Friday, September 16, 2005


Mike and I picked two items. He's in a hurry tonight due to a date and I've got plans as well. So what we decided was we would continue to note Democracy Now! in our entries because we believe in this news source and want to do our part to make sure it is noted. But on busy evenings, we'll post them and if we have something to add to them, we will. If we don't, we'll talk about something else.

73-Year-Old Held w/ $50K Bail for "Looting" Sausages (Democracy Now!)
More information is emerging from New Orleans over how the police are treating people accused of looting. A 73-year-old woman remains in jail on a $50,000 bond after police arrested her for looting sixty dollars worth of sausage. At the time of her arrest, the woman -- Merlene Maten -- was staying in a hotel with her 80-year-old husband. She said they had followed orders to stock up on food and had stored some sausage in her car. After she took the sausage from the car, she says police handcuffed her and threw her in jail. A judge then set the bail at $50,000 -- 100 times the maximum $500 fine under state law for minor thefts.

See, above, you learn what's important. Not life. Not humanity. It's all about ownership. Even in a national disaster, that's what it comes down to. The judge, the prosecuter and the police should all be ashamed.

Vatican Orders Review of Homosexuality in Nation's Seminaries
The Vatican has ordered a crack down on homosexuality at seminaries in the United States. According to the New York Times, the Vatican is sending teams of investigators to all 229 seminaries in the country in order to interview every faculty member and seminarian as well as everyone who graduated in the last three years. Archbishop Edwin O'Brien is supervising the review. Last week he told the National Catholic Register that "anyone who has engaged in homosexual activity or has strong homosexual inclinations," should not be admitted to a seminary. He said the restriction should even apply to men who have not been sexually active for a decade or more. The investigators will also be on the lookout for any faculty members who dissent from church teaching. The last such review began about 25 years ago and took six years to complete.

Few witches burning, gets a little toasty. (That's from Tori Amos' "God.")

Rebecca's okay. She appreciates the concern and said to say that if I wrote about this, but she had a cold and found the John Roberts Jr. hearings very depressing.

Kat's already helped her by recommending some good music and Rebecca's feeling much better.

I really do have to run. Not even the time to add a peace quote. So I'll offer my own.

Hope is what we wish for ourselves and others. Peace, itself, requires more than wishing.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


First off, Mike has a great interview with Cedric so make a point to read it if you haven't already.

Now for Democracy Now! (and Mike and I are doing the same items).

170 Die in Iraq Over Two Days of Violence (Democracy Now!)
In Iraq, a suicide car bomber has killed at least 21 people after he rammed his car into a convoy of police vehicles in Baghdad. This comes a day after 150 people died in one of the bloodiest days of the Iraq war. In the deadliest incident on Wednesday up to 114 Shiite day laborers were killed after they were lured to a car packed with explosives. Over a dozen other attacks were reported in Iraq on Wednesday injuring as many as 600 people.

Iraqi Justice Minister Condemns U.S. For Arbitrarily Detaining Iraqis (Democracy Now!)
The U.S. is also coming under criticism in Iraq by the country's Minister of Justice, Abdul Husain Shandal. In an interview with Reuters he condemned the US military for arresting Iraqis without a warrant and for holding thousands of them without charges. The Justice Minister also said he wants to strip immunity from foreign troops.

Operation Enduring Falsehood continues. It will continue until we look at things honestly. That inventory requires us examining the lies we were told, the things that have happened over there and asking ourselves some serious questions. Maybe the "fine tuners" need to make themselves feel better by attempting to rectify their mistakes? If so, they are fooling themselves if they think we are the ones who can fix the problems.

In my practice, one of the biggest difficulties I often have is with people who don't want to deal with their own actions. They want a free pass. They think seeking help by showing up for an appointment somehow absolves them of their actions. But they will not own up, or cop to, what they have done. Those are long term patients because you have to work with them slowly so that they can get over their denial and begin to see how events actually happened.

