Monday, November 28, 2005

In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery?"

Remember to check out Mike's comments at Mikey Likes It! because we've picked the same two items from Democracy Now!

UK investigates Shootings by Private Contractors in Iraq (Democracy Now!)
The British Foreign Office is investigating allegations that private contractors with the defense company Aegis have randomly shot at Iraqi cars. According to the Telegraph newspaper, a video recently appeared on a site affiliated with Aegis that contained four clips of an unidentified gunman shooting at cars in Iraq. In one clip a Mercedes is fired on at a distance of several hundred yards before it crashes in to a civilian taxi. One Iraqi Interior Ministry officials confirmed such shootings occur. He said: "When the security companies kill people they just drive away and nothing is done... I would say we have had about 50-60 incidents of this kind."

England's investigating and I'm not sure how many people will assume "British company, England's investigation . . . Uh oh, England's in trouble!"

"Shameless in Iraq" (Naomi Klein, The Nation):
Good news out of Baghdad: the Program Management Office, which oversees the $18.4 billion in US reconstruction funds, has finally set a goal it can meet. Sure, electricity is below prewar levels, streets are rivers of sewage and more Iraqis have been fired than hired. But now the PMO has contracted with British mercenary firm Aegis to protect its employees from "assassination, kidnapping, injury and"--get this--"embarrassment." I don't know if Aegis will succeed in protecting PMO employees from violent attack, but embarrassment? I'd say mission already accomplished. The people in charge of rebuilding Iraq can't be embarrassed, because clearly they have no shame.
In the run-up to the June 30 underhand (sorry, I can't bring myself to call it a "handover"), US occupation powers have been unabashed in their efforts to steal money that is supposed to aid a war-ravaged people. The State Department has taken $184 million earmarked for drinking water projects and moved it to the budget for the lavish new US Embassy in Saddam's former palace. Short $1 billion for the embassy, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said he might have to "rob from Peter in my fiefdom to pay Paul." In fact, he is robbing Iraq's people, who, according to a recent study by Public Citizen, are facing "massive outbreaks of cholera, diarrhea, nausea and kidney stones" from drinking contaminated water.

The reason for the quote above is to make sure we all get that the Pentagon, United States, was over awarding contracts. Aegis wouldn't be there, British company or not, without having been awarded a contract by the Pentagon.

C.I. and I were talking about this on the phone today. We wondered how that story would play because although we love Naomi Klein's writing, we're aware that if you don't watch or listen to Democracy Now! (or read) and you don't read either The Nation or The Guardian, you might not be aware of the work she's done explaining the occupation. If you've depended on the US mainstream media, you could read the headline and think, "Oh England's in trouble!" I know I have a few readers who are new to Democracy Now!, The Common Ills, et al. So I want to be sure we're all on the same page.

Al Jazeera Demands Answers from Bush Administration (Democracy Now!)
The director-general of the Arabic tv network Al-Jazeera has demanded Washington respond to reports that President Bush wanted to bomb the network's headquarters in Doha. Last week the Daily Mirror cited a secret British memo revealing that Bush told Tony Blair last year of his desire to bomb the news outlet. The Bush administration has described the Daily Mirror's report as "outlandish." Officials at Al Jazeera are now questioning whether the U.S. might have been targeting the network when it bombed its bureaus in Afghanistan in 2001 and in Baghdad in April 2003. The attack in Iraq killed Al Jazeera's correspondent Tariq Ayub. Ayub's widow, Dina, said she is now considering suing the U.S. government for her husband's death. She said "America always claimed it was an accident. But I believe the new revelations prove that claim was false or at least not trustworthy." Meanwhile in Britain a ban remains in place on all media outlets from disclosing the contents of the secret memo. But a member of parliament - Boris Johnson - has vowed to publish the memo and risk jail time if anyone leaks him the document.

A network is the topic of a bombing discussion by two world leaders. Is there a reason that the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune aren't digging deeply into this story? This isn't news? A former football player is busted and that's all I heard about walking through the airport Sunday. I'd pass a TV set, that was the big talk, someone had a radio on, that was the story. I get in the cab, that's the story on the radio.

I'm not really sure what the fate of a football player has to do with our world. I'm also shocked by the gossip passing as "reporting" on that. I don't want to make that the focus but I do want to point out that there's been no trial.

But to the press, this is a news story to focus on. For some reason, a discussion about attacking a news network isn't.

It's similar to how they can't find the anti-war voices even at this late date. If you missed C.I.'s
"NYT: 'Even Supporters Doubt President As Issues Pile Up" (Kate Zernike)," the New York Times still wants to do stories about people who supported the war only now they've maybe changed their minds. Apparently that paper is allergic (still) to the voices speaking out against the war before the invasion.

(Also check out Danny Schechter's "WAR ON THE MEDIA: 'Don't Bomb Us.'")

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery?
St. Augustine