Thursday, December 3, 2009

Barack and his apologists

This is from Hillary Is 44:

Two days ago Barack Obama exploited U.S. Military Academy at West Point cadets as stage props for a publicity stunt. As of today confusion reigns over Obama’s escalation to retreat speech. Yesterday, testifying before the Armed Services Committee, Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates (as well as Admiral Mullen of the Joint Chiefs) stated that the troop draw down Obama proclaimed to start on July 2011 was less definite than advertised. Hillary Clinton specifically stated “I do not believe we have locked ourselves into leaving.”
Senator Lindsey Graham stated after
the hearing, “Secretary of State Clinton said we’re not locked into withdrawing, which is music to my ears and I think will be bad news for the enemy. I hope that’s the final answer.” Senator Graham’s hopes were immediately dashed.
Chip Reid of CBS News, having heard the testimony by Hillary Clinton and Bob Gates as well as the “not locked in” that Senator Graham heard, asked Robert Gibbs at a White House briefing “if senators were incorrect calling the
date a ‘target’”.
After the briefing, Gibbs went to the president for clarification. Gibbs then called me to his office to relate what the president said. The president told him it IS locked in – there is no flexibility. Troops WILL start coming home in July 2011. Period. It’s etched in stone. Gibbs said he even had the chisel.
Lindsey Graham will not be happy.

Two days after a major speech and confusion reigns supreme. Obama needs to lose his job.

And that's what we have, confusion reigns supreme. In part because of the Cult of Barack, in part because of Barack himself. I really am disgusted with the weak and meek response from so many, by the way.

I'm with Trina on this (see her "The Cowardly Kucinich"). Dennis Kucinich is a huge disappointment. Russ Feingold showed more strength (Senator from Wisconsin) and Feingold's not always prancing around and insisting he's the true left. (Feingold is the left and, like many in this community, back in 2006, I assumed I'd be voting for him for president. But I guess Feingold saw what way the wind was blowing with sleazy Barry digging around people's divorces and personal lives and sat it out.) Dennis Kucinich always plays it like he's big and brave and he does nothing.

He couldn't even call out Barack strongly for being a War Hawk.

I am just disgusted that meek and weak Denny K is being promoted as our strong voice. I'm not hearing many strong voices in the Congress. I know C.I.'s highlighting one tonight but that's all I know of. (Or planning to. I shouldn't say 'C.I.'s doing' because we're all tired from the roundtable we just did and I know she just wants to go to bed. She said she was planning to write about that depending upon what was going on in the e-mails which she hasn't read any of today or even read Martha and Shirley's daily summaries of the e-mails.)

Tomorrow I will do a movie post.

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, December 3, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the inhumane and criminal counter-insurgency suffers a highly public rebuke, the election stalemate continues in Iraq, the Iraq Inquiry in London brings lots of chatter about Donald Rumsfeld but very little about John Howard, All Things Media Big and Small gets spanked by the Secret Service but watch everyone pretend that didn't happen, and more.

Starting with the topic of counter-insurgency, war on a native people, Monday, David Price explained in "
Human Terrain Systems, Anthropologists and the War in Afghanistan" (CounterPunch):

Today, in Iraq and Afghanistan, anthropologists are being told that they're needed to make bad situations better. But no matter how anthropological contributions ease and make gentle this conquest and occupation, it will not change the larger neocolonial nature of the larger mission; and most anthropologists are troubled to see their discipline embrace such a politically corrupt cause.Human Terrain Systems is not some neutral humanitarian project, it is an arm of the U.S. military and is part of the military's mission to occupy and destroy opposition to U.S. goals and objectives. HTS cannot claim the sort of neutrality claimed by groups like Doctors Without Borders, or the International Committee of the Red Cross. HTS's goal is a gentler form of domination. Pretending that the military is a humanitarian organization does not make it so, and pretending that HTS is anything other than an arm of the military engaging in a specific form of conquest is sheer dishonesty.

