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Filipino Monkey - the new "Tonkin Incident"?

It's taken me a day to realise how bogus the "Filipino Monkey" saga may truly be. I now believe that using the story has been a "safety hatch," an trustworthy escape from a failed attempt at starting a new war.

Vainly, I'd arrived at the connection due to my name (the story only really came to Australia yesterday), but was far from disappointed to find that many bloggers have made the connection between the Filipino Monkey saga and the Tonkin Incident. For those who don't know, the Gulf Of Tonkin was the location of a confrontation that was used as vindication for starting the Vietnam war, and it's now widely believed that the event was faked.

We'd better start at the battlefront. Here's a taste from Fox News:

Already a troubling issue for Bush, Iran jumped back into the spotlight Sunday when Iranian boats harassed and provoked three American Navy ships in the strategic Strait of Hormuz. U.S. officials said Iran threatened to explode the vessels, but the incident ended peacefully.

Bush said "all options are on the table" to protect U.S. ships. He said the Iranian boats "were very provocative and it was a dangerous gesture on their part. ... And they know our position, and that is: There will be serious consequences if they attack our ships, pure and simple. And my advice to them is don't do it."

The US released a video of the incident, vision of an Iranian officer talking into a mike on a boat overlaid with the menacing words. ""I am coming to you. ... You will explode after ... minutes."

The trouble with this graphic portrayal of Iranian hostility is that the vision and audio don't match. Sound from a man speaking from a small open boat would be accompanied by background noise like wind and the engine, but the dialogue on the video is unhampered, as spoken from a closed room. The Pentagon, according to the Guardian, has countered this problem by saying that it recorded the film and the sound separately and then edited them together to give a "better idea of what is happening".

In the days following Bush's war-sermon from Jerusalem, speculation bounced around the net that the words were spoken by Filipino Monkey, and the navy admitted that it couldn't be sure the broadcast (which was heard after the event but relocated to the middle for their "better idea") came from the speedboats, but it couldn't be sure that it didn't.

"What is your cargo? What is your cargo?" the voice of an Iranian officer crackled over the radio.

Before the ship's captain could respond, a third voice came on the air: "I am carrying machine guns and hand grenades to Iraq . . . and the atom bomb."

The exchange above exchange apparently happened in 1987, and was printed in the Los Angeles Times.

In March of the next year, the Washington Monthly published another Monkey story

[extract]

But the Tennessee drawl on warship 993 is still questioning its starboard stranger. "Who are you and what is your intention?"

There is an ominous silence. Then a high-pitched cackle fills the airwaves. "It's the Fil-i-peeno Mon-key! Who wants some Fil-i-peeno ba-NAN-a?"

Kochrekar laughs. The voice, he explains, belongs to a renegade radio hacker, code-named Filipino Monkey, who likes to break in at tense moments with obscenities and animal noises.

"It's the Mon-KEEEEE!" the voice shrieks again. "Come and get my ba-NAAAAAAN-a!"

Shippers have been trying to trace the Monkey for three years, without success. "You see, even in wartime a man can find laughter," Kochrekar says, turning off the radio.

This bitter assessment on a Military Times blog sums up the sentiment bouncing around the net:

"We put it in there - even though we have absolutely no idea who was speaking and even though it didn't sound like any of the other radio transmissions (which we purposely left out so that you couldn't compare it with the transmissions that we were sure were coming from the Iranian boats) so that the gullible American public would think that the Iranian Navy was threatening the USN in the Gulf of Hormuz. (Or is that the Straight of Tonkin?)".

You can't help but wonder, though, what might have happened if the media stunt had succeeded. Bush's words from Jerusalem may have added enough to Cheney's previous urging of Israeli first-strike on Iran to enable Tel Aviv to push the Red Button, after which Dubya could fulfil his promises of support in such a conflict . As Iranian supporters retaliated against Israel, transforming the War On Terror into the War For The Holy lands, dirty bombs, not mention a few "real" nuclear blasts, could begin to explode in cities throughout the world.

Perhaps this didn't happen because of the speed in which the knowledge of the Bush Administration's spin-doctoring raced around the globe.

The fall-back, on detection, to the Filipino Monkey story now presents itself as a cover-up for a con-job. The question that lingers in my mind, given that the Navy can't tell where the broadcast came from, is that it could have come from anywhere. It could even have come from a US operative.

If the internet had existed at the time of the Tonkin Incident, perhaps the fallacies might have been detected in time to stop the Vietnam War.

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"The Pentagon mislead? Aw, come in."

Good to see you around, Chris, interesting article you got your extract from.

Back to the Strait of Hormuz incident and a question as to whether Congress is interested in investigating whether the Pentagon might have gilded the lily. Given that matters could have gotten out of hand, you would think that they would, wouldn't you? Well ...

Diplomacy as a way to try to avoid war? One might think that was normally the case, except if normal does not apply.

And don't forget the nukes. And more of that particular form of diplomacy.

Prose for our time.....

I found a couple of paragraphs on the Smoking Mirrors website that I would like to pass on to Webdiarists.

It's so well written, that I am stuck between admiration and jealousy.

There is one thing that defines everyone over the course of these early years of this new century. That thing is the 9/11 attack. Everyone in government and every field of endeavor the world over is defined by their position on this event.........

Think about what you allow yourself to know. Think about what you pass by; ignore, deny and defend ...that defines you. It defines the degree of your personal courage, your relationship to the truth, your values, your principles and what you will pass on to your children and everyone you meet. It tells you in that place where your conscience must once have lived whether you are a hypocrite and a fool or whether something greater still lives within you.

I might turn that into a 'fridge magnet.

A Head Is A Head Is A Head......

Fiona: Paul, this particular topic has been taken as far as it can go. So no more on this head, please.

Well as Mr Ramsey might say "fair enough", and I'll make it my last comment. It's ironic though I'm defending the AP reporter (who just happens to be in a war zone as opposed to say downtown Chicago on the net) for his/her report on a thread devoted to conspiracy theories with cobbled together mainstream media commentary. Find a freak (for all I know) with a blog babbling about an up coming attack on Iran (unquoted sources of course) - no problems. Top ranking Pentagon official: Hey Larry you know that guy that does that blog wearing only his underwear and a foil helmet, how bouts we leak some highly classified information to him? Yep, it no doubt happens all the time.

