Thursday, June 30, 2005
Rumsfeld's 'War Before The War'
The Raw Story has a new Downing Street Memo related article (whick I helped contribute to) entitled "U.S. changed Iraq policy to begin airstrikes months before war."
It's a follow-up story to what I reported here over the weekend in "'Strikes of Activity' In The DSM," but it's a mite shorter, and I think gets some of the key points across more clearly. And it's a continuation of the NEWS that Larisa Alexandrovna and John Byrne broke on Monday.
John Byrne also includes an interview with The Brookings Institute's Michael O'Hanlon who doesn't think that Rumsfeld's pre-war was illegal, but does consider it more than the same old-same old bombing that went on during the Clinton Administration. Read more at The Raw Story, the only news organization that seems to constantly give a shit about what's most important (with real live research, to boot!).
Another huge story at The Raw Story: "52 House members file FOIA request seeking documents related to Downing Street minutes."
"Representative John Conyers, Jr., (D-MI) House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member, along with 51 other Members today submitted a broad and comprehensive FOIA request to the White House, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State seeking any and all documents and materials concerning the Downing Street Minutes and the lead up to the Iraq war, RAW STORY has learned."
"In addition, the Members also formally requested that the House Committees on Judiciary, Armed Services, International Relations, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence commence hearings on the Downing Street Minutes."
Thank you, John Conyers & company!
Let's get to the bottom of this. Bloggers can't do it alone. And the American press doesn't seem very willing to do any original research themselves, and have to be prodded just to report on the news.
Will either of these stories that The Raw Story is running make the mainstream media tonight?
They probably won't be reported on the mainstream a-list blogs either. Though I'd love to be proven wrong on that, at least.
Punching Judy, Hurting Ourselves
I'm extremely disappointed in you.
How can you not recognize how wrong you are about this.
Yes. You. I'm talking to you.
You, the liberal. You, the Democrat. You, the progressive. You, the blogger.
How can you possibly be happy about this?
Have you even taken the time to read it?
How can you be so pigheaded? How can you be so obtuse? How can you be so naive?
Don't you know what can happen because of this precedent?
Don't you care about the 1st Amendment?
Not all of us are so stupid.
Thank the heavens.
Why don't most of you?
Don't put partisanship before principle.
Time Inc. said it would comply with a court order requiring it to deliver the subpoenaed records to a grand jury in connection with the Special Counsel's investigation into the Valerie Plame matter. The decision follows the Supreme Court's refusal to review a federal court order requiring production of the documents in a case involving Time magazine's White House correspondent, Matt Cooper (Matthew Cooper and Time Inc. v. United States, No. 04-1508.) Norman Pearlstine, Editor in Chief, issued the following statement:
"The First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press, including the right to gather information of interest to the public and, where necessary, to protect the confidentiality of sources.
Time Inc. believes in that guarantee. That is why we have supported from the outset the efforts of Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper in resisting the Special Counsel's attempts to obtain information regarding Mr. Cooper's confidential sources. Time Inc. and Mr. Cooper have fought this case all the way from the district court to the Supreme Court of the United States.
In this particular case, where national security and the role of a grand jury have been at issue, the Supreme Court chose to let stand the district court's order requiring Time Inc. and Mr. Cooper to comply with the Special Counsel's subpoenas. It did so after the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed that order.
In declining to review the important issues presented by this case, we believe that the Supreme Court has limited press freedom in ways that will have a chilling effect on our work and that may damage the free flow of information that is so necessary in a democratic society. It may also encourage excesses by overzealous prosecutors.
It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court has left uncertain what protections the First Amendment and the federal common law provide journalists and their confidential sources.
It is also worth noting that many foreign governments, including China, Venezuela, and Cameroon, to name a few, refer to U.S. contempt rulings when seeking to justify their own restrictive press laws.
Despite these concerns, Time Inc. shall deliver the subpoenaed records to the Special Counsel in accordance with its duties under the law. The same Constitution that protects the freedom of the press requires obedience to final decisions of the courts and respect for their rulings and judgments. That Time Inc. strongly disagrees with the courts provides no immunity. The innumerable Supreme Court decisions in which even Presidents have followed orders with which they strongly disagreed evidences that our nation lives by the rule of law and that none of us is above it.
We believe that our decision to provide the Special Prosecutor with the subpoenaed records obviates the need for Matt Cooper to testify and certainly removes any justification for incarceration.
Time Inc.'s decision doesn't represent a change in our philosophy, nor does it reflect a departure from our belief in the need for confidential sources. It does reflect a response to a profound departure from the practice of federal prosecutors when this case is compared with other landmark cases involving confidentiality over the past 30 years. Since the days of Attorney General John Mitchell, the Justice Department has sought confidential sources from reporters as a last resort, not as an easy option. Neither Archibald Cox, the Watergate Special Prosecutor, nor Judge John Sirica sought to force the Washington Post or its reporters to reveal the identity of "Deep Throat," the prized confidential source.
Although we shall comply with the order to turn over the subpoenaed records, we shall continue to support the protection of confidential sources. We do so with the knowledge that forty-nine states and the District of Columbia now recognize some form of protection for confidential sources, and that legislation is now pending in Congress to enact a federal shield law for confidential sources."
This can't possibly be want you want.
What the fuck is wrong with you people?
This is a sad day for journalism.
This is a sad day for bloggers.
This is a sad day for America.
If Michael Smith, the British journalist who broke the story about the Downing Street memo, were an American, it's very possible that he could be in a similiar predicament.
I want an American Michael Smith to find us an informant...and an American Michael Smith might face the same kind of peril.
Hypothetically, if a CIA source had to be outed in order for us to learn more about the rush to war, well then, I'm sure most of you would be singing a different tune.
Hell, I hate Judith Miller. I think she deserves to be fired for her lies-mixed-with-propaganda and disguised as journalism.
I'd even agree with an argument that Judy Miller should face a war crimes tribunal for her contribution to the deaths of over 1700 American troops and anywhere from 25,000 to 100,000 Iraqi civilians.
But not for this.
This is a dangerous precedent which threatens each and every one of us.
Principles should come before partisanship.
Stop and think for a fucking minute.
Silly Green Footballs
Ten days ago, the "divorced from reality" Little Green Footballers wrote this about the Downing Street memos (link):
"Is British reporter Michael Smith, who broke the Downing Street memo story (after re-typing and destroying the originals), the same Michael Smith who was hired by Mary Mapes as a CBS assistant producer in the Rathergate scandal? Scylla & Charybdis notices the connection: Michael Smith Strikes Again."
In about a minute's time, Think Process made them look pretty stupid: (link).
"It took me a grand total of one phone call to CBS to see if this rumor was true. The answer is no. The Michael Smith who used to work for Mary Mapes is not the same Michael Smith who writes for the London times."
That, of course, followed previous claims that the Downing Street memos were fake because Michael Smith photocopied the orignals, typed them up, and then destroyed the copies. That silly right wing blog theory was discredited and laid to rest in so many places, including here, that's it not even worth repeating.
Today, the Little Green Footballers are at it again (link):
"The latest mind-numbingly silly cause celebre of the anti-war crowd is definitively laid to rest by Tony Blair: No Predetermination for Iraq War."
