CONCERN ONE: THE TRAGIC
WEAKENING OF THE FOURTH ESTATE IN THE UNITED STATES
End of News? We could be approaching the demise of authentic
news as "opinion" takes over the public discourse.
Failure of Television Journalism. It seems increasingly the
case that those who rely on television for news will hear little about
the abuse of prisoners by the CIA and the military. Here is Frank
Rich's essay on the problem. IF YOU GET YOUR NEWS ONLY FROM TELEVISION
YOU HAVE LITTLE KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE WORLD.
Demise of Honest Journalism The full text of the Moyers NOW
interview with Richard Viguerie, who has
no interest in representing the truth, only opinion.
On the firing of four major figures in the CBS newsroom: We can
be thankful that CBS does not believe that journalism is merely opinion:
even statements of opinion need to be accepted as a claim to authenticity,
a search to represent the “truth” as we best can know it. It must
necessarily be so if we are to have a free society. Compare the views
of the administration of CBS with those of Richard Viguerie,
who Bill Moyers described as “a founding father of the modern conservative
movement and still one of its most powerful figures.” Here is Viguerie’s
concept of journalism, from a Bill Moyers interview on NOW, recently:
MOYERS: Do you think what Sean Hannity
said is fair?
VIGUERIE: Oh, absolutely.
MOYERS: But there's no fact to back that up. There's no effort
to substantiate that with documentation.
VIGUERIE: That's what journalism is. It's just all opinion.
My response: If CBS executives thought that journalism
is just opinion they would not have felt it necessary to fire four of their
top newsroom executives. Likewise, the New York Times would not have
fired one of their reporters and the two top editors. Perhaps I am
unduly wrought about these things, but in my old age I have become convinced
that honest reporting, precise reporting, in anthropology, journalism and
in any other field that seeks to represent reality, the claim to truth
[recognizing how elusive it is] is crucial to the propagation of knowledge
and to maintenance of a democratic society. The undermining of journalism
not a new threat, of course is a dangerous trend in a free society.
It is a threat to the pursuit of knowledge. Would that all news
sources, including those that claim nothing more than to be opinion would
acknowledge their public responsibility to represent the truth as they
honestly know it, not just as free floating opinion but an honest search
to represent the truth even if it is not what one would wish it to be.
On the danger of being a journalist:
More than 70 foreign and Iraqi journalists have been reported killed
since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. The real number is believed
to be higher and the list does not include the many translators, drivers
and other assistants said by media watchdogs to have died since the conflict
The deaths of Douglas and Brolan bring the number of journalists killed
since March 2003 to at least 122, according to the International Federation
of Journalists. Amber said the number of journalists killed in Iraq
in less than four years has surpassed that in the nearly decade-long conflict
More journalists have been killed in Iraq
 than were killed in all of World War II . "Live From Baghdad:
More Dying" By Maureen Dowd. New York Times May 31, 2006
the news must be perky
CONCEREN TWO: THE FOLLY
AND DISHONESTY OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION
Reagan Republican on Bush Republicans’ Smear Tactics
Is the Administration being honest?
The cost of dishonesty: The
corrosive effect of misrepresentation at the top: decay of integrity and
commitment throughout the system
hid the existence of the pre-9/11 warnings for as long as possible and
continued to insist for many months after the Iraq war that Saddam Hussein's
illegal weapons might still turn up, and it has blocked any official investigation
of its role in exaggerating the slender intelligence that existed."
[NYT May 10,06]
The White House Iraq Group,
was formed in August, 2002, to sell the war in Iraq
to the American public.
It consisted of Andrew Card, Karl Rove,
Lewis Libby, Condoleezza Rice, Karen Hughes, and Mary Matalin
[NB. The administration claims that at that time the decision
to go to war had not yet been determined
] [Frank Rich NYT 10/16/05]
the release of the truth of the deception of our country by our own leadership
"A liar is someone who denies the truth to someone
who has a right to it.
" [David Maguire, Prof. of Ethics, MarquetteUniversity
"Saddam Hussein was distrustful of al-Qaeda and viewed Islamic extremists
as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from al-Qaeda to provide
material or operational support" So says the CIA report to the Senate Intelligence
Committee in 2005. [See BBC 9/9/06; NYT 9/8/06] Anyone who knew the region
would have known that. It is in fact not news; it was not even news in
2005. This was widely known, and certainly was known by the religious
elite in the Muslim world, some of whose associates had been executed by
Saddam because he distrusted them. It is tragic that such a report had
to be written at all and that it is considered news now, after so much
loss of life based on a misrepresentation that was repeatedly made by the
President, the Vice President, and their staffs as justification for abandoning
the war in Afghanistan
and turning attention to Iraq.
the American people have been willing to put our troops into war in Iraq
in 2003 if they had known what the President and his people already knew
-- that Saddam had nothing to do with the attack on 9/11/01?
