Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Impeach Bush

Officer Ordered to Seize Iraq Radio, Refuses and is Dismissed
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
By YOCHI J. DREAZEN
MAY 8, 2003

MOSUL, IRAQ -- The U.S. Army issued orders for troops to seize this city's only television station, leading an officer here to raise questions about the Army's dedication to free speech in postwar Iraq, people familiar with the situation said. The officer refused the order and was relieved of duty.

The directive came from the 101st Airborne Division's commander, Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, who has ultimate authority in Mosul and the rest of northwest Iraq, the people familiar with the matter said. They said it was aimed at blocking the station from continuing to broadcast the Arabic news channel al-Jazeera.

The order has not yet been publicized in Mosul, which has no radio station or newspaper, and Army officials here said they had no plans to do so. Late Wednesday night, it wasn't clear whether soldiers who had been on the grounds of the station, which is near the city's university, had moved into the station building itself and taken control.

The incident may add fuel to suspicions in the Arab world about the Bush administration's promises to bring open elections and other Western-style freedoms to Iraq. The move also could further strain the already-tense relations between the Pentagon and al-Jazeera, a satellite channel based in Qatar that is the most popular source of news throughout the Mideast. Pentagon officials have long accused al-Jazeera of being biased against the U.S. and criticized it for broadcasting material such as bloody images of civilians killed or maimed by U.S. bombs. Al-Jazeera's Baghdad office was unintentionally shelled by the U.S. on April 8, killing one journalist.

The order to seize the station, which had been under the unofficial control of a local Iraqi militia leader, was discussed at a contentious meeting among American officials based in a former hospital here. During the two-hour meeting last night, the head of the Army public-affairs office in Mosul, Maj. Charmaine Means, said she could not agree to seizing the station and posting troops there. She argued that the presence of armed soldiers would intimidate the station's Arab employees into airing only programming produced by, or acceptable to, the American military.

Maj. Means was told to pick up a nearby telephone. On the other end, Col. Thomas Schoenback, chief of staff of the division, ordered her to go along with Gen. Petraeus's plan to take the station, according to people familiar with the matter. When she again refused, he relieved her of her duties. A short time later, she was told that she would be flown out of Mosul on an Army helicopter early Thursday morning.

Neither Gen. Petraeus nor Col. Schoenback could be reached for comment. In Washington, the Pentagon could not immediately confirm the order to seize the station.

Officers familiar with the matter said military officials were uncomfortable with the station's programming. They wanted to apply a U.S. military formula for gauging the station's accuracy, balance and trustworthiness, and if the programming fell short, the station would be shut.

As word of the decision filtered through the main American base in downtown Mosul, several officers condemned it. The officers said they were particularly incensed that the military had allowed the Iraqi militia leader, Meshaam Jabori, to broadcast political messages for weeks without interference, only to seize it Wednesday after it occasionally showed al-Jazeera programming. The station also airs programming from other Arabic news channels, as well as from NBC. Mr. Jabori couldn't be reached for comment.

Copyright © 2003 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

Commentary:
Yet another example of the US saying one thing and doing the exact opposite. A free press doesn't require military approval. The officer who disobeyed this illegal order did the right thing. Maj. Gen. David Petraeus and Col. Thomas Schoenback should be removed from command as soon as possible and Maj. Charmaine Means should take their places.

"Officers familiar with the matter said military officials were uncomfortable with the station's programming." A big "SO WHAT" goes the military nuts who hate free speech.


top

General Confident of Iraq Weapons Finds
The Associated Press
Monday, May 26, 2003; 8:59 AM

WASHINGTON - The chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday he believes it's "just a matter of time" before U.S. military forces find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

"We knew going in that a regime that had spent over a decade trying to deny and deceive the United Nations and others about its weapons of mass destruction program, that this would be very, very tough," said Air Force Gen. Richard Myers.

But Myers, appearing on morning television shows from Arlington National Cemetery, site of Memorial Day ceremonies, said he thinks that as U.S. forces continue to capture members of Saddam Hussein's ousted regime, the chances of finding weapons will improve.

Twenty-five people on a list of 55 top-ranking Iraqis who were part of Saddam's regime are in U.S. custody, and Myers said on ABC's "Good Morning America" that these people were "deeply involved" in a weapons program.

The Bush administration charged that Saddam held weapons of mass destruction and was seeking to develop more sophisticated weapons - and that was cited as the principal reason for invading Iraq.

But in the weeks following the crushing of Saddam's regime, little has been found, although U.S. forces have discovered two tractor-trailers that authorities suspect were mobile biological weapons laboratories.

The CIA and other intelligence agencies are reviewing the reliability of estimates they supplied the administration in the weeks preceding the mid-March invasion of Iraq.