In an interview with the Associated Press, Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed that the minutes were being "taken out of context"; that he was "astonished" at the wall-to-wall press coverage (what channel is he watching?); and that the "decision was not already made."
Of course, not one of Blair's comments does anything to discredit the Downing Street memos. The only thing discredited are the "latest mind-numbingly silly cause celebre" of the pro-war (but too afraid and self-involved to enlist) crowd.
The memos are real, Little Green Footballers. Notice how Blair didn't attempt to deny their authenticity, as you all did for weeks. You look like clowns, now.
(Special thanks to Jeff Gannon for allowing me to use his trademarked line: "divorced from reality.")
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Yasser Salihee's Final Report From Iraq
The last story filed by Knight-Ridder special correspondent, Yasser Salihee appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday but received little attention. "Campaign of executions feared in Iraq" was co-written by Tom Lasseter and it suggested that the Iraqi police may have been acting as executioners instead of policemen (cache link):
"Days after Iraq's new Shiite-led government was announced on April 28, the director of Baghdad's central morgue began noticing that the bodies of Sunni Muslim men were turning up after the men had been detained by people wearing Iraqi police uniforms."
"Faik Baqr, who is also the chief forensic investigator at the morgue, said the corpses first caught his attention because the men appeared to have been killed in methodical fashion. They were blindfolded and their hands had been tied or handcuffed behind their backs, Baqr said. In most cases, the morgue director said, the dead men looked as if they had been whipped with a cord, subjected to electric shocks or beaten with a blunt object and shot to death, often with a single bullet to the head."
"Iraqi and American officials said the killings were not being investigated systematically, but in dozens of interviews with families and Iraqi officials, and a review of medical records, a reporter and two special correspondents found more than 30 examples of this type of killing in less than a week. They include 12 cases with specific dates, times, names and witnesses who said they might come forward if asked by law-enforcement officials."
"U.S. officials, who have advisers in the Interior Ministry, have said they are aware of the abductions and killings, but think insurgents posing as police are responsible."
But Yasser Salihee will be unable to follow-up on this developing story that has attracted little interest in the American press.
Because Yasser Sailhee is dead. He was executed, most likely by a U.S. sniper on Friday, June 24th.
Tom Lasseter broke the horrifying news earlier today about his former co-writer (link):
"Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi special correspondent for Knight Ridder, was shot to death in Baghdad last Friday."
"The shot appears to have been fired by a U.S. military sniper, though there were Iraqi soldiers in the area who also may have been shooting at the time."
"Salihee, 30, had the day off and was driving alone near his home in the western Baghdad neighborhood of Amariyah when a single bullet pierced his windshield and then his skull."
Once again, the Pentagon initially lied about the murder of a journalist in Iraq.
"An early report said Salihee was shot by a passing U.S. convoy when he failed to heed hand signals or shouts from soldiers. That later turned out to be untrue."
But there are conflicting accounts.
"Most of the witnesses told another Knight Ridder Iraqi special correspondent that no warning shots were fired. But the front right tire of Salihee's car, a white Daewoo Espero, was pierced by a bullet, presumably meant to stop him from advancing."
At the end of Lasseter's article, there is a brief mention of the story that he and Salihee had been working on:
"In the last story he worked on, Salihee used his medical expertise to review records of Sunnis brought to city morgues after reportedly being taken by men in police uniforms."
Perhaps this was an accident. Perhaps Yasser Salihee hadn't been targeted. Perhaps shit just happens in Iraq.
But will the American Press follow-up on Yasser Salihee's final story? That remains to be seen.
(I wrote a post about other journalists killed in Iraq under strange circumstances just a few weeks ago. It was in response to a right wing blog started by prominent right wing bloggers such as Mike Krempasky, Bill Roggio, and LaShawn Barber called Media Slander. The Media Slander bloggers slander American journalists who dare to suggest that some correspondents murdered in Iraq may have been targeted. They do this by twising the journalists' words around to make it seem like they are attacking the troops, instead of the Pentagon brass and Bush Administration war architects: Media Slander, Aptly Named.)
(hat tip to The Raw Story for linking to today's story about Yasser Salihee's execution.)
Update: Alfdom, a loyal reader, points out that the Back to Iraq blog reported the other day that another Iraqi journalist was killed in Iraq (link):
"The Americans have killed two Iraqi journalists inside of a week. One was killed Friday and I just heard news of the other. I know a lot about the first death, but at the request of his family, I can't publish much because his widow fears retribution for her husband having worked for a Western news organization. But he was killed with a single shot to the head by Americans in a passing convoy."
"The second I don't know much about, as I just heard about it. Details haven't started coming in yet."
Christopher Allbritton, the blogger at Back to Iraq, used to work as a journalist for the New York Daily News and the Associated Press. In March of 2003, Allbritton went to Iraq and became "the Web's first fully reader-funded journalist-blogger." He now reports for TIME Magazine and other outlets.
Albritton added an update to the post quoted from above which explains why his post may have come off as harsh:
"Sorry for the harshness of my above words. I wasn't trying to say that the first Iraqi journalist was killed by Americans for being a journalist. There is no evidence that he was killed for anything but being near a convoy and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, a single shot in the head does suggest he was definitely targeted and not the victim of a lucky shot"
I've read Back To Iraq many times in the past, but I stupidly neglected to add it to my blogroll. Allbritton is one of the few unembedded journalists still reporting from Iraq and I'll have to add him to my list of daily reads.
Blogger Made Me Do This
I had to change the template because Blogger can't get around to fixing the problem that was screwing up my template. If they ever fix it, I might go back to the old one or I might change to a new one.
I'm not sure where the Haloscan commenting went, so I enabled the blogger comments.
Okay, just found out this template sucks more than the last one. Because when you go to an individual post the entire sidebar goes to the bottom. How stupid is that? So I guess I'll have to waste another couple hours picking a new template later on tonight.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Our 'Copy-and-Paste' Press
Can somebody please help me?
I've searched nearly everywhere, high-to-low and up-and-down and right-to-left, but I can't seem to find any journalists.
What happened to our American Press?
Journalism used to be about digging in, searching and researching, finding new things to say about the subject of the hour.
Nowadays, a story appears in one outlet, usually a wire service, and then it travels all across the newspapers and broadcast news stations, but not like a pebble gathering up moss. The same story can be read in almost every single newspaper and viewed on every single network and cable news broadcast nearly every day in America.
Let's examine the coverage of the Downing Street Memo (which are actually minutes and Memos, but that's how it's most commonly known).
The Big Brass Alliance was formed nearly a month-and-a-half ago to get the word out and is now up to 625 blogs. The Downing Street Memo blog, After Downing Street, The Raw Story, Democratic Underground, Buzzflash, The Common Ills and hundreds of Daily Kos diarists have also been a huge part of this campaign to get journalists to, in a nutshell, do their jobs (sorry, if I left anyone out).
And, so far, we've been successful in getting a story that had almost zero visibility in the American press become more of a mainstream topic of interest.
But, I'm sorry, so far, the coverage in the American press has been incredibly lacking and mostly sucked.
Michael Smith broke this story on May 1st for The Sunday Times in Britain, and he has written a number of articles since then which have added to the tale. But the American mainstream media has yet to contribute one new fact to the story.
