Friday, October 07, 2005


NEWS DISSECTOR October 7, 2005

Terror, Terror Everywhere


I was at the UN attending a launch of Innocent Voices, a must-see movie about child soldiers in El Salvador, when I stumbled across a group of people in the hall, staring at a monitor where MSNBC reported on the new security alert in the subway. "Be on the alert for someone with a big bag or baby carriage," we were told. The Threat Is Credible... This Just In... Breaking News... Mayor Mike was reassuring, Police Commissioner Kelly commanding. Suddenly, that movie about a country at war seemed to come home, even in a building dedicated to peace.

Are there any "innocent" voices on TV?

I must say, given our experience with terror alerts in the past, at first it looked to me like an election ploy. “Bloomberg Saves City,” was the headline I imagined. And soon, there were pictures of the billionaire mayor bravely riding the subway, while Chris Matthews said he was going to use the subway no matter what.

So, I was skeptical, but what if there was real cause for alarm? What to do? I had to go to Brooklyn to see a man-made giraffe (see below), so I decided to take a cab -- along with I don’t know how many millions of other New Yorkers. There were no cabs to be had. No surprise. I met a lady who was still waiting after 40 minutes. A limo driver wanted $100. Too steep. So, there was no choice: I was back in the subway.

There were four cops on the platform at Grand Central station -- all talking to one another while "suspicious" people with bags surrounded them. One looked like Bin Laden. "If we have to fight them, lets hope we can do it up above," a sergeant was saying. Not too comforting. There were fewer riders than usual.

Meanwhile, CNN was reporting:

New Yorkers were today warned of a "specific threat" against the city's subway system "in the coming days." Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: "This is the first time we have had a threat with this level of specificity." He told commuters "if you see something, say something." Acting on intelligence about the New York threat, a highly classified operation was carried out in Iraq against suspected al-Qaeda operatives, a well-placed U.S. military official told CNN.


How convenient -- linking Iraq to terror in New York again, just when President Bush was set to give a new speech justifying the war. The BBC reported on his ever escalating argument:

U.S. President George W. Bush says the insurgency in Iraq is part of a wider strategy by al-Qaeda and other Islamic militants to wage war against humanity. Mr. Bush said militants wanted to establish a radical Islamic empire, stretching from Spain to Indonesia

Slowly, after the initial public impression set in, after reports of the "credible" threat were everywhere, media outlets began to back away from the credibility of this "specific" threat. Huh? At 7 PM, there was danger. By 8, it was gone...

BBC reported:

However, in Washington, Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke appeared to contradict the New York officials when he told the Associated Press news agency that "the intelligence community has concluded this information to be of doubtful credibility."

The New York Times went further:

Some officials in Washington, in interviews last night, played down the nature of the threat. While not entirely dismissing it, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security described it as "specific yet noncredible," adding that the intelligence community had concluded that the information was of "doubtful credibility."

Several law enforcement officials said an investigation had yet to corroborate any of the details.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the operation in Iraq resulted in two people being taken into custody. They said a third was being sought.


This real-life movie was just getting started. There was more to come. Was this "corroborated"?

Soon, the U.S. military was suspiciously releasing intercepted “secret communications” to say we are winning, a familiar claim. Again CNN:

The United States obtained a recent letter that appears to be from Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's No. 2 figure, to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, outlining both the strategy and concerns of the terrorist network, said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman...

Reading from a summary of the letter, Whitman said al-Zawahiri concedes that al Qaeda has lost many key leaders, is resigned to defeat in Afghanistan, and that its lines of communication and funding sources have been seriously disrupted. Al-Zawahiri includes a plea for financial support, indicating he is strapped for money, Whitman said.

He could not say when the letter was intercepted or when authorities believe it might have been written.

NOTE THE WORDING: "a recent letter... that appears to be..."



Bush claimed 10 al-Qaeda plots were foiled.

All of this was played straight in the press, despite all the misinformation, deception, psy-ops and inventions we have heard repeatedly about similar secrets that were soon discredited. It's familiar: the press reports every military claim as fact, with no independent assessment. What is still a secret is: Why they do that?


Could it have anything to do with this Thursday night farce?

New York Times:

A poll released by CBS News on Thursday evening indicated that Mr. Bush's approval rating had dropped to 37 percent, and that disapproval of his handling of terrorism was at an all-time high.