Asked Monday what he thinks of the quality of that intelligence, Myers told NBC"s "Today" show he has "high confidence in the intelligence data that we had before we went into Iraq."

Discovering weapons of mass destruction "is a matter of time," he said.

"We have two of the mobile laboratories" that Secretary of State Colin Powell cited in a United Nations presentation to justify the war, Myers said.

"I think we're going to find what we were told we were going to find," he said. " ... Given time, given the number of prisoners now that we're interrogating, I'm confident that we're going to find weapons of mass destruction."

Myers noted that the United States now has roughly 140,000 troops in Iraq and that the number could rise to 160,000 as the military works to bring about stability there.

"The stabilization phase that we're in right now is a very, very tough phase," he told NBC. "You have to adapt very quickly to what you find on the ground."

"When they opened up the prisons," he added, "they let out tens of thousands of murderers and others into society. You've got to deal with that."

Myers said the work by coalition forces to bring order to Iraq is already "paying dividends" and said "the trend lines on almost everything you can measure are up."

But Myers he quickly added that much work remains to be done.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
When are these bozo's going to give it up? They lied about our national security, got caught and now they're trying to imply the truth is a variable. Watch how fast they and the media try to weasel out of the basic truths we already know. The only question remaining is, will the media believe the Bush spin, or with they want heads to roll. First on the list of heads that have to go is Wolfowitz, then Rumsfeld (and his phony intelligence agency), then Cheney. If Bush doesn't require their resignations, the Congress should impeach Bush and Cheney.


top

Lawmakers Say Remove Iran's Rulers
By WILLIAM C. MANN
The Associated Press
Sunday, May 25, 2003; 7:56 PM

WASHINGTON - Iran's hard-line government, accused by the Bush administration of harboring top al-Qaida members, poses a big problem for the United States and should be replaced, lawmakers said Sunday.

Democrats and Republicans urged extreme care in working toward that end, in order to avoid fomenting an anti-American reaction among Iranians who admire the U.S. way of life.

In Tehran, Iran's foreign minister insisted his country does not and would not shelter al-Qaida terrorists, and even has jailed some members of Osama bin Laden's network and plans to prosecute them.

"Iran has been the pioneer in fighting al-Qaida terrorists, who have been posing threats to our national interests," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told the government's Tehran Television. "Iran was al-Qaida's enemy before the U.S."

The Washington Post reported Sunday that the administration has cut off contacts with Iran and "appears ready to embrace an aggressive policy of trying to destabilize the Iranian government."

Asked about the report, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: "No, our policy continues to be the same." The United States insists that Iran stop supporting terrorists and end illicit weapons programs, he said. "Iran knows what it needs to do," he said.

Worry about possible activities of senior al-Qaida operatives thought to be in Iran was a factor in raising the domestic terror alert level in the United States last week, officials have said. Those operatives are suspected of being connected to the recent bombings in Saudi Arabia and Morocco.

"There's no question but that there have been and are today senior al-Qaida leaders in Iran, and they are busy," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said last week.

Nonetheless, U.S. officials are finding ways of communicating with Iranian officials "on subjects that are important to us," the State Department said last week.

One issue is Iran's suspected development of nuclear weapons. Washington rejects Iran's contention that its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes.

Rep. Porter Goss, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Iran has shown some cooperation on terrorism, but not enough.

"The trick in Iran is this: The good guys are trying to bring some reform; the bad guys control the levers of power. Sorting the two apart and then isolating the bad guys and taking the levers of power away from them is what's got to happen," said Goss, R-Fla., on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"It's got to happen in a way that does not shut down the reformists or cause repercussions to the reformists. This is hard."

The United States has labeled Iran as an exporter of terrorism since Washington began drawing up such a list in 1979 - the year the Islamic republic was founded and then sponsored the seizure of the U.S. Embassy. Fifty-two Americans were held hostage for 444 days, and U.S.-Iran relations have remained severed.

Lawmakers in favor of a new government in Iran did not advocate a military solution.

Rep. Jane Harman of California, ranking Democrat on Goss' committee, said she considered Iran "more of a clear and present danger than Iraq last year" but wants a diplomatic focus.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., a Democratic presidential hopeful who strongly backed the Iraq war, said "regime change" is the answer in Iran. He said he was not suggesting U.S. military action because of the pro-American attitudes of many Iranians.

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee suggested without elaboration that Americans might expect "better cooperation from Iran once the strong signal has gone out" that the United States will not accept weapons of mass destruction there.

"There are efforts being made that would be very productive in regards to Iran and ourselves, with the understanding of the al-Qaida cell that allegedly came from Iran and had something to do with the Saudi Arabia attacks," Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., told NBC's "Meet the Press."