Hundreds of bloggers, like the ones listed above and mentioned in the story below, have been able to scour the Internet, hunt down charts and figures, expand upon Michael Smith's extraordinary work, yet the mainstream press hasn't done the same, and has ignored most of these contributions and have barely even addressed the "spikes of activity" mentioned in the memos.
This is an outrage! Has our American press really devolved into just a bunch of copycat stenographers? Hell, they might as well all join together and form one huge conglomerate, because that's what they've become due to their negligence in producing any real journalism.
The mainstream media started off by mocking the memos and claiming that they're old news. But the mainstream media should be mocked for essentially becoming no news.
When will our American Press return?
It's too bad that journalists like I.F. Stone aren't around anymore. Journalists that pounded the pavement, asked questions, conducted extensive research, dug and dug and dug until they turned old news into new news.
Real journalists are still in existence today.
Sometimes the big boys like The New York Times and The Washington Post and the smaller outlets like The Toledo Blade and The St. Petersburg Times practice real journalism.
But for the most part, real journalism can only be found in the blogosphere.
Along with the aforementioned blogs, real journalism is also being practiced at The Brad Blog, Corrente, The Big Brass Blog, Loaded Mouth, In Search of Utopia, The Booman Tribune, Cannonfire, Mixter's Mix, Flogging The Simian, and many other wonderful blogs listed on my blogroll (again, apologies for the ones I left out...I'll get to you next time).
Many journalists claim they read blogs, but maybe the problem is that they're reading the wrong blogs. The big blogs that have been around the longest offer little more than partisan opinion and "copy-and-paste" journalism. The blogs that practice real journalism haven't been around that long, but we're on the rise.
In just a short time, a Website called ePluribus Media will be launching. Formerly known as Propagannon, ePluribus is composed of citizen journalists, bloggers, and Internet savvy people who have joined up to practice real journalism. We're going to be turning a lot of heads in a few weeks. Watch for us.
I'd like to wind this up with two links that are essential extra reading assigments. Check out Apian's diary at The Booman Tribune: WTF MSM? and Jay Rosen's Deep Throat, J-School and Newsroom Religion.
Real journalists should be regular readers of Jay Rosen's Press Think. Rosen, the chair of NYU's journalism departmemnt, along with Norman Mailer and I.F. Stone, has been my strongest influence in the work that I do. Press Think is the J-School of the blogosphere and it doesn't cost a dime to study there.
(Sigh...I see Blogger still hasn't fixed my "white space" problem in certain browsers. Hopefully, they will soon because I'm extremely pissed. In the meantime, please scroll down to leave a comment and read my other posts including the "Spikes of Activity" post which I am still updating and will continue to add to for at least the next week.)
Completely, off-topic, but since I have an ocean of white space on my Firefox browser window, I might as well fill it.
Greg Beato at Wonkette has uncovered some startling truths in a post called "New Halliburton Food Torture Allegations Arise":
"First, all wounded food in Iraq gets excellent medical treatment before it's served to the troops. Second, the Geneva Conventions do not apply to food during wartime, so there is no expiration date; it's perfectly legal to detain food indefinitely, and release it for consumption whenever it's deemed most appropriate."
There's more in his post, and he's included a few links to not-very-funny stories about what's being served by KBR, whose "managers ordered workers to pick bullets and shrapnel out of food shipments that had been damaged by gunfire or bombings and serve it to troops."
Saturday, June 25, 2005
'Spikes of Activity' In The DSM
(Updated on Friday, July 1st at 4:30 pm)
(Downing Street Minutes to Hit House Floor: "Congressman John Conyers, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee are asking their colleagues in the House of Representatives to join them on the evening of June 28 to discuss the Downing Street Minutes on the floor of the House. Speeches will be posted within 15 mins at DEMBloggers.com and linked to from AfterDowningStreet.org.)
(The Raw Story reports that the Democrats' speeches on the Downing Street Memos have been postponed until Thursday. The Congressional members "were forced to delay their plans after the Republican leadership scheduled several late-night votes, Conyers press secretary Dena Graziano told RAW STORY. They now plan speeches Thursday evening, though they could be thwarted again if votes are scheduled or Congress is adjourned.")
Last Thursday, Michael Smith, the reporter for The Sunday Times who broke the Downing Street minutes story, wrote a must-read op-ed for the L.A. Times ("The Real News in the Downing Street Memos") which relates to an overlooked part of the memos and provides some more background on the "deep throats" who leaked the top secret documents:
"It is now nine months since I obtained the first of the "Downing Street memos," thrust into my hand by someone who asked me to meet him in a quiet watering hole in London for what I imagined would just be a friendly drink. At the time, I was defense correspondent of the London Daily Telegraph, and a staunch supporter of the decision to oust Saddam Hussein. The source was a friend. He'd given me a few stories before but nothing nearly as interesting as this."
Real Republicans take note of this:
"The six leaked documents I took away with me that night were to change completely my opinion of the decision to go to war and the honesty of Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush."
And the real news as Michael Smith sees it:
"American media coverage of the Downing Street memo has largely focused on the assertion by Sir Richard Dearlove, head of British foreign intelligence, that war was seen as inevitable in Washington, where "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. But another part of the memo is arguably more important. It quotes British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon as saying that "the U.S. had already begun 'spikes of activity' to put pressure on the regime." This we now realize was Plan B."
"Put simply, U.S. aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone were dropping a lot more bombs in the hope of provoking a reaction that would give the allies an excuse to carry out a full-scale bombing campaign, an air war, the first stage of the conflict."
"In other words, Bush and Blair began their war not in March 2003, as everyone believed, but at the end of August 2002, six weeks before Congress approved military action against Iraq."
In his autobiography, American Soldier, retired General Tommy Franks, who led the 2003 (I should say...2002) invasion of Iraq, employed the phrase "spikes of activity" a few times (link):
"I'm thinking in terms of spikes, Mr. Secretary-spurts of activity followed by periods of inactivity. We want the Iraqis to become accustomed to military expansion, and then apparent contraction."
"As Phase I is completed, we could flow steadily for the next sixty days, while continuing spikes of activity to lend credence to our deception. During the sixty days we would increase kinetic strikes in the no-fly zones to weaken Iraq's integrated air defenses."
On November 27th in 2002, in response to a question asked by the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, Sir Menzies Campbell, the Ministry of Defense released the information "on how many occasions (a) coalition aircraft and (b) UK aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone in Iraq have (i) detected violations of the no-fly zones, (ii) detected a direct threat to a coalition aircraft and (iii) released ordnance in each month since March, stating for each month the tonnage released" (House of Commons Hansard) included in these charts:
(i) No-fly zone (NFZ) violations are detected in several ways. I am withholding details of detection methods in accordance with Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. The number of violations recorded, by month, in the southern No Fly Zone, is as follows:
Number of violations recorded
(ii) Coalition aircraft recorded threats on a total of 143 occasions, as follows:
Coalition aircraft recorded threats
We do not hold separate threat figures for individual nations' aircraft.
(iii) (a) Coalition aircraft in the southern NFZ responded in self defence against Iraqi Air Defence targets on 41 occasions in the period from 1 March to 13 November, and released 126.4 tons of ordnance.
