Monday, May 30, 2005

Media Slander, Aptly Named

17 days and counting.

Media Slander is a new blog formed by right wing bloggers including Mike Krempasky, LaShawn Barber, and Bill Roggio which is targetting journalists who they disagree with (Krempasky, who I interviewed in February, was instrumental in previous right-wing blog attacks against Dan Rather and Eason Jordan).

17 days ago, Linda Foley, the national president of the Newspaper's Guild, participated in a panel discussion at the National Conference for Media Reform held in St. Louis. Ms. Foley is under fire mainly for the following two paragraphs (links to the video clip and transcript):

"Journalists are not just being targeted verbally or politically. They are also being targeted for real in places like Iraq. And what outrages me as a representative of journalists is that there's not more outrage about the number and the brutality, and the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq. I think it's just a scandal."

"It's not just U.S. journalists either, by the way. They target and kill journalists from other countries, particularly Arab countries, at news services like Al Jazeera, for example. They actually target them and blow up their studios, with impunity. This is all part of the culture that it is OK to blame the individual journalists, and it just takes the heat off of these media conglomerates that are part of the problem."

This is the statement of purpose for Media Slander (link):

"The goal of Media Slander is to hold journalists and bloggers to high ethical standards regarding coverage of the War on Terror and other military-related issues. We plan to achieve this by highlighting bias, rumor and falsehoods that have been creeping into military coverage under the guise of objective news."

"We by no means advocate censorship or the deliberate suppression of well-researched and relevant stories about the war and the military."

"As much as journalists feel that they are the guardians of the First Amendment, its true protectors are standing watch in Iraq, Afghanistan and places no one will ever hear about. Journalists owe it to the true gatekeepers of our liberties to be fair, balanced, relevant and accurate in covering them."

But Linda Foley did more than just give a speech about "the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq." As Editor and Publisher's Joe Strupp reported "Last month, Foley sent a letter to President Bush criticizing the U.S. investigation into the deaths of journalists in Iraq."

17 days and counting.

The folks at Media Slander don't specify what it is they're waiting for. Do they want Linda Foley fired? Do they want Linda Foley expatriated? Do they want Linda Foley arrested?

Obviously, the folks at Media Slander never saw the Control Room documentary, otherwise they wouldn't claim that Linda Foley's accusations were presented "without proof of any kind." The folks at Media Slander must also not be familiar with the Committee To Protect Journalists who have a Website which documents journalists banned, attacked and killed from all parts of the world.

Some of those journalists were banned, attacked and killed by US Military forces. Were they deliberately targetted? You'd have to be pretty naive to believe that we'll ever hear the truth about the individual cases since there is no independent investigations being mounted.

And, since some of the Military investigations are still "continuing," the jury's still out. But that doesn't mean anything to the folks at Media Slander.

The folks at Media Slander are too busy slandering Linda Foley.

Inside the 17 days and counting box is written, "It's been 17 days since Linda K. Foley, the President of the Newspaper Guild, without proof of any kind, accused US Troops of deliberately targeting and killing journalists."

Yet, as Ms. Foley told E & P, "I was careful of not saying troops, I said U.S. military. Could I have said it differently? There are 100 different ways of saying this, but I'm not sure they would have appeased the right."

Watch the video. Read the transcript. The only thing that Linda Foley directly accused the US Military of doing was possessing a "cavalier nature" toward the killing of journalists in Iraq. And it's reasonable to assume that she was just as much upset about the journalists who died at the hands of terrorists and insurgents, as well. In 2003, the US Military acted rather "cavalier" to most of the deaths of the unembedded journalists, regardless of who killed who.

This is the same game that the right-wingers always play.

To the right-wingers, anyone who criticizes the US Military (or President Bush) is really attacking the troops. Of course, when Rudy Ghouliani attacked the troops last November for getting the Bush Administration in trouble for failing to safeguard an Iraqi munitions camp there weren't any right-wing countdowns or blogs formed.

Terry Lloyd, Tareq Ayyoub, José Couso, Taras Protsyuk, Mazen Dana, Asaad Kadhim, and Mazen Al-Tumaizi.

Those are seven names that you won't read about at Media Slander.

Terry Lloyd, Tareq Ayyoub, José Couso, Taras Protsyuk, Mazen Dana, Asaad Kadhim, and Mazen Al-Tumaizi.

(NOTE - The rest of this post includes lengthy paragraphs from the C.P.J. Website in order to educate those that say "without proof" but please visit the Website to read more).

On March 23rd, 2003, ITV news correspondent Terry Lloyd was killed in Iraq.

"An investigative article published in the Wall Street Journal in May indicated that Lloyd's SUV and another vehicle belonging to his colleagues came under fire from U.S. Marines. The article cited accounts from U.S. troops who recalled opening fire on cars marked "TV." Soldiers also said they believed that Iraqi suicide bombers were using the cars to attack U.S. troops."

"In September, London's The Daily Mirror newspaper reported the testimony of an Iraqi man named Hamid Aglan, who had allegedly tried to rescue the wounded Lloyd in a civilian minibus. Aglan told the newspaper that he had picked up a lightly wounded Lloyd, who had suffered only a shoulder injury, and attempted to take him to a hospital in Basra when the minibus came under fire from a U.S. helicopter, killing Lloyd."

"An ITN spokesperson told CPJ that a number of elements of Aglan's story are not consistent with ITN's own investigation. She said an autopsy revealed that Lloyd had suffered two serious wounds that likely resulted from Iraqi and U.S. fire. She said that after he was wounded, an Iraqi civilian in a minibus had picked up Lloyd and tried to take him to a hospital in Basra. The minibus later came under U.S. attack. "It was a gunshot to the bus and [Terry] was probably in the bus," she said."

On April 8th, 2003, Tareq Ayyoub, a worker for Al-Jazeera, was killed in Iraq.

"Ayyoub, a Jordanian national working with the Qatar-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera, was killed when a U.S. missile struck the station's Baghdad bureau, which was located in a two-story villa in a residential area near the Iraqi Information Ministry and the former presidential palace compound of Saddam Hussein. Al-Jazeera cameraman Zouhair Nadhim, who was outside on the building's roof with Ayyoub, was injured in the blast, which targeted a small electric generator outside the building."

"U.S. Central Command (Centcom) maintains that U.S. forces were responding to enemy fire in the area and that the Al-Jazeera journalists were caught in the crossfire. Al-Jazeera correspondents deny that any fire came from their building."

"Al-Jazeera officials pointed out that the U.S. military had been given the bureau's exact coordinates weeks before the war began. In an April 8 letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, CPJ protested the bombing and called for an immediate investigation. In October, a Centcom spokesman confirmed to CPJ that no investigation into the incident has been conducted."

"Moments later, Abu Dhabi TV staff on the roof came under machine gun fire from a U.S. tank on the nearby Jumhuriyya Bridge, and one of their three unmanned cameras was struck by a shell, staff told CPJ. The three-story building was marked with a large banner labeled "Abu Dhabi TV."

"Just before the war, CPJ obtained a copy of the February 24 letter that then Al-Jazeera Managing Director Mohammed Jasem al-Ali had sent to then Pentagon spokeswoman, Victoria Clarke, specifying the coordinates of the bureau."

Also, on April 8th, 2003, Telecinco's José Couso and Reuters' cameraman Taras Protsyuk were both killed in Iraq.

"Couso, a cameraman for the Spanish television station Telecinco, died after a U.S. tank fired a shell at Baghdad's Palestine Hotel, , where most journalists in the city were based during the war. At around 12 p.m., a shell hit two hotel balconies where several journalists were monitoring a battle in the vicinity. Taras Protsyuk, a Ukranian cameraman for Reuters, was also killed in the attack."

"Directly after the attack, Maj. Gen. Buford Blount, commander of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, confirmed that a single shell had been fired at the hotel from a tank in response to what he said was rocket and small-arms fire from the building. Journalists at the hotel deny that any gunfire had emanated from the building."

"A CPJ report concluded that the shelling of the hotel, while not deliberate, was avoidable since U.S. commanders knew that journalists were present in the hotel and were intent on not hitting it. The report called on the Pentagon to conduct a thorough and public investigation into the incident."

"On August 12, U.S. Central Command (Centcom) issued a news release summarizing the results of its investigation into the incident. The report concluded that the tank unit that opened fire on the hotel did so "in a proportionate and justifiably measured response." It called the shelling "fully in accordance with the Rules of Engagement.""

"Centcom offered some detail—consistent with CPJ's investigation—that the tank opened fire at what it believed was an Iraqi "spotter" directing enemy fire at U.S. troops. The release also explained that "one 120mm tank round was fired at the suspected enemy observer position. ... It was only some time after the incident that A Company became aware of the fact that the building they fired on was the Palestine Hotel and that journalists at the hotel had been killed or injured as a result.""

"Centcom's results, which were summarized in the release, appeared to back away from earlier charges by U.S. military officials that the tank unit was responding to hostile fire emanating from the hotel. Yet, despite considerable testimony to the contrary from several journalists in the hotel, Centcom maintains "that the enemy used portions of the hotel as a base of operations and that heavy enemy activity was occurring in those areas in and immediately around the hotel.""

