi being gunned down by a U.S. helicopter after the pilot is heard describing him as "wounded." Writing about the incident, Robert Fisk said "deliberately shooting a wounded man is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions." Plus: New Red Cross report said to criticize U.S. over detention of suspects at Guantanamo.
"Prisoners of war" become "Guests of interest" as recent events force retooling of White House-approved media buzzwords.
The Washington Post reports that a private contractor killed in Iraq was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. While the U.S. military says it was a mistake, "The confusion demonstrates that in many situations soldiers and civilian contractors have become virtually indistinguishable -- and interchangeable -- in postwar Iraq."
The U.S. Army is defending its practice of having soldiers ride shotgun in vehicles for Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown & Root, in Iraq. Earlier: KBR said to be pulling the plug on employee's private e-mails to homefront.
Columnist calls on Abu Musab Zarqawi to get out of Iraq: "You are not wanted. If you are caught, Iraqi children will cut you down like the cowardly dog you are. Leave or be damned." Plus: 'The story of Nick Berg — a tale that haunts America.'
A Reuters analysis says that while President Bush remains essentially even with Sen. John Kerry, "voters are slowly sinking into the kind of pessimistic funk that doomed other presidents -- including Bush's father." A new CBS poll puts Bush's approval rating at 44%, with 29% now saying Iraq war was worth it. Plus: More polls, more trouble.
Kerry blasts Bush for running an "extraordinarily mismanaged and ineptly prosecuted war," and calls for a delay in court-martial hearings for Americans charged with mistreating Iraqi prisoners.
"Former presidents largely follow a code that sees them keep quiet about the performance of their successors," reports the Independent, but now that he's "Liberated from literature, the old master is limbering up anew for political action."
Media Matters finds something missing from Washington Post and AP articles about new pro-Bush ads from Citizen's United: the controversial past of the group's head. Watch Media Matters new ad about Rush Limbaugh.
The Baltimore Sun's David Folkenflik writes that the decision to ban "Nightline's" war dead tribute, "did a lot to cement Sinclair's brand as a local alternative to the mainstream national media." He quotes a former ABC correspondent as saying "They're kind of a Triple-A Fox News - and that's not derogatory." Earlier: "Nightline" ban by Piedmont Television flew under the radar, and, 'Is Koppel a Commie?'
A journalism professor says, "There is a soft way of interviewing, the methodical way, and the Hersh way - you take no prisoners. Each has its own effectiveness, but he just wears down his sources."
Friday, May 14, 2004
The Bush administration is sent back to the drawing board as Senate balks at plan for a $25 billion Iraq reserve fund. "Our forefathers would have scorned such arrogance as has been demonstrated by this request," said Sen. Robert Byrd. Plus: Senator breaks down Paul Wolfowitz, forces the undersecretary of defense to admit that "a bag over your head for 72 hours" is "not humane."
A "NewsHour" debate on whether the U.S. military violated the Geneva Conventions in its interrogation of Iraqi detainees, includes attorney Scott Horton, who tells the Los Angeles Times that military lawyers who approached the New York State Bar Association for help "were extremely upset. They said they were being shut out of the process, and that the civilian political lawyers... were writing these new rules of engagement."
As nearly 300 prisoners are released from Abu Ghraib, an Iraqi who claims to have been tortured there names names and cites details that match information contained in the Taguba report. Knight Ridder's Hannah Allam reports that Abu Ghraib was also the site of an extortion racket in which inmates' relatives paid an Iraqi translator "$200 or a couple of sheep" to arrange unauthorized meetings. Allam talked to "On the Media" about how the prisoner abuse scandal was playing in Iraq.
Under the Influence? attorney for Spc. Charles A. Graner Jr., who is facing court martial charges over alleged abuses at Abu Ghraib, provided NBC with a photo that shows Graner with four soldiers he says are military intelligence officers.
The Los Angeles Times reports that in what it calls a "harrowing tale of abuse" told to military authorities by the first soldier scheduled for court-martial, Graner is portrayed as "a ringleader of the Abu Ghraib abuses."
AP reporter Charles Hanley, who broke stories last fall on accusations of prison abuse in Iraq, tells Editor & Publisher that one reason they didn't break big was because "It was not an officially sanctioned story that begins with a handout from an official source," and "there does seem to be a very strong prejudice toward... disregarding statements from almost any other source -- and in this current situation, Iraqi sources."
Brendan O'Neill argues that "the driving force for the torture scandal was not in Washington's or New York's newsrooms. This story, it seems, did not come about as a result of journalists chasing it; rather, it was effectively handed to the media by disgruntled military men."
The Christian Science Monitor depicts "a Pentagon increasingly at war with itself" as Defense Secretary Rumsfeld paints himself in Lincolnesque tones on his surprise visit to Baghdad, where troops peppered the "survivor" with tough questions. Plus: Abu Ghraib prisoner sports question for Rumsfeld.
Michael Berg says his son Nick "died for the sins of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld," slams administration for invading Iraq and sponsoring Patriot Act. Conspiracy theories about Berg's death are out there, and the father is in the crosshairs at FreeRepublic.com for signing an International A.N.S.W.E.R. call to "End colonial occupation from Iraq to Palestine.
A Christian Science Monitor article tracking the rise of Abu Musab Zarqawi, cites a European intelligence official who disputes the CIA's claim that Zarqawi beheaded Berg, and a New York Times editorial accuses war supporters of "cynically trying to use the images of Mr. Berg to wipe away the images of Abu Ghraib." Plus: Can U.S. media withstand backlash against outrage?
Kautilyan blog excerpts a Wall Street Journal article that includes: "As Washington prepares to hand over power, U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer and other officials are quietly building institutions that will give the U.S. powerful levers for influencing nearly every important decision the interim government will make."
Federal Election Commission's rejection of limits sought by Republicans on soft money expenditures by nonparty political groups, prompts predictions of no-holds-barred spending.
A Washington Post analysis finds that President Bush doesn't have history or numbers on his side, and Daily Kos says a rising star in the Libertarian Party, who formerly managed Bette Midler, could pose a genuine threat to Bush in key Western states.
The Hill reports on remarks by Speaker Dennis Hastert to a House GOP meeting last week, in which the caucus burst into applause when Hastert criticized the White House for its shabby treatment of Republican lawmakers.
Madeleine Kane introduces a Bush-Cheney ad in which First Lady Laura Bush touts "dramatic results" from Texas school reforms, but neglects to mention that Houston has a problem. Plus: "W Stands for Women," but poll finds women don't stand for W.
