February 15, 2006

The Press Finally Gets More Abu Ghraib Photos

Posted by Eric Jaffa
February 15, 2006 @ 7:08 am
Filed under: Government, Free Press

Details at a Daily Kos diary by waitingtoderail, including photos of men at the prison in Iraq who appear to be tortured by the US.

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Although a US judge last year granted the union access to the photographs following a freedom-of-information request, the US Administration has appealed against the decision on the grounds their release would fuel anti-American sentiment.

Unfortunately, interrogation techniques in the Army Field Manual are classifed as of December 2005, and so while the public now has more information available on what has been done in the past, we’re still in the dark about what is going on now.

The public has a right to know about the interrogation techniques which our tax dollar are paying for. Democracy and secrecy don’t go together.




MSNBC Scrubbed Alcohol Issue About Cheney From Their Website

Posted by Eric Jaffa
February 14, 2006 @ 7:20 pm
Filed under: Government, Free Press

Details in a Daily Kos diary by Johnny Cougar.

Image of article as it orginally appeared via Raw Story.




Propaganda Fight “Struck Out”

Posted by Eric Jaffa
February 14, 2006 @ 4:23 pm
Filed under: Government, Free Press, TV

The Bush Administration produces fake TV news.

The pieces which are sometimes played on the local news are called “video news releases,” and may include dubious reports on the greatness of Bush’s Medicare bill. This is a big program; the “Bush administration has spent $1.6 billion in public relations contracts since 2003.”

The fight against this propaganda isn’t going well.

There is a bill in Congress to address covert propaganda, the Lautenberg-Kerry “Truth in Broadcasting Act.” It requires “clear notification” and it may or may not pass. But if it does pass, that isn’t enough.

The original bill required disclosure throughout the video. However:

[Struck out->] `(A) to be visible for the entire duration of the prepackaged news story; and [< -Struck out]

[Struck out->] `(B) to include the conspicuous display of the statement `PRODUCED BY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT’; and [< -Struck out]

That good part of the bill was “struck out” (between April 28, 2005 when the good version was in the Senate and December 20, 2005 when the bad version was in the Senate.)

Instead, we have the vague and nearly worthless “clear notification” requirement.

It’s too easy for a news department to ignore a quick message on a video that it’s from the government and not tell the audience. If there were a requirement for a graphic throughout which said, “PRODUCED BY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT” at least if the new department considered deleting it they’d probably have a sense that it would be unethical.




The Village Voice: Moving to the Right?

Posted by Eric Jaffa
February 13, 2006 @ 3:29 pm
Filed under: Free Press, Media Concentration

From fair.org:

San Francisco Bay Guardian: Lacey to Voice Staff: Drop dead (2/10/06) by Tim Redmond

The legally questionable merger of the Village Voice and New Times Media makes the two largest alternative newspaper groups in the U.S. into one massively powerful chain—and its owners lose no time in reportedly ordering an end to what remained of the once-strong critical stance of the Voice.

According to sources who were present at the meeting, [owner Mike Lacey] announced that the Voice news section was too soft because it was full of commentary and criticism of the Bush administration. He said he didn’t want any more commentary.

As far as I know, the merger is legal. That doesn’t mean that current US law concerning media concentration is as tough as it should be.

More media concentration and another news organization moving to the right is bad for consumers.




Dick Cheney and Leaks

Posted by Eric Jaffa
February 10, 2006 @ 11:21 am
Filed under: Government, Free Press

From Democracy Now!:

New evidence has emerged linking Vice President Dick Cheney to the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Investigative journalist Murray Waas has revealed testimony from Lewis “Scooter” Libby – Cheney’s indicted former chief of staff — before a federal grand jury. Libby testified he had been “authorized” by Cheney and other White House “superiors” to disclose classified information to journalists to defend the Bush administration’s use of prewar intelligence in making the case to invade Iraq.

Larry Johnson, a former intelligence official and colleague of Plame’s said: “This was not some rogue operation, but was directed at the highest levels, and specifically by Dick Cheney. Libby was definitely a man with a mission, but a man who was given a mission.”

This isn’t saying that Cheney authorized the Valerie Plame leak. But Cheney authorizing the leak of other classified information makes it a plausible possibility.

From another article at Democracy Now!:

[Journalist Murray] Waas bases his article in part on a recent letter written by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s to Libby’s attorney.

Fitzgerald writes, “Mr. Libby testified in the grand jury that he had contact with reporters in which he disclosed the content of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) … in the course of his interaction with reporters in June and July 2003.

Fitzgerald went on to write, “We also note that it is our understanding that Mr. Libby testified that he was authorized to disclose information about the NIE to the press by his superiors.”




“No Gods. No Masters.”