If you want such an assessment of Bush’s speech and worldview, turn to and read how one respected Iraq expert dissects the speech, tearing it to shreds. Example:

BUSH: Defeating the militant network is difficult, because it thrives, like a parasite, on the suffering and frustration of others...

COLE: Yeah, it thrives on the perception of injustice generated by Western imperial military occupation of Muslim countries. Your policies in Iraq, George, are a huge recruitment poster for al-Qaeda.

Another analyst: "If there is a sign that lead propagandist Karl Rove is out and Daniel Pipes is in, it is in the emergence of al-Qaeda's "empire building" (Caliphate) as part of the Cheney-Bush White House neocon rhetoric -- as was spuck in the George W. speak today.”


A reader advises:

God talking to Bush story revived

Today, on BBC website

We first carried the god-talk story as


See The Guardian story and ask why is this not big news in the USSA:

George Bush: 'God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq'


Someone doesn’t like Mick Jagger's new song criticizing the neocons:

Va. Rolling Stones Concert Interrupted

The Rolling Stones' concert at the University of Virginia was interrupted Thursday night while several police officers and three bomb-sniffing dogs searched the stage.

The show resumed after about a half-hour intermission. University, state and city police did not immediately return phone calls about the incident, and no announcement was made to the audience about the reason for the break.



Mark Crispin Miller is circulating this:

October 6, 2005 -- After it was reported that Karl Rove had agreed to give further testimony to the Grand Jury investigating the CIA leak, Rove's attorney Robert Luskin denied his client had received a target letter from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, a formal "heads up" sent to individuals who are about to be indicted. However, it is being reported from well-informed sources throughout Washington that 1) target letters have been sent to Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, and Ari Fleischer; 2) Rove has agreed to testify and possibly agree to a plea bargain agreement in return for his testimony against other targets of the criminal probe; 3) Cheney and Bush may be named as unindicted co-conspirators; 4) Bush's "war speech" before the National Endowment for Democracy and a late Thursday afternoon report that "19 operatives" have arrived in New York City to place bombs on subway trains are blatant attempts by the White House to divert attention from the impending indictments against the Bush White House. The main stream media is just beginning to take notice that a "Watergate-level event" is about to occur in Washington.


Iraqi media reports:

Nearly 1,000 families have fled their homes in Haditha in western Iraq following the launch of a U.S.-led military operation to hunt down in insurgents in the town in the Euphrates river valley, according to residents in the area.

“The Iraq Red Crescent Society said it had sent an evaluation mission to the town 225 km west of Baghdad to get a more precise idea of the situation and was preparing to send a convoy of relief items to the area.


Dahr Jamail reports on the political front where Washington stage manages Iraq’s new constitution:

Iraqis set to vote on an American constitution

U.S. influence in the process of drafting a constitution for Iraq is excessive and "highly inappropriate", a United Nations official says.

"It is a matter of public record that in the final weeks of the process, the newly arrived US ambassador [Zalmay Khalilzad] took an extremely hands-on role," Justin Alexander, legal affairs officer for the office of constitutional support with the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq told Inter Press Service (IPS). "Even going so far as to circulate at least one US draft."

Alexander, who oversaw the recent proceedings in Baghdad, added: "This involvement was highly inappropriate for a country with 140,000 soldiers in country." Zaid al-Ali, a legal expert who also oversaw the drafting process in Baghdad, made a similar case at a meeting at the International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies in London.

"There are three ways in which the occupation intervened in the context of Iraq's constitution-writing process," he said. "First, the occupation authorities selected and affected the makeup of the commission that was charged with drafting Iraq's transitional law and its permanent constitution. Second, the occupation determined the limits and parameters within which the constitution was to be drafted. Third, the occupation authorities intervened directly in order to safeguard its interests in the context of the constitutional negotiations"


Arab News agencies report:

Iraq's Parliament yesterday bowed to UN and U.S. pressure by reversing changes to the rules of next week’s referendum that critics deemed were unfair to opponents of the divisive new constitution.

“The change of mind came as at least 25 people were killed when a suicide bomber exploded his charge at a mosque south of Baghdad as Iraqi Shiites gathered to break their day-long fast on the first day of Ramadan.


