Monday, Monday! We're still in DC and had fun this evening so everyone's probably posting late. Kat's pulling out her laptop and looking for something to write about. Rebecca's nursing her baby and saying she'll post after she gets the baby down for the night. So Elaine and I are posting right now for sure.
When the president of the National Lawyers Guild, Marjorie Cohn writes a column, I read. This is from her "Erwin Chemerinsky and the Post-9/11 Attack on Academic Freedom:"
One week after the renowned legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky was offered the position of dean of the new law school at the University of California at Irvine, Chancellor Michael Drake withdrew the offer, informing Duke Law Professor Chemerinsky he had proved to be "too politically controversial." Chemerinsky is one of the most eminent law teachers and constitutional law scholars in the country. Author of a leading treatise on constitutional law, he has written four books and more than 100 law review articles. In 2005, he was named by Legal Affairs as one of "the top 20 legal thinkers in America."
This is the latest chapter in the post September 11 attack on academic freedom under the guise of protecting security. Two weeks after 9/11, former White House spokeman Ari Fleischer cautioned Americans "they need to watch what they say, watch what they do." The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a group founded by Lynne Cheney and Senator Joe Lieberman, accused universities of being the weak link in the war on terror; it included the names of 117 "un-American" professors, students and staff members. A few months later, a blacklisting Internet cite called Campus Watch was launched. It publishes dossiers on scholars who criticize U.S. Middle East policy and Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. Earlier this year, the Bruin Alumni Association at UCLA offered students $100 to tape left-wing professors.
In 2003, the American Association of University Professors recalled the "still-vivid memories of the McCarthy era" and warned of the perils of sacrificing academic freedom in the war on terror. The premise of their report was that "freedom of inquiry and the open exchange of ideas are crucial to the nation's security, and that the nation's security and, ultimately, its well-being are damaged by practices that discourage or impair freedom."
At a 2004 conference on academic freedom at UC Berkeley, Professor Beshara Doumani observed, "Academic freedom in the United States is facing its most important threat since the McCarthy era of the 1950s. In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, government agencies and private organizations have been subjecting universities to an increasingly sophisticated infrastructure of surveillance, intervention, and control. In the name of the war against terrorism, civil liberties have been seriously eroded, open debate limited, and dissent stifled."
I'm in college, so this may concern more than it does some people. But it should concern everyone because this is a huge attack. I think when you've got people like Lynne Cheney and Joe Lieberman involved you can also call it "a huge attack from government." Norman Finkelstein's already learned about the witch hunts as has Ward Churchill. Each time they succeed, they leave an impression which is there real point. And you can probably tie this into Naomi Klein's new book because you really do have to silence your critics in order to push through undemocratic programs.
Okay, let me talk The Third Estate Sunday Review:
Truest statement of the week -- Juan Gonzalez. We're all trying to figure out who typed it up! :D Whomever did put "Gonzales" (C.I.'s corrected it). We were all tired and it was a long, long session. But it's Juan Gonzalez and he more than earned "Truest statement of the week."
A Note to Our Readers -- Poor Jim. Dona got so sick. Rebecca and I don't think it was a virus. She was near the spraying (chemical/pepper spray) in DC. C.I. was too and had a horrible headache that only went away late tonight. C.I. kept saying (before we started writing, after we started and through today), "I feel like the back of my head is going to fall off." We ate Saturday night before we started working on the edition and Dona tried to eat but nothing tasted good to her. Her eyes were a little bloodshot and Rebecca and I really do believe it wasn't a virus but the spraying. Jim stayed up throughout (so did C.I.). The rest of us took a two hour nap. Except Dona who was hurling. We woke up around the time Jim and C.I. were getting Dona to sleep (after she'd stopped puking). Jess had taken his guitar and Jim and C.I. were singing Dona to sleep. I woke up looking around and thinking I was still dreaming wondering who was singing James Taylor's "Sweet Baby James"? :D C.I. and Jim were singing it and C.I. was playing the guitar. Then they did a Carly Simon song (I love Carly Simon, they did several of her songs and I know the last one was "The Fisherman Song") and I was rushing around, waking up everyone else, going "We've slept for two hours, wake up." I was the first to go rushing in to the bedroom where Jim, C.I. and Dona were and I'm just bounding in like a dog and Jim holds up a finger to indicate "sh". I look over and see that Dona's asleep. We walk out and close the door behind us so as not to wake Dona and Jim explains she spent almost the entire time throwing up. He said he kept putting cold wash cloths on her face and C.I. kept cleaning up the mess (emptying the trash can mainly, but the first time Dona threw up on the floor, and there was a time where she hurled and missed the trash can completely). I felt bad because I was off in dreamland while all that was going on. Near the end, when C.I. was coming back in again with the trashcan, Jim said C.I. had Jess' guitar, and started playing Jackson Browne's "Something Fine." Dona said, "Oh that makes me feel so much better." So they just sang songs to her (with C.I. playing guitar) until she could fall asleep. I love "Something Fine" and wish I could have heard that. They did Carly Simon's "We Just Got Here." That's another song I love and they were doing that while I was waking everyone up. Anyway, Jim and C.I. were exhausted and it was just a never ending nightmare session.
