Tuesday, June 21, 2005

"What do you plan to do with all your freedom" the new sheriff said

Got a call this morning. Had no idea who it was. Finally, I realized it was Rebecca. She sounded awful. Even with a summer cold she was implementing another operation Circle Jerk. Always happy to get the word out or to "honor" the delightful Bill Keller who coined the term.

But before I do that, I want to take a moment to say "Welcome to the blog world" to Michael who started his own blog last night. It's called Mikey Likes It! and that exclamation point is part of the title, like with Democracy Now! which Michael loves as much as I do. And let me steer you to a headline from DN!:

New Poll: Americans Against Iraq War
Meanwhile, the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows that nearly six in 10 Americans oppose the war in Iraq and a growing number of them are dissatisfied with the war on terrorism. The poll was released yesterday and shows that support for the war has fallen significantly since March and is hovering at about 40 percent

Now, cue the theme to Mission Impossible, from The Third Estate Sunday Review:

Editorial: "Illegal" bombing raids? When will the domestic press note this?
A SHARP increase in British and American bombing raids on Iraq in the run-up to war "to put pressure on the regime" was illegal under international law, according to leaked Foreign Office legal advice.
The advice was first provided to senior ministers in March 2002. Two months later RAF and USAF jets began "spikes of activity" designed to goad Saddam Hussein into retaliating and giving the allies a pretext for war.
The Foreign Office advice shows military action to pressurise the regime was "not consistent with" UN law, despite American claims that it was.
The decision to provoke the Iraqis emerged in leaked minutes of a meeting between Tony Blair and his most senior advisers -- the so-called Downing Street memo published by The Sunday Times shortly before the general election.

It's Sunday, it's the editorial, we're highlighting a report, so of course it's Michael Smith's. Of course we have to look overseas to find "
British bombing raids were illegal, says Foreign Office" in The Sunday Times of London.

"Illegal under international law?" That's a chage, a strong one. We're confused as to why it's received so little attention. "Spikes of activity," as we've noted here and C.I.'s noted at The Common Ills, mean the increased bombings that took place before Congress authorized the Bully Boy to act. "Spikes of activity" also refer to the attacks on a country supposedly run by a madman possessing WMDs that he was looney enough to use. That was the public commentary from the Bully Boy and the Boy-ettes, right?

As C.I.
wrote, you can't have it both ways. You can't claim "Saddam has WMDs! We're all at risk!" and increase the bombings. If you really believe the WMD lie (we all know it was a lie now, right?) you don't attempt to start a war before you're ready. You don't put your country at risk. If you really believe there's a risk, to invite an attack when you're unprepared, a WMD attack, may border on derelicition of duty for the one who wanted the whole nation (military and civilian) to call him "commander-in-chief." (Note to Diane Sawyer, unless you enlisted, he wasn't YOUR commander-in-chief, nor was he the Dixie Chicks' "commnader-in-chief.")

Now if you feel there's no risk, then that means you were lying. You were lying to the people, you were lying to Congress.

We're prepared to argue either way, just let us know which lie you intend to stick to this time.

Did you believe Saddam Hussein had WMDs and that the nation was risk? If so, you put everyone at risk by increasing the bombings to invite an attack.

Did you not believe in the WMD myth? If that's the case, you lied us into war.

We're betting it was the second one but we're aware that the only one who has more of problem than our mainstream press with applying the term "liar" to you is . . . well, you.

So do you want to stick to the "I told the truth!" defense?

We think it's a loser. (We think both are losing positions for you.)

Sticking to the "I'm another George who can never tell a lie" defense leaves you wide open for charges of recklessly endangering the citizens and the nation you swore to protect. Sometimes, it seems like the Bully Boy really forgets his job duties.

Again, tell us which story you're going to stick to so we can make our case. We'll take either option: lying us into an illegal war or risking the lives of many Americans.

As for the press, one Scott Shane article does not a paper of record make. Possibly The Timid's been limbering up for a limbo contest? If so, trust us, you'll surely come in first. Now how about getting back into the business of news?

The nation needs to know what's going on and what is at stake. Citizens have depended upon one another because the press didn't do their job. Publicity releases do not a news article make.

But we think, deep inside, there's a part of you that's itching to prove what you can do. Somewhere inside, you want to strut your stuff if only to prove to the country that the bloggers (making up Bill Keller's fantasy "circle jerk") are full of crap.

Have at it, big boys & girls. Pimp slap us around by showing just what you can do when you marshall all the reporters you have on staff and use the full weight of your paper to get behind a story.

But until that day comes, lose terms like "circler jerks," or "arm chair media critics" (another one Keller's fond of) and drop the attacks on web sites and bloggers because the reality is we've done the reporting you've refused to do.

"Reporting!" we can hear the snort coming down from Mount Keller.

