Friday, November 25, 2005

Headlines you should know about

We've composed the following twelve headlines dealing with , , , , , , , the , the , and other topics. [At the end of the headlines, I'll discuss this.]

1) From Dahr Jamail's MidEast Wire (Iraq Dispatches):Monday in Iraq, US troops fired on a car in Ba'qubah, killing five, two adults and three children. The US military states that they feared the car "booby-trapped." The family had been returning from visiting relatives when a US convoy approached. The car was fired on from the front and the back. One Iraqi was quoted as saying, "The ones who brought in the Americans are at fault. Those who support them are at fault. All of them are at fault. Look at these. They are all children. All of them of are children. They killed them. They killed my entire family."

2) In the United States the Associated Press reports that Cindy Sheehan returned to Crawford, Texas Thursday and joined what some estimates say were 100 protestors and other estimates say as many as 200.Cindy Sheehan stated, "I feel happy to be back here with all my friends ... but I'm heartbroken that we have to be here again," said Sheehan, who hoped to arrive earlier in the week, but was delayed by a family emergency. "We will keep pressing and we won't give up until our troops are brought home."

3) Since Sheehan and others last gathered at Camp Casey I and Camp Casey II, laws have been passed to prevent further gatherings in Crawford -- "local bans on roadside camping and parking." As protestors returned this week, they were advised they could be arrested. Among those arrested Wednesday were Daniel Ellsberg and US diplomat Ann Wright. Democratic Underground has a report from Carl who was also arrested Wendesday. Carl reports that "The entire [arrest & booking] process took 3.5 hours." Carl advises that the vigils will also take place on Christmas and New Year's Eve as well as that "Donations to the Crawford Veterans For Peace can be mailed to P. O. Box 252, Crawford, Texas, 76638-9998."

4) As the participation of psychologists and psychiatrists in the "BISQUIT" program and other 'interrogation' work raises ethical and professional questions today, CounterPunch is reporting that in WWII, United States anthropologists participated with the Office of Strategic Services in attempts to determine means to destroy the Japanese. David Price reports, in what is a clear betrayal of the profession, anthropologists were instructed "to try to conceive ways that any detectable differences could be used in the development of weapons, but they were cautioned to consider this issue 'in a-moral and non-ethical terms'." Price notes "Ralph Linton and Harry Shapiro, objected to even considering the OSS' request ­ but they were the exceptions."

5) In legal news, as the prison industry has switched to a profit making business, prisoners have found themselves located far from relatives. The distance has proved profitable for long distance companies. The Center for Constitutional Rights argued in court Monday on behalf of "New York family members who pay a grossly inflated rate to receive a phone call from their loved ones in state prisons." CCR notes:

The lawsuit, Walton v. NYSDOCS and MCI, seeks an order prohibiting the State and MCI from charging exorbitant rates to the family members of prisoners to finance a 57.5% kickback to the State. MCI charges these family members a 630% markup over regular consumer rates to receive a collect call from their loved ones, the only way possible to speak with them. Judge George Ceresia of the Supreme Court of New York, Albany County, dismissed the suit last fall, citing issues of timeliness.

6) In other legal news, Cynthia L. Cooper reports for Women's enews that November 30th the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. At issue in this case, is whether or not bans on reproductive freedom enacted by state legislatures must take effect before they can be legally challenged or whether they can be challenged as soon as they are passed. The standard up to now has been that laws can be challenged as soon as they are passed. Cooper notes:

By changing the legal standard for when an abortion restriction can be challenged in court, anti-abortion laws could quickly entangle women across the country, without directly overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that held that states could not criminalize abortion in all circumstances.

7) The Guardian of London reports on a Rutgers University study that has found "[g]lobal warming is doubling the rate of sea level rise around the world, but attempts to stop it by cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions are likely to be futile." Professor Kenneth Miller tells The Guardian's Ashraf Khalil, "This is going to cause more beach erosion. Beaches are going to move back and houses will be destroyed." This comes as the Climate Conference is gearing up to take place in Montreal from November 28th to December 9th. United for Peace and Justiceis issuing a call for action:

This fall let's mobilize a nationwide, grassroots education and action campaign leading up to mass demonstrations in Montreal and throughout the U.S. on Saturday, December 3rd. Help gather signatures for the Peoples Ratification of the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty (, which will be presented in Montreal. Join Climate Crisis: USA Join the World! ( as we call for:USA Join the World by Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol
Support and Export Clean, Safe, Non-Nuclear Energy Alternatives
End Government Subsidies for Oil and Coal Corporations
Dramatically Strengthen Energy Conservation and Fuel Efficiency Standards
A Just Transition for Workers, Indigenous and Other Communities Affected by a Change to Clean Energy
Defend the World's Forests; Support Community-Run Tree Planting Campaigns

8) With Congress out of session due to the holidays, a number of organizations are attempting to inform the public of pending legislation. The Bill of Rights Defense Center warns to "[e]xpect a vote [on the renewal of the Patriot Act]after Congress returns on December 12th." Of the bill, Lisa Graves of the ACLU states:

The Patriot Act was bad in 2001, and despite bipartisan calls for reform, it's still bad in 2005. Instead of addressing the real concerns that millions of Americans have about the Patriot Act, the Republican majority in Congress buckled to White House pressure, stripping the bill of modest yet meaningful reforms. Congress must reject this bill.

Both the ACLU and the Bill of Rights of Defense Center are calling for grass roots action.
Also asking for action is NOW. Congress failed to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. You can make your voice heard via NOW's take action page. On their page, you have the option of e-mailing your representatives and/or signing a petition that NOW will present to Congress on December 5th.

9) Meanwhile, as November winds down, American military fatalities have reached 76 for the month, with the Department of Defense reporting 50 Americans wounded thus far this month. The total number of American military killed in Iraq, official count, has reached 2105. Scripps Howard News Service reports that, "U.S. commanders on the ground have already launched plans to close bases and withdraw troops in the coming year, according to two congressmen who returned from Iraq this week." The two congress members are John Kline and Mark Kennedy (Republicans, Minn.).

10) In other Congressional news, Ari Berman reports for The Nation that John McCain is in the midst of makeover. Meeting with The Arizona Republican Assembly in August, McCain slapped some new war paint on as McCain supported the teaching of so-called "intelligent design" side by side with evolution, the state's "ban on gay marriage that denies government benefits to any unmarried couple," hailed Ronald Reagan as "my hero" and was observed "strenuously defending . . . Bush's Iraq policy."