Editorial: Stupid is the head that wears the crown... -- This is the last thing we wrote. We were tired and I was nervous about reading it but I read it before I blogged and I think it turned out pretty good. It's bringing together the strands of stupidity from last week and how they prevent the illegal war from ending.
TV: What does it take to cancel this show? -- Ava and C.I. were bouncing off jokes about their TV commentary. That's how they work. And I was all eager for their funny take on a TV show. At the last minute, Jim asked them to cover Bully Boy's speech. I mean last minute. They wrote this after Dona was finally asleep. Jim wasn't sure how the edition would turn out because Dona really is the strong editor. And that's when things are being polished and all but it's also when we're writing. He also offered to turn the edition over to Ava and C.I. at that point. Ava asked him if he needed to go to sleep and he said no, he was staying up. Ava made me laugh because she responded, "Oh, so you want to stay awake but turn all the blame over to us?" :D She was joking. But that was tense, their writing of this. They were in another part of the living room (we stayed at a friend of C.I.'s place in Georgetown) and we'd look over there and it was obvious, just looking at them, that they didn't feel it was working. They've covered two of Bully Boy's speeches before in their TV commentaries and when they did the second one, they said "Never again." If you read the second one, I think it's clear that they were saying, "We're done with this." (The links to the first and second commentaries are in the new commentary.) And if Jim had asked on another weekend, when Dona wasn't sick, I think they would have said "no." There wasn't time to read it (Jim usually reads their commentaries to us, from Ava and C.I.'s long hand writing of it on legal pads) and I really didn't know what it was like. I was reading the entire edition before I started posting tonight and from Jim's note (which he was really tired when he wrote), I wasn't sure what to expect. It does finish really strong but it's pretty strong throughout. Dad was telling me, before I read it, that it's a "journey" type piece and I'd agree with that. I also think it's funny and that's a surprise to me only because I did believe Ava when she told me it's crap. They always say that when they're done with one. Then they go off and Jim reads it to us and we know it's not. But there wasn't time for it to be read out loud and I think I took their word for it this time. It's pretty funny and it's got strong points throughout.
Book: Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine -- Jim planned to note things in the note about this discussion. He was exhausted and just wanting to get done with the note so I'll put in what he forgot. C.I. was given copies of the book by the publisher. I don't remember who typed this but I remember Jim being called over to a laptop and telling all of us (except Dona who was sleeping), "It's way too long, spell check's catching nothing. We need to cut." So it was printed up and we all went through cutting stuff we'd said except Ava and C.I. because (a) Jim said, "If you two start cutting, you'll cut out everything you wrote" and (b) there were huge complaints that neither Ava or C.I. said enough in the last mailbag and (c) Ava and C.I. went last to try to hit on what might have been overlooked and what needed to be noted. Ma woke up during this and she said, "Cut my thing." She only had one section but everyone agreed it needed to stay in. Betty cut out the passage she'd read. Her reason was that there were excerpts of the book elsewhere online. Jess and Elaine pulled basically everything they said and Jim restored about half of it. Ty and I had a section earlier when we'd talked about torture and we pulled that. Jim said one of the pulled has to go back in (Ty and my section or Elaine and Jess's) and Ty and I both said, "Go with Elaine and Jess." Ty and I were really talking about Pinochet for our entire thing. And if you read, you may notice that when Jess speaks (in the transcript) Pinochet finally has a first name. :D Ty and I were doing a very slow background and had included his first name and details about Indonesia as well. Betty and Kat had a really good idea which was, "How about we do parts one and two?" That is make them two different posts? A two-part feature. Rebecca (who hacked away at everything she said when it was time to edit) pointed out -- and Jim agreed -- if we do that for this book we're setting it up as the model for future editions. Rebecca goes, "If Dona was awake, she'd tell you that if we do that now, it's going to be expected every time. And if it's not done, it will be seen as, 'Oh, this book wasn't good enough for an extended treatment'." (When Dona heard about that, she agreed she would have told us that if she'd been awake.) I wish we could have posted it in full. Especially for Rebecca who was in every thing. She was commenting on everything people were bringing up. She reduced her entire part down to one section. (Words were not altered. We just either cut entire sections or stuff that made it up had stuff cut from it. It flows really well and that surprises me. Good editing.) Kat didn't have to cut anything. She suspected it would be too long and said so before we started. So she only spoke once and I think that's everything she said in what's up. The Shock Doctrine is a great book, by the way. Oh, Rebecca just reminded me that she, Elaine, Betty and Jim had a section on The Asian Tigers that was pulled completely.
Green Party calls for real leadership on Iraq War -- Dona wakes up and walks in wobbly. She looked better but she still looked sick. We're getting stuff up and about to start the editorial. She's looking over what we've got (their print edition had no editorial because that had to go out on time because Ty's boyfriend had a friend passing it out -- Ty's boyfriend was in DC with us). She said, "Where's the Green Party?" They made it in the print edition last time but the article didn't work enough to make it online. So this was pulled together quickly. Probably in five minutes.
