Friday, April 9, 2010

NPR ombudsperson full of s**t

Last Sunday, at Third, Ava and C.I. wrote the amazing "WMC: Too pathetic (Ava and C.I.)" where they took on NPR's so-called ombudsperson and her ridiculous 'study' that exempted the worst offenders when it came to sexism in booking:

We'd go further and say that in the field of the arts, women have long held their own. In fact, women have held their own since they first made their way on to the stage. So we would wonder why Terry Gross can't find women to book in equal (if not greater) number to men?

In her 'study,' the ombudsperson writes, "Are there really no women to alternate the political patter on Friday nights with Dionne and Brooks? Couldn't Maureen Corrigan (who reviews books for Fresh Air) split the book reviews on ATC with Cheuse?"

First off, Alicia Shepard, why are you bringing up E.J. Dionne and David Brooks? You say you're confining your study to Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Neither show airs "Friday nights" and you appear to mean Mark Shields and David Brooks who appear Friday nights (Dionne sometimes subs for Shields as does Ruth Marcus, among others) on The NewsHour? We're all for holding The NewsHour accountable for gender imbalance -- and stood alone in doing so during the Democratic and GOP conventions -- we're just confused as to why you limit your topic to avoid calling out Terry Gross (and that was done purposely) and yet expand it to include a PBS program? A PBS TV program?

The NPR ombudsperson -- whose job is to cover NPR -- decides to slam a PBS program but can't call out Terry Gross?

If you're wondering why Ava and C.I. are so sick of Queen Bee and Queen Bitch Terry Gross, let me break it down for you.

Monday's show had one of her regular critics -- a man -- David Bianculli. In addition, there were two guests -- both men -- from the TV show Treme.

Tuesday was the sole female critic, Maureen Corrigan, doing a book review while the show was devoted to a 'manly' man talking about pirates.

Wednesday the guest was -- a man. And clips from a long ago interview with a woman.

Thursday
the guest was a man who played a fiddle and a man who wrote a book. She had two critics -- both men -- Kevin Whitehead to do a music review and the disgusting John Powers who thinks because he liked something we all must have. (I've never done poppers, Powers.)

Friday's guests were two men who played baseball, then a man who wrote a book about umpires. Critic doing a review? David Edelstein.

10 guests -- if you count the clip job -- 9 of which were men. 5 critics offering reviews -- 4 of which were men. Back to Ava and C.I.:

The 'study' was published Friday. We'd sooner spit on Steve Inskeep than say hello to him, but we'll note that he does have a point that, by looking at the voices heard on two news shows, you are going to, for example, hear a lot of Barack Obama (speaking to crowds, etc.) which will add into the number of male sources.

Inskeep insists in an e-mail to the ombudsperson, "You yourself acknowledge that if more men appear, it may reflect 'societal' factors like the preponderance of men in certain fields."

And therein lies the problem with the study. Unlike WMC, Ann and we have long called out NPR's gender imbalance. If you want to prove men are featured as guests more than women you go to the obvious.

You go to The Diane Rehm Show and you look at who gets on and who doesn't. Just her two hours on Friday, for example, feature four men and two women guests. Four men and two women. Inskeep is insisting that men might hold more positions in certain fields -- such as president of the United States since no woman's ever managed that (in part due to the go-along-to-get-along gals of WMC) -- and we won't argue with him on that. We will, however, note that women reporters are nothing new and that it's rather strange that Diane Rehm can book six reporters and journalists (some are columnists and not reporters) each Friday for her two hour show but it's almost always four men and two women.

We'd go further and say that in the field of the arts, women have long held their own. In fact, women have held their own since they first made their way on to the stage. So we would wonder why Terry Gross can't find women to book in equal (if not greater) number to men?

