Monday, June 30, 2008

Mailbag: New Republic and LA Times Disinformation Preceding the Iraq War

From Fair Harvard, a lengthy chronology of misdeeds and Tribune Company conspiracies:

To the editors:

The LA Times should be congratulated for publishing Cy Bolton’s Op Ed today. It was overdue. It is an unfortunate commentary on the editorial standards fostered by the Times under its new leadership at the Tribune Company, however, that Mr. Bolton’s article was required to correct James Kirchick’s offensively patronizing and demonstrably false article published by the Times on June 16. Mr. Kirchick’s premise, that “Bush Never Lied,” was so egregiously stupid that no respectable newspaper should have considered printing it. Perhaps the editors at the Times were given false reassurance by Mr. Kirchick’s position as an editor at the New Republic, which sometimes pretends not to be a mouthpiece for neoconservative views. It should be remembered, however, that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the New Republic that happily published such articles as “Blood Baath” by former CIA director James Woolsey (issue of 9/24/2001, Vol. 225, Issue 13), where we were offered claims like “the attacks--whether perpetrated by bin Laden and his associates or by others--were sponsored, supported, and perhaps even ordered by Saddam Hussein.” In recent years, the editors at the New Republic – particularly Peter Beinart -- have publicly recanted their role in fanning the war flames throughout 2002 and 2003. Because their support for the war was such a devastating embarrassment to the New Republic, and because their later recantation was so cynical and self-serving, it is very difficult to believe anything its editors say, especially when it comes to George Bush and the Iraq war. Mr. Kirchick’s article of the 16th sounds like a fantasy projected by someone who has spent the last 4 years trying to believe that his attempts to sell the American public on an illegal and disastrous war were the result of an honest mistake. If you substitute Mr. Kirchick’s own name and those of his fellow editors at the New Republic for that of George Bush, his article has some slight ring of truth. Otherwise, it’s worthless.

In any case, the Los Angeles Times would do well to heed the warnings contained in Mr. Bolton’s brief summary of the various forms of disinformation the Bush regime disseminated in the run-up to war. It is worth noting, for example, the close parallels between Rafid Ahmed Alwan (“Curveball”) and the man Italy’s intelligence services claimed was at the origin of the forged documents showing Iraq’s fictitious purchase of uranium from Niger. Much as the LA Times article of June 18 by John Goetz and Bob Drogin portray Curveball as a compulsive liar and cheat who just happened to fool the CIA, in 2002 Rocco Martino’s handlers at SISMI portrayed him as a “swindler” and “liar” whose bumbling accidentally fooled everyone, including analysts at the CIA. Reporters and editors at the LA Times would do well to take a page from reporters like Carlo Bonini and Giuseppe d’Avanzo, whose work carefully examined the web of falsehoods SISMI used to distance itself from the false information it disseminated through Rocco Martino in order to please the Bush administration. As it turns out, Rocco Martino was not a kooky swindler forging documents on his own, without the collusion of SISMI. Rocco Martino is a scapegoat, and his role as freelance document-forger was a clumsy piece of disinformation designed to hide the true involvement of the intelligence services of Italy, along with its allies in the Bush administration, in the run-up to war. The timing of the LA Times article revealing Curveball’s name, along with biographical details of his career as a petty con-man and swindler, should raise doubts in the mind of any informed reader about his alleged role in “fooling” the Bush administration into believing Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. It seems far more likely that “Curveball” is a creature of the Bush administration, a convenient scapegoat designed to hide the campaign of outright lies and manipulation the Bush regime used to sell their war to the American public.

Arriving as they did on the heels of the presentation of articles of impeachment against Bush by Dennis Kucinich, the articles by Mssrs. Kirchick, Goetz, and Drogin have created the unfavorable impression in my mind that the LA Times is now serving as a mouthpiece to the Bush regime’s ongoing campaign of disinformation concerning the lies they told in the run-up to war.

Perhaps I am just imagining things. But roughly, the plotline goes like this.

First, Bush lies about the reasons for going to war, in clear violation of international war crimes treaty to which the United States is a party, thereby subverting the Constitution, which easily meets the standards of high crimes and misdemeanors that would justify impeachment.

Second, Dennis Kucinich finally introduces articles of impeachment in the House of Representatives on the week of June 9th, in which he clearly lays out the lies Bush told in order to lead the nation into an illegal war.

Third, all the various mouthpieces of the Bush regime (and notably the ones that pretend to be "friendly" to liberals, like the New Republic) write articles about how ridiculous it is to believe that the Bush regime could have deliberately lied -- because of course all this stuff about WMD's was just an honest mistake, and only a scabrous knave with a lurid imagination could believe otherwise! The LA Times publishes an article to this effect by the editor of the New Republic on June 16th.

Fourth, and finally, the Bush Disinformation Service drags out its ace-in-the-hole, Curveball. Everyone has known since Der Spiegel’s March 22nd article (written by Mr. Goetz, among others) where Curveball is and what he’s been up to. Yet the LA Times waited until the week after Mr. Kucinich presented articles of impeachment accusing Bush of deliberately lying about the war to publish its “scoop” revealing the name of a compulsive liar and thief who worked at Burger King. Are we really supposed to believe this guy ever fooled anyone?

It is sad to consider that after all the criticism that has so justifiably rained down upon the national media for its role in selling Bush’s lies to the public in 2002 and 2003, nothing has really changed. I cannot help feeling that the LA Times's new owners at the Tribune Company have reduced a once-proud publication into a simpering mouthpiece for disinformation.


Shawn Gorman
Boston, MA

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Learning from Michelle Malkin: A Conspiracy behind every Door

by Robert Fantina
27 June 2008

It was hardly big news when TV chef Rachel Ray made a television commercial for Dunkin Donuts. She is under contract to do so, and capitalizing on her own television success makes her a reasonable candidate for the retail snack chain.

What was news, however, is that Ms. Ray, according to conservative columnist Michelle Malkin, is at the very least, a sympathizer of Arab terrorist organizations and at worst, a terrorist herself.

One might wonder what led Ms. Malkin to that conclusion. Ms. Ray has never issued any political statements to anyone but, perhaps, her immediate circle of friends. Whether she is a Democrat or Republican is largely unknown. But to Ms. Malkin, her sentiments are known. And she has solid evidence on which to base this conclusion.

In the recent advertisement for Dunkin Donuts, a smiling Ms. Ray, holding a cup of latte in one hand while she gestures with the other, is wearing a scarf. It is a gray and white fringed scarf, coordinating with her gray dress and wrapped around her neck. This, Ms. Malkin proclaims, is not merely an attractive accompaniment to her dress. No indeed. It is a keffiyeh, a symbol of Palestinian nationalism.

A quick search on the Internet, hardly the last word on anything but a ready reference at least for some fast research, and one finds that the keffiyeh has been used as a fashion accessory in the U.S. at least since 1980. But that is beside the point; Ms. Malkin has shown conclusively that Ms. Ray’s choice of neck adornment should get her fired by Dunkin Donuts at the very least, if not sent to Guantanamo.

