Category Archives: C.I.A.

All The President’s Men

“These guys and gals make ordinary criminals feel squeamish”

By John S. Tully

The New York Herald Sun
October 27 2005

On one of the final episodes of HBO’s remarkable Six Feet Under, a character named Vanessa gently consoles the grieving sister of an Iraqi war veteran who has just committed suicide after losing many limbs. She tells the woman of watching her kids; sleeping; just being. Right then and there it seems to take the woman’s pain and turn it to something beautiful. There’s 2000 dead soldiers, sailors and Marines, thousands more injured for life, and countless dead and injured Iraqis.

It’s just getting to be too much for the American people.

America tortures and kills prisoners of war, lies about its soldiers’ deaths, allows its citizens to starve for days after a hurricane and produces its own news.
Meanwhile the press breaks a collective arm patting itself on the back for its gut-check Katrina coverage.

Too little and too late.

While we’re at war, a cadre of cowards has brazenly robbed the Treasury blind, mortgaging our great-grandchildren’s future as the last five years has been a cash-grab of epic proportions for the fat Republican-only lobbyists in Washington D.C.. As Mr. Bush completely alienated the rest of the free world, the un-free world got more dangerous. The Cowboy President didn’t want to use diplomacy when he could with North Korea so now they want their own reactor. Unfortunately, the intelligence agencies are in shambles, and Donald Rumsfeld’s “lighter, quicker, faster” military is decimated, demoralized and stretched dangerously thin. Meanwhile, China and Japan own much of our debt.

There is still a lack of adequate equipment for our troops on the ground in a war done so completely nearsightedly and on the cheap that families have to send goggles and boots to their children in Iraq and taxpayer-paid mercenaries/private contractors from companies like CACI make four times as much as the enlisted man. Meanwhile, Halliburton’s Kellogg Brown and Root and American oil companies are reaping windfall profits while heating-oil bills double for that widow in Detroit. Up on Capitol Hill, the Republican Senate leader Bill Frist is in serious legal trouble and House leader Tom Delay has now stepped down after being indicted in Texas… twice. The chief purchasing official for the United States of America you ask? Why, he’s just been frog-marched from his office in handcuffs for multiple counts of fraud on the federal government. During a so-called War on Terrorism the Federal Emergency Management chief gets his important job because he is a buddy of the old chief. The criminalization of politics?
These guys and gals make ordinary criminals feel squeamish.

So many troubling occurrences have in fact already gone down the memory hole so far this year that these cold winds of autumn will surely blow more truth away; too many stolen billions, too damn many lives. Somebody in The White House is going to jail for revealing a CIA agent’s identity or lying about it to investigators. The great New York Times helped to sell this war on stories by a reporter named Judith Miller who had sources like a fellow named Curveball, well known by international intelligence agencies to be a fabricator, Jordanian-convicted criminal and American advisor Ahmed Chalabi and the Vice-President’s chief advisor Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Mr. Chalabi was issued an arrest warrant last year by the Iraqi government but now he’s firmly in place again as leader of a Shiite Iraqi coalition. Curveball was last seen fleeing from a prison in Iraq and Ms. Miller went to jail for 89 days for not revealing her source to Independent Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. She was released after reaching a deal and revealed that Mr. Libby was one of her sources for the information about Mr. Wilson’s wife. She claims to have written it in her notes as Valerie Flame.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

This foul mess is greased by a Mainstream Media who butter Americans with a steady
diet of Paula Abdul-Tryst /Brain-Dead Woman /Missing Blond-Girl stories. Lately the press has been hammering home the notion that this leak of a C.I.A. agent’s name is a very complicated story. It’s not but one can understand why, to journalists like Andrea Mitchell and Tim Russert, it must seem complicated, because so many of them are such active participants in the Wink-Wink Washington Game that it completely clouds their judgment. The leak story is simple. It’s about the dirty politics of war.