Get the point? You should. Even if the NPR ombudsperson is full of s**t.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, April 2010. Chaos and violence continue, blaming two dead reporters continues, the Rules of Engagement aren't the final say in the July 12, 2007 assault, and Senator Tom Harken is scared of a little girl.
On the most recent Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox, Peace Mom Cindy spoke with her friends Elaine Brower, Jon Gold and Matthis Chiroux about how the four of them were arrested in DC March 20th protesting the illegal wars.
Elaine Brower: One of the problems we're up against with this movement is that they're co-opted by the Democratic Party. And the Democratic Party does not want their base to mobilize. So what we saw with the election to Obama and prior to that was the complete demobilization --if there was any anti-war movement before that -- it just continued to disappear. And now I'm not sure who's left out there that really wants to make this change but whoever it is, that's what they're going to have to do and it's not an easy step. It's a very difficult step to take -- difficult for me, difficult for you. We have families, we have lives. But we don't want to see this empire terrorize any more people around the globe.
Senator Tom Harkin voted for the Iraq War by voting, in 2002, to authorize force. Tom Alex (Des Moinses Register -- link has text and video) reports that a 12-year-old was arrested as Harkin's office in Des Moines, Frankie Hughes. Her 'crime'? The 12-year-old refused to leave the office. The 12-year-old girl was a 'threat' to Senator Tom Harkin and his staff. The full grown senator and his full grown staff were a-scared of a 12-year-old girl. Frankie Hughes was there "sitting in a chair and refusing to leave" to protest the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. The 12-year-old girl sitting in a chair, during business hours, was a 'threat' -- apparently a clear and present danger. On top of that, Alex reports, the day after the arrest, police showed up to serve Frankie's mother Renee Espeland with a misdemeanor charge of "contributing to the delinquency of a minor."
Cindy Sheehan: Well one of my friends last night made an interesting observation. He said that the anti-war movement killed itself by supporting Barack Obama.
Elaine Brower: Yeah, that's-that's true. But I always think that from the beginning the anti-war movement was factionalized in a way that they were somehow supporting the Democrats. Like in 2006 we saw a lot of supposed anti-war groups going out heavily to tell people to vote for the Democrats. So I think it started long before Obama. And then with [George W.] Bush sort of as our -- the-the person that we really love to hate, he was still in power, so that gave the anti-war groups someone to challenge. But they would never challenge the Democrats in office like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and all the rest of them who really are, also, on the side of the US empire. And they have, you know, their hands in the pocket of the capitalist system. They never went against that and they allowed them to just keep funding the war and getting away with it. And then here comes Obama and further demobalizes the anti-war movement because most of them are Democrats. What we have to do is get away from the mentality that the Democrats are the saviors of us. We are the saviors.
Today, from an undisclosed location in DC, Tom Harkin, hiding out from 12-year-old girls whom he pictures seizing the motherland and imposing Twilight viewing mandates on all citizens, had the nerve to say of retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens: "As one of our country's longest serving Justices, he has demonstrated an unabiding commitment to the rule of law and critical rights and liberties." What about Frankie's liberties, Harkin? What about her right to peacefully protest? Drake law professor Sally Frank told Tom Alex, "I think they are trying to put a scare into the peace movement." A 12-year-old, peacefully protesting, is arrested in Harkin's office (and her mother later charged) and he has the nerve, the same week, to speechify about "unabiding commitment to the rule of law and critical rights and liberties"?
Cindy Sheehan: Well, you know, I hate to use infantile terminology, but we're the boss of them, they're not the boss of us.
In December 2005, elections were held and it was approximately 4 months later before a prime minister was selected: Nouri al-Maliki. However, it wouldn't have taken that long if the US government had not rejected the first choice -- the choice of Iraq's elected representatives: Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Currently, four months is the standard because that's the only time the process has been implemented. Whether it will take four months this go round or less or more is unknown.

