Tuesday, May 06, 2003


MSNBC's Banfield Slams War Coverage
April 29, 2003

"That said, what didn't you see? You didn't see where those bullets landed. You didn't see what happened when the mortar landed. A puff of smoke is not what a mortar looks like when it explodes, believe me. There are horrors that were completely left out of this war. So was this journalism or was this coverage-? There is a grand difference between journalism and coverage, and getting access does not mean you're getting the story, it just means you're getting one more arm or leg of the story. And that's what we got, and it was a glorious, wonderful picture that had a lot of people watching and a lot of advertisers excited about cable news. But it wasn't journalism, because I'm not so sure that we in America are hesitant to do this again, to fight another war, because it looked like a glorious and courageous and so successful terrific endeavor, and we got rid oaf horrible leader: We got rid of a dictator, we got rid of a monster, but we didn't see what it took to do that.
I can't tell you how bad the civilian casualties were. I saw a couple of pictures. I saw French television pictures, I saw a few things here and there, but to truly understand what war is all about you've got to be on both sides. You've got to be a unilateral, someone who's able to cover from outside of both front lines, which, by the way, is the most dangerous way to cover a war, which is the way most of us covered Afghanistan. There were no front lines, they were all over the place. They were caves, they were mountains, they were cobbled, they were everything. But we really don't know from this latest adventure from the American military what this thing looked like and why perhaps we should never do it again. The other thing is that so many voices were silent in this war. We all know what happened to Susan Sarandon for speaking out, and her husband, and we all know that this is not the way Americans truly want to be. Free speech is a wonderful thing, it's what we fight for, but the minute it's unpalatable we fight against it for some reason."

"Well, the message before we went in was actually weapons of mass destruction and eliminating the weapons of mass destruction from this regime and eliminating this regime. Conveniently in the week or two that we were in there it became very strongly a message of freeing the Iraqi people. That should have been the message early on, in fact, in the six to eight months preceding this campaign, if we were trying to win over the hearts of the Arab world.
That is a very difficult endeavor and from my travels to the Arab world, we're not doing a very good job of it. What you read in the newspapers and what you see on cable news and what you see on the broadcast news networks is nothing like they see over there, especially in a place like Iraq.."
"Who thinks that Hezbollah is a bad word? Show of hands. Usually connotes fear, terror, some kind of suicide bombing. If you live in the Arab world, Hezbollah means Shriner. Hezbollah means charity, Hezbollah means hospitals, Hezbollah means welfare and jobs.
These are not the same organizations we're dealing with. How can you negotiate when you' re talking about two entirely different meanings? And until we understand - we don't have to like Hizbullah, we don't have to like their militancy, we don't have to like what they do on the side, but we have to understand that they like it, that they like the good things about Hizbullah, and that you can't just paint it with a blanket statement that it's a terrorist organization, because even when it comes to the militancy these people believe that militancy is simply freedom fighting and resistance. You can't argue with that. You can try to negotiate, but you can't say it's wrong flat out...."
"We hired somebody on MSNBC recently named Michael Savage.
How can you discuss, how can you solve anything when attacks from a mere radio flak is what America hears on a regular basis, let alone at the government level? I mean, if this kind of attitude is prevailing, forget discussion, forget diplomacy, diplomacy is becoming a bad word..."
"What's the next big story? Is it Laci Peterson? Because Laci Peterson got a whole lot more minutes' worth of coverage on the cable news channels in the last week than we'd have ever expected just a few days after a regime fell, like Saddam Hussein. "
"And I am very concerned that the same thing is about to happen with Iraq, because we're going to have another Gary Condit, and we're going to have another Chandra Levy and we're going to have another Jon Benet, and we're going to have another Elizabeth Smart, and here we are in Laci Peterson, and these stories will dominate. They're easy to cover, they're cheap, they're fast, you don't have to send somebody overseas, you don't have to put them up in a hotel that's expensive overseas, and you don't have to set up satellite time overseas. Very cheap to cover domestic news. Domestic news is music news to directors' ears."
"I think there were a lot of dissenting voices before this war about the horrors of war, but I'm very concerned about this three-week TV show and how it may have changed people's opinions. It was very sanitized."
I'm hoping that I will have a future in news in cable, but not the way some cable news operators wrap themselves in the American flag and patriotism and go after a certain target demographic, which is very lucrative. You can already see the effects, you can already see the big hires on other networks, right wing hires to chase after this effect, and you can already see that flag waving in the corners of those cable news stations where they have exciting American music to go along with their war coverage.
Well, all of this has to do with what you've seen on Fox and its successes. So I do urge you to be very discerning as you continue to watch the development of cable news, and it is changing like lightning. Be very discerning because it behooves you like it never did before to watch with a grain of salt and to choose responsibly, and to demand what you should know.