Posted by Eric Jaffa
February 9, 2006 @ 12:59 pm
Filed under: General, Obscene!, Ban It!, Free Press, Radio

Katrina vanden Heuvel is the editor of the magazine “The Nation.”

About a year ago, Katrina vanden Heuvel was a guest on the radio show The Majority Report with Janeane Garofalo.

When the conversation turned to Martin Luther King, Katrina vanden Heuvel said she doesn’t look up to him as a hero. Her reason was partly that he stayed at her house when she was a child and she witnessed his extramarital affairs.

The other aspect was that Katrina vanden Heuvel’s philosophy. She said she believe in “No gods. No masters.”

Today, I was reading an online biography of Margaret Sanger by Rachel Galvin, and I found where Katrina vanden Heuvel probably got that phrase:

Sanger began her own newspaper, The Woman Rebel, in 1914. The Woman Rebel’s motto read, “NO GODS. NO MASTERS,” and each issue proclaimed, “A Woman’s Duty: To look the whole world in the face with a go-to-hell look in the eyes; to have an ideal; to speak and act in defiance of convention.”

Written for working-class women, the paper promised to delineate precisely how to avoid conception through “birth control,” a term Sanger and Otto Bobsein coined to avoid the fashionable circumlocutions of “family limitation” and “voluntary motherhood.”

After six monthly issues of The Woman Rebel, Sanger was indicted for obscenity.

Instead of facing trial and a potential thirty-year prison sentence, she fled the country.




Secrecy in Los Angeles, California

Posted by Eric Jaffa
February 8, 2006 @ 8:26 am
Filed under: Government, Free Press

From the AP article, “L.A. Stops Naming Officers in Shootings:”

The city Police Commission is no longer releasing the names of officers involved in shootings.

The Police Commission made the change, overturning a 25-year-old policy, because officers’ identities are protected under state law, said commission President John W. Mack.

Police union officials had long argued that releasing officers’ names could expose them to danger, and union official had indicated they were prepared to sue over the disclosures, said Hank Hernandez, the organization’s general counsel.

…The commission decided to make the change at a meeting two months ago, officials said.

Critics of the change say officers have to be made accountable for their actions.

Part of the bargain when you get a badge and a gun is accountability,” said Jeffrey C. Eglash, a former inspector general for the Police Commission. “Although police officers, like any employees, have an interest in privacy, their jobs are unlike any other in that they have the power to arrest and to use deadly force.”

How many cases are there of police officers being killed at home because the press reported they were involved in shootings? I’m aware of none. If there is one or more case which I don’t know about, that doesn’t justify this secrecy.

This is a disgusting breach of the public’s right to know. The public should have all the information about police shootings, including the names of everyone involved.




Bush Doesn’t Want to “Cut” Poor Children’s Health Care

Posted by Eric Jaffa
February 7, 2006 @ 1:24 am
Filed under: Media Watch, Free Press

It’s not a “cut,” it’s “savings!”

At least that is how AP writer Martin Crutsinger phrases it:

And in mandatory programs so-called because the government must provide benefits to all who qualify the president is seeking over the next five years savings of $36 billion in Medicare, $5 billion in farm subsidy programs, $4.9 billion in Medicaid support for poor children’s health care and $16.7 billion in additional payments from companies to shore up the government’s besieged pension benefit agency.

I also learned from this AP article that teachers are “special interests.” I always thought of corprorations as “special interests,” but whatever.

President Bush, constrained by wars, hurricanes and exploding budget deficits, has sent Congress a 2007 spending plan that is garnering howls of pain from farmers, teachers, doctors and a wide array of other groups with special interests.

And Bush isn’t responsible for wars or deficits, he’s just “constrained” by them.




Watch “Larry King” Monday Night

Posted by Eric Jaffa
January 29, 2006 @ 6:14 pm
Filed under: Media Watch, Free Press, TV, Radio

Randi Rhodes is a liberal radio host on Air America.

Dennis Prager is a conservative radio host.

They will be tangling on “Larry King Live” tomorrow.

From a mass email from Air America Radio:

Monday night at 9, Randi Rhodes will be on CNN’s Larry King Live! She’ll be participating in a panel discussion along with Jim Hightower and Dennis Prager discussing Alito, the upcoming State of the Union Address and more. Watch Larry King Live on CNN at 9pm EST.

You can watch a clip of the last time Randi Rhodes went up against a conservative at Crooks and Liars (it shows Rhodes vs. conservative radio host Janet Parshall on C-Span in October 2005.)

« Post-Show Update Monday Night »

Randi Rhodes, Jim Hightower, and Dennis Prager weren’t on after all.

Apparently, the “Larry King Live” producers had a change of plan.

Instead, Larry King discussed Jill Carroll and Bob Woodruff.