As noted last night, Ibrahim al-Jaafari is the choice of al-Sadr supporters. Last Friday and Saturday, Moqtada al-Sadr held a vote, open to all, to determine whom al-Sadr's bloc should support and the results were announced this week: al-Jaafari swept past everyone. (There were five candidates listed on the ballot -- included Allawi and al-Maliki -- and a sixth space for write-ins.) As pointed out last night, the announced decision to support al-Jaafari sends a message:

It may be a gambit on the part of al-Sadr, it may be for real. But it does send the message to Iraqis. That message is not, "Look at me." That message is: "The occupiers denied us al-Jafaari in 2006. We're still fighting for him, we're still fighting the occupation and we're still standing."

Khaled Farhan, Waleed Ibrahim, Ian Simpson and Elizabeth Fullerton (Reuters) reported this morning, that Moqtada al-Sadr issued a statement to his followers which was read today, the seventh anniversary of the fall of Baghdad to foreign forces, and warned that "the occupation and its advocates will stay in Iraq without fear [. . .] You, the Sunnis of Iraq, joined hands with the Shi'ites to lierate our country. Do not let the (U.S.) occupation or any unjust law made by it deter you from doing that." The statement was read at a demonstration of supporters (it was not read by Moqtada al-Sadr who was not present) and, AFP reports, was followed by a march where "Iraqi national flags [were held] aloft" and supporters shouted, "Yes, yes, Iraq, no, no occupation." Alsumaria TV notes "tens of thousands" marched in Najaf.
Scott Horton (Antiwar Radio) interviewed Dahr Jamail this week. They covered a number of topics and we'll note this section regarding the elections and the election aftermath:
Scott Horton: But as far as the narrative of: "Look an election! Isn't that great! The democratic process! Better than Saddam Hussein! He used to re-elect himself with 99%!" And, you know, here in this case, it looks like the current prime minister didn't even try or wasn't able to rig the election for himself effectively and all that. But at the same time, it seems like, the neocons are counting on the ignorance of the American people and because Chris Matthews only talks about what Republicans and Democrats say on Capitol Hill to each other, all day, for about two and a half hours, twice a day, or whatever, the American people don't really know anything about Iraq -- who's in power there, which different factions are doing this, that or the other thing. There might be a little bit of a mention of something but never any real context and so I remember back in 2005 when they did the election, that really -- with the El Salvador option -- helped precipitate the civil war by turning the whole country over to the Supreme Islamic Council and Moqtada al-Sadr basically and the Iraqi National Alliance. Even Jon Stewart was going, "Wow! Maybe George W. Bush was right. Look at this woman with purple ink on her finger. Maybe Iraq is a democracy now." Well, then another few 100,000 people got killed after that. Now we have another one of these. And it turns out Moqtada al-Sadr is the kingmaker and he's sitting in Tehran right now trying to figure out whether he wants to throw his weigh towards CIA agent-murderer [Ayad] Allawi or Revolutionary Guard Agent-murderer [Nouri al-] Maliki. And this is what the neocons and Newsweek are telling the American people, "Look! They've got ink on their fingers!" You don't have a narrative, you don't know who's who, you don't know who's winning or if one group takes power over this group what's that like, what consequences that's likely to have. None of this context is provided. "But, look, a woman with purple ink. We're actually, we're doing okay here, folks." That's why it works. Because the rest of the time they won't tell us about Iraq at all. Then when they say anything, they go, "Hey, look, a still shot. Make up your own 10,000 words.
Dahr Jamail: Well that's exactly right, Scott. And I think that's a really good description and analysis of how this has been perpetuated from the beginning where we have a corporate media that relies on the ignorance and-and a US government that relies on the ignorance of the American public. And, of course, the corporate media has been instrumental in ensuring that ignorance. I mean, we can go back to before the invasion took place and basically what people got on TV was a graphic of Saddam Hussein's head with a bulls eye on it. Or cross hairs. This kind of thing. You know: "This is all you need to know. You don't need to know that the CIA backed him in a coup that put him in a position of power in 1968. You don't need to know the US government supported him through his worst atrocities. You don't need to know that the US supported both Iraq and Iran during that brutal eight-year war that killed over a million people. You don't need to know these things. You don't need to know that we supported the twelve-and-a-half years of genocidal sanctions, that, oh yeah, according to Madeline Albright and the UN, killed over half-a-million Iraqi children. You don't need to know these things. You just need to know this is the bad guy and we're going to kill him and you're going to be safe and you can go shopping in that safety and rest assured that everything is just fine." And it's the same with these elections. You don't need to know that Maliki, even before the election results were released, when it became clear to him that