The Peace Resister pretends to be about peace -- Jim rushed the note. So let me give credit. This became at an article at the insistence of some with The Nation as well as at the insistence of Rebecca's mother-in-law. Rebecca's mother-in-law got left out in the note. Again, Jim was tired. Now how do you write about the Quakers if you're Katrina vanden Heuvel the peace resister? You eliminate the reason they started and one of the main issues they still work on. Reading it, I laugh (and wonder if that was intended to be funny) at the repeating that Katrina vanden Heuvel is not a communist. She's not. But to keep other stuff in the article, Jim agreed to C.I.'s insistence that it needed to be very clear that KvH was not a communist. None of us are scared of communism or think it's the big-bad but we are aware that it is used to smear people. So we agreed to that readily to keep other things in. But I think Jim got in a few jokes there by repeating it over and over. (Not mean jokes, and no jokes at KvH.) She really is the peace resister.
United for Peace and Some Justice? -- The concern here was Elaine. She's a big supporter of United for Peace and Justice. So we spent a great deal of time before we wrote this piece talking about it. Elaine's attitude was that she thinks it's shameful that the organization posted (and thereby participated) in Phyllis Bennis and Eric Leaver's undercounting of the Iraqi dead. Elaine was adament that no punches be pulled and I don't think we did. This is a really strong piece. Authoritarian governments may be expected to take part in undercounting the dead. Peace organizations shouldn't. United for Peace and Justice needs to issue an apology. I doubt they will. Third's already pulled their link. The rest of us will be doing so shortly. Ava and C.I. didn't work on this. I don't remember why. I know that two friends dropped by and they had to excuse themselves for about a half-hour of the writing session. (People usually drop by to see them when word gets out that they're in DC.) I also know that there was a snakc run requested (by me and Jim) and Ava and C.I. went out on that (they know DC, the rest of us really don't expect Rebecca's husband but he was asleep). So it might have been that. They did give us help before the writing started. (And I believe that's clear in the article.) But they didn't participate in the writing of the piece. C.I. addresses the topic today in the snapshot. (And had before last week and also last night. This wasn't, "I'm not writing about this because I like Phyllis!" in case anyone's wondering. "Like" isn't an issue when it comes to ending the illegal war.)
On Univision Dodd & Edwards play War Hawks -- There's a whole back story to this about liars and phonies. This article wasn't supposed to be about John Edwards and Chris Dodd. But when people stalled and avoided, that's what it ended up being. "People" does not refer to anyone working on this edition. Jim had an idea, building on a point C.I. had made at The Common Ills. Ava and C.I. were basically saying, "Forget it, Jim, it's Chinatown." :D Jim was convinced it would work and spent a great deal of time on something. Several were receptive to it and then got cold feet (chickened out -- these "several" are not people who participate in the writing). A few had even confirmed in writing some things. Then they all proved they were chicken b.s. people and the planned feature was sunk. Which really pissed me off because we were damn tired and had to figure out a whole new thing thanks to the chicken hearted. Ava and C.I. had said, ahead of time, it won't work. When the first responses came in (this was all well before Saturday), Jim was saying, "Well you were wrong this time." Ava pointed out that responses weren't what they were asking for and promises that what they were asking for would be forthcoming would not be kept. I don't know if names will be named next week (there's one that might because it involves someone Ava and C.I. loathe) but I do know this will be carried over next week. So this can be seen as a heads up to people outside the community who made promises not kept -- if you don't want to be named, you might get off your cowardly asses and make good on your promises.
Does Katrina vanden Heuvel thinks she has testicles? -- This piece was suggested solely by people at The Nation. No one (working on the edition) had seen Katrina vanden Heuvel's embarrassing scribble that went up where she lamented that Congress didn't have "cojones." This was brought up by two on Saturday (via phone calls) and C.I.'s response was, "I didn't see it." The reply was, "We'll get you a copy." (Which they did. And just FYI, the cowards I spoke of were not people at The Nation. The cowards were academics and organizations -- that's who I was talking about in my comments on the previous story.) So we tackled this. I'm the worst about saying "cojones" in my talking. I've not used it or other words here because Ava and C.I. have been very clear (making a point my own mother's made with me repeatedly over the years). I have worked on dropping it from my spoken language (successfully) so it really does amaze me that a woman, heading a magazine, who is much older than me (like over 25 years older) would feel the need to use the term when it's obviously sexist.
Who gets the hate mails? -- This is when Dona got sick. We were expecting this to be a big piece and were had just started it when Dona got sick and threw up for the first time. Ava and Betty and I think Jim were helping her and C.I. and Elaine were cleaning up the mess. Dona was insisting, "I'm just tired." Rebecca points out that Dona smokes in every edition (usually two packs) and that she couldn't even finish her one cigarette in this edition. We started with the book discussion because we knew it would be the longest piece. Dona lit up during that and stubbed out her cigarette after a few puffs. Just like with dinner earlier, she would say the cigarette didn't taste right. So that should have been our first clue of how sick she was because she's always smoking. But she got sick and we didn't have time to do anything with this. A quick conclusion was written and it went up (it went into the print edition without the conclusion).