Between President Bush telling Americans in a State Of The Union speech that Iraq was seeking uranium, and Condoleeza Rice talking that nuclear nonsense about not wanting to wait until we had a “mushroom cloud” in our skies, the deal was sealed to go to war.
In the end, this main reason for invasion, the imminent nuclear threat posed by Saddam and Iraq, was fabricated. Ambassador Joseph Wilson called the administration on this lie and they ruined his wife’s career in the C.I.A for revenge. Mr. Wilson had been sent by the C.I.A. to Niger Africa to see if Iraq had actually tried to get the specialized yellowcake uranium to make a nuclear bomb. He found no evidence of this, neither has anyone else, and he wrote an op-ed piece to this effect. The Bush Administration, in order to punish Mr. Wilson for revealing their big war lie, told some journalists on the White House beat that he had been sent there by his wife, C.I.A. agent Valerie Wilson, who had been undercover for years under the alias of Plame, and was now at headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

They were sure to get some so-called fair journalists like Evan Thomas of Newsweek to backhandedly trash Joseph Wilson’s integrity on John Donald Imus’ program and some politicians to label it simple partisanship. Don’t forget the Drudge/Rush/Freepers, they’re almost as mean and nasty as their heroes in the Oval Office, where wishful thinking and self-delusion rule the day; get in their way and you’ll pay. They’ll turn on anyone who disagrees with them. Ask Richard Clarke, Gen. Shinseki or Paul O’Neill.

Don’t worry, here comes mealy-mouth media-darlings David Brooks and Tom “Pakistani Cabdriver” Friedman to tell us a nice story that will make us feel better.

But now, even the administration’s personal water-carriers are starting to criticize the President over this latest Supreme Court debacle.

The president nominated an unqualified, lightweight, personal friend and advisor Harriet Meirs to the highest court in the nation and the right-wing is absolutely crushed. Like little children who aren’t getting what they thought had been promised, columnists George Will, Bill Kristol and the Republican activists are fuming and furious and beginning to go off-message.

Egads!

Their loyalty to this administration’s consistent and constant shenanigans is finally wearing thin. The very machine that keeps the disinformation going is breaking down.
It’s hard work these days for the White House to cover its tracks and they can’t even blame the Democrats. The first Court crisis began this presidency and this week’s indictments, the Meirs mistake, and the mess in Iraq signals the end.

Leandre Rice, a newly returned soldier from Iraq, came home with a skull fracture, vicious burns all over his body and no more eyesight. He’ll never see his twins born two months ago.

It’s too much for the American people; too many mistakes and too many lies.

As Mr. Libby wrote in a letter to Judy Miller while she was in jail: “It is fall now. … out West, where you vacation, the Aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them..”

Many of the the President’s men are starting to turn and it’s not going to be pretty.

© 2005 THE NEW YORK HERALD SUN

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HYPOCRISY AND HUBRIS

“A pitiful week, which found Colin Powell apologizing for a fraudulent State Department report on terrorism that suffered from shockingly wrong statistics and apparent, er, printing problems”

BY JOHN TULLY
THE LOS ANGELES SUN
Jan. 25 2005

There are weeks on that tiny hill full of impressive buildings and important people when swirling winds truly collide. Halfway through 2004, the June sun was shining, the war was spiraling out of control, and nobody except maybe Joe Biden had the faintest trace of a viable plan to stop digging the hole .

It had been an extraordinary few days, one which brought William Jefferson Clinton back to the limelight that he loves so much. The former president’s book tour received a curious mixture of scoffing and slathering from the networks while they just about ignored a visit from the Special Prosecutor to the Oval Office, He was there to find out who gave Bob Novak the identity of C.I.A. agent Valerie Plame, which ruined her long undercover career.

A pitiful week, which found Colin Powell apologizing for a fraudulent State Department report on terrorism that suffered from shockingly wrong statistics and apparent, er, printing problems. The original report stated that terrorism acts in the world against America, for the year 2003, had gone down.

It hadn’t .

Terrorism acts actually went up for the year; what do you know? It turned out that they had only looked at part of the year and in fact attacks were up by a record amount.

A typical week, as the Vice-President was given a break by the Supreme Court when it sent the now infamous lawsuit about his energy policy meetings back down to the lower courts.