Guests included Bob Schieffer, Peter Arnett, Christiane Amanpour, and others. The guests agreed that reporters should get close to wartime stories in spite of the danger.

Bob Schieffer said that in a tyranny, there is only one version of events reported: the government version. But in a democracy, reporters need to go out and get another version of events.




Changes to ‘The Daily Howler’

Posted by Eric Jaffa
January 19, 2006 @ 8:31 am
Filed under: Government, Media Watch, Free Press

One of the best media-watch websites is The Daily Howler by Bob Somerby.

The Daily Howler frequently criticizes the press for making up stories about Al Gore from 1997-2000 (that he claimed to have invented the internet, that he lied about the novel “Love Story,” that he was advised by Naomi Wolf to wear earth-tones).

For the past few months, The Daily Howler has often been talking about education and how that is covered in the press than other media issues.

Yesterday, Bob Somerby wrote that he is going to start a separate education website in a few weeks, and only update The Daily Howler occasionally, with articles which aren’t about education.

Also in yesterday’s Daily Howler, he accused New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd of hypocrisy.

First he quotes Dowd as writing in yesterday’s Times that Al Gore and John Kerry “could have stopped W. and Dick Cheney before they undid 230 years of American democracy, didn’t, because they allowed themselves to be painted as girlie men. “

Then Bob Somerby notes:

During Campaign 2000, Gore “allowed himself to be painted as a girlie man,” Dowd laments. But she forgets to say who provided the paint—a harpy by the name of Maureen Dowd.

Yes, when it came to painting Gore as girlie, few were more deeply involved than Mo Dowd. Along with Frank Rich, she invented the ludicrous Love Story nonsense back in the fall of 1997. And two autumns later, she stood in the forefront as her class charged Gore with “girlie-man” crimes for dealing with vile Naomi Wolf. Dowd had long had a problem with Wolf, who is smarter, more sincere…than she. Result? When it turned out that Wolf was advising Gore (she had also advised the ’96 Clinton campaign), Dowd invented fake facts and phony quotes, putting the skirts on poor Al. “[W]hen a man has to pony up a fortune to a woman to teach him how to be a man, that definitely takes the edge off his top-dogginess,” Dowd deliciously wrote—reciting the utterly fatuous line the RNC was enthusiastically pimping. Al Gore paid a woman to teach him to be a man! All the flunkies and hacks were reciting—but none with more feeling than Dowd.




Baseball Statistics and Free Speech

Posted by Eric Jaffa
January 19, 2006 @ 6:45 am
Filed under: Free Speech, Free Press, Courts

From Kevin of Lean Left:

On Tuesday, I heard Keith Olbermann talking about MLB suing some stats provider. MLBs claim was apparently that the stats and statistical profiles of major league players were the property of MLB and the players association. They were arguing not that a particular record of the stats was protected under the country’s IP laws, but that all stats everywhere were.

…MLB is arguing that they own the statistics to all baseball games, no matter who records them or in what format they are recorded. Your scorecards form the game, the USA Today box scores, and the ESPN scroll all belong to MBL under this line of reasoning. I sincerely hope that I am either misunderstanding their argument or that this will get laughed out of court.

The fact that it got this far, however, is another black mark against our intellectual property laws. In our intellectual property regime, it is possible to patent a gene…and MLB is arguing that it is possible to copyright not a particular recording of a historical event but the actual event itself. How did we get to the point where this kind of nonsense is actually advanced by a reputable law firm?

The AP has more:

A company that runs sports fantasy leagues is asking a federal court to decide whether major leaguers’ batting averages and home run counts are historical facts that can be used freely or property that can be sold.




Iraqi Kidnappers Threaten to Kill Female Journalist Unless All Female Prisoners in Iraq Released

Posted by Eric Jaffa
January 18, 2006 @ 10:36 am
Filed under: General, Government, Free Press, Courts

From Democracy Now!

The captors of a kidnapped US journalist in Iraq have threatened to kill her unless US forces release all female prisoners in the country. On Tuesday, the Arabic television network Al-Jazeera broadcast a videotape of Jill Carroll, a 28-year old freelance reporter working for the Christian Science Monitor. It was the first time she has been seen since she was seized in Baghdad earlier this month. The video contained no audio. Al-Jazeera said the captors identified themselves as members the previously unknown group the “Brigades of Vengeance.” The group gave a 72-hour deadline for the US to comply with their demand.

The kidnappers are murderous morons who already killed Jill Carroll’s translator.

But while we have murderous morons in America, too, we don’t have situations like this of kidnappings to demand the release of a prisoner (or none I’ve heard of). That is because there is the due process of law in the US, where people who are arrested get a phone call, an attorney, a trial, appeals, etc.

In Iraq, the US military imprisons people for as long as it chooses without due process, and apparently that has inspired these murderous morons to try this doomed strategy for getting the female Iraqi prisoners released.