American Anthropological Association's annual meeting started yesterday in Philadelphia and continues through Sunday. Today the association's Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the US Security and Intelligence Communities issued their [PDF format] "Final Report on The Army's Human Terrain System Proof of Concept Program." The 74-page report is a blow to War Criminals and their cheerleaders who have long thought that the social science could be abused or that the social sciences were psuedo sciences. It was in December 2006 when Dumb Ass George Packer raved over Dumb Ass Montgomery McFate and her highly imaginative and fictional retelling of both her childhood and her current work which Packer identified as "Pentagon consultant" working on Cultural Operations Research Human Terrain. Packer was jizzing in his shorts and not even warnings from other anthropologists ("I do not want to get anybody killed") could sway him.

By the time she showed on up the
October 10, 2007 broadcast (link goes to October 11, 2007 snapshot) of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, Monty was being billed as "senior advisor to the US Army." Monty lied throughout the broadcast and most infamously when she insisted that Afghans or Iraqis can tell the difference between "a lethal unit of the US military and a non-leathal unit of the US military". David Price of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists offered reality during the broadcast by raising the issue of David Rohde's "Army Enlists Anthropology in War Zones" (New York Times) and explaining it "talks about an anthropologist I think named Tracy and that's the only name that's given. So anthropologists need to be transparent about who they are and who they're working for. . . . But I worry how transparent the program is if the people who are doing it aren't being self-identified? Now the story says it's being done for security reasons and so on. But if you go to the New York Times story and look at the nifty, little video they have -- you know backing the story, it's very strange because they don't show the anthropologist -- they intentionally withhold the person's identity. Yet they show all these people who are talking to the anthropologist which of course they're doing so at some personal risk, one would assume, in Afghanistan. And I worry about any sort of program where there's a one-way mirror that's going on."

Susan Page: . . . there was a New York Times article last week which actually prompted us to do this show today. And it did talk about this anthropologist named Tracy, but it wasn't clear to me, Montgomery McFate maybe you know, whether her [full] name was just not disclosed to the New York Times article, or if her full name is not being disclosed to the people she's interatcing with in Afghanistan. Do you know -- do you know the answer to that.

Monty [quick intake and slow first word -- always a clue Monty's inventing -- seriously, that was evident when she was a child]: Her name was held from the New York Times story and in other media that's come out of Afghanistan at her own request.

Susan Page: But does she give her [full] name to the Afghanis that she's talking with.

Monty: Yes, she does.

Remember that moment in Annie Hall when Annie (Diane Keaton) and Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) are in line for movie tickets and the man behind them can't shut up about Marshall McLuhan and Alvy confronts him? And pulls McLuhan over? And McLuhan declares, "I heard what you were saying. You know nothing of my work. You mean my whole fallacy is wrong. How you got to teach a course in anything it totally amazing."? Well a moment like that happened to Monty with her being the blowhard who got corrected. Monty was swearing that the woman identified herself and gave her full name and did this and did that and blah blah blah. And then David Rohde, who wrote the New York Times article, joined the conversation.

David Rohde: Um, she was transparent with them. I don't think she gave her full name, I think she does identify herself as an anthropologist. I saw her briefly, but I don't know what she does at all times. She personally, um, actually chose to carry a weapon for security that's not a requirement for members of the team, I've been told. And she wore a military uniform which would make her appear to be a soldier, um, to Afghans that she wasn't actually speaking with.

Susan Price: And so you think Aghans knew that she wasn't a soldier even though she was wearing a military uniform and carrying a weapon? Or do you think that they just assumed that she probably was?

David Rohde: I would think that they assumed that she was.

Poor stupid Monty. Counter-insurgency is war on a people. It has been used in many wars and it is not a tactic of peace nor is it anything an ethical person should take part in. That is not a controversial statement to anyone old enough to remember Vietnam or any war further back. But, in the US, whether you want to cite Spengler or make comparisons to Sisyphus, we are a culture put together each dawn with very little historical recall. Which is how Monty McFate and others have been able to market their inhumane acts as a 'science.' Others include A Problem From Hell: Samantha Power. And, of course,
Sarah Sewall who played Peppermint Patty to Monty's Marci on Charlie Rose in 2007. For the record, those three and many other counter-insurgency gurus advised Barack Obama during his presidential campaign and/or advise him today. (Yes, despite the fact that Monty's sister was a government spy who spied on peace groups. Or maybe because of.) These War Criminals use their training and the science but do not adhere to any of the ethics of their profession which does include, but it not limited to, full disclosure.