For those who have forgotten, McCain attended Mark Bingham's funeral. Bingham was one of the passengers of Flight 93 on 9/11 in immediate media reports. As the days wore on, Bingham appeared to disappear from many reports. Mark Bingham was gay. Whether that resulted in a "downgrading" by some in the media has been a source of speculation for some time.

11) Focusing on the media, at The Black Commentator, Margaret Kimberly addresses the issue of Bob Woodward, tying him and his editor to the journalistic behaviors of Judith Miller and her editors:

Miller, Sulzberger, Woodward and Bradlee are at the top of the corporate media food chain, and their behavior tells us why Americans aren't being told anything they ought to be told. Woodward uses his access to make a fortune writing about the Supreme Court or various presidential administrations. If a journalist's priority is writing best selling books based on the amount of access gained with the powerful, then truth telling goes out the window.

12) Also addressing the very similar behaviors of Miller and Woodward are Steven C. Day at Pop Politics, Ron Brynaert at Why Are We Back In Iraq?, and Arianna Huffington at The Huffington Post. Though still vocal on Judith Miller and weighing in with the "latest," CJR Daily still can't find a connection between the "journalistic" styles of Judith Miller and Bob Woodward. In their most recent 'Judy report', CJR Daily ponders the question of why did Miller go to jail when Scooter Libby and his people maintain that they released her from confidentiality claims. Covering old news and working themselves into another lather over Miller, CJR Daily wonders"Why did Ms. Miller go to jail?" and maintains the question "has never been fully answered." The question has indeed been answered.

Whether CJR Daily approves of or believes the argument of Miller, Floyd Abrams, et al, is beside the point. For the record, the answer has been given many times. The argument was that Miller needed more than a form signed possibly under duress. Abrams and others have long been on the record explaining that they sought a release other than the form. In the front page report, Sunday October 16, 2005, Don Van Natta Jr., Adam Liptak and Clifford J. Levy reported:

She said she began thinking about whether she should reach out to Mr. Libby for "a personal, voluntary waiver."
[. . .]
While she mulled over over her options, Mr. Bennett was urging her to allow him to approach Mr. Tate, Mr. Libby's lawyer, to try to negotiate a deal that would get her out of jail. Mr. Bennet wanted to revive the question of the waivers that Mr. Libby and other administration officials signed the previous year authorizing reporters to disclose their confidential discussions.
The other reporters subpoenaed in the case said such waivers were coerced. They said administration officials signed them only because they feared retribution from the prosecutor or the White House. Reporters for at least three news organizations had then gone back to their sources and obtained additional assurances that convinced them the waivers were genunie.

But Ms. Miller said she had not gotten an assurance that she felt would allow her to testify.

Again, from the front page New York Times story on . . . October 16, 2005. Though this was not the first reporting on Miller's position, this front page story of the Times was commented in great detail including at CJR Daily here and here. The latter time by the same writer who now wonders "Why did Ms. Miller go to jail?" Repeatedly hitting the designated pinata with articles focusing on her conduct while reducing the conduct of Bob Woodward to asides (whispered asides?) doesn't appear to make for brave "watchdoggery."

Democracy Now! has a special presentation today. The headlines above were composed by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Betty Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, Wally of The Daily Jot and Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix. Thanks to Dallas for his help with links and tags. The above will be reposted at The Third Estate Sunday Review and may also be reposted at the sites of members participating.

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So the way this worked was that C.I. and Elaine were thinking we might all want to work on something and that it would result in an easy post. A lot of members are having problems with time. So this way, if you're busy, you could just post the above at your site and if you have a little time you could add to it. Rebecca's got a big-time date tonight so she was saying she's just posting them. Betty will do the same because her site is "Betinna"'s voice. She can't break character even when she wants to. That can make things really hard for her sometimes.

You'll also note I'm only including the tags in the paragraph at the top of the headlines. Why?

Because technorati's suddenly not reading my tags, Kat's tags or Betty's. They'd stopped reading Cedric's awhile back. C.I. has something like 2,100 posts at The Common Ills according to Elaine. So to get read by technorati (maybe!), C.I. has to publish and republish every entry while manually pinging techonrati on top of it. Due to the size of C.I.'s site, this can take an hour or more some days. C.I. didn't want to do tags to begin with. Rebecca came up with it as a way to get the word out about community sites and C.I. didn't do them at first until Rebecca pointed out that if people saw tags and visited The Common Ills, they might then visit other community sites. C.I. hates the tags but was willing to do them for the good of the community. All the sites were never being read. And we're all set up where we should be read automatically and not have to manually ping. But if you didn't manually ping, you didn't get read. And if you manually pinged, you might still not get read. C.I. posted some time ago and technorati still hasn't read the tags.

So we're all pretty sick of technorati.

Which doesn't mean we're mad at Rebecca. It was a great idea. And Rebecca hung in there every day even though technorati NEVER read one of her tags. As far as they're concerned, she's never existed. And she's registered with them and she's even put code for their site on her site. So she really got crapped on by technorati.

But she put the good of the community ahead of her own interests.

Which is time for a motto update! :D I mislinked in the previous one.

The Common Ills community is important and the Common Ills community is important to me. So I'll do my part for the Common Ills community.

So the point is, people are starting to feel like Jim who never thought they were with doing. At The Third Estate Sunday Review, Jim never wanted them. For abit, they were done on the news review. Techno wouldn't read them. When C.I. would repost the news review, they'd read it from C.I.'s site. We'll probably be dropping the tags since they aren't being read.

It's a waste of time to do them if they're not going to be read. And we shouldn't have to publish and republish and manually ping to be read. By Technorati's guidelines, all we're supposed to have to do is include the tags and then publish (once). We're all set up for automatic pings.

So it's just a waste of time. And since Elaine contacted them about this over a month ago and the only reply was an automated reply saying she'd hear from them in "a few business days" and since that was exactly one month ago, we don't see the point.

Dad says it's a bunch of crap that everyone went through all of that and Technorati's program can't even read the tags. He's really down on Technorati. I am too. It would be one thing if they bothered to reply to Elaine but it's pretty crappy that they said they reply a month ago and never did. And she's written them twice since then with kind reminders.

If something's not going to help promote the community, I'm not for promoting it.

I said I'd write about the process. We were all on the phone for two hours working on this (plus twenty minutes discussing Technorati). First we figured out what topics we wanted to cover. Then we hunted down our information and worked on writing the headlines. Then we selected from the twenty. Jim was surprised that C.I. didn't include an "in fairness" phrase re: CJR Daily. We asked about that after and C.I.'s attitude is that if they can write about Judith Miller, about an old, already explained aspect of the story, while still avoiding seriously addressing Bob Woodward, what's the point in adding an "in fairness"?