Ted Koppel tells the Berkeley student newspaper that he's less concerned about late-night TV entertainers pretending to be news people, than he is by newsmen "trying to act like entertainers," and that something's wrong when people can turn on cable TV and "get the impression that the three most important things going on in the world are Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant and Scott Peterson."
Thanks to everyone who contributed during Cursor and Media Transparency's "Seven Days in May." For that, as well as the words of encouragement, we're very appreciative. And while the money will be spent, your comments will be savored. Plus: A Sidney Blumenthal column refers to the original "Seven Days in May."
Monday, May 17, 2004
What's at stake in Iraq is "how the final phase of the Modern Era plays out," writes the Washington Post's Robin Wright: "Over the past quarter-century, I've covered the rage of the Islamic world, witnessing much of it up close, losing friends who became victims to its extremist wings and watching its furies swell. But I've never been scared until now."
U.S. Marines knew that the generals to whom they were handing power in Fallujah were in fact guerrillas, reports the Los Angeles Times, and that "Today, Fallujah is for all intents and purposes a rebel town." The article quotes a British defense analyst as saying that was "the less disastrous of the two" bad options that the Americans were left with.
Commenting on the suicide car bombing that killed the head of Iraq's Governing Council, council member Ahmad Chalabi said, "The terrorists are free to roam around and they have been given sanctuary in Fallujah. The garage is open and car bombs are coming repeatedly."
AP reports say that Muqtada al-Sadr has been mainstreamed and "elevated to heroic status, his movement re-energized," and that his militia drove Italian troops from a base in Nasiriyah. Plus: 'Bush and Blair speed up their exit strategy.'
Israeli officials say they intend to proceed with a plan that could result in the demolition of as many as hundreds of Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip. One tells the New York Times that the army was awaiting a recommendation from legal advisers as to whether "troops could simply tear down buildings or whether they must offer the owners compensation." Plus: 'Palestinians flee refugee camp in Gaza.'
Newsweek details how top U.S. officials "overrode the objections of Secretary of State Colin Powell and America's top military lawyers" and "signed off on a secret system of detention and interrogation" that culminated in the abuses at Abu Ghraib. And current and former officers from the Judge Advocate General's Corps tell ABC that they spent two years trying in vain to persuade higher-ups to protect the rights of detainees.
Kevin Drum says the bottom line of the above articles and Seymour Hersh's 'The Gray Zone,' "seems to be that everyone is claiming they either didn't know what was going on or else did their best to fight the harsh interrogation program at Abu Ghraib, but lost out in the end to Pentagon zealots and the White House. Either this is true or else the entire city of Washington DC is in full-blown CYA mode. At this point it's hard to tell which."
Billmon finds the "back story to the back story," in Hersh's reporting that, "The notion that Arabs are particularly vulnerable to sexual humiliation became a talking point among pro-war Washington conservatives in the months before the March, 2003, invasion of Iraq." Plus: "Sy, welcome back, once again, to 'Late Edition.'"
The Observer reports on its interview with a British citizen who says he was repeatedly beaten at Guantanamo and that it was videotaped, prompting a call by Sen. Patrick Leahy for the tapes to be released to Congress. Last week two other former Guantanamo prisoners alleged abuse in an open letter to President Bush.
The U.S. military has launched its second investigation into prisoner abuse in Afghanistan in one week, the first coming after a former Afghan detainee told the New York Times that he had been subjected to beating, kicking, sleep deprivation and sexual abuse while in U.S. custody. Plus: 'Pressure mounts against coercive interrogations.'
Tangled Up in Who The Times also reports that some 100 high-ranking Iraqi prisoners are being held near Baghdad's airport in solitary confinement, "under conditions not subject to approval by the top American commander," and part of what the paper calls "a tangled network of authority over prisoners in Iraq."
An AFP article describes the "surreal scene" at a detention center north of Baghdad: "U.S. soldiers handing out cash to freed prisoners along with a note saying 'You have not been mistreated.'" Plus: Interrogation technique involving car trunk called "bitch in a box."
'Will Iraq liberate America?' A commentary in Pakistan's Dawn turns the tables on the question of winning "the battle for hearts and minds." Earlier: "United State's place in the family of nations is now on the ballot."
Eric Margolis reviews lessons forgotten on the 50th anniversary of the fall of Dien Bien Phu, and William Pfaff sees a "crisis of thought" in the U.S. due to a collapsing edifice of illusions among mainstream intellectuals, who "never imagined defeat in Iraq."
An aide to Secretary of State Powell tried to cut short the taping of his interview with "Meet the Press," just before host Tim Russert asked Powell about his pre-Iraq war presentation at the U.N. Plus: Columnist questions practice by Russert and other news celebs of hawking their books on news shows.
Dirty Laundry? The EPA has granted a request by a big GOP donor that industrial towels contaminated with chemical solvents be reclassified as "laundry" rather than "hazardous waste," reports the Washington Post, which says the EPA "provided industrial-laundry lobbyists with an advance copy of a portion of the proposed rule, which the lobbyists edited and the agency adopted."
In Part 4 of "They surf during ads," The Daily Howler writes of being "quite struck" by two press reports challenging a blatantly false statement by Republican National Committee chairman Marc Racicot, given that "To all appearances, your press corps simply doesn't care if the Bush camp's claims are true or false."
'Bush vs. Bush' Approval ratings are said to be a more reliable early indicator of an incumbent's reelection chances than how he matches up against the challenger. Plus: Will President Bush drop have to drop into the 30s before returning to the 60s?
The New York Times reports that while Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," which debuted Monday at the Cannes film festival, "offers few new revelations about the connections between President Bush and prominent Saudi Arabian families...the muckracking craft evident in this nearly two-hour attack on President Bush's tenure in the White House is likely to have a galvanizing effect among both conservatives and liberals..." Moore's '9/11' exiled from main street?
France's part-time show business workers, the "intermittents du spectacle," are airing their grievances at Cannes. When their strike began last summer, Adam Gopnik wrote that "the inherent theatricality and self-dramatization of French strikes were at last being placed in the hands of those who had been practicing for years for the opportunity to be theatrically self-dramatizing..."
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Eric Boehlert asks 'How High Does It Go?', and Fred Kaplan writes that if "investigative shockers" in The New Yorker and Newsweek "are true, it's hard to avoid concluding that responsibility for the Abu Ghraib atrocities goes straight to the top."
Kaplan notes that Seymour Hersh "seems to be on his hottest roll as an investigative reporter in 30 years," and predicts that "the editors of every major U.S. daily newspaper aren't going to stand for it."
The Louisville Courier-Journal's ombudswoman responds to readers' complaints about Abu Ghraib photos, including, "We didn't appreciate seeing naked men chained together, rolling on the floor." Plus: 'Amateurs have opened door to horrifying views of war' and Seattle sculpture gets 'war-themed update.'