On August 17th, 2003, Reuters' cameraman Mazen Dana was killed in Iraq.

"Dana, a veteran conflict cameraman for Reuters news agency, was killed by machine gun fire from a U.S. tank near the capital, Baghdad. Dana was struck in the torso while filming near Abu Ghraib Prison, outside Baghdad, in the afternoon. He had been reporting with a colleague near the prison after a mortar attack had killed six Iraqis there the previous night. The soldier in the tank who fired on Dana did so without warning, while the journalist filmed the vehicle approaching him from about 55 yards (50 meters)."

"U.S. military officials said the soldier who opened fire mistook Dana's camera for a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher. There was no fighting taking place in the area, and the journalists had been operating in the vicinity of the prison with the knowledge of U.S. troops near the prison gates."

"On September 22, the U.S. military announced that it had concluded its investigation into the incident. A spokesman for the U.S. Central Command (Centcom) in Iraq told CPJ that while Dana's killing was "regrettable," the soldiers "acted within the rules of engagement." No further details were provided. The results of the investigation have not been made public. A Centcom spokesman said other details of the report are classified."

"U.S. military spokesman Col. Guy Shields called Dana's death a "tragic incident" and promised to do everything to avoid a similar incident in the future. When questioned by London's Independent about the rules of engagement for U.S. troops, Shields said, "I can't give you details on the rules of engagement, but the enemy is not in formations, they are not wearing uniforms. During wartime, firing a warning shot is not a necessity. There is no time for a warning shot if there is potential for an ambush.""

On April 19th, 2004, Al-Iraqiyya TV correspondent Asaad Kadhim was killed in Iraq.

"Kadhim, a correspondent for the U.S.-funded Al-Iraqiya TV, and his driver, Hussein Saleh, were killed by gunfire from U.S. forces near a checkpoint close to the Iraqi city of Samara, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) northwest of the capital, Baghdad. Cameraman Jassem Kamel was injured in the shooting."

"On April 20, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the deputy director of operations for coalition forces in Iraq, confirmed that U.S. troops killed the journalist and his driver. According to media reports, Kimmitt said that coalition forces at the checkpoint warned the journalists' vehicle to stop by firing several warning shots. When the vehicle ignored those shots, Kimmitt said, forces fired at the car."

"The Associated Press (AP) reported that Kimmitt said there were signs in the area indicating that filming was banned at both the base and the checkpoint. According to the AP, Kimmitt said the signs were designed to prevent Iraqi insurgents from canvassing the area."

"Cameraman Kamel told the AP that no warning shots had been fired at the vehicle."

On September 12, 2004, Al-Arabiya Television reporter Mazen al-Tumeizi was killed in Iraq.

"Mazen al-Tumeizi, a reporter for Al-Arabiya television was killed after a U.S. helicopter fired missiles and machine guns to destroy a disabled American vehicle, international news reports said. Seif Fouad, a camera operator for Reuters Television, and Ghaith Abdul Ahad, a freelance photographer working for Getty Images, were wounded in the strike."

"Military spokesman Lt. Col. Steven Boylan told The Associated Press that a U.S. helicopter fired on the disabled Bradley vehicle to prevent looters from stripping it."

"Reuters quoted a statement it said was issued later by the military, which offered a different account. "As the helicopters flew over the burning Bradley they received small-arms fire from the insurgents in vicinity of the vehicle," the statement said. "Clearly within the rules of engagement, the helicopters returned fire destroying some anti-Iraqi forces in the vicinity of the Bradley.""

Terry Lloyd, Tareq Ayyoub, José Couso, Taras Protsyuk, Mazen Dana, Asaad Kadhim, and Mazen Al-Tumaizi: seven murdered journalists that you won't read about at Media Slander.


Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Downing Street Memo Campaign

This could be it.

This could be what we've been waiting for.

The Downing Street Memo may be bigger than the Pentagon Papers.

The Pentagon Papers and the Downing Street Memo both revealed that the government lied about it's plans for the wars, covered up the escalation and disregarded international laws but the 'Memo' contains one line which the Papers didn't:

"But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" (link).

That line should be grounds for impeachment.

Even if the US Press doesn't think so.

Yesterday, Ward Harkavy wrote an article for the Village Voice entitled "Downing Street Memo: Coverup Then, Coverup Now" in which he writes "Don't blame the government this time for the press's coverup."

"More has been written in the U.S. about whether the memo should have been written about than about the contents and implications of the friggin' memo itself."

The new public editor for the New York Times, Byron Calame, was forced into action before the old public editor had left the building: "The flood of reader e-mail criticizing The Times's coverage of the so-called Downing Street Memo has moved me to post about the issue" ( link).

Mr. Calame asked Phil Taubman, Washington bureau chief for The New York Times about the lacking coverage and was told in an e-mail:

"Given what has been reported about war planning in Washington, the revelations about the Downing Street meeting did not seem like a bolt from the blue..."

"As I read the minutes, they described the impressions of the head of MI6, who had recently returned from Washington, where he had met with George Tenet. It is mighty suggestive that Lord Dearlove, the chief of MI6, came home with the impression, or interpretation, that 'the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.' However, that's several steps removed from evidence that such was the case. The minutes did not say that Mr. Tenet had told that to Lord Dearlove or that Lord Dearlove had seen specific examples of that. The minutes, in my estimation, were not a smoking gun that proved that Bush, Tenet and others were distorting intelligence to support the case for war."

He's right. The memo isn't a smoking gun. The line in question is second hand information. But the memo might lead to a smoking gun. That's the significance of it.

We need to find out why the chief of MI6 believed that the Bush Administration was fixing intelligence to rush to war.

What can we do?

Keep it up. We need to keep pressing for answers.

Congressman John Conyers, along with 88 of his colleagues, wrote a letter to President Bush demanding answers. Yet, so far, the "search for the truth has been stonewalled."

Now he's asking for our help.

Conyers writes, "I believe the American people deserve answers about this matter and should demand directly that the President tell the truth about the memo. To that end, I am asking you to sign on to a letter to the President requesting he answer the questions posed to him by 89 Members of Congress. I will personally insure that this letter is delivered to the White House."

Go to Conyers' Blog to read the letter and to sign the petition. Conyers is hoping to gather 100,000 signatures. Let's make that happen.

Downing Street Memo and After Downing Street are two Websites started by bloggers and peace activists which are doing their best to get the news out.

I have joined the Big Brass Alliance which has aligned with After Downing Street. If you have a blog please go to the above link and sign on for the cause. If we stick together we can make this happen.

Fixing intelligence is an impeachable offense. This isn't the "same old-same old." This is an outrage, and it's about time we got organized and did something about it.


Saturday, May 28, 2005

3 Million Plus Votes Missing?

At Daily Kos, David G. Mills has a diary entitled "Census Statistics Indicate Vote Count Was Significantly Off" which links to a press release from the US Census Bureau.

From the press release:

"Sixty-four percent of U.S. citizens age 18 and over voted in the 2004 presidential election, up from 60 percent in 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today. Tables from a November survey also show that of 197 million citizens, 72 percent (142 million) reported they were registered to vote. Among those registered, 89 percent (126 million) said they voted. In the 2000 election, 70 percent of citizens were registered; and among them, 86 percent voted."

"The data are from the November 2004 Voting and Registration Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS). Statistics from surveys are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. The CPS estimate of overall turnout (125.7 million) differs from the “official” turnout, as reported by the Clerk of the House (122.3 million)."

As David G. Mills asks, "Where did 3.4 million votes go?"

And just so you know...I didn't add the quotation marks to the word "official" in the excerpt from the press release. The US Census Bureau did.

A few Daily Kossers have noted that this disparity has happened before...and that if 2004 is significant then Clinton's two victories should also be questioned. But it's always been my opinion that this isn't a new thing. I'm not looking at this through partisan eyes. Since the Democrats have done little-to-nothing as a whole about election reform since 2000, it's safe to assume that the Republicans aren't the only ones cheating.

This graph - from the same Daily Kos thread - was made by acerimusdux:

yearCensus SurveyOfficial TallyOverestimatePercent
2000110,827,123105,594,024 5,233,0994.96%
1996104,958,842 096,389,8188,569,0248.89%
1992113,824,292104,600,366 9,223,9268.82%


Friday, May 27, 2005

Not Iran, Not Syria & Not North Korea

The day that I've been dreading for nearly the last two years may be fast approaching.

The day that I'll be forced to change this blog's name to Why Are We Back In Saudi Arabia?.


Jeff Gannon To Tape PAX-TV's Lie Factor

Jeff Gannon has posted a "Media Advisory" at his eponymous blog to announce that he is slated to appear on PAX-TV's Lie Factor television show next Tuesday, May 31st at 8 PM E.T. (link):

"Known for lobbing softball questions at current President George W. Bush, elite press core official “Jeff Gannon” came under scrutiny by democrats and fellow press core members, who discovered his real name is James Dale Guckert with a checkered past and possible agenda. Was “Jeff Ganon” fed questions by the Bush administration to use as talking points at White House briefings or just a man trying to overcome his past and pursue a career as a journalist?"