I was reminded of an episode I saw not long ago of ‘The Office.’ One gentleman had taken offense that the ‘men’ and ‘women’ symbols on the restroom doors were white silhouettes; to him, that obviously meant those facilities were for use by Caucasians only. I laughed at the time, but some subconscious seeds of doubt had apparently been planted.

The revelation by Ms. Malkin opened my eyes completely; perhaps I had been blind too long to offenses directed against me. I pondered this as I took my dog for a walk.

Gizmo and I strolled up the street, and I noticed a house with a red and white banner hanging from the porch. Beneath it was parked a blue, American-made car. I immediately recognized this as a double slap in the face; these neighbors were obviously insulting my decision to move from the U.S. to Canada by flaunting the colors of the American flag. And to think I’d given them three zucchinis just the day before. I vowed to remove them from my Christmas card list.

The walk was now somewhat less pleasant, despite the warm, sunny day, but as I leaned over to pick up a particularly odorous offering left by Gizmo, I was once again reminded of Ms. Malkin’s counsel. Across the street two young children were running around their yard, shooting water pistols at each other. They laughed and laughed as they squirted, and my rage increased. Obviously they were sympathizers of the National Rifle Association, and were mocking my past efforts on gun control in the U.S. I made a mental note to return to my house on that side of the street so Gizmo could ‘go’ in their yard.

We entered the park, a particularly beautiful one, especially in the spring. My mood was lightened by the flowers, stream and gazebo. I tossed the bag I was carrying into a waste basket, pleased that Gizmo seemed to have transacted all his business, although I hoped there was some left for the gun-toting neighbors. But I needn’t worry about that aspect of our walk right now. I could relax.

But no, that was not meant to be. Looking into the distance I saw two men, holding hands! I knew they were making light of my own marriage vows and of the sacred bonds of marriage itself. My anger was almost beyond control.

Returning home now with Gizmo, my mood was foul. I smelled dinner cooking; my wife had made tacos. I am of Italian descent; what message was she sending by cooking Mexican? I could understand it if she were Mexican, but she isn’t; she is WASP through and through. I stomped into my study and shut the door.

When I came out for dinner, my teenage son made a remark in French, something apparently clever he’d learned that day in school. Again, I was terribly offended. Had he spoken in Italian, although I don’t speak the language I would have recognized his solidarity with me. But to speak in French, another language a word of which I don’t understand, was the final insult. My own son! Where had I failed?

As the night continued, I recognized insults everywhere. A rerun of ‘The Sopranos’ mocked both my heritage and my years of living in New Jersey. When company unexpectedly dropped in, we served snacks using our best ‘China.’ Not our best ‘Italy,’ but our best ‘China.’ I realized my own role in my oppression; I had never insisted that we purchase any good ‘Italy.’ When I mentioned this later to my puzzled wife, she advised me that such a product did not exist! Obviously, the dishware industry was conspiring against me.

Yes, thanks to Ms. Malkin, I now see how the characteristics I once saw as ‘traits’ – tolerance, patience, openness and acceptance – were not that at all. They were simply tools to oppress and degrade; to send secret messages to other people who think as they do and believe what they believe. People with blue cars and red and white banners, with water pistols and the like are not innocent. They are displaying the subtle signs of my enemies.

I must be watchful every minute. No longer will I allow myself to be so degraded. I will picket my neighbors with the banner, and those with the water guns (being careful where I step); I will not allow tacos or tortillas ever to be served in our house again; I will forbid my son from speaking French. And I will go out tomorrow morning and search the local stores until I get a good set of ‘Italy.’

Thank you, Ms. Malkin, for helping me to see the light!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

2003 Introduction to "The Seizing of the American Broadcasting Company"

Note: Andy Boehm, author of "The Seizing of the American Broadcasting Company," was the editor of Prevailing Winds, the now-defunct anti-fascist samizdat catalogue that ran my articles in the mid-'90s, and first published the subject of this essay by Jim DiEugenio, Andy's classic study of Cap Cities/ABC and its bonds to the CIA. Andy is also a close friend of mine. He was hit by a car while crossing the street in Santa Barbara a few years ago, and suffers chronic incapacitation and pain. He is no longer writing. Andy's contributions to legitimate journalism, all too rare in the Fox Age, were guttered by the accident, an immense loss to the Mae Brussell school of political research and the journalistic wasteland beyond. - AC

William Casey

At the time it appeared, Andy Boehm's article was the most thoughtful analysis of William Casey's maneuvering to take over ABC. In fact, it was the only article we were aware of to consider the serious questions that this leveraged buyout posed. At the time it occurred, it was the most blatant attempt yet at controlling the broadcast media by an intelligence officer who was also a friend, ally, and investor in corporate sponsored media; in this specific case, Cap Cities, the entity Casey used to orchestrate the buyout. Of course, Casey's 1985 maneuvering foreshadowed a creeping control by corporate-CIA friendly investors that later broke into a full gallop. Two present day examples would be the Fox Network controlled by rightwing GOP crony Rupert Murdoch, and the Clear Channel radio network whose Texas owners are friendly with President Bush and reportedly sponsored the pro-Iraq war demonstrations to blunt the effect of the huge anti-war demonstrations held last year. Perhaps if more reporters would have examined the Cap Cities/ABC buyout, the warning sounds of what was to come to pass in American media would have been clearer and louder.

Boehm's article was generally overlooked at the time. Although today, in light of the above, it has even more relevancy than when it was published. But the article has one serious shortcoming that necessitates this introduction. It does not spell out clearly enough why CIA Director Casey was so angry with ABC and so determined to get his friends and fellow investors at Cap Cities to move in on it. Boehm refers to this in a brief section of his essay as follows: " The CIA was ostensibly upset because on Sept. 19-20, 1984, ABC News had aired allegations that the agency had contracted for the murder of Ron Rewald, a Honolulu swindler who claimed that his scams were directed by the CIA, of which he claimed to be a secret agent." (Italics added)

The added emphasis in the sentence should pose an obvious question: If Rewald's story was so shaky and conditional, why was Casey so angry that he became the first CIA Director to move for control of a TV network in history? And why are the actual "scams" of Rewald not noted? We can think of two reasons for this. Rewald's trial had ended in his conviction on fraud charges and the judge had sealed much of the court record. So Boehm did not have that much to go on. Also, Casey's actions, and the growing hostility of the Establishment to independent journalism, might also have intimidated Boehm's publishers. Whatever the case, it is possible today to tell a more complete story about Ron Rewald, his role in the investment bank Bishop, Baldwin, Rewald, Dillingham and Wong, Casey's outrage and how it facilitated the Cap Cities takeover.

Ron Rewald was recruited to spy on the student radical movement in America in the 1960's. Some of his spying took place at the University of Wisconsin. In the 1970's as a result of the exposure of this illegal activity by the Church Committee in the Senate, Rewald revisited his CIA connection. They assured him he would not be exposed or held liable for his past acts. In fact, they offered him an even better assignment. Since he was moving to Hawaii, and he was already running a small investment firm of his own, they asked him to move the firm to Hawaii and later to expand it into an investment bank. There was one qualification. Although Rewald could still do his investment consulting, the major part of the bank's activities would be for CIA activities that needed to be sheltered from both public and Congressional oversight. Thinking these would be small activities that would not take up a large part of the firm's time or funds, Rewald agreed.

