Ruth is asking us to all highlight "'The End of America': Feminist Social Critic Naomi Wolf Warns U.S. in Slow Descent into Fascism" (Democracy Now!) today which works in with the only thing I had to talk about so that's great:
AMY GOODMAN: Today, we're joined by a special guest who has just written a book. The United States is on the road to becoming a fascist society, right under our very noses. That's the premise of the new book by feminist social critic Naomi Wolf. It's called The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, and it's already on the New York Times bestseller list.
Naomi Wolf outlines what she sees as the ten steps to shut down a democratic society. She argues the Bush administration has already implemented many of these steps. Naomi Wolf is the author of several books, including the '90s feminist classic, The Beauty Myth.
Critics describe her latest book, The End of America, as a wake-up call to Americans to heed the lessons of history and fight to save their democracy before its too late.
Naomi Wolf joins us in our firehouse studio. Welcome to Democracy Now!
NAOMI WOLF: Thank you, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: It's good to have you with us. Start off with the stories that you tell in your book.
NAOMI WOLF: Well, they're the stories of societies that were systematically closed down by would-be despots, would-be dictators, whether they were on the left or the right, who essentially developed a blueprint in the first part of the twentieth century to crush democracies or to crush democracy movements. So they're also individual stories of how people react as a democracy is being closed down.
But I guess the book really began with a very personal story, because I was forced to write it, even though I didn’t really want to, by a dear friend who is a Holocaust survivor’s daughter. And when we spoke about news events, she kept saying, "They did this in Germany. They did this in Germany." And I really didn't think that made sense. I thought that was very extreme language. But finally she forced me to sit down and start reading the histories, of course, not of the later years, because she wasn’t talking about German outcomes, '38, '39; she was talking about the early years, 1930, '31, '32, when Germany was a parliamentary democracy, and there was this systematic assault using the rule of law to subvert the rule of law.
And once I saw how many parallels there were, not just in strategy and tactics that we’re seeing again today, but actually in images and sound bites and language, then I read other histories of Italy in the '20s, Russia in the '30s, East Germany in the '50s, Czechoslovakia in the '60s, Pinochet's coup in Chile in '73, the crushing of the democracy movement in China at the end of the ’80s. And I saw that there is a blueprint that would-be dictators always do the same ten things, whether they’re on the left or the right, and that we are seeing these ten steps taking place systematically right now in the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: Lay them out.
NAOMI WOLF: Well, they're not happy. The first step is that all would-be dictators or would-be despots, which is what the founders of our country who foresaw exactly this kind of possibility would call them -- all would-be dictators invoke a terrifying internal and external threat. And often it's a real threat, which they will hype or manipulate. For instance, Stalin spoke about sleeper cells, which is one of those phrases that are being recirculated now by the Bush White House. And this was an invention. He said there were capitalist secret agents who were hiding among good Soviet citizens and who are going to rise up at a signal and create terrorist mayhem -- fake story, but it worked to frighten citizens.
Pinochet talked about a real threat: armed insurgents. There were armed insurgents, but he hyped it using fake documents. And we saw -- we see this a lot in the historical blueprint, that a would-be dictator will fake documents. His were called Plan Z. He claimed they were going to bomb infrastructure, assassinate leaders. We saw fake documents used by the White House to hype of a terror threat when they used the fake yellowcake documents to claim that Iraq was trying to secure yellowcake uranium. And remember the famous sound bite -- "We can't wait for the smoking gun to come in the form of a mushroom cloud" -- to drive us into an illegal war with a nation we were not at war with.
AMY GOODMAN: You also talk about the language, like the Department of Homeland Security.
