Hold the War Criminals to account.
May 31, 2005
Time To Declare War On The Bush Mafia In Washington
Retired lieutenant colonel Robert Bowmangives scathing speech on Iraq policy:
I will not stand by and watch an appointed president send our sons and daughters around the world to kill terrorists for the oil companies.
Amnesty International: Arrest Bush, Rumsfeld
Amnesty International has called for foreign governments to seize US officials and try them as War Criminals:
'Our call is for the United States to step up to its responsibilities and investigate these matters first,' Executive Director Schulz says. 'And if that doesn't happen, then indeed, we are calling upon foreign governments to take on their responsibility and to investigate the apparent architects of torture.'Listen up, folks, for Christ's sake. This is Amnesty International!!! They don't put their reputation on the line for nothing! Click the link to view the substance of the allegations.
BushWorld: Nothing Succeeds Like Failure
There's been a lot of talk lately about the job performance awards given to two Army analysts who falsely reporting that aluminum tubes purchased by Iraq could be used as centrifuge parts to enrich uranium. But the truth is that these guys are just the tip of the pile: there have been countless cases of such "mistakes" being handsomely rewarded. Add the together and a very sinister pattern emerges.
In fact, if anyone ever asks you to prove that the stated policies of the Bush administration (eradicate terrorism, bring peace in the Middle East, spread Democracy) are not the goals that it is actually pursuing (US Global Empire, Zionist Christian Rapture), you only have to look at how they have protected and rewarded those who have helped them achieve their dirty agenda.
BuzzFlash reader YT Cai has some timely analysis of the major players:
Marion "Spike" Bowman (FBI Agent) - when Zacarias Moussaoui came under suspicion as a person of interest enrolled in an American flight school it was Bowman who found no probable cause to issue a FISA warrant thus keeping investigators from looking into Moussaoui's computer which arguably could have uncovered the 9-11 plot. When the likes of Sen. Charles Grassley says Bowman didn't deserve the Presidential Rank Award afforded, one has to wonder exactly what was Bowman told to do by superiors when field agents expressed real concern about a hijacking plot in the making. Maybe some day the administration will build a Stone Wall in Bowman's honor.There now must exist a cast of hundreds for this Team Bush "success by failure" list. Does anyone know of a more detailed listing?
George Tenet (former head of the CIA) - not only did the 50 plus warnings about 9-11 get past Tenet, he ultimately convinced Bush that the weapons of mass destruction case against Saddam Hussein was a "slam dunk." Who could forget the assuring Tenet seated behind Colin Powell when the then Secretary of State made the WMD case to the UN, giving more credibility to a portfolio strong on graphics but rather flimsy on the facts? Upon leaving of his own accord Tenet was presented with a Presidential Medal of Freedom, although the Broken Time Piece would have been more appropriate, with which he'd be right at least twice a day.
L. Paul (Gerry) Bremer (former proconsul in Iraq) - another chartered member of the Presidential Medal of Freedom club, Bremer was brought in after the quick dismissal of Jay Garner to set in motion a number of policies that would smoothly pave the way for an Iraqi interim government. Among the more obvious Bremer failures are an Iraqi insurgency that picked up steam due to Bremer's inability to provide real security or any meaningful reconstruction, especially by not getting essential services like electricity, septic or water systems up and running. Bremer even went as far at one point to blame the Democrats for the deteriorating situation. Add in the billions of Iraqi dollars that came up missing and the widespread torture that took place, that he should have been aware of, and you have a prime candidate for the Humpty Dumpty Award in Nation Building.
Alberto Gonzales (Attorney General) - former counsel to Bush and crafter of memoranda that dismissed the Geneva Conventions as quaint and mucked up traditional definitions of torture directly leading to the lowest level of international esteem our once highly regarded nation now holds. Instead of becoming upwardly mobile Gonzales should have been named the Torquemada Fan Club's Man of the Year.
Condoleezza Rice (Secretary of State) - the former National Security Adviser under whose watch the worst terrorist attack on American soil occurred is a real mover and shaker in the Bush administration. She was put in charge of the Iraq occupation that went steadily down hill under her watch, with billions of dollars of US taxpayer money going unaccounted for or unspent which contributed to the ill will towards our troops. Condi would, though, qualify for the Fear Factor Academy Award for her talk of mushroom clouds and imminent attacks which helped the administration bring to market the Iraq War product line.
Paul Wolfowitz (head of The World Bank) - this former Under Secretary of Defense, and neo-conservative extraordinaire, was the mastermind of shock and awe democracy. He used to regale us with tales of welcoming Iraqis and a war that would be self funded by Iraqi oil. When he nearly bought the farm on his last trip to Iraq he quickly scurried off to accept his Chickenhawk Little Medal, along with a plum new position where he can work more of his magic on third world countries.
John Bolton (Under Secretary of State for Arms Control) - it must be something about the title "Under Secretary" that screams "Screw Up." The only real threat to America from the Axis of Evil has literally "gone nuclear" on us following Bolton's continual insults and goading. Now that North Korea is cranking out nukes at a frightening pace it is no wonder that Bolton is up for an ambassadorship, and to the UN of all places. Could the plan be to get all nations to go nuclear so as to promote world balance? If approved, then Bolton will surely gather up the Bull in the China Shop Award for the fifth year running.
And of course, let's remember that top of the list must be the reformed (?) AWOL cocaine addict and drunkard himself, George W. Bush, a failed student, air force pilot and CEO, who was somehow selected as a puppet candidate for US President, then somehow rewarded again with four more years in power.
The list extends beyond the USA to Bush's Coalition of the Swilling, too. In Australia today, for example, our pathetic pro-war "opposition" is asking the Howard government to explain why it failed to chase up concerns it raised 10 months ago about possible breaches of international law by American troops in Iraq. The Defence Minister had no answer, not could he explain why the Australian military officer in Iraq who failed to report evidence that US troops were violating the Geneva Conventions had not been disciplined. I presume he has been promoted instead.
May 30, 2005
Bush's "War On Ahem!" Hits A Dead End
The USA's illogical stance on terrorism since 9/11 has reached its logical conclusion. Osama bin Laden and his top henchmen remain on the loose. The Al Quada organization has morphed into a far more widespread and dangerous network, while sympathy for their agenda has increased across the Muslim world. If there is a better yardstick for registering the failure of Bush's policies, let me know.
Last Friday saw co-ordinated anti-US demonstrations in Pakistan, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Indonesia, Malaysia and elswhere.
Such growing "anti-Americanism" (which in this context really means "anti-Bushism") has spread even further than the Middle East, with anti-US sentiment now markedly stronger than it was four years ago even in countries like Australia, which are supposedly US allies.
Today comes news from Washington that the Bush administration is moving away from their existing anti-terror policy toward what a senior official called a broader "strategy against violent extremism."
The shift is meant to recognize the transformation of al Qaeda over the past three years into a far more amorphous, diffuse and difficult-to-target organization than the group that struck the United States in 2001...What is that supposed to mean? The vaccum is in Bush's head, for Chist's sake. Townsend's comment suggests that terrorism can never be stopped because there will always be new recruits willing to step into the place of bin Laden & Co. If that's her mindset, she should resign.
President Bush's top adviser on terrorism, Frances Fragos Townsend, said in an interview that the review is needed to take into account the "ripple effect" from years of operations targeting al Qaeda leaders such as Khalid Sheik Mohammed, arrested for planning the Sept. 11 attacks, and his recently detained deputy. "Naturally, the enemy has adapted," she said. "As you capture a Khalid Sheik Mohammed, an Abu Faraj al-Libbi raises up. Nature abhors a vacuum."
The "change in policy" is in fact an admission of failure.
Here's a timely example of just how wrong things have gone. Following the recent massacre of innocent civilians in Uzbequistan, and despite the US media and warbloggers' deathly silence on the matter, a US delegation headed by GOP Senator John McCain has visited President Islam Karimov to demand a proper enquiry. The Uzbek President's response? He totally ingored them:
It is a sign of the times that President Karimov and all his officials refuse to meet the senators and their news conference took place in the US embassy basement. Before Andijan, US visits were generally grand affairs, attended by top officials and given great play on state television.After all, Karimov has a US airbase sitting on his soil. He also knows all about the secret CIA renditions of US prisoners to his country. Most importanly, Karimov knows that despite all the media bluster (or lack of it) his real mates in the USA - Bush, Cheney and the gang - are well and truly on his side. Dictators R US!!!
So what's all this crap about "Democracy on the march"? The Iraq war wasn't about WMDs, it wasn't about terrorists and now we know well and truly that it wasn't really about spreading Democracy either.