Knight Ridder's Jonathan Landay reports that the Bush administration publicized claims of an Iraqi defector "months after he showed deception in a lie detector test and had been rejected as unreliable by U.S. intelligence agencies."
Landay says a footnote in one version of the White House document citing the defector, Adnan Ihsan Saeed al Haideri, attributes his claims to a Dec. 2001, front-page article in the New York Times that was based on an interview by Judith Miller, and "appeared three days after CIA and DIA experts dismissed Saeed as unreliable."
Saeed was reportedly made available for interviews only to Miller and to someone from the Rendon Group PR firm. Now that Secretary of State Powell has admitted that he was misled about WMD, Slate's Jack Shafer asks: "Why can't the Times?"
Part 1 of "Pundits snooozed on the road to Iraq," looks at a statement by the "NewsHour's" Jim Lehrer, who said last week on "Hardball" that "you'd have had to have gone against the grain" to bring up the issue of occupation, and journalists "weren't smart enough to do it." Plus: No lie!
PoTimken? The bearings manufacturing plant in Ohio that Bush visited last April to tout his tax cut and job creation plan, is shutting down. The Timken Co. facility is Canton's largest employer with 1,300 workers. The company's "ranger" CEO is included in Texans for Public Justice's just-released report, "Payola Pioneering."
A new study finds that total median compensation for CEOs in the S&P 500 rose to $4.6 million last year, a 27% increase from 2002. According to census data released last fall, the median household income fell to $42,409 in 2002, a $500 drop. Plus: Bonuses suggest above average federal workforce.
In advance of planned protests outside Halliburton's annual shareholder meeting in Houston on Wednesday, "Democracy Now!" interviews Dan Briody, author of "The Halliburton Agenda," and Pratap Chattergee from CorpWatch, which will release an alternative annual report for Halliburton, "Houston, We Have A Problem."
Andrew Cockburn outlines steps taken by the U.S. government aimed at "making sure that the Iraqis do not get their hands on their country's oil revenues."
Article on outsourcing of spies quotes "Corporate Warriors" author Peter Singer as saying, "It's even tougher to keep tabs on a contractor in the intelligence world than it is in the military world."
A Marine back from Iraq, who tells of how he and others "lit up" civilians, says he knew his career was over after he told his lieutenant that "We're committing genocide. He asked me something and I said that with the killing of civilians and the depleted uranium we're leaving over here, we're not going to have to worry about terrorists."
He also says he "didn't even know about DU until two years ago. You know how I found out about it? I read an article in Rolling Stone magazine. I just started inquiring about it, and I said "Holy s---!" Last October Rolling Stone published, 'Is The Pentagon Giving Our Soldiers Cancer?'
A New York Times review calls "Fahrenheit 9/11" "the best film Moore has made so far, a powerful and passionate expression of outraged patriotism, leavened with humor and freighted with sorrow. Yes, I said patriotism..." More Moore from the Washington Post, the Guardian and Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, which slammed the movie, calling it a "wet firecracker."
As President Bush renews his call for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, a 'Dear Mitt' letter calls on Massachusetts' governor to "Embrace your irrelevance...You've earned it." Plus: Scenes from the marriages.
'Wrong Way in Gaza' "Normally a U.S. president might be expected to insist that his ally deliver on his promises instead of launching offensives that only make matters worse," editorializes the Washington Post. "But that has not been Mr. Bush's habit with Mr. Sharon." 'Dozers of Mass Destruction' more lethal than sarin found in Iraq?
The Post also reported that a request by the special prosecutor investigating the outing of Valerie Plame to interview two of the paper's reporters, "may suggest the probe is winding up, because Justice Department guidelines require that prosecutors exhaust all other avenues before taking the step of calling reporters before a grand jury."
A "Democracy Now!" interview with Joseph Wilson is prefaced with: "When Wilson appeared on MSNBC's ''Countdown''... host Keith Olbermann held up three identical e-mail messages from the White House and explained that the 'talking points' they contained were calculated to poke holes in Wilson's book."
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
A U.S. Army Sergeant who ran the computer network used by military intelligence at Abu Ghraib, tells ABC News that dozens of soldiers were involved in abuse at the prison and that "There's definitely a cover-up... Anything [the MPs] were to do legally or otherwise, they were to take those commands from the interrogators."
The Los Angeles Times reports that three key witnesses, including a senior officer in charge of interrogations at Abu Ghraib, refused to testify at a preliminary hearing last month on the grounds that they might incriminate themselves, an indication "that key players in the abuse scandal may be closing ranks to save themselves and one another."
The New York Times reports that when the Red Cross complained last November about abuses at Abu Ghraib, U.S. Army officials responded by trying to curtail spot inspections by the organization, and that the U.S. Colonel who was put in charge of interrogations at the prison last September, was "under enormous pressure" from superiors to extract more information from inmates there.
According to Pentagon documents obtained by the Denver Post, "Brutal interrogation techniques by U.S. military personnel are being investigated in connection with the deaths of at least five Iraqi prisoners in war-zone detention camps."
Stop Family Violence says the U.S. military's response to allegations by U.S. women soldiers of sexual misconduct has been "grossly inadequate," Salon's Michelle Goldberg reports on Muslim prisoners being abused by guards, in Brooklyn, not Baghdad, and Road to Surfdom finds "further evidence from the Bush administration that we're all moral relativists now."
As Iraqis working for Reuters and NBC come forward to claim they were abused by U.S. forces, the International Press Institute accuses the U.S. of "setting a poor example for a future Iraqi government" by violating press freedom in Iraq.
Iraqi officials say a U.S. helicopter fired on a wedding party in western Iraq, killing more than 40 people.
Although Secretary of State Powell has now expressed "regret" for claiming falsely that Iraq had developed mobile labs to produce biological weapons, David Corn says Powell has yet to express "outrage in public that he was turned into a fibbing pimp for the war." Plus: A call to 'Fire the War Pimps.'
Talk the Talk Kevin Drum looks at the difference between what Jonathan Alter says on the radio about the Bush administration and what he tells readers of his Newsweek column.
TomPaine.com's Robert Dreyfuss finds something curious about how the U.S. media covered the assassination of the Iraqi Governing Council's president, and Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria writes that, with power in Iraq slowly shifting to militia leaders, an interim government can have credibility only if it stands up to the U.S., meaning that "At least in appearances, we have to lose for Iraqis to win."
Citing sources who say that Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi wants out of Iraq, Juan Cole looks at how President 'Bush may be pushing Europe to the Left.'