Great news.

I'm confident that all of our questions about Jeff Gannon/Guckert will be answered truthfully when he's hooked up to the polygraph machine since PAX-TV is famous for being a fair and non-partisan network. In the same segment we'll learn the truth about the Swift Boat vet who lost his job, bank account and dog because he wouldn't appear with John Kerry at the DNC last year. And Paula Jones proved that she was abducted by aliens only a few weeks ago on the show.

Dr. Ed Gelb, the polygrapher for the show, proved to the world that John and Patsy Ramsey are completely innocent and the Website also claims he gave a lie detector test to Mark Fuhrman. O.J. Simpson once went to Ed's office "only for the purpose of understanding how a polygraph worked" and there was some dispute in the courtrooms on whether or not O.J. was tested by Dr. Gelb or not (link).

Jeff seems to be exactly the kind of guest that the fans of Lie Factor are craving according to the show's message board:

"Does anyone really wanna see some guy clear up some meaningless personal problem in his life (probably to find out he is in fact, a liar)? NO WE DON'T. We want to see FREAKS. Freaks with crazy stories about skank-spy-mothers and Space Philbins. I tune in every week to see which freak gets away with their lie."


Dear George Lucas,

A long, long time ago, in Miami, a young Jedi Knight by the name of Luke Skyywalker was sued for copyright infringement by Luke's real father, George Lucas (who - aside from the Star Wars empire - also hooked the world up with Howard The Duck).

Okay, maybe Jedi Knight is a bit of a stretch to describe Luther Campbell, the leader and sort-of rapper of The 2 Live Crew, who scored a few hits by adding curse words and heavy bass to Doo Wah Diddy, lifting a line from a Stanley Kubrick movie which was as politically incorrect or nasty as can be, and actually getting permission from the Boss to butcher "Born In The U.S.A." (cause it's important to protect the rights of even horrible rappers to sort-of rap whatever the fuck they want to sort-of rap...and bloggers, too).

Anyway, Luther settled out-of-court with Lucasfilms (the "come on...I added a letter" argument isn't much of a defense) and had to settle for using just-plain Luke as a moniker. He also had to change the name of his record company: Luke Skyywalker Records, to - yep, you guessed it - Luke Records.

It also cost the banished Jedi Knight 300,000 Miami Bass tainted dollars.


I wonder if the fine folks at The Jawa Report have gotten permission from George Lucas to use his copyright protected names.

I guess normally they wouldn't make fun of the deaths of fifteen to twenty people but the wingnuts are now positing that nobody may have died in the riots but it's still the fault of the Press.

Lots of fine folks are linking to "Trying to Start a Riot." See how they do it (minus the permalinks):

» Fatwa issued against Editors in Pajamas for Taking a sWipe at islamofacists
» Fatwa issued against protein wisdom for Freedom's just another word for nothing left
» Fatwa issued against Weapons of Mass Discussion for Fatwah Issued
» Fatwa issued against Media Slander for Lies begets More Lies?
» Fatwa issued against Six Meat Buffet for Can we get a Fatwa Over Here?
» Fatwa issued against Cold Fury for Curioser and curioser
» Fatwa issued against KrilliX for Come conquistare una Fatwa
» Fatwa issued against The Right Nation. Il blog amerikano di for Orianagate.
» Fatwa issued against Parrot Check for Dr. Rusty Shackleford - Trying to Start a Riot

Maybe some think it's funny. Maybe some are condemning it. I can only read so many of those blogs in one day; the dark side is strong. And I'm no Jedi Knight.


Thursday, May 26, 2005

A Diary That Hurt To Read

I can't stop thinking about this diary I read earlier tonight at Daily Kos.


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A Deconstruction Of The "Newsweek" Riots (Part 2)

(Link to Part 1 if you missed it)

On May 23rd, President Bush and Afghan President Karzai held a joint press conference in the East Room of The White House (transcript) which touched on the "cause" of the recent riots:

President Karzai: "Ma'am, yes, we discussed those questions on the -- on the demonstrations, or the so-called demonstrations in part of the -- parts of Afghanistan. You saw that government buildings were burned and private property was damaged, broken. Those demonstrations were, in reality, not related to the Newsweek story. They were more against the elections in Afghanistan; they were more against the progress in Afghanistan; they were more against the strategic partnership with the United States."

An hour or so later, an interesting exchange took place during Scott McClellan's White House Press Briefing (transcript):

Q: "One other question. Karzai was quite definite in saying that he didn't believe that the violence in Afghanistan was directly tied to the Newsweek article about Koran desecration. Yet, from this podium, you have made that link. So --"

MR. McCLELLAN: "Actually, I don't think you're actually characterizing what was said accurately."

Q: "By whom?"

MR. McCLELLAN: "As I said last week, and as President Karzai said today, and as General Myers had said previously, the protest may well have been pre-staged. The discredited report was damaging. It was used to incite violence. But those who espouse an ideology of hatred and oppression and murder don't need an excuse to incite violence. But the reports from the region showed how this story was used to incite violence."

Q "But Karzai seemed to think that that wasn't what led to the violence, that it was --"

MR. McCLELLAN: "That's right, he actually -- he talked about -- President Karzai spoke about how the demonstrations were aimed at undercutting the progress being made toward democracy in Afghanistan, and the progress on elections. They have elections coming up soon. And I spoke about that, as well, last week."

Q: "So could it be said that the Newsweek article played a role, but was not --"

MR. McCLELLAN: "John, I think we've made our views known when it comes to the discredited report. There are some that want to continue to defend what is a discredited report that has been disavowed by Newsweek, and that's their business. We're perfectly willing to trust the American people to make their own judgment about it."

Q: "Who's doing that, exactly?"

MR. McCLELLAN: "I'm sorry?"

Q: "Who wants to defend it?"

MR. McCLELLAN: "Well, you can see in the media coverage, there are some that want to continue to do that."

But, if you read Part 1, you'll know that there's more to this story than just the fact that Scotty got caught in yet another lie.

On May 14th, The Pak Tribune published an article entitled "What Is Fueling The Anti-U.S. Demonstrations?" which contained more background information that has been unreported by the American Press:

"However the fact that the protests of the demonstrators went from the alleged case of disrespect for the Koran to the issue of the United States establishing military bases in Afghanistan, searches of private home by U.S. troops, and Karzai government's alliance with Washington, may be an indication of the existence of other agendas behind the rallies."

"Moreover, the demonstrators in Jalalabad were targeting specific buildings to attack. It was not a wanton act of violence. As such, targeting Pakistani diplomatic establishments in the city may not be without significance. Despite Islamabad's claim that its consulate was not targeted on purpose, questions are raised as to why this particular foreign diplomatic mission was singled out."

"The issue of U.S. bases in Afghanistan has been on the front page of most Afghan publications for some time. Particularly since Karzai formally proposed a "strategic partnership" on 8 May before an assembly of some 1,000 well-known Afghans. The most common reaction to the military-base issue is that final the decision should be left to the Afghan parliament, which is scheduled to be elected in September. Many Afghan politicians, especially those who have lost power recently, have equated the presence of the U.S. military in the country with a continuation of Karzai's administration. While not openly critical of the U.S. and the rest of the foreign military presence in the country, these politicians have expressed uneasiness about the issue. The demonstrations loudly echoed those hushed sentiments."

"The issue of searching homes is more isolated and localized to Nangarhar. In late April, a demonstration by representatives of the Khogiani, Sherzad, Hesarak, and Pachir wa Agam districts was held in Jalalabad protesting such searches. Nangarhar Governor Haji Din Mohammad, after meeting with representatives of the demonstrators, promised to solve the problem (see "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report," 9 May 2005). As such, the inclusion of this issue in the demands of demonstrators coming from Nangarhar is not surprising, but the fact that this issue made its way to the Kabul University campus illustrates a more organized planning for what ought to have been spontaneous rallies if they were triggered only by the "Newsweek" story and not fueled by other factors."

"The attack on the Pakistani Consulate also is worth pondering. Why would students ostensibly angered by an alleged act by U.S. interrogators burn the diplomatic mission of a country that has officially contacted Washington on the issue and its parliament has condemned the alleged act with the Koran? If the allegation about abuse of the Koran was central to the demonstrations, Pakistan's consulate should have received praise, not firebombs."

An interesting comment was left at the Pak Tribune Website by Bahlol Lohdi who claimed to be writing from Afghanistan (though there's no way to confirm this...nor the veracity of his comment):

"Hazrat Ali, an infamous Warlord and chief of police in Jelalabad, and Haji Din Mohammed, a noted Druglord and governor of Nangahar province, ordered their men to fire into a hitherto peaceful demonstration. It was only then that the demonstrators turned to violence and attacked public buildings, starting with the governor’s and chief of police’s offices."