And for the first two years of Rewald's reenlistment with the CIA, this was approximately true. But in 1980, something happened that changed the assignment, altered Rewald's life, and ultimately provoked Casey to act as he did toward ABC. In January of that year, the dead body of Francis John Nugan was found in his Mercedes on the Great Western Highway in Lithgow, Australia. Thus began the unraveling of the Nugan Hand Bank. Years later, after five official reports and investigations it can logically be concluded that Nugan Hand was a proprietary of the Central Intelligence Agency. That it was on the brink of failure when Nugan either committed suicide or was murdered. The other partner, Jon Hand fled or was spirited out of the country. Nugan's death and Hand's flight blew the CIA cover off Nugan Hand and necessitated a displacement of its covert activities in the South Pacific to Hawaii and Bishop Baldwin. (For a good summary of the rise and fall of Nugan Hand see Jonathan Kwitny's 1987 volume The Crimes of Patriots.)

Now Bishop Baldwin expanded its operations greatly. Satellite offices opened up in more than a dozen cities worldwide. It now employed a staff of nearly 200 people. Rewald lived in a Hawaiian estate near Diamond Head valued at over a million dollars in 1980. Bishop Baldwin had a fleet of cars and a chauffeur to drive around Rewald and Bishop Baldwin's clients. The company which had four accounts at its incorporation in 1979, had 110 by 1983. And in such exotic places as Hong Kong and the Cayman Islands. Rewald was now meeting with people like the Sultan of Brunei and Vice-President George Bush, and arranging secret arms deals with Rajiv Gandhi of India. In fact, this last seems to have been the major CIA use of the company i.e. to spirit weapons and arms of all types into Pacific Rim countries. Bishop Baldwin also used businessmen to collect intelligence and to direct the flow of capital into American companies. It also was used as a cover for more sinister assignments like the assassinations of leftist leaders and sympathizers.

This all ended in July of 1983. At that time a local reporter who was mysteriously tipped off began to expose Bishop Baldwin as the shell company it was. The local report spread quickly enough to major media. The CIA went into a denial mode, cutting off all ties to Rewald and letting him take the fall for the collapsed company. Rewald attempted suicide in a Honolulu hotel but recovered. The CIA considered him dangerous and unstable so they hired an assassin, Scott Barnes, to liquidate him. They gave him the cover of a minister and placed him inside the prison Rewald was being held in on fraud charges. Barnes backed out of the assignment when he was questioned by local law enforcement authorities.

Having decided to cut ties to Rewald, the CIA began to cover up its clear and important ties to Bishop Baldwin. The three leaders of the cover up were Casey, CIA Counsel Stanley Sporkin, and former Chief of Litigation John Peyton. The court placed a ten million dollar bail bond on Rewald which he could not possibly raise in the wake of the scandal. In addition a gag order barred Rewald's attorney from repeating in public what he told them. Case records which are normally public records, were held from view.

The trial was a farce. Of the four prosecuting attorneys, two were from the CIA. One was Peyton who claimed it was an utter coincidence that he ended up in Hawaii on the Rewald case. The judge forced Rewald to drop his attorney of choice, Melvin Belli. He had to employ a young lawyer from the Public Defender's office who had not tried a case yet. Rewald was not allowed to be present when classified documents were being cleared for use during the trial. Jurors were not screened in the court but in judge's chambers. Rewald's lawyer was cited twice for contempt and tried to withdraw from the case when he saw the judge would not let him present a full defense of his client. The prosecution actually presented imposters in court so as not to have CIA personnel questioned about Rewald. Yet even after being convicted, Rewald testified as an expert witness at another CIA agent's trial who also used Bishop Baldwin as a cover. Richard C. Smith was acquitted.

What is relevant to our subject occurred in September of 1984 while Rewald was awaiting trial and after Barnes had pulled out of his assassination mission. ABC reporter Gary Shepard put together a two part report for the ABC nightly newscast hosted by Peter Jennings. It featured interviews with both Barnes and Rewald. And it told the story from their point of view. Barnes was allowed to reveal how the CIA had hired him to kill Rewald and Shepard related the fact that there was evidence to indicate Bishop Baldwin was a CIA front company. As Boehm relates in his article, Casey and the CIA began to attack ABC. But a week later, Jennings said on the air that ABC stood by its story. Then Casey began to shift his efforts into high gear with the result that Boehm describes. But Boehm does not relate that after Cap Cities completed its purchase of ABC in 1985, Jennings then went on the air and related again the CIA denial of its attempt to kill Rewald. He then stated that ABC had no reason to question the denial. (This information, as well as much of the above, can be gleaned in the Kwitny book, pgs 365-377, and in the book Disavow published in 1995 and authored by Rodney Stich and T. Conan Russell.)

The exposure of myriad illegal activities taken part in by Rewald and Bishop Baldwin--up to and including murder-form the backdrop for the Casey-Cap Cities buyout of ABC. It also helps explain who owns and controls the major media in this country and why. And through that fact it helps give an appropriate background to why ABC is prolonging a lie about the murder of President Kennedy forty years after the fact. And why that particular lie is also publicly shared by the Central Intelligence Agency.

--- Jim DiEugenio

Friday, June 27, 2008

Most Media Companies' Stocks Fall

Shares of most major media companies declined with the broader market on Friday as Wall Street was rattled by the continued surge of oil prices and more bad news about the troubled financial sector.

The price of crude rose to a new record of $142.99 a barrel. ...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fox's Oily Greg Jarrett

Greg Jarrett – Liar Or Uninformed?
Reported by Priscilla - June 15, 2008
News Hounds

Yesterday (June 14th), on the Saturday edition of Election HQ with Julie Banderas and Greg Jarrett, Jarrett spoke with liberal Newsday columnist Ellis Henican about (surprise, surprise) drilling in ANWR and the need for further off shore drilling. (Comment: Fox does seem to have an agenda here because this seems to be the theme of the moment).

Jarrett made the perfunctory, “amusing” remarks about “who cares about caribous,” to which Henican responded that we shouldn’t have to ruin a pristine Arctic wilderness so people can drive Hummers. (Comment: Environmental issues aren’t important to the 6,000 year old earth, rapture ready crowd.) Jarrett then mentioned off shore drilling and said that the environmentalists killed off shore drilling in Florida and California. He then, with his characteristic, smarmy chortle said that the Chinese were drilling off of Cuba.