Conyers Demands Answers - HELP HIM NOW
John Conyers, Jr. has written a letter to Bush concerning the "Downing Street Memo" - and he is asking for your support. The letter includes these important questions:
1)Do you or anyone in your administration dispute the accuracy of the leaked document?Click the link above to sign the memo and keep the pressure on Bush to provide answers.
2) Were arrangements being made, including the recruitment of allies, before you sought Congressional authorization to go to war? Did you or anyone in your Administration obtain Britain's commitment to invade prior to this time?
3) Was there an effort to create an ultimatum about weapons inspectors in order to help with the justification for the war as the minutes indicate?
4) At what point in time did you and Prime Minister Blair first agree it was necessary to invade Iraq?
5) Was there a coordinated effort with the U.S. intelligence community and/or British officials to 'fix' the intelligence and facts around the policy as the leaked document states?
May 28, 2005
No News Would Be Good News
In case you haven't heard, Arthur "Good News" Chrenkoff has been exposed as a liar on the Australian government's payroll.
Now a close look at his "Good News" series shows this disturbing pattern:
Despite 13 Chrenkoff posts since May 2004 about "Good news" on Iraq electricity, the daily average has gone from 11 hours a day to just 8.8 hours a day, while total production has dropped from 3902 to 3260 megawatts.
Thanks to tex at antiwar.com for the link.
May 27, 2005
HYPOCRISY EXPOSED... AGAIN!
Where, in the week after the Great Newsweek Error, is the comparable outrage in the press, in the blogosphere, and at the White House over the military's outright lying in the coverup of the death of former NFL star Pat Tillman? Where are the calls for apologies to the public and the firing of those responsible? Who is demanding that the Pentagon's word should never be trusted unless backed up by numerous named and credible sources? Where is a Scott McClellan lecture on ethics and credibility?
"BUT FIRST TONIGHT..."
The Newsweek management team who backed down on the Koran-flushing story have offered their resignations en masse after an FBI report contradicted their backdown and then Guantanamo Bay military commanders admitted that mishandling of the Koran has in fact been repeatedly used as a prisoner intimidation tactic. In their defence, the Newsweek management team said they aquiesced to White House demands for the sake of saving lives rather than defending journalistic priveleges.
In Australia, meanwhile, the entire country's media has also resigned en masse after failing to properly inform the public of the FACTS in the Shapelle Corby drug-smuggling case. Media representatives said they were overwhelmed by the emotional side of the story after receiving inducements from unknown sources.
And back in the USSA, a US soldier has admitted:
1. He went into an Iraqi's house with a private,
2. He came out,
3. He went back in again,
4. He killed an Iraqi,
5. He fired the Iraqi's pistol into a sofa,
6. He told the private to put the Iraqi's fingerprints on the pistol.
Staff Sergeant Shane Werst said he could not explain why he did this, but proudly told the judge, "I would still to this day fire on that man, sir."
The judge in the case, Colonel Theodore Dixon, did not explain why he sponteneously decided to find Werst not guilty of obstruction of justice.
Shortly thereafter, a jury of four soldiers and two officers deliberated for less than three hours before finding Sgt Werst innocent.
Elsewhere, Donald Rumsfeld said that reporting of such stories around the world was a major problem for the "War On Ahem!" He said blogs and other freaky new-age mediums were a big part of the problem. And he followed the Karl Rove Obfuscation Playbook by calling all those who oppose US Global Empire fascists and Nazis.
Bring Our Yer Dead...
Monday is Memorial Day in the USA. Expect 24 hypocritical hours of full-blown media-saturated nationalistic, militaristic self-gratification. Bush will at least be forced to acknowledge the deaths of US soldiers. But what about the real victims of his illegal war? Diane at Daily Kos presents a memorial to dead Iraqis.
In the NYT, Bob Herbert quotes arch-Republican slimebag Tom DeLay urging Americans to reject "the treacherous notion that while all human lives are sacred, some are more sacred than others."
People have been murdered, tortured, rendered to foreign countries to be tortured at a distance, sexually violated, imprisoned without trial or in some cases simply made to "disappear" in an all-American version of a practice previously associated with brutal Latin American dictatorships. All of this has been done, of course, in the name of freedom...
Warfare, when absolutely unavoidable, is one thing. But it's a little difficult to understand how these kinds of profoundly dehumanizing practices - not to mention the physical torture we've heard so much about - could be enthusiastically embraced by a government headed by men who think all life is sacred. Either I'm missing something, or President Bush, Tom DeLay and their ilk are fashioning whole new zones of hypocrisy for Americans to inhabit.
May 26, 2005
USA Setting An Example... For Dictators
Harsh criticism for Bush's USA from Amnesty International:
'The USA as the unrivalled political, military and economic hyper-power sets the tone for governmental behaviour worldwide,' secretary-general Irene Khan said. 'When the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a licence to others to commit abuse with impunity.'Australia was also singled out for criticism, including its atrocious refugee policies and sycophantic acceptance of US torture policies. And Israel gets more than the usual mention.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan says the report is offensive and ridiculous. This is the same hypocrite who thinks the Newsweek Koran-flushing story was an outrageous lie that cost lives (or did it?), but the Pentagons lies about Pat Tillman's death were quite OK. Makes Saddam's Comical Ali look credible, doesn't he?
Here are some PDF links to the Amnesty Reports, courtesy of the BBC:
Introduction to the 2005 Report
A-Z of Countries in the Amnesty Report
"Spirit of America": Where Does The Money Go?
I've been looking through the SoA Jan-Dec 2004 financials, though I am not sure it's a worthwhile use of my time.
Anyone can cook the books, after all, and Jim Hake was a successful entrepreneur long before he got into SoA. While we shouldn't assume these figures are phoney (the allegations of incompetence and biased propaganda are serious enough) it would be very surprising if the SoA Financials didn't look at least as good as their website...
Anyway, here are the big ticket SoA expense items, based on the Total Expenses shown for each fund:
Health Iraq - $2,839,128
Health Afghanistan - $1,007,065
1st Marine Division - $150,837
TV Marines - $148,154
Friends of Democracy- $100,230
Blogging Tool - $71,403
Tools Marines - $66,799
Sewing Machines - $55,951
Project Fund - $45,290
Back To School - $31,721
Special Ops Afghanistan - $22,701
USAF Chaplains - $19,161
Of these, the two Health funds are far and away the biggest projects, accounting for over $2.8 million. The Health money in Iraq went on 15 pallets of "pharmaceuticals and hospital items" ($1.7 million) plus an unspecified "Agency Order" for over $1 million. A similar unspecified $1 million "Agency Order" covered the total Health expenses in Afghanistan.
The projects featured on the SoA site don't provide much more information about where this Health money went. The main Iraq health-related project I can see on the blog says "InMed Partnerships for Children, a non-profit organization from Virginia, donated $1.8 million worth of medicine. Spirit of America, a charity from Los Angeles, organized the transportation of the goods ..." - so that wasn't even SoA money, by the look of it.
We could ask Jim to explain where this money went. But what the heck, eh? I mean, in the current environment of anarchy and chaos surrounding Iraq and Afghanistan, it would be the easiest thing in the world to fake some receipts, bribe some officials, launder some cash... whatever! In this case, I think the testimony of a (previously) loyal person like Ali is a lot more indicative of what's really going on.
I also think they key thing here is to realise that Jim Hake is not on a money-making mission so much as a mission to glorify the neocon vision of a benign US global empire (benign as long as you play their game, of course). What's interesting is that the website strongly features all the minor programs, for which relatively small funding has been allocated, yet it doesn't explain where the big money is going. And when the money does get handed out, it seems that it gets handed out not by SoA staff but by US Marines and other uniformed US troops. In other words, as Ali complained, the propaganda element is always the key.
Or, as George W. Bush once said:
See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.More news: Ali Fadhil has banned me from his Free Iraqi site and deleted most of my comments. I guess it was always going to be hard for him to be seen taking sides with the dreaded " ITM troll" but the fact that he is banning me again is disappointing, particularly as (once again) he fails to give any explanation.
If you share Hake's neocon world vision, Ali, then your half-hearted attempts to expose him are bound to end up looking ridiculous. And if you don't share that vision, you are going to have to confront what you and your brothers have been doing all these years at Iraq The Model. It's no use saying sorry if you aren't going to stop playing their game.
May 24, 2005
A Good Look At "Spirit Of America"
[update: latest on ITM here]
It seems the only people on the right who are taking Ali Fadhil's accusations seriously are the people he has accused of incompetence and lies - Jim Hake's supposed charity, "Spirit of America". Today yet another page appears on their website trying to convince donors to keep sending money (SoA already posted two pages by way of explanation: here and here).