Yeah, the same kind of brave reporting you run on Monday where a Timid reporter "reports" from the safety of his or her arm chair on who said what on the Sunday Chat & Chews.

The Associated Press is getting behind this story. A few regional papers have already run their opinion pieces. Rumblings all around, probably not a good time for The Timid to take a pass.

As we said in last week's editorial, "
Mainstream press, do your damn job."

Hats off to C.I. who got two mentions
of the latest from The Sunday Times of London up last night (while on a break from helping us). We're sure that what C.I. could do in fifteen minutes, you with your large staff can do in five. If you apply yourselves. We'll be handing out grades next week.

posted by Third Estate Sunday Review @
Sunday, June 19, 2005

I'll give you another hit off my "remix" only this time by way of The Common Ills:

Islam Online reports that US occupation forces have detained Iraqi women as "bargaining chips" (Omar Salah Al-Din & Khalid Yassin El-Yassari)
US occupation forces completed on Sunday, June 19, the release of twenty one Iraqi women held as a bargain chip in the northern city of Mosul.
"The release came after massive protests organized by the Islamic Party and the Islamic organization for human rights over the past three days," Nour Al-Din Al-Hayalli, the Islamic Party's media officer in Mosul, told IslamOnline.net.
The Islamic party championed a massive demonstration following the Friday prayers on June 17 to press for the immediate release of all Iraqi women in the US custody.Assembling outside the Sedek Rashan mosque, protestors denounced the American occupation for dishonoring the Iraqi people by detaining women.
They carried photos of detained women, demanding the government of Ibrahim Jaafari to live up to its responsibilities toward the Iraqi people.

The above was sent in by Erika. It's from Islam Online, Omar Salah Al-Din and Khalid Yassin El-Yassari's "US Frees Iraqi Woman Detainees After Protests" and it's disgusting (as Erika noted in her e-mail). Barganing chips? We're holding women as bargaining chips?

Is this story in our press (United States)? No one but Erika e-mailed on it so I'm thinking it's not. (As always, I could be wrong.)

So our hearts & minds campaign now includes taking women and holding them as bargaining chips? And that's apparently okay or, at least, something we're not going to talk about.
I don't think so. It is not okay, it is not alright, it is not "the product of war" or "collateral damage." If the report is true it's disgusting. There is no "higher ground" left for us to take in Iraq, we're firmly in the gutter now.

Al-Hayalli said many Iraqi families have complained that the occupation forces were holding women as a bargain chip against relatives reportedly involved in resistance operations.
That's how we do things now? The Bully Boy tries to the turn the military into the mafia?

How exactly did the discussion for that plan of action take place?

Rummy: We think we know some resistance fighters but we can't catch them. So what if, I was watching Scarface last night, we went after the women?
Bully Boy: Great idea! I love it! Reminds me of when we used to do panty raids in my prep school!
Rummy: But you went to an all boys prep school?
Bully Boy: What's your point? Do it, Rummy! Do it!

Is that how it went?

Who made the call that it was okay to grab people as barganing chips?

Let's note, they don't even know who the resistance is. They may suspect, but they don't know. So on suspicion of the activities of some, they grabbed people that they don't even think are involved.

Do you realize how disgusting that is? How far from what we're supposed to stand for that takes us?

If the protests hadn't led to the women's release, what next? Do we decide, if the resistance continues (and it will) that we start "offing" a few of the women we have detained to show the resistance we mean "business?" Is that the next step?

You've already done a round up and imprisoned people that you think are innocent. You've already violated that aspect of what America is supposed to stand for. It's not that hard to then decide that you'll torture these detained women or worse.

This is disgusting. Erika is exactly right, this is vile and goes against all notions of what we're supposed to stand for. There is no justification for it -- no legal or moral justification. It's just flat out wrong, flat out illegal, flat out immoral, flat out unethical. It never should have happened.
And that's the thing, day after day we lose our grip on what we're supposed to represent. We trash notions of democracy, notions of freedom, notions of rule of law. The invasion/occupation should never have happened to begin with.

But those who want to argue we need to "stay the course" regardless (think of Betty's "husband") better realize what we're turning into and what we're doing over there. They better realize what we're sacrificing and destroying within ourselves and our concepts of freedom and humanity.

It's not getting better. Trot out the Happy Talkers, launch a new round of Operation Happy Talk, tell us that ceiling fans went up in some building or that you're really going to work, at some point, on the water system (how long have we been waiting on that?). Keep jaw boning about things that have nothing to do with what's going on.

And the New York Timid won't tell you about it. Embed reporters, reporting from the Green Zone, have other concerns. Which is why one of them (you know which one) can go on radio and speak of what "we" are trying to do. They've lost objectivity, they've forgotten that they're not there to write titters for the base newsletter, that they're actually supposed to be reporting on what's happening, not what Centcom tells them is happening, but what is actually going on.
The stay the courses see an event like the one excerpted above and avert their eyes or speak of the "costs of war." I'm not prepared to pay the "cost" of abandoning living in free society. Nor am I prepared to go along blindly as we degrade everything we are taught to hold dear. The longer we are over there, the more we lose our way.