UPI's Martin Sieff says that after 3 1/2 years of "being treated with contempt and abuse" by "Rumsfeld and his coterie of neo-conservative true believers" who run the Pentagon, the U.S. Army, the CIA and moderate elements of the Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate, have decided "it's payback time."
In a Boston Globe article on how The New Yorker has redefined itself after 9/11 by "staying closer to the news," editor David Remnick responds to Pentagon charges that Seymour Hersh's latest article is "outlandish, conspiratorial and filled with error and anonymous conjecture." And speaking at Stanford University, Remnick said that journalism's focus on entertainment left it poorly prepared for 9/11 and its aftermath.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports on a "unusual measure" being proposed by the Pentagon that "has largely escaped attention amid all the other crises of government." It would enlist the IRS in locating about 50,000 former military members who still face recall into the active duty reservists. Plus: New war, new kind of draft.
The Los Angeles Times reports that in 450 pages of recorded conversations, Enron traders brag of "stealing" up to $2 million a day from "Grandma Millie" in California during the 2000-2001 energy crisis, and that top officials including Jeffrey Skilling and Kenneth Lay may have known about the wrongdoing.
An AP report on Texas' execution of a mentally ill man on Tuesday, who "was put to death despite a highly unusual recommendation from the state parole board that he be spared," mentions the only death sentence commuted by George W. Bush when he was governor.
As Reuters reports that the Iraq war is weakening the bond between President Bush and evangelicals, the Village Voice's Rick Perlstein reveals that White House staffers "checked with rapture Christians" before President Bush endorsed Prime Minister Sharon's plan for the West Bank and Gaza.
Outside the Debate Left I on the News runs the numbers on the Israel's latest act of "self-defense" and explains why "U.S. broadcast media typically give us a few seconds of the latest statistics and pictures from Gaza, and then move on."
A Canadian man wants the public library to pull Adbusters over an article titled 'Why won't anyone say they are Jewish?', that listed people the editor considered the 50 most influential neoconservatives in America and identified the Jews by putting an asterisk next to their names.
With an estimated 3 million expatriate Americans eligible to vote in the presidential election, a Democrats Abroad volunteer in Austria tells Capitol Hill Blue that "We're like the 51st state, and the head of the Hungarian chapter of Republicans Abroad says "It's difficult to be an American abroad now with the hatred around the world for the U.S. government and President Bush."
Thursday, May 20, 2004
As 'Israel Defies World Outcry, Expands Gaza Offensive,' the New York Times' James Bennet writes at the end of his article on the killing of Gaza protesters by Israeli troops, that "at least three Palestinian men attempted to kidnap this reporter here Wednesday night... a stranger approached offering a handshake, a smile and the word, 'Welcome.'"
The Electronic Intifida reports what it calls "Key Israeli distortions about 'Operation Rainbow' in Rafah." More on 'Rainbow' from Ha'aretz, in an editorial and an analysis headlined 'End of the Rainbow.'
Retiring Sen. Ernest Hollings defends statements he made in an column that appeared in South Carolina newspapers earlier this month, in which he wrote, "With Iraq no threat, why invade a sovereign country? The answer: President Bush's policy to secure Israel."
Iraqi witnesses say it was a wedding celebration and U.S. officials call it a way station for foreign infiltrators, but regardless of which it was, the Washington Post reports that the majority of the more than 40 civilians killed when U.S. ground forces and aircraft attacked a village in Iraq's western desert, were women and children.
'Failure of the Will?' "In Iraq the transfer of 'sovereignty' is still proclaimed to be but weeks away; here, it's months off," writes Tom Engelhardt. "In neither case, did the Bush administration expect to transfer actual sovereignty to anyone. In both cases, they find themselves limping toward what should have been triumph with not much help in sight." Plus: 'The curse of the wartime president.'
"The market in examples for how badly the Bush team has bungled" the situation in Iraq "is admittedly glutted," writes Josh Marshall. "But even if they're now going for a dime a dozen this is really one to marvel at."
As the Financial Times reports that an Iraqi poll due to be released next week "shows a surge in the popularity of Moqtada al-Sadr" and "suggests nearly nine out of 10 Iraqis see U.S. troops as occupiers and not liberators or peacekeepers," the U.S. military raids the compound housing the offices of the Iraqi National Congress and the home of Ahmed Chalabi. Plus: Andrew Cockburn says the U.S. turned against Chalabi because 'He was Preparing a Coup!'
The New York Times reports that like many of its predecessors, the Bush White House is promoting the president's reelection by doling out federal grants to key states, "But in a twist this election season, many administration officials are taking credit for spreading largess through programs that President Bush tried to eliminate or to cut sharply." Earlier: National Park Service employees required to 'Put on a Happy Face.'
Daily Kos links a Newsweek report that the number of people "who suffer debilitating health problems stemming from their exposure to contaminants in the air around the World Trade Center site," is in the "tens of thousands," with last year's conclusion by the EPA Inspector General that in the days after 9/11, the White House changed EPA press releases to "add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones."
General Accounting Office says Bush administration violated federal law with Medicare videos, calling then a form of "covert propaganda."
'Shocking Details on Abuse' After interviewing three staffers who claim to have been abused by U.S. forces, Reuters' Baghdad bureau chief wrote in a mid-January report obtained by Editor & Publisher: "It should be noted that the bulk of their mistreatment occurred several hours AFTER I had informed the 82nd Airborne Division that they were Reuters staff. I have e-mail proof of this."
As ABC airs two new Abu Ghraib photos, that show MPs giving a thumbs up sign by the body of a detainee who was allegedly beaten to death by CIA or civilian interrogators in the prison's showers, testimony by U.S. military brass is said to reveal 'A Corrupted Culture.'
In 'Soon to Be Losing Feith?,' Jim Lobe writes that Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Douglas Feith, "has been at the center of virtually everything else that has gone wrong in Iraq, so there is no reason to think he was very far from this one." Plus: Sidney Blumenthal on 'The religious warrior of Abu Ghraib.'
Blast From the Past The Daily Howler looks back on the "memorable times" when "Saddam's bomb-maker," Khidir Hamza, did "Hardball."
Beat the Heat Miramax hires Clinton-Gore spinmeisters to help promote "Fahrenheit 9/11," saying it wants to counter Republican attacks on Michael Moore.
Friday, May 21, 2004
NBC News reports that the U.S. Army's Delta Force is now the subject of a Pentagon investigation into abuse against detainees at a top-secret site near Baghdad's airport, which, according to the network's sources, "is the scene of the most egregious violations of the Geneva Conventions in all of Iraq's prisons." Plus: 'Justice memos explained how to skip prisoner rights.'