It was a lot of fun. No link's provided to the New York Times story. That's because C.I. read that in from the print edition. I called C.I. a few minutes ago about a link for the story and here it is. Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bully Boy caught in another lie and did he want to bomb Aljazeera

Good evening. It's the night before Thanksgiving and I'm excited. Since my oldest brother is now engaged, lots of people on my father's side are coming. And since that means flying most of them are already here and the place is packed. Let's get started with Democracy Now!

CIA Told Bush of No Iraq-Al Qaeda Links Ten Days After 9/11
A new article by investigative journalist Murray Waas in the National Journal says President Bush was notified ten days after the 9/11 attacks U.S. intelligence had no evidence linking Iraq to al Qaeda or the attacks. According to several current and former government officials, little evidence has emerged to contradict the assessment. One former high-level official said : "What the President was told on September 21 [2001], was consistent with everything he has been told since -- the evidence was just not there." The Bush administration has so far refused to release the briefing, not even as a redacted document. Administration officials subsequently ignored the intelligence assessments in favor of those that alleged Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons and ties to Al Qaeda. One of the key proponents of this theory was then-undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith. In the margin of one of Feith's reports, Vice President Dick Cheney wrote: "This is very good indeed ... Encouraging ... Not like the crap we are all so used to getting out of CIA."

So Bully Boy told another whopper? You start wondering if there were any values at all in the Bush family? I mean where did he learn that this crap was okay? Did Big Babs (to steal from C.I.) have a chart in the hall where she gave each of the kids a gold star every time they told a lie? How about every time they cheated? Big Babs and Poppy raised a big liar. Worst Family Values.

So after Cheney and Bully Boy and all their yadda yadda of "we all saw the same info" truth is White House saw info "all" didn't see and Bully Boy & Cheney knew better. It's all lies all the time with that crew. Check out Rebecca's "bully boy lied, people died" for more on this.

British Newspapers Threatened in Al Jazeerah Memo Case
The British government has threatened to sue newspapers that publish contents of a leaked memo in which President Bush allegedly discusses bombing the Arabic satellite network Al Jazeerah. The government says it would take action under the Official Secrets Act, which makes it illegal come into the possession of government information without lawful authority. The British newspaper Daily Mirror disclosed the memo Tuesday. The paper based its a report on a confidential Downing Street memo that claimed Bush told British Prime Minister Tony Blair in April 2004 that he wanted to attack Al Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar. Blair allegedly talked Bush out of the strike, fearing revenge attacks. The Daily Mirror says it will comply with the government's threat against publication. But Daily Mirror editor Richard Wallace said : "We made [the government] fully aware of the intention to publish and were given 'no comment' officially or unofficially. Suddenly 24 hours later we are threatened under section 5 [of the secrets act]." Two British civil servants have been charged in connection with the leak.

The US government has a long history of targeting the media in war time.

Here's an excerpt from Al-Jazeera by Hugh Milespage 266-267:

European stations' evening news reports paid emotional tributes to their journalist colleagues who had died in the Palestine Hotel, while [Tareq] Ayyoub was reduced to a footnote if he was mentioned at all. When news of the death broke across the Arab world, however, there was outcry. Ayyoub became a 'martyr' and his death a deliberate assassination. The Arab press accused the coaltion of stopping at nothing to muzzle Al-Jazeera so as to cover its atrocities. In the Occupied Territories dozens of Palestinian journalists staged a sit-down protest outside the offices of the International Red Cross and the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York wrote an open letter to the Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to remind him that he had an obligation to protect all journalists, that the attack contravened the Geneva Conventions and that there should be an immediate enquiry.
Tareq Ayyoub's distraught widow made an emotional appearance via telphone on Al-Jazeera. She was both overcome with grief and furious. 'My message to you is that from hatred grows more hatred,' she said. 'My husband died trying to reveal the truth to the world. Please do not try to conceal it, not for the sake of American policy, not for the sake of British policy.'

(Excerpt via The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Five Books, Five Minutes" June 19, 2005.)

Or during the nineties bombing Serbian broadcasting, from Amy Goodman and David Goodman's The Exception to The Rulers pages 286-287:

Laughter broke out in the room."It is an enormously important and I think positive development," Holbrooke added.
Here were hundreds of reporters supposedly upholding the highest principles of journalism, and they chuckled on cue -- at a war crime committed against journalists.
Now, what would have been different if Milosevic had stood up to announce, "We just bombed CBS!" and a bunch of Serb journalists had laughed? Radio Television Serbia, whatever its faluts as a mouthpiece for Milosevic, is not a military target. We went back to our office later that night to see the pictures of body parts being pulled out of the wrecked TV studios in Belgrade. It wasn't soldiers blown to pieces in the rubble. It was the people who apply makeup, the cameramen, and the journalists who were inside. People like 27-year-old technician Ksenija Bankovic, whose mother Borka we interviewed on Democracy Now! Borka asked how journalists could laugh at the killing of her daughter, whose only crime was going to work that night. In all, sixteen media workers were killed in the bombing.

(Excerpt via The Third Estate Sunday Review's "1 Book, 10 Minutes Amy & David Goodman's The Exception to the Rulers" July 24, 2005.)

We've seen the administration villify Aljazeera and it's not surprising that Bully Boy would want to bomb them.

I've taken forever with this because I've been on the phone with Elaine and kept hearing C.I. laughing. C.I. is on the phone with Ava and they're watching something for a potential TV review. I asked Elaine what was on and it's not a sitcom. So I asked her to butt in during a commercial and see what was so funny. If Ava and C.I. write a review on what they were watching, it should be hilarious because their raw stuff had me rolling.

Tony came over and told me Dave Zirin's column is now being carried at Common Dreams. I did not know that. So we'll note his lastet one. He's responding to a critic slamming Terry Owens and Diego Maradona for making high salaries and slamming Zirin for praising them. The column's called "Which Side Are You On? My Response to Dr. Christian Christensen:"