Ali accuses Hake's team of massive dishonesty, corruption and incompetence. He says that SoA's accomplishments are "so small and so lacking that they should be ashamed of mentioning them" - Hake, of course, takes care to mention every one of them in detail. And yet a good look at SoA's projects indicates that Ali's allegations are totally true: donors' money has been used for US war propaganda purposes and little else. But more of that later.
The main problem is, SoA has not even tried to address Ali's most serious allegations, which involve the strange behaviour of SoA CEO Jim Hake and his former "Director of Logistics and Procurement" Kerry Dupont. As Ali said,
"I'm not diappointed with SoA because I think they were stealing donors money... I'm disappointed because they lied to us, both Iraqis and Americans."Ali details some of Dupont's "strange behaviour" ...
she told us that if Jim did not approve the budget they she has 300 000 $ that we could use to do what we want...Three hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money to be throwing around, folks. And let's remember, this was happening while Paul Bremer was (supposedly) running Iraq and US$800 million was disappearing! Add two and two together and you would have to think that the money Dupont was offering came from those same taxpayer-funded coffers. But how the hell did Kerry Dupont get authorised to hand it out? Prior to her (extensive) involvement with Iraq The Model, Dupont was (as far as I can tell) just a plain old mother of two from Topsham, Maine. What happened on the way to Baghdad, Kerry?
Mohammed seemed to recall her saying tht it was Kerry's personal money while I recall her saying it wasn't.
Ali also indicates that Dupont behaved in this "strange" way on many other occasions. In particular, he says she warned the Fadhil brothers to stay away from US contractors in Iraq because they had links to the US military and were therefore dangerous:
"If they don't leave you, let me know and I'll contact the DoD and they will kick them away"!Excuse me? Wasn't the whole idea for US contractors and ordinary Iraqis to work together to rebuild the country? As Ali says, his two brothers met with Bush in the White House - what could be more dangerous to a US-loving Iraqi's reputation than that?!?
That White House meeting with Bush is at the core of this whole issue. When Ali complained to Jim Hake about Dupont's behaviour, Hake said the news was "very, very disturbing." And yet instead of sacking Dupont and thanking Ali for his help, Hake dumped Ali from the trip (Ali says he decided not to go but it seems the decision was extremely mutual). So Kerry Dupont was right there with Jim Hake and Ali's two brothers, Omar and Mohammed Fadhil, when they met with George W. Bush and Paul Wolfowitz in the White House in October, 2004.
It gets wierder. After the trip, Hake kept contacting Ali, offering him "any position I wanted and any salary I would find suitable". Any salary, Jim? Again, where would Hake get unlimited funds like that? SoA was in damage control, but what did Ali know that was worth so much to Jim Hake?
Here's my conclusion:
Jim Hake set up Spirit of America as an opportunistic scam to grab all the cash and political opportunities he could get from Bush's mad Iraq free-for-all. The big meeting with Bush was set up through a network of friends leading to arch-neocon Paul Wolfowitz (a man who frequently directed reporters to the Fadhil's Iraq The Model blog, by the way). When Ali started asking difficult questions, Hake dumped him from the trip. Afterwards, when he found that he couldn't buy Ali off, he sacked Kerry Dupont.
Now let's take a closer look at the glossy projects featured on SoA's website. Like Ali said, it looks GREAT...!
Based on Ali's allegations, there are seven Spirit of America projects under discussion.
1-Production of radio and television Public Service Announcements by the Iraq Ministry of Women’s Affairs to encourage women to vote.
Ali's story and Jim's story are in direct conflict here. Ali says the secretary of the Women's ministry asked for $10,000 but Jim sent her to Ahmed Al Rikabi, who wanted to charge $30,000. Hake says the women wanted $50,000 and he talked them down to $35,000. Even then, he admits, half this money has gone missing!
Hake has also failed to properly explain his relationship with Ahmed Al Rikabi, the owner of Dijla Radio, which ran adverts for SoA's fledgling "Friends Of Democracy". Hake says SoA has "no ongoing relationship" with the "corrupt" (Ali's word) Mr Al Rikaby, yet he still "communicates with him periodically". Well, why are they still in communication, may we ask?
Jim also fails to even respond to this allegation from Ali:
"Jim told one of my friends to arrange for an Ad. on DIjla Radio. My friend contacted the radio by mail and told them that he was contacting them on behalf of their American friends in SoA. They told him they will manufacture the Ad. for 200$/ minute. My friend who is a businessman by nature called them on the phone and asked the same request but he did not say who he was. They responded saying they will do the Ad. for him for 100$/minute! My friend did the ad with the lower price but also told Jim about the incident."As with the Dupont incident, it seems, Jim's response was to ignore the problem. Hard to argue with Ali's conclusion:
"It didn't matter to him what those people think or how they used American money. All that mattered that they would look good to Americans."
2-Securing the rights to and subtitling in Arabic documentaries about elections in post-dictatorship countries for broadcast in Iraq.
Hake says SoA spent $2,800 researching this only to conclude that it was not possible. That's $2,800 wasted. And why was the SoA website not updated when the project was canned?
3-Providing $1,000 microgrants to 150 Iraqi women community leaders identified by the Iraqi Women’s Educational Institute.
Hake says this was scaled back from 150 women to only 25 women because of a lack of funds. Yet the funds are still sitting idle (it seems) because SoA is waiting for the Institute to request them! So much for proactive assistance to Iraqis! And once again, why was the SoA website not updated when the project was scaled down?
4-Production and broadcast of citizen roundtables and townhall meetings.
Again, scaled back with no explanation or website update. As Ali says:
"My friends were simply left no time to do anything other than present news to American audience after translating them on the "Friends of Democracy" website and they were even told to "leave it for the time being and focus on the news" (Because it brings more money and publicity I think)."What I don't understand is that these Iraqi "friends" of Ali's all seem to be volunteers, and he claims his brothers are also volunteers. So who are the people SoA is actually paying for this kind of work ("staff, operations, etc")?
5-Support for Iraqi intellectuals who wish to publish and create public dialog on constitutionalism and the new Iraqi constitution.
Hake confirms Ali's analysis:
"Nothing was done on this project and it's completely forgotten also."
6-Creation and hosting of an Arabic blogging tool.
This appears to be SoA's one and only real accomplishment. But wait a minute - what is it, actually?
Iraqis lack medicines and fresh water, their children are dying of malnutrition, and Hake is giving them what? A blogging tool, so they can tell the world all the good news about Bush's Iraq! Even if they did have a computer and some literacy skills, many Iraqis wouldn't even have the electricity to write a blog! And if they really did want to write a blog in Arabic, why not use some other software?
Well, now, here's the thing: Hake's team control the servers on which these "Arabic blogging tool" blogs are written. And they monitor the content to ensure that only US-friendly content is being produced. Both Hake and the Fadhils have confirmed this in previous comments. In other words, this blogging tool is really a US propaganda tool, pure and simple.
And of course, like the war itself, it's still suffering "technical difficulties"!
7- Support of a network of pro-democracy student groups and community organizations called “Friends of Democracy” ...
Hake says the vast bulk of SoA's expended funds - US$123,710 - were spent on this and the organization "was given considerable discretion to use the funds". He says "part of" that money was spent on Internet access and computers, as well as lectures and training. Once again, remember, this is all so that grateful Iraqis can get on the Internet and sing Bush's praises.
Let's look at some of Spirit of America's other projects: buying polaroid cameras for US soldiers so they can take pics of good news incidents, supporting "pro-democracy" demonstrators in Beirut (but not Uzbequistan, of course), improving the morale of Coalition Troops at Fort Tal Afar... Even seemingly worthwhile projects, like providing schoolbooks (whose version of history?) and promoting women's rights, seem to have a pro-US ideological edge to them.
Given all of the above, one can only conclude that Jim Hake's Spirit of America is not only an unbelievably incompetent organisation, it is also far more of a Bush propaganda tool than anything that could remotely be called a "charity". As Ali suggests, the real aim of "Spirit of America" seems to be a means of furthering the US neocon agenda and promoting Jim Hake's own personal political ambitions.
UPDATE: Ali has now posted another long list of further evidence and questions for Jim Hake to answer. He includes a link to another Iraqi blogger, Fayrouz, who also has gripes with Hake's organization. And the comments section includes this from Jeffrey - New York:
Here's the overview from the "financials" file:UPDATE 2: Hake has posted yet another page to explain what happened to that $500,000 Ali asked about. Problem is, he really hasn't explained it in terms of real projects. I'm assuming most of it went on "administration". And Hake also explains why he walked away from "Friends of Democracy" - it was too dangerous, it was totally unneccessary, and nobody was interested anyway. Funny, that's not how it sounded on their website, is it?
