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Candide’s Latest: Friday, September 8, 2006
How the Press Enables Bush's Lawbreaking

It once took a village. Now it takes a spy.

President’s Bid to Unsnarl Law on Terrorism.” That, anyway, is the headline above a story in today’s Christian Science Monitor. The headline shows to what extent the media are being complicit in the Bush White House’s Pac-man-like usurpations of power. What does the word “unsnarl” suggest? That the law is obstructing the president. That the law is outdated. That the law is the problem. But what’s the reality? That it’s the president who’s trying, through his Tour for Terror show, to force laws through congress that are nothing short of totalitarian in their particulars—the law to get Guantanamo prisoners tried by his kangaroo military commission, the law enabling secret services to spy on Americans, the law supposedly forbidding torture, but in fact merely giving the president a chance to say how he’s ignoring it specifically to enable federal agents to use whatever method they please in interrogations. Yet to the Monitor, Bush is merely trying to “unsnarl” the law. It gets worse. Here’s the story’s lead: “ In the five years since the 9/11 attacks, President Bush has made good on promises to protect the nation from terrorism. But this success has come at a price.” How can that claim be made when the death toll on Bush’s watch, as a direct result of his wars of choice, is past the 100,000 mark? And this paragraph: “Now, the White House is asking Congress to clean up some of the legal fallout from the war on terror. With nine weeks left until midterm elections, political analysts say Bush will probably get at least some help from lawmakers.” Notice the use of the words “clean up” and “some help,” all of which make the president sound like he’s cleaning up a mess others have created, that he’s the Terminator, the knight. No need to go on: of course he’ll get “some help.” With headlines and propagando-analyses like these setting the stage, he can’t fail.

For a little more context on the administration’s re-inventions of repression, see Ohdave’s analysis for Bush’s infatuation with Abu Zubaydah.

Not long ago American media were flooded with reports from Iraq that violent deaths had plummeted in Baghdad in August, thanks to an increase in American patrols in the capital. “[T]he odor of death on the streets has eased,” the New York Times reported in a Sept. 1 dispatch. “After 126 bodies surfaced in Dora [a Baghdad suburb] in July, only 18 turned up in August, according to United States military figures. Killings, most often Sunni against Shiite or vice versa in this mixed neighborhood, dropped as well: 14 were reported last month, down from 73 in July.” Turns out there was just an increase in disinformation. News of an improving situation in Baghdad was vastly overstated. The death toll in Baghdad alone has been “revised” upward to 1535, or more than 51 killed per day, three times the rate reported by the Pentagon’s flackers late last month. So much for “Operation Together Forward,” the latest of the Pentagon’s blitheringly stupid names for its military operations, this one intended to apply community policing standards on Iraqi neighborhoods. “These latest numbers add substance to fears Together Forward creates a whack-a-mole effect: that is, secure one area and the violence will pop up somewhere else,” ABC’s Jim Sciotto writes. At least the Iraqi government knows how to look tough: It’s “taking control” of Iraq’s “air force” and “navy.”

Israel is slowly lifting the blockade on Lebanon, but not so Gaza: “ Gaza is dying. The Israeli siege of the Palestinian enclave is so tight that its people are on the edge of starvation. Here on the shores of the Mediterranean a great tragedy is taking place that is being ignored because the world's attention has been diverted by wars in Lebanon and Iraq,” Patrick Cockburn reports for the UK Independent. “A whole society is being destroyed. There are 1.5 million Palestinians imprisoned in the most heavily populated area in the world. Israel has stopped all trade. It has even forbidden fishermen to go far from the shore so they wade into the surf to try vainly to catch fish with hand-thrown nets. Many people are being killed by Israeli incursions that occur every day by land and air. A total of 262 people have been killed and 1,200 wounded, of whom 60 had arms or legs amputated, since 25 June, says Dr Juma al-Saqa, the director of the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City which is fast running out of medicine. Of these, 64 were children and 26 women. This bloody conflict in Gaza has so far received only a fraction of the attention given by the international media to the war in Lebanon.”

And in Lebanon: Un Aid up in flames. From Blogging the Middle East: "Well, today (actually, just a few hours ago), someone thought it would be a good idea to torch the blankets and other aid for refugees, which the UN had stored at a depot next to the Beirut port… LGF will insist that the smoke looks unreal and so must’ve been doctored. Rest assured, this is not a Reuters photo."

In Other Worlds

If the Bush administration does it, why not Hewlett-Packard? “Hewlett-Packard on Thursday admitted that private investigators hired by its board had surreptitiously acquired the phone records of several journalists in an attempt to ferret out a suspected boardroom leaker,” the Financial Times reports. “The news came as Bill Lockyer, the California state attorney general, was quoted by the Bloomberg news service as saying that it appeared a crime had been committed when HP’s investigators engaged in “pretexting,” the act of impersonating a person in order to gain access to sensitive information. The investigators engaged in this activity to obtain personal telephone records of people they suspected were involved in the leaks. ‘We are absolutely horrified that the records of journalists were accessed without their authorisation,’ an HP spokesman said.” Captain Renault is his name.

David Broder, compulsive centrist and stylistic dullard, plays holier-than-thou apologist to the Karl Rove camp a he bashes up his colleagues’ ranks. At least the American Prospect sets him straight, a little.

Sectarian violence spilling over into India: “At least five persons were killed and 24 others injured Friday in a blast outside a mosque in the textile town of Malegaon in Nasik district, 180 kms from India’s financial capital,” the Times of India reports. “According to Times Now reports, around twenty-five people are feared killed in the blast that took place when people were returning after offering their Friday prayers at Nurani Masjid in the heart of the city, police officials said.

First it was Irwin. Now it’s Peter Brock. Australia can’t catch a break with the deaths of its heroes.


  • Jon Swift on ABC-Disney’s 9/11 campaign ad for the GOP: “When I heard that Disney was making a film to be broadcast on ABC called The Path to 9/11, I was concerned. I thought it was too soon to be making a cartoon about September 11. Dramatizing the terrorist attacks using anthropomorphized talking and singing animals did not strike me as the best way to tell the story. I thought it might be inappropriate to have, say, Scrooge McDuck play Osama Bin Laden or even Mickey Mouse play Rudy Giuliani, as much as I admire Mickey Mouse. I was worried that Disney might take some literary license with historical fact the way they did in Pocahontas and Tarzan. By teaming up with Harry Potter publisher Scholastic to help distribute the film to schools, it seemed that the miniseries was being aimed at children instead of adults. Still, I thought, even children deserve some accuracy and the format invited questions of taste.” Read the rest…
  • Bitch, Ph.D. on the Great Public School Debate—“ whether white professionals should send kids to (it's always implied) mediocre public schools for the sake of economic or ethnic diversity, or should damn well send their kids to the best school they can afford because parents shouldn't sacrifice their kids' education to political ideology.”
  • If you haven’t read Twenty Major lately, Ireland’s stand-up blogger, you’re missing out on gut-snapping laughs.
  • And this worthy quote of the day from Kampfeblog: “You will notice that Salventura's blog no longer appears on my blogroll. This is because he recently posted an article about the positive merits of Holocaust denial, claiming that the Jewish Holocaust "can't be proved." I suppose electricity also can't be "proved" by an ignoramus either, but Salventura still used it to publish his last hate-piece. How is such inexcusable nonsense supposed to help anybody's cause?"
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