The report released today notes, "Responding to concerns raised about this program, in the fall of 2007 the AAA's Executive Board released a statement on HTS [Human Terrain Systems], in which it expressed its disapproval and concluded the program to be 'an unacceptable application of anthropological expertise'." The report states that by April of this year there were 417 HTS employees. (There have been some reductions since then.) Of that group, only six had PhD in anthropology and only 47 others had masters in the field. The report notes, "It is important to indicate, based on this, that despite the attention given to the central role of anthropology in the program, the great majority of present HTS employees have been trained and hold degrees in other fields of the social sciences and elsewhere." The report notes:

Training in "research methods" for HTTs is notable insofar as it combines what appears to be field-based social scientific data collection (e.g. use of ethnography of the anthropological sort) with instrumental or soft power goals of "shaping the environment." This raises a number of concerns regarding the separability, and so ethics, of the research component from the strategic, tactical, and operational goals of military decision-makers, and the role of HTT activities with respect to the goals of these decision-makers. Such an emphasis upon "rapid ethnographic research," too, suggest an apt comparison of HTTs with other anthropological modes of data collection of the rapid appraisal and assessment sort, which are typically carried out over weeks or months, and which are commonplace in the world of international development, among other applications.

The report explains that the social science methods to increase knowledge of people and cultures are used instead to push military objectives and that is not independent research nor is it what the social sciences exist for. Nor do the social sciences exist to provide targets for the military but some speaking to HTTs may be targeted by the military. This is especially a concern when HTTs turn over raw data to the military but it is a concern regardless especially due to the devices the military issues them.

Some anthropologists voiced criticisms that assert the inherently political nature of HTS as a facilitator of counterinsurgency. These critiques connect HTS to historical instances in which anthropological field techniques and theories were used to subjugate native peoples in colonial and neocolonial campaigns. Identifying participants in HTS with such terms as "technicians of power," these critics pointedly situate the activities of HTS in the context of U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, often described as neo-colonial wars of occupation "in the service of empire." Ethical and political critiques are sometimes kept distinct and sometimes made together. If CEAUSSIC's 2007 Report distinguished ethics from politics, and focused on the former, the political character of many critical reactions to HTS has to be acknowledged. If HTS advocates stress the "reduction of harm" by the use of embedded HTS social scientists, anthropological critics reject such arguments, instead focusing on the political context of what can become of anthropology as a discipline, if used as a tool for problematic military occupations, even if designed to reduce violence.

Patricia Cohen (New York Times) explains, "The panel concluded that the Pentagon program, called the Human Terrain System, has two conflicting goals: counterinsurgency and research. Collecting data in the context of war, where coercion and offensive tactics are always potentially present, 'can no longer be considered a legitimate professional exercise of anthropology' the report says." Trina was weighing in on counter-insurgency Monday: "Counter-insurgency is a War Crime. It is an abuse of the social science. It breaks all the ethics. And Tom Ricks doesn't know that because he's not a social scientist. He's nothing but a keyboard jockey who sniffed the skivies of a few grunts and generals and decided he was an expert on war. He's not an expert on anything. He's not even an expert on how to be a successful reporter because those days ended some time ago for Ricks. He is an ass and he is a War Criminal." Well said.

Turning to England where the
Iraq Inquiry heard public testimony. And it was not a good day for John Howard, former prime minister of Australia. Like the mistress showing up at the funeral, Howard's been repeatedly ignored as the special relationship between George W. Bush and Tony Blair has been touched on non-stop. Today, John Howard got a brief mention . . . or at least was alluded to.