>Summary through December 31st, 2004
>Total Donations: $6,895,508
>Admin Expenses: $ 423,858
>Program Expenses: $4,576,176
>Total Expenses: $5,000,034
>Admin Exp as % of Donations: 6.1%
>Admin Exp as % of Total Expenses: >8.5%
># Donations: 17,077 (a/o Feb. 21, 2005)
Have any of you taken a close look at the "financials" file? I have.
I'm sorry, people, but Ali is right. This is a scam. Over 7 MILLION dollars have been donated to SoA and what do they have to show for it? Lots of money spent on salaries, furniture, office equipment, and travel expenses and on and on. Hey, Jim, I thought 100% of the donations were going directly to the Iraqi people?
May 23, 2005
BushWorld: Ignorance Is Bliss
What does it take for a story to get "traction" these days? Why do some stories run and run ad nauseum, while others cannot even get a mention on page 99?
For example, the WaPo today says new information suggests that senior intelligence officials in the government appear to have had doubts about the Bush's case for war with Iraq. Well, excuse me, but that's not gonna get much traction, is it?
How about a big cover saying BUSH LIED and then a 20-page spread documenting every single one of the Bush lies in full detail. How about reporting the facts:
For example, an Australian Liberal senator employs a liar to spread pro-war propaganda and who cares? The media rush to his defence instead of demanding his resignation!
Another example. An Iraqi blogger exposes a US charity as a bogus propaganda fraud. Who cares?
Well, certainly not all the crazed right-wingers who worshipped his every word while he was telling them what they wanted to hear! No word of Ali Fadhil's controversial (well, you would think so) accusations against Spirit of America on Roger L. Simon's blog today, even though he once called for SoA CEO Jim Hake to take over Kofi Annan's job. Glenn Reynolds is already over it. So is Michael Ubaldi. Tim Blair and Arthur Chrenkoff don't even seem to know about it. Hell, even Ali's own brothers at Iraq The Model are treating him as an embarrassment that is best ignored.
If a tree falls in the Amazon and nobody blogs about it, is it really dead? If millions of people around the world know Bush lied, but Rupert Murdoch doesn't want his papers to report it, does that mean it didn't happen? If we all want the moon to turn blue, and if we all close our eyes and wish hard enough, and then we all pretend it's blue, is it really blue?
Every day I read through stories like this and I am consumed with such sorrow I could cry...
At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.But at least Omar Fadhil is going to bed with a smile on his face tonight.
"Leave him up," one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.
Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.
May 22, 2005
Ali Fadhil Exposes Spirit Of America Lies
Well, about time. Ali Fadhil has finally explained what really happened between him, his brothers and Jim Hake's Spirit of America "charity". I congratulate Ali for speaking up:
I'm disappointed because they lied to us, both Iraqis and Americans. They used my brothers (and still are using them) to get to their goals which have nothing to do with the interests of Iraq or America. They are reassuring Americans that a great job is being done in Iraq through their donations, where in fact the good things that were accomplished are so small and so lacking that they should be ashamed of mentioning them. Not to mention that there are harmful things done without them caring to do anything about it.Ali looks closely at SoA's stated goals in Iraq and reveals how little of substance has really been achieved.
I'm not sure what SoA's real agenda is but it seems to me that Jim has some personal political ambitions that he wants to achieve through SoA. This has become more obvious to me before and during that trip to America. But let me offer some details about my personal encounter with SoA's team (which I tried to avoid mentioning) and why I grew suspicious about them...
There were 7 objectives included in SoA "Friends of Democracy" project. What happened to these projects that were receiving donations for months now and that are still featuring on their website? I'll tell you what I know...Ali also reveals some "strange behavior" from original SoA bigwig (now sacked) Kerry Dupont.
Besides her unacceptable behavior, Kerry Dupont told us lies after lies. One of which and the easier to mention here is that she told us that if Jim did not approve of the budget then she has 300 000$ that we could use to do what we want, but we told her that we prefer to deal with SoA...Now where would Kerry Dupont have got $300,000, unless she had a very big piggy bank, or some very close ties to the people handing out cash in Paul Bremer's Iraq?
Ali says SoA CEO Jim Hake was shocked to hear about Dupont's offer, but more concerned that the scandal would mess up his planned meeting with the Fadhils, Bush and Wolfowitz in the White House. Here's Ali's analysis:
That should tell us something about the man's priorities and how important that trip was for him. He wasn't concerned about the "great job" we were about to do or the great relationship that was ruined; no he was only concerned about the trip.It's all a bitt too much, isn't it? As Ali concludes:
Jim wanted to meet Bush SO bad and he knew he would never get that chance without our help, which is what he admitted to Mohammed later. But he didn't even ask for our help. He used us to get to what he wanted while telling us lies and giving us a vague schedule for the trip. I told my brothers more than a month before the trip, "these people want us to meet Bush" they didn't believe me at that time....
The "deal" about the meeting was also that Bush would mention SoA in one of his speeches, and don't ask me who set up this deal because I really am not sure who's the other part and what were they benefiting, but it is what I heard from Mohammed who heard it from Jim himself.
Anyway, it seems that Bush was not very impressed with SoA's work and did not mention them as far as I know, yet Jim got a huge propaganda after this meeting that helped him promote his organization and expand its activities.
Does this look like an honest NGO to anybody? Does it look to anyone that these people are really concerned about Iraq or America? And what about their un-done, hugely publicized projects? If anything happened that prevented them from following their original objects, shouldn't they inform their donors about it? Should I have just ignored all this mess and "grabbed" what ever I could for myself or even to help my country? What about the Americans who are giving all this hard earned money with a real love for Iraq and their country? Shouldn't that matter to me? Maybe money grows on trees in America... but even that wouldn't be an excuse to accept all this deception and abuse.SoA has reponded to Ali's exposure in the expected style:
Some people seem to think that we probably shouldn't judge charitable organizations that harshly when they follow their own agenda. Ok, what about the blood that is being spilled on a daily basis in Iraq; American and Iraqi blood, and the huge amounts of money America is pouring to Iraq? Should we be gentle with people whom all that they could see in this horrible bitter war is a chance for a political promotion??
So what about my previous allegations that Ali Fadhil and his brothers at Iraq The Model were involved in US PsyOps? Well, Ali's posts make it sound like he, at least, may have only been unwittingly involved. But they also prove that Spirit Of America is running a smoke and mirrors campaign, presumably on behalf of their top sponsors - Paul Wolfowitz's neocons.
Following the recent exposure of Arthur "Good News" Chrenkoff as a liar and an employee of an Australian Senator in John Howard's "war party", these new allegations also makes it look like the whole tight-knit mob of rightwing "warbloggers" may soon have some explaining to do.
I'll be posting a lot more on this when I can.
May 20, 2005
Does Anyone Give A Shit?
So. The Downing Street "smoking gun" memo has been blasted off the front pages - if it was ever going to get there - by the orchestrated hysteria around Mike Isakoff's Newsweek toilet story. Another PR victory for the Goebbels imitators in the White House.
The parralels between these two stories are hard to ignore. As Juan Cole says:
When Newsweek's source admitted that he had misidentified the government document in which he had seen an account of Quran desecration at Guantánamo prison, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita exploded, "People are dead because of what this son of a bitch said. How could he be credible now?"Cole has carefully documented the whole sad story of Bush's lies and deceptions, detailing a host of earlier stories that back up the smoking gun memo. Read his article at Salon.com. This is likely to become the first point of reference on the matter for some time to come:
Di Rita could have said the same things about his bosses in the Bush administration.
Tens of thousands of people are dead in Iraq, including more than 1,600 U.S. soldiers and Marines, because of false allegations made by President George W. Bush and Di Rita's more immediate boss, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, about Saddam Hussein's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and equally imaginary active nuclear weapons program.
...every single piece of evidence we now have confirms that George W. Bush, who was obsessed with unseating Saddam Hussein even before 9/11, recklessly used the opportunity presented by the terror attacks to march the country to war, fixing the intelligence to justify his decision, and lying to the American people about the reasons for the war. In other times, this might have been an impeachable offense.Yep, times sure have changed. Greg Palast makes a similar point:
In the old days, Isakoff's discovery would have led to Congressional investigations of the perpetrators of such official offence. The Koran-flushers would have been flushed from the military, panels would have been impaneled and Isakoff would have collected his Pulitzer.Palast argues that the 32-year-old Watergate scandal would never be revealed these days because it involved a hidden source versus official denial. He says unnamed sources are now "OK if they defend Bush, unacceptable if they expose the Administration's mendacity or evil".
No more. Instead of nailing the wrong-doers, the Bush Administration went after the guy who REPORTED the crime, Isakoff.