From The New York Times, 5/6/03:



Gen. Georges Boulanger cut a fine figure; he looked splendid in
uniform, and magnificent on horseback.

So his handlers made sure that he appeared in uniform, astride a
horse, as often as possible.

It worked: Boulanger became immensely popular.

If he hadn't lost his nerve on the night of the attempted putsch,
French democracy might have ended in 1889.

We do things differently here -- or we used to.

Has "man on horseback" politics come to America?"


"Let me be frank. Why is the failure to find any evidence of an active Iraqi nuclear weapons program, or vast quantities of chemical and biological weapons (a few drums don't qualify — though we haven't found even that) a big deal? Mainly because it feeds suspicions that the war wasn't waged to eliminate real threats. This suspicion is further fed by the administration's lackadaisical attitude toward those supposed threats once Baghdad fell. For example, Iraq's main nuclear waste dump wasn't secured until a few days ago, by which time it had been thoroughly looted. So was it all about the photo ops?"


Next year — in early September — the Republican Party will hold its nominating convention in New York. The party will exploit the time and location to the fullest. How many people will dare question the propriety of the proceedings?
And who will ask why, if the administration is so proud of its response to Sept. 11, it has gone to such lengths to prevent a thorough, independent inquiry into what actually happened? (An independent study commission wasn't created until after the 2002 election, and it has been given little time and a ludicrously tiny budget.)
There was a time when patriotic Americans from both parties would have denounced any president who tried to take political advantage of his role as commander in chief. But that, it seems, was another country."

See link to read the OpEd in full.


From The Chicago Tribune, 5/6/03:

Media AWOL in noting irony of Bush's flight

By Eric Zorn
From CNN, 5/5/03:
Bechtel tied to bin Ladens

Osama bin Laden family members invested $10M in an equity fund run by
former Bechtel unit.

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -

"The Bush administration launched a war on terror because of the
alleged acts of Osama bin Laden.
Ironically, one of the companies the administration has picked to
rebuild Iraq after the latest phase of that war has ties to bin
Laden's family, according to a published report.
Bechtel Corp., a private construction firm based in San Francisco,
recently was awarded a State Department contract, potentially worth
more than $600 million, to help rebuild Iraq's infrastructure after
the recent U.S.-led war there.
The Bush administration pushed for that war, in part, because it said
the regime of Saddam Hussein, former leader of Iraq, had ties to the
al Qaeda terror network, headed by bin Laden, the group allegedly
responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United
According to an article in the May 5 issue of New Yorker magazine,
several bin Laden family members -- part of a large, Saudi Arabian
family that made a fortune in the construction business -- invested
about $10 million in a private equity fund operated by former
subsidiary of Bechtel before Sept. 11...."

New Player for the "Axis of Evil" Team

9-11 was not caused by Saddam Hussein....
Hussein (granted, not a great guy) was nowhere CLOSE to having
WOMD that would threaten our national security...
but 9-11 was the perfect catalyst..the
"springboard to a dream" for the PNAC.

Operation Support Garner
The Pentagon's one-size-fits-all 'liberation' is a disaster in Iraq

Jonathan Steele in Baghdad
Tuesday May 6, 2003
The Guardian

"American efforts to foist new rulers on the people of Iraq are becoming
increasingly grotesque. In some cities US troops have sparked demonstrations
by imposing officials from the old Saddam Hussein regime. In others they
have evicted new anti-Saddam administrators who have local backing.
They have mishandled religious leaders as well as politicians. In the Shia
suburbs of Baghdad, they arrested a powerful cleric, Mohammed Fartousi
al-Sadr, who had criticised the US presence. In Falluja, an overwhelmingly
Sunni town, they detained two popular imams. All three men were released
within days, but local people saw the detentions as a warning that Iraqis
should submit to the US will.
The Pentagon's General Jay Garner has taken an equally biased line in his
plans for Iraq's government..........."

