Monday, June 13, 2005


That is What We would Like To Know!

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Sent: Monday, June 13, 2005 9:55 AM

NEWS DISSECTOR June 13, 2005

Who is Bombing Iran's Elections?


Iran prepares to go to the polls later this week. BBC reports: "Bombs explode in two Iranian cities, killing at least 10 people, days before the presidential election." The New York Times reports today seven attacks with nearly 80 wounded. Al-Jazeera notes:

"Iran's main armed opposition group denied that it had any hand in a wave of deadly bombings that rocked Tehran and the south-western city of Ahvaz on Sunday.

"The Iraq-based People's Mujahedeen 'strongly condemned' what it described as 'efforts by the Iranian regime and its agents to blame' it for the blasts, in a statement received by AFP in Nicosia. 'These claims are sheer lies,' a spokesman said."

What is happening in Iran? Last Friday, I heard Noam Chomsky tell the Z Media Institute that he believes various published reports suggesting a U.S. or Israeli military threat were designed to rattle the regime and provoke a new wave of repression which, in turn, fuels protests and destabilization.

Iranian journalist Reza Noroozpour writes in her blog that an American movie star has arrived in Tehran to cover the election for the San Francisco Chronicle, which carried his earlier and extremely well-written dispatches from Iraq:

"Actor Sean Penn In Tehran

"The people know Sean Penn the actor, but not many of them know Sean Penn the journalist. Hollywood actor Sean Penn, accompanying with two American journalists, Norman Solomon and Reese Erlich, was present at Tehran Friday prayer on assignment for San Francisco Chronicle. The star of 'Interpreter' and the two other journalists will cover the presidential elections on June 17, and try to get interviews with all candidates. Meanwhile Penn is going to write the account of this short trip for Chronicle as a journalist. He traveled to Iraq before and after the Iraq war in 2003 and wrote an account of his trip for the Chronicle."

Two other points:

Nooroonzpour writes to advise that an item I carried from Iran on Friday was inaccurate:

"Re: SOCCCER WARS: Dozens injured or arrested in Iran-Bahrain riot: I regretfully must say it is wrong and false. No injuries. no riots and no arrest. everybody was pleased and celebrated this victory."

(As for Penn, I spent the weekend listening to his excellent audio book of Bob Dylan's memoirs. Having spent some time with Dylan for a "20:20″ profile, I found the memoir superb and Sean Penn's reading excellent.)


Vice President Dick Cheney, in a speech later today, will deny reports that the Administration is contemplating closing the Guantanamo detention center. MSNBC reports he called the detainees there "bad people." Time Magazine carries a cover story on interrogation techniques inside Guantanamo. (Similar reports were in the British press two years ago.) See:


BBC reports: "Tony Blair has arrived in Moscow for the first of a series of talks with world leaders to discuss Africa and climate change ahead of the G8 summit. On Saturday, the world's richest countries agreed to write off the debt owed by 18 mainly African countries." (See a separate analysis I've done for MediaChannel on this issue)

Tony Blair needs a positive story to spin these days, While he was jet-setting to Moscow, the Sunday Times in London reported on a new secret memo:

"Ministers were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal.

"The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W. Bush three months earlier.

"The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair's inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was 'necessary to create the conditions' which would make it legal."

"This was required because, even if ministers decided Britain should not take part in an invasion, the American military would be using British bases. This would automatically make Britain complicit in any illegal U.S. action."


Last week, President Bush claimed that thanks to the Patriot Act, the Administration had arrested 400 persons on terrorism charges since 2001 and convicted half of them. Was it true? It took a few days -- which is never helpful in refuting lies -- but the Washington Post reported yesterday:

"Few Convictions on Terrorism Charges: Statistics Often Count Lesser Crimes"

Dan Eggen and Julie Tate offered a breakdown of 330 cases indicating that the claim is bogus. A second article appeared today.


Over the weekend, the body count for U.S. soldiers in Iraq passed 1,700.

The Boston Globe reported Saturday that more members of Congress want an Iraq exit strategy. The newspaper reports that support for the war is waning, with 65% in a new ABC/Washington Post poll saying that the U.S. has gotten "bogged down" in Iraq.

Susan Milligan reports:

"Faced with plummeting public support for the war in Iraq, a growing number of members of Congress from both parties are reevaluating the reasons for the invasion and demanding the Bush administration produce a plan for withdrawing U.S. troops."

But what will or can that plan be? Many in Congress, including Democrats, had suggested that the U.S. can only consider such a plan if the situation is stabilized or a military victory is achieved over the insurgents, an unlikely scenario. Others believe there is a Pentagon plan to promote civil war to balkanize or divide Iraq


Pepe Escobar of Asia Times writes:

"Against all odds, a national liberation front is emerging in Iraq. Washington
hawks may see it coming, but they certainly don't want it. Many groups in this front have already met in Algiers. The front is opposed to the American occupation and permanent Pentagon military bases; opposed to the privatization and corporate looting of the Iraqi economy; and opposed to the federation of Iraq, i.e. balkanization."


