Friday, January 19, 2007

Alexander Cockburn

This is the Alexander Cockburn post. He's got an amazing piece up at CounterPunch that I'll provide an excerpt to in a bit but I want to start with CounterSpin. I'll add that C.I. called me this morning to say "It was last week and I'm not wasting time going into that post to change it." C.I. was asked by a friend at FAIR to note that CounterSpin has been doing some strong work and used that as an example. There was some confusion over when it aired and C.I. said, "I'm not taking the fall for that!"

It just made me laugh. (Still does.) (Watch though, C.I. will go in there and put in a correction.) So I did listen via an archived broadcast today and maybe it was the radio station's problem but Alexander Cockburn's voice quality was really poor. It didn't sound like they were in the studio together and that doesn't surprise me since Cockburn lives in California. But I was surprised that the call was such poor quality. Maybe it was the radio station that had a problem? Anyone who wants to check that out can listen at CounterSpin which I would assume would have the best quality broadcast. I have had problems in the past with Real Player playing when I try to listen at CounterSpin which is why I don't even bother anymore. I've also had a problem (my computer at work and at home) with The Progressive's website. There's a new square (orange?) they've added to the page where they note new content and I've gotten a solid square. I am trying to note that, or at least Matthew Rothschild, because C.I.'s very high on Rothschild's upcoming book.

Let me add quickly, I didn't listen to the new broadcast today. Sarah Olson really needs to stop speaking publicly. Her ever changing positions make her case weaker and weaker everytime she speaks. I'll leave it at that because I think Rebecca's tackling it tonight.

Though it was difficult to hear Alexander Cockburn at times, what he was saying was worth hearing. He was addressing War pornographer Michael Gordon and how he continues to sell the illegal war from the pages of the New York Times (which marched in double time, in step with the administration, to sell the war before it even started). Let me add something in here that C.I.'s been pointed out in the last week or two, for those who doubt the paper is selling the war. How often does the paper do polls? Every few months. Where is the poll on the people's reaction to Bully Boy's intended escalation?

There hasn't been one. Not in November when it was being tossed around, not in December and not in January. As C.I.'s noted, CNN, the Washington Post, ABC, CBS, etc. have all done polls, where is the New York Times' poll? Usually, they do a joint-poll with CBS. Did they take their name of any of CBS' recent polls because they didn't want to front page another of their poll stories if it meant telling readers how unpopular the illegal war and escalation actually were?

Cockburn brought up that Gordo was Judith Miller's writing partner on questionable pre-war stories (including aluminum tubes) and that seems to not be remarked upon when it should be because he has continued to sell the war. He was referring to "White House Lists Iraq Steps to Build Banned Weapons" which Gordo wrote with Miller and ran in the September 13, 2002 edition of the New York Times. (They probably cursed themselves that they didn't have a special scare piece for September 11th itself. However, they did write a piece right before September 11th, C.I. would know the exact date, falsely claiming that Saddam Hussein was pursuing atomic bomb parts.) (I know the date of the other piece for personal reasons. I was attending a planned event that day and hadn't had time to return C.I.'s call so, at a dinner, I went into the lobby to call and got an earful about that nonsense.)

Cockburn wasn't singing the oldies, he was talking about how Gordo continues to sell the war. There are so few people that will call Gordo out. There's Cockburn, there's Norman Solomon and there's C.I. (I'm sure there are others online who do but I'm not a web surfer. I know that few media critics will call Gordo out although they're happy to trot out, again and again, Judith Miller.) (I love music and I loved it last April when C.I. rewrote the Supremes "Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart" for Gordo.) He also touched on the conflicts at the New York Times and I'll echo C.I. on the fact that they need to have him back on to speak more of that topic.

He was noting the decision to endorse (editorially, but in 'reporting' as well) Patrick Moynihan who was the uber Joe Lieberman. He, Cockburn, may see that as selling out (by the paper) or as proof of how right-wing it really is. I think arguments can be made for both but I think the real story of the paper is similar to that of the Democratic Party -- a group of 'good sports' who think people will play fair so they go along and grasp too late the realities. (I'm not referring to anyone with a byline or listed on the masthead.) At the very heart of it, there is a very real war and if and when the better natures decide to fight, the paper could be worth reading. As long as the Cro-Magnum set lead, the paper is worthless.