he was not going to get the plurality, that he basically went to the Supreme Court in Iraq -- this is going to sound a little familiar to folks -- so he goes to the Supreme Court and basically has them change the rules of the game so that instead of whoever gets the plurality during the election can start forming their own government, instead he now has until June when the Parliament reconvenes to basically take out as many of Allawi's elected ministers of Parliament as possible. Because, basically, the last man standing in June when Parliament reconvenes, whoever has the most MPs, that is who is going to get to form the new cabinet. So conveniently Maliki's basically given himself two months to go out and hit as many of Allawi's people as possible. And that's exactly what he's done. So far, he's taken two of them into custody, charging them with terrorism. You know, everything's terrorism now, so he's charging them with terrorism. And one person is where abouts unknown. And then another MP in Allawi's list is in hiding. So already, he's at least made it even Steven and probably already taken the lead. And, of course, we have the Sadr wildcard which is a bit of another story but you described it well and all that I just described is-is against the backdrop of the context that both of these guys are US stooges and perhaps this is why Newsweek declares it a resounding success -- aside from just the propaganda value. But, "Hey, it's a resounding success because we have Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum as the two leading candidates in this election and, oh, guess what? The US created both these guys, put both these guys in the positions of power that they're in and they wouldn't exist without the US occupation in that country. And guess what? One of them's going to win, so the US is going to win either way." And maybe that's why Newsweek was so triumphant about their "Mission Accomplished" cover? And, oh yeah, it took a little longer because we didn't have that kind of a rigged deck in the last election but in this one, by golly, we do." But then, of course, things are a bit more complicated now because, as you said, we have Sadr who has had this -- I think it was a quite astute political move. He had a referendum vote, sort of an informal, unofficial vote among his followers and actually the vast majority of the people didn't choose Allawi or Malilki. They chose Ibrahim al-Jaafari who is the guy who was actually chosen as the first prime minister in Iraq in the wake of the 2005 elections --
Scott Horton: Now he's also a Dawa Party guy -- like Maliki -- but a different faction of Dawa they say, right?
Dahr Jamail: That's true and he is much less affiliated with the Americans and he's anti-occuption and that's exactly why the US decided to give him the boot and replace him with Maliki back in April of 2006. And so this is an interesting thing to see how this is going to play out. And, at the end of the day, shelve everything I just said for a moment, and think about the fact that, as usual as we've gone through this occupation, it's the Iraqi people paying the price for all of this nonsense, all of this US meddling, all of this US orchestrating, all of this propaganda. What is consistently lost in the mix is that even today, another day of 50 more Iraqis killed in a series of massive bombings across the capital city and that's just Baghdad. What I'm talking about? The rest of the country. We are back up to levels of violence and death on a daily basis starting about a week ago in Iraq that are comprable to the blood letting of 2006, 2007.
Scott Horton: Yeah and maybe now that we're in Democratic times, Darh, conservatives can maybe understand. It's no different than fighting over the school board. Is it going to be controlled by conservative Christians or is it going to be controled by secular humanists? And they fight like mad over who's going to control the school board. Well when you create a monopoly on power and then you have, you know, create a contest over who's going to hold that power -- well what do you think's going to happen? Especially after you decapitate the government, abolish the army and the party in power and set up a free for all here.
That's a sample of the interview. It's Friday. Normally we note The Diane Rehm Show on NPR. Not today. Despite Diane stating that she watched the video of the US assault of Iraqis on July 12, 2007 and finding it "pretty shocking" -- it wasn't important enough to be a topic. The show was nearly over and a caller had to bring it up. A caller. And on top of that, I don't play with this topic, I'll insult any individual journalist I want and call them a liar or a whore or whatever else. But I do have respect for the profession and for Diane to give the last word -- by her choice, by her decision -- to reading an attack on the two dead journalists? There's no excuse for that. Were the killings illegal? By US law that's a great deal to sort out and military law and military verdicts are never easy to interpret or predict. However, one thing the gas bagers keep forgetting is it goes beyond Rules of Engagement.