Highlights -- Kat, Cedric, Betty, Wally, Rebecca, Elaine and I wrote this.
Note -- After Dona threw up, C.I. said everyone was tired, put up a note that the edition is posting but it will be late so Jim wrote this note quickly.
Here's who worked on the edition:
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 Trina's Trina's Kitchen,
and Wally of The Daily Jot
Jim was tired. He'll read this and go, "I left out Mike's mother!" He did. It was an accident.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Monday, September 17, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, Ian Williams examines war resistance, Phyllis Bennis and the hosts of CounterSpin stage a contest to determine who can be the most useless/uninformed, NBC's Matt Lauer uses his outdoor voice on Alan Greenspan, Blackwater shoots up more Iraqi citizens, and more.
Starting with war resistance. Nation contributor Ian Williams explores the topic of war resistance and, to no surprise, does so elsewhere. Williams (OpEdNews) addresses both the contemporary history of this illegal war as well as exploring the resistance during the Vietnam era. With war resister Pablo Paredes, Williams explores the issue of the numbers and the US military's refusal to release a full count as well as the fact that though the system is supposed to list a service member as AWOL automatically after 30 days, that is still not the case. (Which goes to the system problems and also benefits the US military by allowing for an undercount.) Williams speaks with war resister Camilo Mejia (now the chair of Iraq Veterans Against the War) about Mejia's continued efforts to get his conviction overturned. (Mejia tells his story in which was released in May of this year. Briefly, Mejia had completed his contract with the US military. He was 'stop-lossed' and his contract was extended; however, Mejia was not a US citizen and the military's stop-loss/backdoor draft could not be used on non-citizens. The US military knew this and, in fact, confirmed to Mejia that he should be discharged immediately. He was not discharged.) Williams also speaks to war resister Kyle Snyder who, after serving in Iraq, self-checked out and went to Canada. Snyder explains his decision, "I saw a lot of things that were changing my mind about this war. I made a conscious choice that I couldn't live with myself if I stayed in Iraq. I felt it was evil, the things that were happening. We were not doing anything positive for the Iraqi people." Williams covers Snyder's attempt to return to the US and turn himself in at Fort Knox in October of last year and, when the US military screwed him over again, Snyder once again checking out. Snyder is back in Canada, married to a Canadian citizen (despite the attempts of the US military to prevent the marriage by having him arrested on his wedding day) and out of the reach of the US military. Snyder is not the only war resister in Canada are attempting to remain in Canada via being official recognized as refugees and granted. (Snyder's marriage should mean he is at no risk of being deported.) Williams explores the case of Jeremy Hinzman who, along with Brandon Hughey, became the first war resisters to go public about moving to Canada during this illegal war. Hinzman explains his decision to resist the Iraq War, "It was an illegal war. We did the right thing by deciding to fight it. Canada refused to fight in the war. To me that said they thought the war was illegal and immoral. When we came here, we knew that the chances were we may not be able to go back to America." Hinzman and Hughey have appealed their case to Canada's Supreme Court and a decision is expected to be handed down this month.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Derek Hess, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Zamesha Dominique, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko,Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.
In the United States, Alan Greenspan has a new book coming out. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) notes, the book is receiving attention for contents such as, "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." Greenspan was the chair of the US Federal Reserve until recently. He is also married to Andrea Mitchell of the network NBC which explains why the Today show (NBC) pimped his book like crazy this morning. Following an overly long soft and gauzy profile, Greenspan sat down across from Matt Lauer for an interview that consisted primarily of Lauer attempting to "emote" and suggesting Lauer needs his hearing -- if not his meds -- checked. In what passes for "news" on NBC, Lauer felt the need to raise the issue of the elderly Greenspan in a bathtub taking a bath. To make sure the point got across, Lauer then had to belabor it by insisting he did not want a mental image of that. Obviously Lauer did need such an image because he immediately brought up Andrea Mitchell being in the bathtub with Greenspan while still insisting he didn't want a mental image of that. When not wallowing in his own filth (or blaming the victims of the housing scandal), Lauer asked Greenspan about the Iraq statement or led him through what someone felt Greenspan needed to say. Lauer insisted Greenspan wasn't saying the illegal war was based on lies and Greenspan quickly agreed. In a court of law, it would have been termed "leading the witness." When Greenspan mentioned that he felt stability in the region was important, Lauer seized on that, cut off the discussion and stated it was about "stability." Prior to that, Lauer had led Greenspan to agree that the price of oil per barrell could be even higher were it not for the illegal war. Putting aside Lauer's need to shout loudly and emote as well as the fact that future Today show guests should be warned Lauer wants to dominate all interviews and guest should just say "yes" or "no" while Lauer tells them what they mean to say, the issue of "stability" is worth exploring -- so naturally Lauer didn't do that. "Stability" for who? "Stability" how? "Stability" defined?