NAOMI WOLF: That is where I, as a social critic and a student of language, get really scared. It’s scary enough to see these ten steps, but what is terrifying to me personally is how many actual phrases are being recycled, and tactics. "Homeland security" -- "heimat" -- became popularized by the National Socialists. Goebbels developed the practice of embedding journalists. Leni von Riefenstahl was embedded, for instance, in Poland. And we’re seeing embedded --
You'll see some of it in the snapshot at the end and that's what I wanted to talk about. We were listening, Ava, C.I. and I, to Democracy Now! in the car and thinking, "We're going to be on campus before this interview ends" (which we were, there were about two minutes left of the interview that we missed). But it went in the snapshot today and that was really interesting. I see the snapshot dictated all the time. (I'm back on the road with Ava and C.I. again this week speaking to groups about Iraq.) But C.I. had a friend fax the PEJ journalist survey report to one of the college's and we were all starving. We'd done one group after another all day (Ava and C.I. are speaking right now but I was wiped out) and grabbed one on the fly in what was supposed to be the designated lunch period (a young woman said her boyfriend really cares about ending the illegal war and is always griping that no one ever comes to speak to them because they're frat boys -- so we used our lunch to do a talk at a frat house this afternoon). We ended up grabbing pizza (black olives, green olives, mushrooms, bell peppers and onions, if anyone's wondering) and C.I. starts dictating the snapshot. This is the first chance C.I.'s had to look at the survey of reporters and a friend had noted the PSA on war resisters so suddenly there were three things that had to go in, the survey, the PSA and Naomi Wolf's appearance. So C.I.'s working on that with one phone and using the other cell to check messages (some of which are included in the snapshot). C.I.'s doing the report from first glances in like 3 minutes. I thought that was amazing. C.I. would say, "Go back to the third sentence that ended with ___ and add this after." And there's this series of paragraphs on the report (including when C.I. says something like "Oh wait, we will talk about this . . .") that really summarizes the report (I've read it now). Time is up (and Ava and I have gobbled down the pizza. C.I.'s had one slice that keeps going towards the mouth but never makes it in due to dictating). C.I. says, "Okay, just pull ___ and ___ from the transcript of the interview with Amy Goodman and I'll do a generic sentence before it, after it, Laura Flanders' show needs to be mentioned and she's . . ." C.I. stops. "There's no transcript?" The transcript wasn't posted.
"Okay," C.I. says, "here's the line before the excerpt --" and then after that, C.I. takes a deep breath, stares off into space for about 20 seconds and starts doing the interview excerpt. From memory. You can see how closely it matches up (real close). I was just amazed. I looked over and Ava was as well. We tried to say so after but C.I. was all, "I'm sure I messed up every other sentence."
The other thing on the snapshot, the only time I interupted, the UN report on the Iraqi refugees does mention that Syria's cancelling visas -- like I noted last night -- and I was going, "Put that in!" I wanted it in with a "as I was saying . . ." but it didn't make it in. I noted it last night and noted C.I. had told me about the cancellation. So let me give credit to C.I. or it won't get credited. (Though I'm sure we'll read it at ____ in an ____ ____ in a few week's time, without credit.)
This is from Bruce Dixon's "Top Ten Reasons to Suspect 'Save Darfur' is a PR Scam to Justify US Military Intervention in African" (Black Agenda Report):
The regular manufacture and the constant maintenance of false realities in the service of American empire is a core function of the public relations profession and the corporate news media. Whether it's fake news stories about wonder drugs and how toxic chemicals are good for you, bribed commentators and journalists discoursing on the benefits of No Child Left Behind, Hollywood stars advocating military intervention to save African orphans, or slick propaganda campaigns employing viral marketing techniques to reach out to college students, bloggers, churches and ordinary citizens, it pays to take a close look behind the facade.
Among the latest false realities being pushed upon the American people are the simplistic pictures of Black vs. Arab genocide in Darfur, and the proposed solution: a robust US-backed or US-led military intervention in Western Sudan. Increasing scrutiny is being focused upon the “Save Darfur” lobby and the Save Darfur Coalition; upon its founders, its finances, its methods and motivations and its truthfulness. In the spirit of furthering that examination we here present ten reasons to suspect that the "Save Darfur" campaign is a PR scam to justify US intervention in Africa.
1. It wouldn't be the first Big Lie our government and media elite told us to justify a war.
Elders among us can recall the Tonkin Gulf Incident, which the US government deliberately provoked to justify initiation of the war in Vietnam. This rationale was quickly succeeded by the need to help the struggling infant "democracy" in South Vietnam, and the still useful "fight 'em over there so we don't have to fight 'em over here" nonsense. More recently the bombings, invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq have been variously explained by people on the public payroll as necessary to "get Bin Laden" as revenge for 9-11, as measures to take "the world's most dangerous weapons" from the hands of "the world's most dangerous regimes", as measures to enable the struggling Iraqi "democracy" stand on its own two feet, and necessary because it's still better to "fight them over there so we don't have to fight them here".