It goes beyond Rules of Engagement. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1723 was the legal authority for all foreign troops (including US troops) operating on Iraqi soil. Now I know most gas bags never bothered to read the damn thing. I know that because the idiots turned around and started praising the SOFA -- idiots include Senator Tom Harken, to bring him back in -- as having a "withdrawal" date. But let's look at UNSCR 1723's first. It allows US forces to be on the ground at that time and it extends the rules outlined in the resolutions prior [1637 for 2005 which replaced 1546 for 2004], "reaffirms the authorization for the multinational forces as set forth in resolution 1546 (2004)". Key section of 1546 in this case is:
Noting the commitment of all forces promoting the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq to act in accordance with international law, including obligations under international humanitarian law, and to cooperate with relevant international organizations.
By statements of the the US government -- Democrats and Republicans -- that mandate is what made the occupation legal. Without it, US troops would have had to have left Iraq. This was addressed in depth in early April 2008 by the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee with all members -- Democrat and Republican -- in agreement on that fact. Without the UN resolution, US troops would have been subject to prosecution. So this continued bulls**t about "Rules Of Engagment" that keeps being touted by the STUPID IIDOTS damn well needs to stop. Rules Of Engagment applies only within the US military. I've stated from day one that the outcome under US military justice is unclear. (I do think, personal opinion, that those in the helicopters would not be held legally responsible by US military law due to the fact that they asked for and received go-aheads throughout the engagement.) But Rules of Engagement isn't the beginning and ending. And when these STUPID IDIOTS -- including ones Diane Rehm wants to allow the "last word" -- want to trash journalists or blame them for their deaths, I get offended. And so we will make the point that no one's bothered to make -- because as usual Stupid Idiots and gas bag journalists don't know the damn law -- Rules of Engagement is the lowest measurement, it is the least of the worries. It is nothing. It's akin to a dress code when it comes to the July 12, 2007 assault.
International law applies, international treaties. In the US, there are a number of people who have little respect for those and/or who feel that the US should never take them into consideration. That's their opinion and they can and should express it. But that opinion doesn't apply here because the UN authorization that gave the US forces the legal right to remain on the ground insisted that international law and treaties would be followed. By staying on the ground in Iraq throughout 2007, US military command agreed to every aspect of that resolution. Rules of Engagement? It's bulls**t and the least of the issues involved in this case.
And what's taking place isn't at all that different from what Little Miss Judy Miller 2010: Tom Bowman tried to pull this week. Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh are dead. They worked for Reuters news agency. They were not terrorists. They were not embedded with terrorists. They were not "tagging along with mens with guns." They were reporters and they were present with the intent to do one of the most important jobs in the world. The two are now dead and spitting on their memory or blaming them for the deaths goes beyond unfeeling. You're not just insulting two dead people or the news media, you're insulting democracy. And maybe if you don't like democracy -- many people in the world prefer other systems of government -- that's fine. But be honest about it. If you do respect democracy, the most important thing in democracy is an informed citizenry. You will never have that without portions of the press who dare to do the job, who dare to believe that the work matters and that there are risks involved but the work matters.
Allowing for risks involved does not in anyway mitigate the deaths of those two men. It doesn't justify their deaths, it doesn't excuse their deaths. They're dead. And all the people thinking they're 'supporting' the US military by attacking these reporters are only infuriating people and fanning flames. Two reporters are dead. It's not minor. They were killed while they attempted to do their jobs. They were killed by the US military. There's not a justification for it. The first thing that needs to happen whenever discussing this story is acknowledging the very real loss that took place. Blaming those two dead men is disgraceful. And if you want to live in an authoritarian regime, you keep doing that. If you think blaming the two reporters is helpful, you better think again because it breeds a backlash and it will be a powerful one. The smart thing to do would have been for the US military spokesperson to immediately have issued an apology and acknowledged that the two reporters deaths. The brass could have called it a tragic accident or a horrible mistake. But they needed to acknowledge it. The fact that no acknowledgement came not only fed into the frenzy that leads to attacking the two dead reporters, it also revealed just how Bush-like the US government remains.
Reporters Without Borders is asking the US government for increased transparency after the whistleblower website WikiLeaks released a video on April 5th, 2010, of a US military Apache helicopter strike in Baghdad three years ago which killed two Reuters employees and several other people. Wikileaks said that it had obtained the video "from a number of military whistleblowers" and posted it at collateralmurder.org.

