Friday, February 24, 2006

Democracy Now! and Danny Schechter

Good evening. Let's get the weekend kicked off right by noting Democracy Now!

140 Die in Iraq Following Bombing at Shiite Shrine
Iraq is under a high security alert following days of violence sparked by Wednesday’s bombing of one of the country's holiest Shiite shrines in Samarra. At least 140 people, mostly Sunni Arabs, have been killed across the country. The Sunni-led Association of Muslim Scholars has said 184 Sunni mosques have since been damaged or destroyed. 10 clerics have been killed and 15 more abducted. The government imposed a rare daytime curfew today in Baghdad and in three other provinces -- preventing many from attending Friday prayers. A series of joint Sunni-Shiite demonstrations have been held calling for national unity and to condemn the increasing violence. As many as 10,000 rallied in Basra alone. But many analysts fear Iraq is on the brink of civil war. The U.S. military is ordering its soldiers to stay in its barracks in Baghdad and to stay off the streets. On Thursday seven U.S. troops died. Meanwhile the staff of the satellite TV channel Al Arabiya is in mourning following the death of one of its best-known correspondents in Iraq. The 30-year-old Atwar Bahjat was assassinated along with her cameraman and soundman on Thursday.

Well is it civil war yet? Is it? Is this where the weak ass Dems wake up and stop saying "Stay the course." Or offering crap of: "We broke it, we've got to fix it." What an inflated sense of self they have. And who's this "we"? Who's over there? I don't see Hillary Clinton securing Baghdad.

Tony and I have a new friend in class. He was a Republican. Why? Because his parents were. When he found out about my site he started checking it out and used to come here and chuckle at the silly lefty. I wish I could say I convinced him. But, hey, I was a gateway. :D

He's crazy for The Common Ills. First thing when I get on campus today, he's running up asking me if I'd read "And the war goes on (Indymedia Roundup)" from last night? Yep. Better believe I did. C.I.'s hitting on Iraq over and over is what woke him up. Last week, for the first time, he started thinking about the prisoners at Guantanamo as something other than "animals." (That's his word for how he used to see them.) It was probably the last week of January that I caught on that he was checking out the other sites in the community. And I could tell he was checking out C.I.'s stuff because he'd make a mention every now and then. Then last week, he came out and admitted it. He's off the Bully Boy Kool Aid. And now he's going to try to get his parents off.

Now I'd love to say, "Man, what a writer I am." But that's not the case. But what is the case is that he checked out my site and found something worth reading for some reason and then started checking out the other sites. So here's the point: you can do that too.

You can talk to people and you may think, "Okay, I'm not able to do the job somebody else could . . ." but you do what you can and somebody may get curious. And then they may start finding out other stuff on their own. We can all make a difference.

A lot of the time, I find most of the people on campus who turned on Bully Boy didn't really follow politics. They just knew the media loved it and thought he was God. So they were just kind of following the media's lead. And one person can make a difference there. If you're surrounded by Bully Boy lovers, you saying you don't agree with him may make someone else wonder, "Well, what do I agree with Bully Boy on?"

Or you might find that they already have doubts but didn't want to be the first one to go out on the limb. So go out on that limb and see if they don't join you.

It was different with this guy. He was a Kool Aid drinker big time. Followed Bully Boy's speeches and all that. Could give you every talking point in the world. But he didn't hear anything but those talking points. He goes, "If C.I. did this on CNN, I would've seen the obvious a long time ago."

And we all need to see the obvious. So don't be silent.

Marines Conduct Secret Study Into Iran Ethnic Minorities
The Financial Times is reporting an intelligence wing of the Marines has hired a private defense contractor to conduct a secret study of Iran's ethnic minorities. This is a move that could indicate early stages of contingency plans for a ground assault on Iran. The Marines conducted a similar study in Iraq. A former intelligence officer said the ultimate purpose of the Marines intelligence wing was to "support effective ground military operations by the Marine Corps." The study appeared to focus on whether Iran would be prone to a violent fragmentation along the same kind of fault lines that are splitting Iraq. The Financial Times reports several Iranians living in the United States refused to help with the study because they saw it as part of an effort to break up Iran. To conduct the analysis, the military hired a subsidiary of the defense contractor SAIC, the Science Applications International Corp.

People said, "Oh no, Bully Boy's too smart to start a third war when two are still waging." They were WRONG! He is a menace. We need to impeach him. It's been said before and it'll be said again but that's because it's true: nobody died from the blow job. But the Republicans in the House impeached Bill Clinton. Here we've got a liar who has blood on his hands and you can see what the priorities of the press are. With Bill Clinton they paraded every looney they could dig up before the cameras. There stories didn't match with the previous version they'd told or the one before that. But the press loved it. They ate it up and they forced it on America.

Now we've got someone who has lied us into war. We've got someone who is incompetent. And they can say a word. They act like he is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now he wants to launch war number three and we have to say "NO!" loudly and repeatedly. We have to be prepared for all the usual fear mongering. When Condi and Dick start talking "Mushroom clouds" we have to remember we've seen this crap before.

I am so sick of the American corporate press right now. They lie and they lie again. That's probably why they can't call Bully Boy out -- they are a bunch of liars and cowards.

If they'd done their job in 2000, we never would have been stuck with Bully Boy in the first place. And don't think I think the Democratic Party has a bunch of brave leaders in it because they don't. Every single one of them should have been screaming loud during the recounts.

And Joe Lieberman's ass should have been drop kicked out of the party when he went around giving interviews where he played his usual lame ass self. Giving the recounts away on Meet the Press should have been the last straw. But instead there was the press acting like Al Gore owed it to Stab-Me-In-The-Back-Lieberman to endorse him in 2004. The only people who wanted Joe Lieberman to win the nomination were the idiots and fools seeing a Joe-mentum that was never there. He's a coward and a suck up.