Previously secret sworn statements by 13 detainees at Abu Ghraib, that were obtained by the Washington Post, add "allegations of prisoners being ridden like animals, sexually fondled by female soldiers and forced to retrieve their food from toilets." The Post also reports on "a collection of hundreds of so-far-unreleased photographs and short digital videos" that it obtained.
According to Sgt. Samuel Provance, a military intelligence analyst who served at Abu Ghraib, U.S. soldiers got a detainee to talk by tormenting his 16-year-old son, who was "stripped naked, thrown in the back of an open truck, driven around in the cold night air, splattered with mud and then presented to his father." In other interviews Provance said "military intelligence was in charge of the operation" at the prison and that "There's definitely a cover-up."
The Star Tribune editorializes that the Abu Ghraib scandal is gathering rather than losing steam because "Top civilian and military officials in the U.S. government, many of them Republican, are fueling it. They were sickened by the abuse and the stains it has left on institutions they care about, and they are fed up with the arrogance and incompetence of the Bush administration."
Calling Washington "Sunni Triangle West," Arnaud de Borchgrave writes that "the mashing of molars and sharpening of knives is audible" and "civilian heads must roll; generals are tired of taking the fall."
What Americans did at Abu Ghraib was torture, not just "abuse," and for the U.S. media to call it anything less is dishonest, says linguist Geoffrey Nunberg.
Jim Lobe looks at how Ahmed Chalabi went 'From White House to Dog House in Just Five Months,' and Juan Cole posts a note from "an informed Iraqi Shiite" who says that "Six months ago most Iraqis would have preferred Bremer, now it is Al-Sadr by a landslide. Chalabi's attempts to distance himself from the U.S. highlight that point." Scroll down for Cole's take on Andrew Cockburn's "The Truth About Ahmed Chalabi."
CBS News reports that senior U.S. officials say they have evidence Chalabi has been passing U.S. intelligence to Iran, Chalabi says "Let my people go," Defense Secretary Rumsfeld tells the media to talk to "the Iraqis," and Robert Dreyfuss lauds the U.S. Army for finally hitting "the right target." Plus: Will "Chalabi" make the cut?
Editor and Publisher reports that despite official military denials, Reuters is standing by staffers' allegations that they were abused while being held by U.S. forces and has released a timeline on the incident.
Reporting on the dispute over whether the U.S. struck a wedding party or a "way station for militants" in a rocket attack on a remote Iraqi village, the Los Angeles Times says the deaths of seven musicians are "hard to dispute." Plus: 'U.S. soldiers started to shoot us, one by one.'
The U.S. Justice Department has retroactively classified information it gave to Congress nearly two years ago regarding former FBI translator and 9/11 whistleblower, Sibel Edmonds. Senator Charles Grassley, whose description of Edmonds as "very credible" has been widely cited, said that "What the F.B.I. is up to here is ludicrous," calling the move "about as close to a gag order as you can get."
The Hill reports that the White House has refused to answer repeated requests from the 9/11 commission about who authorized post-9/11 flights of Saudi citizens from the U.S.
Getting Right With Rwanda Philip Smucker finds echoes of the "rhetoric that dominated Balkan and Rwandan airwaves during the hate and war crimes in those two regions," in "the strident, accusatory language of American radio." Plus: Savaging David Brock and 'Hannity scores a hat trick.'
Respondents to a Wall Street Journal poll weigh in on which cable news network "provides the most accurate depiction of the events in Iraq." Plus: Why Fox News' viewers aren't worth as much to advertisers as viewers of CNN.
The New York Daily News reports that Tim Russert's press aide called an abrupt halt to a radio interview with the host of NBC's "Meet the Press," two days before an aide to Secretary of State Powell tried to end an interview with Russert, an act Russert called "attempted news management gone berserk." Plus: 'Meet the Fraud.'
A profile of Russert includes the observation that "It's unbelievable just how much time NBC News has devoted to Russert's book, including interviews on NBC's Today Show, "Dateline NBC" and at least three separate interviews on sister cable channel CNBC." Not to mention "Hardball" and "Countdown."
The Village Voice's Wayne Barrett reports on how GOP operative Roger Stone marked the sex scandal card in 2000 to undermine Pat Buchanan's Reform Party candidacy and help elect George W. Bush. Earlier: Barrett exposed Stone's takeover of Al Sharpton's presidential campaign.
Poll Dance Fear that the reelection of President Bush could be "very damaging to our industry" prompts voter registration drive.
Monday, May 24, 2004
A report that President Bush will "open a tightly orchestrated public relations effort... to shift attention from recent setbacks that have eroded domestic and international support for U.S. policy in Iraq," brings relief that "finally, the president has decided to confront the root problem in our troubled occupation of Iraq: the spin deficit."
As warnings of increased violence in Iraq before June 30, give way to talk of a spike after the handover, Tom Engelhardt writes: "Most strikingly, neither General Myers, nor the President... has acknowledged that anything new is being said. Isn't that exactly the way language works in Bush World? The words just alter slightly and everyone carries on."
Engelhardt makes reference to AP footage showing the aftermath of last week's Iraq desert bombing that killed more than 40 people. The BBC reports that the AP has also obtained a home video purported to be of the wedding, which it has knitted together with its earlier footage to show that "Some victims and survivors of the air strike appear to be present in the footage of the wedding celebrations."
In an Editor & Publisher article about Friday's New York Times' coverage of Chalabi, William E. Jackson writes that "One would never know that the Times itself once relied on him heavily for its 'scoops' on Saddam's WMD stockpiles."
A member of the Senate Intelligence Committee tells Time that its assessment of the CIA's prewar intelligence on Iraq is "not going to be a happy report." The article also says the version of the Taguba report that was sent to the Senate Armed Services Committee was missing one-third of its 6,000 pages.
Nicholas Kristof uses Taguba's report to defend Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, writing that "if, as Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba has said in his report... the problems were at much lower levels, then why make a scapegoat of the defense secretary?" But Taguba's investigation was limited to much lower levels. He testified that "my task was limited to the allegations of detainee abuse involving M.P. personnel and the policies, procedures and command climate of the 800th M.P. Brigade."
Appearing on "60 Minutes," former CentCom commander Anthony Zinni fingered the neocons for ginning up the Iraq threat and said of Rumsfeld: "If I were the commander of a military organization that delivered this kind of performance to the president, I certainly would tender my resignation. I certainly would expect to be gone." More from Zinni in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune and an excerpt from his new book, "Battle Ready."
Tanking In Iraq For months, newly-hired CPA staffers were wondering "what they had in common," reports the Washington Post, "how their names had come to the attention of the Pentagon, until one day they figured it out: They had all posted their resumes at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative-leaning think tank." Plus: "Very" vs. "leaning."