Comment: Wait a minute. Didn’t he read the memo, from Vice President Cheney, that said "It is our understanding that, although Cuba has leased out exploration blocks 60 miles off the coast of southern Florida, which is closer than American firms are allowed to operate in that area, no Chinese firm is drilling there," Cheney’s statement follows a report, from Jorge Piñon, an energy expert at the University of Miami's Center for Hemispheric Policy who told the Miami Herald that "China is not drilling in Cuba's Gulf of Mexico waters, period.” The Herald added “China's Sinopec oil company does have an agreement with the Cuban government to develop onshore resources west of Havana, Piñon said. The Chinese have done some seismic testing, he said, but no drilling. Western diplomats in Havana told McClatchy that to the best of their knowledge there is no Chinese drilling offshore.”

And regarding “environmentalists killing Florida and California off shore drilling” – Jarrett didn’t do his homework because if he did, he would have found out that a Republican controlled US Senate, in 2006, passed a law, which while permitting off shore drilling, limited off shore drilling to beyond 125 miles of the Florida coasts. Florida Republican Mel Martinez said that this measure “will protect our shoreline.” As far as California goes, Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said this: “I will continue working with the California Congressional Delegation to urge the defeat of any changes to the existing ban on offshore drilling. I will also work to get the federal government to buy out the existing federal leases. Our ocean, beaches, and coastline is critical to the entire state and every single Californian. I am unwilling to put our environment at risk for the sake of new energy exploration on California’s coast.” (Comment: He must be a “secret” “S-P”! )

Comment: Once again Fox fits it’s “facts” around the policy despite the fact that their “facts” are different, in this case, from their Republican gurus who have accepted fact based reality. Fox does know its demographics very well because they rely on the fact that their factually challenged audience will blindly believe the factually inaccurate gospel according to Roger Ailes. Once again the “wisdom of George Costanza” comes to mind – “it’s not a lie if you believe it.”

" ... Gregg Jarrett (born April 1, 1955) ... Prior to Fox News, Jarrett worked at MSNBC as an anchor and correspondent. While at MSNBC, he covered stories including the September 11th Attacks, Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and the 2000 U.S. Presidential Election Controversy. ...

Video: Greg Jarrett (Fox News) cuts off Palestinian mouthpiece Diana Buttu

Video: Greg Jarrett of Fox News Apologizes for Blatant Trans-Hate Story - "Update: Call on Fox News Channel to Apologize for Crude, Dehumanizing Anti-Transgender Comments"

Video: The Growing Anger In The Heartland - "A few months ago, I appeared on Fox News and was told by 'anchor' (hereby 'cartoon character') Greg Jarrett that 'historians agree' that the New Deal exacerbated the Great Depression. It was a statement so factually inaccurate that it approached insanity. Now, the cartoon character makes an even bigger ass out of himself in a debate with Virg Bernero, the mayor of Lansing, Michigan. I encourage you to watch it.

February 18, 2009

Lansing (MI.) Mayor Represents Well … TKOs Fox News’ Gregg Jarrett
Sandy Gholsto

If you mess with the bull … you get the horns. Fox News anchor Gregg Jarrett, who is not exactly known for his objectivity (like many people on Fox News), was blasted by the mayor of Lansing (in my home state of Michigan). One day after a Connecticut mayor schooled another Fox News host, Jarrett caught a verbal beatdown of his own from Mayor Virg Bernero, who did his homework and was well prepared for the confrontation with Jarrett, who entered the interview with a Republican anti-union agenda (using the stereotypes that these auto workers are grossly overpaid and not taking into account the strong insurance they have for themselves and for their families). Mayor Bernero was having nothing to do with the conservative talking points being advanced by Jarrett and others at Fox News. The video is worth watching. First Steve Doocy was whipped and then one day later Jarrett hung in a little better, but still was knocked out. These two mayors have set the bar high for subsequent mayors who come along to battle with conservative Fox News.


Mike Baker, Described As “Former CIA Agent,” Has Close Bush Administration Ties – “Fair and Balanced?” – I Don’t Think So!
January 26, 2009

On yesterday’s (January 25th) Sunday show with Julie Banderas and Greg Jarrett, a topic, now part of the Fox fear factor script was discussed – the question of whether President Obama’s new executive orders pertaining to torture and the closing of Gitmo and other secret prisons, will “keep us safe.” Fox is using all it has, in its arsenal of fear factor cards, to promote the meme that the orders will result in a deterioration of national security because torture can be a good thing. ... Not surprisingly, Greg Jarrett interviewed a gentleman, described on the chyron as a “Former CIA agent, about the topic. It didn’t take long to realize that Mike Baker was there to reinforce the aforementioned propaganda. The use of the term “far left” was a dead giveaway. So I did a little googling and came up with some interesting information on an ex “spook” with a real agenda and some real partisan pals

If you google Mike Baker and Fox News, you’ll get more than a few hits. It seems he’s one of their go to guys for “security” issues. He also contributes to an opinion column for the Fox website (A recent Baker article has the non partisan title, “Leon Panetta, say it ain’t so”). Baker is head of a security company called Diligence LLC a company that had some nice contracts with the Bush Administration in “liberated” Iraq. It is partnered with New Bridge Strategies which paid Neil Bush to procure contracts for work in Iraq. Connected to New Bridge are right wingers Joe Albaugh, Mike Rogers, and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.

During the interview, Baker justified torture in “select cases” – including waterboarding (which the US executed Japanese war criminals for – something that doesn’t seem to get mentioned on Fox News but which Jon Stewart has commented about). He said that “the far left” feels that anything beyond the Army Field Manual is torture and how silly is that because you couldn’t even break a teenager with sissy Army Field Manual techniques. (Hmm, how does Baker know that?). Showing a little partisanship (quelle surprise!), Jarrett said “I’m with you on that.” (Note: Obama has directed the CIA to use the Army Field Manual) ...


By Jim Hightower - 2/7/09

" ... Naysaying popinjays like the far-right-wing Heritage Foundation now claim that the New Deal was a failure. Fox News pundit Monica Crowley has said that the failure is proven by 'all kinds of studies,' and her Fox colleague Gregg Jarrett added, "I think historians pretty much agree on that.

", they don't. Indeed, they pretty much agree that millions of families were saved back then by the New Deal's public-works programs, and we still benefit today from the work that those people did. The chief shortcoming of FDR's public spending was that he didn't do enough of it. ... "
Gregg Jarrett Fox News Bio

Gregg Jarrett joined FOX News Channel (FNC) as an anchor in November 2002. He currently serves as a substitute anchor for "FOX News Live."

Most recently, Jarrett served as an anchor and correspondent for MSNBC, where he covered the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 and the 2000 Election from Tallahassee, Fla.

Prior to his stint there, Jarrett served as an anchor at Court TV for nine years. He covered an extensive number of trials, as well as their signature evening news and talk program, "Prime Time Justice." From 1993-1997, Jarrett hosted Court TV’s nationally syndicated half-hour magazine show, "Inside America’s Courts."

Jarrett began his television career as an anchor and producer at KCSM-TV (PBS) in San Francisco, Calif., and then went on to work as an anchor and reporter for WMDT-TV 9ABC) in Salisbury, Md., WKFT-TV (Independent) in Raleigh, N.C. and KSNW-TV (NBC) in Wichita, Kan.,2933,77096,00.html

No Amnesty for Lawbreaking Telecoms
By Elizabeth DiNovella, June 12, 2008

Congress may be on the verge of giving phone companies retroactive immunity from lawsuits over their role in helping Bush’s warrantless domestic wiretapping program.