Was there a problem with the story? Certainly. If you want to split hairs, the inside-government source of the Koran desecration story now says he can't confirm which military report it appeared in. But he saw it in one report and a witnesses has confirmed that the Koran was defiled.
Of course, there's an easy way to get at the truth. RELEASE THE REPORTS NOW. Hand them over, Mr. Rumsfeld, and let's see for ourselves what's in them.
To illustrate the point, Palast tells an illuminating story about the state of reporting in today's USA:
A few years ago, while I was tracking the influence of the power industry on Washington, Isakoff gave me some hard, hot stuff on Bill Clinton -- not the cheap intern-under-the-desk gossip -- but an FBI report for me to publish in The Guardian of Britain.Before 9/11, hardly anybody in the USA gave a shit about Al Quaeda, the Middle East, or the rest of the world for that matter. I hate to say it, but it seems that only another 9/11 will shake the US public out of it's self-induced stupor.
I asked Isakoff why he didn't put it in Newsweek or in the Post.
He said, when it comes to issues of substance, "No one gives a sh--," not the readers, and especially not the editors who assume that their US target audience is small-minded, ignorant and wants to stay that way.
To quote Cole again:
When Americans realize Bush's war hasn't made them safer, they'll be outraged at his lies.That's assuming they even give a shit.
May 19, 2005
US PsyOps Behind Baghdad Bombs?
Riverbend's Baghdad Burning blog is definitely worth a read today.
The last two weeks have been violent. The number of explosions in Baghdad alone is frightening. There have also been several assassinations- bodies being found here and there. It's somewhat disturbing to know that corpses are turning up in the most unexpected places. Many people will tell you it's not wise to eat river fish anymore because they have been nourished on the human remains being dumped into the river. That thought alone has given me more than one sleepless night. It is almost as if Baghdad has turned into a giant graveyard.I've often suspected that US PsyOps forces would have planted some of the bombs going off around Baghdad. Riverbend says such rumours are rife following a recent incident:
People from the area claim that the man was taken away not because he shot anyone, but because he knew too much about the bomb. Rumor has it that he saw an American patrol passing through the area and pausing at the bomb site minutes before the explosion. Soon after they drove away, the bomb went off and chaos ensued. He ran out of his house screaming to the neighbors and bystanders that the Americans had either planted the bomb or seen the bomb and done nothing about it. He was promptly taken away.
May 18, 2005
We live in Orwellian times indeed:
1. An explosive "smoking gun" memo surfaces, proving that Bush carefully planned the removal of Saddam Hussein long before the issue of WMD's had even surfaced, yet the US press virtually ignores it.
2. Hundreds, if not thousands, of pro-democracy protesters are being massacred by an evil Central Asian dictator who boils people alive, yet the warbloggers have nothing to say on the matter. The Bush White House just express concern. Where's that pre-emptive invasion plan, George?
3. Anti-US protests erupt across the Muslim world and the Bush White House blames a magazine for running a story that has been getting reported in various other publications for the last two years. Never mind that the reporter who wrote the story is the same guy who broke the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Oblivious to the irony, the same wardogs who bayed for Clinton's scalp are now baying for Newsweek's destruction. Hmmn, does that sound like a setup to you?
The news organization turns to the administration for a denial. The administration says nothing. The news organization runs the story. The administration jumps on the necks of the news organization with both feet — or has its proxies do it for them.4. Meanwhile, back home in Oz, a right-wing warblogger in the employment of a Liberal Senator is exposed as a liar, yet instead of demanding his resignation "The (ahem!) Australian" newspaper leads the attack on those who question his credibility.
That’s beyond shameful. It’s treasonous.
Is it any surprise to read that all the televisions in the White House are permanently switched on to FOX NEWS?
US Hypocrisy Exposed
A hypocritical stance is just like a lie: sooner or later you are going to be exposed. A few roosters are coming home to roost this week.
As the Bush administration finally begins to voice concerns over the violence in Uzbequistan, it seems there may have been thousands, not hundreds, of pro-democracy protesters who have been labelled "Terrorists" and slaughtered by the US-friendly regime"
a sergeant in charge of the bridge at the border village of Kara Suu said he believed that 2,000 had been massacred during three days...It's not like the Bush Boyz coudn't have seen this one coming. After all, Uzbek President Karimov has been one of the nastiest dictators on the planet for years. But he helps the USA torture people, so he's OK by George.
...the massacre in Uzbekistan, an American ally in the fight against terrorism, could become the deadliest assault on civilians since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.
Meanwhile, the USA's hypocritical stance on the UN oil-for-food scandal is also being exposed:
A report published on Monday night by Democratic staff on a Senate investigations committee presented documentary evidence that the Bush Administration was made aware of illegal oil sales and kickbacks paid to the regime of Saddam Hussein but did nothing to stop them.Now this is another dirty little Bush secret. Following the fall of Baghdad there was a rush to find the incriminating oil-for-food documents (damn the museums!). Ahmed Chalabi hired an old friend from KPMG accountants, Mr. HANKES-DRIELSMA, to investigate where the funds went. But when Chalabi was busted in a CIA raid, the KPMG papers disappeared and Drielsma's hard disc was smashed. The KPMG report was never released.
The scale of the shipments involved dwarfs those previously alleged by the Senate committee against United Nations staff and European politicians such as the anti-war British MP George Galloway and the former French interior minister Charles Pasqua.
In fact the Senate report found that US oil purchases accounted for 52 per cent of the kickbacks paid to the regime in return for sales of cheap oil - more than the rest of the world put together.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Board of Supreme Audit had appointed international accountants Ernst and Young to perform a separate investigation. But in July 2004 Ihsan Karim, the Iraqi official heading the investigation, was killed in a mysterious bomb attack.
It looked like the Bush Boyz had won the race. It wasn't long before they started using the incriminatinn evidence against Kofi Annan and the UN, particularly invasion opponents France and Russia. Anna's son was forced to resign. People like John Bolton were shouting that the UN was in urgent need of reform...
Who's in urgent need of reform now, eh?
May 17, 2005
Khaled El-Masri: Too Incredible To Be True?
Or can we not handle the Truth?
Yet another Google Search on "Khaled el-Masri" shows this blog, amazingly, is currently rated the #2 resource on the Web for this story:
"Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | G2: Khaled el-Masri ...... James Meek hears Khaled el-Masri's account of life in America's secret ... that he is a German citizen, born in Lebanon, called Khaled el-Masri. ...So is this story true or not? In an effort to determine the facts, the German government is apparently analyzing the DNA of a single strand of el-Masri's hair.
www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1390256,00.html - 44k - Cached - Similar pages
Bush Out (by Gandhi)... A Google News Search on 'Khaled el-Masri' today brings up just a handful of ... The officials said that when Khaled el-Masri was taken from a bus on the ...
bushout.blogspot.com/2005/ 04/khaled-el-masri-wheres-media-am-i.html - 24k - Cached - Similar pages
Scientists at the Bavarian archive for geology in Munich are currently using a method called isotope analysis, which can search for trace elements such as sulphur, to roughly determine where in the world el-Masri has been in recent months.And yet a previous New York Times article on this story claimed that Condoleeza Rice's department had admitted the error:
A German citizen detained for five months in an Afghan prison was released in May 2004 on direct orders from Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, after she learned the man had been mistakenly identified as a terror suspect, government officials said.That NYT story is already moving to the archives, so you will have to pay to access it!
This is in spite of the fact that MSNBC confirmed the NYT report, revealing that CIA head George Tenet had knowingly kept el-Masri is detention for months:
Macedonian officials arrested El Masri first and told the CIA that El-Masri’s German passport was fake. His name set off bells because it matched someone who had trained in Osama bin Laden’s camps.The prestigious German Der Spiegel has also confirmed the story.
A CIA "black renditions" team swept into Macedonia and then flew El-Masri to a prison in Afghanistan nicknamed the "Salt Pit."
In February, CIA officers in Kabul began to suspect he was the wrong man, and they raised the red flag. They sent his passport back to the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Va. In March, sources say, the CIA finally finished checking his passport and found it was not a fake. The Macedonians had been wrong. The CIA realized it had the wrong man, a genuine German citizen, in custody.
60 Minutes interviewed el-Masri and confirmed that the plane alleged to have "rendered him left Skopje, Macedonia, and went to Baghdad and then Kabul on the day in question
The very thought that this blog is just about the last place where this explosive story is still being reported is, quite frankly, simply astonishing. Is this an example of the US media doing what their goevernment tells them is their patriotic duty? Will the German government report the truth, if they find that DNA samples prove el-Masri's story? Stay tuned...
