AFTER THREE SUMMERS ON MARTHA'S VINEYARD, CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O WILL NOT BE RETURNING THIS YEAR.
THOUGH A HOST OF REASONS ARE GIVEN THE REALITY IS PASSED OVER LIKE A WHISPER: THE HOME BARRY O WAS RENTING AT CUT-RATE PRICES HAS BEEN SOLD. SO APPARENTLY TOO CHEAP TO PAY THE GOING RATE -- ESPECIALLY WHEN BOOKING LATE -- BARRY O COULDN'T PLAY ON THE VINEYARD THIS SUMMER.
REACHED FOR COMMENT, BARRY O INFORMED THESE REPORTERS HE WAS CURRENTLY "ROLLING PENNIES AND SEARCHING THE WHITE HOUSE COUCHES FOR COINS" AS HE TRIED TO FIND ENOUGH MONEY FOR A SUMMER GET AWAY "BECAUSE I SURE AS HELL AIN'T SUMMERING IN CHICAGO!"
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Last month, Al Jazeera's Listening Post reported on the Drone War (currently second clip below the viewing box). Excerpt.
Michelle Shephard (Toronto Star's National Security reporter): I think that New York Times article [Jo Becker and Scott Shane's "Secret 'Kill List' Proves a Test of Obama's Principles and Will"] has actually changed the way that people are now reporting on the drone program. It revealed that the Obama administration actually counts anybody who's of military age that's killed in a certain region where al Qaeda is known to be as a militant. So, in other words, the only way to prove innocence is after death and proving that they weren't in fact involved in the terrorist group.
Chris Woods (Bureau of Investigative Journalism): Any adult male in Waziristan, we're told is fair game. And the only way a civilian can be identified is after the event and posthumously. Actually, even there, when we've supplied the CIA with named civilians they have killed, they've spat it back in our face. Civilians have no chance of being recognized as such by the CIA under their present methodology.
Richard Gizbert: According to the US government's methodology, 16-year-old Tariq Aziz was a militant. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, he was in Warziristan armed with only a camera given to him by a Pakistani human rights organization to document drone strikes and their impact on Pakistan's civilian population.
Shahzad Akbar (Foundation For Fundamental Rights): This young boy, Tariq Aziz, when he goes back after the training, three days later he is killed. And when we say this thing to the media reporters and we file a case about this, what we get to hear from CIA is that they completely deny. They say that they have killed a 16-year-old boy but he was a militant.
Richard Gizbert: Tariq Aziz is just one case. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism says there are 320 cases like his in Pakistan alone. And those are just the names they know about. More civilians have been killed in drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia. Yet the Obama administration maintains that no more than 60 civilians have been killed by drones in Pakistan and that is the figure that often gets reported.
Jameel Jaffer (American Civil Liberties Union): One of the really frustrating things is that there are still media organizations in spite of that New York Times story that continue to just recite the government statements about how many militants were killed or how many civilians were not killed
CNN news clip: Privately US officials say the covert strikes are legal.
Jameel Jaffer: Without making clear that the government uses the word "civilian" in this very unusual way and that it uses the word "militant" in this very unusual way.
Richard Gizbert: The uncritical use by most of the US media of the administration's numbers, its narrative, is part of a disturbing trend in American journalism that news consumers have been seeing in the post-9/11 era. When it comes to matters of national security and intelligence, the government plays the access card and most journalists play along.
Lara Logan (CBS News) news clip: But our 60 Minutes team was given secret clearance and unprecedented access.
Shahzad Akbar: So how it works normally is that they talk to individual reporters and leak information and then that reporter does not name the official who has leaked it but everyone in journalistic community knows that it's CIA source which is leaking that source.
Chris Woods: It's a rewards based system that we've seen emerge in Washington where -- national security correspondents in particular -- if they play the game, they get the goodies. They get the morsels. But when you stop playing that game, if you don't even play that game to start with, you're cut off at the knees. You don't get access.