This gift to telecoms is expected to be included in the so-called compromise legislation on FISA that may be rushed through Congress before the July 4 weekend.

Since at least 2002, the National Security Agency has been reaching more broadly into data about Americans’ communications, travel patterns, and finances here in this country. The complete extent of domestic spying on Americans by the Bush Administration is unknown, as some programs remain secret and part of the black budget of the National Security Agency. But it is clear that the federal government has intercepted entirely domestic communications of millions of ordinary Americans.

The Bush Administration could not have done its illegal domestic wiretapping without the complicity of the major telecommunications companies.

Thirty-eight lawsuits are now pending against telecom giants such as Sprint, Verizon, MCI and AT&T for violations of privacy. And the telecoms are now pressuring Congress to give them retroactive amnesty for their role in breaking the law.

The lawsuit that is furthest along in the courts is Hepting vs. AT&T. The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a class action lawsuit against AT&T in January 2006, accusing the company of violating the law and privacy of its customers by collaborating with the National Security Agency in it massive, illegal program to wiretap and data mine Americans’ communications.

This week I spoke with Rebecca Jeschke, media relations coordinator of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. (You can listen to the interview here)

Q: The Electronic Frontier Foundation website has an action alert about why AT&T and other phone companies do not deserve retroactive amnesty for their participation in Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program. Can you talk about that?

Rebecca Jeschke:One important thing to note right off the bat is that it’s not just wiretapping that we’re talking about, in the way that you see it on a cop show on TV. That’s definitely one of the things that’s going on—people’s phones being tapped and listening in without a warrant. But another thing that’s going is that, with AT&T specifically and potentially other phone companies and other telecommunications providers, your Internet traffic is being diverted to the NSA, and your call records data—information about who you called, when you called them and how long you were on the phone. So this is not just specifically about wiretapping. It’s about all your communications through major telecommunications companies becoming available to the government.

We think that this is a travesty and clearly illegal. So what we’re asking is that our lawsuit against AT&T and other lawsuits against other telecommunications companies go in front of the courts. It’s important that we get a ruling on whether this is, in fact, legal or not. The movement in Congress to grant immunity to the telecommunications companies would just sweep the whole thing under the rug.

Q: Can you talk a minute about AT&T’s role in this dragnet surveillance of its customers?

Jeschke: In December of 2005 a retired AT&T telecommunications technician named Mark Klein walked into EFF’s offices in San Francisco with some very important information. He had just read the New York Times story that really uncovered this program for the first time and realized that a project he’d worked on when he was employed by AT&T had something to do with it. He was concerned when he was working for AT&T when he helped hook up what has become known as a secret room south of Market Street in San Francisco that diverted all, as far as he could tell, all Internet communications of AT&T customers, and the people who they were talking to, to the government. He brought us information that he’d kept because he was concerned about the work that he was doing. We checked with experts about that information and it became clear that this man, Mr. Klein, was telling the truth and really came forward to blow the whistle on a massive program.

Q:This secret room isn’t the only one. It’s estimated that there may be perhaps between fifteen and twenty, maybe more, throughout the country.

Jeschke: Yes. Mark Klein’s information pointed to eight or nine other sites, and it’s possible that there are quite a few more. The secret room in San Francisco may just be West Coast traffic; there are many more.

Q: Can you talk about Hepting versus AT&T, the class action lawsuit the EFF filed in January 2006?

Jeschke: Federal law states that there are damages for telecommunications companies that pass information to the government without legal authorization, a warrant or subpoena. This kind of massive surveillance of Americans is specifically illegal under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Telecommunications Act. These were laws passed by Congress because telecommunications companies are the last people that can protect your privacy. If the government wants to tap your phone illegally, the telecommunications companies are the ones you need to be able to trust to say no, we have to follow the law. The only way the law can be enforced is if the telecommunications companies go along with it. The laws are specific that this is illegal.

So we filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T. The government, not AT&T, has filed many motions to try to get this case thrown out of court. A lower court judge ruled that this case could go forward without exposing state secrets. The government keeps saying that if this case goes forward it could expose important state secrets. But a federal judge said no, this can go forward without exposing state secrets, I know what to release to the public and what not to release to the public. That question is now in front of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and it has yet to rule on whether this case could go forward or not.

We think that it’s very important that government shouldn’t be allowed to sweep this case under the rug by saying if it keeps going, it’s going to expose state secrets. A judge is certainly more than capable of deciding what evidence should be received in private by him or her and what evidence should be made public.

Q: One of the judges involved in the case, Judge Walker, said, “AT&T cannot seriously contend that a reasonable entity in its position could have believed that the alleged domestic dragnet was legal.”

Jeschke: Yes. That really gets right to the heart of it. There was a story in 2006 that pointed out that Qwest, a telecommunications company, when approached by the government to take part in this program, said no. Qwest said no because it was illegal. This is basic privacy law that all of these telecommunications carriers should have known.

One of the arguments is, often, that when the government asks you to do something, you should just do it, that that’s being a patriot. That’s what some of the defenders of the telecommunications companies say. But in America, you just don’t follow the leader; you follow the law. So when the government tells you to do something illegal, you have to say no. That’s a basic tenet of the rule of law. The telecommunications companies didn’t do that, and we shouldn’t let them off the hook.

Q: Do you think Congress is going to pass retroactive immunity for these telecommunications companies?

Jeschke: I certainly hope not. We’re working really hard at EFF to make sure that immunity is not passed. We think that Americans deserve their day in court. We deserve some answers about what happened. We deserve a judgment on whether this spying was legal or illegal. It’s really important that you let your Congress people, our Senators know how you feel about this.

Q: One last thing, these telecommunications companies that have been involved in this warrantless domestic spying program are getting billions of dollars in government contracts. Though these telecommunications companies have been government contractors for a long time, it represents a significant increase in revenue over the last few years.

Jeschke: It does create a different motive than patriotism for doing what the government wants. That if people say, “Oh these companies were just being good patriots, they were breaking the law because they were patriots,” well, maybe that’s not the full story. And that’s yet another reason why we need to go to court and we need to have the judicial system weigh in on whether this was legal or not.

Senators Chris Dodd and Russ Feingold wrote a letter to Congressional leaders, asking them to toss out automatic immunity for telecoms.

Presidential contender John McCain supports amnesty for telecoms. As Wired reports, the McCain campaign employs many lobbyists from the telecommunications industry: “Charlie Black, a top McCain political adviser, worked for lobbying firm BKSH until March of this year. AT&T paid the firm $120,000 for the first three months of 2008, in part to lobby for the FISA amendments. Black was listed as one of AT&T's lobbyists.”