There seems to be a new upsurge of Taliban attacks in Afghanistan on U.S. personnel... Four wounded in the most recent incident involving a suicide attack on a military convoy... The Washington Post reports a peasant revolt in China against industrial pollution with 20,000 farmers battling police.


David Podvin assesses why:

"Howard Dean was excoriated at a meeting with Senate Democrats for saying Republicans are 'not very friendly to different kinds of people.' They are a pretty monolithic party... It's pretty much a white Christian party.

"The current conflict is a reprise of the 2004 Democratic primary campaign during which the corporate-controlled media pressured Dean to end his candidacy as punishment for telling the truth. Now, the corporate-controlled Democratic establishment is pressuring Dean to end his chairmanship as punishment for telling the truth. If the past is prologue, Dean will soon be sidelined and those who liked the 2004 John Kerry campaign will love the 2006 Democratic congressional campaign...

"If history serves as a guide, when the Democrats meekly point out that Republican policies are failures the right wing will respond by noting that liberals hate God and despise America and love fags. This inflection point in the campaign is where Dean would have aggressively counterattacked, but he apparently will be muzzled as the Democratic elite again depends on the public to reject gutter politics."


The New York Times reports: "Five Unions to Create a Coalition on Growth"

"Labor leaders said that they want to form an aggressively pro-growth coalition and believe the A.F.L.-C.I.O. is doing too little to organize nonunion workers."

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Media War (ongoing)

"Psychological warfare effort to be outsourced -- Army command hires three firms to sway Afghans and Iraqis"

James Crawley of Media General News Service reports:

"The U.S. Special Operations Command has hired three firms to produce newspaper stories, television broadcasts and Web sites to spread American propaganda overseas.

"The Tampa-based military headquarters, which oversees commandos and psychological warfare, may spend up to $100 million for the media campaign in the next five years.

T"he Pentagon backed away from a similar campaign in 2002. The use of contractors in psyops is a new wrinkle. But psychological warfare expert Herb Friedman said he is not surprised.

"With only one active-duty and two reserve psyops units remaining, Friedman said, 'The bottom line is, they don't have the manpower.'

"Federal law prohibits sending propaganda to Americans, and some experts worry that psychological warfare messages, especially disinformation efforts, might blow back to American audiences via the Internet and satellite news channels.

"'In this age of the Internet and instant access, it's of great concern,' said Nancy Snow, a propaganda expert at California State University-Fullerton. 'If you plant false stories, how can you control where that story goes? You can't.'"

THROTTLING THE THROAT: "Don't Follow the Money," says Frank Rich:

Frank Rich of the New York Times has now weighed in on the Deep Throat story, reminding us:

"Three years ago, on Watergate's 30th anniversary, an ABC News poll found that two-thirds of Americans couldn't explain what the scandal was, and no one was racing to enlighten them this time around. Vanity Fair may have taken the trouble to remind us that Watergate was a web of crime yielding the convictions and guilty pleas of more than 30 White House and Nixon campaign officials, but few others did. Watergate has gone back to being the 'third-rate burglary' of Nixon administration spin. It is once again being covered up.

"Not without reason. Had the scandal been vividly resuscitated as the long national nightmare it actually was, it would dampen all the Felt fun by casting harsh light on our own present nightmare. 'The fundamental right of Americans, through our free press, to penetrate and criticize the workings of our government is under attack as never before' was how the former Nixon speech writer William Saffire put it on this page almost nine months ago.

"The current administration, a second-term imperial presidency that outstrips Nixon's in hubris by the day, leads the attack, trying to intimidate and snuff out any Woodwards or Bernsteins that might challenge it, any media proprietor like Katharine Graham or editor like Ben Bradlee who might support them and any anonymous source like Deep Throat who might enable them to find what Carl Bernstein calls 'the best obtainable version of the truth.'"


"The Johannesburg Organised Crime Unit is investigating the theft R1-million worth of electronic equipment from the offices of the Mail & Guardian on Saturday night. About 10 armed men tied up guards at the newspaper's premises and then loaded about 40 almost-new Apple computers into a vehicle and fled the office park in Milpark, Johannesburg." The newspaper says they even took the coffee machine.


Hats off to Al Giordano and for their coverage of recent developments in Bolivia. They were often ahead of the story predicting what was to happen. Al writes:

"In case you blinked -- because it all happened so fast -- I’ve prepared this summary of the action-packed series of breaking news reports from Luis Gómez and our entire team in Bolivia, and the considerable helping hand lent them from diverse points in our América and around the world.

