Monday, September 18, 2006

Judy Kovco let's the inquiry know she's not taking crap

So it's Monday and the start of the week. A number of e-mails came in on the roundtable Sunday and the biggest question today was "Where is it?" It wasn't up anymore. I called Jess and if you read "Community note from The Third Estate Sunday Review," you'll know that there were big problems with the posts. Jess says the post was fixed but whoever was working on fixing that one must have hit "saved" and not "post." He's checking that and calling me back as soon as he figures out what's going on. And he just called and it's back up. That was the problem, whoever was fixing it must have hit "saved" and not "post."

I'll talk about the edition and note two highlights. That's going to be it for me tonight because I really want to get packed tonight and not wait until the last minutes.

"A Note to Our Readers" is where Jim talks about the edition and notes stuff about the articles they have. (Like I'm doing here.)

"Editorial: Call Us Dixie Chicks -- We're not ready to make nice" everyone worked on parts of this. I stayed through to the end (along with the core "six"). Jess asked me to note that this is from everyone. At the last minute, there were all these problems with posting for hours and hours, a section got dropped and a new section added to the end and the title changed. Oh, Kat stayed through the end too. So it was the core six and Kat and me. This is a really good editioral. Speaking of Kat, check out her "Mamas & Papas." I love the Mamas and the Papas. :D

"TV: Call the coroner" Ava and C.I. and it's funny and makes all the points that need to be made about 'Til Death Do Us Part. That may not seem surprising since they always make strong points, but C.I. is still sick and there was a chance that they weren't going to do a commentary because of that. (In "Eggplant Casserole in the Kitchen," Ma's talking about C.I. when she's noting the spinach and the FDA announced today what she said Saturday, avoid all fresh spinach right now.)

"The Regressive (Parody)" this is so funny! And be sure to use the links because they're funny. :D

"The Fear" we're all using cameras. Nothing big. Wally found one for like ten bucks or less and was playing with it and C.I. thinks it do-it-yourself and so we all got them. This weekend we were all taking pictures and focusing on night time with scary shots. The thing was to not try to make a pretty picture. The three that ran were the three we all agreed were the gloomiest. There will probably be more of that stuff in future editions. I think it really helps make the point that the words are making.

"Plamegate and the Lies of Conventional Wisdom" is about Plamegate.

"Yapping Watchdogs Miss The Point" is something I really loved. We did this instead of a Dexy piece. How come? A lot of people last week made a big deal about Katie Couric's ratings. They were talking about Monday and OMG she dropped from first to third! While they were sticking their knives in Katie, including a lefty watchdog (not Media Matters), they ended up missing the big picture -- no surprise, right? Tuesday, Katie's ratings were back to normal. You know what the real news on Monday September 11th was? Almost one million people who usually watch the evening news on ABC, CBS or NBC didn't. Almost a million people elected not to watch. They watched the Friday before, they watched the Tuesday after. But on September 11th, almost one million people decided not to watch the news. That might be something the watchdog should have caught.

"Janet Charlton Arrives at The New York Times" was just funny. It's about Helene Cooper who's always good for a laugh. :D

"The New York Times Doesn't Really Do Corrections" nope, they don't. And not only will they not correct their mistake (Amanda Peet is not making her TV series debut tonight as they printed last Monday) but today, they review the show and, strangely, don't list any other credits for Peet. They note who was on Wings, who was on West Wing, etc. But I guess the New York Times is too embarrassed about their mistake last week -- that they won't correct -- so they're just avoidng it. Pretty chicken shit, if you ask me.

"The Bullies & the Tyrants latest single: "Bullies Without Borders"" teams up a comic of Isaiah's with alternative lyrics to the Mamas and the Papas "Creeque Alley" by Dallas for one entry.

"Quick Roundtable" is what people wrote about. For those wondering where it was, it's back up. For those wondering about Nina, she called me and said she appreciated the e-mails she got after this went up Sunday, she's still a member of the community if anyone wonders but didn't want to ask, she's fine with what Elaine and I said and "I really appreciated the way C.I. handled it and the kind words." She wanted that noted. Anytime she wants something noted, I'll do so. Unless she does, that's it.

"Recommending Reading" is highlights.