Using previously undisclosed Army records, the Dayton Daily News found that dozens of soldiers have been accused of crimes against Iraqis since the first troops deployed for Iraq. But despite strong evidence and convictions in some cases, only a small percentage resulted in punishments nearing those routinely imposed for such crimes by civilian justice systems.

In a number of other cases, there was no evidence that thorough or timely criminal investigations were conducted. Other cases weren't prosecuted, and still others resulted in dismissals, light jail sentences or no jail sentence at all.


And the world is woefully unprepared, reports CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- America's top health official says the world is "woefully unprepared" to respond to a pandemic, a problem made more urgent by concerns that the current avian flu virus could spread into a global health crisis.

"The world is woefully unprepared," Mike Leavitt, the U.S. secretary of health and human services, told CNN Thursday.


The Washington Post tells us:

The conservative uprising against President Bush escalated yesterday as Republican activists angry over his nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court confronted the president's envoys during a pair of tense closed-door meetings.

Common Dreams carries a report on how...

Some of the nation's most powerful business groups are splitting with the Bush administration over whether to restrict the anti-terror USA Patriot Act. The business groups complained to Congress on Wednesday that the Patriot Act makes it too easy for the government to get confidential business records. That put them at odds with one of President Bush's top priorities -- the unfettered extension of the law passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.


Ask the White House:

"This online interactive forum... allows you to interact with Bush administration officials and friends of the White House. Launched in April 2003, citizens have participated in over 200 online discussions with Cabinet Secretaries, Senior White House Officials, behind-the-scenes professionals at the White House, and others." Includes online conversations with Deputy Chief of Staff Harriet Miers (in the archives).

Do a search on Harriet Miers:

Elaine Shinbrot:

Concerning the Harriet Miers' nomination, Isn't it time to look back in history on Nixon's attempt to put on the Supreme Court two nonentities , Clement Haynesworth and G. Harrold Carswell?


Washington Post: IAE, El Baradei Share Nobel Peace Prize
Mohamed El Baradei and International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog agency he heads, won the 2005 Nobel Prize for Peace today.

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Two stories of interest. The New York Observer:

Also see Jay Rosen’s brilliant blog:


I can't do anything with this, but wanted to make sure you noted these two final, buried paragraphs in David Johnston's NYT piece on Rove today. My advice on reading the imperial press always has been to read backwards from the last paragraphs. That's where the great stuff regularly is:

"Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times, said Ms. Miller had been cautioned by her lawyers not to discuss the substance of her grand jury testimony until Mr. Fitzgerald finished questioning her.

"'We have launched a vigorous reporting effort that I hope will answer outstanding questions about Judy's part in this drama,' Mr. Keller said. 'This development may slow things down a little, but we owe our readers as full a story as we can tell, as soon as we can tell it.'"



The CIA this month will establish a new unit devoted to analysis of "open source" intelligence, referring to unclassified information that is openly and legally collected, Time magazine reported on August 15.

But at the CIA, even open source material is often treated as secret.

Last week, the CIA denied a request for a copy of a compilation of published statements made by Osama bin Laden between 1994 and 2004 on grounds that release of the material would compromise "intelligence sources and methods" (FOIA exemption b(3)) and that the material was obtained on a privileged basis (exemption b(4)).

But as it happens, the same material will be published next month under the title "Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden" edited by Bruce Lawrence and published by Verso


See Rory O’Connor’s report on a recent media meeting. and then this AP dispatch that followed:

Media Execs Weigh User-Generated News (aka Citizen Journalism)

NEW YORK -- The avalanche of high quality video, photos and e-mailed news material from citizens following the July 7 bombings in London marked a turning point for the British Broadcasting Corporation, the head of its global news division said Wednesday.

Richard Sambrook, director of the BBC World Service and Global News Division, told a conference the broadcaster's prominent use of video and other material contributed by ordinary citizens signaled that the BBC was evolving from being a broadcaster to a facilitator of news.

"We don't own the news any more," Sambrook said. "This is a fundamental realignment of the relationship between large media companies and the public."

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Matt Pascarella checks in from Seattle:

Aside from the season change, these are interesting times to be alive -- I picked up a copy of the Wall Street Journal the other day when I was in Seattle and on the front page we had: Miers' Appointment and her "scanty record," "Oil Producers Gain Global Clout From Big Windfall," A highway bill including $231 million to build a bridge to nowhere, SUV sales dropping, Delay being re-indicted, a stampede at a concert in South Korea, Republicans in congress urging a ban on "political hectoring" in college classes, the FBI cutting back their criminal investigations by 50%, Indonesia's bombings, and the costs of Katrina thus far...