I would have been very interested in hearing Cockburn expand on that point, which came almost at the very end, because . . . Let's just say personal reasons. But there were any number of ways that could have pursued and I would have enjoyed hearing where Cockburn would take it. He also has a book coming out (with Jeffery St. Clair) and I'm very eager to read that (End Times). He mentioned Patrick Cockburn (who reports for the Independent of London and whose pieces often get republished at CounterPunch) and I was thinking about how different the conversation would be without that family. There's Patrick Cockburn and, hopefully, many are familiar with his writing. But there's also Laura Flanders. I've more than had it with political dynasties in elected office but I am thankful for the policital dynasty that the three of them represent. That must have made for very interesting family get togethers.

That's also the only family biography I'd be interested in reading.

"First Bomb Carter; Then Nuke Iran!" (Alexander Cockburn, CounterPunch):
Suppose the movers and shakers in the Israel lobby here -- Abe Foxman, Alan Dershowitz and the rest of the crew -- had simply decided to leave Jimmy Carter’s Palestine Peace Not Apartheid alone. How long before the book would have been gathering dust on the remainder shelves? Suppose even that Dershowitz had rounded up his unacknowledged co-authors in all their tens of thousands and sallied forth to buy up every copy of Carter’s book and toss each one into the Charles River, would not that have been a more successful suppressor than the blitzkrieg strategy they did adopt?
Of course it would. For weeks now the lobby has hurled its legions into battle against Carter. He has been stigmatized as an anti-Semite, a Holocaust denier, a patron of former concentration camp killers, a Christian madman, a pawn of the Arabs who "flatly condones mass murder" of Israeli Jews. (This last was from Murdoch's New York Post editorial, relayed to its mailing list by the Zionist Organization of America.)
Any day now I expect some janitors at the Carter Center to resign, declaring that they can no longer in all conscience mop bathrooms that might have been used by the former President, their letter of protest duly front-paged by the New York Times, just like the famous fourteen members of the Carter Center's Board of Councilors. Actually there were, at the time of resignations, 224 people on this board, where membership is mostly a thank you for a financial donation to the center. So the headlines could be saying, "Nearly 95 per cent of Carter Center Board Members Back Former President."

That's an excerpt, you need to read the whole thing. There's an queally interesting article on the press narratives, Gail Dines' "I Was Ambushed by Paula Zahn." I hope you visit CounterPunch even if you're not reading the periodical. Web traffic is as important as circulation and if you see something up there, you should e-mail it. You can e-mail it to me, certainly, but you can also share it with friends. I don't believe it has an "e-mail this" option but you can search "e-mail this" on Google and find something to add to your browser that allows you to mail web pages. Or you can copy and paste and excert (like I did) and provide the link in an e-mail. I really think in the face of the endless rah-rah Dems, CounterPunch is the cold water of reality and that following it will keep the pressure on for change. If 2007 could be the year CounterPunch becomes one of the highest ranked websites, I'd be happy. I think it would lead to some real change in the country. We certainly need some and puff pieces on Democrats aren't going to bring it about. With more on that note, please read Mike's "Help Wanted: The Nation's in need of direction."

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, January 19. 2006. Chaos and violence continue, but speculation is so much more fun for the mainstream press; war resisters stand up and some stand with them; General Casey uses weasel words;

Starting with news of US war resister
Ehren Watada who, in June 2006, became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Watada faces a court-martial February 5th and the 'judge' has stripped him of the right to present a strong defense. Arguments that can't be made in a kangroo court can be made by in the real world at Citizens' Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq which starts tomorrow and concludes Sunday at the Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus (10:00 am to 4:00 pm each day). As Michael Gilbert (The News Tribune) reports "a lineup of speakers will make the case that the war and the ongoing occupation are illegal under international and U.S. law, and that an officer such as Watada has a duty to disobey orders to take part in it." Zoltan Grossman tells Gilbert that "the event will take the shape of a congressional hearing" and notes that those participating include the following: Denis Halliday, Ann Wright, Francis Boyle, Daniel Ellsberg, Darrell Anderson, Harvey Tharp and Nadia McCaffrey.

