Wednesday, August 09, 2006

KPFA leaves me numb

This morning, KPFA's The Morning Show covered Iraq . . . if you can call bad phone calls and a discussion of WMDs discussing Iraq. If you think, for instance, that Abeer Qasim Hamza is a topic worth covering, it's not covering Iraq. There was no exploration, in this supposed talk on how the media is covering Iraq, about Abeer Qasim Hamza. There was no calling out, there was no truth to power about how the New York Times has provided the defense of the accused in print before the defense even could. There was no talk of how the New York Times refuses to use Abeer's name. There was no discussion of how the New York Times santizes every report on Abeer of how readers of the paper have still not been told that the military investigator got a confession from one of the accused that they had taken turns in holding Abeer down and taken turns in raping her.

We heard Judy Miller's name tossed around. Well thank God the Times got rid of her because obviously she is the only problem they ever had with Iraq coverage.

Another problem, one noted by Mother Jones and CounterSpin (problem in the pre-war coverage) didn't come up but then Judith Miller didn't write that article. So no need to mention it.

We heard a discussion about WMD and it is required, that topic, because the coverage of Iraq has been so poor from KPFA. And when KPFA and others drop the coverage, maybe Andrea Lewis shouldn't wonder about 50% of poll respondents (not 50% of Americans as she kept saying) who believe that Iraq had WMDs. The number's gone up. I don't think that's surprising.

As the coverage of Iraq has been so poor and non-existant, I don't think that's suprising at all.

Tomorrow, I'll listen to Dennis and Nora cover Israel's actions because that's their beat, I enjoy their show. I'm not interested in all the others chasing down the same story day in and day out.
Not when they don't show the same concern, the same coverage for Iraq.

We supposedly got a discussion about media coverage of Iraq (a woman called in who should have shut up about 1 minute after she stumbled through her point instead of being treated as a guest as she babbled on about "mass hypnosis" -- way to treat Iraq seriously) but all we got was what we got in 2003 and 2004. Apparently nothing's happened in Iraq since. Or apparently Judith Miller was the only press problem.

Apparently, they couldn't go over the Harris poll and note that 72% of Americans believe Iraqis are better off now than they were under Saddam. Why would they believe that?

Maybe that belief arises from the fact that Iraq doesn't get coverage?

Are they better off? If you follow superficial discussions like what was offered today, maybe you think they are.

If you search out your own coverage (or even follow the mainstream) you know that's not the case. It's too damn bad that KPFA can't cover Iraq seriously. Tomorrow, it's been announced, a show will look at the anti-war movement.

I'd recommend it but I'm afraid we're going to get another program that can't even mention Abeer's name, can't discuss her and will as all the show do now make peace all about what Israel does or does not do. Should Americans be concerned with what Israel is doing? Absolutely. Those are war crimes.

But war crimes are happening in Iraq. We don't get coverage of that. We don't hear the details about Abeer. We don't hear about how US soldiers thought a 14-year-old girl made a good sexual pin up to leer at. We don't hear about how they got drunk and played golf while plotting her rape. We don't hear that they grilled chicken after taking turns holding her down and raping her.

We certainly didn't hear about that on The Morning Show today. We did hear about Judith Miller. I guess that passes for brave these days. I guess that's truth to power? Calling out a reporter who has a reputation so bad that she no longer works for the Times? Calling out a reporter who stopped writing about Iraq in 2003?

I guess it's too much to hope that we could discuss Abeer or note that the paper of record has presented the defense's argument both as it was made in the Article 32 hearing and, in fact, before it was made when Robert Worth and Carolyn Marshall had a lengthy, front page article that, wonder of wonders, presented the same argument that the defense would make in supposed "reporting."

To listen to the superficial discussion this morning, you'd assume that Judy Miller was the problem and that the problem is now over. John Stauber even suggested that the Times do something like run a full page, front page about "No WMD Found." Does he really believe that their coverage is any better today?

Is he unaware of how they've covered Abeer? Is he unaware that the Washington Post this year exposed not Judith Miller but Dexter Filkins as mouth piece for their propaganda efforts? Thomas E. Ricks wrote that article. I know that because I saw that article mentioned over and over at The Common Ills. That wasn't addressed. It was all about Judith Miller.