Is the Administration being wise?
Colin Powell had been heeded
of an invitation to join a propaganda campaign for American policy
On the Iraq
The cost of providing clean water and sanitation
for everyone on earth [above current amts]: $9 billion
The cost of providing health services for women world-wide:
The cost of providing education for everyone: $6 billion
The cost of giving food to everyone on earth and basic health
care: $13 billion
Total: $40 billion
|The cost of the war
billion [as of 5/7/06] [and counting]: No, a new calculation
by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes
is that it will cost $2
trillion. [NYT 10/24/06,
and Milken Institute Review]
They are admitting they got it wrong. One can't doubt the
objective in Iraq
has failed ... [Wm F. Buckley].
What the Generals Say:
war is "the greatest strategic disaster in United
[Lt Gen Wm Odom, National Security Agency director under R. Reagan]
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead our armed forces"
[Paul D. Eaton, a retired Army major general, in charge of training
the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004.]
catastrophic blunders made by the Bush team leading to the Iraq nightmare.
[Gen. Anthony Zinni. Former CentCom
"What makes Patrrick
Fitzgerald's investigation compelling, whatever its outcome, is its illumination
of a conspiracy that ... took us on false premises into a reckless and
wasteful war in Iraq
Wilson and his wife were trashed
to protect that larger plot." [Frank Rich, NYTimes
Americans, conveniently, "are serial amnesiacs; as a nation,
we forget what we have done almost immediately after doing it." [Kenneth
M. Pollack in The Persian Puzzle, 2004]
the experts say [Foreign Policy Magazine poll, July/Aug, 2006]
In the Summer of 2006 more people
were being killed in Iraq
every month than were killed in America
Recommended book: Fiasco, by Thomas E. Ricks. "...the heart
of his book is the second half, beginning in August 2003, when, as he writes,
the war really began, with the bombing of the Jordanian embassy and the
emergence of the insurgency. His strongest critique is that the U.S.
military failed to anticipate--and then failed to recognize--the insurgency,
and tried to fight it with conventional methods that only fanned its flames.
What makes his portrait particularly damning are the dozens of military
sources--most of them on record--who join in his critique, and the thousands
of pages of internal documents he uses to make his case for a war poorly
planned and bravely but blindly fought." --Tom Nissley
I have many friends who disagree with the concerns
I express here. Many of them believe that the criticisms of the Bush
administration are calumnious attacks against their man in the White House,
someone who, finally, understands their point of view. These are
good people. I know them. I know that if they believed that
the matters I bring up here were true, they would be as outraged as I am.
But there are people in this administration who
know otherwise and who persist in misrepresenting the truth.
For them there is a special warning:
Rescue those being led away to death;
Hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
If you say, “But we knew nothing
Does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
Proverbs 24: 11, 12
THE AMERICAN DEBT
DO YOU REMEMBER?
STRANGE AS IT MAY SEEM, THERE WAS NO AMERICAN DEBT IN THE LATE 1990s
Now, every man, woman, and child owes $150,000. Every
newborn child in this country comes into the world with this debt.
And it is rising.
Currently, the capital inflows [that is, the amounts
being pumped into this country to keep it going; a debt to be paid
by succeeding generations] amount to 700 billion dollars and are rising
every year (from ~2% of GDP in 1997 to 6% in 2004). If pensions,
healthcare, (and defense), are going to drain such an increasingly
significant share of GDP in future years, where does the money come from
to promote economic growth of the sort that will pay for all of this?
[Soon we will have]
exhausted our savings, lost our competitive edge and squandered our educational
heritage.[Bill Gross, PIMCO [Mar
06] Investment Outlook]
“President Bush has now borrowed more money than
all other Presidents combined. The spending that he has enacted is
amazing. It amazes me that he calls himself "conservative."” -Christopher
Buckley [son of Wm F. Buckley] on NOW 3/3/06.
THE SHAME OF PRISONER ABUSE: IT HAS BEEN AUTHORIZED BY THE AMERICAN
Tragic to say, numerous instances of abuse of prisoners authorized
by officials in high rank have taken place.
But another tragedy is the refusal of our administration to admit
to its role in the practice.
gave the green light. The secretary of defense issued the rules. The Justice
Department provided the rationale. And the C.I.A. tried to cover it up."[William
Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, interview quoted
by Bob Herbert, NYT, 5/30/05]
Tony Lagouranis and Allen Mikaelian.
2007. Fear Up Harsh: An Army Interrogator's Dark Journey Through Iraq. New
York: New American Library.