The Independent reports on "the degree to which indiscriminate use of American firepower has made enemies of the Iraqi population," and interviews former Marine Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey, who tells the paper that "In a month and a half my platoon and I killed more than 30 civilians." Massey previously told his story in an interview that appeared in the Sacramento Bee.
U.S. and British troops in Iraq will reportedly be granted immunity from prosecution by Iraqis after June 30, as part of a deal on a new U.N. resolution.
AP survey of morgue records finds that "More than 5,500 Iraqis died violently in just Baghdad and three provinces in the first 12 months of the occupation."
The New York Times reports that a military intelligence unit that oversaw interrogations at Abu Ghraib, "was also in charge of questioning at a detention center in Afghanistan where two prisoners died in December 2002... At both places, prisoners were hooded, stripped naked and mocked sexually by female captors, according to a variety of accounts." Flashback: 'U.S. forces make Iraqis strip and walk naked in public.'
As Human Rights Watch documents the fifth torture death of someone in police custody in Uzbekistan in the last year, a EurasiaNet analysis paints a dire picture of the political and economic situation there, saying violence that rocked the country in late March, "clearly illuminated the threats to both President Islam Karimov's administration and to the U.S. position in Uzbekistan."
In response to question #20 in a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll, "On the situation in Iraq today, where do you think most of the problems are being created?", more people said "In the news media" than "In Iraq." Is it time to send regular folks to report from Iraq?
The poll also found that 46 percent of respondents said media coverage of President Bush has been "too tough," compared to 24 percent for Sen. John Kerry. But a FAIR media advisory contends that 'Kerry ''Missteps'' Get Lavish Media Attention, While Bush Falsehoods Ignored.'
Predicting that some right-wing media in the U.S. would portray his Palme d'Or as being given by France, Michael Moore said "The jury was not a French jury. This was an international jury dominated by Americans." Plus: 'The Art of Burning Bush' and Frank Rich on 'Beautiful Minds and Ugly Truths.' Watch President Bush having what Rich calls "a high old time" before his address taking the nation to war.
A Hofstra University student said E.L. Doctrow was "a bit like Michael Moore" after Doctrow was nearly booed off the stage during a commencement address lambasting President Bush. Newsday reports that the boos started when Doctrow said that while both he and Bush are storytellers, "sadly they are not good stories this president tells. They are not good stories because they are not true." Earlier: Are Bush and his party better story tellers than liberals?
In a review of David Brooks' "On Paradise Drive," Michael Kinsley separates the shtick from the sociology and reaches a startling conclusion about the author. Kinsley refers to 'Boo-Boos in Paradise,' a fact-check of Brooks' research that included articles his new book grew out of, "One Nation, Slightly Divisible" and "Patio Man and the Sprawl People," parts 1 and 2.
"Journo-lobbyist" James Glassman caught in the act with St. Louis Post-Dispatch op-ed criticizing "Super Size Me."
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
A Washington Post analysis says that in President Bush's speech, throughout which "The terror of Sept. 11, 2001, was an undercurrent," he "offered no new initiatives" except the construction of a new prison to replace Abu Ghraib, "Nor did Bush offer answers to looming questions... about the final U.S. costs, the final length of stay for U.S. troops, or what the terms will be for a final U.S. exit from Iraq." Plus: 'Magical History Tour.'
Presidential candidate calls for Iraq pullout and impeachment of Bush during speech before Council on Foreign Relations.
"In 2002, Republican strategists used the impending Iraq war to distract the public from the miserable economic news," writes Paul Krugman. "Now they're complaining that Iraq is taking voters' focus off the economy. But is the economic news really that good?"
Sen. John Kerry has an eight-point lead over President Bush among registered voters in a CBS poll that puts Bush's approval rating at 41 percent. While Bush fares better in an ABC/Washington Post poll, a Zogby poll has Kerry leading in 12 of 16 battleground states.
Abusing the Truth? In a letter to Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the former Guantanamo Bay commander who is now in charge of detainees in Iraq, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence committee wrote: "I am dismayed that information emerging immediately after your briefing raises questions about the candor and accuracy of your statements."
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, a British citizen who was held at Guantanamo for two years accuses "his American captors of subjecting him and other inmates to a catalog of brutality: beatings, forced injections, sleep deprivation and shackling in painful positions." A U.S. former military officer claims that he was severely beaten while posing as a detainee during a training exercise at Guantanamo.
In an article headlined 'US intelligence fears Iran duped hawks into Iraq war,' the Guardian follows up on reports in Time and Newsweek that the FBI has launched an investigation into who in the Bush administration passed classified material to the Iraqi National Congress. Plus: Neocon appeals to Iranian ambassador on behalf of the street.
Josh Marshall calls Sen. Mitch McConnell's claim that it took Americans twelve years to get their affairs in order after the American Revolution, -- in contrast to what will be accomplished in "a thousand days" in Iraq -- "almost a slur against our own history."
Washington Post's ombudsman defends paper against charge that it's "cheerleading for failure" with Iraq coverage that "smacks of blatant support for the lefty spin that Iraq is a quagmire."
As the American death toll in Iraq tops 800, an Army Reserve spokesman said that Army and National Guard officials "went a bridge too far" when they warned inactive reservists that they could face being sent back to Iraq unless they re-enlist in the active reserves or join their local Guard units.
Article questioning report that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld banned cell phones fitted with digital cameras from U.S. army installations in Iraq, raises doubt that it would even be possible. Plus: Rumsfeld biographer and Saudi envoy agree on war motive.
Media Matters shows how the Washington Times and the Drudge Report teamed up for "a conservative misinformation-laundering operation."
A Denver Post analysis finds that President Bush has installed more than 100 high-level officials who were once lobbyists, attorneys or spokespeople for the industries they oversee. The paper contrasts that with the "handful of registered lobbyists" that worked in the Clinton administration.
Bill McKibben writes in the New York Review of Books that "one of the greatest sins of the Bush administration is that it squandered the best opportunity for [environmental] leadership we've ever had. It's hard to imagine that Americans in the immediate aftermath of September 11 wouldn't have been open to a message of energy conservation and energy transition."
The Nation's Scott Sherman celebrates the rebirth of the New York Review of Books, which has "opposed the Iraq war in a voice that was remarkably consistent and unified" while its "liberal (and establishment) soul remains intact."
The Grapes of Rapture What Would Dick Think? discovers a plan by Christian Exodus, a Texas-based non-profit, to "bring together like-minded people... to a lowly populated conservative Christian Southern state, politick within that state to secede from the Union, and repeat the formula state by state, until they redeem the whole US of A."