The segments on Democracy Now! are always important but Danny Schechter's one of the voices I've learned from The Common Ills and one that I really do look forward to reading because he speaks so good you can understand -- any issue and he just seems able to break it down so that you understand. He was on a segment of Democracy Now! today:

The News Dissector Danny Schechter Calls For March 21 Protests Targeting Media's Complicity in the Iraq War
We speak with Danny Schechter 'the News Dissector' -- veteran journalist, media critic and co-founder of, one of the largest online media issues networks. Schechter discusses the upcoming anti-war and media protest day, dangers journalists face in Iraq, coverage of war and more. We play an excerpt of his documentary "Weapons of Mass Deception."

I swiped that from C.I. because it had the links in it. I'm also going to swipe this announcement:


America's largest anti-war coalition,
United For Peace and Justice, is broadening its anti-war protest to include targeting a US media system that has largely substituted jingoism for journalism and backed the war -- often in the name of supporting the troops.
UFPJ Coordinator Leslie Cagan announced that her organization is partnering with and other media groups to organize a Media Day of War Coverage Protest on March 21, 2006. It takes part during a week of organizing and activism marking the third anniversary of the war. Plans are also underway for forums and film screenings on March 20th.
"We are thrilled that anti-war activists will now be connecting with media reform activists to challenge mainstream media 'coverage' that has underreported civilian casualties and much of the costs of the war," says MediaChannel Director David DeGraw."
Sadly, the media helped make the war possible, and despite mea culpas about flawed pre-war coverage, the coverage has basically not changed, an approach which treats every Administration claim seriously, while marginalizing the anti-war movement."
Even as public opinion shifted against the war -- only 37% of the American people are said to still back the war -- most of the media downplay reporting on demands for troop withdrawal.
Focusing on the media role is a departure for the anti-war movement that helped organize the protests that brought 30 million people to the streets on March 15, 2003. Until now, protesters have focused almost entirely on government policies and practices.Recognizing the media role indicts a corporate America that has, in some cases, profited from the war with rises in ratings and revenues. This includes General Electric (GE), owner of NBC-Universal, who received $600,000 in Iraq reconstruction contracts.Before the war began broadcast networks lobbied the FCC for rule changes to allow them to buy more stations. At the time, Washington insiders spoke of a quid pro-quo with the networks asking the FCC to waive their rules while their news shows waved the flag. In that period, then FCC Commissioner Michael Powell justified a need for more media concentration with the claim that "only big companies can cover a war like the one in Iraq."
Many journalists and media organizations have since blasted one-sided coverage. Editor & Publisher, a media industry trade magazine, has consistently documented and criticized pervasive media practices that boosted the war with more "selling than telling." launched a "Tell the Truth About the War" campaign months ago, calling for better and more consistent coverage. Thousands of emails from readers have gone to media executives.
If the war is to end, the coverage has to change. We need to press the press and move the media.
Now MediaChannel plans to organize meetings between critics and media companies. Planning for protests and panels is underway - not only in New York, but at local newspapers, radio and TV stations across the nation as part of a national effort. A national email campaign will be launched as well.If you would like to endorse or participate in this effort, or help in your community by organizing meetings, house parties - including screenings of WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception) and other films critical of the war media coverage - contact

Now we all just discussed one of Schechter's books at The Third Estate Sunday Review at the start of the week: "1 Book, 10 Minutes (Danny Schechter, The Death of Media)." That's a great book. They also addressed Danny's documentary in March of last year (they, because I wasn't blogging then and I didn't help out on that) with "Must see DVD: Danny Schechter's Weapons of Mass Deception." I hope you'll look at those and consider picking up the book or getting the DVD. Last Friday I suggested this article "JACK ABRAMOFF'S WHITE MAN'S BURDEN: How the Sleazy Republican Lobbyist Boosted Apartheid" here and on campus, I passed it around. Kip, Tony and my new bud, was one of the ones I passed that out too. As soon as Kip gets done asking me today if I read C.I.'s "And the war goes on" last night, the next thing he's telling me about is that Schechter was on Democracy Now! today. I'm like, "Woah, dude, you're watching Democracy Now! these days too?" He is. Kip is off the Kool Aid.

I bet there's a Kip that you know and you probably think there's no point talking to him because you'll never reach him. But don't give up because you may end up surprised. He heard about my site and knew me from class. He'd make a crack here or there and I'd make a crack back and before you know it, we're talking. I was hoping that by the end of the semester, he'd be thinking a little and, dude, he's off in his own orbit now. He's getting the information he needs and he's bringing up stuff to me. So you never know. Talk to the people around you and who knows how much difference it could make.

And what else do you need to do? You know what you need to do. You need to get over to Like Maria Said Paz and check out Elaine's stuff. Let's all try to be the gateway antidote to the Bully Boy Spin Drugs. Here's one more thing you need to do: have a great weekend! :D

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."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Alito of no suprises, American detentions? and more

Good evening, let's get things started with Democracy Now!

Supreme Court To Reconsider Banning Late-Term Abortion
And the Supreme Court announced Tuesday it will consider reinstating a federal ban on late-term abortion. Recent President Bush appointee Samuel Alito could hold the tie-breaking vote when the court hears the case. The court last ruled on the issue in the year 2000, when Judge Sandra Day O’Connor cast the deciding vote to strike down a state law banning the procedure. Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said: "Today's action means the core principle of protecting women's health as guaranteed by Roe v. Wade is in clear and present danger."

