Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Noise machine Participation Radio

I'll keep it brief. Instead of covering the significance of Al Gore's claims about global warming and the idiocy of the current fools running (ruining) our country and planet, NPR joins in with the rabid foxes of the world to feature news that obviously comes from the rightwingosphere money machine. NPR wastes its time joining in the attack on Al Gore's wealth and consumption to portray him as a hypocrite. It's not that Al Gore's lifestyle is sacrosanct and off limits to criticism, but it is not the central issue in the ongoing catastrophe of global warming; it's at best a tiny footnote--unless like NPR you source your news from illegitimate front organizations.

Open Thread - Wednesday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Truth - Goggled and Gagged

I was hopeful when I heard Steve Inskeep say, "Human Rights Watch has put out a new report. It focuses on the treatment of terror detainees." Was I ever wrong! NPR's story was a one minute, eleven second blurb, of which a full thirty seconds was allotted to the voice of George Bush describing - as Inskeep put it - "what he called an alternative set of procedures for detainees." We get to hear the liar-in-chief say, "These procedures were designed to be safe...lawful...I cannot describe the specific methods used...."

Then instead of noting the details of the Human Rights Watch report - its thoroughness, its corroborated testimony, and the physical evidence supporting it - Inskeep relegates it to the realm of hearsay trivia: "The report attempts to document at least one account of what those procedures mean. It details the story of an accused Jihadist...he claims to have been tortured...”

No wonder NPR news doesn't want to give the details of the report, because they reveal the vision that motivates US leaders and agents in the "War on Terror." Here are just a few of the "safe" and "lawful" procedures used on kidnapped people (not formally accused of anything):

said that the Americans appeared to be in charge of the facility. They would question him during the day...and after midnight the Pakistanis would take over....the Pakistanis beat me almost every night.

After they put him in a cell, by himself, they cut off all his clothes, leaving him naked. They released one of his hands from the handcuffs, and cuffed the other hand to a ring in the cell wall. It wasn’t possible for him to stand because the ring was near the floor, and he was attached to it via a short chain.

[H]e was paraded around naked in front of a group of men and women....received his clothes back piece by piece over time. First, after a month and a half at the prison, he was given a pair of pants. Then, after about three-and-a-half months, he was given a tee-shirt.

Well you get the picture. Oh and in light of yesterday's moralistic tone regarding children and teens in the Iraqi insurgency (see previous post), the report mentions "that one cell held a 16-year-old boy named Khalid," that "[a]nother 16-year-old who was held in the facility was an Iraqi named Tha’er" and finally evidence of "a boy named Talha, who appeared to be nine or ten years old."

Funny how NPR seems to be just like Bush and just can't "describe the specific methods used."

(The Washington Post gives the story the attention that it is due.)

Open Thread - Tuesday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Better Than a Talking Humvee

"The US is also trying to find solutions in Iraq" according to Steve Inskeep as he brings on the inimitable Tom Bowman, journalist-spokesperson for the US military effort in Iraq . Tom is on to tell us that "many other teenagers and even children much younger have joined or were forced to join the insurgency..."

It is a really mind-boggling piece, in which a kindly US Army major explains the psychological motivations of these alleged child-soldiers. His comments are based on interrogations of a sixteen year old captive who was sent to the infamous Camp Cropper.

There is a brief mention that some children may join the insurgency to avenge killed family members--but nothing about the obvious reasons that young people would have for resisting an invading military that has seized, hooded, tortured, raped, bombed and killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis--fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, cousins, etc.

And then tonight on ATC Bowman accompanies the crew of the murderous AC-130 gunship as it patrols the skies over Baghdad (!) surveilling the US surge as it breaks into Iraqi homes at night and waits to kill any who dare resist. Of course Bowman is on to explain how professional the crew is and how carefully this flying deathship is used so as to avoid any unintended civilian causalities.

The point of view in both these reports is one of complete acceptance of the US project in Iraq. There is never any questioning that the US has the best of intentions and that any excesses are but mistakes that the military is working very hard to correct.

Open Thread - Monday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Rogue Feeling

"He [Stephen Hadley] explained that the US defense system is intended to intercept missiles that might come from a rogue state like Iran, not Russia." So asserted guest host Rebecca Roberts on ATC today, once again adopting the language of the US Pentagon and State Department as NPR covers Russia's reaction to the US putting anti-missile systems on its borders.

As if she were an employee of the State Department, Roberts asks, "can you explain for us why the Russians are so upset about this missile defense plan, I mean US officials have made it clear that these missile defenses couldn’t possibly be used against Russia—so what’s at issue?" Really, we all know that if US officials said it is so, it just has to be true!

Keeping the focus on Iran, Roberts asks, "from a strategic point of view, in addition to angering Russia, does putting missile defense sites in the Czech Republic and Poland make sense if the threat is supposedly coming most likely from Iran?"

To who are these questions being asked? Rose Gottemoeller, director of the Moscow Center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace [a loyal tool of the US foreign policy]. And does Rose challenge the absurd portrayal of Iran as the great threat to world peace? Here's what she says of the missile defense system in question: "would be capable against kind of starter systems such as those that the Iranians would be deploying in some years to come. Got to stress the Iranians aren’t there yet with a long range missile that would reach Europe but the feeling is that they can be within a very limited number of years and therefore a missile defense system that isn’t very capable is enough."

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Oil Shell Game

Lisa Margonelli's book, Oil on the Brain: Adventures from the Pump to the Pipeline, actually seems like an interesting read, but the interview with her on Weekend Edition today was frustrating because of two issues that should have been discussed but weren't: the massive profits of oil companies and the complicity of the oil companies in Nigerian misery, injustice and oil violence.
During the interview, Margonelli is talking about gas prices. She says, "Gas stations make very little profit...every aspect has been optimized to get the gas here as cheaply as possible." That's interesting enough, but given the mind-boggling profits of the big oil companies I wanted Simon to at least ask, "So if the gas stations aren't making the big profits, and oil policy in the US is geared toward low gasoline prices--how do the companies make such a killing?

The more maddening part of the interview begins when Simon says, "Some of the most arresting sections in the book are about the oil industry in Nigeria. We might assume that the oil business is just rough and dirty and hard work for anybody working into it; it becomes—it’s something else, beyond that even, in Nigeria. It’s criminal; it’s rough in the sense it’s violent...."

