Drowning New Orleans: Washing Away the Black Vote by Greg Palast (audio link)

Dandelion Salad

by Greg Palast
August 17

“Do you know what the Bush Administration calls the survivors displaced from New Orleans? Democrats.”

There are still 89,000 families still imprisoned in FEMA’s aluminum Guantanamo – the mobile home gulag where Katrina’s survivors remained barred from returning to the Big Easy.

Hear the Palast Report on the untold story off the drowning of New Orleans – Air America’s ‘Clout’ with Richard Greene. Listen the broadcast here.

And for the untold story of how the White House drowned New Orleans, get Greg Palast’s, Big Easy to Big Empty, an investigation for Democracy Now! With Amy Goodman. Watch a segment here. or check it out on our YouTube page.

If you’d like to support the Palast Investigative Fund (501c-3 registered not-for-profit Foundation), you can buy the DVD of Big Easy to Big Empty here.

Listen Now:

LINK

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

see:

Missteps Found in Awarding Katrina Deals h/t: Malcolm

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The Old Iran-Contra Death Squad Gang Is Desperate to Discredit Chavez By John Pilger


Dandelion Salad

By John Pilger
ICH
08/17/07 “Guardian”

I walked with Roberto Navarrete into the national stadium in Santiago, Chile. With the southern winter’s wind skating down from the Andes, it was empty and ghostly. Little had changed, he said: the chicken wire, the broken seats, the tunnel to the changing rooms from which the screams echoed. We stopped at a large number 28. “This is where I was, facing the scoreboard. This is where I was called to be tortured.”

Thousands of “the detained and the disappeared” were imprisoned in the stadium following the Washington-backed coup by General Pinochet against the democracy of Salvador Allende on September 11 1973. For the majority people of Latin America, the abandonados, the infamy and historical lesson of the first “9/11″ have never been forgotten. “In the Allende years, we had a hope the human spirit would triumph,” said Roberto. “But in Latin America those believing they are born to rule behave with such brutality to defend their rights, their property, their hold over society that they approach true fascism. People who are well-dressed, whose houses are full of food, bang pots in the streets in protest as though they don’t have anything. This is what we had in Chile 36 years ago. This is what we see in Venezuela today. It is as if Chávez is Allende. It is so evocative for me.”

In making my film The War on Democracy, I sought the help of Chileans like Roberto and his family, and Sara de Witt, who courageously returned with me to the torture chambers at Villa Grimaldi, which she somehow survived. Together with other Latin Americans who knew the tyrannies, they bear witness to the pattern and meaning of the propaganda and lies now aimed at undermining another epic bid to renew both democracy and freedom on the continent.

The disinformation that helped destroy Allende and give rise to Pinochet’s horrors worked the same in Nicaragua, where the Sandinistas had the temerity to implement modest, popular reforms. In both countries, the CIA funded the leading opposition media, although they need not have bothered. In Nicaragua, the fake martyrdom of La Prensa became a cause for North America’s leading liberal journalists, who seriously debated whether a poverty-stricken country of 3 million peasants posed a “threat” to the United States. Ronald Reagan agreed and declared a state of emergency to combat the monster at the gates. In Britain, whose Thatcher government “absolutely endorsed” US policy, the standard censorship by omission applied. In examining 500 articles that dealt with Nicaragua in the early 1980s, the historian Mark Curtis found an almost universal suppression of the achievements of the Sandinista government – “remarkable by any standards” – in favour of the falsehood of “the threat of a communist takeover”.

The similarities in the campaign against the phenomenal rise of popular democratic movements today are striking. Aimed principally at Venezuela, especially Chávez, the virulence of the attacks suggests that something exciting is taking place; and it is. Thousands of poor Venezuelans are seeing a doctor for the first time in their lives, having their children immunised and drinking clean water. New universities have opened their doors to the poor, breaking the privilege of competitive institutions effectively controlled by a “middle class” in a country where there is no middle. In barrio La Línea, Beatrice Balazo told me her children were the first generation of the poor to attend a full day’s school. “I have seen their confidence blossom like flowers,” she said. One night in barrio La Vega, in a bare room beneath a single lightbulb, I watched Mavis Mendez, aged 94, learn to write her own name for the first time.