It’s not the military’s fault.

It’s the fault of civilians such as former Coalition Provisional Authority head Paul Bremer who should have established the due process of law in Iraq during his tenure.

George W. Bush rewarded the failure of Paul Bremer by giving him a medal.

« More On Female Prisoners of the US Military »

From NBC News:

U.S. forces in Iraq confirmed on Wednesday they were holding eight women prisoners.

“We have eight females. They are being held for the same reasons as the others, namely that they are a threat to security,” said Lieutenant Aaron Henninger, a spokesman for the U.S. military detentions operation. Some 14,000 men are held at Abu Ghraib and other jails on suspicion of insurgent activity.

If there is evidence that any of those eight women committed a crime, including plotting something, how about a trial?




Books and Fact-Checkers

Posted by Eric Jaffa
January 15, 2006 @ 4:32 pm
Filed under: Media Watch, Free Press

James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces” is a fictional book marketed as non-fiction.

I previously wrote about it as “Oprah Winfrey Promoted a Phony Book On Her TV Show.

Here is an excerpt from an article by Ian Brown, which covers the issue of fact-checkers:

Then came the next cry: Where were the publisher’s fact-checkers? I have news for you: Publishers generally don’t check facts. Hell, they barely edit. I’d be willing to wager this newspaper is edited five times more carefully than almost any book you’ve read in five years. Publishers claim they can’t afford it.

As one of the millions of people who buy non-fiction books, I find the lack of fact-checkers troubling.

The article proceeds to name an editor at Random House’s Doubleday, Nan Talese, as one of the people responsible for this fraud. And she doens’t regret it, apparently:

Hence the second weakness exposed by the Frey fracas: The publishing industry’s conveniently loosey-goosey attitude toward separating “facts” from “fiction” in highly profitable “memoirs.”

Even Nan Talese, the top-rank editor who published the Frey book, was quoted in The New York Times defending Mr. Frey’s inventions as a memoirist’s right. “Memoir,” she said, “is personal recollection. It is not absolute fact.”

Her husband, the famous New Journalist Gay Talese, came out in the same story saying the opposite. “Non-fiction takes no liberty with the facts, and it should not,” he said. “All writers should be held accountable.”

He’s right. It’s not quantum physics, after all. If you made it up, it’s fiction. I’m not talking about changing names, or subjectively remembering a conversation that took place long ago, all of which seems defensible in a memoir. But inventing a three-month jail term? That’s a spitball.

Regarding changing names in a memoir, I think it’s acceptable if you tell the reader when introducing each person with a changed name. I don’t consider it acceptable to just make a blanket statement that some names were changed. James Frey’s book doesn’t inform readers at all about changed names in the current edition.

Regarding the editor behind this fraud, Nan Talese, Slate’s Seth Mnookin writes:

If a novelist wrote a book run through with these kind of straight-from-Central-Casting chestnuts, he’d be politely told to try again … as Frey says he was, by 17 different publishers, before, Frey says, Doubleday’s Nan Talese said she’d publish his novel if he recast it as a memoir.

If Random House’s Doubleday wants to regain credibility for its non-fiction, asking Nan Talese to resign would be a good place to start.

« The Point of Rehab Stories From the Rich? »

Ian Brown quotes John Dolan:

Rehab stories provide a way for…trust-fund brats like Frey to claim victim status. [They] already have money, security and position and now want to corner the market in suffering and scars, the consolation prizes of the truly lost. It’s a fitting literary metonymy for the Bush era: The rich have decided to steal it all, even the tears of the losers.




Michelle Malkin Embarasses Herself

Posted by Eric Jaffa
January 13, 2006 @ 6:18 am
Filed under: Government, Media Watch, Free Press

A supposed bomb found in the bathroom of a San Francisco Starbucks turned out to be nothing more than an old flashlight which a homeless man had left there.

Check out the dubious way that conservative blogger Michelle Malkin reacted to the initial reports:

Just sharing this info, FYI: Bay Area moonbats have quite a history of Starbucks-bashing. See here, here, here, and here. Apparently, they don’t think the left-leaning corporation is guilty enough about its profits or organically pure enough for their caffeine-stained tastebuds.

Whoever it was that left the IED in Starbucks ought to face serious consequences for endangering people’s lives. But it’s the Bay Area. So they won’t.

***

Reader Daniel G. notes of the SF Chronicle’s coverage that it refers vaguely to “vandals” who have “targeted San Francisco Starbucks in the past,'’ but leaves out who or why.

Once again, left-wing terrorism and violence gets a pass in the MSM. The Chronicle was equally coy when left-wing terrorist groups like ELF exploded devices at Emeryville’s Chiron headquarters. But if a right-wing anti-abortion group placed a pipe bomb at a Planned Parenthood office, you wouldn’t see such vague “vandals” descriptions.

