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Candide’s Latest: Thursday, November 2, 2006
Pentagon Goes J-School

How soon we forget

The military—any military—has never been known for subtlety, let alone journalism. Machines trained to fight and destroy generally aren’t. Here’s an example. Today’s top story at the Pentagon’s web site transcribes Donald Rumsfeld’s latest fabulism and begins with this remarkable line: “Terrorists operating in Iraq are staging attacks that garner negative press coverage so that the American people become soured on the war.” Hubris is a characteristic of the current administration, but this is quite the leap. The entire insurgency, it turns out, is just a media ploy, a play for attention in the United States. It has nothing to do with an occupation force in Iraq facing an indigenous and wildly, popularly supported uprising. So, “As concern in the Defense Department mounts over eroding public support for the Iraq war,” The LATimes reports, “the Pentagon has launched a rapid-response public relations effort to rebut news stories that officials believe are inaccurate or misleading.” This from the Pentagon that gives us invented and planted news stories in the foreign press, the embedded-reporter program, and the occasional “oops! We bombed the press by mistake again” refrain. But look at its inspiration: “The Defense Department's rapid-response efforts echo an initiative called "Setting the Record Straight," in which the White House identifies what it says are news reports' inaccuracies or quotations out of context. Among the first results of the Pentagon response is a new "For the Record" section of the Defense Department's website, . Some examples of alleged myths, according to the Pentagon: The Defense Department has pursued a “stay the course” strategy that does not allow for adjustments in strategy.” And “Secretary Rumsfeld ignored military advice to increase troop levels in Iraq .” Pour yourself some French roast and have a read. It would be funny if the consequences haven’t been so tragic, if the piled-on lies don’t lead straight to every community graveyard in the United States and Iraq.

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When the Military Insults Its Own

From USA Today: “Chris Packley returned from Fallujah in 2004 a top marksman on a sniper team showcased in the Marine Corps Times for its 22 kills."I was exceptionally proud of that Marine," says Gunnery Sgt. Scott Guise, his former team leader. He also came home with flashbacks — memories of his friend, Lance Cpl. Michael Blake Wafford, 20, dying on the battlefield. Packley says he smoked marijuana to try to escape the images. He also left the base without permission. "I wanted out," Packley says. Last year he got his wish and was expelled from the Marine Corps. As a consequence, he lost access to the free counseling and medication he needed to treat the mental wounds left from combat, according to Packley, his former defense lawyer and documents from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Scores of combat veterans like Packley are being dismissed from the Marines without the medical benefits needed to treat combat stress, says Lt. Col. Colby Vokey, who supervises the legal defense of Marines in the western USA, including here at Camp Pendleton. When classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) arise — including alcoholism and drug abuse — the veterans are punished for the behavior, Vokey says. Their less-than-honorable discharges can lead to a denial of VA benefits. Vokey calls it a Catch-22, referring to the no-win situation showcased in Joseph Heller's 1961 satirical war novel Catch-22.” See the full story…

Kerry said "pardonnez moi"
after dissing the soldier's emploi.
"I can't be excused
for words I misuse...
Apres tout, je ne suis pas le roi!"


A Coup in Lebanon?

From McClatchy: “The White House on Wednesday accused Syria, Iran and the militant group Hezbollah of trying to topple Lebanon's fragile democratic government. In a statement, White House spokesman Tony Snow said there was "mounting evidence" of plans to unseat the U.S.-backed government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora. Snow and a State Department spokesman declined to detail the evidence of such a plot. The Syrian Embassy in Washington said it "totally dismisses these unfounded allegations," adding that Syria "fully respects the sovereignty of Lebanon and does not interfere in its internal politics." The White House statement came less than a day after Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's leader, threatened street protests aimed at forcing a new "national unity" government in Lebanon that would give more political power to Hezbollah. The group, which represents Lebanon's Shiite Muslims, fought Israel to a standstill in a war last summer. The three-paragraph White House statement was the latest in a series of public steps the Bush administration has taken to turn up the heat on Syria and Iran, which have thwarted U.S. goals in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. Two U.S. intelligence officials said there's no evidence that Syria or Iran is plotting either a military uprising or a coup against Saniora's government.”

Big Brother’s Growing Family

From the UK Independent: “Britain has sleepwalked into becoming a surveillance society that increasingly intrudes into our private lives and impacts on everyday activities, the head of the information watchdog warns. New technology and "invisible" techniques are being used to gather a growing amount of information about UK citizens. The level of surveillance will grow even further in the next 10 years, which could result in a growing number of people being discriminated against and excluded from society, says a report by the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas. Future developments could include microchip implants to identify and track individuals; facial recognition cameras fitted into lampposts; and unmanned surveillance aircraft, predict the report's authors.” See the full story…


From the UK Times : “An Ethiopian immigrant has been convicted of the genital mutilation of his two-year-old daughter and was sentenced to ten years in prison in what was believed to be the first such criminal case in the United States . Khalid Adem, 30, was found guilty of aggravated battery and cruelty to children. Prosecutors said he used scissors to remove his daughter’s clitoris in his family’s Atlanta-area apartment in 2001. The child’s mother, Fortunate Adem, said she did not discover it until more than a year later. The father, who had no criminal record, could have been sentenced to up to 40 years in prison. He held his face in his hands and wept loudly after the jury’s verdict was read.” Surely he wasn’t weeping for his daughter.

In Gaza, “Israeli forces have killed two Palestinians in Gaza, including a 75-year-old civilian, in one of Israel's biggest offensives in the coastal strip in months,” Al-Jazeera reports. “Relatives of the elderly man killed on Thursday in Bait Hanun said he was killed by a shot to the head when he went on to his balcony to bring his disabled son inside. Israeli troops fired from a rooftop, residents said. The Israeli army said its forces were attacking only armed groups, but declined to comment on the civilian killing.”



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