The thing unfortunately is that any person that thinks even slightly rationally about this subject knows we will be returning to it in the future - similar attacks are sure to take place.

Instead of admitting failure in halting the violence which has plagued Iraq since the US occupation of 2003, US and Iraqi authorities resort to a continued and violent language to confuse and distract from the real issues.

In politics this is known as staying on message. The mostly idiot proponents of this tactic will hope to transfer it onto McCain - should of course result in us getting a seventy two year President which hardly any person truly wants. They don't call them the self destructing Dummocrates for nothing.

About Ramzy Baroud, Paul

A little, Paul, about Ramzy Baroud from his bio:

Veteran Palestinian-American journalist and former Al-Jazeera producer, Ramzy Baroud taught Mass Communication at Australia's Curtin University of Technology, and is Editor-in-Chief of the Palestine Chronicle. Baroud's work has been published in hundreds of newspapers and journals worldwide, including The Washington Post, The International Herald Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, The Miami Herald, The Japan Times and Al-Ahram Weekly. He has been a guest on numerous television programs including CNN International, BBC, ABC Australia, National Public Radio, Al-Jazeera and many others. He has contributed to many anthologies and his 2002 book, "Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion" has received international recognition. In 2002, Ramzy Baroud’s book was published in the United States, entitled Searching Jenin, Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion, with an introduction by Noam Chomksy.

Ramzy was also kind enough last year to agree to my request to republish one of his pieces on Webdiary.

So now you know.  Hardly "a freak ... with a blog" wouldn't you say?  This business of smearing everybody with alternative opinions is boring.  As you said, though, you didn't know.  Perhaps you should have checked before discrediting?

That's definitely it for me on this thread.

Media, Language & War

Richard, I thought you may be interested in what Ramzy Baroud has to say on this topic:

In the competitive world of media today, swift and conveniently selective reporting is of prime importance. Google News, for example, claim to scan 4,500 news sources, of which only a few are highlighted as main stories. There are thousands of similar services, all competing to produce a story in the fastest time. Thorough - and thus slower - reporting is relegated and crucial information often appears too little too late.

The Iraq story, which has occupied a huge proportion of headline news for years, serves as a good example of this.

On February 1st, only a few minutes apart, two Iraqi women detonated themselves in two crowded pet markets in the Iraqi capital. Authorities said that 98 people were reportedly killed and 200 were wounded. Eyewitnesses reported a grizzly scene where human and animal body parts littered the streets, hundreds of feet away from the blasts.

Any thorough analysis of the story would have to examine several related factors. First, it would need to juxtapose the high death toll with US and Iraqi governments’ reports of ‘calm’ in the Baghdad area. The claim of a ‘return to normalcy’ in the Iraqi capital has been propagated for months, as a way of validating US President’s Bush’s military ‘surge’. Even if we buy into the questionable statistics aimed at hyping the positive outcome of the surge – questionable because they are only promoted by US and Iraqi military sources, with vested interests in downplaying the seriousness of the ‘insurgency’ – the violence seems to have shifted from the capital into northern areas, especially Mosul.

Instead of admitting failure in halting the violence which has plagued Iraq since the US occupation of 2003, US and Iraqi authorities resort to a continued and violent language to confuse and distract from the real issues.

I'll bring a shelalegh.

Fiona Reynolds: "See you on St Patrick's Day."

Fair enough. I'll bring a shelalegh.

Fiona: I will look forward to it, Eliot.

Time Is Thankfully Almost Up

Richard Tonkin: "What about, Paul Morrella, a group of German-paid French masquerading as Resistance in order to alienate the populace from the fighters?"

Unlike France in WWII there isn't any popular resistance movement in Iraq as we currently know it - and there never will be. Iraq is a collection of races, religions, and states within states. The resistance fighter line is a figment of imagination. A divided Iraq was the major problem America had when it backed Iraq in the war with Iran - a war Iraq should have in all other circumstances easily won. Unfortunately neocons never really learned anything from this experience and they refused to take any advice on it. The biggest neocon mistake was to put all their eggs into the democracy basket (hilarious to any worldly hard-nosed foreign policy advisor).

George Bush and cronies unfortunately have put way to much emphasis on the Middle East - a problem that will no doubt become apparent in the not very distant future. As for Iraq I see the problem as basically now out of the Bush hands. I personally see two options for a future Iraq.

  • A break up of Iraq into at the very least independent provinces
  • Another hard man like Saddam back on the seen with the world's (at least secret) blessing.

America has never been a good empire builder; horrible if the truth be told. What America has profited from and been very good at is enjoying the fruits of others people's empire building activities. I think after the next election we will begin to see a subtle shift back toward this tried and proven direction.

Possible But Probably Not Probable

Richard Tonkin: "What about, Paul Morrella, a group of German-paid French masquerading as Resistance in order to alienate the populace from the fighters? If I were Goebbels I would have been thinking about it."

Sure, and he could have thought about sending thousands of Germans into Ireland; sneaking into peoples houses, and turning the lights on during German bombing raids - nothing like a little religious animosity. Though, something so idiotic in all probability wouldn't work or be needed. Craig by the way had the bombing down as an embarassment to American forces. I suppose, though, embarassing one's own forces is so brilliant that nobody could ever work out why it would be done.

By the way, I assume your local pet shop isn't in the middle of a military conflict zone? There may be a teensy bit of difference in the probablilities.

No the local pet shop isn't in a military zone. Though, if it were it probably wouldn't be the most guarded of guarded places - some people may even call it an easy target. And if the guards were to work off something called a profile they probably wouldn't have retarded people, and children, on their priority list of security risks - something that possibly may enter into a group of murdering psychopaths' disturbed minds.

If you can find a reference to the "crazy lady" that doesn't have ",AP" in the byline you will be doing well.

Well I'm not about to gather together you, Craig, and a group of forensic scientists and head to Iraq. The idea of having my head cut off on video with the last words I may ever possibly hear being you screaming; the Americans are paying them, certainly is not my idea of a relaxing holiday.