2. It wouldn't even be the first time the U.S. government and media elite employed "genocide prevention" as a rationale for military intervention in an oil-rich region.
The 1995 US and NATO military intervention in Kosovo was supposedly a "peacekeeping" operation to stop a genocide. The lasting result of that campaign is Camp Bondsteel, one of the largest military bases on the planet. The U.S. is practically the only country in the world that maintains military bases outside its own borders. At just under a thousand acres, Camp Bondsteel offers the US military the ability to pre-position large quantities of equipment and supplies within striking distance of Caspian oil fields, pipeline routes and relevant sea lanes. It is also widely believed to be the site of one of the US's secret prison and torture facilities.
3. If stopping genocide in Africa really was on the agenda, why the focus on Sudan with 200,000 to 400,000 dead rather than Congo with five million dead?
“The notion that a quarter million Darfuri dead are a genocide and five million dead Congolese are not is vicious and absurd," according to Congolese activist Nita Evele. "What's happened and what is still happening in Congo is not a tribal conflict and it's not a civil war. It is an invasion. It is a genocide with a death toll of five million, twenty times that of Darfur, conducted for the purpose of plundering Congolese mineral and natural resources."
More than anything else, the selective and cynical application of the term "genocide" to Sudan, rather than to the Congo where ten to twenty times as many Africans have been murdered reveals the depth of hypocrisy around the "Save Darfur" movement. In the Congo, where local gangsters, mercenaries and warlords along with invading armies from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Angola engage in slaughter, mass rape and regional depopulation on a scale that dwarfs anything happening in Sudan, all the players eagerly compete to guarantee that the extraction of vital coltan for Western computers and cell phones, the export of uranium for Western reactors and nukes, along with diamonds, gold, copper, timber and other Congolese resources continue undisturbed.
Former UN Ambassador Andrew Young and George H.W. Bush both serve on the board of Barrcik Gold, one of the largest and most active mining concerns in war-torn Congo. Evidently, with profits from the brutal extraction of Congolese wealth flowing to the West, there can be no Congolese "genocide" worth noting, much less interfering with. For their purposes, U.S. strategic planners may regard their Congolese model as the ideal means of capturing African wealth at minimal cost without the bother of official U.S. boots on the ground.
4. It's all about Sudanese oil.
Sudan, and the Darfur region in particular, sit atop a lake of oil. But Sudanese oil fields are not being developed and drilled by Exxon or Chevron or British Petroleum. Chinese banks, oil and construction firms are making the loans, drilling the wells, laying the pipelines to take Sudanese oil where they intend it to go, calling far too many shots for a twenty-first century in which the U.S. aspires to control the planet's energy supplies. A U.S. and NATO military intervention will solve that problem for U.S. planners.
5. It's all about Sudanese uranium, gum arabic and other natural resources.
Uranium is vital to the nuclear weapons industry and an essential fuel for nuclear reactors. Sudan possesses high quality deposits of uranium. Gum arabic is an essential ingredient in pharmaceuticals, candies and beverages like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, and Sudanese exports of this commodity are 80% of the world's supply. When comprehensive U.S. sanctions against the Sudanese regime were being considered in 1997, industry lobbyists stepped up and secured an exemption in the sanctions bill to guarantee their supplies of this valuable Sudanese commodity. But an in-country U.S. and NATO military presence is a more secure guarantee that the extraction of Sudanese resources, like those of the Congo, flow westward to the U.S. and the European Union.
The frat house, by the way, really turned out to be a great meet up on Iraq. I didn't think it would be. Ava and C.I. were all for it, they'll go anywhere. But I did have an Animal House-type fear. Twenty guys got involved and it was a very lively discussion about the illegal war, how it's being sold and what can be done.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
November 28, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces a mass wounding of US soldiers, a new survey of US journalists in Iraq provides a lot of answers, and more.
Starting with war resistance. Following the refusal of the Canadian Supreme Cour to hear the appeals of US war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, the best road to legal recognition appears to be the Canadian Parliament. The War Resisters Support Campaign has a two minute and forty-six seconds video PSA on the situation.