Responses conducted in self defence
Tonnage of ordnance released
(iii) (b) Of these totals, UK aircraft responded on 17 occasions and released 46 tons of ordnance:
27 Nov 2002 : Column 331W
Responses conducted in self defence
Tonnage of ordnance released
This LA Times op-ed is the first time that this essential part of the Downing Street Memo story has appeared in the mainstream American press, even though Michael Smith wrote about it in relation to the DSM on May 29th ("RAF bombing raids tried to goad Saddam into war").
But that's not the first time Michael Smith reported on the airstrikes launched by the Bush and Blair Administrations before the President officially went to Congress or the United Nations to seek approval for the war.
On September 6th, 2002, Michael Smith reported:
"About 100 American and British aircraft took part in an attack on Iraq's major western air defence installation yesterday in the biggest single operation over the country for four years. The raid appeared to be a prelude to the type of special forces operations that would have to begin weeks before a possible American-led war. It was launched two days before a war summit between President George W Bush and Tony Blair in America."
On September 13th, 2002, Michael Smith reported:
"Advance parties will begin deploying to Kuwait within two weeks in preparation for an attack on Iraq which could involve up to 30,000 British troops, defence sources said yesterday. At the same time, attacks on Iraq by aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones will be stepped up with the intention of piling the pressure on Saddam Hussein to agree to give up his weapons of mass destruction."
On September 17th, 2002, Michael Smith reported:
"America admitted last night that British and US aircraft enforcing no-fly zones in Iraq had changed tactics to extend the damage being caused to Iraq's air defences. Despite recent official denials, Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, said he ordered the change in tactics last month because US and British pilots were coming under more effective fire from Iraqi gunners. The US air force is now concentrating on buildings and other fixed targets, rather than mobile targets such as radars and surface-to-air missile launchers, in an effort to cause more lasting damage."
When will the American press notice?
When will the American press care?
When will this illegal pre-invasion become news?
On Sunday, Michael Smith's latest article on the DSM appeared in The Sunday Times: "How the leaked documents questioning war emerged from 'Britain's Deep Throat'."
Smith presents more details about his meetings with the two "deep throats" and gives tons of credit to the blogosphere for helping this story reach the American press (I'm going to excerpt from Michael Smith's article a little more than I usually do...but please take the time to follow the link to read the rest of it):
"After reporting these secret memos, which revealed the dubious manoeuverings of government, I expected the US press to react. Surely there would be a storm of anger over the way in which the American public had been deceived into going to war? But still there was no interest. Then slowly something astonishing happened. People power took over."
"The Sunday Times website was inundated with ordinary US citizens wanting to read the minutes of the July meeting. Bloggers set to work passing the word."
"Six ordinary, patriotic citizens with no political axe to grind were so outraged to discover the truth about the path to war that they set up their own website, naming it after the minutes, which had become known as the Downing Street memo."
"Another website called AfterDowningStreet followed. People got together to lobby their local newspapers and radio and television stations to demand to know why they weren’t being told about the memo. There were even T-shirts made with the slogan: “Have you read the memo?” With anger over the war growing, Washington politicians finally acted. More than 120 congressmen wrote to Bush, demanding to know whether the memo was true. They held their own hearings to try to draw attention to it. The issue was forced into the mainstream media."
"Last week one US blogger, Larisa Alexandrovna of RawStory.com, unearthed more unsettling evidence. It was an overlooked interview with Lieutenant-General T Michael Moseley, the allied air commander in Iraq, in which he appears to admit that the “spikes of activity” were part of a covert air war."
"From June 2002 until March 20, when the ground war began, the allies flew 21,736 sorties over southern Iraq, attacking 349 carefully selected targets. The attacks, Moseley said, “laid the foundations” for the invasion, allowing allied commanders to begin the ground war."
"The bloggers may have found their own smoking gun."
Michael R. Gordon wrote an article for The New York Times on July 19, 2003 entitled "U.S. Attacked Iraqi Defenses Starting in 2002" which includes an interview with Lt. Gen. T. Michael Moseley, the chief allied war commander, who is referenced in Michael Smith's article:
"American air war commanders carried out a comprehensive plan to disrupt Iraq's military command and control system before the Iraq war, according to an internal briefing on the conflict by the senior allied air war commander."
"Known as Southern Focus, the plan called for attacks on the network of fiber-optic cable that Saddam Hussein's government used to transmit military communications, as well as airstrikes on key command centers, radars and other important military assets."
"The strikes, which were conducted from mid-2002 into the first few months of 2003, were justified publicly at the time as a reaction to Iraqi violations of a no-flight zone that the United States and Britain established in southern Iraq. But Lt. Gen. T. Michael Moseley, the chief allied war commander, said the attacks also laid the foundations for the military campaign against the Baghdad government."
"We were able to figure out that we were getting ahead of this guy and we were breaking them up faster than he could fix them," General Moseley said of the fiber-optic cables. "So then we were able to push it up a little bit and effectively break up the fiber-optic backbone from Baghdad to the south."
"But General Moseley said it was possible that the Iraqi attacks increased because allied planes had stepped up their patrols over Iraq. "We became a little more aggressive based on them shooting more at us, which allowed us to respond more," he said. "Then the question is whether they were shooting at us because we were up there more. So there is a chicken and egg thing here."
"As full-scale war approached, the air war commanders had five goals. They wanted to neutralize the ability of the Iraqi government to command its forces; to establish control of the airspace over Iraq; to provide air support for Special Operations forces, as well as for the Army and Marine forces that would advance toward Baghdad; and to neutralize Iraq's force of surface-to-surface missiles and suspected caches of biological and chemical weapons."
On May 15th, 2005, not long after the Downing Street minutes were leaked, President Bush nominated "Gen. T. Michael Moseley, the No. 2 officer in the Air Force, to succeed the current chief, Gen. John Jumper." (link). It almost makes you wonder if that was some sort of attempt to invoke the Bush Administratin policy of pre-emptive warfare in order to rein Moseley in.
Perhaps, over one year later and after the release of the Downing Street minutes and other documents, the American press and some of the Congressional leaders - Democrats and Republicans who are disenchanted with the ongoing war in Iraq - will be more interested in what General Moseley has to say about the "war before the war."
John Byrne and Larisa Alexandrovna's article at The Raw Story has more on Moseley, and also a fantastic interview with GlobalSecurity.org director John Pike, who reveals how the Bush/Blair Administrations "explicitly altered the rules of engagement."
On September 16th, 2002, the Department of Defense held a press briefing with Gen. Peter Pace, Vice-Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld from September 16th, 2002. Shockingly (or not so shockingly), Rumsfeld made light of the "war before the war" and many members of the press laughed about it with him. (defenselink.mil):
After a few more questions, the "war before the war" was brought up again:
Q: "General, we've been noting the continued strikes in Iraq in both the Northern and Southern no-fly zone. Military -- Pentagon officials have been portraying these as essentially routine. But the toll continues to mount as we look at the targets that have struck in the South. Can you still say that this is a routine level of activity, or has there been an increase in the U.S. response, understanding that just about every time the United States or its allies fly in the no-fly zones, Iraq provides some kind of provocation by shooting at the planes. But still, you decide when you're going to respond and how you're going to respond, and has there been an escalation?"