Fiona: Paul, this particular topic has been taken as far as it can go. So no more on this head, please.

Worse Unfortunately Will Surely Follow

Craig Rowley

And it is very embarrassing to have failed to protect those people in the market. It's very embarrassing to have made so much of how the "surge" would solve everything only to find that it solved very little.

Who said the surge would solve everything? Embarrassing? I couldn't go along with that. There is a limit in every society to how much protection people will ever have from others wishing to cause great harm. A person with some ease could bomb my local pet store; killing any number of young girls looking at the kitty cats, likely they could even talk (or trick) a mentally retarded person into doing it for them. Would that embarrass my local police? No, they like every other normal person would see that person[s] as insane, and call them for the vile creatures they are.

My original point remains. They wouldn't be in a position to do such an unethical, immoral, illegal, and inhumane thing in an Iraq that hadn't been torn apart by an illegal invasion and mismanaged occupation.

Do you understand now?

Well no I don't understand. What I don't understand that a person, because of the wrongs of George Bush, would feel the need for killing in cold blood their own innocent citizens. I'm not so sure the Germans would have been all that concerned if the French resistance embarked on a mission of clearing the streets of..... well.... French!

In fact, the source report, the AP report by Stephen R. Hurst that's been used by news outlets around the world, only ever said that Iraqi police claim one of the women was known as the "crazy lady". The Downs syndrome speculation has been based on what the damaged head of one of the bombers looked like. No-one to date has furnished evidence that the bombers had Down syndrome.

So what? It has been widely reported by any number of people that cannot be called "neocons". There is no reason why it shouldn't be discussed. My own opinion is that it is very believable, and I have little doubt other atrocities (even worse) will not happen at a future date - this is a race to the bottom. These people are not resisting anything, and haven't been resisting for a long time. It is a simple fight for power and money between themselves with the most barbaric seemingly being the most rewarded. This should be apparent

The sooner the majority of Iraqis turn their collective backs on these barbarians; the better the nation will be for all Iraqis.

 

Possibilities, probablities

What about, Paul Morrella, a group of  German-paid French masquerading as Resistance in order to alienate the populace from the fighters?  If I were Goebbels I would have been thinking about it.

 It has been widely reported by any number of people that cannot be called "neocons".

If you can find a reference to the "crazy lady" that doesn't have ",AP" in the byline you will be doing well.  As Craig and I are trying to point out, the same point of view from the same source disseminated from multiple broadcast points may constitute "wide reporting" but if it's local jounos cutting and pasting from the same wire, then it's still actually only one report.

By the way, I assume your local pet shop isn't in the middle of a military conflict zone?  There may be a teensy bit of difference in the probablilities.

Let's end this conversation Paul

Paul, if you don't understand what I've written, then let's just leave it at that, okay? 

I'm not going to go over it again and I'm not interested in any further conversation with you on this subject because you clearly can't comprehend some very simple points I've made and there's little prospect of any meaningful discussion between us from here on in.

Contingent hypotheses

Craig Rowley: 'Am I denying that one of the bombers was known as the "crazy lady"?  No, I'm not doing that either. I'm reserving judgement.'

Well, if anything comes up, be sure to let us know.

Contingent reinforcement

We moderators have been somewhat perplexed over the past few weeks, Eliot. Was your new year's resolution to be as nasty as possible to and/or about as many people as possible? Or has it merely been a prolonged bilious attack?

Whichever, we have come to the conclusion that you should indeed "rest your case" for a few weeks, in the hope that at least a partial cure may be effected.

This is an action that we take with some regret, as you are capable of informed and intelligent comment that contributes to the many discussions that Webdiary tries to encourage. However, your usual pattern of "remorseless ridicule" is both offensive and tedious.

See you on St Patrick's Day.

I rest my case...

Richard Tonkin: "Let's make this clear.  There is no evidence that al Qaeda was involved in the attacks.  None.  As for the "crazy lady" story, again we only have one source.  Without more corroboration this may as well be fiction.  I believe it most likely is pure propaganda, a falsification along the lines of tampering with the "evidence" of the speedboat incident."

Well, we agree on one thing. As a "falsification" it is a bit like the "speedboat incident".

What's particularly striking is your reluctance to accept the account of the source at the scene. Because, well, it's inconvenient to your prior assumptions.

There's a related discussion underway at the 'Leftie? Yeah, right...' thread.

See my comment there 'People ridicule the Left because it's so easy'

Awkward

Craig Rowley: 'Who was the "eyewitness who knew the crazy lady", Eliot?'

As you have yourself pointed out over and over, Police said the woman wearing the bomb sold cream in the mornings at the market and was known to locals as "the crazy lady."

Are you denying this?

Richard Tonkin: "One last thing though.  Eliot, your repeated citing of the Paul McGeogh piece is inappropriate in that the material is only relevant to the case in demonstrating precedent.  It discusses an event, as you know, around three years ago."

So, you are not denying tthe substantive content of Paul's report. You would just rather I not bring it up in this context. As a modus operandi?

What about the kids used by Hamas? Not mention them, either? Is this awkward?

Craig Rowley: "I've mentioned several times how no 'diarist could be one of the "claque of apologists for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad", so who are the members of "the usual claque of apologists for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad", Eliot?"

Well, the single most conspicuous apologist for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the world is his 'brother' Hugo Chavez, of course.

For further discussion about this, perhaps the editors would like to re-open "What if...?" thread, or else readers might like to peruse it at their leisure for their own amusement. 

Boorish?

Eliot Ramsey: "Are you denying this [i.e. that the reports were that Iraqi police said the woman wearing the bomb sold cream in the mornings at the market and was known to locals as "the crazy lady"]?"

No, and as you did note that I'd pointed out "over and over" that the one AP report echoed everywhere contained a line about the Iraqi IPS claim, I take it your "denial" question is just you being boorish as usual.

Am I denying that one of the bombers was known as the "crazy lady"?  No, I'm not doing that either. I'm reserving judgement. Unlike you, I'm just not unthinkingly accepting any claim made by IPS at face value. 