Also on Monday, President Karzai gave an interview to Melissa Block of NPR's All Things Considered (audio link. Ms. Block asked about the searches which never came up at the joint President press conference and which hasn't been mentioned anywhere else in the MSM (from what I've been able to find):

Melissa Block: "You said before you came to Washington that you wanted no intrusive searches of houses of Afghans by US troops without the consultation of the Afghan government.

President Karzai: "Yes.

Melissa Block: "It didn't sound like President Bush went that far today. He talked about commanders consulting about mutual goals. Were you disappointed in what he said?"

President Karzai: "Well, the question was not asked that way. The question was asked was whether you've agreed with Karzai's demand to have control over US Military. US is a sovereign country and we are a sovereign country. We cannot have control over US military. It's for the US government to have control over the US Military. We are having control over our own military."

President Karzai: "We are asking the US that in the fight against terrorism, now we have gone four years and there is a lot more stability and safety in Afghanistan, that the Afghan people don't understand anymore why we should be there in the villages and knocking at doors late at night and waking people up - and arresting someone or not arresting someone - and that should stop."

President Karzai: "The regular fight against terrorism as they come in groups or in the attacks should go on but the home searches should stop. And if there's any such thing it should be done in consultation with Afghan government and then with Afghan security personnel."

Melissa Block: "And in your talks today with US officials here, is it now your understanding that before US forces would enter an Aghan home and possibly arrest someone there that they would have to consult with the Afghan government?"

(Note: President Karzai's response contained a few words that I wasn't able to transcribe) He said that they talked about this a year ago, but that it was an "on-going" process. He also mentioned bringing it up with Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld that same day.

The anger over "intrusive searches of homes" in Afghanistan by US troops is being ignored by the mainstream media even though - as I also showed in Part 1 - that it was reported on Radio Free Europe and VOA (before the blame Newsweek story was ignited).

You'd think that Newsweek would be smart enough to mention the house-to-house searches. But maybe the government just won't let them: "Where does the free press stop and state run media begin?".


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Can't Stop Blogging About Conyers

(Via The Brad Blog) Congressman John Conyers, Jr. did us proud today at his Congressional forum Media Bias and Freedom of the Press which Air America aired live and was taped for C-Span (no word on when and if it will be aired yet):

"As for freedom of the press - the subject of today's forum - all you need to do is turn on the television, open up the paper, or listen to the radio to appreciate the extent our so-called fourth estate has fallen. The vast majority of the mainstream media is not only unwilling to accurately report on the failings of the Administration, but the few who do have fallen victim to scapegoating and retribution."

"There are a few alternative sources willing to speak truth to power. I first learned about the now infamous Downing Street Memo on Daily Kos. Bradblog, Raw Story and Air America have been at the forefront of our ongoing national election scandal. But these voices are too few and too diffuse to overcome the blatant biases of our cable channels and the negligence and neglect of our major newspapers."

There was a liveblogging diary - started by miasmo - earlier today at Daily Kos on Conyers' forum: Conyers media forum on Air America NOW!.

More Conyers. Georgia10 from Downing Street Memo and Daily Kos wrote this diary yesterday: "Conyers to Send Investigative Team To Downing Street?".

Also, check out The Raw Story for an exclusive interview that John Byrne and Larisa Alexandrovna conducted with the absolute best Democrat on the job: Michigan's John Conyers, Jr. - the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. A complete transcript should be viewable at The Raw Story later tonight or tomorrow.


Monday, May 23, 2005

We're Not Getting Any O.J. Prizes In The Mail

Some folks on the left seem to think we have won something today.

We haven't won anything. When it comes time to nominate a Supreme Court nominee you can bet the house - if you're lucky enough to own one in this crappy Republican economy - that this weak-ass compromise won't hold any water. Already, one of the Republican signees threw out a caveat which could detonate the Nuclear Option against filibusters.

I don't care how many right wing bloggers are upset. Most of them are to the right of the 'public' Bush stance anyway, they'll probably never be completely satisfied unless full-on fascism is legislated or executive ordered.

For the now, the far right got what they wanted. The most radical judicial nominees - Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor - will most probably gain confirmation to appeals court seats.

My preceding post was intended to - yet again - attack (yes...attack) the Press for continuing to capitulate to the Bush Administration by ignoring or burying or lying about the facts on the ground. But The New York Times, to their credit, laid it out clearly in a May 21st editorial:

"Second, no compromise should allow unworthy nominees to be confirmed. Some of Mr. Bush's nominees, like Janice Rogers Brown and Priscilla Owen, are hard-right ideologues who would do serious damage to the law and to the parties who appeared before them. Democrats should agree only to a deal that would still allow them to block the worst nominees."

William Pryor is even worse.

A few weeks ago, Senator Ted Kennedy spoke about Pryor in a speech against the Nuclear Option:

"Last, but by no means least disturbing, the President has re-nominated William Pryor to the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Mr. Pryor is no true “conservative.” He has pushed a radical agenda contrary to much of the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence over the last forty years, and at odds with important precedents that have made our country a fairer nation."

"Mr. Pryor has fought aggressively to undermine the power of Congress to protect civil rights and individual rights. He’s tried to cut back on the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Clean Water Act. He’s been contemptuously dismissive of claims of racial bias in the application of the death penalty. He’s relentlessly advocated its use, even for persons with mental retardation. He’s even ridiculed the current Supreme Court justices, calling them “nine octogenarian lawyers who happen to sit on the Supreme Court.” He can’t even get his facts right. Only two of the nine justices are 80 years old or older."

"Mr. Pryor has criticized Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which helps ensure that all Americans can vote, regardless of their race or ethnic background. He’s even called the Voting Rights Act, which has been repeatedly upheld by the Supreme Court, “an affront to federalism.” His hostility to voting rights belongs in another era – not on a federal court. As Alabama’s Attorney General, in a case involving a disabled man forced to crawl up the courthouse stairs to reach the courtroom, Mr. Pryor argued that the disabled have no fundamental right to attend their own public court proceedings. His nomination was rushed through the Committee despite serious questions about his ethics and even his candor before the Committee.

We didn't win anything today.

The moderate Republicans who signed the compromise deserve some credit for standing up against their party.

That is, unless that was what the plan was all about in the first place.

(The title of this post is a reference to a Chris Rock joke which would only be funny if I included an audio link.)


The Washington Post Killers

The Brad Blog reports:

"A Washington Post article exposing the specific details of several pre-war doubts by Bush Administration aides and anlaysts in the lead-up to war ran on page A1 in the early Saturday editions of WaPo's Sunday paper. [WaPo Staff Writer Walter] Pincus' Page 1 item...was headlined "More Evidence of Bush Aide's Doubts on Iraq -- Analysts Questioned Most Intelligence"."

"By Sunday, however, the article had been pushed back to page 26 with the softer headline, "Prewar Findings Worried Analysts"."

"It was nearly two weeks before WaPo even mentioned the appearance of the "Downing Street Memo" which some have cited as a "smoking gun" demonstrating that George W. Bush lied to the American People and Congress during the build-up to war in Iraq. Several sources have called the information included in the memo as evidence of "an impeachable offense"."

Brad also links to jesselee at The Stakeholder who noticed the switch Sunday night and noted that this isn't the first time that this has happened to Walter Pincus at The Washington Post:

"As a quick word of background, Pincus was arguably the best individual reporter on Iraq intelligence before the war, even consistently better than his WaPo colleagues and the good folks at Knight Ridder. But he had one obstacle. His stories were more often than not buried somewhere between A17 and A26."

Last August, The Washington Post apologized for practicing this scaredy-cat form of journalism:

Maybe us liberals are going about this all wrong. If the right can blame 15-17 deaths on Newsweek, why shouldn't we blame The New York Times, The Washington Post & Co. for some of these deaths.

And, of course, some of these deaths, too.

(Off topic: I hate Joe Lieberman: Democrats Sell Out Our Party Again.)

(Off off topic: You have to read THIS!)


A Deconstruction Of The 'Newsweek' Riots

The alleged desecration of Korans by US Military prison guards wasn't a new story when Newsweek reported it a few weeks ago. Since 2002, many similiar accounts have appeared in the press (most published outside the country) and within human rights organization reports.

But they've been mostly ignored.

Just like the facts behind the riots.

This past Friday, Laura Bush said "In the United States if there's a terrible report, people don't riot and kill other people."

Susan Hu - who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite voices on the left - responded to Laura Bush's statement in a post at The Booman Tribune:

"I'm racking my brain, index finger sturdily resting on my chin, head tilting to the right. Can you recall any riots and killings throughout U.S. history that we might share with our First Lady?"

"KENT STATE just for starters...The Civil War? The labor riots? The Haymarket Riots? The civil rights movement?"

But getting back to the 'Newsweek' riots, what people did the protesters kill?

While the arson and destruction of many government buildings (and, also, the Pakistani Consulate and the United Nations offices) did - indeed - occur, there doesn't seem to be one report of any injuries to government officials, security guards, UN workers or Afghani police forces. It's only the protesters who were injured or killed by government forces (according to all of the reports that I have read).