"I think we're going to make some progress on that."

On CNN's "Late Edition," Sen. Jay Rockefeller, vice chairman of that committee, said to expect good news soon from Iran, and that it would be "very foolhardy" to try to destabilize Tehran in expectation of a surge in pro-Americanism.

"I think we have to be a little bit cautious about ... tossing out that term `destabilize,' `take over,'" Rockefeller said. "We're getting to think that way too much because of - after Afghanistan and Iraq."

Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, worried about taking on too much at once, citing the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I'd like to see us finish one job at a time," Biden said.

Iran's top diplomat in the United States, Javad Zarif, said on ABC's "This Week" that his government was interested in easing tensions with the United States.

"At the same time, if the United States only wants to speak through the language of pressure, then Iran will resist," said Zarif, Iran's ambassador to the United Nations.

Associated Press writer Ali Akbar Dareini contributed to this report from Tehran, Iran.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
I don't know about you guys, but I'm way past believing anything Bush says about terrorism and WMD in any country. If democrats had balls, they take on Bush and destroy him. If bankrupting us with his tax cut isn't bad enough, lying to us about a threat to our national security should be.


top

Proposed Changes to Media Ownership Rules
The Associated Press
By DAVID HO
Sunday, May 25, 2003; 11:54 AM

Some questions and answers about media ownership rules and proposed changes to them that the Federal Communications Commission will consider June 2:

Q: What are the rules?

A: Adopted between 1941 and 1975, they limit how many newspapers and television and radio stations a company can own, and in what combinations. The rules were created to promote diversity of opinion, encourage competition and prevent a few big companies from controlling what people see, hear and read.

Current rules ban mergers between major television networks - NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox - and limit the number of television and radio stations that a company can own in a market. The rules prohibit any company from owning television stations that reach more than 35 percent of U.S. households, or owning a newspaper and a radio or television station in the same city.

Q: Why might the rules be changed?

A: The FCC is examining whether they still reflect a media landscape changed by cable television, satellite broadcasts and the Internet. A 1996 law required the FCC to study ownership rules every two years and repeal or modify any regulation determined to be no longer in the public interest. Many changes proposed since then have remained unfinished or were sent back to the FCC after court challenges brought by media companies.

Q: Who wants the rules changed?

A: FCC Chairman Michael Powell and the two other Republicans on the five-member commission favor easing ownership regulations. Big media companies including the major television networks and newspaper owners such as Tribune Co. and Gannett Inc. want restrictions on their businesses eliminated. Many lawmakers, mainly Republicans, also support easing the rules, believing they are outdated and limit the ability of companies to grow and stay competitive.

Q: Who wants to keep the rules as they are?

A: The two Democrats on the commission, consumer advocates, small broadcasters, writers, musicians, academics and the National Rifle Association, among others. They worry relaxed rules will lead to a merger frenzy, giving a handful of corporations control of news and entertainment. Supporters of the rules say most people still get their news primarily from television and newspapers, and while there are hundreds of cable channels and sources of Internet news, most of those outlets are controlled by a few big companies.

Q: What are the changes the FCC is considering?

A: Raising the national television ownership cap to 45 percent and allowing one company to own two television stations in markets with at least six competitors and three stations in the largest cities such as New York and Los Angeles. Combining two existing "cross-ownership" rules - one that prevents a company from owning a newspaper and a broadcast station in the same city, the second that involves joint radio and television station ownership in the same market. The proposal would allow cross-ownership in large and medium markets and impose restrictions or prohibitions in small markets.

Q: How will this affect what I watch, hear and read?

A: Media companies seeking eased restrictions say new mergers and combinations will let them produce more quality entertainment and local news. The television networks say that without eased rules, the best programming will migrate to pay-television services. Opponents of relaxed rules say combining television stations and newspapers is dangerous because those entities will not monitor each other and provide different opinions. Critics also say television could become like radio: deregulation in 1996 allowed companies to amass hundreds of stations and cut costs by replacing local shows with national programming.

On the Net: FCC: http://www.fcc.gov

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
Congress will overturn this nonsense. Colin Powell's son at the FCC is going to be beheaded and left powerless. Good! Like father like son. Corrupt. Oh, did you forget? Colin Powell lied to the UN when he said we had absolute proof of WMD in Iraq?


top

Red Cross denied access to PoWs
An Impeachable Offense
The Observer
Ed Vulliamy in Baghdad
Sunday May 25, 2003

The United States is illegally holding thousands of Iraqi prisoners of war and other captives without access to human rights officials at compounds close to Baghdad airport, The Observer has learnt.
There have also been reports of a mutiny last week by prisoners at an airport compound, in protest against conditions. The uprising was 'dealt with' by the Americans, according to a US military source.