Committee Member Lawrence Freeman: Can you say something a bit more about this question of influence as a factor in British military planning? Because it is assumed that if we had just gone for the package 2, which would not have been a trivial thing, which would have been quite a substantial commitment by the UK, that that would not have brought influence? After all, the Australians didn't provide that much, but they seem to have got a certain amount of influence and kudos with the Americans from what they did. We're a different sort of power to the Australians, but is there a direct relationship between the size of force and the amount of influence?

Michael Boyce: I am not sure the Australians did have any influence. They certainly got a lot of kudos from the Americans and we were very grateful for their contribution. I don't think they were as heavily involved in the planning process as we were. Also -- although you might say the final outcome didn't indicate it -- we had quite a lot of influence with regards to what was called Phase 4, all the aftermath planning as well, as a result of the size of our contribution.

For video or transcripts for witnesses,
click here. The Inquiry, chaired by John Chilcot, heard from Boyce and Kevin Tebbit (Permanent Under Secretary at the Ministry of Defence) today. Of Boyce, Andrew Gilligan (Telegraph of London) observes, "It's been the turn of Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, former chief of the defence staff, at the Iraq Inquiry today -- and it's striking how closely what he told Sir John Chilcot mirrors what we reported in the Telegraph, using leaked papers, before the inquiry even started. Notice any similarities between this story -- 'Hoon stopped me buying essential kit for troops, says Forces chief' -- and this one -- 'Troops rushed into battle without armour or training'? You read it here first." Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) reports, "Boyce said the defence chiefs 'ramped up' planning for possible war after a key meeting between Tony Blair and George Bush at the US president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002, 11 months before the invasion." Which appears to be the point all witness who've given public testimony in the nine days the panel has heard testimony can agree on. Mark Stone (Sky News) feels that today was "a drip-drip of evidence" with former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's name repeatedly coming in and him being seen "as the architect of the war" and quotes Boyce stating, "I could not get across to them [US] that the coalition would not be seen as a liberating force and that flowers would be stuck on the end of the rifles and we would be welcomed and it would all be lovely." Reflecting on all the testimony given since last week, Stone offers, "Perhaps all the witness are playing a fine game of passing the buck onto the Americans or perhaps the UK never really had any leverage over the Americans at all." David Brown (Times of London -- link has text and video) reports, "Lord Boyce said he had warned Tony Blair and the Cabinet that there must be a proper legal basis for military action before he could send British forces into Iraq. He said that he was given a certificate by Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney-General, although he indicated that he would have preferred a second Security Council resolution, which would have 'really nailed it'."

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Within these frank conversations, were there times when you had to express serious reservations or warnings to the Prime Minister about the course we were heading down?

Michael Boyce: I would certainly, on a number of occasions, have expressed views about, for example, the holding up decisions to get reserves mobilised, the decision to go overt or to start allowing the preparations to be made, and whatever other problems as I saw them, as they came up, you know, which we would then go about solving. I certainly never had any hesitation in making those known, and, indeed, was taken aside from time to time to say, "Can't we make it more of a half-full rather than a half-empty assessment?", but my view was what I had to do was provide as realistic an appraisal as possible, which was what I was being asked to do and I never felt I was being shut out from doing that.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Lord Butler's report --

Michael Bryce: Not by the Ministry anyway.

Who had the power? Who had the power to stop the Iraq War?
Ruth Barnett (Sky News) notes Boyce stated the Parliament could have stepped in at any time to prevent the war and Tebbit agreed but added that stopping late in teh game could have done "serious damage to the bilateral relationship" between England and the US. Peter Walker and Andrew Sparrow (Guardian) report that Boyce stated, "No matter how many times you said to senior American officers, and indeed Mr Rumsfeld, that we were not committing our forces until we had been through the proper UN process, and had been through parliament as well, there was a complete reluctance to believe that." BBC News' Peter Biles offers this analysis: "The inquiry's committee missed an opportunity to pursue this in greater detail. As earlier witnesses have pointed out, the situation was further complicated by the different groups, and divergent views, within the US administration."

