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Saturday, July 31, 2004

AWOLAPALOOZA 

I've been contacted by someone who may have inside information about what exactly is being hidden in the Bush National Guard record, and I really haven't paid enough attention to the matter in the past couple of months. With a new baby and a new house, I have failed to scour the Internet for news on Dubya's checkered past. Last I recall, they released pay records which revealed he wasn't actually paid during the three months in 1972 about which everyone (especially the AP, who have filed various FIA requests) wants to know. Have I missed anything?

As far as this contact is concerned, it's never easy to tell who and what you're dealing with right up front. I'm not really in this as a journalist, but an interview may be in order.

Also, I'll update our resource page as soon as I am able: BushWhackedUSA's AWOL Resource Page.

Friday, July 30, 2004

The Washington Times is a scam operation 

Proof positive:


But [Times reporter] Audrey [Hudson] (and [Republican CO Congressman] McInnis) had their biggest collaboration in 2001. Audrey broke a story about Federal Wildlife biologists who had planted the hair of rare lynxes in the Cascade mountains so that the Endangered Species Act would close off federal land to the public, and confiscate private property. You know, as part of one of those radical environmental conspiracies. Ten articles, two editorials, and a couple of congressional hearings later, it turned out that the biologists hadn't planted any fake lynx hair, they had just included some blind samples of regular lynx hairs to be tested by the Forest Service's DNA lab, because they had (justified) doubts about the lab's reliability. No land was going to be confiscated. No lynxes were driving Cadillacs and wearing Rolexes as they cashed their welfare checks.

Here's part of a very interesting Audubon Mag article about the matter:


Perhaps the most astonishing aspect is the circulation of lies by America's mainstream media. Of all the reasons to disregard or at least rigorously vet a story, few are better than reading it in The Washington Times. Whatever possessed the Associated Press to recycle it 24 hours later? ...

Right-wing talking heads prattled gleefully. The property-rights community puffed and blew. Feeding the ravenous media were members of the U.S. Congress, most notably Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) and Representatives Scott McInnis (-CO), chair of the Forests Subcommittee; James Hansen (R-UT), chair of the Resources Committee; Barbara Cubin (R-WY); and Richard Pombo (R-CA). Craig called for oversight hearings; McInnis and Hansen scheduled them. In an open letter to the directors of the Interior and Agriculture departments, Pombo, Cubin, McInnis, and 16 other Republican representatives condemned the "unethical behavior [and] malicious activities that support the closet agenda of the 'green' community" and called for the termination of "those officials who knowingly and willingly planted unauthorized samples."

What makes the behavior of The Washington Times astonishing is not its willingness to shatter innocent lives in an effort to sell newspapers. This is expected of the Times. What's astonishing is its effort to use the mess it made to sell an ad.

Two weeks after the Times ran its original story and three iterations, the FSEEE got a call from the paper's advertising department. The guy said that the biologists were getting the bejesus kicked out of them by the editorial department and that the really smart thing to do would be to purchase a full-page ad for $9,450. That way the FSEEE and the biologists could tell their side of the story.

Overcoming speechlessness, Stahl feigned interest. "This wasn't just some ad rep operating on his own," he said. "I made sure he went to his department and that the Times sent me a mock-up of the ad. It's their brand of ethics: 'For a small price you can fix some of the damage we've done.'"

[Holy Mafiosos...]

I am unable to determine how the Times could not have known the "bio-fraud" tale was false before it published at least six of its "news" stories and two of its editorials. Audrey Hudson, who wrote all but one of the 12 stories, told me she got the investigation report that vindicated the biologist of "biofraud," a word the Times invented, from PEER's web site. PEER says it posted the report during the last week of December.

This raises three disturbing questions: How was Hudson able to reference the report and selectively pull information from it in the paper's first story, on December 17? Why, on January 18, was she still repeating the untruth about the biologists planting fur in the forests? And why was the Times still accusing the biologists of "fraud" on March 2?

This was my conversation with Hudson.


TW: "Are you going to issue a retraction and apology?"

AH: "No. We stand by our story."

TW: "But you've known it was false at least since December. . . ."