In 2003, the Liberal government upheld international law and refused to join the war in Iraq.
Prime Minister Jean Chretien
Iraq war debate -- March 17, 2003
Chretien: If military action proceeds without a new resultion of the [United Nations] Security Council, Canada will not participate.
[Applause. Standing ovation.]
Since 2004, dozens of U.S. soldiers have left the military and come to Canada.
These soldiers have come to Canada because they oppose the war in Iraq.
They need a provision from the Canadian government to let them stay.
US War Resister Justin Colby: My name is Justin Colby. I was a specialist in the United States Army. I served for three years. I spent one year in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. I joined the army after 9-11 and I left the army after my year in Iraq, before my unit was going to go back. And I left because Iraq never attacked the United States and the things that we did there led me to believe that we weren't defending our country.
On November 15th, 2007, the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of U.S. war resisters.
As a result, U.S. war resisters living in Canada face deportation back to the U.S.
If deported, they face imprisonmnet, or even deployment back to Iraq.
US War Resister Kimberly Rivera: I'm Kimbely Rivera. I served three months in Iraq and I'm here with my family.
A 2007 poll found that 64.6% of Ontario voters and 71% of Liberal voters want U.S. war resisters to stay in Canada.
US War Resister Phil McDowell: My name is Phil McDowell. I'm a former sergeant in the United States Army. I joined the army after September the 11th. I served a one-year tour in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. During my tour I realized that the war was unjust and illegal and the reasons for the invasion were lies. After completing my contractual agreement with the army, I was called back into service for another fifteen-month tour. At that time, I refused to deploy, moved to Canada because I believed I'd be able to stay here. We're asking Liberals to support a provision that would allow Iraq War Resisters to remain in Canada.
U.S. war resisters need the support of the Liberal Party to live in Canada.
War Resisters Support Campaign
Cindy Sheehan (OpEdNews) urges people to utilize Courage to Resist's easy to mail or e-mail resources to allow the Canadian government to know you are watching and to support organizations supporting war resisters as well as supporting war resisters:
Support actual war resisters in Canada by sending them expense money. From my friend Ryan (I gave him and his wife money to get to Canada over two years ago):
In light of the recent Supreme Court denial in Canada, I (Ryan Johnson), My wife (Jen Johnson) and Brandon Hughey need help raising funds to travel to Ottawa to attend hearings before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, where War Resisters will be giving Testimony to the committee. At these hearings the committee will be deciding on whether or not to make a provision to allow war resisters to stay in Canada. This is one of our last chances to be able to continue living in Canada. We will be leaving December 7th because the hearings are December 11th, 2007 so we need to act fast. They may try to send guys back soon and we need to have a strong War Resister Presence. We appreciate all of the support and Want to thank all of you who can help.
Checks/money orders can be sent for Ryan, Jen and Brandon to:312 Tower RdNelson, BC V1L3K6
L-girl (We move to canada) blogs, "I know I've been belabouring the war and war resisters lately, but as I've said elsewhere, this blog reflects what's on my mind. I'm so disgusted, enraged, heartsick, horrified -- got any words? -- at what's going on in Iraq, at how veterans are being treated in the US, at how ordinary citizens are being treated in the US. Wmtc is a chance to vent that, and maybe bring some items to your attention that you haven't seen." And who wouldn't be horrified? The illegal war started -- over international opposition -- and continues. War resisters who have taken a stand and said "no" need support. As Guy Charron (WSWS) observes, "The war has, moreover, resulted in untold violence and countless atrocities. According to studies by reputable agencies, the war and the accompanying destruction of Iraq society have caused the death of over one million Iraqis and the flight of millions of people from their homes and Iraq altogether. If the Canadian government intervened in the Hinzman and Hughey cases to prevent their raising the illegality of the war, it wasn't just to save the Bush administration from embarrassment. Ottawa feared Canada would become a haven for 'war resisters' and a pole of resistance to the war. Given a different decision on Hinzman's and Hughey's refugee claim, thousands more might well have joined them."