Did you read Rebecca yesterday? She summed it up. Those who sat on the sidelines, or worse, shouldn't be surprised now. This isn't surprising. Nothing Alito does will be. The man should never have been confirmed to the bench. Democrats didn't have any guts, they wouldn't filibuster. Reporters didn't have any integrity. They were too busy playing color commentators on ESPN: "Let me give a you a replay" instead of dealing with the issues at stake. Dems cowarded, press clowned, so we get Alito. God help us all.

Three Ohioans Charged With Conspiracy To Attack US Troops
Back in the United States, the Justice Department has charged three Ohio men with conspiracy to kill US troops in Iraq and other countries. The three -- Mohammad Zaki Amawi, Wassim I. Mazloum, and Marwan Othman El-Hindi -- are originally from Jordan and Lebanon. Amawi is also charged with making threats to kill President Bush. They each pled not guilty Tuesday. El-Hindi’s attorney, Steve Hartman, said: "It doesn't help that he's Jordanian. I think he's caught up in the Justice Department's vigorous work."

Did you catch the New York Times this morning? If you did, I hope you caught C.I. as well. "NYT: One sided 'reporting' (Neil A. Lewis)" is where C.I. takes Lewis to task for offering nothing but a press release for the Justice Dept. There's no dissenting voice heard. And Lewis can give you the Justice Dept.'s view but somehow doesn't have time to talk to the defense. This is pretty embarrassing and my professor picked it as "the best catch today" so listen to him if you don't listen to me and go read C.I.

Now check out Elaine's site Like Maria Said Paz to get her take on things.

Rebecca wanted me to note this -- Nat Parry's "Bush's Mysterious 'New Programs'"

But recent developments suggest that the Bush administration may already be contemplating what to do with Americans who are deemed insufficiently loyal or who disseminate information that may be considered helpful to the enemy.
Top U.S. officials have cited the need to challenge news that undercuts Bush’s actions as a key front in defeating the terrorists, who are aided by "news informers" in the words of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. [For details, see "Upside-Down Media" or below.]Detention CentersPlus, there was that curious development in January when the Army Corps of Engineers awarded Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root a $385 million contract to construct detention centers somewhere in the United States, to deal with "an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs," KBR said. [Market Watch, Jan. 26, 2006]
Later, the New York Times reported that "KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space." [Feb. 4, 2006]
Like most news stories on the KBR contract, the Times focused on concerns about Halliburton's reputation for bilking U.S. taxpayers by overcharging for sub-par services.
"It's hard to believe that the administration has decided to entrust Halliburton with even more taxpayer dollars," remarked Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California.

Having noted that, I'll also note that this issue that's been popular this week and last was (can I say "as usual") noted by C.I. in real time. From Feb.4th, "NYT: David Johnston and Rachel L. Swarns:"

Billie notes Rachel L. Swarns' "Halliburton Subsidiary Gets Contract to Add Temporary Immigration Detention Centers:"
The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a contract worth up to $385 million for building temporary immigration detention centers to Kellogg Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidiary that has been criticized for overcharging the Pentagon for its work in Iraq.KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space, company executives said. KBR, which announced the contract last month, had a similar contract with immigration agencies from 2000 to last year.
So Halliburton's gotten a new contract (probably no bid). Why? Because of the wonderful job they've done in Iraq? Don't kid yourself. But where is this "unexpected influx of immigrants" coming from? Does that bother you? The fact that Homeland Security will be over them? Where is the influx coming from?Ponder. And wonder if Bully Boy's going to scapegoat undocumented workers (which is bad enough) or if the I'm-above-the-law Bully Boy has something else in mind?

Want to know what everyone will be talking about a month now? Read The Common Ills.
At least until we're all living in a Bully Boy detention facility. I'll bring the marshmallows. :D
I hear the new Rumsfeld approved punishments in the facilities for American "detainees" will be forced-readings of Wonkette. We may all crack.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Dave Zirin on "gaseous hop-head" Limbaugh, Administration ignored warnings and more

Good evening. Hope everyone had a good holiday and a great weekend. Let's get things kicked off with Democracy Now!

Navy's Top Attorney Warned Against Administration's Detainee Policies
The New Yorker magazine has revealed that two years before the Abu Ghraib photos were first published, the Navy's general counsel, Alberto Mora, began challenging what he described as the administration's "disastrous and unlawful policy of authorizing cruelty toward terror suspects." Mora warned his superiors at the Pentagon about the consequences of President Bush's decision, in 2002, to circumvent the Geneva conventions. He argued that a refusal to outlaw cruelty toward U.S.-held detainees was an implicit invitation to abuse. Mora also challenged the legal framework that the Bush Administration has constructed to justify an expansion of executive power, in matters ranging from interrogations to wiretapping. He described the novel legal theories granting the President the right to authorize abuse as "unlawful," "dangerous," and "erroneous."

So four years later, we're still dealing with fall out that was predicted but that no one wanted to listen to? Jane Mayer wrote the article and you should read it. She's had a series of strong articles during the last few years and she's frequently a guest on Democracy Now! so I'll assume most of you already know who she is. Here's my take on the article: you had people who wanted to do what they wanted (and give the administration unchecked powers) so the result was they didn't listen because they didn't care. That's the policy of this administration. They want what they want and don't care about the costs. That's how we end up in Iraq. Lies are fine with them, as long as it gets them what they want.