Michelle Shephard: And there hasn't been any challenging. No one has challenged the numbers or any of the important issues such as the legality of the program itself. I think thankfully that has changed but only recently. And considering how long the program has gone on, I think that's surprising.
Barack Obama news clip: Actually drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties.
Richard Gizbert: The White House did not even confirm the existence of its drone program until just six months ago. That was not under questioning from the American news media. President Obama made the admission during an online Google talk forum. Since then journalists like NBC's Brian Williams and CBS' Scott Pelley who are paid millions to anchor network news shows had prolonged interviews on national security with both the president and his CIA Director [to clarify, Pelley interviewed Leon Panetta -- former CIA Director, currently Secretary of Defense -- the current CIA Director is David Petraeus] but neither journalist asked a specific question about the drone program.
Brian Williams news clip: And the First Lady? She's at dinner?
Scott Pelley news clip: It turned out the lightest thing on board was the heart of the man with a world of worry.
Chris Woods: The inside the situation room was hagiography at its worst. I mean, [the late Nicolae] Ceausescu [General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party and President of Romania] would have been proud of that had it appeared on Romanian TV two decades ago.
Barack Obama news clip: Good job, national security team.
Chris Woods: It was an appalling, appalling piece of television.
Brian Williams news clip: In your official life, where does this day rank?
Chris Woods: It's a particular sycophancy among particularly broadcast journalists in Washington right now towards administration figures.
Jameel Jaffer: The vast majority of that coverage has been extremely deferential -- not just failing to ask questions but essentially glorifying the program.
Scott Pelley news clip: But Leon Panetta has held the toughest jobs in Washington and quietly done what seems impossible.
Jameel Jaffer: And part of the reason that the United States is now at war with more countries than even Leon Panetta can manage to remember in a TV interview.
Scott Pelley news clip: And how many countries are we currently engaged in a shooting war?
Leon Panetta news clip: [Laughing] That's a good question.
Shahzad Akbar: Why don't we see President Obama or Leon Panetta in an interview where he's actually asked some strict questions and not that how great it is and how much time they spend on selecting a target to kill? Can we go a bit further to explain that these 3,000 people who have been killed in drone strikes, who exactly are they and what was the level of their militancy and what was the threat they posed to the US?
In his most recent piece (June 29th) on the Drone War, Chris Wood observed:
Earlier this week, former US President and fellow Democrat Jimmy Carter also made an outspoken attack on Obama's counter-terrorism policy. In a New York Times article, Carter said of the covert drone strikes 'We don't know how many hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in these attacks, each one approved by the highest authorities in Washington. This would have been unthinkable in previous times.'
Saying that the United States had lost the right to speak with moral authority on foreign affairs, Carter urged Washington 'to reverse course and regain moral leadership according to international human rights norms that we had officially adopted as our own and cherished throughout the years.'
The Drone War's not getting the attention it deserves and we note it here from time to time. All the above can be seen as applying to US coverage of Iraq -- the reliance on officials, on officials figures, the failure to ask questions, etc.
July 1st was Sunday. The June death tolls were covered or 'covered' depending upon how easy of grader you are. As noted in Third's "Editorial: 472 killed in June from violence in Iraq," "Reuters claims 237 deaths. AFP goes a wee bit higher with 282." Iraq Body Count -- which neither of the outlets bothered to mention -- counted 472 deaths. The United Nations counted 401 deaths. But the wire services went with the much, much smaller number. Well maybe they weren't aware of the IBC number of the United Nations number?
Prashant is the Baghdad Bureau Chief and clearly he was aware of the other numbers. He could include them in a Tweet. One wonders why AFP wasn't able to include them in an actual news article? Sunday Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) reported her outlet's count: 544.
Of course, a month with over 400 deaths? That doesn't imply the Iraq War is over, does it?