"As during previous hours of crisis, the lies got swatted down, the truths were shone bright, new advances were made in how to wage a popular Netwar, and Authentic Journalists drove, in recent days, the coverage of most Commercial Media organizations to be more truthful than ever before when reporting events in Latin America."


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Your Letters And Commentaries


Mary Fox writes:

"Now it transpires that another memo reveals that the British govt knew that attacking Iraq would be illegal under international law and sought ways to 'justify' it. This might seem to fit into the 'what else is new' department, but in fact it may open some interesting possibilities.

"I am not a lawyer (just a Court TV junkie) but it seems to me that this memo provides proof of intent to commit a crime. Now, we know that the U.S. is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court, but the UK, I suspect, is another story.

"It is a well known tactic of U.S. law enforcement to prosecute an accomplice if the main perpetrator for some reason cannot be tried (has escaped or died, has immunity, etc.). This may not provide adequate justice for the victims, but it has the effect of placing everything on the public record.

"I wonder if our anti-war friends in Britain might be encouraged to try to bring the Blair government in front of the ICC. This is better than nothing, and would cause an uproar that might even force Congress to impeach Bush."


Chuck O'Brien writes with tongue in cheek:

"With military recruitment so extremely low I think one fact should now becoming clear, and the anti-war interests should repeatedly bring the truth and shame of it to everyone's attention. 'Join up, or shut up!'

"Why are the many people who support this war not signing up to fight it? It is not because they are too old: the military is even recalling 60-yr.old grandmothers! Is it an elitist attitude that others should do their awful bidding?

"The circumstances of the times and the military are different from the days of the Vietnam draft. Today with an 'all volunteer force' if one volunteers, they will almost always be signed into service. Could it be that at last we have visible evidence that so many proud Americans, with their bully cheerleading for the quick use of American military power, are also hiding a personal lack of courage?

"Or is it true that the smart know to press the disadvantaged to sacrifice their lives for the economic advantage of those who understood the strategy? How many citizens who support the war in Iraq also believe that their lives are too important to be put in harms way? How many believe that they would go if not for their economic responsibilities: and pretend not to notice that soldering is left to those without economic opportunities?

"So, here is my advocacy: the cheap talk of belligerent 'patriots' can silenced. Their aggressive agenda can be muted with this truthful, quick, and shaming retort:
'Join up, or shut up!'"

Dennis Abbot writes:

"Danny, I think you missed the very point you've been making for our benefit. Yes, the Downing Street Memo was just more of what many already knew. But for most of the country, it will be the first clear evidence of the Bush Administration's deception and reckless eagerness for war -- IF it is reported fully and clearly.

"Most of the country's ignorance results from what you've demonstrated to us -- the news media's failure to report, or under-reporting, important news. Portraying this development as ho-hum plays into MSM justifications for not reporting, or under-reporting, the Downing Street Memo and its significance.

"The importance of the memo's content has (finally!) triggered some coordination among blogs and other entities. A concerted campaign has begun to demand complete and clear reporting on the memo, and to prod the MSM toward a higher journalistic standard from now on. The focal point of this campaign is, where the tools are laid out to add our voices.

"This effort to break through the ignorance and apathy that supports a radical group's control of a major party might be the best thing we can do for democracy in the U.S."

Eugene Duran writes:

"I saw a program late hosted by Hal Lindsay in which the whole program was about how Bush has betrayed Israel by allowing Palestinians too much authority against Israel regarding the land concessions going back to the 67’ War. I was fascinated by the passion in which the program spoke against Bush’s policies towards this situation. Is Bush losing his base? Could this be the first real chink in his armor? The Downing Street Memo should be his demise but his base is all he has to support him. It is getting even more interesting."

Bill Darbyshire writes from Galien, MI:

"Reading 'WAS THE MEMO A SMOKING GUN?' this morning, your mention of Project for The New American Century set me spinning again. (I usually get out of bed at about 600 or 800 rpm, read a little and buzzflash, then check the tachometer: It's reading in the 3600 rpm range by then!).

"That paragraph: 'So here we go back to Downing Street. So many of my colleagues see it as the smoking gun showing deception in high places. I think this is misplaced. The Project for a New American Century had been advocating taking out Saddam as early as 1996. Dan Kennedy, now a lame duck at the Boston Phoenix, discusses the document which many feel is proof of an impeachable offense. Whoa!"

"I'm always appalled by the lack of response whenever I talk with my colleagues about politics, and mention PNAC and their advocating Saddam's removal as #1 Foreign Policy priority, including their January 1998 letter to President Clinton. The real problem, and one I never see mentioned anywhere: PNAC was an open conspiracy, where they hid nothing, including the names of their members and those who signed statements and letters. Now PNAC IS the United States government's 'leadership team'! I have to admire their patience and long-term plan (similar to Al Qaida?), and then the success of
that plan..."