More than 25,000 communal councils have been set up in parallel to the old, corrupt local bureaucracies. Many are spectacles of raw grassroots democracy. Spokespeople are elected, yet all decisions, ideas and spending have to be approved by a community assembly. In towns long controlled by oligarchs and their servile media, this explosion of popular power has begun to change lives in the way Beatrice described.

It is this new confidence of Venezuela’s “invisible people” that has so inflamed those who live in suburbs called country club. Behind their walls and dogs, they remind me of white South Africans. Venezuela’s wild west media is mostly theirs; 80% of broadcasting and almost all the 118 newspaper companies are privately owned. Until recently one television shock jock liked to call Chávez, who is mixed race, a “monkey”. Front pages depict the president as Hitler, or as Stalin (the connection being that both like babies). Among broadcasters crying censorship loudest are those bankrolled by the National Endowment for Democracy, the CIA in spirit if not name. “We had a deadly weapon, the media,” said an admiral who was one of the coup plotters in 2002. The TV station, RCTV, never prosecuted for its part in the attempt to overthrow the elected government, lost only its terrestrial licence and is still broadcasting on satellite and cable.

Yet, as in Nicaragua, the “treatment” of RCTV is a cause celebre for those in Britain and the US affronted by the sheer audacity and popularity of Chávez, whom they smear as “power crazed” and a “tyrant”. That he is the authentic product of a popular awakening is suppressed. Even the description of him as a “radical socialist”, usually in the pejorative, wilfully ignores the fact that he is a nationalist and social democrat, a label many in Britain’s Labour party were once proud to wear.

In Washington, the old Iran-Contra death squad gang, back in power under Bush, fear the economic bridges Chávez is building in the region, such as the use of Venezuela’s oil revenue to end IMF slavery. That he maintains a neoliberal economy, described by the American Banker as “the envy of the banking world” is seldom raised as valid criticism of his limited reforms. These days, of course, any true reforms are exotic. And as liberal elites under Blair and Bush fail to defend their own basic liberties, they watch the very concept of democracy as a liberal preserve challenged on a continent about which Richard Nixon once said “people don’t give a shit”. However much they play the man, Chávez, their arrogance cannot accept that the seed of Rousseau’s idea of direct popular sovereignty may have been planted among the poorest, yet again, and “the hope of the human spirit”, of which Roberto spoke in the stadium, has returned.

· The War on Democracy, directed by Christopher Martin and John Pilger, will be shown on ITV on Monday at 11pm.

John Pilger has been a war correspondent, film-maker and author, and has twice won British journalism’s highest award, that of Journalist of the Year. He has also been named International Reporter of the Year, and won the United Nations Association Peace Prize and Gold Medal. For his broadcasting, he has won France’s Reporter Sans Frontieres, and television academy awards in the United States and Britain. He holds the prestigous Sophie Award for “thirty years of exposing deception and improving human rights”.

© 2007 The Guardian/UK

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Olbermann: Rudy Giuliani Myth Of Conception + Cheney’s Change of Heart + Worst Person (videos)

Dandelion Salad

August 17, 2007
From: CSPANJUNKIEdotORG

AUGUST 17, 2007 KEITH OLBERMANN

August 17, 2007
From: heathr234

Keith talks to The Nation’s John Nichols about what might have caused Cheney to change his views from some of the earlier statements he’s made on why the US should have never gone into Baghdad.

And the winner is….Melanie Morgan.

see:

Hardball: Cheney Before He Got All Fogged Up with Ideology and Anger + Cheney vs Cheney (videos; updated)

Hardball: Did Gonzales Lie to Congress? + FBI’s Chief’s Notes Contradict Gonzales + Dept of … Justice? (videos)

Dandelion Salad

August 17, 2007
From: heathr234 FBI Director Robert Mueller’s notes a…

FBI Director Robert Mueller’s notes about the warrantless wiretap program differ from the testimony Gonzales gave before Congress. Michael Isikoff and Mark Green weigh in.

August 17, 2007
From: CSPANJUNKIEdotORG

AUGUST 17, 2007 MSNBC HARDBALL

AUGUST 17, 2007 MSNBC TUCKER

Margolis says TV news hiding truth about Iraq civil war (video)

August 17, 2007
From:  TheRealNews

Eric Margolis, contributor to American Conservative magazine and The Real News, says television news is misleading people about the responsibility of the U.S. in fueling the Iraq civil war.