What's going on Iraq, the destruction of Falluja, whatever, it's disgusting. But for those Happy Talkers who see Iraqis and only see the "other," let's put this to their base self-interests because they lack the ability to see the humanity in anyone who doesn't look like them or talk like them.
So Happy Talkers need to ask themselves how much are they prepared to "pay?" What "cost" is okay?

They don't care what goes on over there. They justify it as needed to "spread democracy" or some such b.s. Well, what about what it's doing to our country? I won't note the military casualities because that doesn't seem to bother them either.

But I will note that we long ago crossed a line and if they're okay with that, if they're okay with tossing out everything we're supposed to stand for and believe in, then these people who paint themselves as uber patriots really must hate this country. You really have to hate it to trash every concept that we're taught it was built upon.

We're becoming something very ugly. Forget in the rest of the world's eyes because Happy Talkers aren't concerned with that or "global tests" or "polls." But we're becoming something very ugly in our own eyes. And we can look away or pretend it's not happening, but it doesn't change reality.

When we're silent on Iraqi women being detained because their family members are suspects, we're giving our approval. Silent or otherwise, we're endorsing that as okay. So when that "policy" that we're okay with comes back home and we start seeing it used by law enforcement in this country, we've already endorsed it. We've said it's "what had to be done" with our shrug or silence and, therefore, there's no reason for it not to be used here.

Certainly, we have horrible crimes in this country. So if it's okay to be used in Iraq, then it's okay to be used here, right? Maybe we'll start out by using it on someone accused of terrorism?
The administration loves to convict by the press. They're not so crazy about getting anyone into an actual court room (ask Jose Padilla), but they're happy to try their cases through the media.
So they pick X. X's is an American citizen. Probably of Arab descent because that's easier to target without a huge uproar. People get nervous apparently about defending rule of law because, well, it's a person of Arab descent, what if they did do something!
Rule of law is rule of law. Everyone's guaranteed their day in court. (It's just the Bully Boy who thinks he can subvert the Constitution.) But knowing that someone of Arab descent won't stir a lot of concern in our press or public, they target X.

Then after, what?, three years in a prison, holding cell, or military base, they come back out to the mikes and cameras and reveal that they didn't have luck "cracking" him so they've also taken in his wife. They don't think she did anything, they're not accusing her of anything, but they needed a "bargaining chip." So it's okay, right?

And probably for some people it will be. The Timid may launch an editorial, a tiny one, but there won't be huge press coverage and what there is will just repeat the administration's line without questioning.

So we've used family as a "bargaining chip" there. And there wasn't an uproar. Even though it goes against every legal convention in this country. So what's next? Drug dealers? Do we detain their family members? What about organized crime? Probably that's where we'd hit hardest because we likened, in the initial round ups following 9-11, "terrorism suspects" to members of organized crime. So we'll go after family members of organized crime suspects (suspects, no convictions), family members we have nothing to charge them with, and we'll round them up and detain them.

At what point in this process do you say no?

It's not very "American" to do any of it. But it's not very "American" to detain Iraqi women as "barganing chips." What it is is shameful. It goes against everything we're supposed to believe in. The Bully Boy has so trashed our notions of self that things are being done in our name, under his orders (Diane Sawyer couldn't stop noting he was "our commander-in-chief" in that looney attempt to shame the Dixie Chicks), that it's hurting us. Not just in terms of blowback, but in terms of what we stand for and how we see ourselves.

Again, Erika's right. It's disgusting.

There are other reasons to "Bring the Troops Home," ones that don't involve our own self-interests. (Link takes you to the February 2005 editorial from The Progressive. We noted it in January and agree with all the points raised.) They are solid reasons and we've endorsed them and continue to do so. But for those Happy Talkers that can't seem to grasp any concern further than their own noses, maybe it's time for them to ask what "costs" they are willing to pay in terms of their own lives and liberties and how far they're willing to allow the Bully Boy to trash the United States.

Tossing my two pennies, it's disgusting. We should be outraged. We should be demanding answers. Note the silence that greeted the news that we are using Iraqi women as bargaining chips.

GRRRR! Let's remember what Tori Amos sings (and wrote) in the title track to Scarlet's Walk:

"What do you plan to do
with all your freedom"
the new sheriff said
quite proud of his Badge
You must admit the land
is now in good hands
yes, time will tell that
you just lift your lamp
I will follow
her on her path
Scarlet's Walk
through the violets
just tell your Gods for me
all debts are off this year
they're free to leave
yes, they're free to leave