Tag Archives: iraq war

US invasion of Iraq, 2003-2005 and counting

tentacles of copyright paranoia

Copyright paranoia is, truly, everywhere. Reading a NYT article about websites that track the Iraq war dead, I noticed this:

The Iraq Page (iraq.pigstye.net) is the obsession of Tom Willett, a software developer from Bloomington, Ind. The site includes a single news account for each United States service member killed in combat, with a fluttering American flag next to a photograph, and room for comments. At last count, there were 3,579 individuals memorialized from the coalition forces, 3,313 from the United States.

“I copy most of the articles, because I know the articles won’t be there in a few months,” he said. “I don’t have the copyright. I steal it from everybody, and I don’t care who knows about it.” The site, which Mr. Willett said had 2,000 to 3,000 unique visitors a day and 20 to 30 new comments a day, has never been asked to take down an article.

He automatically thinks about copyright, decides he’s stealing and that he’s going to commit civil disobedience because of the importance of the issue. Where is fair use in this equation? The NYT writers simply report his concerns, without explaining to the reader that this would be an arguable fair use issue.

press subpoenas in Watada case

In an interesting twist on press subpoenas, Army prosecutors have subpoenaed journalists to get them to vouch for published quotes — not source information or unpublished information. [SFgate 12/18.] The prosecutors hope to use the quotes to prosecute First Lt. Ehren Watada, who denounced the war on Iraq as illegal and refused to deploy.

Sarah Olson, an Oakland journalist who wrote about Watada, said she had no legal grounds to refuse but she noted that “If conscientious objectors know that they can be prosecuted for speaking to the press and that the press will participate in their prosecution, it stands to reason that they would think twice before being public about their positions.”

The subpoena requires not just an attestation but participation in a January 2007 hearing and the court-martial of Lt. Watada, under penalty of contempt of the military tribunal. Olson and the other journalists subpoenaed can be put in jail for refusing to comply.

One of the statements that Lt. Watada is being charged for is:

As I read about the level of deception the Bush administration used to initiate and process this war, I was shocked. I became ashamed of wearing the uniform. How can we wear something with such a time-honored tradition, knowing we waged war based on a misrepresentation and lies?’

You can look at each little skid on a slippery slope individually and note that it’s not that big a deal.

morning tea reading

  • The Rude Pundit tears it up on comparisons between the Clinton Whitewater-MonicaGate scandal, and the Bush-Cheney Fraudulently-Induced-Then-Bungled-Iraq-War-PlameGate scandal. [link from sideshow]

  • debate over intelligent design: the abstract factory points out that intelligent design advocates, like pretty much every other human being, work within a science-based framework when it really matters to them personally. [link from sideshow]

  • Fafblog: damn you grover norquist, for accepting money from the gays:

    Yes, as all right-thinking Gibletsians know, gays are not merely plotting to destroy the family. They are plotting to corrupt the global economy with mass monetary queerosity! Even now they are introducing creeping fruitism into our proudly heterosexual stock market and pansying up our once-butch interest rate! They even handle the same money we do, getting microscopic particles of gay all over our precious national currency! Did Abraham Lincoln just wink at Giblets from the five dollar bill? Get away from me, Honest Abe! Giblets doesn’t need your mincey forfathery leering and your log cabin jokes!


yet more depressing news:

  • iraq: where people keep dying. A friend recently met with her family who lives in Baghdad, who reported a) her elderly aunties regularly have laser sightings trained on them by US soldiers; b) her cousin’s cousin was recently shot & killed by US soldiers; c) they still don’t have power & clean water most of the time. The situation is worse than it was a year ago. They were impressed to hear that an American woman would camp outside Bush’s home, since they thought there was no dissent in the US. …

  • declining science literacy, increasing religious belief, and increasing poverty in the US. See creationism survey (NYT) and the widely reported new poverty statistics from the Census Bureau, available at http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/p60-229.pdf; press briefing.

  • the FDA decided to hold off approving emergency contraception, AGAIN, despite promises by new commissioner to have decided by today (9/1). The FDA Director of the Office of Women’s Health resigned in response. See feministe; prnewswire.