Why not accept the IPS claim without question? Well, as I pointed out in my comment yesterday (Volumes) the IPS is said to be dysfunctional and infiltrated by Shiite militias and it employed the officers who failed to protect people at the al-Ghazl pet market last week. 

The need to overcome the perception that the IPS failed to provide adequate security at that market may be motive for the IPS to lie about the situation, yes?

Put up

Well, at least you've admitted that the McGeogh report is only evidence of modus operandi.  This implies that you've found proof that the recent attacks were the work of al Qaeda, Eliot.  Great.. show us.  Otherwise you have modus operandi but no perpetrator.  And if you think that quoting the US State Department is going to wash as proof, well, forget it, especially when the US Military makes no such claim.

Let's make this clear.  There is no evidence that al Qaeda was involved in the attacks.  None. 

As for the "crazy lady" story, again we only have one source.  Without more corroboration this may as well be fiction.  I believe it most likely is pure propaganda, a falsification along the lines of tampering with the "evidence" of the speedboat incident.

Time and time again now you've been shown to be sticking to a line of argument when you haven't a leg to stand on.  Do you do it just to keep the conversations flowing?

A last gasp? And inhuman treatment.

It's that time of year again when a certain bloodthirsty group gets together to try to rally support for more death and destruction. Yes, it's the Herzliya conference. However, there is the feeling that time is running out and the US will not do the job they want.

While their numbers were strong, the hawks this year appeared less confident about their influence on Washington's foreign policy, and resentful of an American bureaucracy perceived by many attendees as having hijacked Iran policy from the weakening grasp of the White House. "It's close to zero percent chance that the Bush administration will authorize military action against Iran before leaving office," Bolton told the conference. "No one should be under any illusions about the United States' part in the Iranian situation in the coming year."

Podhoretz, for his part, agreed: "Unless Bush realizes or fulfills my fading hope of air strikes, it is undoubtedly up to Israel to prevent" Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Bolton, like Podhoretz, urged Israeli policymakers to prepare to take matters into their own hands, saying "Israel should be willing to see themselves as a possible last resort." Though his call for Israel to prepare to strike Iran on its own–as well as his outspoken exasperation with the administration he until recently served–were met with chuckles from the Herzliya audience, the prospect of Israel ultimately choosing to act unilaterally came up again and again.

Two names that keep cropping up when the matter of promoting military action against Iran are mentioned. And no amount of misrepresentation and general bs can disguise the neocons' role in warmongering. Palestinians aren't enough it seems, they want Iranians added to their "to do away with" list.

Now to inhuman treatment:

Larisa Alexandrovna - Mukasey's law

We have Godwin's law, which argues that:

"As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one" (Wiki).

Now we have something else, something I never thought an American leader would say in public, let alone argue in front of Congress. What we now have is Mukasey's law, which I will define as such:

"When a democracy is in decline, the increasingly illegal and immoral acts of its leaders will be justified by the same arguments used by the Nazis to justify their illegal and immoral acts."

The Attorney General of the United States quite literally turned to the Nazi defense in order to argue why he won't allow the Department of Justice to investigate war crimes committed by US military and intelligence personnel under the orders of the US President. The argument that Mukasey presents is summarized in this Boston Globe article as follows:

"Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said yesterday that he will not allow the Justice Department to investigate whether CIA interrogators broke an antitorture law when they subjected detainees to simulated drownings, a controversial interrogation technique known as waterboarding that the Bush administration this week acknowledged it has used in the war on terrorism. 

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, Mukasey said it would be inappropriate to investigate the interrogators because the Justice Department had issued secret memos concluding that President Bush's wartime powers made waterboarding and warrantless surveillance legally permissible.

"Essentially, it would tell people, you rely on a Justice Department opinion as part of a program, then you will be subject to criminal investigation when and if the tenure of the person who wrote the opinion changes or, indeed, the political winds change," Mukasey said. "And that's not something that I think would be appropriate, and it's not something I will do."'

Barton Hinkle - Defending Torture, Administration Stoops to the Orwellian.

Earlier this week the White House called American veterans liars.

The Bush administration didn't say it quite so baldly as that. But after CIA director Michael Hayden acknowledged the use of waterboarding, a White House spokesman said the ad ministration had determined it was a lawful "enhanced interrogation technique" rather than illegal torture.

That's a remarkable shift. During the WWII era the U.S. prosecuted Japanese military leaders for committing torture -- by waterboarding -- in the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. As Charles Nielsen, an Army Air Force lieutenant who was captured by the Japanese, testified then: "I was given several types of torture . . . .I was given what they call the water cure." He described the effect: "I felt more or less like I was drowning, just gasping between life and death." Was Nielsen lying?

Retired Army Gen. Stephen Xenakis says that "our nation has regarded wa terboarding as torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment since the late 19th century." Is he a liar?

The U.S. Army field manual prohibits warterboarding. U.S. servicemen were convicted for waterboarding enemy soldiers in both 1901 and 1968. And in congressional testimony last year, Malcolm Wrightson Nance, a counterterrorism specialist and instructor at the Navy's SERE -- Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape -- school, described his own experience with waterboarding: "It is an overwhelming experience that induces horror and triggers frantic survival instincts." Is Nance a liar?

In G-d's eyes, we are all precious.

After one spends 45 years in Washington, high farce does not normally throw one off balance. But I found the events of Thursday to be an acid test of my equilibrium.

 

I missed the National Prayer Breakfast—for the 45th time in a row. But, as I drove to work I listened with rapt attention as President George W. Bush gave his insights on prayer:

“When we lift our hearts to God, we’re all equal in his sight. We’re all equally precious. ... In prayer we grow in mercy and compassion. ... When we answer God’s call to love a neighbor as ourselves, we enter into a deeper friendship with our fellow man — and a deeper relationship with our eternal Father.”

Vice President Dick Cheney skipped Thursday’s prayer breakfast in order to put the final touches on the speech he gave later that morning to the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Perhaps he felt he needed some extra time to devise careful words to extol “the interrogation program run by the CIA ... a tougher program for tougher customers, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11,” without conceding that the program has involved torture.