Greenspan is an economist -- a bad one, but an economist none the less. What was the region being stabilized for? The answer can be found in Naomi Klein's new book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explains the book as Klein's argument that, "The history of the contemporary free market was written in shocks. Some of the most infamous human rights violations of the past thirty-five years, which have tended to be viewed as sadistic acts carried out by anti-democratic regimes, were in fact either committed with the deliberate intent of terrorizing the public or actively harnessed to prepare the ground for the introduction of radical free-market reforms." Today Amy Goodman interviewed Klein:
AMY GOODMAN: It's very good to have you with us. Why don't you start off by talking about exactly what you consider to be the shock doctrine?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, the shock doctrine, like all doctrines, is a philosophy of power. It's a philosophy about how to achieve your political and economic goals. And this is a philosophy that holds that the best way, the best time, to push through radical free-market ideas is in the aftermath of a major shock. Now, that shock could be an economic meltdown. It could be a natural disaster. It could be a terrorist attack. It could be a war. But the idea, as you just saw in the film, is that these crises, these disasters, these shocks soften up whole societies. They discombobulate them. People lose their bearings. And a window opens up, just like the window in the interrogation chamber. And in that window, you can push through what economists call "economic shock therapy." That's sort of extreme country makeovers. It's everything all at once. It's not, you know, one reform here, one reform there, but the kind of radical change that we saw in Russia in the 1990s, that Paul Bremer tried to push through in Iraq after the invasion. So that's the shock doctrine.
And it's not claiming that right-wingers in a contemporary age are the only people who have ever exploited crisis, because this idea of exploiting a crisis is not unique to this particular ideology. Fascists have done it. State communists have done it. But this is an attempt to better understand the ideology that we live with, the dominant ideology of our time, which is unfettered market economics.
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism is ambitious and compelling study of exactly what it takes to 'create' so-called 'free' markets (hint, a lot of violence) and is released tomorrow in the United States. In the book, Klein makes very clear that this is not a right-wing issue by exploring neoliberals and necons use of the shock doctrine to advance the interests of big business. That would be the "stability" Greenspan and Lauer kind-of-sort-of addressed on Today this morning. Another excerpt from Goodman's interview with Klein:
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about, Naomi Klein, the destruction of Iraq. Talk about "Shock and Awe," the shock economic therapy of Paul Bremer, the shock of torture, as well, putting them all together in Iraq.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, well, as I said, you know, in Chile we see this triple-shock formula and torture as an enforcement of these policies. And I think we see the same triple-shock formula in Iraq. The first was the invasion, the shock-and-awe military invasion of Iraq. And if you read the manual, the military manual that explained the theory of shock and awe -- a lot of people think of it as just like a lot of bombs, a lot of missiles, but it's really a psychological doctrine, which in itself is a war crime, because it says very bluntly that during the first Gulf War the goal was to attack Saddam's military infrastructure, but under a shock-and-awe campaign, the target is the society writ large. That's a quote from the shock-and-awe doctrine.
Now, targeting societies writ large is collective punishment, which is a war crime. Militaries are not allowed to target societies writ large; they're only allowed to target military. So this was -- the doctrine is actually quite amazing, because it talks about -- it talks about sensory deprivation on a mass scale. It talks about a blinding, cutting off the senses, of a whole population. And we saw that during the invasion, the lights going out, cutting off of all communication, and the phones going out, and then the looting, which I don't actually believe was part of the strategy, but I think doing nothing in some ways was part of the strategy, because, of course, we know that there were all kinds of warnings that the museums and libraries needed to be protected and no action was taken. And then you had the famous statement from Donald Rumsfeld when he was confronted with this: "Stuff happens."
So, it was, I think -- it was this idea that because the goal was, in New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's famous phrase, not nation-building, but "nation-creating," you know, which is an extraordinarily violent idea, if you stop and think about what it means to create a nation in a nation that already exists, something has to happen to the nation that was already there, and we're talking about a culture as old as civilization. So I think that because there was this idea that we were starting from scratch and this idea that is often portrayed, you know, in the US media as idealistic, of wanting to build a model nation in the heart of the Arab world that would spread to neighboring countries and lead to an opening up, this idea of building a model nation is -- you know, it has all kinds of colonial echoes. It really can't be done without some kind of a cleansing. And so, I think that the ease, the comfort level with the looting, with the erasing of Iraq's history, has to be seen within that vision of, OK, well, we're starting over from scratch. So anything that's already there is really just getting in the way. So if it's loaded onto trucks and it's sold in Syria and Jordan, that sort of just makes the job easier. And so, I think we saw that on many, many levels.
In The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism, Klein explains the effect the attacks on phone systems had:
On the night of March 28, 2003, as U.S. troops drew closer to Baghdad, the ministry of communication was bombed and set ablaze, as were four Baghdad telephone exchanges, with massive bunker-busters, cutting off millions of phone across the city. The targeting of the phone exchanges continued -- twelve in total -- until by April 2, there was barely a phone working in all of Baghdad. During the same assault, television and radio transmitters were also hit, making it impossible for families in Baghdad, huddling in their homes, to pick up even a weak signal carrying news of what was going on outside their doors.