Report: U.S. Used Bogus Call Sign to Hide Secret Flights
The Sunday Times of London is reporting the U.S. military has been operating secretive flights across Europe using a call sign assigned to a civilian airline that they have no legal right to use. This has allowed the U.S. to carry out covert missions in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The Sunday Times reported one flight apparently transported 45 tons of surplus weapons and ammunition to Rwanda in defiance of a UN embargo. In another case, a plane identified with the CIA practice of "extraordinary rendition" left a US air base just after the arrival of an aircraft using the bogus call sign.

We are the Gansta' Nation. And the real gangster's are in the administration. There's no law they won't break. In fact, Ava and C.I. covered this in their TV review of Bully Boy's press conference last year:

Obviously Bully's the madcap one, so he needs a sidekick who's a little more serious and a lot more prissy. We think they should create a character named Cheney who goes around hiding maps of the Middle East and stroking his stuffed cat that he calls Boo-Boo Kitty WMD. We think Jonathan Winters would be perfection in the role.
Yeah, it's a steal from Laverne & Shirley but imagine the opening credits as they skip down Pennsylvania Avenue singing "Give us any treaty we'll break it . . ."
And think of how humorous it would be if [Timothy] Bottoms had a big "B" on all his outfits. Especially if they dressed him up in military garb! The AWOL Bully in military garb would bring the house down. It would be "high-larious" to use a word none of the kids are saying but What I Like About You tries to convince us they are.

Gansta' Nation. People talk about how America once stood for something. Maybe it did. But we get further and further away from that each day. Bully Boy is a disgrace and it's past time to impeach. He needs to be impeached by Congress and the Senate needs to find him guilty of the charges.

Be sure to head over to Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's take on the above.

Tony asked me to note Dave Zirin's "White Blindness: The Winter Olympics and Defending Bryant Gumbel" (Common Dreams):

The right-wing media hordes, in a mad dash to deflect attention from Dick Cheney's shooting spree, may have found their target of mass distraction: Bryant Gumbel. At the end of his HBO show "Real Sports," Gumbel unleashed a prolonged rant about the utter unwatchability of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino. The Winter Games certainly are a worthy target. On ten-hour tape delay, NBC has been force-feeding us highlights of sports that seem concocted on Madison Avenue to sell Mountain Dew. As Gumbel took the Xtreme winter games to task, he said, "So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world's greatest athletes, despite a paucity of Blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention." Immediately, and predictably, the bloviating bigots of the blogosphere started splattering Gumbel's statement all over the web.
This was to be expected. But more striking was the reaction to Gumbel on ESPN Radio's "The Dan Patrick Show." Normally, in the red meat world of sports radio, Dan Patrick seems happy to be veal: no gristle or fat, morally offensive to some, but generally just plain and easily digestible. But Dan blew a gasket on the air, going after Gumbel like he was president of the Willard Scott fan club. He called for Gumbel's job, saying that if Rush Limbaugh was fired from ESPN for making racially insensitive comments, - a firing Dan says he opposed -- then Gumbel should suffer the same fate. Comparing Gumbel to Limbaugh is like comparing apples to an obese drug addict. Gumbel is an award-winning journalist who has had a foot in the world of hard sports commentary for three decades. Limbaugh is a gaseous hop-head who once asked, "Why do all composite criminal photos look like Jesse Jackson?" and telling an African-American caller to his show - who somehow got through the screeners -- to "Take the bone out of your nose." Gumbel hosts a critically lauded show. Limbaugh was a hired by ESPN as a gimmick by their ownership group, Disney, as part of their mission to make America stupider.

But when you actually compare their respective comments, the Dan Patrick argument not only collapses, but becomes intellectually dishonest. Limbaugh, of course, said on ESPN's NFL show that Pro-Bowl Philadelphia Eagle Donavan McNabb was "overrated" because of the "media's social concern" to see a successful Black quarterback. This was exactly the kind of ignorant garbage Disney hired him spew. What the rat shack didn't count on was thousands of phone calls and emails demanding the fat man's Sosa-sized head.


In the United Kingdom today, over 200 people gathered at St Nicholas and Writhington Church, in Radstock, Somerset for the funeral of Corporal Gordon Pritchard who died in Basra on January 31, 2005 becoming the 100th British soldier to die in Iraq. 101 British troops have died in Iraq, official count. Gordon Pritchard, who was 31 years-old, is survived by his wife Julie-Ann and his children Stacey, Harrison and Summer.

Alexander Panetta, of the Associated Press, is reporting that Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay maintains that "latest intelligence" indicates that the four memebers of Christian Peacemaker Teams are still alive. The four members, kidnapped in November, were last seen in a January 29th videotape. The four members are:

James Loney, 41, of Toronto;
Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, a former Montreal resident;
Tom Fox, 54, of Clear Brook, Va.,
and Norman Kember, 74, of London [. . .]

Sunday's upsurge in violence continued on Monday. Reuters is reporting that bombings in Mosul and Baghdad today killed "at least 19 people." The Associated Press reports that in Karbala one American soldier was killed in a bombing and that in Mosul, a bomber killed himself in a "restaurant packed with policemen eating breakfast, killing at least five people and wounding 21, including 10 policemen". The Department of Defense has identified Capt. Anthony R. Garcia of Fort Worth, Texas as one of the 34 US military fatalities this month. Garcia died of from gunshot wounds after a February 17th shooting that took place on a military base in Tikrit. Garcia is survived by his wife Doris and his children Kelly and Garrick.

Brian Zimmerman, of Gannet News, is reporting that questions still surround the shooting death of Army Reservist David Douglas who died two weeks after returning to the United States from a one-year stint in Iraq. Commenting on the violent deaths of many returning veterans, National Guardsman Alfonso Williams told Zimmerman:

You have a whole lot of built-up anger from being over there. . . . You can't explain (what it's like) to anybody. And to them, what they may think is screaming and hollering to you is a normal tone.