Pace: "I would certainly not use the term "routine." Any time we have folks getting airplanes flying over territory where they're being shot at every time they do is not a routine mission, and the response is not routine. And what has changed, I think, and what perhaps you may be referring to, is the number of events, as you look back over the last several years, is about on par with what has happened in the last couple of years. What has changed a little bit is the tactics that are being employed in response to that so that the air defense network in Iraq, which includes the radars and the buildings that have the command nodes in them and the airfields themselves, the response to that by the commanders on the ground has been to go after more of the targets like communications buildings, that are not easily moved, and striking those. So instead of going at the specific radar that was involved, which can easily be moved between the time the missile was fired and the time we're able to counter-strike, they're picking on targets that are still part of that continuum of air defense but that are not going to be (easily/able to be ?) moved and can be struck readily and provide appropriate level of response to that kind of provocation."
Q: "Did the recent strikes in the last weeks and months -- have you succeeded in degrading Iraq's air defenses because of that? And does that, in fact, lay the groundwork if there's potential military action against Iraq in the future?"
Pace: "The recent strikes have degraded the air defense capabilities."
Rumsfeld: "Oh, wait -- there's two aspects to that question. One is, have they degraded them on a relative basis, and have they degraded them on an absolute basis, net? Because they are constantly trying to improve them. They have been putting in fiber optic, and they have been doing a whole series of things -- developing queuing techniques."
"And I am not in a position to know if they have been net degraded. There is no question but that when a response option is executed, that some of the time but not all of the time, the battle- damage reports indicate that what you intended to do was some percentage accomplished. So you could say that's degrading. Whether it is degrading it faster than it is being improved no one not on the ground is in a position to respond to that."
Q: "General --"
Pace: "That's what the general meant to say." (Laughter.)
Q: "General Pace, you didn't really answer whether -- is that laying the groundwork for an Iraqi strike? In other words, why the change on this? Some might say this was just laying the groundwork"
Rumsfeld: "Well, it can't hurt. I directed it."
Q: "Why did you direct it?"
Rumsfeld: "Because it seemed right at the time. The -- I don't like the idea of our planes being shot at. We're there implementing U.N. resolutions. The -- it's not just the United States. It's the British, the coalition forces involved. And the idea that our planes go out and get shot at with impunity bothers me."
Q: "Can you --"
Q: "When did you direct the change?"
Rumsfeld: "And I don't like it. I don't like it. And so what we are doing is we are attempting to, in an orderly way, as the general indicated, arrange our response options in a way that we think -- hope -- we hope will be net harmful to their capabilities on the ground. We can't know for sure if it has been net harmful, but our intention is to make it net harmful."
Q: "But is this laying the groundwork for Iraq? That's the question."
Rumsfeld: "The President hasn't made a decision with respect to Iraq. Didn't I say that earlier? I thought I said that."
Q: "When did you order the change?"
Q: "When did you order this? When did this change take place, Mr. Secretary?"
Q: "Now?" (Laughter.)
Rumsfeld: "Less than a year -- less than a year and more than a week." (Laughter.) I think less than six months and more than a month."
Rumsfeld: "But I can't remember. I don't keep track of all -- I don't keep notes."
Q: "Can you take my question, please?"
Q: "Could someone take that question and get back to us?"
Q: "General, do you remember?"
Pace: "I remember it happening since I've been here, which was 1 October last year."
Pace: "Which is almost a year now. But I don't remember."
Q: "Will you take that question?"
Rumsfeld: "If you want to take the rhythm of what happened, what happened was that after I came, which is the extent of my knowledge -- or recollection, there had been a pattern of responses that had been relatively only marginally effective, both in the North and the South. And we were flying patterns that were getting us shot at. And our responses being what they were, at some point -- and I don't remember, I think it was this year -- at some point -- maybe it was, like, last year -- we decided, after a good deal of talk, General Pace, General Myers, others in the National Security Council, that it really did not make an awful lot of sense to be flying patterns that we were being shot at if in response, we were not doing any real damage that would make it worth putting pilots at risk. So we modified some of our flights to that they were then flying in areas that were less likely to put them at risk and more in keeping with the value of what we were achieving by doing it."
"You look at a cost-benefit ratio and you say, all right, you're willing to take that much of a risk because the benefit's this. So we modified it slightly. At some point, after we were able to review it over a period of time, it became pretty clear that there was a way to make the cost-benefit ratio make more sense, and at that stage we then changed it to go back to a set of flight patterns, but attached to those flight patterns, response options that we felt would give us a benefit that would merit the risks that were undertaken. That is kind of what the rhythm over time has been."
(To General Pace) "Is that your recollection, roughly?"
Pace: "Sir, that's correct."
Rumsfeld: "Now, what I'd like -- did that answer that question?"
Q: "Yes, a little bit. Could you explain tactically -- when I went over with your predecessor, they were -- the folks at Incirlik were actually really kind of excited about the work that they were doing, because by taking out these little tactical assets, there was going to be less shooting at them, and these are the things that are so hard to find, if indeed a war comes, whereas the buildings, as you said, can't be moved, and so they're easily targeted, if you need to do that."
"So can you explain tactically why going after a stationary target is of more value to the military than taking out the things that are actually targeting them?"
Rumsfeld: "I wouldn't say it's more valuable. I think both can be valuable. And one of the problems is that over time, the capabilities on the ground change. And, for example, as fiber optic was put in, and as queuing ability was developed and enhanced, what target would cause us the least grief in terms of risk to our pilots changed. And as you work your way through fixed targets, then they're gone -- unless they're replaced. As you attack moveable targets and get them, the question is can you get them faster than they can replace them through the relative porous borders they have with at least three countries on their periphery. So we ought not to think of it as a static situation."
Q: "On Iraqi air --"
Rumsfeld: "This is the last question."
Q: "On Iraqi air defenses, could the strikes against them have the effect, inadvertent or not, of degrading them in a way that would have -- lay the groundwork if we -- if the President went ahead and made the decision to attack? I mean --"
Rumsfeld: "Well, I think that goes back to the earlier question that General Pace and I both responded to. And there's no question but that to the extent they keep shooting at our airplanes and to the extent we keep engaging in response options and to the extent that those response options are harmful to their air defense, which they are, that that's good. Whether they're going to be net stronger or weaker in the event anything were to occur in the future, again, is a function of what kind -- how fast they're able to rebuild and replace and replenish that capability. So I don't know how one could answer it any more skillfully than the general did."
"Thank you. Good to see you all."
Although I've linked to it before, I'd like to draw attention again to NYU Journalism Chair Jay Rosen's pretty comprehensive accounting of the MSM's coverage of the Downing Street minutes since Michael Smith first broke the story on May 1st. Since I last linked to it, a week ago, Rosen has updated his post and there is a great ongoing discussion taking place in the comments section: "The Downing Street Memo and the Court of Appeal in News Judgment."
Rosen also added a link to an article that Arianna Huffington wrote at The Huffington Post which compared coverage of the DSM to reports about Michael Jackson and Natalee Holloway on the major network television newscasts from May 1st to June 20th: "Just Say Noruba."