Many Iraqis say that the shredding of their phone system was the most psychologically wrenching part of the air attack. The combination of hearing and feeling bombs going off everywhere while being unable to call a few blocks away to find out if loved ones were alive, or to reassure terrified relatives living abroad, was pure torment. Journalists based in Baghdad were swarmed by desperate local residents begging for a few moments with their satellite phones or pressing numbers into the reporters' hands along with pleas to call a brother or an uncle in London or Baltimore.
Again, the book comes out tomorrow. NYC residents can purchase it tonight at a book launching Klein will be attending with Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) acting as moderator at the New York Soceity for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th Street." (The book is discussed at The Third Estate Sunday Review.)
The shock of violence is not limited to outside the United States. Saturday a demonstration took place in DC and police arrested a number of peace demonstrators. However, a man was attacked by a right-wing mob and there were no arrests. Carlos Arrendo's son Alex died in the illegal war August 25, 2004. Among the demonstrations he has taken place in is traveling with a flag draped coffin bearing photos of his son around the country. He was in DC to take part in the peace demonstration. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explained today, "a pro-war supporter tried to rip a photo of Carlos' son from the coffin. When Carlos tried to save the photograph, he said a group of pro-war activists attacked him." Arrendondo explains, "I was assaulted by a group of pro-war people. They come into the ground, and they kicked me and punched me. As a citizen of this country, it's my duty and my responsibility to participate. As a father, who I lost my son in Iraq, I got to honor my son." Joe Tresh (Joe Tresh's Washington ) reports, "Arredondo was subsequently attacked by counter-demonstrators until the scene was disbursed by the police." Though war lovers who physically attack a person aren't arrested, a number of peace demonstrators were. (Which recalls the Crawford, Texas incident where the crosses placed at Camp Casey were run over.) Amy Branham (Amy's head) notes that peace activists numbered 100,000 and that 160 to 200 of them were reported arrested. A.N.S.W.E.R. notes the sponsors of the action included: "The ANSWER Coalition; Ramsey Clark; Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation; USLAW; Mounzer Sleiman, Vice Chair, National Council of Arab Americans; Cindy Sheehan; Camp Casey Peace Institute; Cynthia McKinney; Veterans for Peace (National); Garett Reppenhagen, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Chair of Board of Directors; Tina Richards, CEO of Grassroots America; Rev. Lenox Yearwood, CEO of Hip Hop Caucus; Code Pink; Father Roy Bourgeois and Eric LeCompte, School of Americas Watch; Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition; Kevin Zeese, Democracy Rising; Navy Petty Officer Jonathan Hutto, co-founder Appeal for Redress; Liam Madden, Pres., Boston Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War and co-founder of Appeal for Redress; Malik Rahim, founder of Common Ground Collective, New Orleans; Howard Zinn, Author and Historian; Carlos & Melida Arredondo, Gold Star Families for Peace; Rev. Graylan Hagler, Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice; Latino Movement USA; Hermandad Mexicana Nacional; Ron Kovic, Vietnam Veteran, author, Born on the 4th of July; Leonard Weinglass, Cuban 5 attorney; Michael Berg; National Lawyers Guild; Father Luis Barrios, Iglesia de San Romero de las Americas - UCC; World Can't Wait; Frank Velgara, ProLibertad Freedom Campaign; Pam Africa, International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal." Tina Marie Macias and Jordy Yager (Los Angeles Times) report that among the speakers were Cindy Sheehan, Ramsey Clark and Ralph Nader, that Iraq Veterans Against the War staged the die-in (which the paper estimates contained 5,000 participants), that the police used pepper spray on demonstrators (but not on the attackers of Carlos) and quote San Gabriel UCLA student Jessica Ramirez explaining why she traveled to DC to participate, "It's about doing something that you believe in." Michelle Boortstein, V. Dion Haynes and Allison Klein (Washington Post) report that "chemical spray" was used against the activists and quote IVAW's Geoff Millard (who was among those arrested) declaring, "It's time for the peace movement to take the next step past protest and to resistance." Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explained, "The arrests occurred when protesters started climbing over a barricade at the foot of the steps to the Capitol. Police sprayed at least two people with chemicals. Estimates that nearly 100,000 people attended the rally and march. Student protester Jacob Berger said he traveled to Washington from New York where he attends Columbia University: 'The large problem today is apathy. Most people feel like they can't make a change in this world. They feel like its too big and we are here to prove that we can change and we need to get that sort of rallying together like the people did back in Vietnam and that's what got us out of Vietnam and that's what we are trying to do to get out of Iraq'." The Los Angeles Times quotes IVAW's Garett Reppenhagen explaining, "The Iraqi people do not see us as peacemakers. They see us as occupiers and murderers."