AH: "I reported what the Forest Service told me. We stand by our story."

TW: "But the Forest Service told you in its investigation report that your story isn't true. . . ."

AH: "I'm not going to quibble with you."


I guess that means that PEER and/or the FSEEE will have to write the Times's retraction and apology for it--provided, of course, that the paper has ad space available.

Here's part of the FAIR report on "Lynx-gate":


The Washington Times turned this incident into a crusade, dedicating 10 articles, two editorials and an opinion piece to this "biofraud" over the course of a month after breaking the story on December 17. Lynxgate illustrates the power of the Times--a newspaper founded in 1982 as a vehicle to promote the right-wing views of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church--to promote a conservative agenda and feed it into the mainstream media environment.

The Times’ Audrey Hudson broke Lynxgate with a front-page piece headlined "Rare Lynx Hairs Found in Forests Exposed as Hoax" (12/17/01), citing "officials" as the source for her allegation that biologists had planted lynx fur. "Had the deception not been discovered, the government likely would have banned many forms of recreation and use of natural resources in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Wenatchee National Forest in Washington state," her story falsely asserted. The one-sided article quoted a variety of conservative government and non-governmental officials, many with a dislike of the Endangered Species Act or federal land management policy. To give the appearance of balance, Hudson quoted the National Wilderness Institute, a think tank with an anti-environmentalist bent.

[...]

The "false premise," actually, is that a few fur samples could "shut down" forests--a claim repeated throughout Times coverage. In truth, the existence of lynx would have to be verified by live trapping and other measures before any changes in management would take place, a process that could take years. Even the proven presence of lynx would not close the forests; recreation and even logging goes on in forests inhabited by lynx. But presenting such facts does not serve the conspiratorial storyline.

BushWhackedUSA.com

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

WHY WOULDN'T THEY HATE US? 

A couple months ago I attended a press conference with Dennis Kucinich and asked him how a peace candidate would protect the country from terrorists. In a nutshell, he gave two main points as his answer:

1) He would tell the truth, and
2) he would address the root causes of terrorism.

In other words, he would not lie to the American people and the world about the ways that America's financial support of Israel's bloody and oppressive occupation of Palestinian lands. Kucinich didn't specifically mention Israel in his answer, but he came up to me in the lobby after the press conference (just before he gave the most inspiring speech I've ever heard in person) and asked if I understood what he was referring to. "We have to change the fundamental ways we deal with the Middle East if we're ever going to make peace with that part of the world," he said. Or words to that effect -- my memory is not the sharpest.

Anyway, with that in mind, I recommend reading this commentary by Lawrence Pintak at Common Dreams, showing exactly how badly Bush has done in the real war on terrorism.

Here's an excerpt:

Two new polls of attitudes in six Arab countries by Zogby International make for pretty grim reading to us, but they're manna from Heaven for the man who, news reports claim, is now believed to be holed up in the semi-autonomous region of Northwest Pakistan.

It was bad enough in 2002, when Zogby found that an appalling 35 percent of Jordanians and 12 percent of Saudis viewed us favorably. Now those figures are 15 percent and four percent respectively. We can't even buy friends. Egypt received some $4 billion last year in U.S. aid, yet only two percent of Egyptians responded positively. In a poll with a margin of error of about four points, that doesn't even move the needle.

Arab attitudes toward pretty much all things American are in the toilet, including American freedom and democracy - something even al-Qaeda detainees at Guantanamo Bay once told interrogators that they admired. Asked to name the "best thing about America" now, most Arabs responded, "nothing." The worst things about America? "Unfair Middle East policy" and our penchant to "murder Arabs."

If, four years ago, the Bush administration had consciously set out to create the "clash of civilizations" sought by bin Laden, it is hard to believe it could have been more successful.

-----

The article barely touches on the Israeli role in the equation, but it's there.

Monday, July 26, 2004

WELL? 

With so much media attention on the Democratic National Convention, I wonder if anyone there in the position to speak out and be heard widely will raise the point that we still don't have an independent and comprehensive investigation of U.S. soldiers' human rights abuses in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and elsewhere. It has been three months since the scandal broke -- or, for those who have read BushWhackedUSA (or paid much attention to the international press or the IRC), information about the abuses has been available since at least last December.