Most of the mainstream media has also ignored countless observations by Afghani government officials, human rights workers, protesters, and bystanders which blamed outside agitators for turning peaceful protests into full-scale rioting.

This account is from Afghan Warrior, a blog written in English by a blogger in Afghanistan:

"The demonstrations which originally started in the eastern province of Ningarhar, spread throughout the country. In Kabuk, Kapisa and Takhar, the protests were calm and ended peacefully. But in Ningarhar, Wardak and Logar, the protests turned violent."

"In my point of view the enemy's hand was behind the destruction and casualties. The people came to protest against the Holy Koran desecration, but there were some enemy among the people, who destroyed government and civilian property. I condemn the desecration of the Holy Koran, but I also condemn the destruction. People have a right to demonstrate, but not to destroy and cause problems for civilians and government."

"I hope the government investigates to identify the "enemies of peace and stability" who are allegedly behind the violence, including the attack on the Pakistani consulate. Also, people in Ningarhar, Badakhshan and Gazni provinces have not ruled out the interference of mercenaries and said armed men from inside the protestors opened fire on police and law enforcement agencies. The enemies of Afghanistan should not take the recent demonstrations as a big acheivment for themselves. These violent protests do not reflect their popularity among Afghan people because none of the Afghan participants in the demonstration took part for their own sake."

"I think the demonstrations in some parts of Afghanistan were conducted by the Taliban, who turned it into violence because they still hide in some provinces. The worst violence happened in Ghazni and Ningarhar, and Taliban insurgents are hidden in these provinces. But they dont have influence in Kabul. In the northern provinces therefore, the demonstrations were more calm, and patriotic Afghans peacefuly participated in the rallies and expressed their dislike of those culprits who insulted their religion by desecrating the Holy Koran. They didn't come to murder and damage their own property."

Kashar News reported on May 14th:

"In Khogyani district, 33 km east of Jalalabad, and Chak district (Maidan Wardak), police opened fire at demonstrators, causing the casualties. Malik Tahir Khan, a tribal elder of Khogyani, said two people were killed and one injured in police firing."

"But Nangarhar Governor Haji Din Mohammad, who denied any killing in the firing incident, said: "Two protestors were injured when police fired into air to disperse the mob. Employing peaceful means, we are trying to cope with the situation," he added.""

"Speaking to Pajhwok, Governor Din Mohammad blamed the violence on saboteurs who played upon people's religious sentiments. "Nangarhar's people just wanted to hold a peaceful protest but some anti-Afghanistan elements provoked them into violence, causing a trail of destruction.""

"In the Chak district, eyewitnesses claimed, one student was killed while nine others were hurt in police firing. Syed Azam, a student at Hazrat Farooq High School, identified the victim as Hamidullah. Nine of his colleagues were injured."

"But Interior Ministry spokesman Dad Mohammad Rasa was unaware of the killing. "We have sent a delegation to the area for investigations. At the moment, I have no information in this regard," he said."

"The protesters slammed police for resorting to firing and causing bloodshed. "We were staging a peaceful demonstration but police started firing at us without any provocation," Mohammad Mohsin charged."

From the LA Times article, "Karzai Blames Outsiders for Afghan Strife" written by Halima Kazem:

"After five days of anti-American protests that left 14 people dead, Afghan officials charged Saturday that outside forces had hijacked many of the demonstrations in a bid to destabilize the government."

"The officials said anti-government factions used the protests, which erupted over a report that Americans at the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba had desecrated the Koran, to incite people already leery of U.S. policies in Afghanistan."

"Haji Asadullah Khalid, the governor of Ghazni province, where one police officer and three protesters were killed during riots Friday, blamed the unrest on the forces of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a renegade warlord who is wanted by the U.S. government for planning attacks on American troops and the Afghan government."

"Hekmatyar is believed to be hiding in northern Pakistan, and his loyalists are active in several southern provinces, including Lowgar, Wardak and Nangarhar — all of which experienced violent demonstrations last week. "Hekmatyar's forces are active in some of the key provinces that have had violent protests," the Ghazni governor said."

""After we heard the news on local radio stations, we gathered students at the nearby mosque and elected 26 people to plan a peaceful protest for the next day," said Fazil Mileallah, a fourth-year medical student and an organizer of the Jalalabad protest."

Another thing that's been ignored by the MSM is the role that American Forces played in controlling the riots (which caused the deaths).

From the People's Daily Online:

"In their bid to disperse the demonstrators, according to Afghan sources, the US-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) and local police opened fire injuring over 50 persons including a lady on the spot, and of these four have succumbed to their injuries at hospital."

On May 12th, Carlotta Garl reported for The New York Times in an article entitled "Afghan Protest Against the US Becomes Violent" that "Afghan policemen and troops, together with some American forces, eventually quelled the riots, but not before opening fire on protesters, who numbered in the thousands, residents said."

Reporting for Radio Free Europe (a station controlled by the United States Government) on May 11th, Jeffrey Donovan's "Afghan Protests Turn Violent" also mentioned the involvement of American forces:

"Several protesters were reportedly killed and some 50 wounded in Jalalabad when Afghan police, backed by U.S. troops, opened fire to control rioting students angered at the alleged abuse of Islam's holy book at a U.S. terrorist suspect facility in Cuba."

"From Jalalabad, RFE/RL's Afghan Service correspondent Dawood Wafa said the protests started around 8 a.m. local time at the medical faculty of the city's university. Wafa said police opened fire after demonstrators started throwing stones at homes, cars, and offices."

"Fazel Mohammad Ibrahimi, head of the provincial health department, said four protesters were killed and 50 wounded after Afghan police, backed by U.S. troops, opened fire in a bid to control rioting. But other sources are quoted as saying as two or three protesters were killed."

But, worst of all, the MSM has completely ignored an incident that occurred just two weeks before the Newsweek story appeared: a major protest in Nagnarhar involving thousands of Afghanis who were upset with the United States Military (not the Media).

On April 27th, The Pak Tribune reported:

"Thousands of the Afghans protested against US-led coalition forces house to house search operation here at Nangarhar and demanded government to stop the operation, VoA reports."

"Report said that large number of people of Khuziana district marched towards the provincial capital and protested against the coalition forces operation. They demanded of the coalition forces to halt their ongoing house to house to search in the district. Locals told VoA that border security commander Zinullah Amin, former Nangarhar security commander and eight local residents had been arrested in the operation."

"Meanwhile, Nangarhar Governor Haji Din Muhammad said his provincial administration discussed the issue with the central government and the coalition forces officials. He said he informed higher authorities about the problems of the masses in this regard. Governor said it would create a lot of problems if the coalition forces continued their search operation without consulting the government."

On May 12th, Radio Free Liberty also mentioned the door-to-door searches:

"Wahid Mojhdeh, a political analyst in Kabul, said tensions already existed in eastern Afghanistan between the local population and U.S.-led coalition forces. He said the allegations over the Koran simply inflamed those forces."

"A few weeks ago in several districts in the east of Afghanistan, coalition forces had entered people's houses without permission," Mojhdeh said. "Such [tensions] existed there, and after the news about the desecration of the Koran in Guantanamo was published by [the press], the [discontent] that existed was transformed into action and led to the violent demonstration. That was one reason [for the trouble], and also the inexperience of police and security forces in eastern Afghanistan should be mentioned.""

So - to sum up - a magazine is being blamed for acts of arson and destruction which led to the deaths of 15 or more people.

The Taliban isn't being blamed. Anger about house-to-house searches isn't being mentioned. Previous accounts of Koran defamation that may have been committed by US Military prison guards are hardly mentioned.

Protesters are referred to as murderers.

The agenda of the Bush Administration isn't to mollify the protesters (or rioters) in Afghanistan, it's to de-certify the press.

(Speaking of "de-certifying the press", NYU Journalism Professor Jay Rosen, the man behind the more-than-a-theory, posted an update to his controversial take on the Newsweek fallout last week. In "Trust-Me Journalism and the Newsweek Retraction", Professor Rosen's "[i]ncluding why I disagree with almost everyone about it." It's probably going to piss off more people on the right and the left, but you have to respect a man who stands on principles rather than party ideology. I'm still not seeing completely eye-to-eye with Professor Rosen on this story, but I don't think he's completely off the reservation.)

(Honestly, I could hardly care less about Newseek's integrity or the decidedly unliberal Michael Isikoff's reputation. What I care about is the truths that are being ignored and the rush to demonize the Press. Although I often knock the MSM - especially The New York Times - I have nothing but respect for the art of journalism. I just want them to do a better job. I want them to be more critical when they have to be critical not just for the sake of "balance." I'm not defending Newsweek, I'm defending the Third Estate. The other side wants to destroy the Press. Our side just wants to give it a hard kick in the ass.)


Saturday, May 21, 2005

Note To My Readers

I've been working on a story for the last two days that I'm almost finished with so that's why there hasn't been a new post since Thursday night.

So I guess you can consider this an open thread until I'm ready to post.

While you wait, here's a link (via Tas at Loaded Mouth and In Search Of Utopia) to a story that Kathy at Citizen's Rent wrote which you can consider a primer to the story that I've been working on.


