Thursday, February 23, 2006

Iraq, abuse of prisoners, Amy Goodman and David Goodman and more

Good evening. Let's kick things off with Democracy Now!

Bombing of Shiite Shrine Sparks Protests, Violence
In Iraq, the bombing of a sacred Shiite shrine has set off a wave of sectarian violence that is rekindling fears of an escalated civil war. At least 60 people have been killed since the Askariya shrine was attacked Wednesday. The dead include Al-Aarabiya TV reporter Atwar Bahjat and two members of her crew. Three Sunni imams have also been reported killed. Adel Abdul Mahdi, a Shiite Iraqi Vice-President, said: "This is as 9/11 in the United States." USA Today is reporting at least 90 Sunni mosques came under attack in violent reprisals. In Basra, about 10 foreign prisoners were removed from a local jail and executed. In Baghdad, the offices of the Iraqi Islamic Party -- the country's largest Sunni group -- were attacked. Iraqi Islam Party head Tareq Al-Hashimi said: "The Iraqi Islamic party consider the attacks on mosques and the party buildings as historical crimes that demand an official stand from all (Iraqis) and to put an end to these crimes, confronting the perpetrators before it will be too late for that. We are calling on demonstrators to show self- restraint and not to be drawn behind a sectarian tension in which there will be no winner or a loser."

So who's doing this? That's the big question on campus. Some thing this is the first wave of the civil war U.S. military intervention has unleashed. Others are talking about Negroponte and his work in Central America and wondering if this is handiwork? I don't know. I know that next month is the third anniversary of the illegal war and occupation and there's no peace.

The New Republican set seems to think that peace is just around the corner if we send a zillion more American troops over. They've maintained that crap for some time now. They really aren't concerned with "peace." They're worried about their war jones. Got to satisfy their war jones. Bringing the troops home means the people of this country win the way they did (finally) in Vietnam and that means people realizing just how much power they have which makes it harder for the current Bully Boy or one on down the line to wage wars of choice.

It's past time to bring the troops home. People need to face reality. Bully Boy lied us into war. He needs to be impeached.

Study: Nearly 100 Detainees Have Died in US Custody
In others news, a new study from the group Human Rights First has found that nearly 100 prisoners in US custody have died in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last three and a half years. At least 34 deaths were due to suspected or confirmed homicides. Another 11 deaths were deemed suspicious and up to twelve deaths were caused by lethal torture. The report found that most deaths went un-punished. The report comes one week after a set of new photographs were released showing prisoner abuse at the US-run Abu Ghraib.

Did you check out The Common Ills this morning? I called Rebecca because C.I. has been sick all week and I didn't want to risk calling during a period where C.I. was sleeping. But Rebecca had already checked in with C.I. when I called her. I was going, "Great morning entries" because they were and Rebecca goes they were written between trips to the bathroom to throw up. That makes me appreciate them all the more because I know how hard it is for me to do anything (and I'm not putting myself up there with C.I.) when I'm able to fully concentrate. That C.I.'s writing a paragraph or two, then rushing to throw up, then coming back and writing some more and the whole time just wanting to crawl back into bed really amazes me.

So here's some points C.I. made in this morning in "NYT: Well . . . at least there's a strong Associated Press story:"

The above is from the Associated Press' "Abusive G.I.'s Not Pursued, Survey Finds" which is carried by the New York Times today. When we open with the Associated Press, you know the paper's in trouble. What's even more strange is that they leave the topic to the Associated Press when there's a trial on prisoner abuse currently going on. From the Associated Press article that the Washington Post is carrying, Alicia A. Caldwell's "Reservist Goes to Trial in Afghanistan:"
Army prosecutors in the final case involving an Army reserve unit from Ohio linked to prisoner abuses in Afghanistan say a sergeant abused two prisoners while they were shackled and helpless.Sgt. Alan Driver's attorney countered in opening arguments in his prison abuse trial Wednesday that the military policeman was putting his life at risk to guard dangerous terrorists at Bagram Air Base detention center.[. . .]
Driver, of Indianapolis, is the last of 11 soldiers from the 377th to be tried on charges of abusing detainees, including two who later died. Only one soldier has been convicted by an Army jury, and he was spared jail time.
The investigation was launched shortly after two detainees, men known as Dilawar and Habibullah, died within days of each other in Bagram in December 2002.
No one has been prosecuted for the detainees' deaths, though both cases were ruled homicides and the Army claims the men were beaten to death inside the jail.
By emphasis and omission, the press determines what America follows and what it doesn't follow. A point made strongly with regards to the Times by Amy and David Goodman in their book The Exception to the Rulers. The abuse and deaths of prisoners isn't a story the Times is interested in today. As you flip through this morning's paper, you realize the lack of interest isn't because they're covering anything major or 'breaking' any news. It reads like a Monday paper -- full of lazy "reporting" and naval gazing.

C.I.'s had the flu since Tuesday I think. Everybody here knows that when I'm sick, I just want to crawl in the bed and be left alone. I'm a growling bear if anybody bothers me. So I want to take a moment here to note my friend C.I. and how, sick or well, The Common Ills goes on and covers what matters.