Uzbek Crisis: Blame The West
Ahmed Rashid explains why Western powers must bear the blame for Uzbekistan crisis:
"After President Islam Karimov's American-trained crack troops massacred an estimated 500 people on the streets of Andizhan, the Uzbek leader insisted that the victims were Islamic terrorists. They were not. But the real danger is now that Islamic extremists, rather than democratic forces, will exploit the power vacuum.Are we really so arrogant that we can never admit mistakes?
Much of the blame for the present crisis rests on the shoulders of the United States, Britain and European powers who since September 2001 have refused to support democracy and instead propped up dictatorships in Central Asia...
Just Say NO To Violence
The next big media story could be how many thousands of US soldiers are deserting:
'If I am sincere in what I say and there's consequences because of my actions, I am prepared to stand up and take it,' Sgt Benderman said. 'If I have to go to prison because I don't want to kill anybody, so be it.'How big an issue is this for the US military?
The most recent Pentagon figures suggest there are 5,133 troops missing from duty. Of these 2,376 are sought by the Army, 1,410 by the Navy, 1,297 by the Marines and 50 by the Air Force. Some have been missing for decades.US military recruiters are failing to meet their targets and getting desperate:
But campaigners say the true figure could be far higher. Staff who run a volunteer hotline to help desperate soldiers and recruits who want to get out, say the number of calls has increased by 50 per cent since 9/11. Last year alone, the GI Rights Hotline took more than 30,000 calls. At present, the hotline gets 3,000 calls a month and the volunteers say that by the time a soldier or recruit dials the help-line they have almost always made up their mind to get out by one means or another.
After several cases where recruiters had illegally covered up recruits' criminal and medical records, threatened one prospect with jail for failing to meet an appointment and provided another with laxatives to help him lose weight and pass a physical, the Pentagon is halting all recruiting on 20 May for a day of retraining.
Koran Flushing: Newsweek Got It Right
As usual, rather than admit another major error in the "War On Ahem!", the Bush administration has made a knee-jerk lie and blamed Newsweek for misreporting. As usual, the rightwingers are jumping all over Newsweek.
Good on Newsweek for trying to take some of the blame in an effort to calm the violence which is now raging across the Muslim world. But the truth be told, their reporting was not at fault.
For all the rightwing loons who are visiting lately, here's a full reprint of Calgacus's comments at Antiwar.com:
Contrary to White House spin, the allegations of religious desecration at Guantanamo published by Newsweek on May 9, 2005, are common among ex-prisoners and have been widely reported outside the United States. Several former detainees at the Guantanamo and Bagram prisons have reported instances of their handlers sitting or standing on the Koran, throwing or kicking it in toilets, and urinating on it. Prior to the Newsweek article, the New York Times reported a Guantanamo insider asserting that the commander of the facility was compelled by prisoner protests to address the problem and issue an apology.PS: Showing characteristic lack of imagination, Tim Blair argues that the story MUST be wrong because it is simply impossible to flush a whole book down a toilet. Of course, even that wasn't an original Tim Blair idea - he got it from fellow nutcase Frank Salvato. So here's how it works, guys. You rip a page out of the holy book, wave it in front of the bloodied interrogation suspect's face, shout something obscene and insulting, then flush it down the loo. Then you take another page, and another... And all the while, you are yourself taking a page out of the book of other famous book-burners like #1 rightwing hero Adolf Hitler.
One such incident (during which the Koran was allegedly thrown in a pile and stepped on) prompted a hunger strike among Guantanamo detainees in March 2002. Regarding this, the New York Times in a May 1, 2005, article interviewed a former detainee, Nasser Nijer Naser al-Mutairi, who said the protest ended with a senior officer delivering an apology to the entire camp. And the Times reports: "A former interrogator at Guantanamo, in an interview with the Times, confirmed the accounts of the hunger strikes, including the public expression of regret over the treatment of the Korans." (Neil A. Lewis and Eric Schmitt, "Inquiry Finds Abuses at Guantanamo Bay," New York Times, May 1, 2005.)
The hunger strike and apology story is also confirmed by another former detainee, Shafiq Rasul, interviewed by the UK Guardian in 2003 (James Meek, "The People the Law Forgot," Dec. 3, 2003). It was also confirmed by former prisoner Jamal al-Harith in an interview with the Daily Mirror (Rosa Prince and Gary Jones, "My Hell in Camp X-Ray," Daily Mirror, March 12, 2004).
The toilet incident was reported in the Washington Post in a 2003 interview with a former detainee from Afghanistan:
"Ehsannullah, 29, said American soldiers who initially questioned him in Kandahar before shipping him to Guantanamo hit him and taunted him by dumping the Koran in a toilet. 'It was a very bad situation for us,' said Ehsannullah, who comes from the home region of the Taliban leader, Mohammad Omar. 'We cried so much and shouted, "Please do not do that to the Holy Koran."' (Marc Kaufman and April Witt, "Out of Legal Limbo, Some Tell of Mistreatment," Washington Post, March 26, 2003.)
Also citing the toilet incident is testimony by Asif Iqbal, a former Guantanamo detainee who was released to British custody in March 2004 and subsequently freed without charge:
"The behavior of the guards towards our religious practices as well as the Koran was also, in my view, designed to cause us as much distress as possible. They would kick the Koran, throw it into the toilet, and generally disrespect it." (Center for Constitutional Rights [.pdf], Aug. 4, 2004.)
The claim that U.S. troops at Bagram prison in Afghanistan urinated on the Koran was made by former detainee Mohamed Mazouz, a Moroccan, as reported in the Moroccan newspaper, La Gazette du Maroc. (Abdelhak Najib, "Les Américains pissaient sur le Coran et abusaient de nous sexuellement," April 12, 2005.) An English translation is available on the Cage Prisoners site (which describes itself as a "nonsectarian Islamic human rights Web site").
Tarek Derghoul, another of the British detainees, similarly cites instances of Koran desecration in an interview with Cage Prisoners.
Desecration of the Koran was also mentioned by former Guantanamo detainee Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost and reported by the BBC in early May 2005. (Haroon Rashid, "Ex-Inmates Share Guantanamo Ordeal," May 2, 2005.)
May 16, 2005
After such knowledge, what forgiveness?
A new survey shows major differences in how journalists and the general public view modern-day journalism:
In one finding, 43% of the public say they believe the press has too much freedom, while only 3% of journalists agree...Editor and Publisher suggests the results are skewed because too many of the "journalists" involved are white, well-paid, college-educated and managerial-level.
Six in ten among the public feel the media show bias in reporting the news, and 22% say the government should be allowed to censor the press. More than 7 in 10 journalists believe the media does a good or excellent job on accuracy--but only 4 in 10 among the public feel that way. And a solid 53% of the public think stories with unnamed sources should not be published at all.
Perhaps the widest gap of all: 8 in 10 journalists said they read blogs, while less than 1 in 10 others do so.
Given that 4 in 10 of them can't see any bias in the media, I'd say too many of the "public" were idiots, too (just like the previous survey from the same university which found most young respondents thought the US government should be allowed to censor everything that gets published). Maybe they should read more blogs.
The Battle For Australia's Soul
I had a bad dream last night. I think it was a flashback to a job interview I had at News Ltd about 20 years ago, when I briefly entertained the idea of becoming a journalist (I gave it up after a whisky-sodden Reuters editor told me I was too good a writer for the job).
A spotty-faced Janet Albrechtsen, wearing cheap lipstick and black lingerie, was doing a lesbian-style pole dance with Pauline Hanson and Amanda Vanstone in the middle of the News Ltd foyer in Surrey Hills, while over the office speakers Rupert Murdoch's disembodied and soul-less CEO voice was whispering repeatedly "Welcome to the Dark Side... Welcome to the Dark Side.. Welcome to the Dark Side.."
Next thing you know I am in the interview room. It's pitch dark and my arms are shackled to the wooden chair. A faceless News Ltd editor is leaning over me and shining a bright light in my face:
"The invasion of Iraq was legal, fair and justified, wasn't it?" he hisses.
"No!" I cry.
"9/11 changed everything. We must all support the War On Terror. Those who are not with us are with the terrorists."
"Those prisoners in Gitmo deserved what they got. Your government knows what's best for you. We've gotta support the Bush Doctrine agenda. Nothing you do or say is going to change it anyway. Two plus two is five... Guards! Take him away to Uzbequistan!!!"
I woke up in a cold sweat. Out in the garden, a cat in heat was making wierd gurgling noises...
It was 5:00 am. I got up, made myself a coffee and logged on to my PC to check out the latest happenings in the raging online controversy about Arthur Chrenkoff's bogus blog.