On yesterday's NewsHour (PBS -- link has text, audio and video options), Judy Woodruff observed, "In other news today: A top U.N. official in Iraq said elections will have to be delayed by more than a month. The voting had been set for January, but Iraqi lawmakers have not agreed on reforming the election process." Alsumaria reports that Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq, and Nouri al-Maliki, Prime Minister and thug of the occupation, met late last night to address the issue of elections: "After the meeting Talabani stresses that it is necessary to pass the law fast adding that delaying elections is unacceptable since it is necessary to hold the same according to Iraq constitution. The President, Prime Minister and Speaker have the right to extend the parliament's term for one month only, Talabani added." January 31st, Parliament's term expires (as does Nouri's -- Nouri was elected by Parliament). If Tariq al-Hashimi wants to veto the latest election law alterations, he allegedly has until the end of today to do so. Al Jazeera (link has text and video) reports: "The High Judicial Council ruled that the deadline would be extended to Sunday, because the 10-day period would legally end on Friday, and a decision could await the subsequent working day, Abdul-Sattar Birqdar, a court spokesman said. In Iraq, the weekend is Friday and Saturday." Jamal Hashim (Xinhua) reports that Ayad Allawi (the prime minister immediately before Nouri) was also visited last night by various "leaders of several political factions" to explore the elections issues and quotes an unnamed "parliamentary source" stating, "The meeting discussed how to reach a consensus over the election law, and some proposals were made during the meeting." Hadi al-Ameri is one of the leaders identified in the article and is quoted stating, "There was an agreement among the politicians in the meeting that seats for the provinces would remain as it is before the veto to the election law by Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, but the Kurds would be granted two more seats and then number of parliament seats will increase to 325 instead of 323."

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing which claimed 1 life and left six people injured, a Baghdad sticky bombing which claimed 1 life and left two people injured, a Mosul bombing which left a child injured and 1 Tirkrit suicide bomber who took his own life and claimed the lives of 1 "commander of the anti-riot force in Tikrit" and 3 of his bodyguards with fifteen other people injured. Sabah al-Bzee, Michael Christie and Angus MacSwan (Reuters) report that the commander in Tikrit was Lt Col Ahmed Subhi al-Fahal who had been shopping when he was attacked. Ernesto Londono and Muhanad Saif (Washington Post) explain, "The bomber ran toward Lt. Col. Ahmed al-Fahal, who heads the city's anti-terrorism and anti-riot force, as he was walking in a crowded market, according to Lt. Ibrahim al-Duir, a police spokesman in Tikrit."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 police officer wounded in a Mosul drive by and 2 Iraqi soldiers killed in Mosul clashes. Reuters notes 1 Iraqi soldier shot dead in Baghdad yesterday and an attack on a Baghdad cafe in which 1 man was shot dead.

Today at World Can't Wait, Mathis Chiroux shares his thoughts on Barack Obama's Afghanistan War speech:

So it's come to this. Obama's gotta wage his war, and I gotta sit in the street.
It's not that I like blocking traffic or getting arrested or dealing with the fall-out when I could be reading a book. It's that I can't live with endless war and I must end it or surely die.
I'm not leaving this country. This is my mess, so help me, and I'll scrub it till my fingers bleed. I will not compromise with genocide. I will not run from those behind it.
Endless war is the promise of our time, signed in blood and sealed with death's own kiss. Its stench hangs around us heavy smog. While I dare not breathe for fear of intoxication, I cannot hold much longer.
This is the American nightmare, and it's shattering my heart like glass.

Yesterday on
KPFA's Flashpoints, Dennis Bernstein, Robert Knight and Nora Barrows-Friedman tackled the realities so much of the media ignores regarding the speech and its meanings. (Barrows-Friedman gets Palestinian reaction to the speech). Guests included A.N.S.W.E.R.'s Richard Becker, Iraq Veterans Against the War's Michael Kern (who speaks of being unable to sit passively through the speech and also speaks of resistance), Military Families Speak Out's Lisa Lietz who discusses what it means in terms of her husband and others in the service, Georgia Stillwell Bissomette who offers both the perspective of a mother and of a Native American (don't miss her comments regarding colonization), Rami al-Meghari and Dahr Jamail (who speaks of military suicides, in addition to other topics, and we'll hopefully have time to highlight that tomorrow). At Amped Status, they explore "Af-Pak War Racket: The Obama Illusion Comes Crashing Down." Noted professor and attorney (international law is his specialization) Francis A. Boyle, at ZNet, provides a walk through on the issues of legality re: the Afghanistan War:

War of Aggression Against Afghanistan

Bush, Jr. instead went to the United National Security Council to get a resolution authorizing the use of military force against Afghanistan and Al Qaeda. He failed. You have to remember that. This war has never been authorized by the United Nations Security Council. If you read the two resolutions that he got, it is very clear that what Bush, Jr. tried to do was to get the exact same type of language that Bush, Sr. got from the U.N. Security Council in the late fall of 1990 to authorize a war against Iraq to produce its expulsion from Kuwait. It is very clear if you read these resolutions, Bush, Jr. tried to get the exact same language twice and they failed. Indeed the first Security (OOTC:FRCT) Council resolution refused to call what happened on September 11 an "armed attack" - that is by one state against another state. Rather they called it "terrorist attacks." But the critical point here is that this war has never been approved by the U.N. Security Council so technically it is illegal under international law. It constitutes an act and a war of aggression by the United States against Afghanistan.

No Declaration of War

Now in addition Bush, Jr. then went to Congress to get authorization to go to war. It appears that Bush, Jr. tried to get a formal declaration of war along the lines of December 8, 1941 after the Day of Infamy like FDR got on Pearl Harbor. Bush then began to use the rhetoric of Pearl Harbor. If he had gotten this declaration of war Bush and his lawyers knew full well he would have been a Constitutional Dictator. And I refer you here to the book by my late friend Professor Miller of George Washington University Law School, Presidential Power that with a formal declaration of war the president becomes a Constitutional Dictator. He failed to get a declaration of war. Despite all the rhetoric we have heard by the Bush, Jr. administration Congress never declared war against Afghanistan or against anyone. There is technically no state of war today against anyone as a matter of constitutional law as formally declared.

On the subject of Iraq, there is a
National Geographic special set to air December 13th (9:00 pm EST) entitled Inside the Iraq War:

A controversial war that has claimed the lives of more than 4,000 U.S. troops and tens of thousands of civilians. A war with countless stories of bravery, triumph, sacrifice and tragedy. Even as six years of news coverage and policy debate have framed our understanding of the war in Iraq, what have our service members really experienced? And what can their up-close insight teach us about this war?Transporting viewers to war-torn Iraq, National Geographic Channel (NGC) provides an unflinching, personal and in-depth look at the last six years in Inside the Iraq War, premiering Sunday, December 13, at 9 p.m. ET/PT. From the producers of Inside 9/11, Inside the Iraq War opens a window into the first-person experiences of the men and women who live this war on a daily basis the dangerous missions, the interrogations, the life-or-death situations and the ongoing battle for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. The film avoids the policy debate that raged in the United States and around the world and opens a window into the soldier's battlefield perspective through a complex tapestry of video shot by the troops themselves, news footage from embedded journalists, rare photos and compelling personal accounts from those on the front lines.

Staying with TV,
NOW on PBS debuts its latest episode Friday on most PBS stations and this one examines:

As Congress hammers out legislation that will determine the future of health care in this country, NOW travels to the nation's heartland to see what reform could mean for the middle class. On Friday, December 4 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa meets two tight-knit Oklahoma families whose problems with private health insurance left them unable to get proper medical care -- and on the brink of financial ruin. One of those families - the O'Reillys -- grapples with the issue of how to cover needed respiratory therapy treatment for their eight-year-old daughter, Sophie, who was denied coverage for what the insurance company labeled a "pre-existing condition.""People pretty frequently say, 'Oh, you know, my plan works great for me'," says Sophie's mother Natalie O'Reilly." And my answer to that is -- insurance works really well until you need it. Until you really, truly need it."