While some stay silent (The Nation)
Peter Michaelson (BuzzFlash) steps up, "The world is upside down, and one brave first lieutenant tries to set it right. The U.S. war in Iraq is illegal and immoral, says 1st Lt. Ehren Watada. In thus choosing reality over fallacy, and refusing to deploy to Iraq with his Stryker brigade, the 28-year-old Honolulu native faces six years in the brig when his court-martial begins next month at Ft. Lewis near Seattle." Peter Michaelson and BuzzFlash stood up. FYI, BuzzFlash is offering Peace buttons and Howard Zinn's A Power Governments Cannot Suppress.

Also standing up, of course, in support of Watada is
Iraq Veterans Against the War have set up Camp Resistance and Portland IMC has audio of Dennis Kyne and Darrell Anderson speaking about Camp Resistance. Anderson spoke of how they were camping outside Fort Lewis, "That bus is parked right there and it's not leaving until the trial is over, not till February." Anderson noted the positive reaction from soldiers at Fort Lewis, "They see the bus, they know who we area. After six days, we had soldiers honking, soldiers rolling by in their civilian clothes and screaming out the window. And I remember like, wow, I was just coming up here for Watada and Suzanne Swift and I didn't think the soldiers were going to . . . I never heard of soldiers power fisting anti-war guys. And that's when it hit me, that they're done. They're not going back for a third time. 'Cause that's where I'd be if I didn't go AWOL, I'd be at my third tour right now. Three years in Iraq, three years. Could you imagine Vietnam vets, could you imagine going back to Vietnam three times? Three years and you don't come back from that. You go to Iraq, but you don't come back."

Ehren Watada's February 5th court-martial approaches, this week the US military announced their decision to charge Agustin Aguayo with desertion and missing movement which carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. Watada, Aguayo, and Anderson are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Agustin Aguayo, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Bring the Peace Mandate to D.C. on J27! On Election Day voters delivered an unmistakable mandate for peace. Now it's time for action. Join CODEPINK in a national march to D.C. on January 27-29, to send a strong, clear message to Congress and the Bush Administration: The people of this country want the war and occupation in Iraq to end and we want the troops home now! See our latest actions, and click here for details.

In Iraq today?


Reuters reports a bombing of a butcher's shop that killed the butcher in Hilla. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing ("at AL ELLWIAH intersection in KARDA") that killed a police officer and left another dead, a mortar attack ("near haifa street") that killed 2 and left 3 more wounded, another martar attack ("bayaa area western Baghdad") that left one person injured and a mortar attack that killed a woman and wounded 3 more people. Kim Gamel (AP) reports that a Shi'ite mosque was bombed "in sourthern Baghdad" (before the bombing, two guards of the mosque were killed).


CBS and AP report that "a man working for the Ministry of Tourism and Archaeology Affairs . . . was shot to death near his home in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood in western Baghdad." Reuters reports three shot dead in Falluja (Iraqi soldier and two ex-police officers), a Sunni preacher was shot dead in Kirkuk, and an attack on a minibus left two wounded in Hilla. Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that, in Tikrit, a vehichle was stopped an official checkpoint, the car contained 4 family members and began accusing one ("OMAR") of having fake identification but they waived them on only for them to be stopped by "unknown gunmen" immediately after who wanted to know which one was Omar "and killed him immediately and stabbed his other brother" leaving his sister and mother to drive to the hospital in Tikrit.


Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 17 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today ("1 yarmouk, 2 amil, 1 aour, 2 zaafaraniyah, 1 selakh, 1 kamaliyah, 4 rahmaniyah, 1 bayaa, 1 shurta khamsa and 3 in dora. some were tortured and handcuffed").

In addition to the above, today
US military announced today: " A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died when an improvised explosive device detonated on a patrol in a northwest section of the Iraqi capital Jan. 18" and the BBC reports that six British oldiers were wounded following an attack utilizing rockets and mortars ("on the Basra Palace camp").

In legal news, on Thursday,
three US troops confessed and to review that:

*Hashim Ibrahim Awad who was the grandfather kidnapped and then murdered last year (April). Eight US service members were charged. They are known as the Pendleton Eight. Four had already confessed to their involvement. Yesterday, Trent Thomas became the fifth with his plea agreement.
*Three Iraqis, on May 9th, were detained by US troops, placed in plastic handcuffs, released (handcuffs cut off) with the intent to kill them ("Kill them all" is what some defense lawyers argued their clients were told). Four US troops were charged with this. William B. Hunsaker confessed (and was sentenced) earlier this month, Juston R. Graber also confessed to his involvment this month. Raymond L. Girouard maintains his innocence. Yesterday, Core Clagett entered a plea agreement. (It should be noted his attorney, Paul Bergin, has
his own problems these days.) So that's three out of four having admitted guilt.
Abeer is the one Megan says she can follow but just to recap for anyone who is confused -- three admissions of guilt in three different war crimes took place yesterday -- Abeer Qasim Hamza (14-years-old), Hadeel Qassim Hamza (five-years-old, Abeer's sister), Qassim Hamza Raheem and Fakhriya Taha Muhasen (her parents) were all killed on March 12, 2006. In addition Abeer was gang raped before being killed. Those charged in the incident were Steven D. Green (to be tried in a civilian court because he had left the military before the war crimes were learned of), Jesse Spielman, Bryan Howard, James P. Barker and Paul Cortez. (Anthony W. Yribe was not charged with participating -- he was charged with failure to report the crimes, dereliction of duty.) Green has entered a plea of not guilty in a federal court. James P. Barker confessed in court in November (and named Cortez as a co-gang rapist). Paul Cortez confessed yesterday but his attorney maintains Cortez was an 'oberserver.' Was he an observer in rape?
Barker's testimony was that it appeared Cortez was raping Abeer but, from his statements, he wasn't able to determine penetration. (Wasn't able to determine it from his angle. Whether Cortez penetrated or not, he took part in the gang rape, according to Barker, because Barker confessed to how they took turns holding Abeer down during the gang rape.)

Meanwhile Robert Gates visits Iraq and calls the current climate a "
pivotal moment." Meeting up with the outgoing George Casey ("top American commander in Iraq"), CBS and AP report that Casey declares: "I think it's probably going to be the summer, late summer, before you get to the point where people in Baghdad feel safe in their neighborhoods." Is that what you think? Casey's not done with feelings checks or predictions, Robert Burns (AP) reports that escalated troops (the 21,500 Bully Boy wants to send into Iraq) COULD be back "home by late summer". COULD. A weasel word.

"Casey, didn't you say US troops would be back home by late summer?"

"No, I said could."

Meaningless weasel words meant to comfort and lull a public that's enraged by an illegal war with no apparent end.
AP reports that Nancy Pelois (US House Speaker) has declared Bully Boy "has dug a hole so deep he can't even see the light on this. It's a tragedy. It's a stark blunder."

CBS, CNN and the whole mainstream press report that Muqtada al-Sadr's top aide was arrested, this following yesterday's reported arrest of Shi'ite fighters, and that al-Sadr is now in hiding fearing for his life and moving his family around while stating that a holy period of Muharram (the new year -- short answer). al-Sadr is quoted stating that no attacks will be initiated by him during the holy period (however, a response would be another issue) but when it is over, "we'll see." How much of this is true, how much of this is the sort of jerk-around we were once supposed to believe during Vietnam (remember Henry Kissinger really, really wanting to have those Paris Peace Talks -- at least publicly?), who knows.

More importantly, what Nouri al-Maliki is willing to go along with (not order, he doesn't have the power to order) at this minute and after more troops are on the ground is also a question mark.

Most importantly, Baghdad is a city.

Al-Anbar Province and Baghdad are where Bully Boy wants to send the bulk of esclation. As Webster Tarpley and Bonnie Faulkiner discussed Wednesday on
KPFA's Guns and Butter, house-to-house, blah, blah, blah (the kind of nonsense that makes Michael Gordon light headed) creates a flank, you have less power to move in a city (tanks, et al). Tarpley compared it to the desperation measures of Hitler when commander-in-chief of the Eastern Front against Russia.

As people get exicted over who may have gotten arrested and who may not have, what al-Sadr might have said or not, what al-Maliki might do or not, what COULD happen this summer, it seems (yet again) some basic realities are being ignored.
Noting one reality is Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers): the illegal war "hasn't turned out the way advocates of the Iraq invasion had hoped or the way Bush and [U.S. Secretary of State] Condi Rice had predicted." Nor the way the New York Times and many others predicted either.

For more reality,
Anthony Arnove, author of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, will be speaking tomorrow as well as next Saturday:

*January 20, 7 pm, Chicago, IL (with Jeff Engelhardt) University of Illinois-ChicagoContact: Adam Turl, 773-567-0936,
*January 27, 5 pm, Washington, DC (with Kelly Dougherty) Busboys and Poets