This perked my ears up. I remember back in 1998 hearing about how Texaco-Chevron brought in the Nigerian military to attack and kill protesting oil workers. But the discussion was not about to look at the complicity of the oil companies - Margonelli instead notes, "…but what happens in Nigeria is that it’s part of a political system, involves gangs of young men who are mostly unemployed, who remove oil from the pipelines, and sell it, and it’s quite violent, quite dangerous, and it has a big effect on our lives…it effect the price here...." Well yes, it's part of a political system, but one that (as this Human Rights Watch report reveals) the multinational oil companies are largely responsible for.

Of course, it's no surprise that none of this history is brought up, since it has been ignored by NPR news throughout the years. How can Scott Simon bring up something that in the narrow world of NPR news, doesn't even exist?

If you are interested in reading more about the Nigerian tragedy here are a few more resources:
African Focus Nigeria Report, EarthRights on Chevron and Shell, Amnesty's Report on Nigeria Oil Injustic, and finally the documentary Drilling and Killing.

Far From the White Hot Camera Lights

Seems like it was only yesterday that Guy Raz was lauding Donald Rumsfeld for his stealth humanity: "...for the past three years, every few days, far from the white hot camera lights, Rumsfeld and his wife Joyce have quietly made their way to Walter Reed Medical Center They go there to cheer up the injured troops back from the front...."

Now Raz is back to Walter Reed on Thursday and Friday to cover the fallout from the Washington Post coverage of squalid conditions at one of the outpatient buildings at Walter Reed.

This is pretty sad. The Walter Reed/shabby treatment of veterans story is not new, Salon has been working on it for quite a while. Also the stories in Salon, the WaPo, and even Daniel Zwerdling's excellent investigative reporting on NPR (kudos!) show what is possible when journalists turn from being mouthpieces for government officials, question the official line, and do a little digging.

I went back to the earlier Raz paean to Rumsfeld and did a little number crunching. If Rumsfeld and his wife really visited Walter Reed "every few days" for three years that would be at least 234! visits (an average of 1.5 visits a week). I'd like to see Raz try to call his hero, Rumsfeld, and find out how he missed such deplorable conditions. Makes one wonder if Rumsfeld really made all those missions of mercy. On the other hand, if Rummy was such a regular at Walter Reed, it does explain all those mouse droppings.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Bing Em On!

Yesterday was a sunny report on how things are looking up in Ramadi, and this morning NPR wants you to breakfast on more Bing West B.S. (I've commented on this propagandist before.) Renee Montagne starts off with this: "Now for an assessment of two other critical areas in Iraq – Anbar province and Baghdad. We check in from time to time with retired Marine Bing West...just returned from a month long trip to Iraq. What was different this time from your past visits?

I bet you can guess what the prognosis is--great! Things are swinging the American's way in al-Anbar province and Baghdad. Bing is really pumped on how the "the sheiks who are in charge of the major tribes...have swung...and are aligning with the Americans against al-Qaeda."

Montagne asks West, "what did you find was the reaction this time from Iraqis who are seeing these new US troops flowing in to Baghdad?" If the war wasn't so tragic this bit of farce would be funny. Seriously, what is this joker going to know about what Iraqis think? Does he speak Arabic? Has he lived in Iraq before the invasion? Has he studied Arabic and Iraqi culture? Does he have contacts with any sources who have had a chance to bond with the Americans at Abu Ghraib or Camp Cropper--or get to know the Shiite 'Salvador' Drill Teams that the Americans helped create? Seriously, give me a break?

And the Follow Up Question Is? or How I Learned to Love the Bomb

Credit to Robert Siegel in his interview with Sallai Meridor, Israel's new ambassador to the United States, for at least mentioning the issue of Israel's nukes:

Siegel: "Of course, the Iranians say, you may not own up to it publicly, but everyone knows you have nuclear weapons in Israel, what's different for them?"

To which Meridor answers: "Well, this is a clear propaganda campaign by the Iranian. Israel has a very clear policy, responsible with regard to this matter. The Iranians want to probably take the focus from where is. The issue is very clear: If Iran had nuclear bomb and nuclear military capacity, it would be a mortal threat to the world, and the world should get their act together to stop it now."

That's it! Siegel just lets that evasion hang there and closes the interview. It's enough to make you want to pull out your hair. How about probing that "clear policy" that is so "responsible." And notice the way Siegel puts the question out there, "Of course, the Iranians say..." Well, Robert, no, not just the Iranians, but Americans like myself who are informed and skeptical want to know why an aggressor nation like Israel should have nukes and why the US has helped Israel keep this dirty secret for so long. Lastly, I love the way Siegel says, "everyone knows you have nuclear weapons in Israel." Really? They sure haven't learned about them from NPR news!

Open Thread - Friday

NPR related comments.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ramadi Remodeled

This afternoon NPR has Tom Bowman acting like a real estate agent showing us a little fixer-upper called Ramadi. We hear that "American and Iraqi forces are starting to take back the city," that "there are signs of progress," and that "there are signs of color and life." Bowman simply repeats everything US military officials and allied Iraqis tell him as if it's simply true. This nonsense runs counter to just about all the news that's come out of Iraq since the start of the war. There are no qualifiers such as "he alleged" or "they claim."

Compare this approach to the statements of any person who is questioning or challenging the official US version of events. For example, in the story of the Egyptian blogger on the same show we hear that the Egyptian who was kidnapped by Americans in Italy "alleges" he was tortured (even though torture by Egyptian police is well documented).

It was painfully ironic to hear this sunny story on Ramadi on the same day that the US fought a 6 hour battle with insurgents in Ramadi and claimed that 12 insurgents were killed while Iraqi sources claimed it was about double that with women and children killed also.

Deuce's Last Dance

If you are one of the white boys who dressed up as the fan-beloved mock-Indian, NPR wants to talk to you! As they did a few days ago, this morning, in one of the hourly news round-ups, NPR completely ignored the anti-racist activists who have been fighting for the removal of the UI mascot and against the stereotyping of Indians at the UI for years and instead covered the "chief" controversy at the UI by talking to the white boy who dresses up as "Chief Illiniwek." Last night was the last official dance of this faux-Indian mascot, and all NPR can do is talk to the white boy who was known as "Deuce" and "Ass" before he became the latest "dramatic and dignified" mascot performer for the UI.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

For God's Sake

I should first say that I am an atheist and secular humanist. However, I have a great deal of respect for people of faith who wrestle with the complexities of belief and try to live an ethical life. The one principle that I've retained and cherish from my Catholic upbringing is the Golden Rule.