  • and i just heard that the 8th Circuit affirmed the lower court ruling in Bnetd. [opinion @ 8th Cir] A big loss for consumers and tinkerers.

but still there is light shed:

  • the NYT recently published a supremely arrogant, sexist, and stupid editorial / piece by Keith Ablow. Ablow suggested that women should think twice before letting their husbands watch childbirth, since it might destroy the man’s sexual attraction to his female partner. a number of commentators have given that article the trashing it deserved. see belle waring 8/31, for example; see also belle waring 8/23; pandagon; slate; crooked timber on women’s culture (and by negative implication what men’s culture is failing to do).

    me, i couldn’t help remembering how sensible, non-sexist people handle the issue in a way that recognizes human realities, sexuality, and needs of all parties: In The Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy and Birth, the authors straightforwardly noted that after pregnancy & birth, some non-birth-parents might have difficulty feeling sexual toward the birth-parent. The authors didn’t try some reductive pop-psych “oh my god I’ve seen her insides” explanation, but pointed out that it could happen for a variety of reasons: birthing-related, parenting-related, the efforts of adjusting to a new lifestyle, new roles, and new family configurations. the answer? give it time, and work on having adult time together.

  • orcinus posted on right-wing bloggers decrying the motes in left-wing eyes (“all our extremists is belong to you”) [link from sideshow]

  • Reading A1 posted on the suggestion from right-wingers (apparently frustrated that their ideas suck) that left-wingers can’t criticize unless they come up with fully-formed strategic responses themselves. i feel like excerpting:

    [W]ho exactly is the audience for this sort of policy wanking supposed to be? Other than a tiny community of Beltway or Beltway-oriented intellectuals, or wannabes. The anti-war left is nowhere near the seat of power. Power is held, in fact, by a gang that regards opposition in general, and opposition to the war in particular, as tantamount to treason. … Even if we had detailed, rational and realistic policy advice to give, they wouldn’t listen to it. … It’s not “unserious” or “immature” or whatever other bullshit terms are favored by the Beltway types to advocate the simple message Out Now. On the contrary—advocating such messages is the only real political space within which we have to operate. Our job is not to pretend we’re living under a different regime than we are, one that takes policy proposals seriously. Our job is to do the only thing we really can do, namely cause as much domestic pain as possible for Bush over the war. … You want to have a real effect on Iraq policy? Drive Bush’s numbers down, drive the GOP’s numbers down, take their Congressional majority away from them, take the White House back. That’s not done with policy prescriptions—which (again, has Cooper been paying attention these last few years?) the vast majority of the American public will never hear, or hear an honest version of, anyway.

    I’ve got a rant, somewhere inside, about labels, actions, and correctly identifying your own politics & where they fit on the historical spectrum. Something in response to the right-wingers who try to claim the higher ground created by the left-wing civil rights movement, the left-wing anti-fascist movements, and so on. But it’ll have to wait.

freedom of info, giblets-style

Indeed, the Medium Lobster could not agree more: while some in the petty name of “truth,” “accountability” and “basic humanity” might want to open this material to the world, outrage over yet another American atrocity would just fuel more violence. Oh, ACLU, don’t you have enough blood on your hands? Which is why the Medium Lobster also believes the time is long overdue to classify the Iraq War.

go read fafblog now

invade & establish theocracy

Great. US officials are admitting what was obvious to many even before the invasion: The US invasion of Iraq will lead to another theocracy. [Wash Post 8/14] [linked from david 8/14 at sivacracy]

“We set out to establish a democracy, but we’re slowly realizing we will have some form of Islamic republic,” said another U.S. official familiar with policymaking from the beginning, who like some others interviewed would speak candidly only on the condition of anonymity.

You would think that after all this time my feelings of rage would be dampened.

People may have very different reactions to someone’s wrongdoing. Anger, denial, forgiveness. Me, I forgive many infractions, then at some point get to a place of deep anger. If there is no acknowledgement, apology, and attempted redress, I swallow the anger and move on — hopefully doing something productive but certainly trying not to live in the anger. But sometimes the wrongdoer comes to their senses & belatedly acknowledges or apologizes. Then I realize that I didn’t forgive, I didn’t forget, and all the anger comes back, doubled, with a new head of steam.