 ...

On Wednesday, however, President Bush’s spokesman Tony Fratto revealed that the White House reserves the right to approve waterboarding again, “depending upon circumstances.”

Fratto matter-of-factly described the process still followed by the Bush administration to approve torture—er, I mean “enhanced interrogation techniques” like waterboarding:

“The process includes the director of the Central Intelligence Agency bringing the proposal to the attorney general, where the review would be conducted to determine if the plan would be legal and effective. At that point, the proposal would go to the president. The president would listen to the determination of his advisers and make a decision.”

"... equally precious". Oh.

A reporters lot is not easy ...

A review of a book about reporting in Iraq.

The late British journalist James Cameron, known for his coverage of
the Vietnam War, said of his journalism, "I may not have always been
satisfactorily balanced; I always tended to argue that objectivity was
of less importance than truth." Perhaps in times of peace, objectivity
naturally hews closer to truth. But when leadership misleads (or,
euphemisms be damned, lies to) the public, journalists bear a
greater responsibility. "Reporting" can all too easily translate into
providing a megaphone for intentionally misleading information.

It is these issues that are at the forefront of Reporting Iraq: An Oral History of the War by the Journalists Who Covered It. Comprised mainly of interviews with over 40 journalists who covered the war, Reporting Iraq offers a candid view of the difficulties and complexities of working in an environment so hostile to reporters.

In one episode Rajiv Chandrasekaran of the Washington Post
recalls the difficulty of getting any relevant information from the
Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA): "Well, off the record," CPA
advisor Dan Senor told him, "Paris is burning, but on the record,
security and stability are returning to Iraq." Such double-speak
motivated reporters to take great risks to find the facts -- and
spurred a wartime environment where journalists have now come to rely
heavily on Iraqi stringers who, unlike western reporters, are able move
more freely around the country. Reporting Iraq takes a close
look at the triumphs, challenges and regrets of reporters working to
cover the first three years of the occupation of Iraq.

Mike Hoyt, co-editor of Reporting Iraq and executive editor of the Columbia Journalism Review
recently sat down with AlterNet to discuss some of the major themes
raised by these war-time journalists. He also explains why he thinks we
may have to push beyond the conventions of journalism to ensure that
we're getting at the truth of war.

Not everyone is concerned with truth - see Craig's "They make a grain into a kubba" thread for a convenient repository  of the lies the Bush administration perpetrated in trying to justify its war of aggression (the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."). And remember this:

"flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft planes with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours". Mr Bush added: "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in
breach [of UN resolutions]".

An indication of the depths to which Bush is willing to stoop. 

 

Difficult to avoid some things, isn't it?

Richard Tonkin says:

"I've got to admit, I'm beginning to find "widely reported" as vindication a little tedious, especially when the reporting is mostly the work of a press agency, being published from many points."

Paul McGeough is not a press agency. Nor was the eye-witness who knew the "crazy lady". Nor were the Palestinian kids strapped up with bombs. Nor are several, separate yet similar events the "same thing" being "widely reported".

But you are right, and as I pointed out, widely reported events are harder, but obviously not impossible to deny.

Who was the eyewitness?

Who was the "eyewitness who knew the crazy lady", Eliot

The march of progress

Craig Rowley says:

"The Bush administration's foreign policy would not be the reason to bomb a pet market full of civilians, it's one of the reasons that people who do bomb pet markets full of civilians are currently operating in Iraq."

Previously, much more sophisticated techniques for killing civilians were used in Iraq. Sarin nerve gas, MIG 25 bombers, Republican Guard firing squads, draining tribal marsh-lands, starving entire communities, shoving child soldiers on the front line with Iran. Then blaming everyone else. That sort of thing. 

 

 

None Of My Business

Richard Tonkin

Paul I think Craig is right about Eliot being a neocon supporter. 

I don't know if he is, and I don't care if he is. Questions regarding such an issue are best left to him.

Simple Things Are Often The Best

Craig Rowley

The Bush administration's foreign policy would not be the reason to bomb a pet market full of civilians, it's one of the reasons that people who do bomb pet markets full of civilians are currently operating in Iraq.

So it is a righteous reason or it isn't a righteous reason?

I think the media should report the facts.

I think the media gets facts wrong from time to time. Are you claiming these facts are wrong?

Earlier in the week, both you and Eliot Ramsey took the line that people concerned about climate change are prone to "hysteria".  You were arguing that they tend to go beyond the facts and that this is a dangerous thing.

I stand by my claims about environmental hysteria. Are you claiming that the facts are firstly wrong? And secondly people writing about such things are causing hysteria?

Now you want to have it the other way.   You want to say it's okay to go beyond the facts in this case.  You say that's because whilst the claims might be "unsubstantiated" at the moment they are "widely reported".

No, I wrote it was "widely reported".

So you seem to be saying that "hysteria" reflected in what's "widely reported" about bad guys is okay; whilst "hysteria" reflected in what's "widely reported" about climate change is not.

No, never wrote that.

So now I'm curious which side of the street you're going to walk on, Paul?

In real life the side of the street is forever changing.

Is it okay to go beyond the facts or not? Should we believe everything "widely reported" or be more discerning than that?

The best advice I can give is tha respect freedom of speech is something possibly a lot of Australians don't really understand (historical reasons?). I would advise that you argue (if you feel the need) a position strongly all the while respecting those others that may hold a different position. Free speech really isn't winner take all. I believe this is something Australians are now openly discussing? That many Australians are taking notice of the 2008 elections can only be a good thing for values.

 

 

Okay I'll try to make it even simpler for you Paul

First, you demonstrate a lack of understanding of my point about US foreign policy.

I point out why the bad guys are able to bomb markets in Baghdad, i.e. failures in foreign policy by the Bush administration.

You, Paul, reply with a question about "righteous" reasons which shows a complete misunderstanding of what I'd said.

I take it you've been thinking I was talking about the terrorist's motives, i.e. why the bad guys targeted the markets in Baghdad.