What does disturb and disgust me is religion in the service of power, domination and violence - and news reports like those on Morning Edition today that present the most reactionary religious organizations as if they were mainstream, legitimate and reasonable.

Take a listen to the first report in which NPR visits the National Convention of Religious Broadcasters in Orlando, Florida. In this brief report about Republican candidates wooing the religious extreme right we hear from representatives of such groups as the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and Salem Communications.

Following this report NPR looks at Democratic candidates through the lens of Michael Comartie , vice president of the neoconservative Ethics and Public Policy Center. Comartie makes several bogus claims about how "nonreligious" the Democratic base is and how only conservatives have religious values.

The story NPR should be covering is the one featured on Democracy Now! this week: the infiltration of the government and military achieved by the extremist religious organizations that they portray as mainstream. It would also be refreshing to hear from progressive Christians who reject the Dominionist ideology of the far right (including this evangelical group from my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida!).

Wrong Juan Forero, Guajira Wrong Juan Forero

I could use one of those 20,000 Cuban doctors that were mentioned in Juan Forero's piece on Morning Edition yesterday - because NPR is killing me! The unsavory (spooky?) Forero spends his three minutes of reporting on the tiny minority of Cuban medical workers who have defected from their assignments in Venezuela in "recent years."

Guess what? I'm actually more interested in hearing from the 20,000 doctors who are not trying to get to the US. What are they doing? How is it affecting the health of the Venezuelans? Do they like their work? What do they think of Castro, Chavez, the US?

It's really amazing to live in this country where medical care is such an insurance racket and so devoid of wholistic attitudes--and then to hear Forero zero in on such an agenda-driven non-story as the one he produced. You've got to wonder what organization he's really working for...

*Apologies to fans of "Guantanamera," I just couldn't resist.

Open Thread - Wednesday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Quiz Time: Fill in the Blanks

This morning Peter Kenyon is covering an arms merchants fair in Abu Dhabi.

Just so we'll know where this story is going Renee Montagne sets up the story: "Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia will be on a buying spree, fueled in part say analysts by fears about the growing influence in the region of _________________. "

Peter Kenyon picks it right up with "...Gulf States driven to come here by two factors: treasuries bulging with petroleum wealth, and fear that _________________’s interventionist policies won’t end with Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories...."

All right students, write in the name of one country to make the statements true. Your choices are a) the United States, b) Israel, or c) Iran. Don't rush the answer; remember that since WWII one country has intervened overtly and covertly in the Middle East over and over again, one country has launched several invasions and waged a brutal occupation for forty years, and the other country hasn't aggressively invaded anyone for over a century.

If you filled in country a or b, it's because you mistakenly based your answer on historical evidence. But if you rely on US propaganda then, like NPR, you opted for country c - Iran!

One point on which I could agree with Peter Kenyon was his statement that "at this point in the twenty first century death and destruction are very big business" although he conveniently doesn't mention who the 800 lb gorilla in the global business of death and destruction is. It's obviously click here for clues.

Open Thread - Tuesday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Half-Assed on the Half-Hour

This morning Renee Montagne plays the spokesperson for the Fox News Channel's new "comedy" show, The Half-Hour News Hour. Montagne says,
"The conservative alternative to Comedy Central’s left-of-center The Daily Show and The Colbert Report - which now dominates political satire on television - The Half-Hour News Hour debuted on the Fox News Channel last night. The Half-Hour right-of-center satire mixes political and entertainment news with conservative opinion. The show follows a format similar to that of The Daily Show:

[audio clip from the show] ‘Tonight’s top story: Dispelling reports that she would staff her White House with longtime cronies and political appointees, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton vowed that if she becomes President, she will surround herself with a diverse, multi-ethnic, multi-generational group of angry lesbians.’

Fox News Channel paired up with the co-creator of the hit series 24 to get the pilot off the ground. The producer says the show is all about timing. Comedy Central’s The Daily Show hit it big during a time when the Republicans were a majority in the government, with Democrats dominating both the House and Senate, Fox says the time is right for a shift in satire to the right."
Montagne proves that she can read a Fox-sympathetic script, but what about even a little original analysis? The idea that the humor of The Daily Show and Colbert Report can be replicated from a "conservative" perspective shows how simple-minded NPR's take on politics is. What makes The Daily Show and Colbert Report work is not just satire from the "left-of-center," but the fact that they skewer the hypocrisy and stupidity of cable networks, politicians, and the powerful. And they don't just skewer it by mockery, but frequently through the substantive use of archival footage showing the target of their satire telling lies, making stupid remarks, and contradicting themselves. In other words their edgy humor comes from challenging power and ignorance, whereas Fox News (and the stars of conservative media like Coulter and Limbaugh) get their edge from celebrating power and ignorance (and bigotry and violence, etc). Notice that even in the offensive clip NPR offers, the attack on Hillary Clinton is based on homophobia, not on her political stands or actual statements.

The premise of NPR's sad little report on Fox's offering is that The Daily Show and Colbert Report are pro-Democrat, and that is "left-of-center" and therefore something right-of-center can be just as effective. This flawed thinking is not too surprising, given that NPR has some strange ideas about leftists (see earlier post).

Gradstein Declares Victory

When the governments of the nations that are trying to subjugate you, annex your best land, and wipe out your culture (see previous post or better yet visit the Electronic Intifada) agree to keep talking to you that is a victory! Linda Gradstein says as much this morning on NPR:
"From Abbas’ point of view what came out of it was a commitment that the United States will continue to work with him even though he is now going to be part of this unity government which does not seem to be accepting the international conditions…so for Abbas it seems to be a victory. And, in fact, an Israeli official say [sic] they will also continue to work with Abbas, so I guess from his perspective, you know, the fact that at least they’re still willing to negotiate with him is somewhat of a victory."
That is some victory! Gradstein might also want to congratulate the Palestinians on the prosperity and justice that the US-backed, Israeli occupation has blessed them with of late.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Rice Restart - Run for Your Lives

The poor Palestinians are about the be subjected to another "restarted" peace effort from Condoleeza Rice, our midwife from Hell. But NPR would have us believe that Rice is out to seek peace in Palestine. Here's how Liane Hansen opens the story this morning:
"Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is in the Middle East again to try to restart long stalled Israeli Palestinian peace talks. Her visit is being overshadowed by battles over a new Palestinian unity government and whether it will meet international conditions for recognition."
This opening deserves scrutiny. Its premise is that Rice wants to bring a just peace to the Israel-Palestine issue even though there is no factual evidence to support such a position - and in fact there is strong evidence to support the contrary. Also note how the movement toward accommodation by the Palestinian government (a pledge to respect previous agreements and the implicit recognition of Israel this indicates) is seen as "overshadowing" her efforts.