China Is Not The Problem By Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
08/17/07 “ICH

At a time when even the Wall Street Journal has disappeared into the maw of a huge media conglomerate, the New York Times remains an independent newspaper. But it doesn’t show any independence in reporting or in thought.

The Times issued a mea culpa for letting its reporter, Judith Miller, misinform readers about Iraq, thus helping the neoconservatives set the stage for their invasion. Now the Times’ reporting on Iran seems to be repeating the mistake. After the US commits another senseless act of naked aggression by bombing Iran, will the Times publish another mea culpa?

The Times editorials also serve as conduits for propaganda. On August 13, a Times editorial jumped on China for “irresponsible threats” that threaten free trade. The Times’ editorialists do not understand that the offshoring of American jobs, which the Times mistakenly thinks is free trade, is a far greater threat to America than a reminder from the Chinese, who are tired of US bullying, that China is America’s banker.

Let’s briefly review the “China threat” and then turn to the real problem.

Members of the US government believe, as do many Americans, that the Chinese currency is undervalued relative to the US dollar and that this is the reason for America’s large trade deficit with China. Pressure continues to be applied to China to revalue its currency in order to reduce its trade advantage over goods made in the US.

The pressure put on China is misdirected. The exchange rate is not the main cause of the US trade deficit with China. The costs of labor, regulation and harassment are far lower in China, and US corporations have offshored their production to China in order to benefit from these lower costs. When a company shifts its production from the US to a foreign country, it transforms US GDP into imports. Every time a US company offshores goods and services, it adds to the US trade deficit.

Clearly, it is a mistake for the US government and economists to think of the imbalance as if it were produced by Chinese companies underselling goods produced by US companies in America. The imbalance is the result of US companies producing their goods in China and selling them in America.

Many believe the solution is to force China to revalue its currency, thereby driving up the prices of 70% of the goods on Wal-Mart shelves. Mysteriously, members of the US government believe that it would help the US consumer, who is as dependent on imported manufactured goods as he is on imported energy, to be charged higher prices.

China believes that the exchange rate is not the cause of US offshoring and opposes any rapid change in its currency’s value. In a message issued in order to tell the US to ease off the public bullying, China reminded Washington that the US doesn’t hold all the cards.

The NYT editorial expresses the concern that China’s “threat” will cause protectionist US lawmakers to stick on tariffs and start a trade war. “Free trade, free market” economists rush to tell us how bad this would be for US consumers: A tariff would raise the price of consumer goods.

The free market economists don’t tell us that dollar depreciation would have the same effect. Goods made in China would go up 30 percent in price if a 30 percent tariff was placed on them, and the goods would go up 30 percent in price if the value of the Chinese currency rises 30 percent against the dollar.

So, why all the fuss about tariffs?

The fuss about tariffs makes even less sense once one realizes that the purpose of tariffs is to protect domestically produced goods from cheaper imports. However, US tariffs today would be imposed on the offshored production of US firms. In the era of offshoring, corporations are not a constituency for tariffs.

Tariffs would benefit American labor, something that the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Republican Party would strongly oppose. A wage equalization tariff would wipe out much of the advantage of offshoring.  Profits would come down, and with lower profits would come lower CEO compensation and shareholder returns.

Obviously, the corporate interests and Wall Street do not want any tariffs.

The NYT and “free trade” economists haven’t caught on, because they mistakenly think that offshoring is trade. In fact, offshoring is labor arbitrage. US labor is simply removed from production functions that produce goods and services for US markets and replaced with foreign labor. No trade is involved. Instead of being produced in America, US brand names sold in America are produced in China.

It is not China’s fault that American corporations have so little regard for their employees and fellow citizens that they destroy their economic opportunities and give them to foreigners instead.

It is paradoxical that everyone is blaming China for the behavior of American firms. What is China supposed to do, close its borders to foreign capital?

When free market economists align, as they have done, with foreigners against American citizens, they destroy their credibility and the future of economic freedom. Recently, the Independent Institute, with which I am associated, stressed that free market associations “have defended completely open immigration and free markets in labor,” emphasizing that 500 economists signed the Independent Institute’s Open Letter on Immigration in behalf of open immigration.

Such a policy is satisfying to some in its ideological purity. But what it means in practice is that the Americans, who are displaced in their professional and manufacturing jobs by offshoring and work visas for foreigners, also cannot find work in the unskilled and semi-skilled jobs taken over by illegal immigrants. A free market policy that gives the bird to American labor is not going to win acceptance by the population. Such a policy serves only the owners of capital and its senior managers.