If asked why the bad guys targeted the markets in Baghdad, my answer is that they targeted the market because the tactic of terrorism is about making people feel unsafe to do normal everyday things. Things like shopping in markets.

The terrorists may also have wanted to embarrass the Iraqi Police Service (by demonstrating its incompetence and ineffectiveness) and the US military (by demonstrating the failure of its 'surge' strategy).

And it is very embarrassing to have failed to protect those people in the market. It's very embarrassing to have made so much of how the "surge" would solve everything only to find that it solved very little.

So that's what I think their reasoning probably is.  And I think it is not "righteous" at all. It's unethical, immoral, illegal, inhumane, and unlikely to really win them anything.

My original point remains. They wouldn't be in a position to do such an unethical, immoral, illegal, and inhumane thing in an Iraq that hadn't been torn apart by an illegal invasion and mismanaged occupation.

Do you understand now?

Second, I state my expectation of the media is that it reports the facts and you ask if I question "the facts" the media reports.

If I take your question at the most general level then my answer is yes, I do. I think doubt is a good thing when reading or viewing news media. I make some assessment of the veracity of all reports I read. I always question what is reported, until I've sufficient evidence to corroborate the report. Don't you?

If, noting that you say "these facts", I take your question to mean, do I question whether the reports about Down syndrome dupes are fact, then the answer is yes. It is still an unsubstantiated claim that those bombers had Down syndrome.

In fact, the source report, the AP report by Stephen R. Hurst that's been used by news outlets around the world, only ever said that Iraqi police claim one of the women was known as the "crazy lady". The Downs syndrome speculation has been based on what the damaged head of one of the bombers looked like. No-one to date has furnished evidence that the bombers had Down syndrome.

"Dumb Stupid Animals"

The bad guys are always going to exploit the innocent, that's what bad guys do. Occassionally bad guys may strap a bomb onto to a poor brown eyed kid, convince him he will die in glory; other bad guys may go into schools and trick blue eyed kids into joining up, many who will die a "noble" death.

Kids, in general, haven't got a bloody clue about the realities behind war nor the political and economic dynamics that drive war. They (The Military) are just (as Henry Kissinger would say) "....dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policey". "Final Days" by Woodward and Bernstein. I'm sure Eliot would agree.

As they say: it is kids who fight old men's wars. Let's put all kids through school and teach them good stuff. And let fucking arseholes like Kissinger go fight their own wars...

Speaks volumes, doesn't it?

Paul Morrella: "The mental capacity of the bomber[s] is not even important in the final analysis."

Indeed. In fact, the "crazy lady" was a regular at the market. That's why she was strapped up with the bomb.

She was doomed the moment the murderers laid eyes on her.

It's noteworthy that while trying to "disprove" that the Down Syndrome ladies were the unwitting bomb drones, none of those disputing the eyewitness accounts of the event has whispered so much as a word of disapproval about anyone blasting to bits children at a pet market.

(And pace the "crazy lady", but I don't know your name.) 

Volumes

The "crazy lady" claim was contained in this AP wire report by Stephen R. Hurst

Eliot Ramsey points to reports that have relied on or are simply republished versions of, in other words echoes of Hurst's work.

If you go back and read Hurst's report again you'll see that the fact he reports is that the Iraqi Police Service had made a claim:

Police said the woman wearing the bomb sold cream in the mornings at the market and was known to locals as "the crazy lady."

That's the same Iraqi Police Service that is said to be dysfunctional and infiltrated by Shiite militias and employed the officers who failed to protect people at the al-Ghazl pet market last week.   

Kids as weapons

Oh dear.  Here we are using kids as weapons in a political argument.  The trouble is that so is the Pentagon.

None of us are making any headway, and I'm becoming uncomfortable with how I need to behave to continue.

One last thing though.  Eliot, your repeated citing of the Paul McGeogh piece is inappropriate in that the material is only relevant to the case in demonstrating precedent.  It discusses an event, as you know, around three years ago.

Yes, shame on whoever is using kids and disabled people  as weapons in the 'battle for hearts and minds."  I wish there was conclusive proof as to who is responsible.  It's obvious, though, who is wielding the weaponry at the moment, and it's not the Iraqis or al Qaeda.

Seems Curious To Me

Craig Rowley: "To merely speculate that terrorists might have duped two teenage girls with Down syndrome seems enough to reinforce the view that there are still bad guys in Iraq (due in some measure to neocon foreign policy mistakes)."

There are worse than bad guys still in Iraq; there are numerous deranged psychopaths. Bush policies being poor is not any reason to bomb a pet market full of one's own civilians; not a reason in fact to bomb any civilian target. Like a couple of children looking at the kitten collection is dangerous to the "independence movement" or something! The mental capacity of the bomber[s] is not even important in the final analysis.

So why try so hard to argue that there is conclusive evidence to prove claims that the bombers were dupes and/or had Down syndrome, hen at the moment it is clearly the case that those claims remain unsubstantiated?

Claims might be "unsubstantiated" at the moment (the reason for the word alleged), though they are widely reported. It is also something that is believable, and not without precedent. If one wanted to take it to the extreme a person could claim the bombing itself is unsubstantiated - it may have been a volcanic eruption or some such. The fact is (as you have admitted yourself), for scores of these terrorists nothing is off-limits.

I'm not that sure what you are trying to say. Should the media only report good news stories? Perhaps not report on the bombing at all?

Curious?

Paul Morrella: "Bush policies being poor is not any reason to bomb a pet market full of one's own civilians; not a reason in fact to bomb any civilian target."

Gee, does everything have to be spelled out for you, Paul?

The Bush administration's foreign policy would not be the reason to bomb a pet market full of civilians, it's one of the reasons that people who do bomb pet markets full of civilians are currently operating in Iraq.

"Should the media only report good news stories? Perhaps not report on the bombing at all?"

I think the media should report the facts

The point I'm getting at in highlighting the propensity of some to make so much of unsubstantiated claims is this:

Earlier in the week, both you and Eliot Ramsey took the line that people concerned about climate change are prone to "hysteria".  You were arguing that they tend to go beyond the facts and that this is a dangerous thing.