It was really sad to listen to because I had such high expectations. I thought KPFA was going to get serious about Iraq. (It wasn't announced as even being a topic for tomorrow's show. Well they gave us one segment, they're only a 2 hour daily, commercial free show, and if they gave us more than that every other week they wouldn't be able to cover Lebanon day after day, would they?)

I'm against the war in Iraq. I don't believe that Judith Miller is the only thing keeping us in Iraq. I didn't believe it while she was working for the New York Times. As C.I. pointed out, to buy that nonsense you'd have to believe that Judith Miller controlled all the papers, all the broadcast news and "newsie" programs, all the cable news and "newsie" programs, talk radio and much more. What a powerful woman she must have been. If you believe that lie. I also agree with a point C.I.'s made for almost two years now (made before Thomas E. Ricks exposed the propaganda of Dexter Filkins) which is that if (C.I. always says "if") Judy Miller got us over there, it's reporters like Dexter Filkins that keep us there.

I think you have to be lazy or uninformed to spend a segment where the only name you name is Judith Miller this late in the game. I don't know, maybe you're lazy and uninformed.

That's how the segment played out. John Stauber's a smart person, Andrea Lewis is a smart person so why did I hear a dumb segment?

And why was Abeer never mentioned. She wasn't named, she wasn't discussed.

The problem's not Americans (or even those surveyed by Harris), the problem is the media and, lately, independent media is part of the problem.

Let's talk The KPFA Evening News. It started out giving us about six minutes on Lamont/Lieberman, then a story on Hillary Clinton and her stance on Iraq re: her election. At 8 minutes after the hour, Cynthia McKinney's race (which she lost). Another Congressional race. Nine minutes after the hour, Israel. How long does it last? Blah, blah, blah (as Rebecca would say) goes on for six minutes. Want me to care about a story you can't shut up about? Cover the home bases first. A war the US started needs coverage. That seems basic to me. Shortly after the 15 minute mark, there's a "still to come announcement." At about 15 and 1/2 minutes, we get Iraq. Finally. About 16 1/2 minutes after we get an Aaron Glantz report. "It's a hell basically in Iraq" says a woman. It's a hell? I don't disagree. I'm just wondering why the hell that the U.S. created isn't worth opening the show with?

At 20 minutes after, we're now covering Gaza. For about a minute and a half. We're done with Iraq. The Glantz report? It lasted less than 4 minutes. We were told Iraq was "hell" but it's not enough of a hell for anyone to care about because there's no special on Iraq tonight. Or any other night. There will be, as usual, special coverage of Israel's actions.

At 38 minutes, I wake up when "Iraq" is mentioned in one sentence (a protest at Bechtel) but it's mentioned once and only once. After a minute, I fall back to sleep.

I've listened to KPFA as long as I can remember. (I donate to KPFA. I'll probably donate again this year, it's a habit for me, good times or bad times.) I can remember bad times before. I can't say I'm outraged because I'm really just numb. I'm numb to the point of shocked by the fact that Iraq doesn't get covered. When Abeer's not the topic of a report or a discussion, Iraq's not being covered. The Article 32 hearing is over. It came and went and did so without any coverage. I'm really just numb and don't know how that happened.

The US illegally went to war with Iraq over three years ago and it's not important enough for serious coverage. The prosecution in the Article 32 hearing convinced me that US troops raped Abeer and then murdered her and three members of her family (including her five-year-old sister). I think, I know a lot of KPFA listeners, that it would have made that point with others. But for that to happen, it would have had to have been covered. It wasn't. Reducing it to a headline isn't covering it. With all the time KPFA has to offer discussions, they weren't interested in Abeer.

As a woman, I'm surprised by that. A child was raped. She was murdered. Rape used to be considered a "feminist" issue only. I'm a feminist but I thought we'd moved beyond that. I thought we had a reached a point where we saw that violence against women (and girls) was violence against society. I guess it's a "girl" or "girly" issue to KPFA?

KPFA has a Women's Magazine. They covered it (twenty seconds) It's too bad that the host wasn't interested in the topic enough to say, "There's an Article 32 hearing and in Sunday's reports we learned that the soldiers took turns holding her down and raping her. What's the reaction to those revelations?" Even Nouri al-Maliki has had to make some noise because it is an issue in Iraq. (The puppet demanded an independent investigation.)

What I keep coming back to (a common thought about independent media expressed in the gina & krista round-robin) do I need bad coverage? Does it inform me? Does it inspire me?