Free market economists will dispute this conclusion. They claim that offshoring and unrestricted immigration provide consumers with cheaper prices in the market place. What the free market economists do not say is that offshoring and unrestricted immigration also provide US citizens with lower incomes, fewer job opportunities, and less satisfying jobs. There is no evidence that consumer prices fall by more than incomes so that US citizens can be said to benefit materially. The psychological experience of a citizen losing his career to a foreigner is alienating.

The free market economists ignore that a country that offshores its production also offshores its jobs. It becomes dependent on goods and services made in foreign countries, but lacks sufficient export earnings with which to pay for them. A country whose workforce is being reallocated, under pressure of offshoring, to domestic services has nothing to trade for its imports. That is why the US trade deficit has exploded to over $800 billion annually.

Among all the countries of the world, only the US can get away with exploding trade deficits. The reason is that the US inherited from Great Britain, exhausted by two world wars, the reserve currency role. To be the reserve currency country means that your currency is the accepted means of payment to settle international accounts. Countries pay their oil import bills in dollars and settle the deficits in their trade accounts in dollars.

The enormous and continuing US deficits are wearing out the US dollar as reserve currency. A time will come when the US cannot pay for the imports, on which it has become ever more dependent, by flooding the world with ever more dollars.

Offshoring and free market ideology are turning the US into a Third World country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one-quarter of all new US jobs created between June 2006 and June 2007 were for waitresses and bartenders. Almost all of the net new US jobs in the 21st century have been in domestic services.

Free market economists simply ignore the facts and proceed with their ideological justifications of open borders, a policy that is rapidly destroying the ladders of upward mobility for the US population.

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The End of the World as We Know it: Hope vs Mindset By Carolyn Baker

Dandelion Salad

By Carolyn Baker
Speaking Truth to Power
Thursday, 16 August 2007

A friend for whom I have a great deal of respect and admiration recently challenged me on my incessant hope-bashing stance and gave me some food for thought which has caused me to reframe the concept of “hope” in my own mind in a way that I can live with. What I cannot live with is a definition of “hope” that externalizes it-that fosters denial and a false and naïve anticipation that government, religion, or to quote Lincoln, “the better angels of our nature” will somehow save humanity from slamming with lethal velocity into the brick walls of our own making-climate chaos, global energy catastrophe, planetary economic meltdown, population overshoot, species extinction and die-off–or nuclear holocaust.

The iconoclastic and cynical James Howard Kunstler is fond of mocking people who ask for “hope” and insists that any hope we have in the face of the end of the world as we know it (EOTWAWKI) must come from within. I’m not sure what that means to Kunstler, but I’m getting clearer about what it means to me.

Naïve hope takes myriad forms and from my perspective one example is the hope that impeachment of Cheney and Bush is even possible. And I must add that Bush has not lost his “brain” with the departure of Rove. Who needs a brain when Darth Vader is the real man behind the curtain and has more political and economic power in the United States government than the average American can even imagine? Another example of false hope is faith in the U.S. political system and the possibility that clean elections exist, not to mention the hope that one will even happen in 2008. Other “hopes” include: the hope that the Democrats will finally find their spine, that the economy will improve without the working and middle classes being eviscerated by a financial meltdown as catastrophic or worse than the Great Depression, that technology will solve the energy dilemma, that moving to another country guarantees personal safety and human liberty, that the human race can exist for another century without a nuclear exchange, that a global spiritual awakening will occur in time to transform the human race and avert catastrophe.
Continued…


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

08.15.07 + 08.16.07 Uncensored News Reports From Across The Middle East (videos; over 18 only)

Dandelion Salad

Warning

This video contains images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

Selected Episode

Aug. 15, 2007

For more episodes and other Link TV programs:
http://www.linktv.org/originalseries
“Hundreds of Iraqis Die in Tankers Attack,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Victory Day in Lebanon,” Syria TV, Syria
“Nassrallah Issues Warnings,” NBN TV, Lebanon
“Israel Does Not Want War with Syria,” IBA TV, Israel
“Fateh el Islam Linked to Al Qaeda,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Justice & Development Party Nominates Gul for President,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“9 Million Iranians Live Below Poverty Line,” Dubai TV, UAE