I think a lot of Americans are in denial. I should say, "In denial still." A lot of American, polls demonstrate this, have awoken from the nightmare and realized how bad things are. But you get people who won't wake up. Those people are probably not going to be reached anytime soon. Others are encouraged not to wake up by people who present themselves as "bright" saying, "We need to fix it."

I cannot begin to count the number of times I have had to review that we cannot fix others, we can only fix ourselves. That's so basic but it's so missed among the people chanting the "fine tune" mantra.

I'll do a quick example. Your name is Judy. You live next door to me. I "accidentally" bomb your house. I tell you not to worry. I'll pay for the repair costs. I build your house back up as I want your house to be.

You are not a child or someone who can't think for yourself. At the most, you needed my money to reconstruct what I've destroyed. You did not need me deciding the layout of your home.

Iraqis are not children. A number of Americans (those chanting "fine tune") seem to think they are.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.
Hannah Arendt, 20th-century German political philosopher and author

Readers of the gina & krista round-robin knew C.I. was in D.C. but since C.I. noted it at the site today, I'll note here that I'm really proud of my friend who never lets anything interfere with activism. We'll all be in D.C. next weekend participating in the rallies and events and I hope many of you will be as well. But if you're unable to attend, I hope you will challenge yourself to figure out more ways you can be active in your own communities. Read C.I.'s editorial from Saturday because Mike told me today that his professor thinks it's the best thing anyone's written about the reporting from Iraq. After you read it, think of ways in which you see myths and lies taking hold around you and attempt to uproot them. rel="tag">Common Ills rel="tag">The Common Ills

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Our common lives

I bet, like most of you, I'm listening to the debate between George Galloway and Christopher Hitchens, moderated by Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman. It hasn't started yet. It's running late. I called Rebecca and she said she'd be listening to and said, "Just write when Hitchens speaks because you won't be missing anything important." After I finished laughing, I thought it was a good idea. So once it starts, I'll be stopping and starting, which Rebecca says she's going to be doing as well. Mike and I are doing the same items and he's also got his interview with Cedric tonight so be sure to visit Mikey Likes It!

Baghdad Suicide Car Bombing Kills 114 (Democracy Now!)
In Iraq, a suicide car bombing has killed at least 114 Shiite day laborers in Baghdad. 220 people were injured. It is believed to be the second deadliest bombing of the war. The explosion went off at 7 a.m. as the day laborers gathered in search of work. Meanwhile another 17 Iraqis were killed after they were dragged from their homes in the middle of the night and shot dead. The executions occurred in the town of Taji.

Suicide car bombs approaching the Green Zone but Operation Happy Talk will go on. I don't think the press realizes how upset Americans are with them. I think C.I. addressed that issue beautifully in "Editorial Reading press releases, live from the Green Zone."

U.S. Expands Attacks on Sunni Strongholds (Democracy Now!)
In Northern Iraq, U.S. forces have widened their attacks on Sunni strongholds in the region. Over the weekend, U.S. and Iraqi forces carried out a major assault on the city of Tal Afar. On Tuesday the U.S. attacked the city of Haditha.

I read that (and there was no time to listen today so I read the transcripts, Kim Gandy is really amazing and you should check out the interview that Amy Goodman did with her) and just shook my head in sadness. This isn't how I see my country. These aren't actions that I'm proud of. Reality probably is that these "missions" will become more common place. Iraq isn't the cake walk we were told and we can't fix it. That's what the "fine tuners" don't grasp. We need to bring our troops home.

Sen. Robert Byrd Calls for Withdrawal From Iraq (Democracy Now!)
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, the Senate's most senior member, Robert Byrd called for the Bush administration to withdraw from Iraq and bring the troops home. Byrd said "We cannot continue to commit billions in Iraq when our own people are so much in need, not only now, in New Orleans, but all across America for everything from education to health care to homeland security to securing our own borders."