If you are in Canada, you can utilize the contact info at War Resisters Support Campaign to let members of the Canadian Parliament know you support legislation allowing war resisters to stay in Canada. If you are in the United States (or elsewhere), you can utilize the contact info and/or forum at Courage to Resist. Public outcry didn't stop the illegal war from starting and public opposition has yet to end it. War resisters in Canada who have gone public are putting a great deal on the line. Use the links to show your support for them.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
The voice of war resister Camilo Mejia is featured in Rebel Voices -- playing now through December 16th at Culture Project and based on Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's best-selling book Voices of a People's History of the United States. It features dramatic readings of historical voices such as war resister Mejia, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Malcom X and others will be featured. Musician Allison Mooerer will head the permanent cast while those confirmed to be performing on selected nights are Ally Sheedy (actress and poet, best known for films such as High Art, The Breakfast Club, Maid to Order, the two Short Circuit films, St. Elmo's Fire, War Games, and, along with Nicky Katt, has good buzz on the forthcoming Harold), Eve Ensler who wrote the theater classic The Vagina Monologues (no, it's not too soon to call that a classic), actor David Strathaim (L.A. Confidential, The Firm, Bob Roberts, Dolores Claiborne and The Bourne Ultimatum), actor and playwright Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride, Clueless -- film and TV series, Gregory and Chicken Little), actress Lili Taylor (Dogfight, Shortcuts, Say Anything, Household Saints, I Shot Andy Warhol, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, State of Mind) and actor, director and activist Danny Glover (The Color Purple, Beloved, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Rainmaker, Places In The Heart, Dreamgirls, Shooter and who recently appeared on Democracy Now! addressing the US militarization of Africa) The directors are Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati with Urbinati collaborating with Zinn and Arnove on the play. Tickets are $21 for previews and $41 for regular performances (beginning with the Nov. 18th opening night). The theater is located at 55 Mercer Street and tickets can be purchased there, over the phone (212-352-3101) or online here and here. More information can be found at Culture Project.
Meanwhile IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:
In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan
March 13th through 15th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.
IVAW is attempting to get the truth out. The need for that is demonstrated right now by a new poll by the Pew Research Center which illustrates just how successful Operation Happy Talk can still be (especially when so few bother to counter it). Demetri Sevastopulo (Financial Times of London via MSNBC) surveys the polls results and finds a shift in Pew's figures from February -- then 30 percent of Americans surveyed said the illegal war was going well and now 47 percent say it is while 53 percent surveyed in February said bring the troops home and now that number is 54 percent. Eric Boehlert (Media Matters) examines Nightline (US' ABC network) and finds "that Nightline's interest in covering the war . . . waned. The program certainly was not alone. Most television news outlets, and the networks, in particular, have drastically cut back on the amount of airtime they now give to the war. Sometimes it appears as though the war doesn't even exist." And that's big media -- little media's no better. If you're a magazine or broadcast program -- big or small -- you should probably doing a self-check right about now because very few hands are clean and this latest poll is a reflection of what passes for coverage.
Did someone say coverage? The New York Times runs an important story on Iraq. On the front page? Stop, we're all laughing. A6 or A7? It didn't even make the news section. Richard Perez-Pena's report is entitled "Grim View of Iraq Dangers in Survey of Journalists" and runs on C5 (the business section, page five). Perez-Pena is summarizing a poll of "American journalists in Iraq" by the Project for Excellence in Journalism with most answering the survey "in October" -- considered 'less deadly'. Perez-Pena informs: "In a newly released survey, American journalists in Iraq give harrowing accounts of their work, with the great majority saying that colleagues have been kidnapped or killed and that most parts of Baghdad are too dangerous for them to visit." That was October. Where in your news coverage have you seen that indicated? What outlet? PEJ notes that they surveyed "111 journalists from 29 news organizations reporting from Iraq."
PEJ's report is entitled [PDF format warning] "Journalists in Iraq: A survey of reporters on the front lines" and opens with this paragraph:
After four years of war in Iraq, the journalists reporting from that country give their coverage a mixed but generally positive assessment, but they believe they have done a better job of covering the American military and the insurgency than they have the lives of ordinary Iraqis. And they do not believe the coverage of Iraq over time has been too negative. If anything, many believes the situation over the course of the war has been worse than the American public has perceived, according to a new survey of journalists covering the war from Iraq.
