Thursday, October 20, 2005

Burning bodies

Good evening. Elaine has the night off. :D Elaine blogs at Like Maria Said Paz and due to the fact that she's got group, she's a doctor, on Thursday nights, she's not able to blog Thursdays. So I solo on Thursdays when it comes to Democracy Now! and she solos on Wednesdays if I have an interview. Here are two things from Democracy Now! that Elaine and I picked out today.

Report: U.S. Soldiers Burnt Bodies of Captured Taliban Fighters
This news on Afghanistan - an Australian TV program has aired footage of U.S. soldiers burning the bodies of two dead Taliban fighters. The program also aired footage of a U.S. Army psy-ops unit caught on tape broadcasting news of the burning to local residents. The message read : "You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burnt. You are too scared to retrieve their bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be... You attack and run away like women. You call yourself Taliban but you are a disgrace to the Muslim religion, and you bring shame upon your family. Come and fight like men instead of the cowardly dogs you are." On Wednesday the Pentagon announced it would investigate the incident.

To me, this is a huge story and I bet Democracy Now! will have more on it in the coming days.
There are all sorts of issues here like international law and Muslim customs. For instance, you can't be cremated if you're an observant Muslim. So burning the bodies was really awful. The facing west refers to the fact that Muslims face east when they pray so this was another way to disrespect and insult the religion, which is the big religion in the Middle East.

C.I. wrote about Eric Schmitt's article on this at The Common Ills this morning:

If the story gets traction, the spin will be "a few bad apples." In this case, the troops, and Dupont believes they were sincere, were ordered to burn the bodies for hygene. PsyOps was ordering the burning and PsyOps had their own reasons for that. Punishment needs to go to PsyOps and watch and see where the spin goes on this. Normally, on the spotlight entry, I put the title of the piece and the reporter or reporters name. I'm not putting Schmitt's name in the title because I don't want someone crusing the web to think Schmitt's making that allegation. Australia's Dateline does. I am. But Schmitt didn't. I doubt the Dixie Chicky efforts work as well at smearing, but I've done the title in the manner I have so that no casual visitor would get the impression that my belief is what Schmitt is reporting.
To me, that should be the thrust of today's article. It's a charge made by Dupont who was present. The record on past abuse is that lower level troops take the fall as though they acted on their own when other facts indicate that is not the case. So here we'll state upfront in the title that two bodies were burned at the orders of PsyOps. I think the Times should have as well. We'll also note "The Night Letter" since apparently only a few have read Jon Lee Anderson's piece.

That pretty much says it all. It's not a few bad apples and it's not just some guys going like "Hey should we burn people?" They're being told to. They were told it was for hygiene. The people doing the "telling" keep getting away everytime. They need to be held accountable.

Ex-Powell Aide: Cheney 'Cabal' Hijacked Foreign Policy
Colin Powell's former chief of staff publicly accused top-level officials in the Bush administration of hijacking the country's foreign policy in ways that have undermined American democracy. The official - Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson spoke Wednesday in Washington. Up until January he was chief of staff to then Secretary of State Powell. "What I saw was a cabal between the Vice President of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the Secretary of Defense... that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made," Wilkerson said. Wilkerson went on to accuse President Bush and Rumsfeld of condoning the abuse of detainees overseas. The Financial Times described Wilkerson's comments as the harshest attack on the administration by a former senior official since criticisms by Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill early last year. Wilkerson admitted Wednesday his decision to publicly criticize the administration has led to a falling out with Colin Powell, who he worked with for 16 years.

That was the other big story for me. With the first one, I had heard about it this morning. But this one was complete news to me. I hadn't heard about it. I was hearing the thing in the car today and was like, "Woah, go over it again." I had to log onto a computer as soon as I got on campus to read it. It doesn't surprise me that it happened but I am surprised that this guy would come forward and tell the truth. I wonder why he decided to do so now?