"So maybe the cautionary lesson is that cities and states can drop nearly dead, and if and when that happens, the rest of us feel the pain"

Michael Powell
"Rescue's Just Not Part of the Plan"
Washington Post May 4, 2003

"...rather than the sort of rescue package much wished for by the states,
the administration is suggesting additional responsibilities. It proposes to
replace the $13 billion Section 8 housing voucher program -- the country's
main form of housing assistance for the poor -- with one that the states
would run. The federal government would provide a lump sum payment to the
states each year, but it has offered no assurances that enough federal
funding will follow to keep the program whole. Federal officials already
whisper their hope that hard-pressed state officials might prune back this
"entitlement" program in the future.
So the traditional conversation heard during national recessions -- in which
the federal government, Republican or Democratic, talks of rescuing state
and local governments -- is turned on its head. While cities and states
slash budgets for public hospitals, firehouses and schools even as they
raise taxes to make ends meet, the Bush administration talks of cutting more
taxes. Federal tax cuts enacted under Bush have led to a $10 billion drop in
total revenue for the states, many of which link their taxes to those of the
federal government."
Killing a child: 'I did what I had to do'

When a young Iraqi boy stooped to pick up a rocket propelled grenade
off the body of a dead paramilitary, US Army Private Nick Boggs made
his decision.
He unloaded machinegun fire and the boy, whom he puts at about 10
years old, fell dead on a garbage-strewn stretch of waste land at
Boggs, a softly spoken 21-year-old former hunting guide from Alaska,
says he knew when he joined the army 18 months ago he might someday
have to make a decision like that.
He hoped it would never come and, although he has no regrets about
opening fire, it is clear he'd rather it wasn't a child he killed.
"I did what I had to do. I don't have a big problem with it but anyone
who shoots a little kid has to feel something," he said after fierce
weekend fighting in this Shi'ite Muslim holy city that left dozens of
Iraqis and one American soldier dead.
As US troops take the Iraq war out of the desert and into the main
cities, they are increasingly seeing children in their line of fire.
Many are innocent civilians in the wrong place at the wrong time and
military officers concede that some may have been killed in artillery
or mortar fire, or shot down by soldiers whose judgment is impaired in
the "fog of war".
But others are apparently being used as fighters or more often as
scouts and weapons collectors. US officers and soldiers say that turns
them into legitimate targets.
"I think they're cowards," Boggs said of the parents or Fedayeen
paramilitaries who send out children to the battlefield.
"I think they thought we wouldn't shoot kids. But we showed them we
don't care. We are going to do what we have to do to stay alive and
keep ourselves safe."
The boy he killed was with another child of around the same age when
they reached for the RPG and came under fire. Boggs thinks the second
boy was also hit but other soldiers think he escaped and that he
dragged his friend's dead body away.
Boggs' platoon leader, Lieutenant Jason Davis, said the young soldier
struggles with what happened even if he had no choice but to shoot.
"Does it haunt him? Absolutely. It haunts me and I didn't even pull
the trigger," he said. "It blows my mind that they can put their
children into that kind of situation."
Although Boggs plays down suggestions he was upset by the incident, he
also says his view of combat has changed since Saturday, when his
platoon came under intense RPG and rifle fire from the moment they
entered Karbala until way after nightfall.
Before - like many young soldiers - he says he was anxious to get his
first "kill" in a war. Now, he seems more mature.
"It's not about killing people. It's about accomplishing a mission ...
When we talk, we don't say how scared we were. But we found out how
you feel when an RPG hits the wall just up from you and you think
'Damn, I could have been right there'," he said.


"This is a reading of an extraordinary document by the Project for the New American Century, no less than a blueprint for US military world rule. In order to convince the American public to support these policies, the authors say, a new Pearl Harbor would be needed to speed up the transformation of the US military into a Global Strike Force. By coincidence or design a year after the document was written the events of 9/11 became that "catalyzing event."
The poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti says in his introduction:
There is a document everybody should read. Developed by the Project for the New American Century it is called: Rebuilding America's Defenses, Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New American Century. "