The report quotes a bureau chief stating, "Welcome to the new world of journalism, boys and girls. This is where we lost our innocence. Security teams, body armor and armored cars will forever now be pushed in between journalism and stories." They praise the embedding (get in bed with the US military) program and self-report that theyve done an "excellent" or "good" job reporting on the US military (82%). I'll bite me tongue and move on. No, actually, I won't. The New York Times is notorious among the enlisted in Iraq for blowing them off -- it's a complaint that's registered every year of the illegal war. So it's interesting to turn to page 16 of the study and see that PEJ has blown the enlisted off as well. That's really embarrassing and goes to why the coverage today sucks so bad. I'm not talking about "embedding," I am talking about journalists talking with average soldiers and anyone who covered a war zone in the past will tell you that. But PEJ also doesn't feel they are important or sources. They asked the journalists to rank their access to a group of "key sources" and there are eight listed:
1) Iraqi civilians
2) Other international diplomats/officials
3) Iraqi government officials
4) High ranking American military officers
5) American diplomats/officials
6) Iraqi sectarian leaders
7) Western private contractors
8) Iraqi terrorists/insurgents
The only military on the list are "High ranking American military officers" -- the ones the press already takes dictation from. Where are the enlisted? And how could PEJ have done a survey and not noticed that obvious flaw? 85% of the respondents have been embedded and of those who have 35% state that they were required to ask permission (from brass) "to interview soldiers." Obviously, it's far more difficult to speak to the enlisted than to a military p.r. flack with what's really an honorary title -- but don't those honorary titles look good in print. Of this embedded segment, 33% reply "yes" to the question of "Does the U.S. Military screen out reporters whose coverage of the war has been critical in the past?"
The journalists give themselves low marks (62% rated this area "fair to poor") on covering "the lives of ordinary Iraqis." It would be interesting to see a survey on earlier periods, especially on the issue of average Iraqis since in the Times' 'glory' days of Dexy and Burnsie, women didn't appear to exist in Iraq. (Sabrina Tavernise and other reporters that followed allowed Times readers to know that women did live in Iraq.) The survey finds -- remember this, "Six out of ten (63%) of the journalists surveyed say that Iraqi staffers do all or most of the street reporting outside the Green Zone."
In other findings, 62 percent say that their "editors back home" have lost interest in reports of day-to-day violence (no kidding) and the only significant increases have been in reports on contractors (79%) and "U.S. military strategy" (67%). The respondents rated the "Impact on Iraqi civilians" as the most under reported (40%) while the respondents rated "U.S. Military strategy" as the most over reported (29%).
Staying on Iraq but flashing back to the days of Judith Miller at the New York Times -- does anyone remember how Miller and Warren Hoge launched their grudge f--k against the United Nations in story after story? Miller's no longer with the paper and Hoge is on the down low. So Alan Feuer grabs duty and apparently does so without any editorial assistance which would explain how the world is learning of Texan "Farah Fawcett" for the first time. It's two r's: Farrah Fawcett. Having never heard of Farrah Fawcett, it's not all that surprising that Feuer hasn't heard of other things -- like the law. Oscar S. Wyatt Jr. received a sentence of one year and one day in prison. For what? Feuer tells you he "broke the rules of the United Nations program" -- no, he broke the law. Not a rule, a law. He bribed. He broke the law. The UN -- Miller and Hoge told you -- was the root of all corruption. Wyatt admitted his guilt and it's buried in the paper. "Act of kindess" and "he saved my life." Remember to use those two phrases when writing a judge about sentencing. They moved Wyatt's judge enough to show the felon mercy. (Fawcett was among those writing the judge asking for mercy -- for those wondering how she comes into the story.)