As usual the mainstream media got lost in the shuffle about Ken Lay and Big Oil running energy policy. Forgotten once again was the release in 2003 of curious Energy Task-Force documents that contained detailed Iraqi oil field maps, pipelines and terminals, and a list of “Foreign Suitors of Iraqi Oil Field Contracts”.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, it had been a long week for Congressman Henry Waxman who called for a Select House committee to investigate the abuses at a prison named Abu-Ghraib after weeks of outright stonewalling by the administration.

A partial and select document dump of memos late on a Tuesday evening by the White House, showed that the President had approved a document on February 7, 2002 approving a new set of interrogation techniques that fall outside the law of the Geneva Convention and could be used in future conflicts.

Now, six months later, the fellow who cleared those torture memos will be our new Attorney General, the head of the C.I.A. who claimed the intelligence about Iraq’s imminent threat was a “slam dunk” gets a medal, and the President’s adviser on national security for the past four years and two failed wars gets to head up the State Department.

Oy that Bush….

We Were So Naive

2005 THE LOS ANGELES SUN

How Modo Lost Her Mojo ~ Maureen Dowd and the Myth of the Parasite Bloggers

Glenn Greenwald in S A L O N

06_dowd_lgl

The myth of the parasitical bloggers

(updated below)

Maureen Dowd’s wholesale, uncredited copying of a paragraph written by Josh Marshall (an act Dowd has now admitted) — for what I yesterday called her “uncharacteristically cogent and substantive column”– highlights a point I’ve been meaning to make for awhile.  One of the favorite accusations that many journalists spout, especially now that they’re searching for reasons why newspapers and print magazines are dying, is that bloggers and other online writers are “parasites” on their work — that their organizations bear the cost of producing content and others (bloggers and companies such as Google) then unfairly exploit it for free.

The reality has always been far more mixed than that, and the relationship far more symbiotic than parasitical.  Especially now that online traffic is such an important part of the business model of newspapers and print magazines, traffic generated by links from online venues and bloggers is of great value to them.  That’s why they engage in substantial promotional activities to encourage bloggers to link to and write about what they produce.  Beyond that, it is also very common — as the Dowd/Marshall episode illustrates — for traditional media outlets and establishment journalists to use and even copy content produced online and then present it as their own, typically without credit.  Many, many reporters, television news producers and the like read online political commentary and blogs and routinely take things they find there.

Typically, the uncredited use of online commentary doesn’t rise to the level of blatant copying — plagiarism — that Maureen Dowd engaged in.  It’s often not even an ethical breach at all.  Instead, traditional media outlets simply take stories, ideas and research they find online and pass it off as their own.  In other words — to use their phraseology — they act parasitically on blogs by taking content and exploiting it for their benefit.

Since I read many blogs, I notice this happening quite frequently — ideas and stories that begin on blogs end up being featured by establishment media outlets with no credit.  Here’s just one recent and relatively benign example of how it often works:  at the end of March, I wrote a post that ended up being featured in many places concerning the unique political courage displayed by Jim Webb in taking on the issue of criminal justice reform and the destruction wreaked by our drug laws.  The following week, I was traveling and picked up a copy of The Economist in an aiport, which featured an article hailing Jim Webb’s political courage in taking on the issue of criminal justice reform and the destruction wreaked by our drug laws.

Several of the passages from the Economist article were quite familar to me, since they seemed extremely similar to what I had written — without attribution or credit:

Salon

America has easily surpassed Japan — and virtually every other country in the world — to become what Brown University Professor Glenn Loury recently described as a “a nation of jailers” whose “prison system has grown into a leviathan unmatched in human history.”

Economist

“A Leviathan unmatched in human history”, is how Glenn Loury, professor of social studies at Brown University, characterises America’s prison system.

Salon

Most notably, Webb is in the Senate not as an invulnerable, multi-term political institution from a safely blue state (he’s not Ted Kennedy), but is the opposite: he’s a first-term Senator from Virginia, one of the “toughest” “anti-crime” states in the country (it abolished parole in 1995 and is second only to Texas in the number of prisoners it executes), and Webb won election to the Senate by the narrowest of margins, thanks largely to George Allen’s macaca-driven implosion.