Reuters filed a FOIA request in for the video back in 2007 but it was never released.

According to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), all agencies of the U.S. Government are required to disclose records upon receiving a written request, except those records that are protected from disclosure pursuant to nine exemptions and three exclusions.

"We support Wikileaks decision to post the video because the administration did not live up to its responsibilities in this case," said Reporters Without Borders. "We urge the Pentagon to be more transparent and call on the Obama administration to show its committing to justice by reconsidering the request and officially releasing the video and other elements that would help the investigation".

"By not granting this FOIA request, the Obama administration would once again be ignoring its promises of more transparency and accountability" said the press freedom organization. "It would be a blow to freedom of the press and to the principle that it is not up to the government to define what is newsworthy."

According to the AFP, A US military official did not dispute the authenticity of the video but said it "doesn't give new information, it just gives footage. "Since 2007, we acknowledged everything that's in the video," the official said. "We acknowledged that the strike took place and that there were two Reuters employees (killed)." "We had insurgents and reporters in an area where US forces were about to be ambushed. At the time we weren't able to discern whether (the Reuters employees) were carrying cameras or weapons," the official said.

In July 2007, photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his driver, Saeed Chmagh, 40, were killed in east Baghdad by gunfire of unclear origin. Witnesses said a rocket was fired from a US helicopter. But other sources told Reuters they could have been killed by a mortar shell fired by Iraqi militia members. At the time Reporters Without Borders called on both the US army and the Iraqi police to investigate their deaths.

Since the beginning of the Iraq war, at least 221 journalists have been killed, making it the deadliest war for reporters.

On December 31, 2007, George W. Bush signed amendments to the FOIA into law, improving public access to information about federal government activity. However, at that time, 92 videos related to interrogations of Guantanamo Bay prisoners were destroyed and never made public despite a request from the ACLU.

On April 15th, 2010, the CIA will have to release documents detailing meetings between Nancy Pelosi and her aide Michael Sheeny on matters relating to "enhanced interrogation techniques". Reporters Without Borders deeply hope that the US agency will keep its word this time.