My name is Penny Evans and I've just gone twenty-one
A young widow in the war that's being fought in Vietnam
And I have two infant daughters, I thank God I have no sons
Now they say the war is over but I think it's just begun
-- Melanie's version of "The Ballad of Penny Evans" used as an intro to "Peace Will Come (According to Plan)"
Now the death tolls? Not a new issue. And in April, Joel Wing wrote a great article for AK News about the Iraqi government undercounting:
In February 2012, the Iraqi government released its official figures for casualties from April 2004 to the end of 2011. It had over 69,000 deaths for that time period. That count was 30,000 less than other organizations that keep track of violence in Iraq. During the height of the civil war, the country's ministries' numbers were comparable to other groups, but since 2011 they have consistently been the lowest. While some Iraqi politicians have claimed that the official counts miss many deaths, it could also be argued that the statistics are being politicized by the prime minister who controls all of the security ministries.
On February 29, 2012, Iraqi government spokesman Ali Dabbagh announced the government's numbers for deaths in the country. He said that from April 5, 2004 to December 31, 2011 69,263 Iraqis were killed. 239,133 were also wounded. The deadliest year was 2006 when there were 21,539 dead, and 39,329 wounded. 2011 was the least violent with only 2,777 casualties. Of the nation's eighteen provinces, Baghdad was the deadliest with 23,898 dead for the reported time period, followed by Diyala, Anbar, and Ninewa. Muthanna in the south was the safest with only 94 killed over the seven years covered. A member of parliament's human rights committee immediately criticized the report. The deputy claimed that there were thousands of people who disappeared during the civil war that were never counted. He also said that out in the countryside, reporting to the ministries was poor. No numbers on violence in Iraq can be anywhere near complete. During the civil war from 2005-2008 there were sections of the country that were too dangerous to enter and do any serious reporting. Some insurgent groups also buried their victims. The problem with the ministries numbers however are that they are so far below other organizations that keep track of violence in Iraq, which was not always true.
It's a shame Prashant wasn't aware of the article. Oh, wait. He was. And Joel Wing reminded him of it yesterday.
I don't know what Prashant's been smoking in Baghdad but after Nancy A. Youssef got her scoop (in Knight Ridder's final days before becoming McClatchy) that the US was keeping a count (they'd denied it previously) that figure was regularly included in the State Dept reports. Those reports continued through 2011. Possibly he was unaware of them. I have no idea what he's Tweeting about with his claim that the "US miltiary felt compelled to release their figure" in 2010. Again, the US kept toll of Iraqis dying from violence was included in the State Dept reports. These were usually weekly though they did drop to bi-weekly and less in the final year (2011).
Sometimes when I am feeling as a big as the land
With the velvet hills in the small of my back
And my hands are playing in the sand
And my feet are swimming in all of the waters
All of the rivers are givers to the ocean
According to plan
But never according to the US press' plan, apparently. Reminder: From October 19th through 28th at Blackfriars Theatre in Rochester, New York, Melanie and the Recordman will be performed, the story of Melanie and her late husband Peter Schekeryk (he passed away in 2010, they were together for decades, starting in the sixties). That's ten performances only and among those working on the show with Melanie is her son Beau Jarred Schekeryk. Melanie is the original Queen of the Rock Festivals, having performed at so many (including Woodstock). "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)" made her a name all over the world and her other hits include "What Have They Done To My Song, Ma?," "Peace Will Come (According to Plan), "Bitter Bad," "The Nickel Song," "Ring The Living Bell," her cover of "Ruby Tuesday," "Beautiful People" and her number one hit "Brand New Key."
- Iraq snapshot
- The CIA is plotting to kill Nouri?
- Violence up and continuing while oil revenues fall...
- Truest statement of the week
- Truest statement of the week II
- A note to our readers
- Editorial: 472 killed in June from violence in I...
- TV: A week of hating women
- Congress and veterans
- Biggest lie of the week
- Video of the week
- Senator Murray's Mental Health ACCESS Act
- Say no to gender segregation
- Trumped Up Charges (Workers World)
- Tim King to deliver key note address