In fact, if high salaries somehow stain athletes, we should have shunned Muhammad Ali in the 1960s and Billie Jean King in the 70s. We should have questioned Martina Navratilova's commitment to Gay rights in the 80s (after all, she profited from a homophobic "system") and NBA star Etan Thomas should have been kicked off the stage at the September 24th anti-war demonstrations.
I believe that this is a very basic question of "which side are you on?" When Diego Maradona fights in the streets against Bush and the FTAA, I will link arms with him any day. Maradona, in Dr. Christensen's eyes, is the "poster child of global capitalism". This is true insofar as he rose from abject poverty to make money around the world. But I believe that this only makes his stance in Argentina more powerful. Would Dr. Christensen prefer that Maradona be like Pele, taking millions from mega national corporations, appearing in photo ops with dictators and being a mouthpiece for the system? I will take Maradona any day, someone who understands - as do the masses of Argentina from bitter experience - that an economic system with the power to create one soccer millionaire while impoverishing a nation is nothing to celebrate.
Admittedly, the TO question is far more complicated. As I wrote in my piece, no one should confuse him with Nelson Mandela. But if a trend begins where teams can suspend players not for their performance on the field, but for what they say off the field - I think we have a problem. You don't like TO's attitude, then bench him. You don't want him on the team, cut him. But to "deactivate" him and flout the collective bargaining agreement in the process, is something that must be opposed. It's a slap in the face not to TO but every player who fought - and fights - in the NFLPA for a stronger union. For Dr. Christenson to write, "It is an insult to working people (you know, the people who make as much in one year as Owens makes for 5 minutes of football) to discuss this situation as if it has anything to do with real working life" I think displays a profound misunderstanding of how sports and culture can influence our world. Anytime someone takes such a public hit, in clear violation of their union contract, it sends a message felt all too clearly in many union shops that labor exists to get slapped.

Now last thing. Rebecca and I were both talking about this. On Labor Day, we made a point to watch Democracy Now! with our families. In my family, it's always something my folks watch anyway and they watched before me. But this was extended family, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. People who'd never been exposed to Democracy Now! before ended up being able to not hear us talk about but see what it actually had to offer. So we're urging you that if you watch Democracy Now! normally, why not watch it with family Thanksgiving?

You'll be getting the word out and that's important. Me and Rebecca like watching Democracy Now! but if you listen, that's cool too. Just take some time to get the word out. And maybe you can't listen or watch. Maybe like it's on during the big game. Maybe you can pull up the website on your computer and show it to someone, even one person.

Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving.

Remember my motto:

The Common Ills community is important and the Common Ills community is important to me. So I'll do my part for the Common Ills community.

And remember to check out Elaine's comments at Like Maria Said Paz.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

JFK, Iraq wants us out and white phosophorus

Good evening.

I'm posting late because Ma saw C.I.'s entry on Democracy Now! and ran out to rent Oliver Stone's JFK. After dinner, we all watched the movie and then the second disc to see the documentary that Danny Schechter and the other two people made.

I'm going to guess everybody and their dog and their cat has seen JFK but I hadn't. It came out like before I was probably in first grade. A few years ago, two?, we saw some crappy documentary on JFK on the anniversary of his assassination. Peter Jennings was the host.

We've got JFK stuff and Robert Kennedy stuff up all over the house because my family is a) Democrat, b) Catholic and c) Irish-American.

So it was a real treat to watch this movie. It's a long movie but it doesn't seem like it. We all crowded into the living room and my kid sister was going "I'm watching ten minutes and then, if I don't like it, I'm going out." She ended up sitting through the whole thing.

We grabbed an intermission to pop more pop corn. :D

That's a good movie. And my older readers are probably thinking "No shit." But if you're my age or younger, maybe you haven't seen it before.

So let me try to figure out a way to interest you in it because a lot of people think history and then move on to something else.

Okay, you got a lot of famous people in the movie. Martin Sheen's a narrator. Kevin Costner is the star. Sissy Spacek from In the Bedroom plays his wife. Kevin Bacon's in it, Donald Sutherland, Tommy Lee Jones is in it and he was really good in The Fugitive, Gary Oldman is in it, Jack Lemmon who's so good in the old movies like Some Like It Hot and The Apartment is in it and probably a ton of other people that I'm forgetting right now. The sister in Roseanne, the one who played Jackie, she's in it. So you got a lot of famous people in it.

And it's not dull history because it starts with the assassination. Then Kevin Costner's character is trying to figure out what's going on and who killed JFK and why?

This is a really good movie.

And Beyond JFK is a really good documentary. Danny Schechter and the others get all these people who covered the assassination to talk to the cameras and Ma and Dad were saying they were famous news people but I didn't know most of them. So people should check that out too.
Walter Cronkite is a name I know but I think he was off TV by the time I was born. But Ma and Dad and my oldest brother, who came over with his fiancee, were all, "Walter Cronkite."

So you should check it out. JFK is a really good movie.

Democracy Now! is a really great news program and now let's talk about two things from it today.

Iraqi Leaders Call for Troop Withdrawal Timetable
In Iraq, Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni leaders have issued a joint communiqué calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S troops. The New York Times reports this marks the first time Iraq's political factions collectively called for a withdrawal timetable. The communiqué was released during a reconciliation conference held under the auspices of the Arab League. Attendees included Iraqi president Jalal Talabani. The leaders also condemned attacks on Iraqi civilians, government institutions and oil installations, and called for the release of all detainees held without trial. They said Iraq's opposition had a "legitimate right" of resistance but condemned terrorism and acts of violence, murder and kidnapping.

They want us to leave. How hard is that to grasp? Nina clipped something from the New York Times and passed it on to me. It's a column Paul Krugman wrote that was in Monday's paper. It was arguing how we are fueling the instability.

If you're a member of The Common Ills, that's no surprise to you.

We just keep getting one lie from the Bully Boy after another and the public's sick of the lies. I don't think we'll swallow another one now. Bully Boy's on the ropes these days.

Pentagon Docs: White Phosphorous Is A Chemical Weapon
New evidence has emerged that the U.S. military used chemical weapons during the assault on Fallujah a year ago. Last week the Pentagon confirmed for the first time that it used white phosphorous as a weapon to attack Iraqi fighters. But the Pentagon rejected claims that white phosphorous is a chemical weapon. White Phosphorous is often compared to napalm because it combusts spontaneously when exposed to oxygen and can burn right through skin to the bone. While the Pentagon is denying white phosphorous is a chemical weapon, a newly uncovered Defense Department document, reveals that is just how the military described it when Saddam Hussein allegedly used it a decade ago. A declassified 1995 Pentagon intelligence document reads QUOTE "Iraqi forces loyal to president Saddam may have possibly used white phosphorous chemical weapons against Kurdish rebels." Meanwhile a British commander has admitted that he trained his troops in using white phosphorus as a weapon. Until now the British government has maintained it used white phosphorous but only for tactical purposes.

White phosphorus was used as a weapon and Monday the New York Times did a white wash, screw with the facts report, trying to act like it wasn't.