Elaine and I are both noting Ann Wright's "Bush Appointees Attempt to Brow Beat Senior US Military Officers:"

As a retired US Army Reserve Colonel, I am aghast at the blatant brow beating by civilian political appointees of the Bush administration of another generation of senior U.S. military officers. In late 2002 and 2003 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld began the browbeating. He forced U.S. Central Command commander General Tommy Franks into accepting a war plan for Iraq that Franks knew had too few military personnel for the job ahead-the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
After he retired, Franks said he was worn down by Rumsfeld's never ending complaints about too many military troops in Frank’s operations plan. Franks eventually decided to invade and occupy with the minimal forces that Rumsfeld demanded. We know the result: not enough troops to protect the civilian population or the civilian infrastructure (water, sewage, electrical plants); not enough troops to prevent looting; not enough troops to seal the borders from those coming in from other countries; not enough troops to fulfill the responsibilities of an occupying force as required by international law; not enough troops to protect the troops.
Now, William Haynes, the chief civilian lawyer of the Department of Defense, one of the administration’s architects of torture and nominated to a life-long judgeship on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, has browbeaten the four military services senior military lawyers, the Judge Advocate Generals (all two-star officers), into signing a "do not object" letter to the Senate Armed Services committee. The letter said that the senior military lawyers did not object to two key provisions of the Bush bill that would reinterpret U.S. obligations under the Geneva Conventions and also would protect U.S. intelligence agents from war crimes prosecutions. Previously the military lawyers had publicly questioned in Congressional hearings in both the Senate and House the reinterpreting of the Geneva Conventions. The "do not object" letter was written when, after hours of browbeating by William Haynes, the two star officers refused to sign a "letter of endorsement" of the Bush plan, but instead signed the less of the two options, “do not object” statement.
According to the Washington Post (September 15, 2006), Air Force’s top lawyer, Major General Charles J. Dunlap said that he was not forced to sign the "do not object" letter, but still had reservations about the administration's proposal, just not in the areas discussed in the letter. But, late on September 15, the Army's Judge Advocate General, Major General Scott Black, sent another letter to Senator McCain reinforcing the earlier stand of the lawyers, stating "further redefinition" of the Geneva Conventions "is unnecessary and could be seen as a weakening of our treaty obligations, rather than a reinforcement of the standards of treatment." The senior lawyers have made a noble and professional end-run around the brow beating!

You know what? Ann Wright's done everything this summer. (So has Cindy Sheehan.) Wright's done the fast, gone to Jordan to meet with Iraqis, testified at Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing, taken part in Camp Casey, the Veterans for Peace conference, Camp Democracy, protested in DC, been there in Austin, Texas protesting Karl Rove and there's probably 100 things I missed this summer. But she's been out there and we can all learn a lot from her and from Cindy Sheehan.