I wish more people would talk about it. People who've seen up close how disgusting and undemocratic and illegal the Bully Boy is. I think as bad as we can picture him being we still don't know like even a third of it. Like if he pissed someone like Condi or Cheney off or like if they were charged with something and turned on him, can you imagine what they could probably tell?

I wonder what the die hards think? They tend to ignore truth and slam anyone who says even the littlest critical thing about their Bully. But maybe that's changing?

Rebecca called this evening to tell me how much she enjoyed my interview with Wally and that meant a lot because she knows Wally and she still found some new stuff in the interview. She felt it was my best interview so far. I think that's because Wally's such a great guy and cause I was smart enough to shut up and listen more this time. FOR THE HOUR!


I also heard from 19 guys going, "My jeans do that too!" I think most of our jeans do that. Wear out inside right where our legs are meeting our groins. I think it has to do with a lot of things but that crotch rot isn't one of them. :D So guys quit worrying!

But if you need more than words, remember, take your deodarant and run it around your groin and let it dry before getting dressed. And speaking of dry, like Ma said, make sure underwear is dry. Don't be pulling it out of the dryer early to save a few coins.

And I got about 20 hundred things I wanted to talk about but that's all. Why? I told you about talking to Rebecca. Then my sister comes in upset because she's got a test tomorrow and she doesn't know if she understands the equations. So I spent two and a half hours on that. Then I get back to blogging and Tony shows up upset about his girlfriend. Not griping about any of them and glad to hear Rebecca's kind words, glad to help my sister and hope I made Tony feel better but I'm not getting anything done tonight obviously and it's like six hours after I started this the first time so I'm just going to go ahead and put it up. So let me swipe from C.I. and note a real important article that C.I.'s noted twice today.

This is Robert Parry's "Rise of the 'Patriotic Journalist:'"

The apex for the "skeptical journalists" came in the mid-1970s when the press followed up exposure of Richard Nixon's Watergate scandal and disclosure of the Vietnam War's Pentagon Papers with revelations of CIA abuses, such as illegal spying on Americans and helping Chile’s army oust an elected government.There were reasons for this new press aggressiveness. After some 57,000 U.S. soldiers had died in Vietnam during a long war fought for murky reasons, many reporters no longer gave the government the benefit of the doubt.
The press corps' new rallying cry was the public's right to know, even when the wrongdoing occurred in the secretive world of national security.
But this journalistic skepticism represented an affront to government officials who had long enjoyed a relatively free hand in the conduct of foreign policy. The Wise Men and the Old Boys -- the stewards of the post-World War II era -- now faced a harder time lining up public consensus behind any action.This national security elite, including then-CIA Director George H.W. Bush, viewed the post-Vietnam journalism as a threat to America’s ability to strike at its perceived enemies around the world.Yet, it was from these ruins of distrust -- the rubble of suspicion left behind by Watergate and Vietnam -- that the conservative-leaning national security elite began its climb back, eventually coming full circle, gaining effective control of what a more "patriotic" press would tell the people, before stumbling into another disastrous war in Iraq.
Pike Report
One early turning point in the switch from "skeptical" journalism to "patriotic" journalism occurred in 1976 with the blocking of Rep. Otis Pike's congressional report on CIA misdeeds. CIA Director Bush had lobbied behind the scenes to convince Congress that suppressing the report was important for national security.
But CBS news correspondent Daniel Schorr got hold of the full document and decided that he couldn't join in keeping the facts from the public. He leaked the report to the Village Voice -- and was fired by CBS amid charges of reckless journalism.
"The media's shift in attention from the report's charges to their premature disclosure was skillfully encouraged by the Executive Branch," wrote Kathryn Olmstead in her book on the media battles of the 1970s, Challenging the Secret Government.
"[Mitchell] Rogovin, the CIA's counsel, later admitted that the Executive Branch's 'concern' over the report's damage to national security was less than genuine," Olmstead wrote. But the Schorr case had laid down an important marker.
The counterattack against the "skeptical journalists" had begun.