Will they do a "correction" now. Hell no. They're the New York Times and they write whatever they want, when they want. Right now they want to carry water for the military using an illegal chemical weapon. Maybe someday they'll be brought down by what Amy Goodman's called "the lies of the Times." If it happens, let's hope people aren't acting like it's a sad thing. The way some are acting like the end of Ted Koppel's Nightline is a boo-hoo situation. C.I.'s got a great thing on that today called "The end of a (Bad) era." Hopefully, there will be brave voices if and when the might New York Times crumbles.

Be sure to check out Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude (she says she'll be up around midnight). And also Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz. I didn't get to talk to her before she caught her plane but after the movie and the documentary, I called her up and we picked our two things to note. She was taking a nap and then going to grab something to eat with C.I. Wally and Kat posted today.

And if you're looking for something to read on Bob Woodward, Rebecca said to check out Ron's thing. He's asking about the "slam dunk" quote that Woodward's always said George Tenent made.

I'll be posting tomorrow and I'm still up in the air about Thursday. I'll try to figure out by tomorrow. I will be posting something on Friday. I'm leaning towards posting on Thursday, just not sure where I'll find time.

Motto: The Common Ills community is important and the Common Ills community is important to me. So I'll do my part for the Common Ills community.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Plamegate, School of the Americas and Commander-in-Chief

I'm late tonight. Elaine will be as well. That's because we've been on the phone trying to figure out what to do. C.I.'s asking for people to figure out when they'll be blogging this week.

The Common Ills has never been on vacation ("thus far," C.I. noted) and there's a reason for that. Last year at this time, C.I. gets members complaining about NPR and ends up using the time to do a long entry on how NPR brought on Robert Kagan to "critique" John Kerry in the last month (October) of election 2004 even though Kagan's wife worked for Dick Cheney and NPR didn't tell listeners that their impartial critic had a wife working for Dick Cheney.

Because of that entry, during the "holidays," members started asking if Christmas would be a "holiday" too. A few members brought up the fact that they were Jewish and some members explained they wouldn't be home for Christmas. One in particular couldn't afford to go. She couldn't tell her parents there because they didn't have the money to bring her home so she was acting like she was working. And the whole holiday had her depressed. So C.I. decided, no vacation.

On holidays especially, C.I. feels like something needs to be done at The Common Ills. C.I.'s been out of the country on Christmas before and one time, college years, due to some campus stuff, C.I. didn't have a huge crowd. So C.I.'s attitude is "I've been there, I know what you're going through." (All of this has been up in different posts at The Common Ills.)

So we're trying to figure out what to do and I talked to Wally too. He didn't post today. He and his grandfather were going around grabbing things on the list for his mother's big feast.

Elaine's flying on Tuesday. Barring jet lag, she'll have something up late Tuesday.

She says she can probably blog every day. She'll be celebrating Thanksgiving at C.I.'s and figures it shouldn't be a problem. She said she may not be hitting hard on anything.

Me, I'd like Thursday off. I can guarantee every other day, but I'd like to take Thursday off.
If it's just going to be C.I. & Elaine on Thursday though, I'll blog on Thursday to do my part for the community. But I've got to do Thanksgiving here and at Nina's so if I do blog on Thursday, I have no idea what time I'll do it.

Wally's planning on taking Thursday off.

So where it stands right now that I know of, C.I. will be blogging every day. Elaine and I may have different times but we'll have stuff up this week. For Elaine, it will be every day. For me, I'd like Thursday off.

But I'll wait and see how everyone else shapes up and if it's just C.I. and Elaine or them plus Rebecca, I might go ahead and blog on Thursday. I'm really lucky in having family around me every holiday. But I know everyone's not like that. And Elaine brought up something she and C.I. had talked about which is that the holidays can be rough on people.

So I'll try to figure out what I'm doing on Thursday and let you know ASAP. The community is important and the community is important to me. So I'll do my part for the community.

Now we'll note Democracy Now! and remember to check out Elaine's site Like Maria Said Paz for her take.

CIA Leak Prosecutor to Go to New Grand Jury
And this update on the CIA leak case... Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said Friday that he plans to present new evidence to another federal grand jury. The announcement came three weeks after an earlier grand jury indicted Vice President Cheney's chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Last week investigators questioned Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward for two hours after learning that a senior administration official revealed Valerie Plame's identity to him in mid-June 2003. There has been great speculation over who within the Bush administration might have been Woodward's source. The Times of London claims it is Stephen Hadley who is now Bush's National Security Advisor. At the time Hadley was deputy National Security Advisor under Condoleeza Rice. Newsweek magazine has suggested it might be former deputy secretary of State Richard Armitage.

This isn't over. Bob Woodward just opened up a mess of worms. He should have been honest and not gone all over saying the investigation was nothing and the work of a 'junk-yard dog.' He looks like a hypocrite and a liar.

He had an image and he trashed it. But like Rebecca said he's not Robert Redford and if someone made a movie of him these days, he'd be played by David Spade, cause he's a clown.

19,000 Protest At School of the Americas
In Georgia, an estimated 19,000 people demonstrated outside Fort Benning calling for the closing of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of the Americas. It was the largest protest to date for the annual event. 40 arrests were made. Protest organizers said the U.S. military has used the school to train Latin American military officials to torture. The protests are timed to coincide with the anniversary of the November 1989 murders of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter in El Salvador. The weekend demonstration came just weeks after it was revealed that Vice President Dick Cheney was seeking Congressional approval for CIA interrogators to engage in torture.

The largest protest to date. That's incredible and just demonstrates that the summer of activism has deep roots and people are looking around and saying, "This isn't what America's supposed to be and I'm not going to stand for it." There's just this wave of activism.

And Elaine goes maybe Bully Boy can be thanked for it. Not just for being the idiot that's destroying our country but also because he wrapped himself and his lies in the flag and it ended up getting a lot of people thinking about the country. Not at first. At first, they just waved the flag to silence dissent. And it worked for some. But you keep waving the flag and at some point people are asking questions about what it means to be an American and what the United States means and stands for.

He's back to trying to hide behind the flag again and that's only going to fuel the activism of this summer. We're living in some wild times and I'm hopeful for the future. I think Bully Boy will leave office disgraced and that we'll all be a little more educated than before.