***

Update: A suspect has been arrested.

Update II: 1/12/06

SFChronicle reports… Starbucks ‘bomb’ found to be harmless
Preliminary tests apparently find no explosive material

(more…)




Good Coverage of Samuel Alito and Overturning the Right to Abortion in Today’s Washington Post

Posted by Eric Jaffa
January 12, 2006 @ 7:24 am
Filed under: Government, Media Watch, Free Press, Courts

An article by Amy Goldstein and Charles Babington via DC Media Girl:

Alito edged closer to suggesting that he might be willing to reconsider Roe if he is confirmed to the high court, refusing, under persistent questioning by Democrats, to say that he regards the 1973 decision as “settled law” that “can’t be reexamined.” In this way, his answers departed notably from those that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. gave when asked similar questions during his confirmation hearings four months ago.

…A group supporting abortion rights, Republican Majority for Choice, announced it is opposing his nomination. Five GOP senators are on its advisory committee, including [Republican Senator Arlen] Specter.

Asked about the group’s stance, Specter, who has said he will not decide how he will vote until after the hearings, said: “I did not participate in their decision.”




Oprah Winfrey Promoted a Phony Book On Her TV Show

Posted by Eric Jaffa
January 12, 2006 @ 6:23 am
Filed under: General, Media Watch, Free Press, TV

The book is “A Million Little Pieces,” a work of fiction falsely marketed as factual.

Will Oprah Winfrey have to resign, or is there one standard for celebrities like Dan Rather who have been labelled “liberal” and a different standard for everyone else?

While Dan Rather apologized for his mistake (after Bill Burkett admitted lying about his source), Oprah Winfrey’s website keeps promoting this fraudulent book. Briefly clicking around her website, I didn’t find any mention that the book is a fraud. Maybe there is a mention of that somewhere on her website, but her website is not upfront about it at as of this morning. The Smoking Gun revealed the fraud on January 8.

Oprah Winfrey said the issue of falsehoods in the book is “much ado about nothing,” speaking by phone last night to Larry King on CNN.

As for the publishers of the book, Random House’s Doubleday:

Doubleday and Vintage Anchor, said in a statement Tuesday that “recent accusations against him notwithstanding, the power of the overall reading experience is such that the book remains a deeply inspiring and redemptive story for millions of readers.”

That position infuriates Mary Karr, author of the famous 1995 memoir “The Liars’ Club.”

“With three million books in print, that’s a very convenient stance for Doubleday to take,” Karr said in a telephone interview.

The publishers are offering a refund, though.

James Wolcott writes:

I’m just automatically suspicious of every tale of woe that’s peddled as a tale of redemption. The whole concept of redemption seems fishy to me, another form of sentimentality. How many people do you know have found redemption? What does “redemption” really mean? It’s got a lofty religious sound, but the vast majority of people improve or worsen in varying degrees over time, and even those who radically turn their lives around or pull themselves out of the abyss still have to go on doing the mundane things we all do, often suffering relapses or channeling their sobriety and sadder-but-wiser maturity into passive-aggressive preening of their own moral goodness. Most change for better or worse is undramatic, incremental, seldom revealed in a blinding flash or expressed in a climactic moment of heroic resolve.




Bush Won’t Be Held Accountable For Suggesting Bombing Al-Jazeera…

Posted by Eric Jaffa
January 10, 2006 @ 4:45 pm
Filed under: Government, Free Press

…but two British men who helped the public learn about the remark will stand trial in the UK.

Background from a Washington Post article published in November:

President Bush expressed interest in bombing the headquarters of the Arabic television network al-Jazeera during a White House conversation with Prime Minister Tony Blair in April 2004, a British newspaper reported Tuesday.

The Daily Mirror report was attributed to two anonymous sources describing a classified document they said contained a transcript of the two leaders’ talk. One source is quoted as saying Bush’s alleged remark concerning the network’s headquarters in Qatar was “humorous, not serious,” while the other said, “Bush was deadly serious.”

The public should be able to read the memo and judge for ourselves.

The latest from Reuters:

A court on Tuesday ordered two men to face trial on charges of leaking a memo that a lawmaker said described a plan by U.S. President George W. Bush to bomb Arabic television station Al Jazeera.

The defendents, civil servant David Keogh and Leo O’Connor, a researcher who worked for a former lawmaker, face a preliminary hearing on January 24 on charges of breaking the Official Secrets Act and their lawyers are pushing for the secret document to be disclosed.

…The attorney general has warned media they will be breaking the law if they publish details of the document.

Member of Parliament Peter Kilfoyle told Reuters on Tuesday that he had been briefed on its contents by Tony Clarke, the lawmaker who employed O’Connor, after he received a copy.