Friday, June 13, 2008

"Conservative" Voice Web Site Claims Liberals are "Nazis"

By Alex Constantine

"If I were king, you would be fast against the wall." - Radiohead

This afternoon, I found this article at the "Conservative" Voice site that claims the Left is some sort of front for Nazism. It was written by one Benyamin Solomon - I did a Google search and discovered there are no articles on the Net written by a "Benyamin Solomon." In fact, no such author exists. Very curious, I thought, and returned to the "Conservative" Voice site and clicked on other articles by "Benyamin." The reader can do the same here:

I found the author's profile. Come to find out that his name isn't "Benyamin Solomon" at all. It's Aaron Epelbaum.

And he's all of 17 years old.

Who are the real Nazis
June 13, 2008 10:59 AM EST

The political left has portrayed President Bush as a Nazi and drew up false parallels between America under President Bush and Germany under Adolf Hitler. They cite what he said about Iraq including the claim that Saddam had WMDs, which turned out to be false. Back then, there really seemed to be a lot of evidence coming out that he did have WMDs. ...

"Conservatives" are on top of it, aren't they? In his profile, young, innocent mind controlled Aaron writes: "about me: I will refute leftists including liberals and the PC system, which is controlled by the left till the very end. The left can't get along with facts."

Poor, confused lad - someone needs a dictionary ...

Dear Little Aaron: Nazis hate Lefists more than anything in the world - not Jews and gays and "useless eaters," exclusively. In fact, the Nazis started killing Leftists before they turned on the Jews of Europe. You talk exactly like a Nazi dupe, and we Leftists think of you and your programmers as ignorant, hateful, genocidal asswipes who are systematically manipulating your country into open fascist rule.

You see, Aaron, we only want you to grow up thinking humanely and rationally - and you have a long way to go, you poor, young, innocent, willfully ignorant, nazified puddle-stain of fascist puke.

Zionist Plot to Censor Wiki

Wiki, the Chaos Controlled
By: Shamir, Israel
May 27, 2008

In the art of surveillance, there is a cunning ploy familiar to the readers of Le Carre: the target is followed by a clumsy gumshoe; he discovers he is being tailed, easily shakes the tail off and goes on, feeling secure and unobserved. Unbeknownst to him, there are other detectives who stick to him like glue and follow him to his perdition. Professionally it is called a “double tail”.

Apparently, some of us were duped by such a ruse in the peculiar affair of a Zionist plot to infiltrate Wikipedia. This powerful online encyclopaedia is ostensibly free and open: everyone can be an editor, can add or edit any entry. Editors remain anonymous; their true identity is hidden behind a nickname. This rule has a serious drawback: using this anonymity, a dedicated group can infiltrate the system by stealth, distort reality and create a false picture of the world in the eyes of billions. Apparently this script has been recently enacted.

Conspiracy? Yes. Jewish conspiracy? You bet! The damning email exchange was intercepted and published, revealing a radical Zionist plot to bend “Wiki.” A moderate leftist (some would call it ‘tame’) US-based pro-Palestinian site EI revealed that the radical-extremist Zionist organisation CAMERA called for “volunteers who can work as ‘editors’ to ensure” that Israel-related articles on Wikipedia agree with their right-wing-Zionist agenda. This effort was to be kept secret from the media and the public. Stealth and misrepresentation were presented as the keys to success. A CAMERA official advised the volunteers to sign up as editors for Wikipedia and afterwards to avoid editing Israel-related material for a while, in order to “avoid the appearance of being one-topic editors”. The orchestrated effort was to appear as if it were the work of unaffiliated individuals, and for this reason the editors were to avoid picking a user name that marked them as pro-Israel, or that let people know their real name. The emails taught Zionist apprentices how to act in the interests of Israel while using neutral language. The emphasis was on the long-run side of the operation: “This is a marathon not a sprint”, a Zionist instructor nicknamed ‘Zeq’ taught his apprentices in the email exchange.

The EI article about this revelation was quite sycophantic towards Wikipedia. It presented “Wiki” as an objective source at loggerheads with Zionist infiltrators, and even bordered on advertising: “Openness and good faith are among Wikipedia’s core principles. Any person in the world can write or edit articles, but Wikipedia has strict guidelines and procedures for accountability intended to ensure quality control and prevent vandalism, plagiarism or distortion. It is because of these safeguards that articles on key elements of the Palestine-Israel conflict have generally remained well-referenced, useful and objective.”

Still, it was not enough, and on the following day, 22 April 2008, EI updated this article with a triumphal and calming statement: “a plan by the pro-Israel pressure group CAMERA to skew Wikipedia in a pro-Israel direction appears to have collapsed after it was exposed by EI”. Zeq was dismissed, and anyway, fewer than a dozen of CAMERA moles were active at the time EI exposed the scheme. In short: everything is fine, Wiki is functioning well, and the Zionist scare is gone, thanks to fearless EI. And anyway, it was only a small operation by the enemies of freedom, and it is over.

Excuse me, is this an article, or a paid advertisement for Wikipedia? Did EI receive on the evening of April 21st an offer they could not refuse from the owner of Wiki? Only a Zionist can think that Wiki “articles on key elements of the Palestine-Israel conflict have generally remained well-referenced, useful and objective.”

On the contrary, they are biased in the extreme; just read, for instance, the exceedingly hostile entry on Hamas, including its Talk, i.e. discussions of editors, deletions and corrections. It defines Hamas as “… best known for multiple suicide bombings and other attacks directed against civilians [best known to whom? To me it is best known as the ruling party of Palestine, and secondly, as a grassroots mutual assistance movement – ISH]… Hamas' charter calls for the destruction of the State of Israel [while all prominent Israeli parties have joined in the destruction of Palestine – ISH] … the organization is described by many as antisemitic.” Is that objective? Further the entry says, inter alia: “Hamas is considered by the US a terrorist organisation.” This is true, but not the whole truth. I personally added: “However, Russia refused to consider Hamas a terrorist organisation.” My addition was immediately removed by the ever-watchful Zionist case-officer. Hamas is terrorist, full stop.

Shoot to Kill: The Rise of the Freedom Fighter Film

" ... the Baader Meinhof Gang became "caught up in the delusion that the society in which they lived was fascist and that the Federal Republic of Germany differed only slightly from the Third Reich. ... The gang members were ... fighting their own private war against what they dubbed the Auschwitz generation – that's to say, the world of their parents. ... [But] they claimed to be at the vanguard of the proletariat but they could never quite escape their bourgeois backgrounds. ..."

[Video trailers are posted at the Independent site.]
30 May 2008

As the Baader Meinhof Gang, Carlos the Jackal, Farc freedom fighters and Che Guevara get the big screen treatment, Geoffrey Macnab reports on a new wave of films that aim to tell the terrorists' side of the story

The Baader Meinhof Complex is one of a growing number of terrorist-themed features and documentaries currently being made.

"He wore Italian shoes and silk shirts and, as tight trousers were not in fashion at the time, he made his own. He wore no underpants, 'to show off the arse and everything else,' he said. He wore make-up, sometimes wore false eyelashes and often doused himself with perfume."