Yesterday, I mentioned Ava and C.I.'s review of Commander-in-Chief and I thought Ma would be happy. Wrong. :D She said, "Mike, you didn't put a quote from it." She really loves this review. I do too but she really, really loves it. So for Ma, I'll include a section of the review:

We searched in vain, through aired episodes and unaired ones, to find some sort of a feminist conscience to the show. We couldn't. While it's true that Davis rescues a woman in a foreign country, we're not really sure that "Send in the Marines" (even with Sondheim chords) will rank up there with Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" as a feminist anthem.
This manuever was applauded by some critics. We're failing to see the "feminism" involved in Davis' decision. She attempted to get international support, while still vice-president, and was shot down. So she's acting unilaterally.
For those who can't connect real lives with TV lives, let's speak slowly, unilaterally is an approach the Bully Boy endorses and, unless we missed it, he's yet to make the cover of Ms.
Like the Bully Boy, Davis sends in the marines not because the United States is threatened.
She's willing to risk a war because she wants to act alone and because she's "plucky."Well hell, smear some of Davis' crimson lipstick on the Bully Boy and let's all hail him as "plucky" as well.
Okay, well what about her background?
It's sketchy. But let's go over what viewers know. She's an "independent." She was elected on a ticket with a man, Republican, whose ideas go against everything she stands for. There's much talk of this in the first episode where we learn that she won't carry out the ailing president's "agenda" but that the Speaker of the House would (and turn back the clocks in the process).This is feminism? This isn't feminism, this is Dan Quayle sop thrown out in an attempt to get voters -- to fool them.
How can Mac be part of a ticket pushing an agenda she doesn't believe in? Or, for that matter, an agenda she strongly opposes? Mac appears to be, from the start, in it for herself. Nah Nah to notions of Sisterhood.
Davis wrongly won an Oscar (supporting) for The Accidental Tourist (Michelle Pfeiffer should have won for Dangerous Liasons) and now she plays The Accidental President and for some reason we're supposed to be thrilled.A sell-out, who wants to be a vice president just to be vice president, is elevated to the presidency and, surrounded by men, demonstrates she's got the "stones" to be as arrogant as any male before her. This is what passes for feminism today?

It's a great review and the sort of thing, like Jim said, that makes Ava and C.I. such strong TV critics. They don't ride the wave of "This show is a water cooler topic! Let me jump on the bandwagon." They offer insight and criticism. Ma's somewhat appeased by the fact that I told her about my favorite prof saying this was the most honest look at Commander-in-Chief he'd seen.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Test your news knowledge via Maria

"Where's Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts?" Tony asked me. I'm guessing HELLO wasn't working again. There's a photo of Kayla's baby Brian up at The Third Estate Sunday Review and everybody check it out, cute baby. But you have to get something up on a site first before you can insert a photo or drawing into a story. And so C.I. tried to send it to The Common Ills after posting Maria's rundown of the week via Democracy Now! but it wouldn't go up. Rebecca tried at her site and kept having problems too.

HELLO was telling them both that they weren't connected or that there was congestion or some other error. Finally Rebecca got the photo up at her site and we were able to insert it into the story.

So I'm betting that HELLO was still a problem. I've seen it. It's a Judge Alito comic and it's funny. It came in late Saturday night after we had started working on The Third Estate Sunday Review and C.I. mentioned it so everyone wanted to see it so we all got it in our inboxes.

But I bailed at 4 this morning. I made sure everything was fine and I wasn't needed. They were going to try to polish some more and pick blog highlights which I didn't want to be a part of because C.I. would say, "Find someone else to spotlight" and Jim would say, "But this is really good!" and it would go back and forth. I had tossed out that Cedric hadn't been spotlighted in a bit and he had some strong stuff this weekend and went ahead and bailed.

I talked to Ty this afternoon and he said after losing the piece on Falluja early this morning, nothing else got lost because they did have backups outside of Blogger's Program. But he said it took forever to post and they kept getting error messages.

So it was a long morning for all of them. Ma said to note Ava & C.I.'s review of Commander-in Chief. It's funny and Ma says long past time that the nonsense about how "empowering" Commander-in-Chief is came to a stop.

Now let's note Maria's thing. If you're reading this Sunday night, great, Monday, still great.

See how many of the items you know or remember. And Maria starts with the Spanish and then goes into the English.

"Miles de estudiantes dicen No a los reclutadores en Boston"

Maria: Hola. De parte de "Democracy Now!" diez cosas que vale hacer notar este fin de semana. Paz.

Miles de estudiantes dicen No a los reclutadores en Boston
El Boston Globe informa que más de 5.000 estudiantes liceales, de cinco de los mayores distritos liceales de Massachusetts, quitaron sus nombres de las listas de reclutamiento militar. En Boston, unos 3.700 estudiantes, el 19 por ciento de los inscriptos en los liceos de la ciudad, quitaron sus nombres de las listas de reclutamiento. En Cambridge Rindge y Latin School, más de la mitad del orden estudiantil indicó al sistema de la escuela que no diera sus nombres a las Fuerzas Armadas este año.

Informe: Las Fuerzas Armadas experimentan disminución de metas de reclutamiento
El New York Times informa que un nuevo estudio del gobierno halló que las fuerzas armadas están muy por debajo de las metas de reclutamiento para puestos clave de combate en Irak y Afganistán. La Oficina de Responsabilidad del Gobierno (GAO, por sus siglas en inglés), dice que las fuerzas armadas no lograron reclutar el 41 por ciento de los puestos especiales de combate y no combate. El informe dice que el déficit de soldados fue disimulado al poner demasiados soldados en otros puestos para cumplir con las metas generales de reclutamiento. Derek Stewart, director de personal militar de GAO, comentó: "Los números de reclutamiento agregados son insignificantes. Para que el Congreso y el país entiendan realmente lo que está sucediendo con la fuerza voluntaria y con su capacidad de reclutar y retener a personas altamente calificadas, es preciso disminuir las especialidades de las ocupaciones. Y hacerlo, es muy revelador."

Chalabi se reúne con Cheney y Rumsfeld en Washington D.C.
El controvertido Ahmad Chalabi, ex líder de los exiliados iraquíes, se reunió el lunes en Washington con el vicepresidente estadounidense Dick Cheney y con el Secretario de Defensa Donald Rumsfeld. Antes de la invasión a Irak, Chalabi era un aliado cercano de los neoconservadores estadounidenses y del Pentágono. Las reuniones se realizaron a pesar de que el FBI está investigando si Chalabi reveló a Irán información secreta de Estados Unidos. La semana pasada Chalabi se reunió con la Secretaria de Estado Condoleeza Rice.

El Pentágono admite que utilizó fósforo blanco en Irak
Tras negarlo inicialmente, el Pentágono ahora admite que utilizó fósforo blanco como arma ofensiva en el ataque a Fallujah del pasado noviembre. Las acusaciones fueron realizadas en un documental italiano producido por la RAI, cadena de televisión estatal de Italia. "Democracy Now" transmitió un extracto de la película el martes pasado, el día del estreno. En el mismo programa, el portavoz del Pentágono Steve Boylan negó las acusaciones y dijo: "No conozco ningún caso en el que se atacara deliberadamente a una persona con fósforo blanco." El Pentágono dice ahora que utilizó esa arma contra insurgentes. El fósforo blanco produce un humo blanco denso que puede causar graves quemaduras a la carne humana. El documental de la RAI, titulado "Fallujah: La Masacre Oculta" mostró imágenes de civiles con heridas y quemaduras severas, presuntamente causadas por bombas de fósforo.