Now you want to have it the other way.   You want to say it's okay to go beyond the facts in this case.  You say that's because whilst the claims might be "unsubstantiated" at the moment they are "widely reported".

So you seem to be saying that "hysteria" reflected in what's "widely reported" about bad guys is okay; whilst "hysteria" reflected in what's "widely reported" about climate change is not.

So now I'm curious which side of the street you're going to walk on, Paul?

Is it okay to go beyond the facts or not? Should we believe everything "widely reported" or be more discerning than that?

Smoke, but no fire

I've got to admit, I'm beginning to find "widely reported" as vindication a little tedious, especially when the reporting is mostly the work of a press agency, being published from many points.  Did the Pentagon let anyone besides AP and USA-Today into the Al Qaeda kidvid briefing?

Notwithstanding the lack of substantiation to claims that the two women had Down Syndrome, there's still nothing to link the attack to Al Qaeda apart from the words of the US State Department.   Have you found any proof of that one, Eliot, or is that on your to-do list?

If I'm right, we're going to get a follow-up that will take us from having seen the horrible and evil nature of al Qaeda to proof that their heinous activities with kids and disabled people is being assisted with the Iranians.

Will the Pentagon get around to releasing the full tapes, or is there stuff on them that might not support the propaganda line?  After the blatant manipulation of the Iranian speedboat documentation, how anyone can take the Pentagon at face value when they produce "edited highlights is mystifying.   How do we know who made the tapes if they're not made available?  If we find facts that don't fit, what will be the Pentagon's Filipino-Monkey-style escape hatch for blatant misrepresentation this time?

Paul I think Craig is right about Eliot being a neocon supporter.  He seems unable to sway from championing their versions of events, even (in several instances now) when he is exposed as having little if any evidence to support his credibility.   Repeating yourself over and over is  the standard "proving" technique of the Bush /Cheney White House, and their credibility is up the proverbial creek.  Not the best role model to emulate.

Human rights in Iran

"The European Union expressed "dismay" on Thursday at the imminent death by stoning of two sisters accused of adultery in Iran."

This is significant because it's another expression of the systematic violation of human rights inside Iran, including the persecution of members of religious minorities.

Day to day occurences within Iran that are hotly denied by the usual claque of apologists for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad needs this sort of thing to keep people's attention off his failed economic policies and internal programmes of genocide.

Name the names?

I've mentioned several times how no 'diarist could be one of the "claque of apologists for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad", so who are the members of "the usual claque of apologists for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad", Eliot

 

Distortions at Fourth Hand

Despite documented witness and first hand accounts of various Islamist murder bombings using the mentally handicapped.

Despite reputable reporters giving detailed accounts of mentally handicapped victims being conned into acting as suicide bomber drones.

Despite documented precedents elswhere - and even an anti-Israel site frankly acknowledging the practice.

Despite videos showing child soldiers in training.

Despite all this, mentally handicapped and/or child murder bomber drones "don't exist".

Meanwhile, the "imminent US attack on Iran" that "Would have happened" except the incident in the Hormuz Strait which "didn't happen" was "discredited".

The impetus driving this sort of thing has a long, long, pitiable history.

While the attempts at denying the nauseating murder bomber tragedy at the pet market are on a different scale, there is an obvious precedentsto this kind of thing.

I'm thinking of Noam Chomsky's infamous 1977 effort at covering up Pol Pot's genocide, "Distortions at Fourth Hand".

Something for which he has never apologised.

With every breath you take

Unicef claims the number of child victims of warfare during the decade to1996 as follows:

  • 2 million killed;
  • 4-5 million disabled;
  • 12 million left homeless;
  • more than 1 million orphaned or separated from their parents;
  • some 10 million psychologically traumatised.

    I'm sure we have done better than that during the last decade.

    Sadly with every breath you take something bad, somewhere, is happening to another human being. And to far too many kids.

    Yep I believe a bunch of Middle Eastern morons could strap a bomb belt onto a retard. Just like I believe hyped up and callous Soldiers could shoot into a crowd just for the heck of it, or rape and murder a child.

    It would be nice to think that one day we could get over all this shit, but I certainly won't be holding my breath.

    In the time it took to write this I took about 100 breaths; about 200 kids died from hunger alone.

    Best stop breathing methinks; maybe it will all go away.

     

  • Who Is The Neocon Booster?

      Craig Rowley

    Yes, it's true that further demonisation of terrorists is unnecessary.

    So why do neocon boosters feel the need to do it?

    I've no idea and you'll have to ask a "neocon booster" the answer to that. Although this particular piece of barbarity is not something I think was pushed by any one group. Not unless you count Iraqi police, Iraqi shoppers, numerous media people etc as "neocon boosters". The media is paid to report, and that is what was reported widely in this case.

    The reports of course could well turn out to be wrong - though at this stage I have little reason to doubt them. As I have previously written I doubt there aren't any lengths some of these bomb planning murderers wouldn't stoop. Do you doubt that there is?

    No doubt

    No, Paul, I don't doubt that terrorists could stoop as low as one can go.

    That's why I'm wondering why neocon boosters, like Eliot, have bothered to begin banging on and on about those two bombers at the al-Ghazal pet market in central Baghdad as if the evidence were conclusive that they had Down syndrome.  

    To merely speculate that terrorists might have duped two teenage girls with Down syndrome seems enough to reinforce the view that there are still bad guys in Iraq (due in some measure to neocon foreign policy mistakes).

    So why try so hard to argue that there is conclusive evidence to prove claims that the bombers were dupes and/or had Down syndrome, when at the moment it is clearly the case that those claims remain unsubstantiated?

    Sandra Sully Time

    I just saw a promo for Ten's late news.  Kids in balaclavas with guns, Sandra Sully intoning "Iraqi kids trained to kill.  al Qaeda's new tactic in the war on terror," close to that anyway.

    Campaign, anyone? 

    Justin, it' a sad old world some days, isn't it? 

    Propaganda Tapes- From Washington Post

    [extract]

    BAGHDAD, Feb. 6 -- The Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq is training boys as young as 10 to kidnap and kill, U.S. and Iraqi officials asserted Wednesday, showing propaganda videos seized from suspected insurgent hideouts that depict masked boys wielding guns and kicking down doors.