In 2005, the military reports that 136 active duty personnel committed suicide. No figures are kept for those who are inactive. The current number for US military fatalities in Iraq stands at 2276.

As Jane Mayer reported in The New Yorker, early warnings were ignored by the administration about the environment created for abuse of prisoners in Guantanamo. Noting that "Human rights are under threat," Amnesty International is calling for the closing of Guantanamo. Tuesday, Amnesty International will host a live online discussion:

Live chat with Moazzam Begg, ex Guantánamo detainee, on 21 February, 6-7pm GMT

Moazzam Begg, British citizen, was held for "nearly three years," as noted on Democracy Now!. Amnesty International's call echoes the call of the UN investigation team as well as the prime ministers of Germany, France, England and Malaysia. U.S. Charm Minister Karen Hughes, speaking to Al Jazeera, rejected calls to close Gitmo and reportedly maintained that not only are the people imprisoned in Guantanamo wanting to kill Americans but that some released "have gone back to fighting and killing Americans." If the report is accurate, it is surprising that such an assertion would be made by the Minister of Charm and not Bully Boy himself.

In this country, the Associated Press is reporting that Republican governors George Pataki (New York) and Robert Ehrlich (Maryland) have joined the chorus of voices objecting by administration plans to turn over control of "six major U.S. ports" to Dubai Ports World. Senators Robert Menendez (New Jersey) and Hillary Clinton (New York) are also objecting to the proposed plan. Speaking out against the plan involving the Arab company, Mendendez stated today, "We wouldn't turn over our customs service or our border patrol to a foreign government. We shouldn't turn over the ports of the United States, either."

Feminist Wire Daily is reporting that CWIG (Center for Women in Government and Civil Society) has conducted a study on "the percentage of women in policy-making positions - such as state legislators, elected officials, high court judges, department heads, and top governor's advisors" for the years 1998 to 2005 and found that the rate of growth for women in those positions increased by only 1.6% -- "from 23.1 percent to 24.7 percent." FWD notes:

Slow progress for women in state government has national implications, says Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers. State and local office serve as a "pipeline" to draw women into national politics. Not to mention, adds Walsh, state legislatures themselves are "making a tremendous amount of policy" –- in 2005, 48 state legislatures considered over 500 anti-choice bills.

On the national level, NOW notes, that although "almost nine million more women voted than men" only fourteen women serve in the United States Senate and only sixty-seven in the House, while of the fifty governors in the United States, only eight are women.

As noted on Sunday's KPFA Evening News, Saturday Feb. 25th, a Counter-Recruiting workshop will be held, open to the public, from 2 to 5pm at the Veterans' Memorial Building, Room 219, 401 Van Ness Ave. March 1st is the National Law Student Day Against the Death Penalty (SDADP).

In other news, Philadelphia Indymedia is reporting that Governor Ed Rendell vetoed the Pennsylvania's Voter ID bill. Rendell, who spanked Casey Junior in the 2002 election race, stated, "I see no reason to enact laws that will result in voter confusion and disenfranchise legitimately registered voters." Member of Protect the Vote had successfully fought against the proposed legislation and were on hand for the veto ceromny.

In other civil liberties news, following what BuzzFlash has called "Just Your Average Week of the Bush Administration Betraying America," the ACLU features a snapshot of governmental spying/snooping in the form of Betty Ball who states:

It is true that I have become more motivated to work for justice and social change knowing that the government is abusing its powers like this. But I am worried about how far the government will go to squelch First Amendment rights and silence dissent. Will we all be rounded up and incarcerated? Already so many people have been frightened away from participating in our events, and have asked to have their names removed from our mailing lists, for fear of the consequences of associating with us. I hesitate to call people to discuss plans for rallies or protests because I don’t want them ending up in an FBI file labeled as a "domestic terrorist."

Meanwhile, author and activist Diane Wilson remains in a Victoria County jail in Texas. Wilson was arrested for unfurling a banner that read "Corporate Greed Kills--From Bhopal to Baghdad" at a Dick Cheney attended fundraiser in Houston on December 5, 2005. Wilson's banners are apparently too much for the delicate sensibilities of the foes of democracy. She is currently serving a 150 day sentence for a 2002 action where she climbed a Dow Jones tower and unfurled a banner which read "Justice For Bhopal." CODEPINK is calling for Wilson's release.

In other take action news, is asking you to Take Action: Demand Coverage of Able Danger (more info on the Able Danger program can be found at Able Danger Media Monitoring).

Finally, Monday's Democracy Now! featured:

"Readings From Howard Zinn's 'Voices of a People's History of the UnitedStates:'"
Today we spend the hour with readings from a Voices of a People's History of the United States edited by historian Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove. It is the companion volume to Zinn's legendary People's History of the United States ­ which has sold over a million copies.We will hear dramatic readings of speeches, letters, poems, songs, petitions, and manifestos. These are the voices of people throughout U.S.history who struggled against slavery, racism, and war, against oppression and exploitation, and who articulated a vision for a better world. Performances include Danny Glover as Frederick Douglass, Marisa Tomei as Cindy Sheehan, Floyd Red Crow Westerman as Tecumseh and Chief Joseph, Sandra Oh as Emma Goldman and Yuri Kochiyama, and Viggo Mortensen as Bartolomeo de Las Casas and Mark Twain.

This entry was compiled by:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim;
Rebecca of
Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of
Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
C.I. of
The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Kat of
Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Cedric of
Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of
Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of
Like Maria Said Paz;
and Wally of
The Daily Jot.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Isaiah on Brokedown Democracy and Howard Zinn on Democracy Now!