“He made me aware of the contents,” said Kilfoyle. “There was a discussion about bombing Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar and also about the attack on (the Iraqi town) Falluja.”

“My understanding … is that Blair and (former U.S. Secretary of State) Colin Powell were against the bombing of Al Jazeera,” said Kilfoyle, who opposed Britain joining the U.S. in invading Iraq, as did other rebel Labour party members.

…In 2001, …[an Al Jazeera] station’s Kabul office was hit by U.S. bombs and in 2003 Al Jazeera reporter Tareq Ayyoub was killed in a U.S. strike on its Baghdad office. The U.S. has denied targeting the station.

I hope the British men on trial are acquitted. They’re whistle-blowers.

A strange aspect of this story is that the memo (about Bush talking about bombing Al Jazeera) still hasn’t been published. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s adminstration has threatened the British press against publishing the memo, but why hasn’t someone given the memo to a US newspaper?




US Soldiers Break Into a Reporter’s Home, Take His Videotapes, and Put a Hood On His Head

Posted by Eric Jaffa
January 9, 2006 @ 5:00 pm
Filed under: Government, Free Press

Reporting on Iraq from the UK Guardian:

American troops in Baghdad yesterday blasted their way into the home of an Iraqi journalist working for the Guardian and Channel 4, firing bullets into the bedroom where he was sleeping with his wife and children.

Ali Fadhil, who two months ago won the Foreign Press Association young journalist of the year award, was hooded and taken for questioning. He was released hours later.

Dr Fadhil is working with Guardian Films on an investigation for Channel 4’s Dispatches programme into claims that tens of millions of dollars worth of Iraqi funds held by the Americans and British have been misused or misappropriated.

Explanation of the military:

The troops told Dr Fadhil that they were looking for an Iraqi insurgent and seized video tapes he had shot for the programme. These have not yet been returned.

Explanation of a film director:

The director of the film, Callum Macrae, said yesterday: “The timing and nature of this raid is extremely disturbing. It is only a few days since we first approached the US authorities and told them Ali was doing this investigation, and asked them then to grant him an interview about our findings.

“We need a convincing assurance from the American authorities that this terrifying experience was not harassment and a crude attempt to discourage Ali’s investigation.”

If the soldiers return the video promptly , I’ll believe that they were just looking for someone else. If the soldiers don’t return the video promptly, then I’ll believe this was the intimidation of a journalist.

More on what happnened:

Dr Fadhil was asleep with his wife, their three-year-old daughter, Sarah, and seven-month-old son, Adam, when the troops forced their way in.

“They fired into the bedroom where we were sleeping, then three soldiers came in. They rolled me on to the floor and tied my hands. When I tried to ask them what they were looking for they just told me to shut up,” he said.




Samuel Alito Is Corrupt; He Doesn’t Belong on the Supreme Court

Posted by Eric Jaffa
January 8, 2006 @ 7:52 pm
Filed under: Action, Government, Media Watch, Free Press, Courts

George W. Bush has nominated Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court; Senate hearing start tomorrow.

The media-watch organization “Media Matters for America” covers media myths about Samuel Alito.

One involves Samuel Alito’s corrupt actions in judging a case with a company he owned more than $390,00 in mutual funds through, Vanguard. Alito ruled in favor of Vanguard.

Alito promised not to judge Vanguard cases, but did anyway.

Alito told the Senate in 1990:

I do not believe that conflicts of interest relating to my financial interests are likely to arise. I would, however, disqualify myself from any cases involving the Vanguard companies, the brokerage firm of Smith Barney, or the First Federal Savings & Loan of Rochester, New York.

Yet “the New York Times has repeated without challenge Alito’s claim that the pledge he made in 1990 to recuse himself in such cases was limited to ‘the initial period’ after his confirmation.”

Samuel Alito is too corrupt for the Supreme Court. Senators should filibuster him.

« Take Action »

Please call your Senators’ offices and leave a message requesting a filibuster.

You can find phone numbers of Senators’ offices by entering their last names on the top-left of www.vote-smart.org.




NBC Alters Transcript Regarding Bush Administration Spying On Reporter Christiane Amanpour

Posted by Eric Jaffa
January 5, 2006 @ 12:46 am
Filed under: Government, Media Watch, Free Press

New York Times reporter James Risen has a new book out, State of War, about spying by the Bush Administration.

Andrea Mitchell interviewed him for the January 3 edition of “NBC Nightly News.” The interview was longer then the video which NBC aired. NBC put the transcript of the full interview online, but then took out part of it.

The deleted portion:

Andrea Mitchell: You don’t have any information, for instance, that a very prominent journalist, Christiane Amanpour, might have been eavesdropped upon?