Economist

Mr Webb is far from being a lion of the Senate, roaring from the comfort of a safe seat. He is a first-term senator for Virginia who barely squeaked into Congress. The state he represents also has a long history of being tough on crime: Virginia abolished parole in 1994 and is second only to Texas in the number of people it executes.

Salon

Moreover, the privatized Prison State is a booming and highly profitable industry, with an army of lobbyists, donations, and other well-funded weapons for targeting candidates who threaten its interests.

Economist

Mr Webb also has some powerful forces ranged against him. The prison-industrial complex (which includes private prisons as well as public ones) employs thousands of people and armies of lobbyists.

Salon

That is an issue most politicians are petrified to get anywhere near . . . .[T]here is virtually no meaningful organized constituency for prison reform. To the contrary, leaving oneself vulnerable to accusations of being “soft on crime” has, for decades, been one of the most toxic vulnerabilities a politician can suffer.

Economist

Few mainstream politicians have had the courage to denounce any of this. People who embrace prison reform usually end up in the political graveyard. There is no organised lobby for prison reform.

I don’t consider that at all similar to what Dowd did, since there wasn’t wholesale copying.  In fact, since there wasn’t really full-on copying, I don’t think there’s any ethical issue involved in this example.  I don’t think the writer of that article did anything wrong at all.  And anyone who spends any time writing a blog, or anything else for that matters, should consider it a good thing when their work is used, with or without credit.  Nobody would engage in that activity in the absence of a belief that they have something worthwhile to say and a desire that it have some impact on political discussions.

I raise this only to illustrate how one-sided and even misleading is the complaint that bloggers are “parasites” on the work of “real journalists.”  Often, the parasitical feeding happens in the opposite direction, though while bloggers routinely credit (and link to) the source of the material on which they’re commenting, there is an unwritten code among many establishment journalists that while they credit each other’s work, they’re free to claim as their own whatever they find online without any need for credit or attribution (see here for a typical example of how many of these news organizations operate in this regard).

It’s difficult to quantify, but a large percentage of political reporters, editors, television news producers, and on-air pundits read political blogs or other online venues now.  Many do so precisely because blogs are a prime source for their story ideas.  Contrary to the myth perpetrated by establishment media outlets, there is substantial original reporting, original analysis and the like that takes place on blogs.  That’s precisely why so many journalists, editors and segment producers read them.  And while some are quite conscientious about identifying the online source of the material they use — The New York Times‘ Scott Shane recently credited Marcy Wheeler for a major, front-page story on torture and previously wrote an article hailing FireDogLake as having the best coverage of any news organization of the Lewis Libby trial — credit of that sort is still rare enough that it becomes noteworthy when it happens.

The tale of the put-upon news organizations and the pilfering, parasitical bloggers has always been more self-serving mythology than reality.  That’s not to say that there’s no truth to it, but the picture has always been much more complicated.  After all, a principal reason for the emergence of a political blogosphere is precisely because it performed functions that establishment media outlets fail to perform.  If all bloggers did was just replicate what traditional news organizations did and offered nothing original, nobody would read blogs.  And especially now, as bloggers and online writers engage in much more so-called “original reporting” and punditry, the parasitical behavior is often the reverse of how it is depicted.  The Maureen Dowd/Josh Marshall episode is a particularly vivid and dramatic example of that, but it is far from uncommon.

UPDATE: A blogger who writes on TPM’s open blog site, Boyd Reed, reacted to the Maureen Dowd story today by randomly entering some of his own posts in Google, and found that a reporter at Salem News, Dorsett Bennett, copied several paragraphs of Reed’s post on Michelle Bachmann verbatim for Bennett’s column on the same topic.  Reed writes about his discovery today here (h/t Liberal Artist).  Compare Reed’s February 20 TPM post with Bennett’s February 27 Salem News column.  The copying is extensive and shameless.  Parasitical indeed.

— Glenn Greenwald