Turning to the issue of violence, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Sunday that a Baghdad shooting (by private contractors) killed 9 Iraqi civilians and left fifteen more wounded. Later on Sunday, CNN reported, "In the Baghdad gun battle, which was between security forces and unidentified gunmen, eight people were killed and 14 wounded, most of them civilians, an Interior Ministry official said. Details were sketchy, but the official said witnesses told police that the security forces involved appeared to be Westerners driving sport utility vehicles, which are usually used by Western companies. The clash occurred near Nisoor square, in western Baghdad. CBS and AP report that Abdul-Karim Khalaf, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, announced "it was pulling the license of an American security firm allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade in Baghdad," that "it would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force" in the slaughter (eight dead, 13 wounded) and they "have canceled the liscense of Blcakwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory." The news was addressed today on Democracy Now!:
AMY GOODMAN: We have this breaking news out of Iraq today: The Iraqi government says it's pulling the license of the US security company Blackwater over its involvement in a fatal shooting in Baghdad on Sunday. Interior Ministry spokesperson Abdul-Karim Khalaf said eight civilians were killed and thirteen wounded, when security contractors believed to be working for Blackwater USA opened fire in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of western Baghdad. Khalaf said, "We have canceled the license of Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory. We will also refer those involved to Iraqi judicial authorities." It was not immediately clear if the measure against Blackwater is intended to be temporary or permanent. Naomi Klein, take it from there.
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, that's an extraordinary piece of news. I mean, this is really the first time that one of these mercenary firms may actually be held accountable. You know, as Jeremy Scahill has written in his incredible book Blackwater: The Rise of the [World's] Most Powerful Mercenary Army, the real problem is, there haven't been prosecutions. These companies work in this absolute gray zone, and, you know, they're either boy scouts and nothing has going wrong, which completely doesn't mesh with what we know about the way they're behaving in Iraq and all of the sort of videos that we've seen online of just target practice on Iraqi civilians, or the lawlessness and the immunity in which they work has protected them. So, you know, if this is -- if the Iraqi government is actually going to kick Blackwater out of Iraq, it could really be a turning point in terms of pulling these companies into the law and questioning the whole premise of why this level of privatization and lawlessness has been allowed to take place.
The mercenary corportation Blackwater has not only made a lot of money in Iraq, it's had a lot of friends in the US White House (and members of Congress who looked the other way). So it's little surprise that Aseel Kami (Reuters) reports US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice plans a firm phone call to puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki in which she will "make it clear" that the US is "investigating this incident" -- no doubt in the usual look-the-other-way manner the US government has "investigated" other incidents. No word on whether she plans to use haul her favorite false line out of mothballs, "No one could have guessed . . ."
In some of today's reported violence . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports five (two of which were police officers) Iraqis were wounded in a Baghdad bombing earlier this morning, while a noon Baghdad bombing injured three more and a Baghdad car bombing claimed 3 lives (eight more wounded). Reuters notes, "Ikhlas al-Shimari, a female member of the Kut governing council, escaped unhurt from a bomb attack on her house overnight in the city of Kut, 170 km (100 miles) southeast of Baghdad, police said" and that 10 Iraqi soldiers were wounded in a Hilla bombing of their base "overnight."
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports assailants wounded a person in Hawaija, shot dead Monther Saad Elyan who was enroute to Hawija, shot dead "a Kurdish citizen" in Mosul, and that Iraqi police officer, Brig. Gen. Edan Jaber Kareem was targeted by snipers today but survived in Basra.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 11 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today.
Staying with the issue of the deaths, Friday (in most markets), FAIR's Counterspin began airing and one of the guests was Phyllis Bennis who is receiving criticism for a report co-authored with Eric Leaver on behalf of United for Peace and Justice that undercounts the Iraqi dead: the authors present a range for the number of deaths -- their "low" is the Iraqi Body Count figure from this month and their "high" is "600,000 plus" based on the lower of two figures from last year's Lancet study which ended their tally in July 2006, over 14 months prior to when Bennis and Leaver wrote their so-called "Iraq: People's Report". This being CounterSpin, naturally the issue of the undercount was not addressed because, while CounterSpin feels there are standards for mainstream media, they regularly look the other way when 'big' independent media has no standards. This is how they could infamously praise an article in The Nation magazine that consisted solely of the testimonies of US service members who had been stationed in Iraq as telling the story of "the impact on Iraqis". It takes a lot of stupidity and xenophobia to declare a story told by foreigners as being the story of the people of Iraq. It's the sort of thing that, had the mainstream media pulled such a stunt, FAIR, Extra! and CounterSpin would have cried foul over loudly. Despite the fact that while reviewing mainstream coverage at the start of the show, co-hosts Janine Jackson and Steve Rendall castigated the US mainstream media's coverage noting that the New York Times appears to send the message that some "deaths matter more than other" and taking to task a columnist at The Washington Post because he "can't even get the numbers right". This was the preface to the Phyllis Bennis interview and, again, both she and the hosts of the program avoided the very real criticism of Bennis' undercounting the Iraqi dead which did not begin with the report she co-authored for United for Peace and Justice. Mainstream media is now having a good laugh at CounterSpin which brought it upon itself by deciding to lease a glass house last Friday (the show was taped on Thursday). Had the show been taped on Friday, they might have had to deal with the undercount since (as noted in Friday's snapshot), not only does Just Foreign Policy place the estimate of Iraqis killed in the illegal war at well over a million (not "600,000 plus"), so does a new study by England's Opinion Research Business which Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reported on Friday.