So that’s where I’m at with the Bush Administration and the invasion of Iraq. Reading about the admissions and acknowledgements of US officials — even if they’re not the Bush administration leaders/figureheads — really just infuriates me. Such a waste. Such a goddamn waste. So many lives, Iraqi, American, English, and from everywhere else. Lives tossed away directly with guns and explosions. And lives that will be tossed away for years to come as a result of a devastated infrastructure. More lives lost to resurgent nationalism (here and in Iraq, I’ll note) and Islamic fundamentalism. It’s just such a fucking waste.

judith miller, the NYT, and journalism

from slate: Programming the Slammer Film Festival – Readers choose the most enlightening fare for Judith Miller. By David Edelstein

7/8 update: here’s a couple more good commentaries: avedon carol [sideshow] and Rosa Brooks in the LAT. Money line from Rosa Brooks:

If a source with a clear political motivation passes along classified information that has no value for public debate but would endanger the career, and possibly the life, of a covert agent, is a journalist ethically permitted to “out” the no-good sneak? You bet. And if the knowledge that they can’t always hide behind anonymity has a “chilling effect” on political hacks who are eager to manipulate the media in furtherance of their vested interests, that’s OK with me.


The Forwarding-government-propaganda privilege: Somehow, just not so compelling.

… In the interests of fairness, a few thoughtful pieces on protect-judy side: billmon wrestling with his desire to justify jail for judy … And the Columbia Journalism Review (Jan/Feb 2005) ran a good article outlining the pro-Judith-Miller position and the general threats to the press that have happened of late. The author asks concernedly at the end: Would people rise up in defense of the reporters’ privilege, and reporters, if these two reporters go to jail? And answers his own question: I didn’t think so. The article details (a) various attacks on the “fourth estate” by government in the last few years; and (b) why people distinguish what Judith Miller is doing from what they want to see protected.

… But now that I’m thinking about I just have to get in 2 or 3 more cents: From one perspective, Judith Miller may, indeed, be just another front in a general way by the state on the press. As such, Judith Miller should have been just another footnote, an example of when the RP shouldn’t apply, or why it can go too far, or why good privileges sometimes produce bad results … So the problem is not with Judith Miller invoking a reporters’ privilege & going to jail for it. The problem is that the NYT chose to put forward Judith Miller as the poster-child for the reporters’ privilege, and chose not to profile and highlight and defend the other cases. Hard cases make bad law, as they say. And the NYT chose a hard case to make law on: hard as in not appealing, factually bad, not getting to the essence of why the reporters’ privilege is important. Why did the NYT do that? I think the NYT is trying to make itself look good: Oh, look how we defend freedom of the press.

Putting Judith Miller together with the NYT’s actual reporting on freedom of the press issues, I don’t see a very pretty picture. It looks to me like the NYT ignores the broader issue of reporters’ freedom when it could actually do some good, and instead puts forward the case only when its narrow self-interest is involved. If the NYT was actually interested in freedom of the press, for instance, then why not more coverage and pressure and amicus briefs on behalf of journalists who are protecting sources for important information we needed and otherwise would not have had? Or for that matter, why not more coverage of the record numbers of dead reporters in Iraq? The targeted bombing by the US of Al-Jazeera? Etc. ….

“Now, you say you love me. Well, just to prove, you do, you can cry me a river; I cried a river over you.”

8/12 update:

Another good post on the topic, by Charlie Anders of Other Magazine:

Actually, Anita Bartholomew had it right: the real reason not to give Miller the award is that she was protecting confidential sources who were trying to silence whistleblowers instead of blowing the whistle themselves. It’s a pretty basic distinction, and one the mainstream media seems to have forgotten. Back when I was starting out as a reporter, we were warned to use confidential sources sparingly and to be aware of their agendas if we did use them. If your source works for the government and is pushing the government’s agenda (or ditto for a corporation) then he or she is just a cowardly shill.

media-driven governance

regarding the stolen cache of explosives, wonkette reports that rove is upset that it’s even being discussed:

Rove: “Kerry, by so rapidly embracing the story, is going to end up being tarnished by it. What would he do as president? Get up every morning and say, ‘I’m going to govern based on what I find in the newspapers?'”

wonkette, 10/27

Or maybe — and it’s just a thought — maybe Kerry would respond to issues before they reached the papers! You know, in sort of a, a proactive way. Maybe, if something goes wrong, a president should acknowledge the problem and tell the American people what was being done to fix it. Maybe we wouldn’t have to rely on The New Yorker [Abu Ghraib] and The New York Times [missing weapons] to tell us what happened a year ago.

Gack. These guys make me crazy.

manipulating information

The Enemy Is Us by Sam Gardiner in salon.com, sept. 22. Gardiner details how the bush administration has been using military information techniques to manage press coverage & release information to the american people.