The International Committee of the Red Cross so far has been denied access to what the organisation believes could be as many as 3,000 prisoners held in searing heat. All other requests to inspect conditions under which prisoners are being held have been met with silence or been turned down.

There is circumstantial evidence that prisoners are being gagged and hooded, in the manner of the Afghans and other captives held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba - treatment in itself questionable under international law.

Unlike the Afghans in Cuba, there is no doubt about the status of these captives, whether PoWs or civilians arrested for looting or other crimes under military occupation: all have the right, under the laws of war, to be visited and documented by the International Red Cross. 'There is no argument about the situation with regard to the Iraqi armed forces and even the Fedayeen Saddam,' said the ICRC's spokeswoman in Baghdad, Nada Doumani.

'They are prisoners of war because they have been captured during a clear conflict between two states. If they served in the armed forces or in a militia with distinctive clothing which came under the chain of command of one of the warring states, they are protected under article 143 of the Geneva Convention.'

The ICRC has gained access to prisoners held in camps at Umm Qasr in the south. But with regard to the larger numbers reportedly held in Baghdad, said Doumani, 'we are still waiting for the green light, more than a month after the end of the conflict. This is in breach of the third Geneva Convention.' She said the laws of war should give the ICRC access 'as quickly as possible'.

The airport camps are also said to contain many hundreds of civilians detained for looting, who, Doumani said, 'do not fit into the category of prisoners of war, according to the Americans'.

Civilians held, she said, have similar rights because they have been detained by an occupying power, which the ICRC insists the Americans to be, even if they do not use those words of themselves.

'Civilian prisoners under a military occupation have the right to be visited and documented,' she said, 'and for their next-of-kin to be informed. Hundreds of families are looking around Baghdad for members of their families who have gone missing and are believed to have been arrested. They are being taken somewhere, but no one knows where.'

A US military source said a mutiny occurred at the beginning of last week at one compound at the airport zone - for the most part a sealed-off area and the site of some of the heaviest civilian casualties as the Americans surged into the Iraqi capital.

The rebellion was 'dealt with' by the US authorities, said the source, with no confirmation or denial of deaths.

Witnesses to the camps are few, since no Iraqi prisoners taken to them have been released. But a cameraman for the France 3 television channel, arrested at the Palestine Hotel, did manage a glimpse. Leo Nicolian has documentation signed by a Lieutenant Brad Fisher saying he was wrongly arrested (and beaten, with a black eye to prove it) for the alleged theft of a bag from an American reporter.

He was held at the tennis court compound along with, he said, about 50 other prisoners, and told he was detained 'for investiga tion'. On his way out, Nicolian said he passed a bigger encampment in which he saw 'hundreds of men' hooded, with their arms tied behind their backs.

A worker for a non-governmental aid organisation, who asked not to be named, told The Observer that he saw men in a similar state aboard a truck, apparently in transit from one place to another. The aid worker said he managed to video the scene.

Doumani said there was no specific wording in the Geneva Convention on the American practice of hooding and gagging, but that the law did specify that prisoners be treated humanely. 'We have to assess what is humane,' she said.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

Commentary:
In later articles it will be proven the US and Britian tortured Iraqi Pow's. Not allowing the Red Cross in to see these people in Cuba is a direct violation of the Geneva Convention and a war crime.


top

Japan's Koizumi rules out economic sanctions on N Korea
Japan Today
Sunday, May 25, 2003 at 02:26 JST

CAIRO — Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Saturday he has no immediate plans to impose economic sanctions on North Korea but is ready to crack down on illegal activities like the drug trade.

"Japan will strictly deal with illicit trade, illegal imports and drug problems involving North Korea, and Japan must tighten crackdowns on such irregularities in a strict manner," Koizumi said on a government jet heading to Cairo from the United States, where he had summit talks with U.S. President George Bush. (Kyodo News)

Commentary:
Japan is acting wisely and disobeying Bush's directive. Bush didn't want Japan to make any deals with North Korea. Japan knows that it will most likely be the subject of a nuclear attack if N. Korea has nukes (it doesn't, but will get them now no matter what). Bush's first strike doctrine (nonsense) forced N. Korea to call Bush's bluff and say it has nukes. Bush backed down and "first strike" died within days of being announced. Lucky for the world, N. Korea called Bush's bluff.

Japan knows the N. Korean's nuclear crisis was created by Bush's silly slogans. I can't wait until we have an adult for president again.


top

GOP's Coble Asked to Resign: internment of Japanese-Americans
Japan Today
Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 09:00 JST

SACRAMENTO, California — The California Assembly this week called for Rep Howard Coble to resign as chair of a key House subcommittee because of his comments about the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, officials said Wednesday.