Senator Byrd did a brave thing. Ted Kennedy made a similar call and the press ignored it and the other Seantors acted as though he'd never made a statement. Hopefully, others will join in now. Your representatives need to know how you feel. They need to hear from you and they need to know that they can play the DC games but that in their home states, the game's not funny. If we don't press them with phone calls, e-mails, letters and visits, they won't budge. You're going to have to let your representatives know where you stand. Don't count on the fact that someone else will do that for you. Don't tell yourself, "Oh others feel like me and I'll let them speak." Your representative needs to know where you stand.

Well the debate's over. It wasn't even close. Hitchens tried to Bully Boy it by tossing around references and tie-ins to 9/11. He couldn't frame an argument because he was too busy sloganeering. (Some people think he can't frame an argument period. Janeane Garofalo has wondered if he's damaged himself with all his drinking.)

It reminded me of a high school event, actually. Of two people running for class president. And one thinks that everyone loves him so he can just offer slogans. The other was prepared to debate. George Galloway is the one who was prepared to debate. I think he did a great job.
But at the end, when he was winding down the debate, when he called for it to end, I understood.
His argument, other than that we need to leave Iraq, was an attempt to appeal to Christopher Hitchens' better nature. But Hitchens didn't have a better nature tonight.

So Galloway would make statements and arguments and Hitchens would try to come back with jokes and not address the issue. I don't like Hitchens but I honestly felt sorry for him because he made such an idiot out of himself.

I doubt he'll admit that. I see that in a lot of patients. They'll rewrite it in their heads and, over time, convince themselves that they came out on top. I wouldn't be surprised if Hitchens did that.

I really am sad. I'll go read C.I.'s "NYT: Todd S. Purdum "cupping" the story" and hopefully get charged up before I have to participate in the gina & krista round-robin roundtable.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center)
The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.
Jane Addams rel="tag">The Common Ills

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Books, Democracy Now! and Colin Powell gets a make over from ABC

Gina's asked that we note what we picked as a children's book that left an impression at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Confession, I didn't offer one. Everyone was rushing. And time was called. I'm not griping about that and wasn't going to say anything but since Gina wants me to note my pick, I need to note that I didn't offer one.

I'd pick the Nancy Drew books. But note the ones from when I was a child. I found the originals in my elementary school library. They don't have photos on the cover (they might have had dusk jackets, if so the library lost them before I was in elementary school). They were published in the thirties. Nancy had an amazing car with running boards on the side which I thought was the only way a car should look. (My father collected antique cars.)

She was also more independent in the original series. Each series has weakened her in my opinion. Any of the early books from the thirties are my favorites. I liked the Dana Girls as well if it was from the original series.

Gina and Krista are doing a very lengthy essay on children's books in the upcoming gina and krista round-robin. They want to be sure everyone's in the mood for that. This is the official round-robin. Right now, as most of you know, they're doing a daily one during the Roberts' hearings. I participated in the discussion last night and will again Wednesday night. (And the hearings are just now going off on Pacifica.)

Tonight, I think Jim and Cedric are participating along with Ava and C.I. Ava and C.I. are giving time for it every night that the hearings go on and I wish I could but I'm just not up for that.

I find the hearings very frustrating. I see people applauding some who aren't, my opinion, doing much more than grand standing. I think Ted Kennedy was sincere. I'll offer one positive note.
I agree with C.I. that they need to drop the sports metaphors.

This isn't a game, this is the highest court in the land. I really wish someone would make that point to him. Just say, "Mr. Roberts, we're not on a baseball field, we're in the United States Senate. Please conduct yourself appropriately for someone who's nominated to be Chief Justice."

Now Mike and I have three things from Democracy Now! that we'll both be noting tonight so check out Mikey Likes It!

U.S./Iraqi Attack on Tall Afar Kills 200 (Democracy Now!)
In Iraq, at least 200 are dead in the city of Tall Afar after U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a major assault on the northern city over the weekend. On Monday the Iraqi Red Crescent Society sent in aid for families displaced by three days of bombardment. It was the largest attack since the siege of Fallujah. U.S. officials originally portrayed the bombing as essential to stop the flow of foreign fighters from Syria. But the Washington Post reports the targets were largely Sunni Turkmen. According to the Post, the Kurdish militia known as the Peshmerga - not the actual Iraqi army - led the assault. Meanwhile the U.S. is denying an accusation that the military used toxic gases in the attack. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi reportedly posted an audio message online claiming the U.S. was using some type of chemical weapons in the city.