Of course NPR trots out again and again the demands of the Quartet. But these demands bear a closer look: "A two-State solution to the conflict requires all participants in the democratic process to renounce violence and terror, accept Israel's right to exist, and disarm, as outlined in the Road Map." It is interesting that NPR never includes Israel as one of the "participants" required to renounce violence and terror - that might be, how can one say it, "awkward."

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Right To Exist

There was a fascinating commentary by John Whitbeck published about 2 weeks ago in the Christian Science Monitor regarding the issue of the Quartet's demand that the Palestinians "accept Israel's right to exist." It is interesting to read the commentary and then listen to Eric Westervelt's report yesterday on ATC.

Westervelt's report is not the worst, in fact the drift of the report is that there really needs to be some movement by the EU and the United States to lift some sanctions on the Palestinians if there is any hope for "progress." But the report, as usual, treats the demands of the Quartet - and the collective punishment of US/EU sanctions - as the reasonable starting point for discussion of the current conflict in Palestine. Furthermore, Westervelt also uses the term "recognize Israel" versus the actual demand of "accept...right to exist" which as Whitbeck's commentary points out is a significant confusion.

Sadly, what is not touched on at all, is the way in which the current Quartet position of demanding complete submission and capitulation on the part of the Palestinians reveals the Bush administration's lack of interest in a real peace settlement in Palestine. So it is that Westervelt can say - without irony - of Secretary of State Rice's upcoming trip to Jerusalem, "Rice hopes to foster new dialogue on final status peace issues." I hope he's right, and I hope I'm surprised.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Mocking Native Americans

I live in Champaign-Urbana. Home of the University of Illinois. Today the University took the pathetic, small step of announcing the end to public performances at athletic halftime events of a white boy dressed up as an Indian doing clownish pretend Indian dance. NPR was all over this one (They have a thing about Indian mascots--see previous post).

Instead of covering the long struggle against this mock-Indian vaudeville halftime show, NPR decided to interview one of the former white guys who was dressed up as the mascot, "chief illiniwek." That's the only person they spoke to! And then they ended the story with the equally offensive Illinois marching band let's-play-Indian song.

It's sad that they didn't see fit to call up the brave Charlene Teters, one of the first organizers against the University mascot. They also might have taken a look at the American Indian Movement website against mascots. I'd recommend that Michelle Norris and the producers of the show take a look at the site on Native American mascots.

Lastly, if you can stand it and want to see what the mascot looks like this is a site of photos.

The Umpteenth Time

Haven't we heard this before?

Look how much disinformation NPR packs into its top-of-the-hour news bulletin on Morning Edition today. Nora Raum tells us, "Gates says Iranian paramilitaries are supplying Shiite insurgents in Iraq with weapons, including advanced roadside bombs. But the secretary couldn’t say whether the Iranian government was directly complicit. "

Then Guy Raz fleshes it out, "Gates acknowledged that the American public has shown skepticism over the latest batch of allegations linking Iran to terror groups in Iraq, but he also insisted the evidence is strong." After a brief quote from Gates, Raz continues, "Military intelligence officials accuse the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps of providing weapons to anti-US militias in Iraq. Asked whether the accusation is a sign of things to come, an exhausted Gates said, [voice of Gates] 'For the umpteenth time, we are not looking for an excuse to go to war with Iran. We are not planning a war with Iran.' "

Raz then ends the report without mentioning that what Gates said is a well documented lie. Various reports (this for example) have established that the US has been planning a war with Iran. Even the sickening, oft-stated "all options are on the table" is an admission that planning is occurring.

The story here is the justifiable skepticism of "the American public" [though not of National Public Radio] and the misinformation being spread by the Pentagon and the Bush administration. Sadly, for the umpteenth time, NPR simply serves as a rebroadcaster of these unsubstantiated claims. NPR would do well to take a cue from KSFR of Santa Fe which is refusing to serve as a disseminator of information based on "unnamed US officials."

(BTW, the graphic is a shot from the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray)

Open Thread - Friday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Open Thread - Thursday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Beat That Horse!

I don't know how they did it, but NPR managed to put Barbaro back in the news AGAIN! (see earlier post about Barbaro). I give up, I'll tell you anything NPR, just please don't cover Barbaro again--please...

If you were subjected to this story, you know you are invited to send in NPR two names for Barbaro's brothers. I decided to take them up on the offer and sent them the following names and little note:
  • Red Herring
  • Opiate News
"How about not wasting any more news time on this stupid horse!"

Another Deception - No Reaction

A week ago NPR reported on the crash of a US transport helicopter that sadly killed all seven people on board. Introducing the story on February 7th, Michele Norris - noting that insurgents claimed to have downed the helicopter - said, "...but the Pentagon says early indications suggest it had mechanical problems." This was followed by Tom Bowman giving a fair bit of air time to the Pentagon assertions about the crash, including the following statements:
  • "...they say all indications at this point point to some sort of mechanical trouble..."
  • "...initial indications appear to be mechanical failure."
When I heard this I thought it a little strange, and so a day or so later went searching for the video of the alleged attack to see if it was available. It was easy to find on YouTube; it's here if you want to see it. In the photo on this post, you can see the smoke trail of the missile on its way to the helicopter. In the video, an explosion of the helicopter follows shortly and then flames and the crash.

This morning, NPR notes that the Pentagon has reversed itself. Renee Montagne, in the briefest of reports states, "And the US military now says a helicopter that went down last week outside Baghdad was shot down. That crash at first had been blamed on mechanical failure." Actually it was at first blamed on hostile fire (by insurgents) and then later claimed to be mechanical failure by the Pentagon.