James Risen: No, no I hadn’t heard that.

How NBC explains the deletion:

Unfortunately this transcript was released prematurely. It was a topic on which we had not completed our reporting, and it was not broadcast on ‘NBC Nightly News’ nor on any other NBC News program. We removed that section of the transcript so that we may further continue our inquiry.

Christiane Amanpour is a reporter for CNN.

She was critical of the Iraq War reporting of CNN and other news network:

CNN’s top war correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, says that the press muzzled itself during the Iraq war. And, she says CNN “was intimidated” by the Bush administration and Fox News, which “put a climate of fear and self-censorship.”

It isn’t clear yet if the Bush Administration spied on Christiane Amanpour, let alone if her more critical attitude towards the Iraq War caused them to decide to spy on her.

Let’s assume for a moment that the Bush Administration didn’t spy on her or any other reporters. The problem remains with warrant-less wiretapping that they can spy on whomever they want with no oversight. Then they expect us to take their word on the only targets being known terrorists. George W. Bush has admitted ordering warrant-less wiretapping.

To anyone who hold the position that warrant-less wiretapping for national security is desirable: an administration’s definition of “national security” may not match your own. An administration may define “national security” in terms of its own interests, since they regard themselves as the ones protecting the nation.

Hence, the reason warrants are required by law; warrants can be obtained for national security purposes up to 72 hours after the eavesdropping begins.

Note: The changed transcript was noticed by the blogger Atrios.




Justice Dept Wants to Punish Whistle Blower

Posted by Eric Jaffa
December 30, 2005 @ 11:29 am
Filed under: Government, Free Press, Courts

The Justice Department should be investigated whether George W. Bush committed a crime by ordering wire-less wiretaps by the National Security Agency.

Instead, it is trying to find the whistle blower who revealed this illegal activity.

From the AP:

The U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation into the leak of classified information about President George W. Bush’s secret domestic spying program, Justice officials said Friday.

The officials, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the probe, said the inquiry will focus on disclosures to The New York Times about warrant less surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The newspaper revealed the existence of the program two weeks ago in a front-page story. It acknowledged that the story had been withheld from publication for a year, partly at the request of the administration and partly because it wanted more time to confirm various aspects of the program.

The story unleashed a firestorm of criticism of the administration. Some critics accused the president of breaking the law by authorizing intercepts of conversations without prior court approval or oversight of people inside the United States and abroad who had suspected ties to al-Qaida or its affiliates.

Actually, it’s Bush who says they were only spying on people suspected of ties to al-Quaida. Critics such as myself believe that the range of people they were spying on is much broader, hence the failure to inform the FISA court.

The AP article concludes:

The surveillance program, which Bush acknowledged authorizing, bypassed a nearly 30-year-old secret court established to handle highly sensitive investigations involving espionage and terrorism.

Administration officials insisted that Bush has the power to conduct the warrant less surveillance under the U.S. constitution’s war powers provision. They also argued that Congress gave Bush the power to conduct such a secret program when it authorized the use of military force against terrorism in a resolution adopted within days of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Firstly, as the reporter should have pointed out, the US Constitution says that Congress has the power “to declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water.”

Secondly, when Congress voted for the Afghanistan War, that is all they did. They didn’t make Bush a dictator. Bush is still a civil servant whose job is to execute the laws passed by Congress.

By the way, the Bush Administration claiming that they told Congressional Democrats what they were doing, isn’t a valid excuse, either, as pointed out by wonkette.com’s DCEIVER:

Nevertheless, some hopeful and naive part of us still wonders why no one is questioning one of the central planks in the Administration’s defense of their actions, namely: “Hey, it’s totally okay that we are wiretapping American citizens without legal authority because we totally briefed some Democrats that we were going to be doing it.” That’s an extraordinarily bizarre justification! Since when does briefing members of the opposition party have boo-boo-poopy to do with something being legal or not? …Name for what Bush suggests gives him legal cover: criminal conspiracy.




Right-Wing Bias in Today’s Washington Post

Posted by Eric Jaffa
December 29, 2005 @ 9:50 am
Filed under: Government, Media Watch, Free Press, Courts


Bush laughing as he sits and signs bill limiting class action lawsuits, with people standing behind him including from left-to-right Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Senator Bill Frist (R-TN), and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Bush laughing in February 2005 as he signs a bill making it more difficult for people injured by corporations to get compensated, the so-called “Class Action Fairness Act.”

An article by Washington Post reporters Peter Baker and Jim VandeHei describes one of the goals of the Bush Administration at the start of 2005 as “cracking down on court-clogging litigation.

This is right-wing spin for tort-reform by the reporters.

What Bush and his cronies really want is to reduce corporate accountability, using laws which hurt citizens more after they have been hurt by a defective product by stopping them from getting compensated.