Also, in an ongoing series, the PSoTD blog has been keeping track of the news articles about the DSM gathered from Google News as compared to the blog postings according to Technorati. On June 1st, PSoTD found 254 news articles and 1504 blog posts. In his latest progress report on June 25th, those numbers jumped to 2090 news articles and 9005 blog posts, which gives a rough idea how much the blogosphere has led this story and the effect that it's had on the mainstream media.
US Bombing Watch has a compilation of articles that appeared in the mainstream media which detail all the airstrikes in 2002, and other years (hat tip to Shockwave, a Daily Kos diarist for providing the link).
Another great resource is a Website started by yet another Daily Kos diarist named Timbuk3 called What We Knew, What We Were Told (The Stories That Led Us to War). It includes links to archived articles from the MSM ranging from March of 2002 to January of 2004 that can be viewed in a new light since the release of the Downing Street Memo.
Dissent From The Left
When I first read Michael Smith's May 29th Sunday Times article - linked to in a DKos diary by Welshman - which touched on the "spikes of activity" I was more than a little bit unimpressed. Right away, I noticed a mistake in the article and I posted a diary about it at Daily Kos that same night: "Time Out On The Sunday Times Story." I wrote:
"I don't want to get burnt because of crappy reporting but the numbers in the Sunday Times article that everyone is writing about do not compute."
Another Daily Kos diarist, leckavrea, agreed that there was "definitely something amiss."
But I've since learned that it was a misprint made by the Webmaster for Timesonline.com (which is responsible for posting The Sunday Times' articles) and not the fault of Michael Smith.
The phrase "a month" was accidently added to this sentence by the Timesonline Webmaster:
"However, between May 2002 and the second week in November, when the UN Security Council passed resolution 1441, which Goldsmith said made the war legal, British aircraft dropped 46 tons of bombs a month out of a total of 126.1 tons, or 36%."
According to a source, a correction should be made very shortly to the Website.
But I had other misgivings, as well. In the Daily Kos diary, I wrote:
"But the fact of the matter is that the bombings were going on for years...and that President Clinton did more than his share of bombing."
At the time, I hadn't found the House of Commons link to confirm Michael Smith's numbers and couldn't find a way to verify how many tons of bombs were dropped during President Clinton's last years in office. Again, from my Dkos diary:
"The best I could find was this article by Tariq Ali from October of 2000 in which he remarks on a statement by British Defence Minister Geoff Hoon which reads "Between 20 December 1998 and 17 May 2000, UK aircraft released 78 tons of ordnance over the southern no-fly zone, at an average of 5 tons per month."
"Tariq notes "In other words, over the past eighteen months the United States and United Kingdom have rained down some 400 tons of bombs and missiles on Iraq." But that is inaccurate, as well. The statement only referred to the southern no-fly zone: Operation Southern Watch. So if one assumes that the same amount of bombs were dropped in the northern no-fly zone, Operation Northern Watch, that would mean 800 tons of bombs were dropped in that 18 month period."
"Any way you figure it...there's no doubt that the number of bombings increased at the end of 2002, but I think it's wrong to run with this Sunday Times story since it's not very specific."
"I think this article is important in regards to Britain's escalation...but not ours."
(Since I wrote this diary, I've done some extensive research, and could pretty much assuredly say that I was way off on my guesstimation on how many tons were dropped in the northern no-fly zone.)
Downing Street Memo's georgia10 wrote a diary at Daily Kos on Sunday night in reaction to some similiar criticism: "In Response to "Who Cares"? - PreWar Bombing, etc." It was specifically directed at a comment left by Daily Kos diarist space on another DSM thread. Space mentioned four caveats that were ably countered by georgia10, and which I'm providing further evidence to back up.
First, space argued:
"Clinton was conducting similar bombing on a smaller scale. If this is the "smoking gun" then Clinton is guilt of war crimes as well, even if his smoking gun is of a smaller caliber."
"Clinton did NOT conduct similar bombing. The bombing conducted by the Bush adminstration was essentially unprovoked (subsequent self-defense by Iraq aside)."
One of the last significant military actions authorized by President George Herbert Walker Bush was a 100 airplane coalition assault, composed of American, British and French aircraft, "against Iraqi fixed air-defense and mobile missiles sites in southern Iraq" on January 13, 2003 (link). At a press briefing, U.S. Marine Corps General Joseph Hoar, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command, told the press that "the mission was prompted by Iraq's rebuff of a January 6 demarche by Russia, France, the United Kingdom and the United States to remove its surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites from below the 32nd parallel and to stop violating the no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq." Over the next seven days, smaller strikes followed.
Until U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 was passed on November 6th, 2002, the phrase "no-fly zone" never was explicitly mentioned in any of the prior resolutions that pertained to Iraq. But the last three Administrations have looked to resolutions 687 and 688 as giving them proper authorization.
This is taken from the summer 1994 Joint Force Quarterly magazine (pdf link):
"Joint Task Force Southwest Asia (JTF–SWA) was formed in August 1992 to conduct Operation Southern Watch in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolutions 687 and 688. JTF–SWA is often associated with enforcing the no-fly zone below the 32 d parallel in Iraq under resolution 688 which calls for the fair treatment of Iraqi minorities, including Shias in the marshes, and a no-fly zone to monitor Iraq’s compliance. But equally significant has been resolution 687 with its provisions on weapons of mass destruction, where JTF–SWA planned and, if directed, would conduct a campaign against Iraqi targets as a means of compelling compliance."
Not long after, the French dropped out of the coalition in disagreement with the legality of the no-fly zones.
The first significant airstrikes executed at the command of President Clinton occured in June of 1993; a direct retaliation in response to an attempted plot to kill former President George Herbert Walker Bush in April of that same year. From GlobalSecurity.org:
"Commencing at approximately 4:22 p.m. (EST) on 26 June 1993 US naval forces launched a Tomahawk cruise missile strike on the Iraqi Intelligence Service's (IIS) principal command and control complex in Baghdad. This facility is the headquarters for the IIS, which planned the failed attempt to assassinate former President Bush during his visit to Kuwait in April 1993. This US military action was completed upon impact of the missiles on target at approximately 6 p.m. (EST)."
Georgia10 also linked to a press briefing given by President Clinton three days later on June 29, 1993, in which he explained:
"I would remind you that the action I took was in response to an operation that involved a bomb that, had it exploded in downtown Kuwait City, had a 400-yard radius of lethal destruction. So, I think it was the appropriate thing to do."
Except for a military buildup in October of 1994 when Iraq seemed set to assault Kuwait before withdrawing its forces, it wasn't until September 6, 1996 that Clinton ordered another significant airstrike. Operation Desert Strike was launched after "elements of the Iraqi army attacked and captured the town of Irbil in the Kurdish autonomous region of northern Iraq" seven days earlier (link). 44 Tomahawks and 12 cruise missiles were launched against Iraqi military targets and, afterwards, the southern no-fly zone was extended from the 32nd to the 33rd parallel and it now included parts of southern Baghdad.