    "Al-Qaeda in Iraq wants to poison the next generation of Iraqis," Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, a U.S. military spokesman, told reporters.

    The five videos were found during a raid Dec. 4 in Khan Bani Saad, north of Baghdad, in the insurgent hotbed of Diyala province. The authenticity of the videos could not be independently verified, nor was it clear where or when the videos were made.

    In the videos, boys in black balaclavas and soccer jerseys jump out of a blue van, hop over a mud wall and storm a house where a family is asleep. In another scene, boys are seen ordering a man out of his car and escorting him away at gunpoint. Adults speaking Arabic with an Iraqi accent are heard giving the boys instructions.

    "We believe this video was produced to be used as propaganda to convince youth to join al-Qaeda," Smith said.

    I can't wait to see how Sandra does it.  Meanwhile I'll hunt the video  

     

    But wait, there's more

    [USATODAY extract]

    U.S. military officials also plan to release a video today showing Iraqi forces raiding a home to release an 11-year-old boy who had been kidnapped from his home by insurgents in the Kirkuk area, Smith said.

    Kidnappers demanded a $100,000 ransom from the family

     There are some details in that piece worth looking at

    [IHT extract]

     

    Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari told reporters he believed militants were kidnapping more and more Iraqi children, though he could not offer details or numbers.

    "This is not only to recruit them, but also to demand ransom to fund the operations of al-Qaida," al-Askari said. He aired another grainy video clip which he said showed Iraqi security forces rescuing an 11-year-old boy who had been kidnapped by al-Qaida.

    The short clip was mostly dark, and showed a young boy blinking in the beam of a flashlight. Al-Qaida had demanded a US$100,000 ransom for his release, but an informant's tip led to his rescue, al-Askari said

     Ten ran the video as its last item,  with an overlaying commentary including such choice phrases as "Al Qaeda have spoken of the need for a future generation of fighters.  From the looks of this video, they're in training now," and   "The message of this video is shockingly clear- al Qaeda is in it for the long haul, and for its members jihad is a way of life." 

    This is all not ringing true. 

     


    The video

    Here it is, Richard.

    Blame SkyNews for the fact that you have to sit through a dating agency ad before you can view it.

    And that Video means that ...

    The most hawkish supporters of the misguided Bush Doctrine, those who think the Bush policy of building a supermilitary and of attacking enemies and possible enemies in order to bring about a more peaceful terror-free world, will now start to claim the kid is a "terrorist" every time an innocent child is killed by US forces.

    Amongst other things, of course.

    No Joke Unfortunately

    Richard Tonkin

    Paul Morrella, you're kidding, right?

    Unfortunately I am not.

    In the US there's now a perceptible "evil enemy using its cripples as weapons.

    For most people excluding the Bush obsessive; both for and against, there has been a perceptible "they are all completely mad" feeling for some time. Many of the bombing targets (using "cripples" or not) can hardly be called acts of resistance. In many instances there is not even an American soldier in sight. Needing propaganda so as these people don't garner any respect in the eyes of normal people is not needed, and hasn't been needed for a long time.

    Certainly the use of people unknowingly bombing is not without precedent in this region. As I wrote earlier there is little people planning such gruesome activities would not do. There is no positive story in such an event, and I see no need to pretend there is.

    Wow!

    Paul Morrella has said something (though awkwardly) that is important and that I can agree on:

    ... propaganda so as these people don't garner any respect in the eyes of normal people is not needed, and hasn't been needed for a long time.

    Yes, it's true that further demonisation of terrorists is unnecessary.

    So why do neocon boosters feel the need to do it?

    What would it take to overcome double think?

    Richard Tonkin: "You have no more proof now than you've had over the past few days, Eliot, and so are reduced yet again to attempted character assassination."

    I have now provided you with:

    • eye witness testimony of people who personally knew at least one of the Down Syndrome syndrome ladies used in the murder bombings at the Baghdad pet market
    • a first hand account by one of Australia's, indeed the world's most reputable and highly-awarded journalists concerning the exploitation of a mentally disabled 19 year old in a separate murder bombing
    • an on-line reference to an anti-Israel website acknowledging the use of intellectually disabled children by al-Qaeda in terrorist bombings
    • a separate item referring to a murder bombing using a Down syndrome boy in 2005
    • other references.

    In fact, the practise is not even confined to al-Qaeda in Iraq. Hamas does it, too.

    Here is an article about an 11 year old and 16 year old, both intellectually disabled, separately strapped up with bombs and sent off to get killed, and to kill others with them, in Israel.

    These events were widely reported. 

    Events not so widely reported

    Some events, such as those that are a consequence of the Israeli blockade of Gaza,  aren't as widely reported as they probably should be ... particularly as they involve the collective punishment of some 650,000 innocent children.


    Well actually..

    Eliot, you've provided me with:

    • A quote purportedly from an eye witness, bona fides untested
    • A story about an act three years ago
    • A website reprinting an agency piece without adding comment
    • Another reprint
    • Other stuff but you don't know what that is, and neither do I

    Back to the character assassination?

    Predictably, resistance dupes try to hide suicide bomb kids

    Richard Tonkin says:

    "Not a Down Syndrome suicide bomber, Eliot.  Yes, more Iraqi government claims and anymous tesitmonial, but no proof."

    Even at this anti-Israel site, it admits "dozens of other mentally handicapped children are being used by insurgents to fight US and Iraqi forces."

    Back on the Bush's Last Hurrah thread, you will see I have linked readers various sources, including a superb article by prize-winning Australian journalist Paul McGeough, documenting the use of intellectually disabled people by the so-called "resistance" (al Qaeda in Messopotamia) as remote activated suicide bombing drones.

    You will also see there that I predicted "resistance" apologists would try to suppress this increasingly common, well documented fact.

    Now that you mention it, Eliot

    Are you familiar with the effects of the Israeli blockade of Gaza?

    I'm particularly interested in your views on the effects on mental development when children have suffered deprivation of needed medicines and sufficient nutrition under the Israeli blockade.

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