This was a must headline because we don't think this has anywhere near the attention from the media that it should. The New York Times has done an awful job reporting it and as C.I. noted in the editorial, Green Zone reporters don't appear to spend a lot of time out of the Green Zone. In fact, they seem to file stories about what they saw even when they didn't see anything.

Lawyers For Frances Newton Seek Stay On Execution (Democracy Now!)
Lawyers for Texas death row inmate Frances Newton has asked Texas Gov. Rick Perry for a 30-day stay to try to prove that authorities erred in linking her to a presumed murder weapon. Newton is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday night. She is set to become the first African-American woman executed in the state since Reconstruction. Meanwhile the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused on Monday to stop the execution and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted unanimously not to recommend that Perry commute the sentence to life in prison.

How can we call ourselves fighters for "liberty" and pretend that in the midst of the invasion/occupation? Because of the things we do to the people here. Francis Newton clearly deserves another trial due to the new issues raised. But we're going to execute her and act as though it's not a big deal and just life as usual in the US. What's really scary is that this is becoming life as usual in the US.

Journalists Released From Haitian Jail (Democracy Now!)
In Haiti, two journalists have been released after spending the weekend in jail. Independent journalist Kevin Pina and Jean Ristil of the Associated Press were arrested while covering a police raid on a church led by the jailed priest Gerard Jean Juste. Pina is a regular contributor to the Pacifica Radio program Flashpoints.

This is one of the reasons most people don't care about Judith Miller. The New York Times wants to editorialize about press freedoms and attacks on them. But they didn't have an editorial on Kevin Pina and Jean Ristil.

If you read C.I.'s "ABC 'fixes' Colin Powell" and/or Ava's "Note from Ava on ABC's altering Colin Powell's remarks," then you know that ABC fixed a quote by Colin Powell and the fix makes him sound much better. He's not repeating words, he's not saying "uh" repeatedly. He sounds like a smart person who had no hesitation when asked a question. The question is about lying to the people, to the world, when he presented phoney claims at the UN. I think it's disgusting because if you alter a quote, you note it and they didn't. They being ABC. A report they've written up of the interview with Barbara Walters makes Powell look so much better which makes you wonder if that wasn't the point?

No peace quote tonight. I'll grab one tomorrow.

Monday, September 12, 2005

"Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters"

Maria, the patron saint of this site, e-mailed to say she was surprised I only just bought Jack Johnson's CD (In Between Dreams). Maria teaches and she's around high school kids all day so she's always up on all the latest music.

"Never Know" is a favorite of her's too and she asked me to note the chorus:

Never knowing
Shocking but we're nothing
We're just moments
We're clever but we're clueless
We're just human
Amusing but confusing
But the truth is
All we got is questions
We'll never know
Never know
Never know.

It's a great song and it and Joan Baez's Bowery Songs haven't left my CD player. I play them over and over. Baez's CD is amazing and so is Kat's review of it "Kat's Korner: Joan Baez Bringing It All Back Home on Bowery Songs"which you should read if you wondering what the CD is like.

Mike and I agreed on the two items to note from Democracy Now! and here they are with comments.

Rep. Baker (R-LA): "We Finally Cleaned Up Public Housing in New Orleans" (Democracy Now!)
Meanwhile a number of Republican Congressmen have come under criticism in recent days for comments made about the hurricane. Congressman Richard Baker of Baton Rouge was overheard telling lobbyists "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."

There are creeps and then there are those who are even worse than creeps. Some will say, "He just told a bad joke." A bad joke is one without a punchline. This is mocking the very real pain of people who had lived in public housing in New Orleands. Due to the area and the image we have of it, this also goes to being racist. I find it disgusting.