Judy Kovco, Jake's mother has come out strong and good for her. She and the rest of Jake's family have been jerked around all summer, really since her son died on April 21st. So good for her. Maybe it will force the inquiry to actually do something instead of dick around the way they did all summer. For that and more, here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, September 18, 2006, chaos and violence continue in Iraq with the AFP counting "[a]t least 62 people" dead, Camp Democracy continues (and extends) in Washington, D.C., in Germany: "Wife of War Profiteer Down!" and Judy Kovco, the mother of Jake Kovco, registers her opinion of the inept hearing into her son's death.
Starting in Australia, photos taken by Australian soldiers serving in Iraq have turned up online.
Rory Callinan (Time) interviewed Angus Houston ("head of the ADF, Air Chief Marshal") about the photos who stated he first learned of the photos from Callinan and that "The way people have mishandled those weapons, that offends me." The Townsville Bulletin deems the photos "offensive and unprofessionl" and states that they feature "mostly from the Darwin-based 2nd Cavalry Regiment and the Brisbane-based 5/7 infantry battalion". [Houston is the witness in the Jake Kovco inquiry who strongly disagreed with Defence Minister Brendan Nelson's 'explanation' for the various reports Nelson gave the press as to Kovco's death. Houston stated Nelson was warned that nothing was known and Nelson was warned of that from the start.]
Though there's no indication that the photos feature Jake Kovco, the prospect that they might is speculated everywhere. Jake Kovco died in Baghdad on April 21st and issues surrounding his death and what happened after have been the subject of an ongoing military inquiry.
Dan Box (The Australian) reports that the "inquiry . . . has warned it may find that the soldier [Jake Kovco] broke army regulations and should bear some responsibility for the circustances of his own shooting." And the inquiry, the Herald-Sun reports, has "requested the pictures and video footage showing soldiers waving the pistols."
Leigh Sales walked viewers through the latest on The 7:30 Report (Australia's ABC) and got reactions from Dan Box ("I don't think the board can deliver any other finding except for an open finding") and a criminologist at Sydney University, Mark Findlay. Findlay told Sales: "This is not just one example of incompetence, this is an example of the conscious interference with relevant evidence and in some situations that interference is almost inexplicable. . . . This wasn't a situation where one piece of evidence was lost or perhaps a minor piece of evidence had been despolied. There are many, many examples of where the evidence hs either been ruined or been put into a situation where, in fact, it's no longer useful to an investigation." Box tells Sales, "There is evidence to support the theory that it was murder. There is evidence to support the theory that it was suicide and there is evidence to support the theory that it was an accident. From what I've seen, there isn't evidence to say conclusively it was any one of those."
Dan Box reports in print (The Australian): "Any adverse finding is expected to rely largely on the evidence from Private Steve Carr, a soldier who served with Kovco in Baghdad." Carr is "Soldier 14," the person whose DNA was found on Jake Kovco's gun, the person who offered his theories to the inquiry on how his DNA ended up on Kovco's gun, and the person whose guesses on DNA transfer were refuted by expert witness (Michelle Franco of the NSW Department of Health's Analytical Laboratories).
Belinda Tasker (The Age) reported: "The lawyer representing Private Kovco's parents, Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Holles, asked Ms Franco whethere the fact that Soldier 14's DNA was found on the gun indicated he had touched it. Ms Franco replied: 'It is consistent with that.'"
Meanwhile Judy Kovco, mother of Jake Kovco, and Ben Kofco, his step-brother,
granted an interview to Kerry O'Brien (7:30 Report). In the interview, Judy Kovco rejects the notion that her son played with guns (a behavior 'heard of' but not seen by anyone testifying in the hearing -- what is known as "hearsay") and notes that her son grew up around guns. Box's conclusion of an the inquiry reaching an opening finding (unable to determine what happened) is something she is prepared for and also prepared that the inquiry might find that her son committed suicide "[b]ut the evidence so far, there is no way known, no, he did not shoot himself. I know what you're saying, but I'm not prepared to go along with that, because there is no way known Jake shot himself purposely."
Kerry O'Brien: That really only leaves two other possibilites, an accidental shooting by somebody else or a murder, both of which it seems to me would involve a major cover-up, a major cover-up. Do you really think that's possible?
Judy Kovco: I certainly do, yes, without a doubt.
Kerry O'Brien: Do you really think that the army would go along with that?
Judy Kovco: They've done it in the past, they have done that in the past.
the interview is getting coverage. Ben Doherty (The Age) has a piece entitled "Someone shot my son: Judy Kovco" which notes that she believes Jake Kovco was either "accidentally shot . . . or murdered". Australia's ABC leads their report with her belief that the military "would go along with a cover-up over her son's death." The Townsville Bulletin closes with Judy Kovco's statements regarding the lack of acountability and emphasizing the fact that as they waited the arrival of Jake Kovco's body, they learned that instead, somehow, Juso Sinanovic had been sent to Australia instead (a problem for Sinanovic's family in Bosnia as well): "The whole thing is just wrong to me, that these are all just acceptable. It is all just acceptable as far as they are concerned."
Box notes that Shelley Kovco (Jake Kovco's widow) is expected to provide provide a statement and that Soldier 14/Steve Carr's "credibility . . . is now expected to come under attack from lawyers representing Kovco and his family." The inquiry was thought to be winding down but, as Conor Duffy reported to Eleanor Hall (The World Today, Australia's ABC), "It's been sitting for three months, and now it seems it's going to have run a little longer. . . . It had been scheduled this week to begin wrapping up."