So what gives? And why doesn't NPR comment on the obvious - the Pentagon was lying. Any dope looking at the video can see that it wasn't mechanical failure. This kind of unreliable Pentagon information is especially important now when NPR is frequently rebroadcasting and discussing Pentagon "intelligence" on Iran as if it were reliable and credible.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Washing the Brain

I've been busy shoveling snow today and so the lateness of this post - but I just have to comment on the coverage of North Korea this morning by Anthony Kuhn and Steve Inskeep. Here are a few of the comments these two made during this lopsided story:

  • Kuhn: "...and you know there’s the question of whether North Korea really wants to disarm, there’s a question of what North Korea’s general strategy is, and that’s where a lot of skepticism is coming from right now."
  • Inskeep: "Does he [US negotiator Christopher Hill] think that he has an agreement that can be verified and that North Korea can be assured of actually following because of course they, they violated the last one."
  • Kuhn responds: "Yes, well that’s a very serious question, and that is something that there’s a lot of skepticism about, for example Japan’s foreign minister…has already questioned whether…it can actually be implemented…many Chinese analysts are skeptical about North Korea’s real intentions…and also the former US ambassador…John Bolton said…this was a bad deal…could set an example for Iran..."

Astounding how confident these two are in their misinformation. Inskeep states "because of course they violated the last one." Did they? On what does Inskeep base this statement? Selig Harrison in Foreign Affairs notes that in fact the alleged 2002 violation may have been another deception of the frequently dishonest Bush administration. And even if the North violated some terms of the agreement, Bruce Cummings points out that in the context of Bush aggression the violation was virtually guaranteed. If Inskeep was referring to the most recent accord of 2005, even Newsweek (!) notes that the US went out of its way to provoke North Korea.

All of Kuhn's comments and remarks are based on the assumption that North Korea is completely untrustworthy (and the US is the honest broker). But take a read of this piece from The Nation and notice how it is the US that nuclearized the Korean peninsula in the first place.

Last October Diane Sawyer scored an exclusive trip to North Korea, and was clearly stunned at how brainwashed the North Korean citizens she met were. One can sympathize with the ideological rigidity of the North Koreans - after all they live under a totalitarian repressive dictatorship, but what can explain the ideological rigidity of the people like Inskeep and Kuhn who seem proud of their ignorance, their unquestioning acceptance of US government propaganda on this issue, and their own refusal to critique the wacko policies of our own "Dear Leader"?

Open Thread - Tuesday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Trip Down Memory Lane

"...disclosed satellite photographs, intercepted Iraqi military communications, and the accounts of Iraqi sources and defectors...they all add up to a picture of a country that has evaded arms inspections, developed weapons of mass destruction, and aided terrorists, including al-Qaeda..."
- Robert Siegel parroting Sec. Powell's speech to the UN on February 5, 2003.

If you can bear going back four tragic years, it's worth listening to this worthless "analysis" of Powell's convincing con that got us in to Iraq. You'll hear Siegel and his two guests say such things as "a very compelling, irrefutable case," "a very good case," and "you can never find…eighteen needles in an enormous haystack, eighteen trucks [the supposed mobile weapons labs] perhaps that might be on the highways of Iraq."

You'd think that reporters like Siegel would feel some remorse for helping pass along the lies that led to the horrors of Iraq - and now would be aggressively challenging the current junk intelligence that's laying the groundwork for war in Iran. But sadly this current sell is like a bad re-run. Here he is tonight talking to Guy Raz: "...military intelligence experts presented their case to reporters in Baghdad, and today at the Pentagon officials continued to push the accusation."

Raz responds, "...first of all it’s not a new accusation….the Pentagon has been implicating Iran in a whole host of attacks on US forces in Iraq, but what makes this accusation different is that it’s more specific…these E.F.P.s…bombs that they say are being made in Iran and being sent over the Iran-Iraq border, that it’s a deliberate Iranian program, the government in Iran is behind it they say at the highest levels in Iran."

A little further into the interview Siegel asks, "...what kind of evidence does the military cite...?" To which Raz (echoing the February 2003 report) says, "Well some of it is indeed compelling…and some of it is circumstantial…the compelling evidence is that the military has shown mortar rounds that have serial numbers on them…are Iranian serial numbers…they have to be made in Iran..."

Does either of these men have a memory, a brain, a conscience?

Holy Smokes!

I braced myself for this morning's talk between Steve Inskeep and Jamie Tarbay about the supposed intelligence of Iranian arms going to insurgents. But I was pleasantly surprised! Yes, Inskeep actually asked a few of the questions that should lead ALL NPR's reports on this con job coming out of the Pentagon. Here are a few of his questions:

  • "Jamie, I want to try and figure this out. What’s being said is Iran is supporting Shiia Muslim groups and militias, but haven’t Sunni Muslim groups been the ones most likely to kill American soldiers?"
  • "...did any reporters at this session ask why we should believe what US intelligence agencies say given their previous mistakes when it comes to intelligence on Iraq?"
  • "The thing is they talked about this at a Pentagon briefing in September and so I’m trying to figure out why five months later it’s new?"

Granted my expectations are low, but it was refreshing to not hear NPR simply repeating the Pentagon assertions without question.

Unfortunately, this evening's ATC would show that this half-step forward would be met yet another three steps back.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Quack! Quack! Quack!

More junk from the Pentagon about Iran being the problem in Iraq and the media is snapping it up - unreal. Don't waste your time listening to the gullible nonsense on NPR this morning, and yesterday and the day before.... Instead take a look at Juan Cole's piece this morning. Or if you are interested in seeing how little interest the Bushists have in dismantling al-Qaeda in the interests of pursuing their Iranian war dreams take a look at Helena Cobban's thoughtful article.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Incweasingly Stwong Evidence

The "Noise Machine" is still going strong and the target is Iran. This morning in the story on the Casey to Petraeus handoff in Iraq NPR dutifully rebroadcasts accusations against Iran:

Scott Simon asks Jamie Tarabay, "This handover is coming at a time when US Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that there’s increasingly strong evidence to his mind of Iranian involvement in Iraq, what can you tell us about these reports about manufac—, explosive devices manufactured in Iran?"

To which Tarabay replies, "Well when he spoke to reporters, Secretary Gates said that there were markings on these explosives that were pretty good evidence, were the words that he used, that Iranians were supplying either the weaponry or the technology to insurgents in Iraq. He says there might be serial numbers on the fragments of these explosives but he didn’t say how those numbers could be traced back to Iran..." Then after noting that the US has repeatedly "put off" presenting any evidence she says "what we know is that General Casey recently said that five men arrested in the north of Iraq were connected to the Iranian revolutionary guard and they were in Iraq as intelligence operatives...."