Bart Preces writes in response to a question posted on Reclaim the Media regarding a business split in Viacom with divisions being spun off. What does it mean for media consolidation?

"I can say that the split has already been used to downplay the significance of media consolidation. Jack Shafer is the media critic at Slate and he's already written that the Viacom split and breakup of Vivendi Universal is proof that media mergers are a cyclical thing, that the problem of media consolidation will, essentially, solve itself.

"I would respond in two ways. These events undercut one rationale for allowing megamedia mergers in the first place: that the only effective way to compete is to allow combinations and tolerate the resultant 'synergy' where one part of the conglomerate cross-promotes another.

"If some synergy experiments fail, it means that synergy is not a requirement for competition and hence grounds for waiving traditional antitrust concerns.

"Second, here's nothing in the discussion of these two breakups that suggest that stronger journalism or higher levels of public service is even remotely part of the calculations. The CBS Viacom split gives every indication of two strong willed, big ego executives diving up territory rather than take a chance on losing a succession battle.

"The notion that such a huge portion of our nation's cultural machinery should be run on a basis that would be familiar to a feudal lord from the Middle Ages is utterly repellant."

Palmer Frith writes:

"Recently, Charles Krauthammer commented on the editorial page of the Washington Post about the 'self-flagellation' over the situation at Guantanamo. He seems to have narrowed the entire thing down to complaints about abuses of the Koran. (I doubt if this fact is the whole story.) Also, he asserts that in no way can these alleged abuses compare to the events of 911. At one point he says:

"'On the scale of human crimes, where, say, 10 is the killing of 2,973 innocent people in one day and 0 is jaywalking, this ranks as perhaps a 0.01.

"'Moreover, what were the Korans doing there in the first place? The very possibility of mishandling Korans arose because we gave them to each prisoner. What kind of crazy tolerance is this? Is there any other country that would give a prisoner precisely the religious text that that prisoner and those affiliated with him invoke to justify the slaughter of innocents? If the prisoners had to have reading material, I would have given them the book "Portraits 9/11/01″ -- vignettes of the lives of those massacred on Sept. 11.'

"I really don’t know about Mr. Krauthammer’s sense of logic, but I don’t believe any of the hijackers from 911 are in Guantanamo. I guess he’s saying the hijackers were Muslim men from the Middle East, and the prisoners at Guantanamo are Muslim men from the Middle East; so they must be the same thing. That’s like saying carrots are vegetables, and peas are vegetables; therefore carrots are peas. Can’t the right-wing do better than this?"

Evelyn Riet criticizes the suppression of war images on the net:

"Which images of war are suitable for viewing often seems more controversial than the abomination of war itself. Personally, I think fuller exposure to the horror of the atrocities being committed in our names is essential. Thus, I noted on June 8th that the blog Free Iraq ( had received from Flickr (owned by Yahoo) the following notice:

"'If you could please make private all photos that you have not received explicit permission to post, plus the photos of corpses, whether or not they are U.S. soldiers. War time images of corpses, although a reality, are really not appropriate at all for 13-year-olds, which is the youngest one can be to have a Flickr account.'"


Our great new blog editor Jody Kolodzey has been following coverage of the public broadcasting appropriations story and GOP plans to zero out federal money. She is writing a longer piece on this:

"The Washington Post ran on Page 1 what the New York Times buried on E-3 (in the Weekend / Entertainment section!).

"The Philadelphia Inquirer ran the Post story on A-4 (wasn't worth their own reporter, although when I worked there, four reporters covered television full-time and nobody covered labor).

"The Boston Globe ran just a 45-word blurb on A-2, quoting and citing the Times story (the Globe is owned by the Times)."


"In coalition with theater artists, grassroots activists and community supporters, THAW and Kathleen Chalfant, Tony Kushner, Denis O’Hare, Danny Hoch, Malachy McCourt, Andre Gregory, Anne Waldman, Kia Corthron, Robert O’Hara and Betty Shamieh invite you to


"A benefit evening in support of the Al-Rowwad Palestinian Children’s Theater, Monday, June 13 at the Culture Project @ 45 Bleecker"


A close friend passes a long a warning. Similar ones in the past have proven to be scams but you never know:

"During the next several weeks be VERY cautious about opening or launching any e-mails that refer to the World Trade Center or 9/11 in any way, regardless of who sent it... It is a virus that will erase your whole 'C' drive. It will come to you in the form of an e-mail from a familiar person. I repeat, a friend sent it to me, but called and warned me before I opened it. He was not so lucky and now he can't even start his computer!"

A reader writes:

"Have a look at this loony website:

"I surfed around, looking for some indication that this was a joke, and I'm still not sure."

One thing is for sure: I am Danny Schechter, your News Dissector.

Write to me:


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