Two Journalists Detained in Haiti (Democracy Now!)
In Haiti, police have detained two journalists including Kevin Pina who regularly reports for the Pacifica Radio program Flashpoints. Pina was arrested on Friday as he filmed the Haitian police searching a church run by the jailed priest Gerard Jean-Juste. A Haitian journalist named Jean Ristil, who works for the Associated Press, was also detained after he tried to photograph Pina's arrest. Haitian officials say they are being held on suspicion of QUOTE "disrespect to a magistrate" and resisting arrest.

Ava, a few weeks back, tried to find some information on Haiti for "The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review." (This week, she was working behind the scenes helping hunt down stories.) Our mainstream news media isn't interested in Haiti. It rarely is. We saw a coup take place there, if we sought out the information. Now, on the verge of elections which will probably be a sham, two reporters who are actually in the country attempting to provide coverage are arrested. Where's the outrage from Condi Rice?

Andrea Mitchell gets roughed up and Condi demands an apology. What exactly is she doing about two journalists being held? Maybe she doesn't grasp the duties of her new post? She never seemed to grasp the duties of her last post.

Be sure to check Mike's site to get his take on them. Mike told me that Rebecca's going to note C.I.'s editorial from The Common Ills Saturday. So Mike and I are going to do the same.

You've probably already seen it, but we think it's saying something that needed to be said.