Beyond the mention of the postponed briefings, there is no attempt to debunk this nonsense; no sense of embarrassment at once again repeating groundless claims of "evidence." How many times does Elmer Fudd NPR have to be set up with lies before it starts expressing some serious skepticism? Even better would be investigative reporting into the absurdity of these accusations. The story these reporters should be broadcasting is not the BS they get from the secretaries and generals, but the likely motivations and machinations behind these deceptions. Wouldn't it be great to see the unmasking of this junk intelligence done now instead of waiting for some tepid inspector general's report to come out four years and hundreds of thousands of lives too late?

That Liberation Thing

I kind of expect someone like General Casey to call the invasion of Iraq a "liberation." What's he going to say, "It was a great power grab for control of the Middle East, but it just wasn't quite the cakewalk my Commander and his chums expected"?

But I expect a bit more from a reporter talking about General Casey's remarks. Jamie Tarabay says, "his biggest fear was that the Iraqis wouldn’t be able to put the past behind them. He said, you know, we were able, we liberated the Iraqis from tyranny, but we cannot liberate them from their prejudices. And just to demonstrate that point, not long after the ceremony ended there was a suicide bombing in central Baghdad and at least four people were killed..."

See, it's so simple: US = liberators = good. Iraqis = violent + prejudiced = bad. Car bomb = proof. End of discussion.

Open Thread - Weekend

NPR related comments welcomed.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Like Robin Hood in Reverse

A couple of readers have commented about the story on income inequality that ran on Thursday's ATC. The story is part of a series that NPR is running to supposedly examine income inequality in the United States - especially the accelerating divide between the haves and have-nots in the United States. I was headed to the gym listening to the report - which noted that even The Decider admits that the widening income divide is a problem - when Adam Davidson about made me fall off of my bike. He reminded us that we should consider University of Chicago's Gary Becker, a Nobel Prize-winning economist who thinks income inequality is a good thing. Becker tells us, "I think inequality in earnings has been mainly the good kind. I strongly believe it's been mainly the good kind."

At the time I thought, "Good God, NPR must have spent a long time looking for someone who would argue that the demise of the middle class is a good thing." I mean, even the World Bank has some harsh words for such inequalities:
  • High inequality reduces the pool of people with access to the resources—such as land or education--needed to unleash their full productive potential. Thus a country deprives itself of the contributions the poor could make to its economic and social development.
  • High inequality threatens a country’s political stability because more people are dissatisfied with their economic status, which makes it harder to reach political consensus among population groups with higher and lower incomes. Political instability increases the risks of investing in a country and so significantly undermines its development potential.
  • High inequality may discourage certain basic norms of behavior among economic agents (individuals or enterprises) such as trust and commitment. Higher business risks and higher costs of contract enforcement impede economic growth by slowing down all economic transactions.
But now I feel sort of silly. I realize that Becker must actually be like one of the Yes Men. He was just pretending to be like a cold-blooded villain out of a Dickens' novel when he said that education is at the heart of the income gap and "that's mostly because the better off have more education. And he says that gap is creating the right incentives." By pretending to be such a crass defender of privilege and exclusion he was really making the case for free universal higher education for everyone--pretty clever! And when he writes that Latin America owes the Pinochet-loving "Chicago Boys" a debt of gratitude he's just making a point that no one in their right mind could sing the praises of serving a fascist government. I get it...

Good job NPR. Thanks for the laugh!

Open Thread - Friday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Lethally Lazy

Sometimes NPR news is surreally strange. Today Morning Edition had the briefest little bit about Sec. Rice being asked by a House committee about a missed opportunity for the US to diplomatically engage with an Iranian peace proposal back in 2003. I've been complaining for awhile (11/16/06, 9/8/06, and 8/26/06) about the utter lack of coverage that NPR has given to this "missed chance to talk to Iran" as Steve Inskeep put it. It was far more than that, it was an opportunity to address and settle the issues of security in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine - along with the nuclear threat to the Middle East -- in other words it was HUGE.

Here's the text of the report as read by Inskeep:

"A House committee asked Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice if the US missed a chance to talk with Iran. Rice seemed to tell NPR last year that she knew of an Iranian proposal from 2003, 'What the Iranians wanted earlier was to be one on one with the United States so that this could be about the United States and Iran.' The fax from Iran listed a series of objectives for talks including possible recognition of Israel. Rice denied seeing it. Other US officials have said they do remember that Iranian proposal from 2003."

This deserves a little scrutiny. First, as I've mentioned above, "missed chance to talk" hardly conveys the significance of the Iranian offer and the subsequent US refusal to even consider it. Second, when Inskeep said Rice "seemed to tell NPR" about this I found myself scratching my head--I sure didn't remember such a thing. So I listened to the June 2, 2006 NPR report this Rice quote came from, and it has nothing to do with the 2003 proposal. It is only about Iran wanting to deal one-on-one with the US regarding the nuclear issue (as opposed to the multi-national confrontation Iran was facing at that time).

As far as the fax in question, this morning's report makes it's existence seem like a vague "he said, she said" case. In fact if you look at this Washington Post article you'll see that it is very real and that Sec. Rice is a flat out liar (as if that's a surprise). Finally NPR's report thoroughly minimizes the importance of the Iranian offer; it was far more than a "series of objectives" and "possible recognition of Israel." This article from the American Prospect conveys the scope of the proposal and the tragedy of the US rebuff. The implications of such a policy are that the US and Israeli governments at that time had no desire for a real peace settlement - and in fact wanted to purse policies of military confrontation and domination. (This was in May 2003, just after the quick "victory" over the Iraqi army and the toppling of Saddam Hussein after all.)

Of course by pretending that NPR news had covered this story in the past (and producing the misleading soundbite to prove it), NPR is attempting to let itself off the hook for it's biased, lazy, and virtually nonexistent coverage of this important chapter of US foreign policy.

(The image came from the following site.)

Open Thread - Thursday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Of Blackwater and Blackshirts

Tonight, NPR's Brian Naylor covered the testimony - to a House oversight committee - by relatives of four American Blackwater mercenaries who were killed and had their corpses gruesomely desecrated in Fallujah, Iraq back in March of 2004. (Interestingly NPR focused on minimizing and justifying the use of corpse-desecration by the US military in October 2005 in Afghanistan.)