Aside from some continued controversy surrounding the legality of the no-fly zones, there really isn't question that the major bombing raids that took place during Clinton's first five years in office were undertaken as defensive measures, as opposed to the more offensive attacks that President George W. Bush later ordered.
But in 1998, the case wan't so clear-cut.
In an interview with Michael Smith published on June 27th, the Downing Street Memo bloggers asked him about the difference between the bombings under Bush and Clinton (link):
"Q: Some are equating the Bush administration's bombing in 2002 with the air strikes launched against Iraq under the Clinton administration. Is there any real difference? If so, what makes one more legal (or illegal) than the other?"
"A: The Desert Fox operation was launched by Clinton and Blair in December 1998 to punish Iraq for forcing out the weapons inspectors. Thereafter Iraqi air defences were attacked whenever the allies came under attack. The legality of this is disputed but the Foreign Office legal advice makes clear that both Britain and the US believed it to be legal. The period between December 1998 and May 2002 saw more bombs dropped than had been dropped before Desert Fox but nowhere near as many bombs as were dropped from May 2002 to the start of the war, or should I say the official start of the war. While what was going on between December 1998 and May 2002 was borderline legal. Spikes of activity to put pressure on the regime is illegal plain and simple. They were there to protect the ethnic minorities by preventing Iraqi aircraft overflying the areas inhabited by those minorities under UNSCR 688. That was not an Article VII resolution, which is the only type of UN resolution that allows for the use of military force to enforce it and the no-fly zones were certainly not put there to put pressure on the regime, for which read provoking the regime into giving the allies an excuse for war."
more to come...developing, as they say...
(hat tip to luke of wotisitgood4 for alerting me to the LA Times op-ed yesterday)
(Acknowledgements: Thanks to David Anderson of ISOU, Peter Daou of The Daou Report, After Downing Street's David Swanson here and here, Ryan Fenno at The Liberal Avenger, tcf at ThatColoredFellasweblog, The Heretik, Tas at Loaded Mouth, Roxanne Cooper at Rox Populi, Jude Nagurney Camwell at Iddybud , Shakespeare's Sister, Agitprop, Jay Rosen at Press Think, Luke at wotisitgood4, ~A! at Watching The Watchers, and Greg Beato at Wonkette for linking to this story. Also, Apian has a wonderful diary at Daily Kos which also links to this post - MSM WTF? dKos & RAWSTORY on "SPIKES OF ACTIVITY" - and is crossposted at The Booman Tribune. Thanks to Buzzflash, too, for linking to me under the title: "The Importance of the Downing Street Memo Reconfirmed.")
(If you have a blog...I'd appreciate a link...but if not...please, at least, go to the House of Commons Website linked above and post the charts that I did. This story needs to come out.)
Friday, June 24, 2005
Kerry's Still Fighting For Us
Just hours after learning about an outrageous speech delivered by Karl Rove, President Bush's most senior advisor, I went to the Senate floor -- and I spoke from my heart. I want to share those words with you -- not as a Democrat or Republican, not as a liberal or conservative -- but as an American.
I've attached part of my speech to the end of this email. But, before you read what I said, look again at what Karl Rove said:
(P)erhaps the most important difference between conservatives and liberals can be found in the area of national security. Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.
I hope you will join me right now in signing an open letter to the President urging him to thoroughly reject Karl Rove's purposeful attack on the patriotism of those who dare ask the tough questions that best protect American troops. Sign our open letter to President Bush now:
This isn't the first time that Karl Rove and other White House officials have sought to divide America in ways that make it harder to keep our country safe and our democracy strong. But, it should be the last. That's why I ended my speech with a call on President Bush to fire Karl Rove. It is the only way the President can make it clear that he rejects Rove's effort to distort one of the most unified and patriotic moments in American history into a cheap, divisive, political applause line.
That, of course, is what is most outrageous about Karl Rove's claim that President Bush's political opponents offered "therapy and understanding for our attackers." It isn't true. In the days after 9/11, there were no Democrats, no Republicans. We were all Americans, standing together. President Bush acknowledged that unity in a clear and compelling way at the time.
Now, Karl Rove is purposely twisting those days of unity in order to divide us for political gain. I hope you will act right now to join a growing chorus of Americans calling on the President to fire Karl Rove.
Please act right now. Sign our open letter to the President and pass it on to others. All Americans have to speak with one powerful voice in response to this outrage. I will continue speaking out and I know I can count on you to stand with me.
Make America Safe, Not Divided Excerpts of remarks by Senator John Kerry on the Senate floor on Thursday, June 23.
"None of us here will ever forget the hours after September 11... and the remarkable response of the American people as we came together as one to answer the attack on our homeland.... [I]t brought out the best of all of us in America.
That spirit of our country should never be reduced to a cheap, divisive political applause line from anyone who speaks for the President of the United States.
I am proud, as my colleagues on this side are, that after September 11, all of the people of this country rallied to President Bush's call for unity to meet the danger. There were no Democrats, there were no Republicans, there were only Americans. That is why it is really hard to believe that last night in New York... the most senior adviser to the President of the United States [was] purposely twisting those days of unity in order to divide us for political gain.
Rather than focusing attention on Osama bin Laden and finding him or rather than focusing attention on just smashing al-Qaida and uniting our effort, as we have been, he is, instead, challenging the patriotism of every American who is every bit as committed to fighting terror as is he.
Just days after 9/11, the Senate voted 98 to nothing, and the House voted 420 to 1, to authorize President Bush to use all necessary and appropriate force against terror. And after the bipartisan vote, President Bush said: "I'm gratified that the Congress has united so powerfully by taking this action. It sends a clear message. Our people are together and we will prevail."
That is not the message that was sent by Karl Rove in New York City last night. Last night, he said: "No more needs to be said about" their "motives."
I think a lot more needs to be said about Karl Rove's motives because they are not the people's motives... They are not the motives of a nation that found unity in that critical moment--Democrat and Republican alike, all of us as Americans.
If the President really believes his own words, if those words have meaning, he should at the very least expect a public apology from Karl Rove. And frankly, he ought to fire him. If the President of the United States knows the meaning of those words, then he ought to listen to the plea of Kristen Breitweiser, who lost her husband when the Twin Towers came crashing down. She said: "If you are going to use 9/11, use it to make this nation safer than it was on 9/11."
Karl Rove doesn't owe me an apology and he doesn't owe Democrats an apology. He owes the country an apology. He owes Kristen Breitweiser and a lot of people like her, those families, an apology. He owes an apology to every one of those families who paid the ultimate price on 9/11 and expect their government to be doing all possible to keep the unity of their country and to fight an effective war on terror.
The fact is, millions of Americans...are asking Washington for honesty, for results, and for leadership--not for political division. Before Karl Rove delivers another political assault, he ought to stop and think about those families and the unity of 9/11.
The Pentagon Marketing Draft
From today's New York Times, an article that might make you gasp written by Damien Cave ("Age 16 to 25? The Pentagon Has Your Number, and More"):
"The Defense Department and a private contractor have been building an extensive database of 30 million 16-to-25-year-olds, combining names with Social Security numbers, grade-point averages, e-mail addresses and phone numbers."
"The department began building the database three years ago, but military officials filed a notice announcing plans for it only last month. That is apparently a violation of the federal Privacy Act, which requires that government agencies accept public comment before new records systems are created."