"Editorial Reading press releases, live from the Green Zone" (The Common Ills)
[Note: This is an editorial.]
What the hell goes on in the Green Zone? Forget the rumors that led to a guild becoming involved (rumors of wild behavior on the part of Times reporters, rumors that someone was fired for telling truths to wives back in the United States, rumors, rumors, rumors), exactly what do they do?
Not a whole hell of a lot.
The big Iraq news of the week was Tal Afar. The Times front paged Kirk Semple's " Baseball in Iraq: As Pastimes Go, It's Anything But." Apparently the jock fumes reach the Green Zone as well. (Though I'll refrain from pinning this one on Todd S. Purdum.)
This is a front page story. Why? Not because it's a big story in Iraq. It's not. It's a piece of disgraceful fluff. It's Operation Happy Talk. And while it goes on, while we're bored with a non-story passing for front page news, the Times can't even report on Tal Afar.
What do they do in the Green Zone?
Yes, Friday, finally, a story ran in the Times on Tel Afar: "U.S.-Iraqi Sweep Arrests 200 in Rebel Staging Area" but the Times receives no credit for that article, it's an Associated Press article. Whatever it's positives or minuses, all the Times did was run a report by another news organization.So what do they do in the Green Zone?
And what the hell is Robert F. Worth? Is he a reporter? Is he an op-ed writer? Read"Basra Bombs Kill 16 Iraqis and 4 U.S. Contractors" and try to answer that question.
I'm unable to grasp how, in a story on bombings, this opening qualifies for a news report:
There was also a piece of good news: American military officials said [. . .]
What did "American military officials" say? It doesn't matter for this discussion. (A contractor was released.) What is that judgement call ("good news") doing in the paper? Is Worth channeling Matt Lauer? Tip to Worth: "In other news . . ." You're supposed to be reporting. You're not there to editorialize. The sentence, the part noted above, reveals all that is wrong with the Times reporting on Iraq."American military officials said . . ." That's the basis for every damn thing. (Yes, I'm tossing around "damn." Call me Bumiller. But "damn" is much more mild than the word I'm saying outloud as I dictate this.) Reporters are supposed to serve as the eyes and ears of the public. That's why they're called the "watch dogs." That's not happening when every "report" is a press release.
"American military officials said . . ." And what did you see Robert F. Worth? What did you hear? Not what were you told. What did you observe all by yourself?
Or does that require leaving the Green Zone? From all accounts, it's Delta House there so who would want to leave -- other than someone with a modicum of taste?
Look they can Boys Gone Wild it or not all they want in the Green Zone, I don't care. I do care what makes into print but I wonder if anyone reporting from the Green Zone does?
I did a conference call with three friends (reporters) on this asking them to play devil's advocate so I could anticipate the responses. (The Times would call the phone call "reporting.")
So here's the big argument. "It's not safe. I could lose my life."
You know what, cover cook-offs. If that's your excuse, cover cook offs. No one's forcing you to be there. The paper certainly isn't forcing anyone. Reporters are choosing to be there. If you're a reporter and you're there, you need to be reporting.
It's not safe, doesn't cut it. It wasn't safe for Daniel Pearl. He went after the story. Others have before him and will after. The attitude of "Oh it's tough here so you have to cut me slack" doesn't wash. You get off your asses or the Times needs to appoint J-school graduates who are ready to dig in and find stories. (Which the Times, being the Times, will water down. But a diluted news report is still more powerful than any of the diluted press releases that regularly get filed.)
There is nothing, I repeat nothing, that reporters can point to with pride coming out of Iraq for the paper. You're not making a name for yourself. The t-shirt you should be furnished with when you depart can only proclaim: "I SURVIVED THE GREEN ZONE." That's all that's being done. Reporting isn't being done. (And the Times is becoming a joke to other print organizations over their "reporting" from Iraq.)
Want a blast from the past? Try this ("More Iraqi Army Dead Found in Mosul; 2 Clerics Slain," November 23, 2004):
Basic services are still unavailable in Falluja, and the valves in the city's main water-treatment plant are still not working. But troops will provide bottled water until the plant and the city's heavily damaged water and sewer pipes can be fixed, the general said.
The general said it, did he? Well Richard A. Oppel. Jr. and James Glanz, did you follow up on that? Or did you just print what you were told? (Rhetorical question.)
Does anyone working for the Times in Iraq do anything more than play telephone chain? Does anyone not buckle immediately?
From Molly Bingham's "Home From Iraq" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution):
The intimidation to not work on this story was evident. Dexter Filkins, who writes for The New York Times, related a conversation he had in Iraq with an American military commander... Towards the end of one of their conversations, Dexter declined an invitation for the next day by explaining that he'd lined up a meeting with a "resistance guy." The commander's face went stony cold and he said, "We have a position on that." For Dexter the message was clear. He cancelled the appointment."
If you're going to discuss Iraq, you have to discuss Filkins at some point. I'm aware it's more pleasing to discuss Judith Miller. But if she had a part in getting us over into Iraq, it's the "reporters" like Filkins who keep us there. For the record, Filkins has denied Bingham's version of the events. People will have to make up their own minds as to whom to take the word of.