The California State Assembly, the lower house, passed a resolution by a vote of 72 to 0 on Monday, calling on Coble to resign from the chairman's post of the Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.

It could be voted on in the California Senate next week and needs a simple majority, 21 votes out of 40, to pass.

During a Feb 4 radio show, Coble appeared to justify the internment by saying it was for Japanese-Americans' own protection. The North Carolina Republican heads the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.

"We were at war," Coble said. "For many of these Japanese-Americans, it wasn't safe for them to be on the street."

Two of the 10 internment camps were in southeast Arkansas, at Rohwer and Jerome.

Coble's comments amounted to a rewriting of history, said Democratic Assemblyman George Nakano, who was interned at age 6 and released when he was 10.

"I still remember guards' rifles pointing inward to the camp — not to protect us, but to keep us in," he said.

Coble's chief of staff, Missy Branson, said Wednesday the congressman would have no comment beyond an earlier statement in which he said, "I regret that many Japanese- and Arab-Americans found my choice of words offensive because that was certainly not my intent."

Pam Chueh, spokeswoman for the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, said, "Hopefully the leadership there in Congress who haven't said anything, will take this vote as a sign from a bipartisan effort here in the legislature, urging Coble to step down." (Wire reports)

Commentary:
Coble should step down. No, not because he mis-spoke, but because he lacks basic historic knowledge. The US violated the rights of Japanese-Americans and anyone who doesn't know that is unfit to be in government. Contrary to conservative beliefs, "the rule of law" has value.


top

Now Dissent is 'Immoral'
Guardian (UK)Commondreams.org
Gary Younge
June 2, 2003

Just About the Only Person Criticizing Bush in the US Media is Sean Penn - and He Paid $125,000 for the Privilege
Some of you, many of you, are not going to like what you hear tonight," said Ted Koppel, the senior American news anchor as he introduced Arundhati Roy, the Indian novelist, activist and critic of US foreign policy, to his show shortly after September 11. "You don't have to listen. But if you do, you should know that dissent sometimes comes in strange packages..."

The introduction, such as it was, told us less about Roy than it did about both Koppel and the mindset that has dominated the American media since the collapse of the twin towers. It reflects at best a reluctance, and at worst a downright refusal, to engage with views and voices opposed to George Bush's foreign policy. It illustrates a tendency to dismiss rather than discuss, and deride rather than debate - to circle the wagons around nationhood, leaving questions about what is being done in the nation's name and why, on the outside.

"This nation is now at war," said Peter Beinart, the editor of the liberal magazine New Republic. "And in such an environment, domestic political dissent is immoral without a prior statement of national solidarity, a choosing of sides."

As such, American journalism has been embedded not only militarily but politically as well. At a press conference in March, a journalist offered the following searching inquiry: "Mr President, as the nation is at odds over war, how is your faith guiding you?"

Dissident voices do exist. While you will rarely hear them on television, most big newspapers have at least one columnist who was opposed to the war, and several magazines have published articles that are critical or revelatory. The problem is not so much that such views are unavailable as that they have been effectively marginalized. Only those sympathetic to them might seek them out, while others looking to form opinions are unlikely to stumble across them. Presumably Sean Penn would not have paid around $125,000 (£76,000) to take out a full-page ad in the New York Times on Friday to write an essay against Bush if he thought he could read it elsewhere.

In short, views that offer an informed critical analysis of the Bush administration's foreign policy, particularly with regard to the Middle East, are not part of the national conversation in the United States. And until Americans can have that conversation with themselves they will not be equipped to converse with the rest of the world about the relative legitimacy or otherwise of their government's actions but will instead continue to retreat into a combination of belligerence, bemusement, defensiveness and demagogy.

Under these circumstances the brouhaha that has consumed the American media over the past three weeks about the transgressions of a few reporters at the New York Times seem particularly to have been blown out of all proportion. The Times, one of the nation's most respected newspapers, fired a reporter, Jayson Blair, last month after it discovered that he had fabricated and plagiarized several stories. Last week one the paper's star writers, the Pulitzer prize-winning Rick Bragg, resigned after a story that carried his name turned out to have been reported largely by a freelancer.

True, both stories raise important, if very different, issues about journalistic integrity and editorial checks and balances. It's true too that both tales are engaging - Bragg because of his status, Blair because of his self-destructive personality traits and his apparent inability to stop digging now that he is in a hole. "I fooled some of the most brilliant people in journalism," he boasted recently.

But neither amount to a national crisis in journalism. And while more revelations might claim senior scalps at the Times, they hardly point to an implosion of values there either. Any schadenfreude from this side of the Atlantic is particularly misplaced as, where factual accuracy and accountability is concerned, American newspapers are far superior to their British counterparts.