Selected Episode

Aug. 16, 2007

Tora Bora Offensive Continues Against Taliban, Al-Qaeda,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
US to Give 30 Billion Dollars to Israel in Military Aid,” IBA TV, Israel
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Might be Added to Terrorist List,” Dubai TV, UAE
Shiite & Kurdish Leaders Form New Alliance,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
Iraqi Court Might Reduce Sentences on Ex-Ba’athists,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
Mass Weddings in Egypt,” Al-Alam TV, Iran

Conviction of Padilla is Bad News for All Americans — Including Journalists by Dave Lindorff

Dandelion Salad

Written by Dave Lindorff
Atlantic Free Press
Thursday, 16 August 2007

With habeas corpus a thing of the past, with arrest and detention without charge permitted, with torture and spying without court oversight all the rage, with prosecutors free to tape conversations between lawyers and their clients, and with the judicial branch now infested by rightwing judges who would have been at home in courtrooms of the Soviet Union or Hitler’s Germany, for all they seem to care about common law tradition, the only real thing holding the line against absolute tyranny in the U.S. has been the jury.

Now, with Jose Padilla — a US citizen who was originally picked up and held incommunicado on a military base for three and a half years, publicly accused (though never charged) with planning to construct and detonate a so-called “dirty” nuclear device (this a guy without a high school education!), all based upon hearsay, evidence elicited by torture, and a few overheard wiretapped conversations where prosecutors claimed words like “zucchini” were code for explosive devices — convicted on a charge of “planning to murder,” we see that juries in this era of a bogus “war on terror” are ready to believe anything.

That last line of defense — the common sense or ordinary citizens in a jury box — is gone too.

Continued…

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Rumsfeld’s Mysterious Resignation By Robert Parry

Dandelion Salad

By Robert Parry
Consortium News
August 17, 2007

The disclosure that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld resigned on Nov. 6, 2006 – the day before the election, not the day after as previously thought – means that he was pushed out of his job the same day he suggested a de-escalation of the Iraq War.

When Rumsfeld’s resignation was announced on Nov. 8, with both his resignation letter and his de-escalation memo still secret, it was widely assumed in Washington political circles that President George W. Bush was reacting to the stinging Republican electoral defeat on Nov. 7 and was appointing Robert Gates as an olive branch to the Democrats.

The reality now appears to be almost the exact opposite. Bush was preparing for an Iraq War escalation and was looking for a fresh face as Defense Secretary to buy him the necessary time to accomplish this extraordinary political maneuver. Bush also may have recognized the damage that might have come if Rumsfeld’s war doubts became known.

The Rumsfeld memo was kept under wraps for almost a month, finally appearing in the New York Times on Dec. 3, 2006, and his resignation letter was withheld from the public until revealed by Reuters and other news agencies on Aug. 15. Normally, resignation letters are released routinely when the official’s departure is announced.

Yet, because Rumsfeld had grown so unpopular with many Democrats, his post-election departure was greeted with relief and approval, not probing questions. Wishful thinking prevailed about Bush possibly making major concessions on the war. The euphoria continued even when Bush began to signal his “surge” plans at the end of November.

In Amman, Jordan, on Nov. 30, Bush said he had no interest in the gradual troop withdrawals that the bipartisan Iraq Study Group was expected to urge. Bush said American forces would “stay in Iraq to get the job done,” adding “this business about graceful exit just simply has no realism to it whatsoever.”

Though Rumfeld’s memo leaked only a few days later, Democratic senators still handled Gates with kid gloves at his confirmation hearing on Dec. 5. Sen. Hillary Clinton and other Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee praised Gates for his “candor.”

Since Gates – a former CIA director – had been a member of the Iraq Study Group, many Democrats assumed that he would help implement its troop drawdown plan, despite the President’s belligerent tone. Skeptical reporting about Gates and his likely role was confined mostly to Internet sites, like Consortiumnews.com. [See our “Who Is Bob Gates?” Archive.]

As it turned out, Gates has served Bush well, implementing the troop “surge” in early 2007 and deflecting public anger about the war escalation by presenting himself as, stylistically, less confrontational than Rumsfeld.

Continued…

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Backspin for War: The Convenience of Denial By Norman Solomon

Dandelion Salad

By Norman Solomon
Investigating New Imperialism
Aug. 16, 2007

The man who ran CNN’s news operation during the invasion of Iraq is now doing damage control in response to a new documentary’s evidence that he kowtowed to the Pentagon on behalf of the cable network. His current denial says a lot about how “liberal media” outlets remain deeply embedded in the mindsets of pro-military conformity.