But, of course, the wingnuts insist that only New York Democrat Congressman Charles Rangel wants a military draft.
So does David S. C. Chu, the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness:
"Congress wants to ensure the success of the volunteer force," he said at a reporters' roundtable in Washington. "Congress does not want conscription, the country does not want conscription. If we don't want conscription, you have to give the Department of Defense, the military services, an avenue to contact young people to tell them what is being offered. It would be naïve to believe that in any enterprise, that you are going to do well just by waiting for people to call you."
"The Web site for the Pentagon's Joint Advertising Market Research Studies division, which manages recruiting research and marketing for all four branches of the military, describes the database as "arguably the largest repository of 16-to-25-year-old youth data in the country, containing roughly 30 million records." It is managed by BeNOW Inc. of Wakefield, Mass., a marketing company that uses personal data to concentrate on customers."
"The database includes the names of more than 3.1 million graduating seniors, a list bought by the Pentagon, as well as the names of 4.7 million college students, Pentagon records show. Drawing information from motor vehicle records, Selective Service registrations and private vendors, it includes a variety of personal information, including grades, height, weight and Social Security numbers."
Yep. Nothing to worry about here. It's just a marketing tool.
(NOTE: Special thanks to The Dark Wraith for spending hours to help fix my blog. It's working properly on Internet Explorer...hopefully it'll be back to normal on Firefox, Safari, Opera and everything else.)
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Can anyone figure out why I have all that white space all of a sudden. I've tried everything...even decreasing the font for my blogroll...but no dice.
Karl Rove Must Go!
John Aravosis of America Blog was able to get thousands of people to write and call Microsoft which forced them to back away from backing away from defending gay rights: link.
Let's hope John is successful in his latest crusade.
On Wednesday, June 22nd, the Associated Press' Sam Dolnick reported:
"Speaking in a Manhattan ballroom just a few miles north of ground zero, Karl Rove said on Wednesday night that the Democratic party did not understand the consequences of the Sept. 11 attacks."
"Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Rove said. "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war."
"Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said we will defeat our enemies. Liberals saw what happened to us and said we must understand our enemies."
Even worse, as John points out:
"All the media is reporting on Rove's hideous comments about how Democrats don't "get" 9/11. But the part of the story they keep missing and not mentioning is what ELSE Rove said. And I quote:
"Has there ever been a more revealing moment this year?" Mr. Rove asked. "Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."
John added, "The MOTIVES of liberals. I.e., liberals aren't just recklessly getting our troops killed, it's apparently OUR MOTIVE to actually GET THEM KILLED."
This is inexcusable. This goes far beyond anything Senator Durbin implied. This isn't coming from a Fox reporter. This is coming from the White House.
John's written a number of posts detailing angry reactions from the Democrats and clueless reactions from the White House which see no need for Karl Rove to apologize...let alone resign.
Go to Americablog and read more and to see how you can help. Call your congressmen. Call Karl Rove's office (John posted his office phone number). This kind of inflammatory rhetoric is a disgrace to the presidency and tarnishes our nation.
It's almost like a game, right now.
While we demand the right wingers to stand up for what they believe in and enlist to fight this war in Iraq that they think is so essential, they attack us for not supporting the troops.
But no liberals have caused the death of any of our troops.
The right wingers are responsible for 1728 American deaths and counting...and that's a fact...not rhetoric.
Real Republicans Rise!
President Bush might be known in an many circles as the smirking chimp, but David Brooks, the insufferable op-ed columnist for The New York Times sports an eternal smirk.
The man is a fool.
In his latest column - "Iraq and the Polls" - Brooks damns the polls that reveal that "[s]ixty percent of Americans say they want to withdraw some or all troops" since that would result in "ruinous consequences for American power and prestige."
The illegal invasion of Iraq has already resulted in "ruinous consequences for American power and prestige" yet Brooks doesn't opine on that.
No. To Brooks, those that support the troops and want them to come home - this generation - only care about our own "personal vindication."
We care about the troops. We care about the thousands of thousands of innocents who have been martyred so that the neocons who have hijacked the Republican Party and our country (and the world) can secure the oil in the Middle East and lay the plans for a Pax Americana.
But Brooks makes a typical wingnut mistake in his attack on the polls.
Brooks cherrypicks polls to combat the polls that don't fit in his thesis:
"Besides, the vast majority of those serving in Iraq, and their families, said they voted to re-elect President Bush. They seem to want to finish the job."
Hence the smirk.
On a related note, Brooks tries to defend his pro-war punditry from the conforts of his office: "Some of you will respond that this is easy for me to say, since I'm not over there."
Hell, yeah. You're a cowardly chickenhawk talking out of your ass.
Jesus' General has the right idea. The best way to shut up cowardly chickenhawks is to confront them with what they are willing to do for their country.
Jesus' General tried to place this ad in the Official Program of the Young Republican National Convention:
But it was turned down because - as the General put it - such an ad would "put a harsh on their buzz."
Real Republicans Rise!
Real Republicans rise and reclaim your party.
Your party has been hijacked. Pledge your allegiance to the fundamental democratic values of this country and tell the far right that it doesn't speak for you.
Real Republicans may have voted for President Bush because they felt that he has kept us safe since September 11th, but many of them are beginning to realize that the war in Iraq was wrong and that it diverted us from the real enemy: Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, who are still on the loose and probably plotting.
Real Republicans rise and call the wingnuts what they are. Cowards.
Check out this exchange from the June 21st Press Briefing with Scott McConnell:
Q: "Is the President concerned about the recruitment being down in his home country, he can't get -- you know, some day you may give a war and no one will come? And, also, the second part of the question, is there any member of the Bush clan who is in the military service now, that you know of?"
MR. McCLELLAN: "I'd have to go check; that's a pretty large clan, as you --"
Q: "Would you do that?"
MR. McCLELLAN: "-- as you referred to. In terms of -- and certainly there are members of the family that have served and served very admirably in the Armed Forces."
Q: "I'm not talking about the past, I'm talking about now."
MR. McCLELLAN: "And in terms of your question on recruitment and the recruiting efforts, I think the Department of Defense has briefed on that recently and they've talked about their efforts to address some of the concerns that you bring up. I would refer you --"
Q: "I asked if the President was concerned."
MR. McCLELLAN: "Yes, it's something he talks to his military leaders about, and they keep him apprised of their efforts."
Q: "Is the President concerned?"
MR. McCLELLAN: "I'm sorry?"
Q: "Is the President concerned?"
MR. McCLELLAN: "Well, it's something he's kept apprised about, but I think you ought to look at the Department of Defense, and the way they have characterized it is the way I would --"
Q: "I heard -- I heard Rumsfeld on the --"
MR. McCLELLAN: "-- is the way I would characterize it. They briefed on it recently, and they talked about their efforts to do a better job of recruiting people to volunteer for the military forces."
As Markos of Daily Kos - a military veteran who is attacked as being anti-military (though I don't always agree with him) - eloquently put it: "Why can't the White House give the Pentagon a little help and urge the nation to enlist, to help fight their war? Because it might call into question the refusal of the Bush clan to make the sacrifice themselves?"
Real Republicans Rise!