But where diversity of opinion and willingness to challenge their political establishment is concerned, they are currently lacking. To what extent this is just the American media reflecting the preoccupations and values of their readers is a moot point. Most Americans did support the war. Today, polls show, 55% approve of Bush's handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and two-thirds believe the war on Iraq has helped the war on terrorism. The three words most likely to be associated with Bush are "honest", "good" and "leadership".

And yet there is a sizable minority, just too small to be considered mainstream but far too large to be regarded as fringe, who disagree. Coming a close fourth on words to describe Bush was "arrogant". About a quarter of Americans believe efforts to bring stability to Iraq are going badly and more than a third believe the Bush administration overestimated Iraqi weapons, most believing it did so to build support for the war. Such views may not be reflected on a national scale, but they are dominating heated local conversations throughout the country.

America is not exceptional in this regard. The last place you would look for incisive coverage of Northern Ireland would be the British media and similar criticisms could be made of French journalism during the Algerian war. Political establishments in powerful nations rarely tell the truth about power and their media are often only too happy to collude. "Only when lions get to write history," says the African proverb, "will hunters cease to be heroes."

Where America does differ is in the nature of industry and the war it is engaged in. The American media industry is dominated by just a few companies. AOL Time Warner, to name but one example, owns among many other things, Time magazine, Fortune, Life, Sports Illustrated, CNN, Comedy Central, Warner Brothers Pictures and Black Entertainment Television. With the head of the Federal Communications Commission, under Michael Powell (son of secretary of state Colin Powell), set to relax ownership rules later this month this consolidation and the lack of choice that goes with it will get worse before it gets better. And with a war that is endless against a foe that is stateless (terror has no nationality), invisible (it could be anyone) and ubiquitous (they could be anywhere), the potential for these media distortions to become both pervasive and permanent is very real indeed.

Fearing the contamination of the pool of domestic information, many Americans have voted with their remote controls and browsers. American audience figures for BBC World news leapt 28% in the first few weeks of the war, elevating its Baghdad correspondent, Rageh Omaar, to sex symbol status. Meanwhile, American visitors to the websites of the BBC and progressive news organizations such as the Guardian have risen exponentially since September 11.

The problem for the American media is not so much whether dissent comes in strange packages as whether it comes at all. "I will not march to stop the war while Saddam is standing, for that would strengthen his tyranny at home," argued Michael Walzer, co-editor of a liberal magazine that claims to "welcome the clash of strong opinions" earlier this year. Its name? Dissent.

Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited

 

Commentary:
I like this line; "Only when lions get to write history will hunters cease to be heroes."

History is being rewritten so fast these days it's hard to keep up. Was 9/11 an act of war or was it a criminal act? We were told only one side. Do the actions of 19 people constitute war, or simply the acts of a few nuts? We were told only one side. Did the Taliban threaten the US? did bin Laden plan 9/11, are we at war? or is this simply a massive ad for Bush's re-election? I'd like to see the proof. I'd like to see those WMD Bush said Iraq had, and I want to see the evidence Bush had before we went to war. Finally, I don't get it--we look for Bush's proof after the war is over? Good grief. Shouldn't we have had it before we went to war?


top

The Truth Will Emerge
Commondreams.org
by US Senator Robert Byrd/Senate Floor Remarks
May 21, 2003

Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again, - -
The eternal years of God are hers;
But Error, wounded, writhes in pain,
And dies among his worshippers."

Truth has a way of asserting itself despite all attempts to obscure it.  Distortion only serves to derail it for a time.  No matter to what lengths we humans may go to obfuscate facts or delude our fellows, truth has a way of squeezing out through the cracks, eventually.

But the danger is that at some point it may no longer matter.  The danger is that damage is done before the truth is widely realized.  The reality is that, sometimes, it is easier to ignore uncomfortable facts and go along with whatever distortion is currently in vogue.  We see a lot of this today in politics.  I see a lot of it -- more than I would ever have believed -- right on this Senate Floor.

Regarding the situation in Iraq, it appears to this Senator that the American people may have been lured into accepting the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation, in violation of long-standing International law, under false premises.  There is ample evidence that the horrific events of September 11 have been carefully manipulated to switch public focus from Osama Bin Laden and Al Queda who masterminded the September 11th attacks, to Saddam Hussein who did not.  The run up to our invasion of Iraq featured the President and members of his cabinet invoking every frightening image they could conjure, from mushroom clouds, to buried caches of germ warfare, to drones poised to deliver germ laden death in our major cities.  We were treated to a heavy dose of overstatement concerning Saddam Hussein's direct threat to our freedoms.  The tactic was guaranteed to provoke a sure reaction from a nation still suffering from a combination of post traumatic stress and justifiable anger after the attacks of 911.  It was the exploitation of fear.  It was a placebo for the anger.