The emphasis of Naylor's report is on the charges made by the relatives: that negligence and profiteering by Blackwater Corporation, and a lack of government oversight over the company, led to the deaths of their loved ones. This is worthwhile, but in some ways is old news that NPR should have been covering earlier; it also is not the most crucial story about Blackwater. The story that NPR news has yet to cover is the insidious nature of the Blackwater enterprise and it's founder, Erik Prince, and how Blackwater is just one element in the rise of a network of reactionary paramilitaries which Chris Hedges convincingly suggests could emerge as a sort of "praetorian guard" for the extremist Christian right. Coupled with the neo-Nazi infiltration of the US military itself, this threat should be getting far more coverage than it is.

I have a modest suggestion for NPR. Given that Blackwater is based in North Carolina, given that the CIA "special rendition" torture flights have a North Carolina connection, and given that North Carolina seems to be a hub for the growing paramilitary empire - NPR should send a reporter or two to North Carolina to check out this phenomenon. I'd recommend Anne Garrels, who might use her husband's CIA connections and his work with Air America to flesh out the whole nature of covert air operations. North Carolina is not all that far from Washington, DC and so expenses could be kept to a minimum. It's just an idea...and it's just a story that has profound implications for the very survival of our democratic institutions and freedoms.

*Blackshirts were the paramilitaries in fascist Italy.

Open Thread - Wednesday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Taking Care of Business (as Usual)

If I were paranoid, I'd think NPR wonks sometimes sat around a conference table brainstorming on ways to try and demoralize progressives and people of conscience. This morning we get to hear about rock stars selling their songs and image for commercials. Okay, if someone who wrote songs back in the day has fallen on hard times and feels they need to make some money by selling their work, who am I to condemn it? I know I've compromised my values at times, but for God's sake, I don't then extol my compromises as acts of virtue and try to put down those who have more integrity - but that's exactly what this report does.

Consider what Joel Rose of WHYY has to say:
"With Bob Dylan…in a commercial for Victoria’s Secret and the Beatles’ song…in a new ad for Target, the major remaining holdouts are Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits. But that stance is getting harder and harder to find says Billboard's Brian Garrity: ‘Even though you have some bands that are still kind of clinging to this notion being in commercials is some kind of sellout, the industry by and large has moved past that stigma.’ "
"Clinging to this notion"! That smug little put-down really ticks me off - as if consumerism and commercialism are value neutral, instead of the soul-shriveling, planet destroying ventures that they often are. I don't have a problem with NPR reporting on the phenomena of rock stars selling to advertisers, but wouldn't it have been interesting to hear from those "remaining holdouts"? Isn't it fascinating that Springsteen and Young also have publicly opposed the Iraq war - along with other rockers. A news program might cover that, might even interview the musicians to find out what informs their values, and what challenges they face in such a market driven profession. I don't think I'll be hearing that one on NPR news any time soon.

BTW: I do love the music of Johnny Cash!

Open Thread - Tuesday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Entertainment Tonight This Morning

Can you spot the rock star?

Poor Martin Kaste must have so overloaded on the Prince Superbowl halftime show that it clouded his thinking this morning - or perhaps he secretly wants to work as a reporter for E! or Entertainment Tonight. Here's how Kaste presents the court martial case of U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the Iraq War and occupation:
"Last year when the order to deploy to Iraq came down, he refused to go. This has given him rock star status among war protesters....he politely accepts the crowds adoration." Kaste describes Watada as being "in some ways...a hero straight out of central casting...besides being bright and well spoken, he dresses and looks like the cover of GQ, but there are those who are not so taken with him..."

Guess what Kaste? some people actually give a crap about the direction this country is going and sincerely admire the courage of someone like Lt. Watada. We don't care whether he dresses well or looks like he's "straight out of central casting." I realize that some people are so devoid of integrity and core values that they assume that others must be motivated by the same vapid, superficial qualities that inspire them. Watada is not a "rock star" to those who oppose the Iraq War, he is a man who has put his life and career on the line to stand up for what he believes. Perhaps this is what has earned him the respect of another "rock star," Desmond Tutu.

In fact, Watada's case raises crucial issues that cut right to the heart of whether our nation will survive as a democratic republic or will continue its decent into a militarism where laws, rights, and principles are regularly disregarded in the name of "security."

NPR could do us all a favor and assign the coverage of this story to someone who would give it the serious consideration it deserves - perhaps Nina Totenberg, who's been doing a decent job covering the Libby trial, could recommend someone.

Non-Lethal Weapons are So Funny

"He was in his underwear, that was the experimental protocol. In fact, the first guy up was going to wear a leopard skin pair." (loud chuckle)

So begins NPR's story on the military's non-lethal "heat ray" weapon. David Kestenbaum continues, "The military now has a series of videos: typically a grown man stands calmly in a field, then for no apparent reason, he jumps like he’s been goosed. You can hear the guy holding the video camera chuckle." Golly, hurting people is so funny!

Kestenbaum also informs us that "the military put together another video demonstrating a hypothetical scenario. (sounds of a mob) Some guards are stationed at the entrance to a facility and an angry crowd approaches the barbed wire fence. Are they carrying explosives? Maybe they’re just unhappy citizens? The guards don’t want to have to shoot."

Well that's one scenario, but here's a few other possibilities: "Citizens, already angry at having their country occupied, approach the gates of Abu Ghraib to look for seized relatives are ordered to disperse. When they don't...'" or (closer to home) "Some guards are stationed by the 'free speech' pen outside the Democratic Party Convention and a few rebellious citizens ignore warnings to stay put and decide to walk down the street with their signs -- zap, zap, chuckle, chuckle."

NPR's use of humor and levity (and amnesia) in covering another non-lethal tool of pain in the hands of US authorities really ticks me off given the context of human rights abuses that have been committed - both currently and in the past and at home and abroad - with non-lethal weapons (dogs, tear gas, tasers, pepper spray, etc). For a serious and complicated discussion of this same topic take a look at the report on Democracy Now!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Of Pawns and Corn

Today Juan Forero is back talking about Chavez and Lourdes Garcia-Navarro discussing Felipe Calderon. The reporting is thin on substance and heavy on opinion. Forero says, that Chavez, "painted the opposition as pawns of the evil Bush administration and that has worked." It'd be great if we actually got some factual investigation into the the Bush/US backing of the coup and they way in which the opposition was used as pawns by the National Endowment for Democracy. Just so listeners don't miss the point, Debbie Elliott says, "Chavez has been trying to position himself as the heir to Fidel Castro..."