Not a lot of mercy in Iraq. Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) notes, "For the second day in a row, U.S. soldiers on Tuesday killed Iraqi civilians when they fired on a vehicle that they thought was a threat, the U.S. military said." Damien Cave (New York Times) offers, "The shootings by soldiers appear to receive less attention from Iraqi officials because, unlike contractors, whose legal situation remains murky, American soldiers are subject to military laws." They also receive less attention because they're rarely reported and when they are reported, there's an effort to explain them away -- even when it's the case of Iraqi children and women being shot in their own homes. Of the US military's apologies, Fadel quotes Saad Abdul Wahid asking, "Is sorry enough to bring back our friends to life? They keep making their mistakes day by day and we are paying too much." Meanwhile an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers shared this event at Inside Iraq on Tuesday, "Yesterday noon, an American squad from the United State Army (about ten to twelve) broke in Al-Mansour preparatory school for one reason or another. We don't have the right to ask them why they came to the school. The soldiers spread in different spots of the school walking towards the back yard which is used as a soccer field. Most of the students were in their classes when the squad came, but still there were many students in the yard who were terrified to see the American soldiers with their guns. One of the students was upset to see the soldiers and he threw a stone and hit one of them. Three soldiers surrounded him kicking him with their boots for some minutes on different parts of his body."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded three civilians and another one that wounded "two soldiers and one civilian."
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "4 bodyguards of state minister for tribal affairs were wounded" in a clash with the Iraqi military in Baghdad while Muhaned Mekhlif was shot dead "in Al Hawija west of Kirkuk." Reuters notes that 4 people were shot dead by Iraqi soldiers because they were 'suspected insurgents' (or that's what the Iraqi Defence Ministry states) and that 27 people were arrested. The US military announced: "A female suicide bomber detonated an explosive laden suicide-vest, wounding seven U.S. Soldiers and five Iraqi citizens in Baqubah, Nov. 27."
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.
Today the UNHCR released a brief report on the returning refugees. Someone get a copy to CBS and AP who flat out lie ("More Iraqi refugees, heartened by reports of the lull in violence in Baghdad, were beginning to return"). Though Damien Cave has reported on the refugees being bussed in bought, CBS and AP play dumb there as well. (It is playing, right?) Reality from the UNHCR: approximately 800 left Syria for Baghdad on approximately 15 buses provided by the central (puppet) government in Iraq (no word on how much they were paid to return) and -- pay attention CBS and AP -- "most said they were going back to Iraq because they had run out of money and could no longer afford to stay in Syria, which is hosting more than 1.4 million Iraqi refugees." The UNHCR's figures find that the tiny trickle of returnees is composed of 14% returning due to the 'safety' myths and 70% returning "because of tougher visa regulations and because they are not allowed to work and can no longer afford to stay in Syria." Get it yet?
On Democracy Now! today, Naomi Wolf discussed her new book The End of America: Letters of Warning to a Young Patriot. She outlined the ten signs when an open society closes and becomes a fascist state and why Americans need to pay attention to. Picking up the discussion at Iraq:
Naomi Wolf: . . . they used the fake yellow-cake documents to argue that Iraq was trying to secure yellow-cake uranium and remember the famous soundbye, 'We can't wait for the smoking gun to come in the form of a mushroom cloud' to drive us into an illegal war with a nation we were not at war with.
Amy Goodman: You also talk about the language like the Department of Homeland Security.
Naomi Wolf: That is where I, as a social critic and student of language, get really scared. It's scary enough to see these ten steps but what is terrifying to me personally is how many actual phrases are being recycle and tactics. Homland security [the German phrase] "heimat" became popularized by the National Socialists [NAZIs]. Goebbels developed the practice of embedding journalists. Leni Reifenstahl was embedded for instance in Poland.
Amy Goodman: She's the famous German film maker.
Naomi Wolf: I mean if you look at the sequence of Hitler descending in an airplane and in Leni Reifenstahl's famous Triumph of the Will and being greeted by the uniformly armed para-military surrounding their leader and he's saying, 'Help us accomplish our mission' and then you look at other famous images from this administration --
Amy Goodman: Like George Bush on "Mission Accomplished."
Naomi Wolf: Accomplished." Exactly. You look at how Hitler said 'We have to invade Czecholslavakia, they're a staging ground for terrorists and they're abusing their ethnic minorities' -- again, a country that we're not at war with; when the WMD charge vanished, the White House said we have to invade Iraq 'staging ground for terrorists and they're abusing their ethnic minorities' -- on and on and on.
In her latest column (changing the topic), Goodman wonders about the shame factor involved in the Democratic Party using torture czar Ricardo Sanchez to deliver their radio address last Saturday. This Sunday on RadioNation with Laura Flanders, the program broadcasts a June discussion on the Constitution and national security under Bully Boy featuring Slate's Dahlia Lithwick, John Nichols and David Cole.
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