Turning to some of the violence reported today . . .
Bombings?
Reuters notes a Kirkuk rocket attack which left one person injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured "a foriegn driver" and, dropping back to Thursday, a Mosul bombing which claimed 1 life and left one person wounded, a Ramadi roadside bombing which left two police officers wounded and two Falluja roadside bombings which left one person injured.
Shootings?
Reuters notes 2 police officers were shot dead in Kirkuk today and Interior Ministry Brigadier Fadhel Abbas was shot dead outside his home in Baghdad on Thursday.
In other violence information, BBC News reports that the Islamic State of Iraq has claimed credit for Sunday's Baghdad bombings targeting embassies and it states it was targeting the Iranian Embassy, the German Embassy and the Egyptian Embassy. German. At the time, there was confusion as to whether one of the bombings was targeting the German Embassy, the Spanish Embassy or the Syrian Embassy or all three. The group denied responsibility for Tuesday's apartment bombings in Baghdad. Bi Mingxin (Xinhua) adds, "The Islamic State of Iraq is reckoned as the most important Sunni insurgent group that is still active in Diyala and Baghdad. "
Turning to England. Matt Kennard (The Comment Factory) interviews British MP Clare Short in a wide-ranging discussion and we'll note the following on Iraq:
MK: I wanted to move on to the war. Do you have any regrets about your actions before or during the war?
CS: Well this question has been asked ten thousand times so it gets tedious I have to say. And I've written a book and said it all there, so you know. I said I would resign if we didn't have a UN resolution then Tony Blair entered into a big negotiation with me and said, "What will stop you?" I said, "Get me a UN resolution -- there's no imminent danger from anything Saddam Hussein's got, we should have made progress on Israel-Palestine peace before doing anything about Iraq. And, thirdly, if there is to be a war any reconstruction must be organised with international cooperation under a UN mandate."
So he then got Bush to say that he supported a Roadmap to the Israel-Palestinian peace and gave an absolute commitment and got Bush to say something about a UN lead on reconstruction. So it was two out of three. And then, also, Blair lied about the French position and the possibility of any UN resolution.
So I was in enormous torment and dilemma but I thought: 'I've got to harden to this'. It's a terrible mess but if there's an international reconstruction and if we really do make progress on Israel-Palestinian (under the Roadmap there should have been a full Palestinian state by 2005) the Middle East would be a lot better off. So I knew I wasn't doing anything to make myself popular -- I was well aware of that. But I thought that was the right thing to do. And the truth is that Tony was just lying in my face. I'm still shocked, you know, that the Prime Minister of Britain in the teeth of war will get the President of the United States to publicly say he will support the Roadmap -- which is, you know, two state on the '67 boundaries -- and they were just saying it to, you know, to keep me sweet for a bit. I mean it is stunning.
MK: Do you think he went into the war knowing it was illegal? Do you think it was illegal in the end?
CS: Well we now know the shenanigans that went on over the legal opinion. I mean I think, what I said in my book, I think Blair is a peculiar kind of man. I think he is fundamentally a presentational person and he is superb at presentation and he's very careful always to use language which leaves plenty of wriggle room and doesn't tie him down too firmly and that's what he is good at.
I don't think he is a person who looks at the merits and say, "Hmmm, we'll have to be untruthful about this." He thinks in presentational terms, he doesn't do detail and he doesn't think through merits. I mean that's what's terrifying about it. So I think he gave his word -- well we now know from the leaks -- really early on to Bush, therefore had no leverage and was really manipulating and misleading the House of Commons, the Cabinet, his party, the country, from then on.
He was kind of squirming about to get us to war come what may and obviously hoping he could get Bush to cooperate in a UN resolution. But it wasn't like using your leverage to say to America, "We'll be with you if we do it properly," and then working with the rest of the international community to say, "For Heaven's sake, let's all stand together and say we agree that sanctions in Iraq is imposing such suffering that we shouldn't leave it like this, Iraq needs resolving."
But if Britain had used that role of being friendly with America to talk to everyone else and then said, "On these sort of conditions, the rest of the world will act with you, America." That would have been a heroic role for Blair but he blew it by giving his word right at the beginning. And then engaging in all that he did. And look at Iraq now.
The issues at play are being discussed at the University of Kentucky: "The University of Kentucky's School of Journalism and Telecommunications, in cooperation with the University of Edinburgh's Centre for the Study of the Two World Wars, will be holding a conference on War, Journalism and History in Lexington, Kentucky April 8-11, 2010. The theme of the conference is 'Covering conflicts in the modern world.'" AP reports that their own Tom Curley offered a presentation Thursday night where he noted, "But the fact is that war coverage by a free and independent media with reasonable access to the battlefield forces policy makers to deal with the reality of what is happening on the ground instead of what they want the public -- or even Washington to think. Nowhere is truth more at risk -- or more elusive -- than in today's wars."
We'll note the conference schedule for tomorrow and Sunday and Molly Bingham and Steve Connors are among the journalists participating -- the two made the documentary Meeting Resistance.