What's taking so long? Why isn't there an outcry for this investigation? What techniques were approved by the highest levels of Pentagon and the civilian government? Who is speaking out for the detainees who were "rendered to Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other U.S. allies, where torture is both systematic and sanctioned?

Here is a list of the six investigations currently underway and the one just completed and hustled under the public's radar last week by using the 9/11 Commission's report as cover. And here is a reort from Human Rights Watch on the Bush administration's deliberate policy of using illegal interrogation techniques: "The Road to Abu Graib."

We can't let this one fade into the so-called memory hole. We need an independent commission, not another little investigation appointed by Donald Rumsfeld himself. Let's hope someone in a position to do something about this will speak out, loudly and soon.

TERRORISM IS FUELED BY US-ISRAELI POLICY 

This is an unpopular thing to say, but I'll say it again: to any objective observer, it is clear that extremist Islamic terrorism is fueled by US support of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.

This point has been made thousands of times, by the Arab media, by the Israeli media, by peace groups, by European and British media, by Noam Chomsky, by countless other commentators, and NOW by none other than...

The 9/11 Commission.

Ray McGovern points out that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the “mastermind of the 9/11 attacks,” harbored a hatred of the US whcih "stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.”

More from McGovern:

A footnote points out that his statements regarding the “why” of attacking the United States echo those of Ramzi Yousef, his nephew, when he was sentenced in New York to a prison term of 240 years in January 1998.  Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, accused the United States of supporting Israeli terrorism against Palestinians, adding that he was proud to fight any country that supports Israel.

Hats off to commission staff for shoehorning that in—and to the commissioners for letting it slide.  Highly unusual prose for establishment Washington.

And another bravo for the attempt to go beyond jingoism in addressing “why they hate us.”  On page 374 begins a section titled “PREVENT THE CONTINUED GROWTH OF ISLAMIST TERRORISM.”  There the authors pick up on the conundrum expressed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld regarding whether the United States is generating more terrorists than it is killing, and whether the United States needs “a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists.”

In gingerly language, the report points out:

“America’s policy choices have consequences.  Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world.”

…or, in the vernacular, “It’s the policy, stupid!”

--------

And because a post like this invariably inspires angry E-mails, let me save angry E-mailers some time: I already know that some will interpret this post as anti-Semitic. Those readers are flat wrong, of course. In fact, with the time those readers just saved, I'd encourage them to give some attention to Rabbi Michael Lerner's Tikkun.

SURVEY / OPEN THREAD 

Three questions (each with multiple parts, answer as many or few as you wish) for BushWhackedUSA readers:

1) What's your opinion of the Democratic National Convention? Is it worth paying attention to this week, beyond the speeches from Kucinich, Edwards and Kerry? Do you perceive a "disconnect" between the policies of the party's leaders and the party's voting base?

2) What's your opinion about protests in New York for the Republican convention? Would you go if you could? Do you think the protests should be confined to "free speech zones"?

3) What's on your mind? What issues would you like to discuss here this week?

Sunday, July 25, 2004

I had to wipe a tear from the corner of my eye with a Kleenex 

Seriously. It was one of those moments. I posted this in the comments of a post by Mahablog:

OT, it just nearly tore me up, something I saw on the page as I scrolled down; your simple photo of Sam Clemens.

I dunno...I almost came to tears when I simply thought of what he would say or think about the present circumstances of our lives today. There are a million bloggers out there, and some damn fine ones, too, who can put issues and reports into terrific perspective. It could be said that Sam was blessed never to see the days we're living through. Other than that, it makes me incredibly sad not to have his wit and wisdom here and now, to help handle this mess.

Thanks for the post, and for the glimpse of the photo of that fabulous genius. Thank Koresh for the mere thought of him and his outlook, to help guide us today through some of the most miserable times this country has ever seen.

BushWhackedUSA.com

THE HORSE RACE 

Just spotted this analysis of the current status of the real election, the electoral vote. Things aren't exactly bleak for Bush right now, after all.

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