Thursday, May 19, 2005

If Hugh Hewitt Were President

"I'd like you to explain for me what is wrong with the president himself, not his spokesperson, but if the president came down to the press room and said, I think Newsweek ought to get on their knees in front of the American people and beg their forgiveness for causing deaths of innocent people, and injuring our position in the world. What would be wrong with that?" - Hugh Hewitt, May 18, 2005.

Jeff Gannon emailed me today and told me to read this radioblogger transcript of a "heated exchange" between Hugh Hewitt and ABC's Terry Moran.

Hugh was pissed because of a few questions asked by ABC's Terry Moran and The New York Times' Elizabeth Bumiller at Tuesday's White House Press Briefing which I blogged about yesterday.

Terry Moran's question: "With respect, who made you the editor of Newsweek? Do you think it's appropriate for you, at that podium, speaking with the authority of the President of the United States, to tell an American magazine what they should print?"

Elizabeth Bumiller's question: "Are you asking them to write a story about how great the American military is; is that what you're saying here?"

Thank youl, Elizabeth Bumiller.

Here are some high/lowlights from the radioblogger "show":

Hugh Hewitt: "We played the tape of your exchange with Scott McClellan yesterday in the White House. Are you anti-military, Terry?"

Terry Moran: "Not at all, no. Not at all."

Terry Moran: "...I was just trying to draw that line, that there may be things which are right for the media to do, but that I think that whether you are liberal or conservative, you don't want the government telling the media to do."

Hugh Hewitt: "Now, Terry, that's just silly. I teach Constitutional law, and I've been a professor doing this for ten years. And when the president's spokesperson suggests something, he's not instructing. He's not commanding. He's using the bully pulpit. And for you to react like he was is silly."

Terry Moran: "And maybe, being a professor, you're teaching the law. I'm living it. I'm living the First Amendment, and let me explain to you that there is a difference between instructing someone to do someone, or telling somebody to do someone, and someone using the bully pulpit to essentially rally the president's political supporters to pressure the media to do something."

Terry Moran: "...And today, the president's spokesman said Newsweek should go on Al Jazeera, and other Arab television networks."

Hugh Hewitt: "Yes, they should. And there's nothing wrong..."

Terry Moran: "As a matter of fact, I agree with you."

Hugh Hewitt: "But there's nothing wrong with the president saying that. I'd like you to explain for me what is wrong with the president himself, not his spokesperson, but if the president came down to the press room and said, I think Newsweek ought to get on their knees in front of the American people and beg their forgiveness for causing deaths of innocent people, and injuring our position in the world. What would be wrong with that?"

Terry Moran: "That, in my judgment, would be demagoguery."

Hugh Hewitt: "Why?"

Terry Moran: "If the president of the United States came before the American people and said that American publication ought to get down on its knees and beg forgiveness, you don't think that's demagoguery, then you've been teaching Constitutional law too long."

Hugh Hewitt: "I've been a broadcaster for fifteen years. I know demagoguery when I hear it. That's not."

Terry Moran: "But you practice it."

Hugh Hewitt: "I do not practice it. I practice good journalism..."

Hugh Hewitt: "Terry, wait. Time out. Where do you get this, don't want any kind of challenge to the president they support. They're just sick and tired of journalists with big heads and little resumes, acting like they know how the world works. Let me read you from Major K..."

Terry Moran: "Hugh, can I ask you a question? When was the last time you were in Iraq?"

Hugh Hewitt: "I have not been to Iraq."

Terry Moran: "There is, Hugh, I agree with you, a deep anti-military bias in the media. One that begins from the premise that the military must be lying, and that American projection of power around the world must be wrong. I think that that is a hangover from Vietnam, and I think it's very dangerous. That's different from the media doing it's job of challenging the exercise of power without fear or favor."

Terry Moran: "I came into the White House feeling that the previous White House Press Corps had...was really a low point for the press, because it resulted in this impeachment which, in my judgment, was, you know, there's plenty of blame to go around there, but we now know that that enormous direction of American civic energy and time was all undertaken while Al Qaeda was incubating its plots. And I've talked to, you know, Clinton national security people who say that after Osama hit the embassies in Africa, and Clinton responded with, perhaps inappropriately and insufficiently responded, but with missile strikes in Sudand and Afghanistan, all the White House Press Corps wanted to talk about was wag the dog. This is really about Monica, isn't it? So I came in thinking that I thought that the scandal du jour attitude of the White House Press Corps, during Clinton, was pretty bad, and needed to be changed."

Hugh Hewitt: "Are there members of the White House Press Corps, Terry, who actually hate Bush?"

Terry Moran: "I would say the answer to that is yes."

Hugh Hewitt: "And what percentage of them, do you think that amounts to?"

Terry Moran: "Uh, small, I would say, but some big fish."

Hugh Hewitt: "Who'd you vote for?"

Terry Moran: "Well, that's a secret ballot, isn't it?"

Hugh Hewitt: "Well, it is. I'm just asking, though."

Terry Moran: "I'd prefer not to answer that."

Hugh Hewitt: "I know you would, but..."

Terry Moran: "It might surprise you, but I'd prefer not to."

Hugh Hewitt: "Do you read the blogs by the way?"

Terry Moran: "Absolutely. Every day, all the time."

Hugh Hewitt: "Which ones?"

Terry Moran: "I always start out at Instapundit, I take a look at LGF, I look at Kos, on the other side, and Joshua Micah Marshall. I'm not a frequenter of your blog, but every once in a while, I'll get linked to it. My brother has a blog, Right Wing Nut House."

Hugh Hewitt: "Oh, I like Right Wing Nut House."

Terry Moran: "That's my brother's blog."

A month-and-a-half ago I wrote "Stop Lying, ABC's Terry Moran Is No Liberal." I think the transcript kind of proves that (after all, all of us liberals always start out at Instapundit)...but...there's no doubt that (excluding BTC Eric Brewer from BTC News) Terry's practically as good as it gets in the White House press briefing room.

(And another thing that Jeff Gannon mentioned in his email to me about the number of Bush-hating White House reporters: "It's not that small and I know who they are, by name."'re a "journalist" Jeff, why don't you let us know who they are.)

(Parenthically speaking of Eric Brewer, for the last week he's been trying to bring up the Downing Street Memo in the press briefings: link. Keep at it, Eric. It's not "so two weeks ago." Not as long as people are still dying.)


Decertification Of The Downing Street Memo

I don't have time to remark on this (but I will later tonight).

Just read this Daily Kos diary from yesterday that slipped through the cracks and didn't make the recommended list: Rice and Straw questioned on Downing Street Minute - Give revealing non-answers! by John Drake.

Go to Downing Street Memo to read the memo if you haven't already.

Susan Hu has a new diary at Daily Kos that's also worth reading: NYT Dissects Downing St Memo: The Secret Way to War.


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

More On Single Anonymous Sources

At first, Scotty tried to play dumb: "I'm not sure what exactly you're referring to."

Then Scotty insisted, insisted and insisted that pro-administration ducks were different animals than con-administration ducks that walked and quacked the same way.

But when that didn't work, Scotty opted for the safer route and went back to playing dumb.

I'm referring to a slugfest from Tuesday's White House Press Briefing involving Scott McClellan and a reporter (who is unfortunately unnamed in the transcript) who argued with the Press Secretary about the hypocrisy in the "new" White House stance on the Media's use of single anonymous sources (transcript link):

Q In context of the Newsweek situation, I think we hear the caution you're giving us about reporting things based on a single anonymous source. What, then, are we supposed to do with information that this White House gives us under the conditions that it comes from a single anonymous source?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not sure what exactly you're referring to.

Q Frequent briefings by senior administration officials in which the ground rules are we can only identify them as a single anonymous source.

MR. McCLELLAN: Ken, I know that there is an issue when it comes to the media in terms of the use of anonymous sources, but the issue is not related to background briefings. But I do believe that we should work to move away from those kind of background briefings. I've been working with the bureau chiefs on that very issue. And I think we have taken some steps, and I think you have noticed that.

But there is a credibility problem in the media regarding the use of anonymous sources, but it's because of fabricated stories, and it's because of situations like this one over the weekend. It's not because of the background briefings that you may be referring to.

Q What prevents this administration from just saying from this point forward, you will identify who it is that's talking to us?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, in terms of background briefings, if that's what you're asking about, which I assume it is, let me point out that what I'm talking about there are officials who are helping to provide context to on-the-record comments made by people like the President or the Secretary of State or others. I don't think that that is the issue here when it comes to the use or widespread use of anonymous sources by the media. I think it's --

Q But--

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me finish -- I think it's a much larger issue. And as I said, one of the concerns is that some media organizations have used anonymous sources that are hiding behind that anonymity in order to generate negative attacks.

Q But to our readers, viewers and listeners, I think it's all the same.