Whether because the hosts themselves didn't know or because they are uncomfortably correcting their own, they allowed Phyllis Bennis to note that Tommy Franks said the US doesn't do body counts (Rendall supplised the name Tommy Franks for Bennis) and then muse publicly over where the numbers Gen. David Petraeus provided to Congress (in charts) throughout last week came from? Bennis mused, "Now apparently they're making body counts. So nobody has asked them, 'Excuse me, general, when did you start doing body counts?' From the beginning you told us 'We don't do bodycounts.' When did that begin? When do these figures start from?" Apparently not content to have students chanting "Get your facts right or get off the stage!" over her undercounting, Bennis now needed to underscore how uninformed she actually is as to the illegal war. If the hosts knew any better, they weren't assisting. So everyone had ass on their face.
Like most of independent media, Bennis and FAIR (in all it's variations) dumped Iraq like a hot potato (or left over mashed potatoes) in the summer of 2006. They were geared up (as were most independent media outlets and voices) for the two big topics (there was no planning meeting that determined this -- it's just the incestuous nature of most independent media that they all ended up on the same page): the elections in Mexico and Israel in wack-mode again. While they churned out page after page and broadcast after broadcast on those two topics they missed out on reality. Sabrina Tavernise had already co-written an article (for the New York Times) at the end of 2005 that mentioned the US military was keeping track of some Iraq deaths.
While the hosts sat silent (or didn't know any better), Bennis mused as to why no one in the press had asked about this count and why they hadn't asked when the count was started?
From the June 26, 2006 Iraq snapshot: "In what might get the most attention today, reporting from Baghdad, Nancy A. Youssef (Knight Ritter) breaks the news that the United States now admits to keeping some figures on Iraqis who have died during the illegal war. Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli tells Youssef that 'the number of civilian dead and wounded' via US troops 'is an important measurement.' Chiarelli reveals that "he reviews the figures daily.' The US government has denied that any figures were being kept." Well, obviously I was wrong. While we cited that report repeatedly in other snapshots, independent media couldn't make the time for it because Iraq was off the media radar (as Molly Ivins and Jimmy Breslin would note). Knight-Ridder is, of course, now McClatchyNewspapers. In the article, Youssef demonstrated that she asked the question Bennis alleges the press has refused to ask. The US military maintained to Youssef they began keeping a body count in July of 2005. The link to the article no longer works (not a surprise with any daily paper); however, the story can be found here. From Youssef's June 21, 2006 article:
U.S. officials previously have said they don't keep track of civilian causalities, and Iraqi officials stopped releasing numbers of U.S.-caused casualties after Knight Ridder reported in September 2004 that the Iraqi Ministry of Health had attributed more than twice as many civilian deaths to the actions of U.S. forces than to "terrorist" attacks during the period from June 2004 to September 2004.
Chiarelli declined to release the numbers, but he said that U.S. soldiers are killing and injuring fewer Iraqi civilians this year in so-called "escalation of force" incidents at checkpoints and near convoys than they did in July of last year, when officials first started tracking the statistic.
If the 'media analysts' at FAIR want to continue to trash their own reputations, have at it. Laughter is the key characteristic today in the offices of many they've taken to task in the past over news of the Friday broadcast. If Phyllis Bennis wants to make sport of Alexander Cockburn (in a heavily reposted, snide commentary that was posed at various sites -- none of which bothered to post Cockburn's original column or his own response to Bennis), possibly she should work on getting her facts right. That is, after all, the job of an analyst. Before she next corrects another person -- be it Cockburn or anyone else -- she needs to hunker down with all the Iraqi coverage she missed while she joined others in the alternative landscape in dropping Iraq and traveloguing to other regions. She and the hosts of CounterSpin made asses of themselves on Friday and, yes, Phyllis, the mainstream press has asked that question, has published the answer and anyone who cares seriously about ending the illegal war is damn well aware of that. Bennis was wrong, CounterSpin included misinformation in the program. It is now incumbent upon CounterSpin to issue a correction to the error they broadcast on Friday. (But as one friend at ABC News pointed out, "They never do. It's always do as I say not as I do with them.")
Finally, Sally Field won the best actress Emmy last night (in the drama category) and the ceremonies were broadcast on Fox . . . although Field was among the censored. The broadcast was on tape delay which enabled them to censor other words but include the rest of the remarks. So, for example, TV audiences heard Ray Romano exclaim that "Fraiser is [bleeped] my wife." The verb in the sentence was pulled. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, Fox viewers heard Sally Field declare, 'If mothers ruled the world, there would be no ____." Were this not a case of political censorship, the Fox network would have done as they did with Romano and removed the word they found objectionable allowing viewers to hear Field declare, "Let's face it, If mothers ruled the world there would be no [bleeped] wars in the first place." AP reports Field's take on the censorship, "Oh well. I've been there before. Well, good. I don't care. I have no comment other than, oh well. I said what I wanted to say. I wanted to pay homage to the mothers of the world, and let their work be seen and valued."
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