That is why Bush and the Republican Congress passed the so-called “Class Action Fairness Act” in February. To make it more difficult for injured people to get justice, by moving their cases from state courts to federal courts where the judge may be a Bush appointee.

It’s a shame that the Washington Post would publish an article spinning tort-reform as an effort against “court-clogging.”

At wonkette.com, DCEIVER has more on the right-wing spin in this article in today’s Washington Post.




Good Leaks and Bad Leaks

Posted by Eric Jaffa
December 20, 2005 @ 2:52 pm
Filed under: Government, Free Press

Leaks during the George W. Bush years include:

• Identifying Valerie Plame as a CIA employee (after her husband criticized Bush).

• Exposing the secret prisons in Europe run by the CIA.

• Revealing Bush’s illegal order to the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on calls without getting a warrant either before or after the eavesdropping. (The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — FISA — allows a warrant to be obtained up to 72 hours after the eavesdropping begins.)

How can we tell if a leak is good or bad? Tom Tomorrow explains:

Apparently some people don’t understand the difference between a leak that is solely intended to hurt someone as an act of political retribution — i.e., Valerie Plame — and a leak that is intended to blow the whistle on a violation of the law. Let me try to put this simply: the first is a dangerous abuse of power. The second is an attempt to prevent a dangerous abuse of power.

I’d count the first leak listed above as one that is a “dangerous abuse of power,” and the latter two leaks as attempts to end a “dangerous abuse of power.”




Two Op-Ed Writers Were Secretly Paid by Republican Lobbyist Jack Abramoff

Posted by Eric Jaffa
December 18, 2005 @ 2:43 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Government, Media Watch, Free Press

Conservative op-ed writers Doug Bandow and Peter Ferrara were each paid to write op-eds by corrupt GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

This payoff was exposed in a Business Week article by Eamon Javers, “Op-Eds for Sale.”

Doug Bandow admits that taking money to write op-eds without disclosing the payments was wrong. He says, “It was a lapse of judgment on my part, and I take full responsibility for it.”

Peter Ferrara, however, is unapologetic:

“I do that all the time,” Ferrara says. “I’ve done that in the past, and I’ll do it in the future.”

Ferrara, who has been an influential conservative voice on Social Security reform, among other issues, says he doesn’t see a conflict of interest in taking undisclosed money to write op-ed pieces because his columns never violated his ideological principles….

“These are my views, and if you want to support them, then that’s good.”

More on Social Security at Move Left.

The blog JABBS notes that in addition to these two writers being paid by a Republican lobbyist:

At least four journalists have been cited in the past year as being paid by the Bush Administration to write favorable items, or make favorable presentations on television, about administration programs or proposals.




Washington High School Students Sue Over First Amendment Rights

Posted by Amanda Toering
December 15, 2005 @ 1:24 pm
Filed under: Schools, Free Speech?, Free Press

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

The co-editors of the student newspaper at Everett High School sued the school district Wednesday, claiming officials are violating their free-speech rights by demanding to review editions of the paper before distribution.

The editors, Sara Michelle Eccleston and Claire Marie Lueneburg, argued in their lawsuit that since 1989 the paper, the Kodak, has served as a public forum for students, with no content oversight by school administrators, and that as such, the district’s ability to demand editorial control is severely limited.

But district spokeswoman Gay Campbell said there has been consistent school oversight of the newspaper, and that the district has an explicit policy allowing prepublication review.

“We’ve complied with the law in every way,” she said. “We’re sorry the students have decided to take this course of action.”

Mitch Cogdill, the students’ lawyer, said the root of the controversy is that the Kodak reported on the hiring of the high school’s new principal, Catherine Matthews, who took over this fall. Matthews was the third choice of the students on the hiring committee, and the Kodak ran articles suggesting their voice was ignored.

In October, Matthews told the Kodak staff that the paper couldn’t be published unless she approved it in advance. She also objected to the masthead, which identified the Kodak as a “student forum,” the lawsuit said.

Eccleston, 17, and Lueneburg, 18, refused to submit to prepublication review. They appealed to the superintendent and the school board, to no avail.

“No principal had asked to review it before, even though it is provided for in the policy,” Lueneburg said Wednesday. “All of our options were kind of used up.”

The Student Press Law Center provides this explanation of school administrators’ right to censorship (or lack thereof):

Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, the 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision, gave public high school officials greater authority to censor some school-sponsored student publications if they chose to do so. But the ruling doesn’t apply to publications that have been opened as “public forums for student expression.” It also requires school officials to demonstrate some reasonable educational justification before they can censor anything. In addition, some states (currently Arkansas, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas and Massachusetts) have passed laws that give students much stronger free expression protection than Hazelwood. Other states are considering such laws.