MR. McCLELLAN: And then you have a situation -- you have a situation where we found out later that quotes were attributed to people that they didn't make. Or you have a situation where you now learn that a single source was used for verifying this allegation -- and that source, himself, said he could not personally verify the accuracy of the report. And I think that that's -- you know, that's one of the issue that concerns the American people when they look at the media, and I think sometimes the media does have difficulty going back and kind of critiquing itself. And sometimes it's convenient for the media to point to others or to point to something other than internally. I think it's an issue that they need to work to address internally, and we'll work to address from our standpoint, as well. And those bureau chiefs that I met with have indicated that it is a problem that they're working to address internally, as well.

So I think we need to talk about the larger issue here when we talk about it.

Q With all due respect, though, it sounds like you're saying your single anonymous sources are okay and everyone else's aren't.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'm not saying that at all. In fact, I think you may have missed what I said. I think that we should move away from the use of -- the long-used practice of the background briefings, and we've taken steps to do that. But I was putting in context what these background briefings that you're referring to are about. They're about individuals providing context to remarks or policies that may have been implemented by the administration, and you have other officials on the record talking about --

Q Sometimes you do --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- hang on -- talking about those policies. You also have incidents, or instances, where individuals are providing context to meetings with world leaders, and there's some diplomatic sensitivities involved there.

Q We also have incidents, like most recently with the energy speech, where it was before the President made his comments, it was all we had -- and we had to make the decision of whether to report this from anonymous sources who, frankly, in that case, we didn't even know who they were.

MR. McCLELLAN: This is one of the issues that I sat down and discussed with the bureau chiefs. I think it's best to kind of have those discussions with the bureau chiefs; I did. We've made some progress. I think they had a legitimate issue that they brought up. But there's a larger issue here. Let's not point to the background briefings as the problem with the credibility in the media about using anonymous sources, because it's a much larger issue than that, Ken. And I think you recognize that.

In terms of that one, I mean, that was simply done because the President was making the announcement the next day. But, anyway, we've taken steps to address that matter.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the "revolt" of Washington bureau chiefs against "off-the-record and background-only White House press briefings" which they are "forced" to cover: Jay Rosen Vs. Joe Strupp.

I'm relieved to discover that Scotty's been having "discussions" with the bureau chiefs and that they've "made some progress."

But shouldn't the "discussions" involve the White House officials who could actually do something about this practice?

Knight-Ridder's Clark Hoyt met with Scott McClellan a few days after the energy speech incident mentioned in the transcript (short summary: the day before Bush gave his speech the White House print journalists were given an off-the-record background briefing in a conference call in which they weren't even allowed to know who they were being briefed by). Clark Hoyt wrote a commentary about the "discussion" yesterday (Media, government lose credibility because of anonymous sources):

"Several days later, a small group of Washington journalists, including me and Knight Ridder White House correspondent Ron Hutcheson, who is president of the White House Correspondents' Association, met with White House press secretary Scott McClellan to urge that all administration briefings be put on the record. We argued that the credibility of the White House and the press corps alike was being undermined by overuse of anonymity."

"McClellan said he'd agree immediately to a ban on the use of anonymous sources by both the administration and the media. But even if he tried, he'd never be able to enforce it in the White House, where his own boss meets on background with journalists."

"Despite that ploy, McClellan also listened carefully and responded. On the president's recent trip to Russia and Eastern Europe, White House national security adviser Stephen Hadley gave reporters a rare on-the-record briefing."

Hoyt calls this "a small step, but a start."

I don't want to slam Mr. Hoyt too harshly because I agreed with much of his commentary (especially when he mentions "deep throat" as a "beneficial" single anonymous source...but not especially when he blames Newsweek for causing deaths with their story), but if he thinks this is a "small step" towards progress then I'd say he's gotta be delusional.

The "revolt" is essentially silly.

The Administration has plenty of allies in the Media. Instead of group briefings with single anonymous sources, there will inevitably be more "exclusives" involving official single anonymous sources for Administration (overly) friendly "news organizations."

It's the Press that has to wake up. It's the Press that has to take a stance.

Single anonymous sources sometimes ARE necessary. Not in order to "generate negative attacks" but to protect whistleblowers. Cheerleaders should never be allowed to go off-the-record.

The Press doesn't need to discuss anything with Scott McClellan. As Jay Rosen has often written, the Press doesn't have to attend the dog-and-pony shows. Just don't freaking cover them. Let the other guys get their "exclusives."

The use of single anonymous cheerleading voices is straight-out propaganda.

ENDNOTE: I've been a very vocal fan of Jay Rosen's work the last few months, but I'm not happy with his last two articles at Press Think.

A few days ago, Mr. Rosen applauded departing NY Times Public Editor Daniel Okrent's influence on the Siegal Committee committed to "preserving our readers' trust" which I wrote about last week: The New York Times Reconsiders Gay Marriage. It's a shame that Jay Rosen seems to be concerned that the homophobic community has been "excluded" from Times coverage of gay marriage. Does he also believe that white supremacists are getting shut out by the "liberal" media?

And yesterday, Jay Rosen parrotted the Bush Administration rhetoric when he claimed that "it was news weakly made that helped trigger fatal events far beyond the world of Newsweek and its subscribers."

Fortunately, other voices on the left have taken Mr. Rosen to task for the kind of sloppy reporting that Mr. Rosen regularly condemns when it's committed by the Press.

On Sunday, Armando at Daily Kos wrote - in a front-paged post - that Jay Rosen "blew a lot of my respect with his paean to Daniel Okrent" and that parts of the paean were "outrageous", "crap", and "stupid." But Armando really nailed it when he added this comment to the Kos thread:

"Okrent was concerned about balance NOT accuracy. And since he stated the Times was a "liberal" paper, his balance concerns always were addressed to "unfair" coverage of bigots."

And, yesterday, CJR's Steve Lovelady criticized Jay Rosen in comments attached to the Newsweek article which Jay basically has ignored (though, to his credit, Jay did link back to Armando's criticism on Sunday). This comment by Steve Lovelady is a must-read comment:

"This premise that Newsweek caused rioting Afghans to kill each other holds even less water than Newsweek's own orignal reporting -- and that's saying something. As early as last Thursday, Gen. Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, after hearing from commanders on the scene in Afghanistan, said that the "rioting was related more to the ongoing political reconciliation process in Afghanistan than anything else." Somehow, that little tidbit gets conveniently left out by most cable TV carnival barkers and hysterical bloggers eager to make the logical leap. Equally ignored is Gen. Myers' observation that his senior commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Eichenberry, reports that "[the rioting] was not at all tied to the article in the magazine." (Emphasis added.)"

"But who needs to listen to the guys on the scene when you have everyone from Scott McClellan to Donald Rumsfeld to Jeff Jarvis, all trying to tie those deaths to one line in one report that was relegated (by editors, let us note) to the speculation section (Periscope) of a news magazine?"

"Facts -- they're so fucking inconvenient!"

Come on, Jay. You should know better than that.

Sure, I'm disappointed, but I haven't lost any respect for you...yet.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

'Dean's World' Is Full Of Crap

Yesterday, at Slate, David Wallace-Wells wrote about the blogosphere's reaction to the Newsweek Koran Retraction story (Flushing Newsweek).

Or I should say the right leaning blogoshere's reaction.

Because that's all David Wallace-Wells wrote. There aren't any links to Susan Hu's diaries or the multiple posts at Atrios or this excellent post by the farmer at corrente: "Sunday Night" at CNN: the Clowntown Noise Network".

Only one "liberal" is quoted:

"People have died because of your shoddy work," scolds liberal and self-described autodidact Dean Esmay."

I never visited Dean's Blog before. I'm not sure I ever will again. Because it's crap.

Dean Esmay is an idiot and it's a joke that he considers himself a liberal.

Check out this crap Dean wrote the other day:

"Most sickening to read was the always-vile, always hate-mongering Daily Kos reaction. White Supremacists, Holocaust Denialists, Michael Moore apologists, Daily Kos fans: is there any moral difference between any of these people? If so I can't think of one."

You fucking moron. There's quite a bit of moral difference between Holocaust Denialists and people like me. I'm not a fan of the Anti-Defamation League's Abraham Foxman but perhaps he needs to send a letter to Dean Esmay to inform him of the moral difference.

Check out the way Dean Esmay slants on his crap blog (from the same post that attacked Daily Kossers):

"On a far more rational note, John Henke wonders if the story of the flushed Koran isn't part of a pattern of abuse by U.S. service members."

"Jon, I'm sorry, but when you bring in stories of how a detainee had his crotch grabbed, or had lotion rubbed on him, and juxtapose that with stories of what may be very real and upsetting abuses like putting someone in solitary confinement with a light burning 24 hours a day, you weaken your argument considerably."

"That said: Rubbing lotion on a guy? Rubbing lotion on a guy? Dude, give me the freaking bottle of Jergen's and I'll do it myself. Or I'll have my wife do it. I don't care how offensive it is to the prisoner's sensibilities."

"I know you're a good guy, Jon Henke. I know you are. But rubbing lotion on a guy? Dude, where did your common sense disappear to?"

What a pile of crap.