Turning to something non-Iraq related. Today in the Committee on Homeland Security hearing, US House Rep Eleanor Holmes Norton got a refresher in how blind trust in the media can leave you with egg on your face. Sounding very sure of herself, she repeated the claim that always sounded false but was so pleasing to so many: Barack Obama is receiving more death threats than anyone ever has!!!! Eleanor's not the first person to repeat that nor did she originate the false assertion. She just had the misfortune of repeating it to the Director of the Secret Service Mark J. Sullivan who quickly corrected her and explained that Barack had not received more threat at this point in his presidency than had Bill Clinton or George W. Bush at the same time in Clinton's presidency or Bush's whatever you want to call it. (I have never used the "p" word to refer to Bush and never will.)

Eleanor's a smart woman (except when it comes to films) and she's not a liar. She didn't create the claim. She read it, she heard it. It was all over the media.
By October, Bryan Bender was asserting in the Boston Globe -- though careful readers may have noted that he had no source for it in his article. The false claims -- it felt so good to so many! -- first surfaced in an article by Toby Harnden (Telegraph of London) where he clearly identified it as appearing in a book by Ronald Kessler. That's August 3, 2009. It just felt so good and so righteous! to so many freak shows. By August 12, Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) was repeating it. The same Rothschild, it should be noted, who spent the bulk of this decade explaining how one 'threat' against Bush after another was in fact not a threat but an overreaction which led to an innocent person being targeted. But that's when a Republican's in the White House. When it's a Democrat, Matty's no longer concerned about examining alleged threats, he's too busy rushing forward with bad columns. Why? Because he feels so good thinking everyone wants to get Barack. He feels so wonderful. It makes him feel special and, yes, superior. And if you've ever seen Matthew Rothschild then you know feel superior to anyone isn't something he's often been able to pull off. But there was Matty in August insisting that Barack was getting 30 death threats a day! A 400% from Bush! And who was the source? Toby's source. Ronald Kessler. It's curious that Matty, writing for The 'Progressive,' didn't feel the need to identify Kessler who allegedly did interviews with unnamed Secret Service agents to get his 'facts'. Kessler publishes with what outlet? Oh, yes, Newsmax. Newsmax. Not an unbiased publication. Matty knew his readers -- all three -- would laugh like crazy if he explained who Kessler was or his Newsmax ties. So he just left that out. Conservatives, Matty will invite you into his bed but, remember, in the morning you'll need tip-toe down the hall. So that's the source and has always been the source -- a single source -- Ronald Kessler. Kessler's always played loose with the facts and it's often bitten him in the butt. For anyone other than right-wing partisans to take him or his sensationalistic and gossipy books seriously is rather surprising. But Matty did. Because it said what he wanted to hear. It said what he needed to hear in order to feel special about himself and to feel like he was so much better than the country he lived in. In fact, I think I hear the first sentence of The Matthew Rothschild Story: "From an early age, he was driven by a need to feel better than the country he lived in and better than its people. He was of them, yet he was never for them."

Testifying to Congress today, the head of the Secret Service corrected the falsehood. Wait and see which of the many (Amy Goodman also repeated the nonsense claims) freaks will come forward and say, "OOPS!" It was a pleasing tale to tell for many, it just wasn't true. By the way, Kat attended the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Afghanistan and the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the same topic Wednesday and wrote about it last night in "
Depressing time in the House and Senate." And, again, we didn't open with Iraq. But this lie about the threats has been repeated over and over and we'll open with the facts. Unless Sullivan retracts or 'clarifies' his statement, that is now the public record and liars are on notice. The hearing was this morning. For those who'd like to see it, click here to stream and it may not be posted until Friday morning.

Danny Schechter been reporting on the Congo this week -- here, here and here [I join Marcia in recommending those reports -- see Marcia's "Recommended reading" and "Not one word from me on the War Hawk (promise)"].

the diane rehm show
david h. price
george packer
the telegraph of londonandrew gilligan
sky newsruth barnett
the guardian
richard norton-taylor
andrew sparrow
the times of londondavid brownbbc newspeter biles
mcclatchy newspaperslaith hammoudi
the newshourjudy woodruffalsumariapeter walkerjamal hashimxinhua
kpfaflashpointsdahr jamail
francis a. boyle
danny schechter
now on pbs

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