While you're attempting to sort that out, let's again note this:
Christian Parenti mentioned Filkins last night on The Laura Flanders Show: "Dexter Filkins politics are very different from the Dexter Filkins politics we know in the New York Times. [In person, he's saying] 'Oh it's awful, the situation is totally out of control.'" That's a paraphrase (I've left out a "Dude" among other things).
Oh, it's awful, the situation is totally out of control?
Didn't seem that way when Filkins reported "In Faulluja, Young Marines Saw the Savagery of an Urban War" -- his rah-rah-rah piece of "award winning" journalism. Six days after the battle (Nov. 15), Filkins' story makes it into print. Exactly how slowly does he type? Exactly whom edited that copy?
From Dahr Jamail's "Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation" (pdf format, you can find the quote below at this site here):
Burhan Fasa'a, a cameramn with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC), witnessed the first eight days of the fighting. "I entered Falljuah near the Julan Quarter, which is near the General Hospital," he said during an interview in Baghdad. "There were American snipers on top of the hospital," who, he testified, "were shooting everyone in sight." The Iraqi Red Crescent would have to wait a full week before being permitted to dispatch three ambulances into the city.
Not quite the way Filkins reported it. For that matter, not quite the way Richard A. Oppel, Jr. and James Glanz report it. (They report that the Iraqi Red Crescent found no one when they entered Falluja. They just fail to seriously address why that is.) It goes beyond Filkins but Filkins has the prize and he contributed the go-go boy gone wild story that portrays a massacre as a video game. Reality: Preceding the blood bath, males of "fighting age" were prevented from leaving that city. The destruction was severe and has not been "fixed." (Does the United States military still provide bottled water? Did they ever? Not what they told you, but what you could verify, please.)
Press releases continue to pass for reporting ("Hussein Confessed to Massacre Order, Iraqi President Says") and they should all be worried. They're the upcoming Judy Millers. They're the laughingstock of many of their peers. (Filkins epecially whose appearance on Terry Gross's Fresh Air is legendary -- and the tales repeated of it are far more interesting than what he actually said on air.)
Let's note this:
On this 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Amy Goodman, host of the national radio and TV show "Democracy Now!" is submitting a formal request to the board of the Pulitzer Prize, calling for The New York Times and its reporter William Laurence to be stripped of the 1946 Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the atomic bomb. Laurence was also on the payroll of the US War Department. Goodman recently wrote an Op-Ed in The Baltimore Sun (written with journalist David Goodman, her brother) called "The Hiroshima Coverup" (see ).
Goodman said, "William Laurence and the New York Times won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the atomic bomb, and his faithful parroting of the government line was crucial in launching a half-century of silence about the deadly lingering effects of the bomb. It is time for the Pulitzer board to strip the atomic bomb apologist and his newspaper of this undeserved prize."
This is Filkins future. I used to assume that it would take place long after he was gone. (And long after I was gone.) But he's the one reporters bring up to me. They're friends and they know I consider his reporting proganda. (Had the election gone differently, would his story have been more realistic?) So maybe they're just saying what they say to please me? I don't think so. (I could, as always, be wrong.)
But away from them, when you walk someone through Filkins reporting, someone who has no idea who he is, they grasp that its people like Filkins that keep us in Iraq.
By failing to report accurately what Operation Enduring Falsehood did (and what they do) they allow a number of otherwise well meaning people to think "fine tuning" is an answer. (Filkins is also a laughing stock for a TV appearance I missed. He supposedly minimized a trial for the abuses of Abu Ghraib -- with regard to instructions from above.) Fine tuning isn't an answer. As Filkins allegedy told Parenti, "It's totally out of control." Until that truth makes it into the reports, I'm saddened by those who argue fine tuning and aren't war hawks but I don't blame them for the failures of the press to report reality. They're being short changed. (Hawks aren't. They don't need excuses to continue war. They thrive on it the way some in the Green Zone thrive on the chaos.)
But here's the reason Filkins may feel the bite while he's still alive. Some domestic reporters in the United States aren't speaking fondly of the embeds. They're pointing fingers right now as the clampdowns that reporters have gone along with in Iraq come home to the United States.
The Boys Gone Wild are also a joke to people who've served in the area. And those first hand accounts will continue to come out. A Worth or Glanz will be embarrassed for being so quick to print press releases, but Filkins was in Falluja. He saw with his own eyes and he didn't report.
The bodies, the limbs piled up in the streets, Filkins somehow missed. And he was there. A friend at one of the top ten (circulation) dailies has gone from lukewarm support of Filkins' infamous "reporting" to outright disgust with it. The opinion is there is no "comeback" from it. That Filkins could do a mea culpa and return his prize and he'd still be damaged goods.
That kind of talk may not make it into the Green Zone but Filkins should worry. And so should the paper.