No, this is not the description of an androgynous Seventies pop star or a rebellious young actor. It is how the author Stefan Aust describes the terrorist Andreas Baader, one of the most notorious figures in post-war German political history, in his book, The Baader Meinhof Group.

Baader's story is shortly to be brought to the screen by the producers of Downfall, the German box-office hit about the last days of Adolf Hitler. Baader is being played by Moritz Bleibtreu, the charismatic young German star recently seen in Speed Racer. The Baader Meinhof Complex, as the film is called, is one of a growing number of terrorist-themed features and documentaries currently being made.

In Cannes last week, Steven Soderbergh unveiled his two-feature film, Che, starring Benicio Del Toro as Che Guevara. On release in the UK at the moment is Barbet Schroeder's documentary Terror's Advocate, about lawyer Jacques Verges (who represented such figures as Klaus Barbie and Carlos the Jackal). Schroeder has described his film as an account of the rise of "blind terrorism" – a story that starts with freedom fighters placing bombs in cafés by the sidewalk in Algeria and goes on to take in everything from Black September to the Stasi and Pol Pot.

Meanwhile, award-winning French director Olivier Assayas is shortly to start work on a film about Carlos the Jackal. Billed by its producer as an "an action film", the story follows "the rise and fall of the world's greatest international terrorist".

The new wave of terrorism-themed movies isn't just confined to Europe. In Colombia, the acclaimed director Victor Gaviria is about to start work on Black Blood – the Hour of the Traitors, a new feature about the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or Farc, guerrilla group. The film is based on a true story about a young Farc leader betrayed by his own family. Gaviria has recruited former Farc members who have laid down their weapons to play the leading roles in his film. Gaviria acknowledges that there is added interest in Black Blood in Europe because of the plight of Ingrid Betancourt, the former Colombian presidential candidate who was kidnapped by the Farc six years ago and has been held hostage ever since.

Of course, the interest in terrorism-themed films is nothing new. In the 1970s and 1980s, there were many movies that pitted heroic cops, soldiers and politicians against villainous terrorists. Films such as Fred Zinnemann's The Day of the Jackal (1973) and John Frankenheimer's Black Sunday (1977) set the template for one style of action-movie.

Meanwhile, film-makers who were contemporaries of the terrorists made personal and reflective films, for example Germany in Autumn (1978) or Margarethe Von Trotta's The German Sisters (1981), exploring the background to the terrorism.

The difference about the new batch of films is that they don't simply demonise the terrorists. They aren't score-settling political tracts either. Instead, they aspire to be mainstream movies.

Jens Meurer, the German producer of Assayas's forthcoming film about Carlos the Jackal, describes the project as cathartic. A teenager growing up in the 1970s, Meurer remembers vividly the hostage crisis after Carlos' raid on the 1975 Opec Conference in Vienna and the hunt for the Baader Meinhof Group terrorists. Thirty years on, he suggests: "It's a natural time to revisit not the heroes of our youth – I won't call them that – but the great events of our youth. And it's very pertinent today. Somebody like Carlos almost single-handedly invented international terrorism with the collaboration of the Red Army Faction [the Baader-Meinhof Gang] and with Palestinian terrorists. It [terrorism] has become a real industry today. It is quite fascinating to investigate – and it's very charged territory." As he points out, it's not hard to trace a through-line from Carlos to Osama bin Laden.

It is easy to see, too, why Bernd Eichinger's Constantin Film, Germany's most powerful film production company, should want to tell the story of the Baader Meinhof Gang. As chronicled by Stefan Aust, this is a riproaring (if often sinister and even tragic) yarn, complete with unexplained deaths, conspiracy theories, suicide and sexual intrigue. The producers will have noted the extraordinary success of The Lives of Others (2007). If a lengthy, complex and lowish budget feature focusing on the inner workings of the East German secret police can make $75m, The Baader Meinhof Complex begins to look like a box-office winner.

"Normally we are prevented from becoming extreme in the terrorist sense – by relatively intact social and economical systems, by the fact that the police are responsible for establishing law and order and no one wants to go to prison," Aust reflected in an interview last summer with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. As he pointed out, the members of the Baader Meinhof Gang became "caught up in the delusion that the society in which they lived was fascist and that the Federal Republic of Germany differed only slightly from the Third Reich. They plunged themselves into a situation that allowed them to fabricate a state of emergency." In other words, they waged their own private war against their state.

If you forget the politics, the death and the bloodshed, the Baader-Meinhof story reads like a student's wish-fulfilment fantasy. The gang members were charismatic, highly intelligent rebels, fighting their own private war against what they dubbed the Auschwitz generation – that's to say, the world of their parents. They had a knack for phrase-making. Gudrun Ensslin, the pastor's daughter who became one of the key members of the Baader-Meinhof Gang, called post-war consumer society "the raspberry Reich."

In Aust's book, a contemporary likens Baader to Marlon Brando. Baader is said to have been a keen fan of cult American literature – of authors like Thomas Wolfe and Jack Kerouac. There is an obvious temptation to romanticise his story – to lapse into terrorist chic. It will be intriguing to see just what angle the new film takes and whether it provokes the same controversy as Downfall (attacked by some for being overly sympathetic to Hitler).

As Meurer points out, there was a strong element of absurdity to the Baader Meinhof story. Despite their Utopianism, Baader and his gang invariably preferred to steal Porsches rather than Volkswagen Beetles, and the men did the driving, not the women.

"I grew up in 1977, what they called German Autumn, when there was a nationwide hunt for the Baader Meinhof terrorists. They had kidnapped [industrialist] Hanns-Martin Schleyer and they had killed lots of people. There were these 'wanted' posters everywhere... [but] even as a teenager, I felt it quite hard to take them seriously," Meurer recalls. They claimed to be at the vanguard of the proletariat but they could never quite escape their bourgeois backgrounds.

The screenplay for Carlos the Jackal (which is yet to be cast) is based on court transcripts and the testimony of eye witnesses. It will be very violent – but only because it reveals the reality of the times. "Olivier Assayas's approach is to tackle this very bluntly. It is not action as entertainment. It is action as a relevant testimony of our times," says Meurer.

What will younger audiences make of the story? Meurer concedes that there are elements of Carlos that are strangely alluring. "He was such an enigma and he was also for a while so successful at what he was doing... his demise, when he became a bit more of a bloated man, hanging out at fashionable swimming pools bringing in a lot of prostitutes, is less tempting. But all of it is going to be an absolute eye-opener to younger audiences in terms of what went on in Europe in the 1970s."

Gaviria insists that his film about the Farc won't idealise the guerrilla movement. He describes his film as being "like a Western", but says that it will reflect "the reality of what is going on [in Colombia] now."

Gaviria plans to shoot in the Colombian jungle. ("But obviously we don't want to be too close to the Farc.") Unlike The Baader Meinhof Complex or Carlos the Jackal, his film isn't set in the 1970s but looks at events that are still going on. "Why am I interested in the Farc? It's the major reality of my country other than drugs," he replies. "I want to investigate the process that turns these people into bandits who are going around creating almost a genocide."