Since the war's end, every subsequent revelation which has seemed to refute the previous dire claims of the Bush Administration has been brushed aside.  Instead of addressing the contradictory evidence, the White House deftly changes the subject.  No weapons of mass destruction have yet turned up, but we are told that they will in time.  Perhaps they yet will.  But, our costly and destructive bunker busting attack on Iraq seems to have proven, in the main, precisely the opposite of what we were told was the urgent reason to go in.  It seems also to have, for the present, verified the assertions of Hans Blix and the inspection team he led, which President Bush and company so derided.  As Blix always said, a lot of time will be needed to find such weapons, if they do, indeed, exist.  Meanwhile Bin Laden is still on the loose and Saddam Hussein has come up missing.

The Administration assured the U.S. public and the world, over and over again, that an attack was necessary to protect our people and the world from terrorism.  It assiduously worked to alarm the public and blur the faces of Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden until they virtually became one.

What has become painfully clear in the aftermath of war is that Iraq was no immediate threat to the U.S.  Ravaged by years of sanctions, Iraq did not even lift an airplane against us.  Iraq's threatening death-dealing fleet of unmanned drones about which we heard so much morphed into one prototype made of plywood and string.  Their missiles proved to be outdated and of limited range.  Their army was quickly overwhelmed by our technology and our well trained troops.

Presently our loyal military personnel continue their mission of diligently searching for WMD. They have so far turned up only fertilizer, vacuum cleaners, conventional weapons, and the occasional buried swimming pool.  They are misused on such a mission and they continue to be at grave risk.  But, the Bush team's extensive hype of WMD in Iraq as justification for a preemptive invasion  has become more than embarrassing.  It has raised serious questions about prevarication and the reckless use of power.  Were our troops needlessly put at risk?  Were countless Iraqi civilians killed and maimed when war was not really necessary?  Was the American public deliberately misled?  Was the world?  

What makes me cringe even more is the continued claim that we are "liberators." The facts don't seem to support the label we have so euphemistically attached to ourselves.  True, we have unseated a brutal, despicable despot, but "liberation" implies the follow up of freedom, self-determination and a better life for the common people.  In fact, if the situation in Iraq is the result of "liberation," we may have set the cause of freedom back 200 years.

Despite our high-blown claims of a better life for the Iraqi people, water is scarce, and often foul, electricity is a sometime thing, food is in short supply, hospitals are stacked with the wounded and maimed, historic treasures of the region and of the Iraqi people have been looted, and nuclear material may have been disseminated to heaven knows where, while U.S. troops, on orders, looked on and guarded the oil supply.

Meanwhile, lucrative contracts to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure and refurbish its oil industry are awarded to Administration cronies, without benefit of competitive bidding, and the U.S. steadfastly resists offers of U.N. assistance to participate.  Is there any wonder that the real motives of the U.S. government are the subject of worldwide speculation and mistrust?

And in what may be the most damaging development, the U.S. appears to be pushing off Iraq's clamor for self-government.  Jay Garner has been summarily replaced, and it is becoming all too clear that the smiling face of the U.S. as liberator is quickly assuming the scowl of an occupier.  The image of the boot on the throat has replaced the beckoning hand of freedom.  Chaos and rioting only exacerbate that image, as U.S. soldiers try to sustain order in a land ravaged by poverty and disease.  "Regime change" in Iraq has so far meant anarchy, curbed only by an occupying military force and a U.S. administrative presence that is evasive about if and when it intends to depart.

Democracy and Freedom cannot be force fed at the point of an occupier's gun.  To think otherwise is folly.  One has to stop and ponder.  How could we have been so impossibly naive?  How could we expect to easily plant a clone of U.S. culture, values, and government in a country so riven with religious, territorial, and tribal rivalries, so suspicious of U.S. motives, and so at odds with the galloping materialism which drives the western-style economies?

As so many warned this Administration before it launched its misguided war on Iraq, there is evidence that our crack down in Iraq is likely to convince 1,000 new Bin Ladens to plan other horrors of the type we have seen in the past several days.  Instead of damaging the terrorists, we have given them new fuel for their fury.  We did not complete our mission in Afghanistan because we were so eager to attack Iraq.  Now it appears that Al Queda is back with a vengeance. We have returned to orange alert in the U.S., and we may well have destabilized the Mideast region, a region we have never fully understood.  We have alienated friends around the globe with our dissembling and our haughty insistence on punishing former friends who may not see things quite our way.  