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
The New York Times, in a note "From the Editors," admits that it fell for misinformation from Iraqi exile sources, was taken in by an Iraqi defector's tale of secret facilities for WMDs, and failed to follow up and verify claims used by the administration to justify the invasion of Iraq. The problems went beyond individual reporters and involved "editors at several levels," say the editors.
Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell writes that "While it does not, in some ways, go nearly far enough, this low-key, but scathing, self-rebuke is nothing less than a primer on how not to do journalism, particularly if you are an enormously influential newspaper with a costly invasion of another nation at stake."
The Times' note, which was tipped by Slate's Jack Shafer in a preview headlined 'Judy's Turn To Cry,' does not name reporter Judith Miller, who either wrote or co-wrote almost all of the questionable articles. Plus: The Washingtonian examines the role played by the Washington Post in creating Ahmed Chalabi.
The U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq may have swelled the ranks of al-Qaeda and hurt the war on terror, concludes the International Institute of Strategic Studies in its annual survey of world affairs, which also says that bin Laden's network appears to be operating in 60 countries with a pool of 18,000-plus potential terrorists from which to draw.
Amid reports that Dr. Hussain al-Shahristani, a Shiite nuclear scientist who spent years in Abu Ghraib prison is the leading candidate to become Iraq's new prime minister, Left I On The News asks if al-Shahristani is really the "nonpolitical figure" that he's being portrayed as.
The New York Times reports that an Army summary reveals a widespread pattern of prisoner abuse involving more military units than previously known, and that in many cases among the 37 prisoners who died in custody in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Army didn't do autopsies and "cannot determine the causes of the deaths."
The Denver Post which last week reported on skipped autopsies, has also obtained Pentagon memos that show "A wider range of Iraqi detainee abuses by American soldiers across the Iraq war zone... involving engineers and military police - and often with their superiors condoning their actions."
Rushing the Troops Given Rush "Limbaugh's increasingly bizarre comments about the military's widening prisoner abuse scandal," why, asks Eric Boehlert, does his program, "as the only hour-long, partisan political talk show broadcast daily to U.S. troops, enjoy exclusive access to American Forces Radio -- and American troops in Iraq?"
The New York Observer's Philip Weiss argues that whether condemning Lynndie England or exalting Jessica Lynch, "there is something condescending and unconvincing about [media] portrayals of the poor people who are fighting the war for the rest of us."
FactCheck.org finds that a new Bush-Cheney campaign ad falsifies Sen. John Kerry's position on wiretaps of terrorists under the USA Patriot Act, by claiming that Kerry would repeal the wiretaps when in fact, he has merely called for stronger oversight by judges. Plus: White House puts Kerry in predicament by aping his position on Iraq.
Mike Davis describes "The View From Hubbert's Peak," the point of descent for the curve of global oil production, with dire implications for the world economy but a promise of lush terrain for Big Oil, Nigerian generals, Saudi princes, and Russian kleptocrats.
Fuel the Debate The CJR Campaign Desk calls for some energized reporting on rising gasoline prices, noting that "Energy policy is one of those subjects that affects everybody but interests almost no one (including the denizens of Washington, DC) -- until it triggers an inconvenience. Then everybody gets into the act. Until, of course, the story evaporates as prices drop."
Richard Goldstein says that when conspiracy theories such as those about the beheading of Nick Berg surface on the Internet, "the press should check them out," because "it's hard to reject anything out of hand about Iraq, since dirty tricks actually exist and the U.S. government really lies." Earlier: 'The lesson of Nick Berg.'
Online Journalism Review's Mark Glaser cites instances of the impact of bloggers on traditional journalism, including the example of Robert Cox, who forced the New York Times to change its corrections policy for op-ed columnists.
Left of the Dial? Newsday reports on a FAIR study of NPR's guest list that found "individual Republicans were NPR's most popular sources overall, taking the top seven spots in frequency of appearance." And while spokespeople for public interest groups accounted for only seven percent of total sources, they were twice as common on NPR as on commercial networks, according to FAIR's earlier "Power Sources" study.
Thursday, May 27, 2004
Robert Parry says former President Bush "should sit down his son... and level with him about the real history of U.S. relations with Iraq, Iran and Israel's Likud Party -- even if the father has to admit to illegal and unethical conduct in the process."
Calling the neocons 'History's Fools,' the Atlantic Monthly's Jack Beatty writes that "They identified the wrong enemy (a state), attacked it for the wrong reasons (WMD), and in a way that strengthened our real enemy, the transnational terrorists of September 11. America has made mistakes in foreign policy, but nothing compares to this." Plus: 'The Bush orthodoxy is in shreds.'
Former CentCom chief Gen. Anthony Zinni appears on "Hardball," and on "Lou Dobbs Tonight" with "Battle Ready" co-author Tom Clancy, described in a New Republic article as "perhaps the least likely writer imaginable to lend his name to a project bashing the Bush administration." Clancy told the AP that he "almost came to blows" with Richard Perle over the Iraq war.
U.N. Security Council members press the U.S. to make changes in a draft resolution that Empire Notes' Rahul Mahajan says would let the Americans "tell any future Iraqi government that its forces have the perpetual right to occupy the country and don't need the permission of the government."
Daily Kos introduces a Wall Street Journal article that is also part of Kautilyan's refresher course on "Full Sovereignty." Plus: 'Five points of reality that Bush overlooked' in his speech, as well as other things he didn't say.
Slate's Jack Shafer and Editor & Publisher contributor William E. Jackson, the most consistent critics of the New York Times' pre-Iraq war coverage, weigh in on paper's mea culpa, and a Romenesko reader says he would like to see "Meet the Press" follow the Times' lead. Scroll down to "Russert and his Bush war policy 'infomercials.'"
Study counts 23 rationales for war in Iraq that were floated by Bush administration officials between September, 2001 and October, 2002, and dates the administration's switch in focus from bin Laden to Saddam to five months after 9/11.
The news from Iraq is "not too negative. It is too narrow," argues PressThink's Jay Rosen. "The truth about Iraq after Saddam needed three legs to stand on, and it only got two: the military and security story, the jockeying for power and influence."
U.S. director of Amnesty International says in introducing the group's new report that "the 'war on terror' has evolved into a global street brawl with governments and armed groups duking it out and innocent civilians suffering severely."
The interrogation last fall of prisoners at Abu Ghraib is said to have "yielded very little valuable intelligence," and a CD of abuse images from the prison, titled "American Army," is reportedly a hot-seller in Baghdad, at 50 cents a throw.