Under pressure, Tim Dunlop at Road To Surfdom had decided to edit my comments and removed contact details for Chrenkoff's employer, Liberal Senator Brett Mason:
As should be pretty clear, I don't think AC should be sacked... I do, however, think his employment is relevant given the political nature of what he does. Media Watch has already noted who he works for, and the info recorded in ghandi's comment is easily and publicly available.What a lame, half-ass response, Tim.
People can call for AC's sacking, though, again, it's not a position I support. On balance, though, I think there is maybe a case to remove the contact details, so that's what I've done.
But ain't that just the way it always goes with these warbloggers? Liberals and middle-of-the-road observers, overwhelmed with a stream of hysterical invective and sensationalized lies, far too often decide they had better give the warbloggers/neocons/neonazis the benefit of the doubt. So instead of getting headlines screaming BUSH LIED! we get reports that Saddam MAY have WMDs still hidden somewhere, or MAY have been planning to get them someday, or MAY have... blah blah blah.
For example, Tim posts a link to some Chrenkoff propaganda eye candy published in the New York Times. Now why is the NYT publishing this crap? Because they have got hundreds of readers and shareholders and politicians telling them that they are way too biased against Bush & Co and they had better do something to maintain the "balance" if they don't want to expose themself to further criticism and - inevitably - some unspecified form of retribution from Bush's powerful friends.
This is what it must have been like in pre-war Germany when anyone dared voice criticism of the Fuhrer's plans for racial purification and global domination. It's a Washington sickness that has spead across the globe. And thanks to Rupert Murdoch, Australia is in the thick of it.
You want an example of over-the-top hysteria? The Murchoch-owned The Australian editors decided this Chrenkoff affair is so very important that they dedicated a weekend editorial to the issue. Here it is in full:
VIEWERS of ABC television's Media Watch program last week must have felt that The Australian's columnist Janet Albrechtsen had done something really wrong. For the "soft left" journalism of Media Watch, her real crime was to contest the media focus on the bad news out of Iraq. But, rather than substance, Media Watch searched for a chink to smear Albrechtsen. It came in an Albrechtsen quote: "When something positive does happen it either gets filtered through the anti-war eyes of the media or is all but ignored. And that's what the terrorists are counting on. They must detest The Wall Street Journal. Each fortnight the paper's website (www.wsj.com) includes a round-up of good news from Iraq ..." Gotcha, suggested Media Watch's Liz Jackson. Media Watch couldn't find the good news round-up on wsj.com. That was until it linked to a "spin-off site", a "sister site" or a "Dow Jones" website OpinionJournal.com. There, the round-up of Iraq good news was the work of a Brisbane blogger, not a WSJ journalist. His blog was not edited, nor paid for. Albrechtsen had falsely given it the credibility of The WSJ.Pressure, pressure... There will be a lot of eyes on Media Watch tonight. Let's hope they have the balls (or whatever the female equivalent is) to stand up for The Truth. That's what they are being paid for, right?
Not. The Opinion Journal editor James Taranto points out that Opinion Journal is in fact a WSJ website. It's the website of the paper's highly influential editorial page. Both he and its assistant editor work for the WSJ print edition as well. They pay the Iraq good news contributor a modest fee and edit his work. Taranto would have told Media Watch this if they'd have rung. Albrechtsen was correct to say The WSJ's website carries the Iraq good news round-up. Her "honest, and very small error" was to refer to the wrong WSJ website. "Since the goal was to make another journalist's honest mistake look like a deliberate misrepresentation, one cannot credit Media Watch with acting in good faith," Taranto says. The Australian looks forward to Media Watch's correction on Monday night.
And here's the thing. The people at Media Watch know exactly what Janet Albrechtsen's agenda is, as do we all. And we all know what Arthur Chrenkoff is doing with his Good News series. Of course it is pure propaganda. Look, for example: here's some guy in Toledo quoting Chrenkoff as an expert to make his own pro-war spiel sound more professional:
"The Sunni involvement in the new government … is a nightmare scenario for (the insurgents) - it means the loss of their only constituency," said the Australian web logger Arthur Chrenkoff, on whose blog I found the al Sharq al Awsat story.Sickeningly incestuous crap, isn't it? And remember, Arthur not only does not get paid (much), he also does not do commentary (much).
The big question, really, is not whether these people are biased but why? What does Chrenkoff get out of supporting the Bush lie machine? What does Albrechtsen get? What does Rupert Murdoch get?
Well, Murdoch gets relaxed media ownership laws (for starters). Albrechtsen gets by-lines, sicko celebrity status and kudos from the well-attached. And Chrenkoff is on a nice little earner, not to mention comfortably employed by a Liberal Senator who swore on oath that PM John Howard is NOT a "Lying Rodent" (who's got yer ass, eh, Johnny?).
Personally, I am still waiting for the Australian's apologies for helping John Howard mislead the public about Children Overboard, the invasion of Iraq and assorted and associated lies. That's the real scandal.
As TVnewslies dares to ask the editors of the NY Times:
On the front page of every issue of your publication you proclaim that we will find "All the News That's Fit to Print." Unfortunately you have not lived up to that proclamation for quite some time...UPDATE: Well done, MediaWatch, for not backing down on this. Tim Dunlop picks up the threads of a dying story, complaining all the while that journos don't take bloggers seriously enough. Well, no wonder. Meanwhile, taxpayer-funded Arthur Chrenkoff would rather talk about Star Wars.
Sibel Edmonds: " I am gagged, but not dead; not yet. "
May 15, 2005
Attack Of The Loons
Judge a person by the company they keep? Following the recent controversy over exposed warblogging liar Arthur Chrenkoff, my blog has come under attack from a number of sides. Someone called Meryl Yourish graciously provides a few helpful links:
If this doesn't make you laugh, nothing will. First, put down your drink and stop eating your lunch. Now, read Dave's take. Then Judith's. Then Tim's. Here's Arthur's response. And the blogger that started this laff-fest, using the pseudonym — I kid you not — Gandhi.So who the John Howard is Meryl Yourish?
I am a writer. My first non-assigned piece of writing was a poem I wrote in sixth grade; it is titled "Ode to a Hummingbird," and the first lines were "If I were a hummingbird/A little, tiny hummingbird," ...Another Jewish blogger named David - who at least admits "I do not know enough about Islam to hate it" - joins in the ridicule:
I am a Zionist. I am an avowed, unabashed, unashamed supporter of Israel and Zionism (the establishment and maintenance of a Jewish state) and an uncompromising foe of anti-Semitism. If you hate Israel and Jews, you're going to have an unpleasant time on my weblog if you try to bash Israel and Jews. Do the smart thing: Leave now. And do let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.
Furthermore, if Gandhi is so against lies, how come he doesn't speak out against some of the biggest lies to have been perpetuated in recent times, including the lie of the "Palestinian" nation?Here's another example of rigorous intellectualism from David:
Judith's right. He really is the hole of a donkey.
After months of blogging, I have decided to change my policy of referring to the Arabs who claim to be "Palestinians" as "palestinians".Now, these guys are just itching to call me an anti-Semite. Because that's how their narrow little world-view works. With us or against us, right or wrong be damned. Bereft of logic, their only arguments against me are personal ridicule.
Where possible, I shall now refer to them as "PLO Arabs."
I strongly encourage all other right-wing bloggers to follow suit, since even the word "palestinian", with no capital letter, somehow aknowledges their claim that they were a distinct national group living in what was then known as Palestine. But the more I learn about the history of the time, the more I realize that the only group referred to as "Palestinians" were the Jews living there at the time.
As Mahatma Gandhi himself once said:
First they laugh at you.
Then they fight you.
Then you win.
May 13, 2005
Sorry, But The News From Iraq Really Is Sad!
Like Afghanistan before it, US-occupied Iraq has now become a 'key drug route'. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) says lawlessness and lack of border control have helped Iraq become a major trafficking route for Afghan heroin.
Add that to the latest Reuters report on child labour in Iraq:
More than a million youngsters work often enduring hazardous conditions, as well as being vulnerable to sexual abuse and violence, according to a report released at the end of 2004. The report was based on a nationwide survey in which 19,610 Iraqis participated.Not a pretty picture is it? But hey! Perhaps you'd rather hear some GOOD NEWS instead, right?!?
The project was a joint effort between the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and several Iraqi ministries, including the Ministry of Health (MoH), Ministry of Public Works and Social Affairs (MoPWSA) and the Ministry of Education (MoE)...
The main reason for child labour in Iraq is poverty. Nearly 25 percent of the country's population lives below the poverty line, according to the interim government...
According to the 2004 survey, nearly 1,300,000 children, aged between eight and 16 were working. This represents 6.1 percent of the country's population.
In addition, the survey revealed long working hours, with 27 percent of children working for more than eight hours daily.