The above is Isaiah's latest, greatest The World Today Just Nuts, "Brokedown Democracy." Nina and I saw Brokeback Mountain and it's a great movie. Living under Bully Boy and Dick Cheney's Brokedown Democracy? Not so good.

Here's what's on today's Democracy Now!, "Readings From Howard Zinn's 'Voices of a People's History of the UnitedStates:'"

Today we spend the hour with readings from a Voices of a People's History of the United States edited by historian Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove. It is the companion volume to Zinn's legendary People's History of the United States ­ which has sold over a million copies.We will hear dramatic readings of speeches, letters, poems, songs, petitions, and manifestos. These are the voices of people throughout U.S.history who struggled against slavery, racism, and war, against oppression and exploitation, and who articulated a vision for a better world. Performances include Danny Glover as Frederick Douglass, Marisa Tomei as Cindy Sheehan, Floyd Red Crow Westerman as Tecumseh and Chief Joseph, Sandra Oh as Emma Goldman and Yuri Kochiyama, and Viggo Mortensen as Bartolomeo de Las Casas and Mark Twain.

C.I. called and asked if I was taking the day off. I think I will probably. Nina and I have plans to run errands together and, if we can get that done in time, we may grab a movie. Check out C.I.'s "Other Items" this morning. Two entries and both are great but there's more commentary in "Other Items" so if you're on holiday schedule and only have time for one thing, read that right now. Seriously. (The first one is here.)

Hope everyone has a great day even if you don't have the day off. I may post this evening. I'm not sure yet.

But here's Maria's rundown of the important headlines from last week's Democracy Now! first in Spanish and then in English.

Senadores republicanos bloquean investigacion sobre espionaje de la NSA
Maria: Buenos dias. De parte de "Democracy Now!" diez cosas que vale hacer notar este fin de semana. Paz.

Senadores republicanos bloquean investigación sobre espionaje de la NSA: Actualizamos información de la controversia sobre el programa de espionaje interno, del presidente Bush. En Capitol Hill, los senadores republicanos obstruyeron una propuesta de investigar la operación.El republicano Pat Roberts, presidente del Comité de Inteligencia, dijo el jueves que su panel había decidido no llevar a cabo la investigación. Roberts manifestó que había llegado a un acuerdo con la Casa Blanca para que considerara la legislación y proporcionara más información al Congreso sobre el programa de espionaje de conversaciones privadas.El senador demócrata de más alto rango del comité, John Rockefeller, dijo: "Hoy, el Comité de Inteligencia del Senado una vez más renunció a su responsabilidad de supervisar las actividades de inteligencia de Estados Unidos".

Juez ordena a Departamento de Justicia que publique documentos de la NSA: Mientras tanto, un juez federal ordenó al Departamento de Justicia que publique los documentos sobre el programa de la Agencia de Seguridad Nacional (NSA, por sus siglas en inglés) en un plazo de 20 días. Esta orden surgió como respuesta a un pedido de libertad de información realizado por el Centro de Privacidad de la Información Electrónica (EPIC, por sus siglas en inglés).

Investigadores de la ONU dijeron a Estados Unidos: Clausuren Guantánamo: En otras noticias, investigadores de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas exhortaron al gobierno de Bush a que cierre inmediatamente la prisión de la Bahía de Guantánamo, en Cuba. El informe de la ONU insta al gobierno estadounidense a "abstenerse de cualquier práctica equivalente a la tortura o al trato o castigo cruel, inhumano o degradante".
El informe también dice: "En el caso de los detenidos de la Bahía de Guantánamo, el presidente de Estados Unidos opera como juez, fiscal, y abogado defensor: esto constituye serias violaciones de diversas garantías del derecho a un juicio justo ante un tribunal independiente". Hay aproximadamente 500 hombres detenidos en ese lugar. No se presentaron cargos en contra de la mayoría de ellos. El portavoz del Departamento de Estado Sean McCormack, desestimó el informe. McCormack dijo que la información de la ONU estaba basada en "rumores".

Iraquíes indignados por nuevas fotos de Abu Ghraib: En Irak, la publicación de nuevas fotografías que muestran a detenidos iraquíes siendo torturados en la prisión de Abu Ghraib, dirigida por Estados Unidos, provocó indignación. La cadena televisiva australiana SBS mostró estas fotos por primera vez el miércoles y varias de las imágenes fueron reproducidas en periódicos iraquíes y en medios televisivos. Un ciudadano iraquí, Abd Al-Awadh, dice que las fotos demostraron que Estados Unidos estaba violando el derecho internacional.Abd Al-Awadh dijo: "Estamos muy apenados por las fotos que vimos ayer. Vimos como humillaban a los iraquíes y que en este país no hay respeto por la dignidad del pueblo iraquí, en el país donde éramos amos ahora somos esclavos y los amos son extranjeros. Además de las fotos de abusos en Abu Ghraib, vimos a iraquíes siendo golpeados en Basora por las fuerzas británicas. Esto es una violación de las leyes internacionales, las que ellos usaron como pretexto para invadir Irak". Y agregó: "Sentimos mucho que estos actos se repitan diariamente en las calles iraquíes. Las fuerzas estadounidenses matan injustificadamente. La opinión de la población es tergiversada y lamentablemente el prisionero iraquí fue tratado de forma bárbara y salvaje por las fuerzas estadounidenses".