I took one look at the headlines, folded the paper, and walked over to a guy making balloon hats at Seattle's Pike Place Market. I'm not sure why, but I wanted to get his thoughts on the $231 million bridge to nowhere plan. As we talked he furiously filled balloons with a hand pump and added them to this massive hat he was constructing. I was slightly concerned about this because the hat was already approaching the size of a small tree and I wasn't sure if anyone would be able to balance it on their head if they bought it. Anyway, it turned out, the man decided to get in on the balloon hat making trade after being on the streets for years, homeless. It wasn't until he was stuck in the hospital that his life took a 90 degree turn - a visiting clown showed him the tricks of the industry and became his mentor.

He seemed to be doing ok and told me he had gotten over the fact that his veteran benefits had been slashed after returning home from Vietnam, forcing him onto the streets. That was all behind him, the balloon man was happy now selling elaborate hats and the occasional animal to tourists. Call me a coward, but for some reason, I just couldn't bring myself to inform him of the $231 million bridge to nowhere - besides, it probably would have thrown off his concentration, jeopardizing the delicate construction of the huge hat. That was the last thing I wanted to do - especially since an eager crowd of Japanese school kids were headed his way after leaving an important historical site: the first ever Starbucks.

So, as Fall approaches, I’m reminded once again that these are weird times we are living in and they tend to get even more interesting when you decide you’d like to try and talk about it with a random hat maker about to be swarmed by a hundred Japanese school kids sucking down frappuccinos...

Eva Dolan writes from Saratoga Springs:

I'm sure you know all about this but.. I know a woman who is a Funeral Director and she said last week, "You know why they'll never have an accurate count..." and told me the story of the bodies being outsourced to SCI. Then I did remember "Funeralgate", and was horrified. They certainly do owe him one, don't they?

It is getting scarier every day and it isn't even Halloween yet.

Virginia Weldon:

Dear Danny: This proves that Florida is definitely off the charts in the course titled... stupid.

Keith Olberman just reported that a school district in the wonder state is turning their students in non-persons by refusing to allow their pictures, name, affiliations in sports &/or clubs to be printed in their year books, IF they OR their parents do not allow military indoctrinators to enlist them in the "services."

Yesterday, I read about the new "you have the right to shoot to kill anybody" law recently enacted in, you guessed it, Florida.

Are they just two for two, or three for three (with a Bush as governor)? I take it as three strikes. They are really OUT of it.

Kathy Johnson writes:

I love the dissector!

Just wondering why no one is talking about the story in the Wash Post that biohazard detectors went off when airborne tularemia was picked up by several sensors in the mall area in DC on the day of the march.

Tularemia is fatal when left untreated and has been studied by the U.S. gov't as a bioterrorist weapon.

According to one health official there is no good explanation for why tularemia was detected during the 24 hours of the march and not before or after.

I know of 2 people from NJ who went to the march who have been diagnosed with tularemia.

Thanks for all you do!


Jon Jon worries "that blogs are no longer reliable sources but have devolved into tabloidism although in their obvious infancy." He cites a number of articles charging that the stories don’t buttress the headlines. He doesn’t mention MediaChannel.


When I was producing the TV series South Africa Now, we always featured segments on the powerful theater in that country that critiqued apartheid and promoted liberation. It was great to see that productions from South Africa have lost none of their bite or edge or political acumen.

Last night, I saw "Tall Horse" at the Next Wave Festival at BAM in Brooklyn. Directed by Mathinius Basson, it tells the story of a giraffe that African kings gave as gifts to leaders in the Middle East, China and Europe. This drama is the hippest puppet theater ever, and the puppets are unlike any you have ever seen. The show has been called "transformative," and that, too, is an understatement. This is collaborative theater from South and West Africa, with an historical dimension, political bite, an interracial cast and an imaginative presentation. Check it out. And you will never forget this human-powered giraffe. Viva the giraffe.

Another week comes to a close MediaChannel has been trying to combat cyber attacks while fine tuning our mission statement in hopes of attracting more support. If you can help in that department, please get in touch.

Have a great weekend. Send comments to:


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