Nobody's earned a break more than C.I. and we all hope one will be taken but until it is, let me note that since November 19, 2004, every day, on the road speaking or not, C.I.'s had entries up at The Common Ills. Protesting in DC at the inauguration or at whatever event, The Common Ills has always gone on. I don't have that kind of energy or dedication.

It's the same way with Ava and C.I.'s TV reviews. And Wally will tell you that the advice C.I. gave him was, "Just get something up there. Every day won't be perfect and beautiful and some days will flat out suck but keep trying." That's part of the reason The Common Ills community built up. And last week, Rebecca wrote a great thing about the role C.I. plays within the community and how she'd never want that role. I don't think I could handle it either. Maybe Ava and Jess could handle it and maybe Ty but I don't think most of us would be able to (and Jim doesn't think so either). I know this kind of talk ticks C.I. off so usually I avoid it but with C.I. being sick and doing the indymedia roundup tonight, I'm almost postive this won't be read. And it needs to be said and shouldn't just fall to Rebecca to say it. So I just wanted to take a moment to note a friend who works hard and then some. Leigh Ann wrote today and commented on my thing yesterday. I was probably wanting to say this but worrying about C.I. reading it. I think it's important to note the people who work hard and step up to the plate and take a swing because most people don't do that. Most people just write about what's "safe" and what everyone else is talking about.

That's also why I make a point to highlight Democracy Now! because they go in and do the work that most people don't want to do. That's not comparing the two. (C.I. would point out that they do outstanding journalism and that The Common Ills is "just a resource/review.") But that is noting that we need more brave voices and me noting we need to recognize the ones that are out there.

So let's note Democracy Now!:

* Democracy Now! is 10 Years Old This Week
*On February 19, 1996 the first Democracy Now! was broadcast out ofthe studios of WPFW in Washington. You can now listen to or downloadan MP3 of this historic broadcast at'll be using the site to periodically highlight past programs and offer free MP3s of these shows so check back often or subscribe to our new archives podcast.

10 years of doing real journalism. I hope you make a point to watch or listen to Democracy Now! and if you're not in one of the areas that it's broadcast (over 400 stations -- radio and TV -- broadcast the news program), you can watch it or listen to it online and you can also read it online if you're on an older computer that doesn't work too well with audio or video.

If you haven't checked it out, you should. You should also check The Exception to the Rulers by Amy Goodman and her brother David Goodman. This is from pages 170-171:

It was bound to happen. People start sleeping together, and the next thing you know, they're talking commitment.
That was the basic theme underlying most of the embedded reporting during the invasion of Iraq. As reporters rode shotgun on tanks and Humvees and slept alongside soldiers in Iraq, what journalistic distance there ever was vanished into the sands of the desert.
Don't take it from me. Take it from Gordon Dillow of The Orange County Register, who wrote: "The biggest problem I faced as an embed with the Marine grunts was that I found myself dong what journalists are warned from J-school not to do: I found myself falling in love with my subject. I fell in love with 'my' Marines."
And CBS's Jim Axelrod, who was embedded with -- I would say in bed with -- the 3rd Infantry Division, echoed: "This will sound like I've drunk the Kool-Aid, but I found embedding to be an extremely positive experience. . . . We got great stories and they got very positive coverage."
From the Pentagon's point of view, this one-sided reporting worked like a charm. "Americans and people around the world are seeing firsthand the wonderful dedication and discipline of the coaliton forces," declared Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke.
For Clarke, a former top executive with Hill & Knowlton, the world's largest public relations firm, nothing was left to chance. "We put the same planning and preparation into this [embed program] as military planners put into the war effort," she said.
The embed program for the invasion of Iraq was the culmination of years of effort and experimentation by the Pentagon to control the media during war. In World War II and Vietnam, many reporters were in the field alongside soldiers. But as the Southeast Asian quagmire deepened, the Pentagon became exasperated with journalists who reported the increasingly grim realities that they saw: dispirited troops, futile efforts by the United States to win the "hearts and minds" of the Vietnamese through carpet bombing, and even occasional dispatches about war crimes. It became an article of faith that "the media lost Vietnam" -- as if the American public would otherwise have gladly accepted the staggering toll of 58,000 Americans killed, 300,000 wounded, and at least 2 million Vietnamese killed in a pointless war.

That was a book we discussed at The Third Estate Sunday Review so if you need more on why you should read this book, check that out. To me, the Goodmans book is as important and as satisfying as Howard Zinn's writing and that's like the ultimate compliment from me. Buy a copy and if you can't afford to buy one, go to your library and check out the book. This is a book you really have to read. It's already been a bestseller but I think with more people waking up to the realities of Bully Boy's illegal war, a lot more people could be interested in the book now. So make a point to check out The Exception to the Rulers and if you've already checked it out, get the word out to your friends. If you have a copy, share it with a friend. (One you can trust to return it because this is a book you want to hold onto.)

And also check out Ava and C.I.'s "TV Review: Close To Home (and floating in the toilet)" and Betty's "Thomas Friedman's one moment of public truth."