I think I'll just stick to my CDs. I think I'll stick to Michael Franti and Ani DiFranco.

I'll listen to Dennis and Nora to hear about the issue of Israel's war crimes. That's what they cover. I never get upset with the focus of Flashpoints. I know that's their scope. They cover other things from time to time but, though you wouldn't know it from the breathless coverage, Israel's war crimes didn't just begin. The occupied territories have not had peace. Dennis and Nora didn't drop that story. They've covered it all along. I respect them for that.

I've grown to count on them for that kind of coverage. If Iraq was being covered on other shows, I'd be overjoyed that I'm getting special programming each night. But by the time it rolls around, I've heard about all I can take on the topic for one day. By the time it rolls around, I've listened thinking Iraq might be discussed, that Abeer will not be forgotten, not rendered invisible. But day after day she isn't treated as a topic.

She doesn't matter. As a feminist, I don't support a rape victim being ignored. When it's one who is dead and can't defend herself, I think it's all the more important that the media attempt to tell her story. I'll turn it on and off at my own place, KPFA. But I'm really numbed to it now.
The best part of my day was always learning something new from KPFA. Until recently, I rarely felt a day went by when I wasn't more informed. I'm not being informed now.

I'll listen to music. It'll inform me and inspire me.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:

Today, Wednesday, August 9, 2006, violence and chaos continue in Iraq with Allister Bull (Reuters) noting that the central morgue in Baghdad received nearly 2,000 bodies in July while Centcom's announced that a US helicopter crashed Tuesday in the Anbar province ("60 Blackhawk helicopter from 3rd Marine Aircrwaft Wing") which had six crew members of which two are still missing.
Elsa McLaren (Times of London) reports: "A desperate hunt is under way in Iraq today for two American servicemen whose helicopter crashed inside the 'triangle of death' west of Baghdad." As the search goes on, an Article 32 hearing concludes into the murders of Abeer Qasim Hamza and three of her family members with military prosecutor Captain Alex Pickands arguing of the four US troops accused of rape, murder and arson, "They gathered over cards and booze to come up with a plan to rape and murder that little girl. She was young and attractive. They knew where she was because they had seen her on a previous patrol. She was close. She was vulnerable."
Speaking with Andrea Lewis today on
KPFA's The Morning Show, John Stauber discussed the results of a recent Harris Poll which found 50% of all respondents wrongly believed that Iraq had WMD which is "an increase from 36 prercent in February 2005." Stauber noted the pre-war coverage (unquestioning) and pre-war propaganda (which never panned out.) "If voices of authority repeat a huge lie [. . .] that gets people supporting a war [ . . .] then that lie sticks. And this war was sold to the American public on two huge lies: that Saddam Hussein had WMDs and that he was behing 9-11."
"What is going on here?" wondered Andrea Lewis. Which is a good question. Stauber pointed to Rick Santorum falsely claiming that WMDs were found and Fox "News" and the right-wing echo chamber running with the lie. Because, not stated, the right-wing will continue to sell this war and peddle lies. While the coverage of Iraq vanishes from the media (in all its forms) it doesn't vanish from the right-wing echo chamber.
Note this finding from the poll: "
Seventy-two percent believe that the Iraqis are better off now than they were under Saddam Hussein (slightly down from February 2004 when 76 percent said this was true)." Why would poll respondents think that when the UN estimates 100 Iraqis die each day from violent attacks? Don't they know the reality and status of the 'reconstruction' projects? No. They generally don't and when the media decides they need to ALL pick up and go after another story, when the coverage of Iraq is a one-story-a-day thing (New York Times) or one topic a week (radio, magazines, etc -- once a week when we're lucky -- we're supposed to be grateful for the once a week treatment of an illegal war launched by the US administration) then the problem really isn't the people -- the problem's the media. One quite proud to pat themselves on the back in every venue and forum but not too interested in focusing on Iraq.
People care about this topic (now more than ever as
a CNN poll demonstrates most recently), it's the media that either is bored or just doesn't give a damn. Elaine (Like Maria Said Paz) reported yesterday on the surprise of a returning Iraqi vet who spoke to a group of young adults -- his surprise that they were interested in the topic and interested in his injuries and all the injuries that the press doesn't have time to cover.