Informe: Interrogadores de la CIA ocultan muerte de prisionero
La revista Time informa que interrogadores de la CIA habrían intentado ocultar la muerte de un "detenido fantasma" iraquí que murió mientras era interrogado en la prisión de Abu Ghraib. El informe forense indica que el detenido Manadel al-Jamadi murió por heridas provocadas por uso brusco de la fuerza y por asfixia. Aparentemente fue sofocado cuando se le cubrió la cabeza con una bolsa y se le sujetaron los brazos por encima y por detrás de la cabeza, en una posición similar a la de la crucifixión. Para ocultar la muerte, se limpió la sangre con una solución de hipoclorito antes de que la escena del interrogatorio pudiera ser examinada por un investigador. La capucha manchada de sangre que cubría la cabeza del prisionero también desapareció. A pesar de que la CIA dictaminó que se trataba de homicidio, el interrogador de la CIA implicado en la muerte permanece en libertad y continúa trabajando en la agencia. Jamadi estaba detenido en una parte secreta de la prisión de Abu Ghraib a la que los observadores internacionales, incluyendo a los de la Cruz Roja, no tienen acceso. En las últimas semanas aumentó la preocupación con respecto a lo que sucede en estas prisiones secretas de la CIA. El Washington Post reveló recientemente que la CIA opera una red de prisiones secretas en todo el mundo, incluso en dos países de Europa del Este.

Informe: CIA utilizó aeropuertos españoles para vuelos secretos
El periódico español El País informa que aviones de la CIA hicieron al menos 10 escalas secretas en España mientras transportaban detenidos. Estas escalas secretas ocurrieron en aeropuertos de las Islas Baleares de España. El partido opositor español Izquierda Unida exhortó al Ministro del Interior de España a explicar el uso de aeropuertos de ese país por lo que se describe como "aviones-prisiones" de la CIA. Otro periódico español, Diario de Mallorca, informa que un avión de la CIA que despegó de la Isla española de Mallorca estaba involucrado en el presunto secuestro por parte de la CIA de un alemán nacido en Líbano que fue capturado en Macedonia y luego transportado a Afganistán. El hombre, que luego fue liberado, afirma que en Afganistán lo encadenaron, lo golpearon, le inyectaron drogas y le preguntaron persistentemente sobre sus presuntos vínculos con Al-Qaeda. En Europa se llevan a cabo numerosas investigaciones sobre operativos encubiertos de la CIA allí. El gobierno italiano y el alemán investigan las acusaciones de que la CIA secuestró a individuos dentro de su territorio. Italia pidió la extradición de 22 agentes de la CIA por su vinculación con uno de esos secuestros. El Washington Post también informó recientemente que la CIA tiene dos prisiones secretas en países de Europa del Este.

Republicanos rechazan medida para fijar retirada
En Capitol Hill, la mayoría republicana del Senado aprobó una resolución que exige a la Casa Blanca que entregue informes trimestrales sobre el progreso en Irak y la insta a apresurar el proceso de retirada de los soldados estadounidenses. La resolución fue aprobada luego de que un proyecto demócrata que pedía fijar una fecha para la retirada de los soldados fue rechazado. Los comentarios del Senador republicano Lindsey Graham sobre la propuesta demócrata rechazada fueron: "Creo que refleja un poco de nerviosismo en cuanto a la percepción pública sobre cómo va la guerra, debido a las elecciones (de 2006). Y para ser honesto con usted, la guerra continuará mucho tiempo después de 2006. Estoy más preocupado por hacer las cosas bien en Irak que por las elecciones de 2006".

Demócrata pide retirada inmediata de soldados
En un importante avance en el creciente debate del Congreso sobre la ocupación de Estados Unidos en Irak, un demócrata que votó a favor de la guerra, presentó un proyecto de ley solicitando el retiro inmediato de los soldados estadounidenses de Irak. El legislador demócrata de Pennsylvania, John Murtha, dijo: "Es hora de cambiar la postura. Nuestros militares están sufriendo. El futuro de nuestro país está en peligro. No podemos seguir como hasta ahora. Es evidente que una continua acción militar en Irak no favorece a Estados Unidos, a la población iraquí o a la región del Golfo Pérsico". Murtha es un veterano del ejercito con estrechos vínculos con comandantes militares. También es el demócrata de más alto rango del subcomité de subsidios de defensa de la Cámara de Representantes, y visitó Irak en varias oportunidades. El proyecto de ley que propuso dice entre otras cosas: "El despliegue de fuerzas estadounidenses en Irak, dirigido por el Congreso, queda por la presente terminado, y las fuerzas involucradas deben ser redistribuidas lo antes posible". Esta es la primera vez que se presenta una resolución ante el Congreso pidiendo la retirada inmediata de Irak.En respuesta, el portavoz de la Casa Blanca Scott McClellan, dijo: "el legislador Murtha es un veterano de guerra y político respetado que tiene una trayectoria de apoyo a un Estados Unidos fuerte. Por lo tanto, es desconcertante que apoye las posiciones políticas de Michael Moore y del ala liberal extrema del Partido Demócrata".

Índice de aprobación de Bush cae al 36 por ciento
Según una nueva encuesta realizada por Newsweek, el índice de aprobación del Presidente Bush cayó al 36 por ciento. Por otra parte, el 68 por ciento de las personas encuestadas dijeron que están insatisfechos con el manejo del país.

Se publicaron nuevos documentos acerca del bombardeo de Nixon a Camboya
Documentos recientemente publicados de los Archivos Nacionales proporcionan nuevos indicios de los intentos del gobierno de Nixon de engañar a la opinión pública acerca del ataque a Camboya de 1970. Más de 50.000 páginas de material desclasificado incluyen actas de reuniones del entonces presidente Richard Nixon con sus colaboradores en el momento en que las fuerzas estadounidenses se encontraban en Camboya para apoyar a los sudvietnamitas. Nixon dijo a sus colaboradores: "Eso es lo que diremos públicamente. Pero ahora, hablemos sobre lo que vamos a hacer en realidad." Nixon dio instrucciones a sus funcionarios de que continuaran los bombardeos de Camboya y Vietnam. También les ordenó que extendieran los ataques a Laos, que había permanecido neutral. Nixon dijo: "Quiero que pongan todo el esfuerzo allí, y no escatimen nada. No se retiren por motivos internos, sino solamente por motivos militares".