In Iraq, the talk of the waterless moat (or ditch) continues. The 'crackdown' hasn't worked since it started in June but apparently the moat passes for a new 'toy' or 'gadget' and we're all supposed to be excited. In the real world, the chaos and violence continued.
Al Jazeera reports "a suicide bomber blew himself up at a market in the north-western Iraqi city of Tal Afar".
Al Jazeera also reports that a car bomb "exploded at a police recruitment centre in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi" and killed at least thirteen. CBS and AP note that the Interior Ministry is stating it was two but that al-Arabiya is also noting 13. (Al Jazeera went with what the Ramadi police stated about the Ramadi explosion, not the Ministry back in Baghdad. Reuters also goes with 13.)
AFP notes four women were shot dead in Mosul and four police officers were shot dead near the Syrian border. Reuters notes that four family members were shot dead (with five more wounded) in Baquba while, in Hibhib, two family members were shot dead (two others wounded).
BBC reports that fourteen corpses were discovered in Baghdad, AFP notes three discovered and Babil and two severed heads discovered in Baiji. CBS and AP note that Lt. Col. Fawzi Abdul Karim al-Mousawi was kidnapped Sunday and his corpse was discovered in Basra today.
Turning from the corpses to the morgue,
NBC posts a report by a journalist in Baghdad, whose name is withheld, about reporting and attempting to report from the capital -- the journalist requests permission from the Minister of Health, meets a camera operator at the morgue, have the paperwork checked by an officer and . . . "gunfire erupted all around us."
Lara Logan (CBS) takes a look at life in Baghdad and reports: "This is how it works. Iraqis say: 'If they haven't found the body, then they are probably still alive. Then you can still hope.' That's the only way most people have any idea about the fate of their disapeared loved ones and friends. Sometimes they know immediately. When the lock is broken in the middle of the night and they walk into your home, through the rooms where your children sleep, and drag your sons from their beds and tear your husband out of your arms -- then, even before the bodies are found, you know the men you love most likely are never coming back. Many say the men wear uniforms -- police uniformas. The police say these uniforms are stolen or bought and have nothing to do with them. It doesn't matter anymore. The damage is done."
In Germany,
Melissa Eddy (AP) reports that Jaqueline Battles "has been arrested on suspicion of laundering her husban'd ill-gotten gains after investigators seized about $1 million from her accounts". Eddy notes Battles is a German citizen married to US citizen Mike Battles, of Custer Battles, who, along with partner Scott Custer, was ordered by jury in the United States "to pay $10 million for swindling the U.S. government over Iraqi rebuilding projects in connection with their Middletown, R.I.-based company, Custer Battles LLC."
In peace news,
Camp Democracy continues its activities in Washington DC and has extended the date for the camp to October 1st. Camp Democracy is free and open to the public. John Nichols (The Nation) took part in Sunday events focusing on the issue of impeachment and notes: "Polls and practices suggest that the citizenry well understands the necessity of holding this administration to account -- not to punish Bush or Cheney but to restore the system of checks and balances that has been so warped in this ear of executive whim and lawlessness. And 219 years into this American experiment, as we honor the Constitution that is its foundation, the message from Camp Democracy is clear: It is time to remind politicians and the pundits that: 'This Magistrate is not the King. . . The people are the King.'"
David Lindorff also participated and he notes (Baltimore Chronicle): "It was [Elizabeth] Holtzman who stole the show, with the former member of the House impeachment panel that drew up impeachment articles against Richard Nixon noting that one of those three articles was for spying on American citizens. Holtzman, who has a new book out on impeachment herself -- (The Impeachment of George W. Bush), said that when she and the others on that committee -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- unanimously voted out those articles which led to Nixon's resignation from office, 'I thought we had protected the Constitution for generations to come."
At the start of the year, Elizabeth Holtzman contributed "
The Impeachment of George W. Bush" for The Nation. Lewis Lapham's "The Case for Impeachment" (Harper's) would quickly follow, as would the Center for Constitutional Rights's Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush, David Lindorff and Barbara Olshansky's The Case for Impeachment (Olshansky is an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights), Holtzman's The Impeachment of George W. Bush and John Nichols The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders' Cure for Royalism will be published next month. (And there are other books and articles, that's only some of the ones that have come out in 2006.)
Today's events have included discussions on Iraq, tomorrow Ray McGovern and Jeff Cohen are among those taking part in Take on the Media Day (And Sherry Glaser will also do some of her standup and hold a workshop on comedy.), Wednesday's activites focus around Women's Peace Day and is joint-sponsored by
NOW and CODEPINK (among those scheduled to participate is Howard Zinn). And, to repeat, the camp has extended their schedule, they will not be ending this week but will continue to October 1st -- free and open to the public. A complete schedule can be found here
Remember Take on the Media Day?
Jeff Cohen reports (Consortium News) that the Washington "Post's inexcusable coverage before the war, and its ongoing pro-war editorial bias" is why he will be taking part in the forum on the media at Camp Democracy and that "[t]here will also be a protest march to the Washington Post headquarters that eveing." A lot of people participating and, though donations are welcome, Camp Democracy is free and open to the public. Olshansky, Lindorff, Cohen, Nichols, Holtzman, Zinn, McGovern, Elizabeth de la Vega . . . And that's just a few of the people participating. If you are in the DC area or are planning to be there, David Swanson's Camp Democracy is something to check out.