Days ago, the former CNN executive publicly defended himself against a portion of the “War Made Easy” film (based on my book of the same name) that has drawn much comment from viewers since the documentary’s release earlier this summer. As Inter Press Service reported, the movie shows “a news clip of Eason Jordan, a CNN News chief executive who, in an interview with CNN, boasts of the network’s cadre of professional ‘military experts.’ In fact, CNN’s retired military generals turned war analysts were so good, Eason said, that they had all been vetted and approved by the U.S. government.”

Inter Press called the vetting-and-approval process “shocking” — and added that “in a country revered for its freedom of speech and unfettered press, Eason’s comments would infuriate any veteran reporter who upholds the most basic and important tenet of the journalistic profession: independence.”

But Eason Jordan doesn’t want us to see it that way. And he has now fired back via an article in IraqSlogger, which calls itself “the world’s premier Iraq-focused Web site.” Jordan runs that Web site.

The journalist who wrote the Aug. 14 article, Christina Davidson, was in an awkward spot: “War Made Easy” directly criticizes her boss, and it was the subject of the article. www.iraqslogger.com/index.php/post/3919/War_Made_Easy_Makes_Easy_Viewing

Davidson’s only assessment of the film that wasn’t favorable had to do with its criticisms of Jordan. “While there’s no doubt that journalistic laziness contributed to the uncritical re-broadcasting of the Bush administration’s official line,” she wrote, “Solomon takes it a little too far in trying to make the case that all of the cable networks were actively complicit in promoting the war. Solomon bases his reasoning primarily on one choice quote from Eason Jordan, former CNN news chief and current CEO of IraqSlogger’s parent company, Praedict.”

In fact, the film provides a wide range of evidence that “all of the cable networks were actively complicit in promoting the war” — the result of chronic biases rather than “journalistic laziness.” And CNN, like the rest of the cable news operations, comes in for plenty of tough scrutiny in the documentary. As the magazine Variety noted in a review of “War Made Easy” a few days ago, “Fox News is predictably bashed here, but supposedly neutral CNN gets it even harder.” www.variety.com/review/VE1117934412.html?categoryid=31&cs=1
CNN is among the news outlets at the core of the myth of “the liberal media” — perpetuated, in part, by the fact that people are often overly impressed by the significance of rhetorical attacks on some media organizations by more conservative outlets. (Before his resignation from CNN in 2005, Eason Jordan was himself subjected to denunciations from the right — for allegedly skewing news coverage to curry favor with the Baghdad government during Saddam’s rule and, after the invasion, for reportedly stating that U.S. troops had targeted some journalists in Iraq.) But antipathy from right-wing pundits is hardly an indication of journalistic independence.

Stretching to defend Jordan’s CNN record, IraqSlogger complains that the CEO of its parent company is unfairly characterized in the film: “Solomon assumes that Jordan was seeking the blessing of Pentagon officials on the propriety of his choices, when in fact he was just doing a boss’s duty.”

The article then provides a quote from Jordan, supplying his explanation to set the record straight: “Employers routinely vet prospective employees with their previous employers. In these cases, we vetted retired generals to ensure they were experts in specific military and geographic areas. The generals were not vetted for political views.”

The explanation can only flunk the laugh test.

Eason Jordan was CNN’s chief news executive when, on April 20, 2003 (a month after U.S. troops invaded Iraq), he appeared on CNN and revealed that he’d gotten the Defense Department’s approval of which retired high-ranking officers to put on the network’s payroll. “I went to the Pentagon myself several times before the war started and met with important people there and said, for instance — ‘At CNN, here are the generals we’re thinking of retaining to advise us on the air and off about the war’ — and we got a big thumbs-up on all of them. That was important.”

With war euphoria riding high, Jordan was eager to shore up his — and CNN’s — image as cooperative pals of the nation’s military commanders. Now, Jordan is trying some backspin with the claim that he was merely checking job references.

“Often journalists blame the government for the failure of the journalists themselves to do independent reporting,” I note in the documentary. “But nobody forced the major networks like CNN to do so much commentary from retired generals and admirals and all the rest of it.” What Jordan did on behalf of CNN “wasn’t even something to hide, ultimately. It was something to say to the American people on his own network, ‘See, we’re team players. We may be the news media, but we’re on the same side and the same page as the Pentagon.’ And that really runs directly counter to the idea of an independent press. And that suggests that we have some deep patterns of media avoidance when the U.S. is involved in a war based on lies.”