Al Jazeera reports on a mortar attack in Baghdad which "collapsed a three-storey building" and left some worried that "some people were still trapped in the rubble." Five people are known to have died. Reuters reports three Iraqi police officers dead in Habaniya from a roadside bomb; the death of a civilian in Kirkuk from a roadside bomb; the death of a civilian by a roadside bomb in Baghdad; three civilians wounded by a roadside bomb in Ramadi; and, in Kirkuk, a roadside bomb wounded three Iraqi soldiers. Also CBS and AP note that, in Samarra, a police officer died on Tuesday while attempting "to defuse a roadside bomb" and another police officer was injured in the blast. Associated Press reports that a US solider was wounded by a roadside bomb in eastern Baghdad
Pay attention here because you know
the New York Times doesn't bother to include shooting fatalities in their 'rounded' daily undercount these days. Reuters reports the death of "Army Colonel Qasim Abdul Qadir" in Basra ("on his way to work"). CBS and AP report that Abedl-Qadir was attacked by "gunmen on two motorcycles". Reuters notes that, in western Baghdad, five civilians were shot dead.
Reuters reports that, in Baghdad, nine corpses were discovered ("killed by gunshots"), two corpses ("shot in the head and chest") were found in Dour. and, in al-Zab, a behaded corpse was discovered.
In the case of
Abeer Qasim Hamza? From CNN: "Iraqi authorities have identified the girl who was raped and shot to death as Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi. Her father, mother and 5-year-old sister were also killed, and the 14-year-old's body was set on fire after she was killed." The Article 32 hearing has concluded. CNN reports Alex Pickands (military prosecutor) making his closing argument with the following: "Murder, not war. Rape, not war. That's what we're here talking about today. Not all that business about cold food, checkpoints, personnel assignments. Cold food didn't kill that family. Personnel assignments didn't rape and murder that 14-year-old little girl." As the BBC notes, the Article 32 hearing was to determine whether or not should be charged with rape, murder and arson. CNN notes that the deterimination will be made by "investigating officer, Col. Dwight Warren" and that' "Warren's report will likely be at least a few days in coming".
Ehren Watada is the first known commissioned officer serving in the US military to have refused to deploy to Iraq.
Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports: "The army has rejected 1st Lt. Ehren Watada's offer to resign instead of facing a possible court-martial for refusing to deploy to Iraq." The concludes: "[i]t's looking more likely that Honolulu Army Lt. Ehren Watada will be court martialed for refusing to serve in Iraq." Hoyt Zia (publisher of Hawaii Business Magazine) addresses the case of Ehren Watada with "Having the Courage of Your Convictions."
Kakesako notes: "Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada is scheduled to face an Article 32 pretrial hearing at Fort Lewis, Wash., on Aug. 17. That hearing is equivalent to a preliminary hearing in a civilian criminal court, and is expected to last a few days."
The 17th is when the hearing is scheduled to begin. Remember
Courage to Resist and are calling for a "National Day of Education" on August 16th, the day before Ehren Watada would be due to "face a pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq." ThankYouLt.Org notes: "On August 16, the day prior to the hearing, The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada are calling for a 'National Day of Education' to pose the question, 'Is the war illegal?' This day can also serve to anchor a 'week of outreach' leading up to the pre-trial hearing."
Cindy Sheehan is in Crawford, TX with Camp Casey. Why? As
Missy Comley Beattie (OpEdNews) writes: "Thousands of Iraqis are dying each month. Coalition troops are perceived not as liberators of grateful Iraqis free at last from the grip of a tyrant. Instead, we are occupiers and our incursion has unleashed sectarian violence that shows no sign of abating. Life is so bad in Iraq that its citizens long for the days when Saddam Hussein was in power." For those reasons and many more, Camp Casey III matters. Alison Sterling Nichols tells Chris Durant (The Times-Standard) that, "There are more people here than there were in the first few days last year."
Today is day 37 of the
Troops Home Fast action which will continue until September 21st. Today, 4, 549 people are taking part from across the world. Remember you can do a one-day fast, a one-day-a-week fast or longer. More information is available at Troops Home Fast.
CNN reporting the results of their latest poll -- "Sixty percent of Americans oppose the U.S. war in Iraq, the highest number since polling on the subject began with the commencement of the war in March 2003" -- the sea of change on the Iraq war is obvious to all but the Bully Boys and Joe Liebermans.