In an early November piece on Falluja (this one co-written with James Glanz), a military officer told Filkins that "it ought to go down in history." Filkins accepted the gung-hu attitude, too bad he didn't consider the words themselves. This will go down in history. This will haunt the Times and it will haunt Filkins.
Amy and David Goodman may not get the Times stripped of a Pulitizer (though I hope they do) but just addressing the issue accomplishes something. And when the issue of Dexter Filkins is seriously addressed it will further tarnish the paper's name.
With Judith Miller, the paper waited far too late to address the situation. (Both her reporting itself and the legal argument they attempt to make -- they not Millers' attornies.) If they hem and haw with regards to what passes for "reporting" from Iraq currently, they'll further hurt their already badly damaged reputation. In the meantime, by not revisiting the press releases they published, they do real reporting, democracy and the people of the United States a huge disservice because they're not reporting. It took Cindy Sheehan to act as the spark to wake up a nation. The Times could have done that long ago with some strong reporting. It shouldn't be the job of the editorials to try to later straighten out the reporting.
And as the press in the United States feels they're under attack, they're making some rather rude comments about those in the Green Zone that they feel have condoned this sort of behavior.
Democracy Now! noted the following Friday:
The journalists who have been covering Hurricane Katrina have literally been risking their lives for the last week. Reporters have been stationed in and around New Orleans since the Hurricane hit and have tirelessly reported on the devastation to the city. Some journalists have expressed enormous outrage at government officials for their slow response. A few television reporters openly broke down on air as they report the horrific conditions and the desperation of victims. Reporters have witnessed the militarization of the city and are starting to feel the effects of the government crack-down on information gathering. FEMA is now rejecting requests by journalists to accompany rescue boats searching for storm victims. In addition, journalists are being asked not to photograph any dead bodies in the region. NBC News Anchor Brian Williams reported on his blog, that police officers had been seen aiming their weapons at members of the media. And a blogger named Bob Brigham wrote a widely read dispatch that the National Guard in Jefferson County are under orders to turn all journalists away. Brigham writes: "Bush is now censoring all reporting from New Orleans, Louisiana. The First Amendment sank with the city."Earlier this week, Reporters Without Borders issued a warning about police violence against journalists working in New Orleans. They highlighted two cases – in one case police detained a Times-Picayune photographer and smashed his equipment to the ground after he was seen covering a shoot-out with police. In the second case, a photographer from the Toronto Star was detained by police and his photos taken from him when police realized that he had snapped photos of a clash between them and citizens who the police claimed were looters.
Those in the Green Zone may have kidded themselves, if they were non-Arabic, that they weren't being controlled. It was just the Arabic reporters suffering, right?
A Dexter Filkins could cancel the meeting with the resistance and kid himself that he made the choice. (Like Madonna' s ludicrous claim in the nineties that the difference was she chained herself.) The "choices" that have been made are now impacting reporters outside the Green Zone and they aren't amused. That's why the Times should be concerned. The rumblings and grumblings are coming from their competitors. Not from independent media, which the Times would easily dismiss (as it so often does). I don't know that other dailies are doing a better job than the Times (the daily I read is the New York Times). Other reporters seem to think to think they are. Three reporters in particular (two at one organization, one at another) are mentioned repeatedly (by press not affiliated with the two organizations).
The Times is aware that Judith Miller has become the fall guy for every reporter that gave breathless (and non questioning) coverage to WMD claims. So they're familiar with the concept of a fall guy. (They've also created a few over the years.) They should be really concerned right now because although Filkins isn't the "name" that Miller is (even people who didn't read her reporting in real time can now list the problems with it), he'll quickly become that. One reporter trying to cover New Orleans has already used Filkins as an adjective to express dismay over conditions that authorities attempted to impose. ("They thought I'd do a Filkins!")
Whereas the derision of Miller began with the independent press, Filkins' is starting at the top. Again, he wrote a first person account of what happened in Falluja. That's hard to come back from as details continue to emerge about what didn't get reported in that piece of melodrama.
The paper should be very worried. It took years for the criticism of Miller to go beyond independent media. If Filkins gets burned by the mainstream press, it will be a much harder hit than any criticism the Times faces over Miller.
The fact that they've continued to offer press releases won't help them either. They should have dealt with this long ago. They need a new chief in Baghdad and they need it right away.
What Americans need is some honest reporting.

Shirley asked me to put my e-mail address in an entry every now and then so I'll do so now: (Those who have my personal e-mail from when I substituted for Rebecca can continue to use that.)

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center)
Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters. African Proverb