"Are they ashamed
of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame ...; they do not even
know how to blush." [Jeremiah 6:15]
Today on this administration's policy on Torture
Imprisonment also entailed torture " ... Dressed head to
toe in black, including masks, they blindfold and cut the clothes off their
new captives, then administer an enema and sleeping drugs. They outfit
detainees in a diaper and jumpsuit for what can be a day-long trip. Their
destinations: either a detention facility operated by cooperative countries
in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Afghanistan, or one of the
CIA's own covert prisons -- referred to in classified documents as "black
sites," which at various times have been operated in eight countries, including
several in Eastern Europe."
don't torure" ? What about Strangulation, Asphyxiation, Blunt force
injuries? Do these count as torture?
worse than a few bad apples
on torture The United
States has gone "from a country that condemned
torture and forbade its use to one that practices torture routinely."
Sontag on Torture
troops complicit in massacre of Taliban
leadership complicit in abuse of prisoners
policy influence “Remember, we went to Iraq
to democratize the Middle East. The
last thing you want to do is let the Arab world know how you treat Arab
males in prison."
in American prisons
"Making Torture Legal," by Anthony Lewis. "Reading
through the memoranda written by Bush administration lawyers on how prisoners
of the 'war on terror' can be treated is a strange experience. The memos
read like the advice of a mob lawyer to a mafia don on how to skirt
the law and stay out of prison. Avoiding prosecution is literally a
theme of the memoranda. Americans who put physical pressure on captives
escape punishment if they can show that
they did not have an 'intent' to cause 'severe physical or mental pain
or suffering.' And 'a defendant could negate a showing of specific intent...by
showing that he had acted in good faith that his conduct would not amount
to the acts prohibited by the statute.'" [for more go here]
Accountability on Abu Ghraib
use Syria as a torturing place, torture a Canadian
to Senate Inquiry into CIA abuse
what everybody else did. It was not according to doctrine, but that was
standard practice. That was how things were done,"
to death in Afghanistan [by mistake]
The critiques of other nations:
best-known investigating magistrate: We in Italy
knew fascism for many yeasr... We know
a great mistake to fight terrorism in this way, the way of Guantanamo,
the way of renditions [of prisoners to other countries for "interrogation"].
It's extremely damaging to all our effoerts
to integrate our Muslim communities who see these practices as unjust."
investigative magistrate: "A model like Guantanamo
is an insult to countries that respect laws... It delegitimizes us..."
NYT 6/4/06 p.16
From a Guantanamo detainee [now freed]: "[W]hat I heard so many times
resounding from cage to cage, what I said myself so many times in my moments
of complete despondency, was not, "Free us, we are innocent!" but "Judge
us for whatever we've done!" There is unlimited cruelty in a system
that seems to be unable to free the innocent and unable to punish the guilty."
"Detainees in despair" NYTimes June 14,
During the Holocaust: “Everything
that happened happened because someone made a decision. To pull a trigger,
to flip a switch, to close a cattle car door, to hide, to betray.
..." [From A search for six million,
by Daniel Mendolsohn. NY:
Harper Collins, 2006.]
Fall, 2004. WHAT
HAS GONE WRONG WITH OUR ADMINISTRATION?
Carter's speech to the Democratic National Convention was one of the
best statements of the dilemmas created by the Bush administration that
I have seen recently.
Gen. Anthony Zinni. Former CentCom
10 Mistakes that Bush Made" A list of the catastrophic blunders
made by the Bush team leading to the Iraq
Protest Bush's Anti-Palestinian Policies" by Jim Lobe. President
George W. Bush's policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are not only
damaging the United States' credibility worldwide, but are putting U.S.diplomats,
civilian contractors and the military at heightened risk. That's the message
that at least 60 former U.S.
diplomats and other government officials who have served overseas will
deliver to the President later this month.
Vision for America's Role in the World by George Soros. Published
on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 by CommonDreams.org. Commencement Address,
delivered at the ColumbiaSchool
of International & Public Affairs, Monday, May 17, 2004
Military Whistleblowers Face Retribution" on NPR, NPR
CONCERN FIVE: WHAT HAS
GONE WRONG WITH THE WHITEEVANGELICALCHURCH
PROTECTION OF PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS
The Christian Coalition against Jimmy Carter, the
only President who had a Bible class before being elected President and
returned to his Bible class afterward. He was abandoned by the "Christian
Coalition" for this reason: [according to Ralph Reed:] "The greatest
spark of the movement was not abortion but an attempt by the Carter-appointed
head of the Internal Revenue Service to require Christian and parochial
schools and academies to prove that they were not established to preserve
segregation or they would risk losing their tax-exampt
status. ... For conservative evangelicals it was nothing less than a declaration
of war on their schools, their churches, and their children. More
than any other single episode, the IRS move against Christian schools sparked
the explosion of the movement that would become known as the religious
right." [Active Faith, p. 105]
Was this the reason that the evangelicals in the South turned to
the Republican Party?