Fotografías muestran cadáveres, tortura y hombres desnudos: Una de las fotografías mostraba a un hombre muerto, tirado desnudo sobre el polvo con sangre saliéndole de la cabeza. Otra foto mostraba a un hombre desnudo colgado de una cama, sujetado de las rodillas. Otro prisionero estaba cubierto de heces. Las fotografías también muestran a hombres desnudos en posiciones sexuales humillantes. Los prisioneros fueron fotografiados usando capuchas. También fotografiaron a hombres que mostraban lo que parecen ser marcas de quemaduras y torturas.Y la protesta suscitada por las fotos podría intesificarse. Hoy temprano, "" publicó mas fotos de Abu Ghraib. La publicación en Internet obtuvo archivos y otros documentos electrónicos de una investigación interna del ejército. El material incluye más de 1.000 fotografías, videos y documentos probatorios. Según "", algunos de los documentos se refieren a los funcionarios de la CIA como interrogadores de los prisioneros en Abu Ghraib. Hasta la fecha, ningún oficial de la CIA ha sido procesado por ningún crimen ocurrido dentro de la prisión, a pesar de que al menos un iraquí murió allí durante un interrogatorio de la CIA.
El miércoles, la Unión Estadounidense por las Libertades Civiles (ACLU, por sus siglas en inglés), Amnistía Internacional y otros grupos pidieron una investigación realmente independiente que indague en todos los niveles de la cadena de mando militar, así como también la vinculación de otros organismos del gobierno como la CIA y los contratistas militares privados que estuvieron implicados en abusos.

Cinco mujeres arrestadas en protesta contra la guerra cerca de Washington DC: Y en las afueras de Washington DC, cinco mujeres del grupo contra la guerra Raging Grannies (Abuelas Furiosas) fueron arrestadas el martes en una protesta frente a una oficina de reclutamiento militar. Las mujeres fueron arrestadas luego de anunciar que pretendían enlistarse. Coreaban: "si alguien debe morir en Irak, que sean los viejos". Más tarde fueron liberadas sin cargos en su contra. El martes se realizaron protestas similares en todo el país, incluyendo los estados de Florida, California y Nueva York.

Más de mil personas protestan por video que muestra a soldados británicos golpeando a jóvenes iraquíes: En Irak, más de mil personas protestaron el martes en Basora por un video dado a conocer recientemente que muestra a soldados británicos golpeando a jóvenes iraquíes. Se cree que el video fue grabado luego de una protesta en la ciudad de Amarah, a principios de 2004. Cientos de personas asistieron a la protesta para exigir empleo. En el video, cuatro manifestantes jóvenes son arrastrados desde una calle a un recinto del ejército británico donde recibieron puñetazos, puntapiés y porrazos. También se escucha la voz de una persona, que no aparece en la grabación, que elogia los ataques. El martes, el jefe de la fuerza policial de Basora dijo que las fuerzas de seguridad iraquíes suspenderán los patrullajes conjuntos con las Fuerzas Armadas británicas en la provincia, como medida de protesta. Mientras tanto, el gobierno británico dice que hasta el momento arrestó a tres personas vinculadas con el incidente.

Senado rechaza por 93 votos contra 3 el intento del senador Feingold de detener la renovación de la Ley Patriota: En otras noticias de Capitol Hill, el Senado va en camino a renovar la Ley Patriota. El senador demócrata Russ Feingold, de Wisconsin, lidera el esfuerzo para bloquear la renovación, pero está recibiendo poco apoyo, incluso de sus compañeros demócratas. Feingold quiere establecer una fecha de caducidad de cuatro años para las disposiciones de la Ley que permiten a los agentes del gobierno obligar a bancos, bibliotecas, compañías proveedoras de servicios de Internet y otras instituciones a entregar registros privados sin una orden judicial. El jueves, el senado aprobó con 93 votos a favor y 3 en contra rechazar el intento de Feingold de detener la legislación. Sólo el senador independiente Jim Jeffords y el demócrata Robert Byrd apoyaron a Feingold.

FBI realiza redadas en casas de activistas independentistas en Puerto Rico: En Washington, varios miembros del Congreso están pidiendo una investigación sobre recientes redadas llevadas a cabo por el FBI contra activistas independentistas en Puerto Rico.
La semana pasada, cientos de miembros de la unidad antiterrorista del FBI llevaron a cabo seis redadas simultáneas en las casas a integrantes del grupo independentista conocido como Macheteros.
El FBI dijo que estaba intentando impedir un posible ataque terrorista a nivel nacional.
En una de las redadas, agentes del FBI golpearon y lanzaron gas de pimienta a los periodistas que intentaban realizar entrevistas.
Las redadas ocurrieron menos de seis meses después de que el FBI mató a balazos al líder independentista puertorriqueño Filiberto Ojeda Rios.

En Irán, el gobierno afirma que reanudó el enriquecimiento de uranio a pequeña escala, desafiando el esfuerzo internacional para limitar su actividad nuclear. La noticia surge en medio de recientes especulaciones sobre un posible ataque de Estados Unidos a Irán. Durante el fin de semana, el "Sunday Telegraph" informó que el Pentágono trazó un plan de ataque como último recurso para impedir que Irán desarrolle armas nucleares. Un funcionario de alto rango del Pentágono, que no reveló su identidad, dijo: "Esto es más que un plan estándar de contingencia militar...El problema adquirió mayor urgencia en los últimos meses".

Maria: Now in English, here are ten headlines from
Democracy Now! Peace.

Senate Republicans Block Investigation Into NSA Spying: This update on the controversy over President Bush's warrant-less domestic spying program - on Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans have blocked a proposed investigation into the operation. On Thursday, Republican Senator Pat Roberts, chair of the Intelligence Committee said, his panel decided not to conduct an investigation. Roberts said he reached an agreement with the White House to consider legislation and provide more information to Congress on the eavesdropping program. The ranking Democrat on the committee -- Sen. John Rockefeller -- said "Today, the Senate Intelligence Committee once again abdicated its responsibility to oversee the intelligence activities of the United States."