The path of diplomacy and reason have gone out the window to be replaced by force, unilateralism, and punishment for transgressions.  I read most recently with amazement our harsh castigation of Turkey, our longtime friend and strategic ally.  It is astonishing that our government is berating the new Turkish government for conducting its affairs in accordance with its own Constitution and its democratic institutions.

Indeed, we may have sparked a new international arms race as countries move ahead to develop WMD as a last ditch attempt to ward off a possible preemptive strike from a newly belligerent U.S. which claims the right to hit where it wants.  In fact, there is little to constrain this President.  Congress, in what will go down in history as its most unfortunate act, handed away its power to declare war for the foreseeable future and empowered this President to wage war at will.

As if that were not bad enough, members of Congress are reluctant to ask questions which are begging to be asked.  How long will we occupy Iraq?  We have already heard disputes on the numbers of troops which will be needed to retain order.  What is the truth?  How costly will the occupation and rebuilding be?  No one has given a straight answer.  How will we afford this long-term massive commitment, fight terrorism at home, address a serious crisis in domestic healthcare, afford behemoth military spending and give away billions in tax cuts amidst a deficit which has climbed to over $340 billion for this year alone?  If the President's tax cut passes it will be $400 billion.  We cower in the shadows while false statements proliferate.  We accept soft answers and shaky explanations because to demand the truth is hard, or unpopular, or may be politically costly.  

But, I contend that, through it all, the people know.  The American people unfortunately are used to political shading, spin, and the usual chicanery they hear from public officials.  They patiently tolerate it up to a point.  But there is a line.  It may seem to be drawn in invisible ink for a time, but eventually it will appear in dark colors, tinged with anger.  When it comes to shedding American blood - - when it comes to wreaking havoc on civilians, on innocent men, women, and children, callous dissembling is not acceptable.  Nothing is worth that kind of lie - - not oil, not revenge, not reelection, not somebody's grand pipedream of a democratic domino theory.

And mark my words, the calculated intimidation which we see so often of late by the "powers that be" will only keep the loyal opposition quiet for just so long.  Because eventually, like it always does, the truth will emerge.  And when it does, this house of cards, built of deceit, will fall.

© Copyrighted 1997-2003

Commentary:
Now all we need is every democrat in the country going after every republican. Democrats can destroy the republican party and wipe if from our political landscape with two simple issues. Record deficits, and lies about a threat to our national security.


top

Democrats Question Whether Bush 'Hyped' Iraq Threat
Reuters
By Vicki Allen
Sun May 25, 2003 01:49 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Top Senate Democrats on Sunday said they believed the Bush administration either exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq, or may have had faulty intelligence on its alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Joe Biden of Delaware, the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the administration "hyped" Iraq's potential for developing nuclear arms and for using other weapons of mass destruction, but said he expected such weapons will be found.

Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the Senate Intelligence Committee's senior Democrat, said he was "beginning to believe" that the intelligence the administration claimed to have on Iraq's weapons program before the U.S.-led war to oust Saddam Hussein was not as sound as he had been led to believe.

Appearing on NBC's Meet the Press, the lawmakers gave voice to growing concerns in Congress over the failure so far to find Iraq's alleged biological, chemical and possibly nuclear weapons that President Bush used to justify the war.

"I do think that we hyped nuclear, we hyped al Qaeda, we hyped the ability to disperse and use these weapons. I think that tends to be done by all presidents when they are trying to accomplish a goal that they want to get broad national support for," Biden said.

Rockefeller said Congress must determine whether the administration "intentionally overestimated" Iraq's weapons program, or "just misread it. ... In either case it's a very bad outcome."

Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, the Intelligence Committee chairman, said he expected weapons to be found, and that the United States must make certain they have not fallen into the hands of terrorists or rogue nations.

If the weapons are not found, Roberts said on Meet the Press, "Basically, you have a real credibility problem."

"There's not any doubt that he had weapons of mass destruction. The question is, where are they?" Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, said on CNN's Late Edition.

Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who led opposition in the Senate to the Iraq war, last week delivered a blistering speech accusing Bush of constructing a "house of cards, built on deceit" to justify the war.

Biden, who backed Bush's call to oust Saddam, stopped short of saying there was a deliberate deception. But he said, "I think a lot of the hype here is a serious, serious, serious mistake and it hurts our credibility."

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss, a Florida Republican, said on CBS' Face the Nation that he had "no doubts whatsoever that the administration worked on the basis of the intelligence that was given to them.

"What I don't know is how good that intelligence was, and it is our job to find out."

Why doesn't someone in the media ask these simple questions? Where is Powell's absolute proof of WMD that he presented to the UN and why didn't Bush have proof before he went to war? When he can't answer those two questions, his paper presidency falls apart.


top