David Corn has a good idea for the White House press corpse:
Imagine if the next person Bush called on had said, 'I was going to ask about something else, but I don't believe anyone in the room should ask another question until you've given a full and serious answer to the previous one.' And, then, if Bush tried to call on another editor, that editor would say the same thing. And on and on. I am Matt Cooper. I am Spartacus. So to speak.
Rightwing "good news" Aussie warblogger Arthur Chrenkoff admits that he lied to the ABC's MediaWatch program (and his readers, and his critics) about his financial payments from Dow Jones (the company that owns and runs the "Opinion Journal" and the "Wall Street Journal") for their republication of his "good news" segments.
Poor Arthur says he was just "responding to what I thought was an intrusive and irrelevant question". In other words, when the Media Watch producer asked him whether he received payment for his sickeningly one-sided propaganda pieces, Arthur panicked and lied. He then went on to attack the Media Watch program for their lack of ethics!
But don't be too hard on the poor man:
By the way, if you are coming here to gloat, please make sure you leave your contact details in the comments sections, as I will want to visit you in person to pay homage to a person who has never told a lie in their life. I'll be also bringing a rock or two as a gift, to add to your already large collection of first stones.What a wanker.
Bolton UN Nomination Goes To US Senate
Republican senator George "Pontius Pilate" Voinovich caved in to massive White House pressure:
"I am not so arrogant to think that I should impose my judgment and perspective of the U.S. position in the world community on the rest of my colleagues."Come on, man - that's why you were on the damn committee! It only needed one vote from the 10 GOP members of the 18-person committee to sink the nomination. None dared stand up to Bush's gangsters.
The GOP has an even larger majority in the Senate, so it is now quite likely the nomination will pass. As Voinovich asked:
"What message are we sending to the world community when in the same breath we have sought to appoint an ambassador to the United Nations who himself has been accused of being arrogant, of not listening to his friends, of acting unilaterally, of bullying those who do not have the ability to properly defend themselves?"Indeed. It sounds like a description of Bush's USA, doesn't it? As one Democrat on the committee said:
"This represents very basic questions about one's mind-set about the United States, about the United Nations and about international law."The world is watching...
May 12, 2005
Why Do They Hate US? (part 1,498,764)
The May 9 edition of Newsweek reported that interrogators at Guantanamo placed Korans on toilets to rattle suspects, and in at least one case 'flushed a holy book down the toilet.'
Incensed Afghans have responded with rioting that has spread across four provinces.
Meanwile, there is not much Western meida coverage of anti-US protests in Iraq, even though these have the blessing of Al-Sistani.
Al-Zaman/AFP/DPA: Shiite followers of Sistani in Karbala demonstrated on Monday, demanding that Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari distribute to the people their flour rations (the rations had been established under the oil for food program of the United Nations). They complained that this key foodstuff had not reached them for four months. They also demanded an end to corruption and bribe-taking by the police. They further insisted that a timetable be set for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq.UPDATE: Condi Rice respons to the Afghan riots - which have now killed seven people - by telling all Muslims to renounce violence. OK... You invade a country without justification, kill 100,000 or more of its citizens, trample on human rights and the Geneva Convention, then tell people to renounce violence. Right...
Reminds me of this Steve Bell cartoon. When are these people going to get the message?
UPDATE 2: Incisive analysis from the (supposedly tres left wing) New York Times:
The United States military is still trying to analyze whether the violence is politically driven, instigated by outsiders or a sign of general public frustration with the slow pace of reconstruction in the country, said a spokesman, Col. James Yonts. Local governors might also be encouraging protests against the central government and its American backers to improve their own standing ahead of parliamentary elections in September, said Jandad SpinGhar, head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission in Jalalabad.So that's it - a choice of four options. How about  Afghans and Pakistanis might be sick and tired of a US government that supports the militant fools running their countries and dragging them into military action against fellow Muslims, outraged by the US lies about Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, and ready to demand something like real Democracy, not just the phoney White House version of it centralized in heavily fortified downtown Islamabad and Karachi.
The More Things Change
Thanks to Daily Kos for this great quote:
"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are [a] few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."
- President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 11/8/54
A Lame Duck? Or a Turkey?
John Conyers explains why the US media is unable to properly interpret Bush's historic low poll numbers:
"They wonder: how can a President, just re-elected, have such low poll numbers and hold positions on the issues that are so unpopular? Is he already a lame duck?
Better questions: was he just re-elected legitimately, or was voter suppression and machine malfunction or malfeasance used to manipulate election results? In other words, maybe these polls, rather than our broken election system, better reflect the true will of the people.
I was just a two-bit shamus in a seedy office on the wrong side of town... That dame had bigger problems than I knew how to solve...
- Sparky T. Penguin, private eye
Bush White House Terrorized USA with Fake Alerts
Remember the chart that showed the relationship between Bush's approval rating and terror alters? Now Tom Ridge himself has said there was massive outside pressure from the White House to raise the terror alert despite flimsy evidence:
"More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it," Ridge told reporters. "Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on (alert). ... There were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said, 'For that?' "Once again, the critics were right.
I was watching a TV quiz show the other night. For a chance at $1 million, this guy had to answer what country did imprisoned Nobel Prize Winner and genuine freedom fighter Aung San Suu Kyi come from? It was multiple choice. He whittled it down to a choice of two and he still wasn't sure. Worse yet, most of the audience advised him to choose the wrong answer (Vietnam).
Watching that made me realize (again) how difficult it is to get people informed on what is really going on with the Bush cabal. It's bad enough that our politicians lie habitually. It's worse that the media spread the lies and fail to retract them afterwards. But when people just don't care, what are you gonna do about it?
One thing we anti-war / anti-Bush protesters can do is keep a clear message. That means sticking to our principles. There is a widespread assumption that idealism died out with the 60's and is not only unhelpful, but actually counter-productive. I don't believe that. I think what the world needs now is a whole heap of idealism. As in ideals. As in values.
Here's what I'm talking about. Ted Rall today looks at all the big media stories on Iraq which have turned out to be lies: Pat Tillman, Jessica Lynch, the WMDs, the plastic thanksgiving turkey, the staged toppling of Saddam's statue... But then he says:
We shouldn't blame the White House for producing lies; that's what politicians do. But we expect better from the media who disseminate them.Hunh??? Why shouldn't expect our politicians to be honest, Ted? We should damn well DEMAND it, especially on issues where people's lives are at stake.
Similarly, Molly Ivins today highlights the "smoking gun" memo but then falls for the old moral justification trap:
"Enough said. What to do? Now that we're there, at least we're on the right side..."What does THAT mean? How is the USA on the right side, unless you've fallen for Bush's inane "with us or with the terrorists" ideology.
Now don't get me wrong. Rall and Ivins are perhaps the two best, most consistently in-your-face writers in the USA today. But when we start accepting these half-truths for the sake of practicality (or so people will stop calling us moonbats, etc) then we are already halfway to losing our credibility.
There is such a thing as the objective Truth. Let's all stick with it.
UPDATE: Now today the headline at BuzzFlash is calling the US Senate "the world's greatest deliberative body" - oh, please!!!
May 11, 2005
US Media Ignores Smoking Gun Memo
The "smoking gun" memo that was released by the Sunday Times on the 1st of May, which revealed that US "intelligence and facts" on Iraq were being "fixed around the policy" has received precious little attention in the USA. FAIR looks at just how little attention it has received:
The most widely circulated story in the mainstream press came from the Knight Ridder wire service (5/6/05), which quoted an anonymous U.S. official saying the memo was ''an absolutely accurate description of what transpired" during Dearlove's meetings in Washington.
Few other outlets have pursued the leaked memo's key charge that the "facts were being fixed around the policy." The New York Times (5/2/05) offered a passing mention, and the Charleston (W.V.) Gazette (5/5/05) wrote an editorial about the memo and the Iraq War. A columnist for the Cox News Service (5/8/05) also mentioned the memo, as did Molly Ivins (WorkingForChange.com, 5/10/05). Washington Post ombudsman Michael Getler (5/8/05) noted that Post readers had complained about the lack of reporting on the memo, but offered no explanation for why the paper virtually ignored the story.
In a brief segment on hot topics in the blogosphere (5/6/05), CNN correspondent Jackie Schechner reported that the memo was receiving attention on various websites, where bloggers were "wondering why it's not getting more coverage in the U.S. media." But acknowledging the lack of coverage hasn't prompted much CNN coverage; the network mentioned the memo in two earlier stories regarding its impact on Blair's political campaign (5/1/05, 5/2/05), and on May 7, a short CNN item reported that 90 Congressional Democrats sent a letter to the White House about the memo-- but neglected to mention the possible manipulation of intelligence that was mentioned in the memo and the Democrats' letter.