This is the entire post by Jon Henke that Dean Esmay has parsed his crap-filled post from (I don't normally put up full posts but I have to in this case to show that Dean Esmay is full of crap):

Newsweek: False but Plausible (no, really) Posted by: Jon Henke on Monday, May 16, 2005 "Andrew Sullivan is taking some heat for this...

Even if this incident [the Koran desecration] turns out to be false, our previous policies have made it perfectly plausible.
Well. He's right. Put aside the defensiveness, and think about this very seriously for a moment. Without pretending that it absolves Newsweek of culpability for improperly corroborating a story, can you honestly tell me that it's "implausible" that a Koran could have been desecrated at Guantanamo Bay? That interrogators could not have "flushed a Qur'an down a toilet in an attempt to rattle detainees" at the facility at which... Yes, the Koran desecration story may be incorrect. Yes, Newsweek should have checked the story more carefully. Yes, Newsweek should reevaluate their procedures. But anybody who claims it is "implausible" just hasn't been paying attention to US treatment of detainees."

As you can see, Dean Esmay left out the fact that the rubbing of lotion was performed during Ramadam and that it was done by a female interrogator. Dean Esmay also didn't mention the "traumatic brain injury."

Fuck Dean's World.

And fuck Dean Esmay's pile of crap explanation of what makes him a liberal. Dean Esmay uses the dictionary definition for liberal to "expose" that - along with other liberal principles - "[i]t says nothing of your views on homosexuality."

In response to a reader named Avram who disagreed ("Hm. I'd say that thinking homosexuality is sinful is a form of bigotry, so that would be incompatible with liberalism by the definition you gave."), Dean Esmay assured his readers: "I don't think homosexuality is particularly sinful..."

Particulary is defined as "to a distinctly greater extent or degree than is common" (

Fuck you, Dean Esmay.

Homosexuality is not commonly considered "sinful." And you're not even close to being a fucking liberal.

You're nothing but a right-leaning wingnut.

Check out this post that Dean Esmay wrote today with a link to Powerline (The Phony Iraqi "Insurgency"):

"Daffyd Ab Hugh knocks it out of the park: there is no Iraqi insurgency, just a horrifying death-cult terrorizing and murdering innocent people."

"And yes, the New York Times is utterly clueless as usual."

Powerline didn't knock shit out of the park. There is a fucking Iraqi insurgency, Dean Esmay. Even the Bush Administration has spoken of it on many occasions.

Please, Slate - in the future - don't link to idiots like Dean Esmay and refer to them as liberals. If you must link to Dean's crap blog then call him what he is: a wingnut.


Conyers On Newsweek

Earlier today, Congressman John Conyers wrote a letter to White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan about the latest "attempt to intimidate the press corps so that they will be afraid to do their jobs."

Conyers is especially upset that the "Downing Street Memo" has received little to no comment from the White House (nor has it gotten enough play in the MSM I'd like to add) while a retraction based solely on an official's retraction is being crucified by the Bush Administration (and their partners in the Media and blogosphere).

The letter can be read in full at Conyers' Daily Kos Diary and at The Raw Story. Here are some choice excerpts:

"I write to express my profound disappointment and outrage about comments you made about a matter involving Newsweek magazine, which smacks of political exploitation of the deaths of innocent and a shameless attempt to intimidate reporters from critically investigating your Administration's actions. Your comments are contradicted by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and stand in stark contrast with your actions involving the "Downing Street Memo." I urge you and your counterpart at the Pentagon to immediately retract the comments made yesterday, and - at long last - provide a full accounting of the Administration's actions in the lead up to the Iraq war."

"...there is - of course - a sad irony in this White House claiming that someone else's errors or misjudgments led to the loss of innocent lives. Over 1,600 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis have lost their lives in the Iraq war, a war which your Administration justified by falsely claiming that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. To date, your Administration has consistently blocked Congressional inquiries into whether such claims were the result of intentional manipulation of intelligence or, as you assert, a mere "failure.""

"Moreover, your loquacious response to this matter stands in stark contrast to your response to a recently released classified memo comprising the minutes of a July 22 meeting of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his cabinet which calls into question the credibility of assertions made by your Administration in its drive to war. Among other things the memo indicates that Administration officials were working to ensure that "the intelligence and facts were fixed around the policy," implying that intelligence was deliberately manipulated to prop up the case for war. The memo also indicates, contrary to contemporaneous statements to the American people and the Congress that the President had already "made up his mind to take military action." When asked about this memo, you claimed that you "don't know about the specific memo" - two and one half weeks after its release and ten days after receiving a letter detailing its contents from 89 Members of Congress (which has still not been answered)."

"...the public deserves to know what precisely the White House is asserting with respect to the mistreatment of the Koran by interrogators: are such reports categorically false or are they, in the words of one publication, "manifold?" For example, a May1st New York Times report indicated that a Koran was thrown into a pile and stepped on at the Guantanamo detention facility and "[a] former interrogator at Guantanamo, in an interview with the Times, confirmed the accounts of the hunger strikes, including the public expression of regret over the treatment of the Korans." The incident where a Koran was allegedly thrown in a toilet was also recounted by a former detainee in a March 26, 2003 article in the Washington Post, and corroborated by another detainee in a August 4, 2003 report by the Center for Constitutional Rights. The question is: are you categorically denying that the mistreatment of the Koran occurred, or are you simply denying the Newsweek report is accurate on hyper technical grounds?"

"Mr. McClellan, the American people have grown tired of the venomous partisanship and lack of candor on the part of this Administration. When taken to task for wrongdoing, a pattern has emerged of this Administration viciously attacking its accusers. The cornerstone of our democracy is an open and accountable government, and the American people deserve answers - not distractions -- today."

Thanks again, Congressman Conyers.

The following comments are taken from a transcript of comments uttered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers after a hearing of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission:

GEN. MYERS: "I think what we make of it is that, despite our review of the situation, we can't find anything to substantiate the allegations that appeared in Newsweek magazine. And we've looked at, I think, something like -- reviewed 25,000 documents, and there's no indication that anything like that happened. other than what I mentioned in the press conference the other day, one last week, where I think more -- now more than one detainee tore pages out of the Koran and put it in the toilet in protest, to stop up the toilet. But we've not found where -- any wrongdoing on the part of U.S. service members."

SEC. RUMSFELD: "Just to step back for a second, I think it was Mark Twain who said that something that's not true can speed around the world three or four times in a matter of seconds, while truth is still trying to put their boots on. And people have said, my goodness, why does it take so long for someone to come back and with -- have the actual facts? Well, it takes a long time to be truthful, to be responsible. It takes a long time to review 25,000 documents, which is what they've had to do."

SEC. RUMSFELD: "And the only other thing I'd say about it is, people lost their lives. People are dead. And that's unfortunate. And people need to be very careful about what they say, and just as people need to be careful abut what they do."

Well, I'd like to say that Gen. Myers is a liar and that he should be forced to resign his commission. There have been a number of references to desecration of the Koran in numberous articles and interviews with detainees and their lawyers the last few years. That qualifies as evidence. So, Myers is lying when he says they "can't find anything." While the evidence is hearsay unless there is more proof it clearly contradicts Myer's position.

But maybe I shouldn't say that.

Rumsfeld said, "And people need to be very careful about what they say, and just as people need to be careful abut what they do."

Or what?

Finally, Susan Hu of the Booman Tribune has yet another wonderful diary up at Daily Kos which includes some quotes from lawyers representing detainees who have made claims about desecration of the Koran: "These Are Dark Times: Newsweek & the Koran".

It's depressing how little it seems to matter what we prove and disprove on the left side of the blogosphere.

We only get to preach to the choir. No one in the media listens to our side. And very few Democratic officials listen either.


We need to organize.

The right side is killing us.

They are more together than we are. They have more pull.

Left-leaning bloggers need to support the big stories on our blogs. We need to get on point and link to each other.

Our egos get in the way too much.

This Newsweek story should be on every blog. From large to little. That's the only way we can fight back.

If you go to Michelle Malkin's blog you will see that her stories attacking Newsweek have gotten multiple trackbacks from right-wing bloggers. One has 29 trackbacks, another one has 28, a few others at least 15 apiece.

I've never seen Atrios get over 20 trackbacks to one of his articles. Trackbacks are an important weapon.

Daily Kos and Democratic Underground, two of our largest Websites don't have a very effective system to measure trackbacks. The other major problem with Dkos and Dem. Undeground is that the stories disappear after a day or so and are replaced with new ones. Both Websites should at least keep the best diaries of the week on their front page.

The need to push important stories should overcome the need to post multiple times in one day.

Our bloggers and our blog readers lose focus. We need to stick with stories and continue to push them until they break. That's what the right does.

If we organized...perhaps we could break through.

We should have meetings and press conferences. Anyone on the left side of the blogosphere should be allowed to attend and participate. We could do it by open invitation. Don't you think a blogger press conference held in different cities once a week or month would attract some media attention? But to make something like that work it would have to be inclusive and not based solely on the number of hits each blogger gets.

If only a big blogger would get behind such a move. If only...


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