As Attorney General Ashcroft 'hints that Osama wants Kerry in the White House,' Justin Raimondo uses the example of Oregon lawyer Brandon Mayfield to argue that 'Ashcroft must go.' Plus: FBI busts Buffalo "Biotech" artist and TIPS-related activity is said to be continuing despite shutdown of program.
Philadelphia Daily News reporter William Bunch writes that "Despite the hype, most of the alleged terrorists named yesterday by Ashcroft had been publicly identified long ago. One former national security official in the Bush administration told Reuters news service: 'This is more butt-covering than anything else.'" Two of the seven suspects are Canadian citizens.
"Democracy Now!" airs a debate between the author of "The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11," and a critic of the book.
"Democracy Now!" also interviewed the director of "Control Room," a documentary about Al-Jazeera, along with a senior producer for the channel. The two were interviewed on "Fresh Air" as well. In a review of the film, Lee Smith wrote that "By playing fast and loose with the truth, the Bush administration has created an atmosphere where Al Jazeera's paranoia and conspiracy theories almost seem legitimate."
"It looks like Al Gore has gone off his lithium again," said Fox News analyst Charles Krauthamer, following the former vice president's speech denouncing the Bush administration's "twisted values and atrocious policies" in Iraq and demanding the resignation of the Defense Secretary, National Security Adviser and CIA director. The GOP and Rush Limbaugh respond to the speech, as Media Matters petitions Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to yank Limbaugh's show from Armed Forces Radio.
Carl Bernstein discusses his USA Today op-ed in which he called on Republicans to challenge President Bush, saying that like Richard Nixon, Bush "decided the Constitution could be bent on his watch." Earlier: Just how bent was Nixon?
After Families USA and AARP released reports showing that "prices for name-brand medicines most commonly prescribed for seniors have risen at least three times faster than inflation in the last four years," the Progress Report invited readers to 'Badger the Drug Lobbyist,' and they did.
Friday, May 28, 2004
A report from Fallujah describes the city as resembling "an Islamic mini-state" where "anyone caught selling alcohol is flogged and paraded in the city. Men are encouraged to grow beards and barbers are warned against giving 'western' hair cuts."
The Christian Science Monitor reports that "in Iraq, where rumors alone can destroy a woman's reputation, the consequences of U.S. detention are much more severe for women than for men." Plus: 'Bringing "Maximum Security" to Iraq' and what was "James Bond" doing at Abu Ghraib?
"The prison system just grows like a weed in the yard," said the head of the Justice Policy Institute, in response to a Justice Department report that America's prison population grew by 2.9 percent last year, to almost 2.1 million inmates, with one of every 75 men -- and about one of eight black men in their 20s -- in jail or prison.
Some Dare Call It Torture A Washington Post/ABC News poll found that despite widespread objections to many of the techniques featured in photographs and videos of abuse at Abu Ghraib, only a third of Americans would define what happened there as torture. The poll also found that a higher percentage now describe themselves as "worried" about the situation in Iraq than in the early days of the war, and that almost twice as many now say they are "angry."
If a deal calling for both U.S. troops and Muqtada al-Sadr's forces to pull out of Najaf and Kufa ever takes hold, Sadr may come out the winner. The U.S. vowed repeatedly to "kill or capture" him, but the New York Times reports that some Shiite leaders say plans are "in the works" to offer positions in the new Iraqi government to the rebel cleric or some of his entourage. Could Sadr be 'Getting away with murder?'
The Times' also reports claims that Iraq is being systematically looted and plundered, with "at least 100 semitrailers loaded with what is billed as Iraqi scrap metal ... streaming each day into Jordan."
Scheduling Conflicts Daniel Forbes reports on a public service campaign for the Department of Homeland Security that received $226 million in donated time and space. "Though the ads were planned as far back as at least May 2002," they "were always scheduled for early 2003, as was, apparently, the start of the war on Iraq."
"Bush's Brain" author James C. Moore reviews New York Times' reporter Judith Miller's greatest hits, in an article that includes Miller's profane response to questions about her work raised during an interview with Moore. Earlier: 'Miller warns of possible Cuban bioterror attack.'
Editor & Publisher gets reaction to the Times' correction from editors, one of whom says that "At some point, someone has to say that the Beltway media has to be more skeptical about being spoon-fed by the Bush administration." Plus: The Times' gets skeptical and Attorney General Ashcroft is 'Assailed on Terror Warning.'
As Paul Krugman wonders if the era in which the Bush administration "played the press like a fiddle" might be coming to an end, Jonathan Schell writes that every time members of the media "use phrases like 'handing over sovereignty' or 'transition to democracy' they are misleading the public just as thoroughly as so many did when they accepted at face value the administration's claims that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction." Plus: Welcome to the new "Iraq."
Sen. John 'Kerry slams Bush on war' and David Corn asks 'How bold should Kerry go?' He writes that "there still are two causes of concern: Kerry and his message. Are he and his ideas sufficiently well-known and well-regarded so that the candidate and his stands, not merely anti-Bush sentiment, can motivate potential Kerry voters?" Plus: Consultants' memo says Bush is "more likely to lose than win."
The Progress Report flags CNN Justice Department correspondent Kelli Arena's claim that "there is some speculation that al Qaeda believes it has a better chance of winning in Iraq if John Kerry is in the White House." In March, a statement from a group claiming to have links to al Qaeda said, "we desire you (Bush) to be elected."
A preliminary analysis of radio ratings shows Air America's "The O'Franken Factor" attracting more listeners than Rush Limbaugh in New York City, including seven times as many 18-to-34-year-olds.
The Los Angeles Times reports that after reporters grilled the Pentagon about an order for commanders to stop spending money on environmental protection, the Army rescinded the order, with officials announcing that they had located enough money to continue the programs.
Following a South Dakota state Supreme Court ruling that pardons must be made public, the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader reports that crimes secretly pardoned by former Gov. Bill Janklow, included sexual contact with a child, indecent molestation of a child, rape, manslaughter, and his son-in-law's drunk driving and drug charges. Earlier: Janklow and the case of Jancita Eagle Deer.
Christopher Allbritton records an unknown's name to remember in Iraq: Ali Abbas, an 11-year-old boy who "brought me water on my first night in Baghdad," killed in a car bombing. And Intervention's Stewart Nusbaumer writes about the deaths of two soldiers from the same small town in Arkansas, in 'Dead in Iraq, Buried in Arkansas' and 'A Mother's Unbearable Pain.'
"Welcome to Memorial Day 2004," writes Working For Change's Geov Parrish, "in which we are all supposed to focus on a new World War II memorial, and forget about the more unsavory war we're in right now."
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