Part of that deadly avoidance comes when powerful news executives do the bidding of the Pentagon — and then, later on, claim that they did nothing of the kind.

____________________________________

The new documentary film “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death” — based on Norman Solomon’s book of the same title, narrated by Sean Penn and produced by the Media Education Foundation — is available on DVD. www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org
FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

An Inside Look at How U.S. Interrogators Destroyed the Mind of Jose Padilla + Attorney Calls Guilty Verdict “Huge Tragedy”, Vows Appeal + Dissident Members Challenge American Psychological Association on Role in CIA Interrogation, Torture (video links)

Dandelion Salad

Democracy Now!
Thursday, August 16th, 2007

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In a Democracy Now! national broadcast exclusive, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Angela Hegarty speaks for the first time about her experience interviewing Jose Padilla for 22 hours to determine the state of his mental health. Padilla is the U.S. citizen who was classified by President Bush as an enemy combatant and held in extreme isolation at a naval brig in South Carolina for over three-and-a-half years. His case is now before a Florida jury. “What happened at the brig was essentially the destruction of a human being’s mind,” said Dr. Hegarty. “[Padilla’s] personality was deconstructed and reformed.” She said the effects of the extreme isolation on Padilla are consistent with brain damage. “I don’t know if he’s guilty or not of the charges that they brought against him,” said Dr. Hegarty. “But, already – before he was ever found guilty – he’s paid a tremendous price for his trip to the Middle East.” [includes rush transcript]


A jury began deliberations on Wednesday in Miami in the case of Jose Padilla, the Brooklyn-born man once accused by the Bush administration of plotting to set off a dirty bomb inside the United States.The FBI initially arrested him in Chicago in 2002 after he got off a plane from Europe. For a month he was held as a material witness. Then Attorney General John Ashcroft made a dramatic announcement – the U.S. government had disrupted an al-Qaeda plot to set off nuclear dirty bombs inside the United States. At the center of the plot, Ashcroft alleged, was Padilla.President Bush then classified Jose Padilla as an enemy combatant, stripping him of all his rights. He was transferred to a Navy brig in South Carolina where he was held in extreme isolation for forty three months.The Christian Science Monitor reported: “Padilla’s cell measured nine feet by seven feet. The windows were covered over… He had no pillow. No sheet. No clock. No calendar. No radio. No television. No telephone calls. No visitors. Even Padilla’s lawyer was prevented from seeing him for nearly two years.”

According to his attorneys, Padilla was routinely tortured in ways designed to cause pain, anguish, depression and ultimately the loss of will to live.

His lawyers have claimed that Padilla was forced to take LSD and PCP to act as a sort of truth serum during his interrogations.

Up until last year the Bush administration maintained it had the legal right to hold Padilla without charge forever. But when faced with a Supreme Court challenge, President Bush transferred Padila out of military custody to face criminal conspiracy charges.

On January 3, 2006 the government charged him and two others with criminal conspiracy. The government claims Padilla, along with his mentor, Adham Amin Hassoun, and Hassoun’s colleague, Kifah Wael Jayyousi, conspired to commit murder abroad and to provide material support toward that goal.

Since May the men have been on trial in Miami. According to the Miami Herald, the overall case against Padilla is riddled with circumstantial evidence. Much of the case is built around an alleged form Padilla filled out to attend an al-Qaeda training camp.

Prosecutors have no introduced no evidence of personal involvement by Padilla in planning or carrying out any violent acts. There is no mention of Padilla – plotting to set off a dirty bomb. Despite this, prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for Padilla.

Questions have also been raised about whether Padilla was mentally fit to stand trial. His lawyers and family say he has become clearly mentally ill after being held in isolation.

Today, we are joined by one of the few medical experts who has spent time with Padilla since his arrest five years ago. Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Angela Hegarty spent 22 hours interviewing Padilla last year to determine the state of his mental health. She concluded that Padilla lacked the capacity to assist in his own defense. Dr. Angela Hegarty is assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University.

  • Dr. Angela Hegarty, forensic psychiatrist who spent 22 hours interviewing Jose Padilla last year. She is an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University.