Judge Orders Justice Dept To Release NSA Documents: Meanwhile, a federal judge has ordered the Justice Department to release documents about the NSA program within 20 days. The order comes in response to a Freedom Of Information request filed by EPIC - the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

UN Investigators Call on U.S. to Close Guantanamo: In other news, United Nations investigators have called on the Bush administration to immediately close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba. The UN report urges the US government to "refrain from any practice amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." The report goes on to state "In the case of the Guantanamo Bay detainees, the U.S. executive operates as judge, as prosecutor, and as defense council: this constitutes serious violations of various guarantees of the right to a fair trial before an independent tribunal." About 500 men are being held at the site. Charges have never been filed against most of them. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack dismissed the report. He said the U.N. information was based on "hearsay."

Iraqis Outraged Over New Abu Ghraib Photos: In Iraq, the publication of new photographs showing Iraqi detainees being tortured inside the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison is being met by outrage. The Australian broadcaster SBS first aired the photographs on Wednesday and many of the images have been reprinted in Iraqi newspapers and aired on television. One Iraqi citizen, Abd Al-Awadh, says the photos proved the United States was acting in violation of international law. "We feel sorry about the photos we saw yesterday. We saw humiliation to the Iraqis and we saw that there is no respect to the dignity of the Iraqi people in this country, the country where we were masters we are now slaves and the masters come from abroad. In addition to Abu Ghraib abuse photos, we saw Iraqis being beaten in Basra by the British forces. This is a violation of international laws, which they used as a pretext to invade Iraq," said Abd Al-Awadh. "We feel sorry that such acts are being repeated on a daily basis at the Iraqi streets. There is unjustified killings by the U.S. force. The public opinion is misled and regrettably enough the Iraqi prisoner was treated in a barbaric and savage way at the hands of the American forces."

Photographs Depict Corpses, Torture, Naked Men: One photograph showed a man lying dead in the dirt with blood coming out of his head. Another showed a naked man hanging from a bed by his knees. Another prisoner is shown covered in feces. Naked men are also shown in sexually humiliating positions. Prisoners were photographed wearing hoods. Men were also photographed showing what appears to be burn and torture marks. And the outcry over the photos may only intensify. Earlier today published even more photographs from Abu Ghraib. The online publication obtained files and other electronic documents from an internal Army investigation. The material includes more than 1,000 photographs, videos and supporting documents. According to some of the documents refer to CIA personnel as interrogators of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. To date, no CIA officers have been prosecuted for any crimes that occurred within the prison, despite the death of at least one Iraqi during a CIA interrogation there. On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International and other groups called for a truly independent investigation to look at all levels of the military chain of command, as well as involvement from other government agencies like the CIA and private military contractors who have been implicated in abuses.

5 "Raging Grannies" Arrested at Anti-War Protest Near DC: And just outside of Washington, DC, five women with the anti-war group the Raging Grannies were arrested Tuesday at a protest outside a military recruitment office. The women were arrested after announcing they intended to enlist. They chanted: "if someone must die in Iraq, let it be the old." They were later released without charge. The protest was one of several held across the country Tuesday, including in Florida, California, and New York.

Over 1,000 Protest Video Showing British Troops Beating Iraqi Youths: In Iraq, more than 1,000 people rallied in Basra Tuesday over a recent video showing British soldiers beating Iraqi youths. The video is believed be from the aftermath of a protest in the city of Amarah in early 2004. Hundreds of people attended the rally to demand employment. On the video, four young protesters are pulled off of a street and into a British army compound where they are punched, kicked and hit with batons. An off-camera voice can also be heard praising the attacks. On Tuesday, the chief of the Basra police force said Iraqi security forces would cease joint patrols with the British military in the province in protest. Meanwhile, the British government says it has arrested three people so far in connection to the beatings.

Senate Votes 96-3 to Reject Sen. Feingold's Effort to Stall Patriot Act Renewal: In other news from Capitol Hill, the Senate is moving closer to renewing the Patriot Act. Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin is leading the effort to block renewal but he is receiving little support even from fellow Democrats. Feingold wants to set a four-year expiration date on provisions within the Act that allows government agents to force banks, libraries, Internet providers and others to hand over private records without a warrant. On Thursday, the Senate voted 96 to 3 to reject Feingold's efforts to stall the legislation. Only independent Senator Jim Jeffords and Democrat Robert Byrd backed Feingold.

FBI Raids Homes of Pro-Independence Activists in Puerto Rico: In Washington, several members of Congress are calling for an investigation into recent raids conducted by the FBI targeting pro-independence activists in Puerto Rico. Last week hundreds of members of the FBI's counterterrorism unit conducted six simultaneous raids targeting members of the pro-independence group known as the Macheteros. The FBI claimed it was attempting to thwart a possible domestic terrorism attack. At one of the raids, FBI agents beat and pepper sprayed journalists who attempted to conduct interviews. The raids come less than six months after the FBI shot dead Puerto Rican independence leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios.

Report: US Drawing Up Plans For Iran Attack: In Iran, the government says it has resumed small-scale enrichment of uranium, defying an international effort to limit its nuclear activity. The news comes amid fresh speculation over a possible US attack on Iran. Over the weekend, the Sunday Telegraph reported the Pentagon has drawn up an attack plan as a last resort to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. An anonymous senior Pentagon official said: "This is more than just the standard military contingency assessment. This has taken on much greater urgency in recent months."