THE ABSENCE OF A SOCIAL CONSCIENCE: Consider, for example,
>> For a long time there was a general indifference in the Christian
public to the discovery that our government regularly practices torture
and sends prisoners off to other countries to be tortured [but see above
the recent article in Christianity Today, and also "www.nrcat.org"]. Good
news: finally the national Association of Evangelicals has come out
against torture: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/12/AR2007031201080_pf.html.
>> The general failure of many evangelical churches to pray regularly
for our troops in battle, even though our country is involved in two wars;
or to pray for our country's enemies, even though growing numbers
of the peoples of the world now despise and fear our country.
former assistant director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives,
says that there is a problem with "the base" of the religious right, and
indifference for the needs of the poor. Instead, there is a focus
on homosexuality, cloning, abortion, etc. There is something "spiritually
wrong": "You're taking the sacred and making it profane." "[T]he
name of God is just being destroyed in the name of politics." "[E]vangelical
Christians need to take a step back. To have a fast from politics," ...
"People are being manipulated. Good and well-meaning people..." [60
Minutes , Oct 15, '06]
>> What can be said in defense the following advertisement by an
evangelical organization that calls itself "Revival": "Revival
is a Christian organization bringing glory to God by revealing The World
That was, The World That Is, And The World That Is TO Come. Our goal
is to build on 500 acres in Fort
go to our website at: www.americahomelandrevival.com
BECOME A PART OF SOMETHING THAT WILL BE BIGGER THAN DISNEY WORLD
AND MICROSOFT WORKS PUT TOGETHER! WOULD YOU HAVE INVESTED IN
WALT DISNEY WORLD OR MICROSOFT WORKS AT THEIR CONCEPTION?"
>> Also see: http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/tbn.htm
CARELESS BREAKING OF THE NINTH COMMANMENT: "Thou shalt not
bear false witness against your nieghbor."
Many evangelicals have become habituated to the practice of passing
around untruths or half-truths about those whom they disagree with.
A notable example was the easy distribution of charges that Obama was a
Muslim. This was a calumnious attempt to sabatoge his run for the
presidency that some of his opponents used against him, and many evangelicals
passed the word informally without concern for whether there was any basis
for it. This is but one of many instatnces when Christians who otherwise
claim to care about the the Ten Commanments in fact have broken the the
ninth commandment in the interest of forwarding a political agenda.
“I hate, I despise your feasts, and
I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer
me your burnt offerings and cereal offerings, I will not accept them, and
the peace offerings of your fatted beasts I will not look upon. Take
away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will
not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness
like an ever-flowing stream.” [Amos 5:21-24]
Woe to those who lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves
upon their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the midst
of the stall; who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp, and like David
invent for themselves instruments of music; who drink wine in bowls, and
anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the
ruin of Joseph! [Amos 6:4-6]
Hear this, you who trample upon the needy, and bring
the poor of the land to an end, … The LORD has sworn by the pride of
Jacob: "Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. Shall
not the land tremble on this account, and every one mourn who dwells in
it, … ?" [Amoz
“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as if they were a
nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their
God…. Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds
of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go
free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to
cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? …
If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the pointing of
the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in
the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. [Isaiah 58: 1-10]
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the
Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction,
and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
"You have neglected the weightier matters of the law -- justice,
mercy, and faithfulness." [Jesus, Mt 23:23]
CONCERN SIX: PROBLEMS IN PAKISTAN
on the brink, summer 2006
Ladin's continued connections with his family; his family history
the government of Pakistan treats its rape victim
threatens to kill Mukhtar Mai for exposing
the abuse of women
11 year old wife?
courageous critique from a Pakistani editor. [5/25/05]
military was involved in the 9/11 attack.
on Pakistan's Jehadis
of Stephen Cohen's important book on Pakistan
Burgeoning Poppy Crop
Opium Production in Afghanistan,
under the Taliban (2001) and under the Afghan /American government (2005)
Source: White House Office
of National Drug Control Policy, cited in FarrukhSaleem,
The News International, Pakistan,
April 3, 2005.
Acres Planted with Poppies
Metric Tons of Opium
Metric Tons of Heroin
$ worth in Frankfurt and Rotterdam
Population of Heroin Addicts in Pakistan
The News International, Pakistan,
April 3, 2005.
A statistic: Every 30 minutes
a woman in Afghanistan
dies in childbirth
DARFUR, CHAD, SUDAN:
We all say, "Never again" when we think about the Holocaust or the massacres
in Rwanda or Bosnia.
In fact, genocide is taking place now in Darfur.
Nicholas Kristof on Darfur: Tolerable
is to be done?