[T]he basic doctrine of strategic information operations: Influence emotions, motive and objective reasoning. Use repetition to create a collective memory in the target audience. … The Army Field Manual describes information operations as the use of strategies such as information denial, deception and psychological warfare to influence decision making. The notion is as old as war itself. With information operations, one seeks to gain and maintain information superiority — control information and you control the battlefield. And in the information age, it has become even more imperative to influence adversaries.

umm, we used to call it propaganda?

read this: “if america were iraq…”

If America were Iraq, What would it be Like? by Professor Juan Cole at Informed Comment: Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion.

I don’t remember whether it was discussed in this essay or not, but I think it’s important to remember that the US has a policy not to collect data on civilian deaths. We have no real information about civilian deaths although iraq body count requires double verification of any death, and is regarded as a conservative estimate of the numbers of deaths. Which currently stand at 12,000 to 15,000.

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voting for kerry

i’m an anarchist, and i’m voting, and more than that, i’m voting for kerry.* here’s why:

war on iraq:
Will Kerry solve the iraq situation? Will he make it better? Folks might suggest that Kerry will not, or can not. Other folks might reasonably point out that the Democrats are not really better on iraq: What about Clinton who let ~500,000 children die in iraq of malnutrition (and the occasional bombing)? It’s very simple: I have no idea whether Kerry will solve our problems in iraq or whether they’re solvable or how. (I do know that the Bush Administration won’t solve the problems.) So I’m not voting for Kerry because, prospectively, he’ll “fix” iraq. I’m voting for Kerry because i believe he won’t keep us on this path, pushing us into other wars based on an unrealistic view of the world. I do not believe that Kerry would have gotten us into iraq. A Bush administration is very likely to continue to lead us into ill-advised military adventures.

the environment
Really there is nothing that one can say here. Kerry is merely a Democrat and is thus beholden to certain interests. But he is unquestionably better than Bush on environmental issues. Kerry has one of the better records in the senate on the environment, and Bush is like the tasmanian devil — well, just as destructive; not so cute.

civil liberties
There is no question that the Bush administration will continue to appoint extremely conservative judges to the bench, judges who do not respect civil liberties. The Bush administration will also retain Ashcroft as a primary violator of civil liberties.

civil liberties in specific: reproductive rights
Kerry will get rid of the Mexico City policy. Kerry will get rid of the gag rules. Kerry will respect the right of a woman to choose an abortion or a pregnancy — not the right of his administration or a judge to choose for her.

civil liberties in specific: sexual autonomy
Kerry will respect my right to make my own choices about my family life — and Bush won’t. Kerry will endeavor not to discriminate against my family choices legally and financially.

self-respect & shame
Most significantly, I am ashamed of the u.s. government for its unilateral invasion of iraq & its treatment of civilians and prisoners (in abu ghraib and elsewhere). To any extent that I have power over this government–and it’s a very limited extent–I am morally obligated to use that power to try to change the government. Even if voting is largely a symbolic act (or as SS wrote on a list a while back, a religious act), it is nevertheless incumbent on us all to to repudiate those atrocities—that includes the formal act of voting, symbolic or no.

To stand by after those atrocities and evil actions, and to not make the formal statement–as well as all the activist, formal statements I can–against those behaviors would be reprehensible. If voting is power, then I must exercise it, even if it is only a tiny bit of power. If voting is merely symbolism, then it is nevertheless important to be on the record, symbolically, as opposing this administration.

10/23 update: Shrillblog just pointed me to this entry at abu aardvark. A picture’s worth a thousand words. But the words are worth a lot too:

The world is watching. The world wants to know which America is the real America: the one which offers a vision of a better world, a more liberal and free world, a safer and more just world… or the one in this picture, a world brought to you by George Bush and his administration and for which no-one of any consequence has been held accountable.

* Okay, not necessarily. The fact is that I live in california & will vote in california. And even if I were able to move in time for the election i’m moving to Massachussetts. In neither of these states will a vote for Kerry make any difference. And so unless I think there’s any chance that Kerry might lose the electoral votes in California or Mass., then i’m voting green.

update: actually i ended up voting for kerry on the theory that the overall vote total — while irrelevant to who “wins” the election — demonstrates the strength of the voices against Bush and Abu Ghraib.

O’Reilly Admits Iraq War Was a “Big Screw-Up”

Mr. O’REILLY: Look, the Iraq War was a big screw-up, all right? I think every clear-thinking person in the country knows it was. First of all, weapons of mass destruction did not materialize, which was the primary motivator for the war.

— from O’Reilly (Fox) debates Krugman (NYT) on “Tim Russert”, CNBC, Saturday, August 7, 2004, extracted from transcript posted on The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid (a conservative blog)