On to Mexico, Garcia-Navarro - talking to people complaining about tortilla prices - says, "They were all blaming the government; it's the easiest target. And the left which lost the presidential elections has been using this issue to great advantage...they say this wouldn't have happened if Mexico wasn't importing about a quarter of its corn from the United States. They blame...NAFTA for destroying the Mexican countryside. Under NAFTA, it has to be said, Mexico shed about 30% of its farm jobs." Navarro could have given these complaints even more context by noting that it's not just Mexican leftists who hold such opinions - much of the world (see these IRC, NYT, or CSM articles), including the respected organization Oxfam, have noted the ruin that Calderon type policies have brought to rural Mexico.

NPR does a great service to multinational corporations and US neoliberal foreign policy by presenting the critiques of such policy as nothing more than leftist complaint and opinion, instead of the reasonable, reality-based opposition to policies that are making a few very rich and many very poor.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Horsing Around

Did you know that Barbaro got laminitis in his left hind leg while his right leg was healing? Did you know that he recently had two pins inserted into his cannon bone and wore a brace-like structure? Did you know that Barbaro's initial medical treatment involved surgery, titanium plates, and over two dozen screws? If you don't you obviously have not been paying attention to NPR news in the last week. Just for the record here's how the coverage of Barbaro the dead race horse has broken down recently:

Over the course of three short days, that's 15 minutes and 45 seconds of news time devoted to a now dead race horse that has no meaningful effect on the lives of anyone on the planet.

But that wasn't enough for NPR and Scott Simon. This morning - for another 3 minutes and 9 tawdry seconds - Simon reveals that "when Barbaro broke down shortly after the start of last year's Preakness…I burst into tears." He continues his eulogy to the horse: "Barbaro touched something in millions of people…the will he displayed…Barbaro was an athlete, a champion, a performer. Champions carry the hopes of others....greatness died with him....God speed Barbaro."

For a bit of contrast, consider NPR's coverage of Khaled El-Masri, an innocent German kidnapped by the CIA, shipped off to Afghanistan, brutally tortured, and dumped back in Albania. On January 31, 2007 the German government issued arrest warrants for the CIA operatives responsible, and for this case that highlights the barbarism of our government agents NPR gives one 3 minute, 11 second report, and unlike the minutiae of Barbaro's surgery and demise all you'll hear on this report is "those named on the arrest warrant are charged with kidnapping and causing grievous bodily harm to Khalid El-Masri....He was picked up in Macedonia in late December 2003, taken to prison in Afghanistan, held there for nearly five months, then dropped off in Albania to find his way home...." That's it.

If you think it's unfair just focusing on the past week, feel free to look back at all NPR news' coverage of El-Masri's case. The most detail you will find is El-Masri speaking through his translator on November 28, 2006, "I was humiliated; I was beaten; I was drugged. And I was taken to Afghanistan against my will, and there they made it clear right from the onset, they said you are in a country where there is no rule of law.’ A month before that, ME aired a report lamenting how these foreign arrest warrants underscore "the legal threat faced by CIA officers overseas." Contrast NPR's scant coverage with the substance of this report from the Guardian.

Iranian Tentacles

Listening to NPR of late I wouldn't be surprised if they told us that the Iranians were behind the deadly tornadoes that hit Florida on Friday. The saturation of the Iranian boogeyman on NPR is really astounding - and sadly reminiscent of the 2002-03 run-up to the Iraq invasion.

I mistakenly thought that Friday evening's piece on Arab heroes of the Holocaust might actually be a thought provoking, interesting piece...alas it turned out to be yet another bash Iran story. If I had known who Robert Satloff - the man being interviewed - was, I wouldn't have been surprised. Robert Satloff is an "expert" from the AIPAC founded, pro-Zionist Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). This is a man who has written, in all seriousness, "[Ariel] Sharon has already accomplished more than enough to earn a place among Israel's giants."

The heart of the interview came after Siegel asked Satloff to compare his State Department speaking tour with Iran's recent Holocaust Denial conference. Satloff responded:
"Yes, I think that there is a fundamental connection here. Sunni Arab leaders, Sunni Arab intelligentsia are apoplectic about the rise of Iranian, and more generally Shiite influence that they see throughout the Middle East. They fear that the Iranians have their tentacles out and that they are spreading their influence, and they fear the United States is receding and they are begging the United States, 'Help the Sunni Arabs combat the spread of Shiia radicalism'..."

Now by itself this would be bad enough, but consider the NPR context in which this report is aired: earlier in the day on Morning Edition Mary Louise Kelly, reporting on the grim National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) for Iraq, states, "...and it also talks a little bit about the role that Iran is playing. It says that Iran is making the situation worse, what we don’t know is quite how much detail the estimate provides on the role that Iran is playing..."

Then in another report on Morning Edition, Iran is blamed for the armed violence between Fatah and Hamas in the Occupied Territories. Renee Montagne says to Linda Gradstein, "And Linda, in the middle of all this, Fatah is saying that they've arrested seven Iranian weapons experts working for the ruling Hamas party. They arrested them, they say, in Gaza. Tell us that story."

Gradstein dutifully responds, "Yes, Fatah officials say that they raided the Islamic University, which is a Hamas stronghold, late last night, and that they found eight Iranian weapons experts and that one of the men committed suicide rather than be captured. Israel radio, also quoting Fatah, said at least some of the men were chemical experts."

I wonder if these chemical experts drove into Gaza in those amazing Winnebagos of Death that went missing in Iraq?

Open Thread - Weekend

NPR related comments welcomed.

Friday, February 02, 2007

From the War is Peace Department

"Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice hosted a meeting of would-be Middle East peacemakers in Washington today..."

So begins this evening's ATC report on a meeting of representatives of the 'Quartet' (Russia, US, UN, and EU). Condoleeza Rice, the US - peacemakers? That hurts.

Is it really so hard to come up with a more neutral lead-in for such a report, perhaps, "Sec. of State Rice convened a meeting of the Quartet which came up with it's so-called "roadmap to peace" back in April of 2003?" An even more truthful introduction would mention that it is a plan that had little chance of success since it ignored the historical injustices of Israel against Palestinians, and was undermined by Israeli aggression almost from the start.