Saturday, April 10 (Student Center Worsham Theater):

  • 10 a.m. – "Voice of the Veterans" – Veterans' views of media reporting. Yvonne McEwan moderating; Tony Dotson, UK Veterans Resource Center coordinator; British Veterans Agency representative TBA.
  • 11 a.m. – "First, Do No Harm" -- Media Ethics in Conflict Reporting – Terry Anderson moderating. Molly Bingham, John Walcott, Abderrahim Foukara, Jihad El-Zein
  • 12:30 p.m. – Lunch (not provided by conference; see list of local dining options)
  • 1:30 p.m. – Presentation by Joel Simon, Executive Director, Committee to Protect Journalists
  • 2:15 p.m. – Brian Hanna, journalist and Doctoral student, University of Edinburgh
  • 3:00 p.m. – "Covering Ourselves – A look from the outside" -- U.S. coverage of recent wars – Yvonne McEwen moderating. Robert Fisk, Simon Wilson, Abderrahim Foukara, Jihad El-Zein
  • 5:00 p.m. – Dr. Robert Fisk, journalist, London Independent newspaper

Sunday April 11 (Student Center, Center Theater):

  • 2:30 p.m. – "War in Film" -- Public roundtable discussion of films with Steve Zahn, Molly Bingham, Steve Connors, Dale Dye, Tom Lindlof
"Yes, folks, it's true," writes NOW on PBS executive producer John Siceloff, "NOW on PBS has come to the end of its broadcast run. The last episode will air on April 30, 2010. PBS announced last fall it was canceling NOW and providing funding for a new public affairs show called Need to Know." Click here for the rest of his essay. The program begins airing each week on Fridays on most PBS stations (check local listings) and this week they look at the economy:

The national economic disaster hit the city of Braddock Pennsylvania
like a wrecking ball. But Braddock Mayor John Fetterman -- dubbed
"America's Coolest Mayor" by The New York Times -- is taking very
unconventional approaches to reinventing the town and re-inspiring its
residents. Home to the nation's first A&P supermarket and Andrew
Carnegie's first steel mill, Braddock is being revitalized with new
youth and art programs, renovations of abandoned real estate, and bold
plans to attract artists and green industries.

On Friday, April 9 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW sits down with
Mayor Fetterman to learn how the 6'8" 370-pound political novice is
trying to turn his town around, and if other devastated communities can
and should follow his large footsteps.



Staying with TV notes, Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen around the table this week are Charles Babington (AP), James Kitfield (National Journal), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) and David Sanger (New York Times). Did you notice they're all men? Should we hold our breath as we wait for Gwen to feature an all female panel? Remember that the show podcasts in video and audio format -- and a number of people sign up for each (audio is thought to be so popular due to the fact that it downloads so much quicker). If you podcast the show, remember there is the Web Extra where Gwen and the guests weigh in on topics viewers e-mail about. And also remember that usually by Monday afternoon you can go to the show's website and stream it there (including Web Extra) as well as read the transcripts and more. Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Karen Czarnecki, Cari Dominguez, Kim Gandy and Andrea Pennington on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And at the website each week, there's an extra just for the web from the previous week's show and this week's it's on violence against women. it's on breast feeding. For the broadcast program, check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes:

Gotti
John Gotti, Jr. talks to Steve Kroft in his first extended television interview about growing up with an infamous father - convicted mafia boss John Gotti - whom he strove to please by living a life of crime but eventually betrayed by leaving that life. (This is a double-length segment.) | Watch Video


Discovery
The fossilized skull and bones found by a 9-yr-old boy on a fossil hunt with his scientist father are the discovery of a lifetime and may prove to be a new link in the human evolutionary chain. Bob Simon reports.


60 Minutes, Sunday, April 11, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

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