Maria: In English, here are ten headlines fom Democracy Now! Remember that the headlines are provided daily in English and Spanish and please pass on to your friends. Peace.

Thousands of Students Say No To Recruiters in Boston
The Boston Globe is reporting that more than 5,000 high school students in five of Massachusetts' largest school districts have removed their names from military recruitment lists. In Boston, about 3,700 students, or 19 percent of those enrolled in the city's high schools, have removed their names from recruiting lists. At Cambridge Rindge and Latin School more than half the student body, ordered the school system not to give their names to the military this year.

Report: Military Experiencing Shortfall on Recruiting Goals
The New York Times is reporting a new government study has found the military is falling far behind in recruiting goals for key combat positions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Government Accountability Office says the military has failed to staff 41 percent of combat and non-combat specialist positions. The report says the shortfall was disguised by the overstaffing of other positions in order to meet overall recruiting goals. Derek Stewart, the G.A.O.’s director of military personnel, commented : "The aggregate recruiting numbers are rather meaningless. For Congress and this nation to truly understand what's happening with the all-volunteer force and its ability to recruit and retain highly qualified people, you have to drill down into occupational specialties. And when you do, it's very revealing."

Chalabi Meets With Cheney and Rumsfeld in DC
The controversial former Iraqi exile leader Ahmad Chalabi met with Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Washington on Monday. Before the Iraq invasion, Chalabi was a close ally to the U.S. neoconservatives and the Pentagon. The meetings took place even though the FBI is investigating Chalabi for passing U.S. secrets to Iran. Last week Chalabi also met with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

Pentagon Admits White Phosphorus Use in Iraq
After initial denials, the Pentagon is now admitting it used white phosphorus as an offensive weapon in the attack on Fallujah last November. The allegations were made in an Italian documentary produced by the Italian state television network RAI. Democracy Now played an excerpt of the film last Tuesday, the day of its premiere. On the same program, Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Steve Boylan denied the allegations, saying "I know of no cases where people were deliberately targeted by the use of white phosphorus." The Pentagon now says it used the weapon against insurgents. White phosphorus produces a dense white smoke that can cause serious burns to human flesh. The RAI documentary, entitled "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre", showed graphic footage of civilians with severe wounds and burns allegedly caused by phosphorus bombing.

Report: CIA Interrogators Covered Up Death of Detainee
Time Magazine is reporting CIA interrogators apparently tried to cover up the death of an Iraqi "ghost detainee" who died while being interrogated at Abu Ghraib prison. Autopsy reports show the detainee Manadel al-Jamadi died of blunt force injuries and asphyxiation. He is believes to have suffocated after an empty sandbag was placed over his head while his arms were secured up and behind his back, in a crucifixion-like pose.0. To cover up the killing, blood was mopped up with a chlorine solution before the interrogation scene could be examined by an investigator. A bloodstained hood that had covered his head also disappeared. Although the CIA has ruled the killing a homicide, the CIA interrogator involved in his death remains free and continues to work for the agency. Jamadi was being held in a secret part of the Abu Ghraib prison that was off limits to international observers including the Red Cross. Concern has been growing in recent weeks over what takes place in these secret CIA prisons. The Washington Post recently revealed the CIA is operating a network of secret prisons around the world including two in Eastern Europe.

Report: CIA Used Spanish Airports for Secret Flights
The Spanish newspaper El Pais is reporting that CIA planes made at least 10 secret stopovers inside the country while transporting detainees. The secret stops occurred at airports in Spain's Baleaic islands. Spain's opposition party - the United Left Party - has called on the country's interior Minister to explain the use of Spanish airports for what it describes as the CIA's "plane-prisons." Another Spanish newspaper -- Diario de Mallorca - reports that a CIA plane that took off from the Spanish island of Mallorca was involved in the alleged CIA kidnapping of a Lebanese-born German who says he was snatched up in Macedonia and then transported to Afghanistan. The man - who has since been released - claims that in Afghanistan he was shackled, beaten, injected with drugs and questioned persistently about his alleged links with al-Qaida. A number of probes are underway in Europe over covert CIA operations there. The Italian and German governments are both investigating allegations that the CIA has kidnapped individuals within their borders. Italy is seeking the extradition of 22 CIA agents for the involvement in one such kidnapping. The Washington Post also recently reported that the CIA has two secret prisons in Eastern Europe countries.

Republicans Defeat Measure For Withdrawal Timetable
On Capitol Hill, the Republican-controlled Senate passed a resolution mandating the White House to provide quarterly Iraq progress reports and urging it to accelerate the process for a withdrawal of U.S. troops. The measure passed after a Democratic measure calling for a specific timetable for troop withdrawal was defeated. Commenting on the rejected Democratic resolution, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said: "I think it speaks to a bit of nervousness about public perception of how the war is going in terms of [2006] elections. And to be honest with you, the war is going to be going on long after '06. I'm more worried about getting it right in Iraq than the '06 elections."

Hawkish Democrat Calls For Immediate Troop Withdrawal
In an important development in the growing Congressional debate over the US occupation of Iraq, a hawkish Democrat who voted to authorize the war has introduced a bill calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops. Democratic Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania said: "It is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraq people or the Persian Gulf region." Murtha is an army veteran with close ties to military commanders. He’s also the top Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, and has visited Iraq several times since the war began. His proposed bill reads in part: "The deployment of US forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date.” The bill marks the first time a resolution has been submitted to Congress calling for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. In response, White House spokesperson Scott McClellan said: "Congressman Murtha is a respected veteran and politician who has a record of supporting a strong America. So it is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party."

Bush's Approval Rating Sinks to 36 Percent
Meanwhile new opinion polls show President Bush's approval ratings have sank to just 36 percent. This according to a new poll from Newsweek. Meanwhile 68 percent of respondents said they are dissatisfied with the direction of the country.

New Documents Released on Nixon Bombing of Cambodia
And newly-released documents from the National Archives provide fresh insight into the Nixon administration’s efforts to deceive the public over its 1970 attack on Cambodia. The over 50,000 pages of declassified material include records of then-President Richard Nixon meeting with aides at a time Americans were told US forces in Cambodia were there to support South Vietnamese. Nixon told aides: "That is what we will say publicly. But now, let's talk about what we will actually do." Nixon instructed staff to continue the bombing of Cambodia and Vietnam. He also ordered them to extend the attacks to Laos, which had remained neutral. Nixon said: "I want you to put the air in there and not spare the horses. Do not withdraw for domestic reasons but only for military reasons."