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Friday, August 17th, 2007

Jose Padilla’s Attorney Calls Guilty Verdict “Huge Tragedy”, Vows Appeal

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Jose Padilla has been convicted in one of the most closely watched trials since the Sept. 11 attacks. On Thursday, a Miami jury found Padilla and two co-defendants guilty of conspiracy to commit murder in Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya and providing material support toward that goal. Padilla was initially declared an “enemy combatant” for allegedly plotting to set off a radioactive dirty bomb inside the United States. He was stripped of all rights, transferred to a Navy brig in South Carolina and held in extreme isolation for 43 months. The Bush administration denied him access to an attorney for two years. Faced with a Supreme Court challenge, President Bush announced criminal charges against Padilla unrelated to the dirty bomb plot. Defense attorneys and experts say his isolation and interrogation has led to severe psychological effects. We speak with Padilla attorney Andrew Patel, who calls the verdict “a huge tragedy” and vows an appeal. [includes rush transcript]


A jury in Miami convicted Jose Padilla on Thursday in one of the most closely watched trials since the Sept. 11 attacks. The jury of seven women and five men found Padilla and his two co-defendants guilty of conspiracy to commit murder in Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya and providing material support toward that goal. The three men will be sentenced on Dec. 5. Padilla originally made international headlines in 2002 when President Bush declared Padilla an enemy combatant for allegedly plotting to set off a radioactive dirty bomb inside the United States. Padilla was stripped of all rights and transferred to a Navy brig in South Carolina where he was held in extreme isolation for 43 months. Even though Padilla was a U.S. citizen, the Bush administration denied him access to an attorney for two years. Faced with a Supreme Court challenge, President Bush announced criminal charges against Padilla unrelated to the alleged dirty bomb plot. After 43 months of extreme isolation, Jose Padilla was transferred from the South Carolina brig to a civilian prison. Padilla’s attorneys argued that he was unfit to stand trial because of the effects of torture. Forensic Psychiatrist Angela Hegarty examined Padilla last year and concluded the extreme isolation and torture had left Padilla essentially brain damaged. She appeared on Democracy Now yesterday in her first broadcast interview.

    Angela Hegarty: “What happened at the brig was essentially the destruction of a human being’s mind. That’s what happened at the brig. His personality was deconstructed and reformed.”

But the judge allowed the trial to go forward. One of Jose Padilla’s attorneys, Andrew Patel, joins us on the line from Miami.

  • Andrew Patel. Attorney for Jose Padilla.

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Dissident Members Challenge American Psychological Association on Role in CIA Interrogation, Torture

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Democracy Now! broadcasts from San Francisco, where the American Psychological Association is set to hold a historic vote at its annual convention. Following a string of exposes revealing that psychologists have played a key role in designing the CIA’s torture tactics, outraged APA members have introduced a moratorium calling for an outright ban on psychologist involvement in detainee interrogations. We speak with two psychologists at the forefront of the campaign for an interrogation ban, Dr. Stephen Soldz of the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis and Dr. Steven Reisner of New York University. [includes rush transcript]


Here in San Francisco, a group of psychologists are planning to hold a protest today over the refusal of the American Psychological Association to bar its members from participating in interrogations at military and CIA prisons.The protest is occurring on the opening day of the 115h annual APA convention. Unlike the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association allows its members to participate in detainee interrogations.APA representatives argue that the presence of psychologists keeps interrogations safe and prevents abuse. But in recent months, a string of exposes in Salon.com, Vanity Fair and the New Yorker have revealed that psychologists have played a key role in designing the CIA’s torture tactics.

Outraged APA members have introduced a moratorium resolution to be voted on this weekend. It calls for an outright ban on psychologist involvement in detainee interrogations. Dr. Stephen Soldz and Dr. Steven Reisner have been at the forefront of this effort. They are both members of the Coalition for an Ethical APA. They co-wrote an open letter to APA President Sharon Brehm in June of this year urging her to support the moratorium resolution. We invited the APA on the program but they declined our request.

  • Dr. Stephen Soldz. Psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher, and professor at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He is a founder of Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice and maintains the Psyche, Science, and Society blog.
  • Dr. Steven Reisner. Psychoanalyst and a member of the American Psychological Association. He is a faculty member at NYU Medical School and a faculty adviser at the International Trauma Studies Program at Columbia University.

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