It remains to be seen whether the new wave of terrorist-themed films will come to constitute a mini-genre in their own right. At least, though, there is growing evidence that film-makers are moving away from mindless action movies. These are films that are setting out not only to entertain audiences but to provoke them, to make them uncomfortable – and to jog their memories, too.

'The Baader-Meinhof Complex' will be released in the UK in November

Thursday, June 12, 2008

On Hannity's radio program, DeLay falsely claimed Obama supports "a bill to fingerprint every American in this country"
Jun 12, 2008

On Hannity's radio program, DeLay falsely claimed Obama supports "a bill to fingerprint every American in this country"

Summary: On The Sean Hannity Show, Tom DeLay falsely claimed that Sen. Barack Obama is "in favor of a bill to fingerprint every American in this country and have a national fingerprint database." In fact, the bill to which DeLay was apparently referring would require employees of banks that apply for "licensing and registration as a State-licensed loan originator," as well as individuals who apply for licenses, to submit fingerprints to "to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and any governmental agency or entity authorized to receive such information for a State and national criminal history background check." ...

Story continues

The Latest LA Times' Madness - The Sunday Magazine is Now an AdZine

By Ken Doctor
{This is an excerpt. Complete article:}

... This week ... word leaks out that the Los Angeles Times Magazine, one of the few remaining Sunday magazines, has been seized in a coup by the Times' business side. Its editors and writers are out -- maybe there's a Planet Runway-like Journalist Elimination reality show David Hiller can sell to his new Hollywood friends (check out this good LA Observed piece on Hiller "being star-struck by the glamour of his adopted hometown"). Former InStyle and L.A. Style Editor Annie Gilbar will apparently head the new mag.

The decision to launch (re-launch) a new advertiser-friendly magazine in and of itself is no shocker, and not a bad idea. The New York Times and the Boston Globe are just two of numerous well-regarded papers to plumb design, home, fashion and more, going after high-end and luxury dollars. Such magazines can be run by editorial departments; they can be run by advertising departments. The key is to clearly and prominently tell your readers who is producing the section. Readers aren't dummies; they take in the content for what it is.

But at the Times, of course, the situation had to blow up, handled in an unbelievably clumsy way. You'd think that the paper's recent historic memory over the secret Staples Center "sponsorship" and revenue sharing of and with a "special section" -- which cost the jobs of then-editor Michael Parks and then-publisher Kathryn Downing -- should have been instructive, even if it did happen a year before Tribune bought the Times.

But, no, the Times managed to make the elimination of the L.A. Times Magazine (which had become monthly) and its replacement with an ad product another debacle. Why not close the L.A. Times Magazine, sending it to an eternal rest that most of its brethren have found in the last couple of decades. Then, have your business side launch all the high-demo magazines you want. It seems so simple.

Maybe, it's that Publisher David Hiller indeed wants to keep the name of the magazine intact, playing sleight of hand with readers. Maybe he's not sure yet. But he's managed to leave new (installed in February) editor Russ Stanton dangling in the wind, pleading that the name not being, shall we say, re-purposed. You could place bets on Stanton's half-life before this controversy, as the Times has managed an unprecedented turnover in its publisher and top editor ranks (well-chronicled here by Joe Strupp). Odds on Stanton's tenure shifted this week. ...

"Conservative" Blogger Joe Sylvester Steps Out of the Closet (and Closes the Door Rather Firmly Behind)

Michigan Conservative Dossier Blogger Discusses his Sexuality and Politics
by Todd A. Heywood
(Issue 1624 - Between The Lines News)

Joe Sylvester, 23, is deeply involved in the conservative political scene in Michigan. He has worked on several campaigns, and serves on several Republican district committees for his home of Bay City. He is what he calls a "true conservative, or a paleoconservative." He counts among his friends Kyle Bristow, the former leader of Young Americans for Freedom at Michigan State University, and Dennis Lennox, the head of the newly-formed Campus Conservatives' group at Central Michigan University.

In Sylvester's blog, he rails against Michigan Federation of College Republicans state chair Justin Zatkoff as "immoral" for having pictures of himself shirtless in a hotel room with various fully clothed women. He writes about ending abortion, and rails against liberals. He is completely against John McCain and Barack Obama, and is supporting Bob Barr in his long-shot bid for the presidency. His blog is one blog that most conservatives in Michigan turn to when they want to know what the paleoconservatives in the state are thinking. He even played a role in the outing of conservative activist and then Web site manager for the Tom Tancredo for President campaign, Tyler Whitney.

But, until now, Sylvester has played his personal life close to his vest. His friends and his family know he is gay, but in an exclusive interview with Between The Lines, Sylvester for the first time confirms that he is gay and talks about his political views, his sexuality and his deeply held Catholic faith. The interview was a combination between written answers as well as a phone interview.

"I believe that everybody knows," said Sylvester talking about his sexuality and the political allies he has. "I have not directly talked with everybody about it, but I believe everybody knows."

Sylvester said he made the move to grant the interview because blogger Mike Rogers had contacted him. Rogers, from D.C., runs the BlogActive Web site. The site has garnered much attention over the years as Rogers, himself gay, for outing politicians who are actively pursuing an anti-gay agenda, but are secretly gay.

"Mike Rogers is looking at doing a piece to trash me, so I think it is better to get out on better terms," Sylvester said.

But Sylvester said his sexuality really has less to do with his politics than one might imagine.

"The whole debate – gay this and gay that, it's so skewed and often illogical," he said. "If more people read what John Corvino (a professor at Wayne State University who has been touring his lecture series 'What is Morally Wrong with Homosexuality?' and is a contributing columnist for Between The Lines) writes, we would all be better off."

Instead, Sylvester said he supports candidates and issues for the greater good of the country.

"'How can one be gay and Republican?' It's a fairly easy one to answer," Sylvester said. "I vote what is best for the nation. If people in politics don't want to recognize me – fine, I can do without recognition from a large, bloated bureaucracy which is generally corrupt and dysfunctional. It's not about me, it's about the common good. If there is a candidate that is opposed to killing babies in the womb, restricting gun rights and raising taxes and opposed to gay marriage, I will support that candidate because it is what's best for everyone."

Sylvester is a strong Catholic and that, he said, plays into his political perspective.

"I vote according to the dictates of my conscience and that is certainly factored in," he said. "If someone has a religious objection and espouse it in a loving way per Christian teaching I have no problem with it, although I may disagree with them. If they aren't coming from that angle, then I do not respect them and will not vote for them. There is no virtue in being vulgar and ill informed."

And Sylvester has no issue with the church denying Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion, or, if it were to happen, to him for being gay. He said the church is there to make moral decisions. But the issue would trouble him personally if gays were denied communion. He also said early on in the process of coming out, he struggled with his sexuality and church teachings.

"Sure, when I was first coming out when the issue was if I was gay or not. It was a struggle then," he said. "The biggest thing was whether you believe people are born that way or if it is a perversion. I don't believe it is a perversion, I believe it to be perfectly natural. Everybody knows themselves. You have feelings that way and you are the only person who can decipher it."

As for the presidential race, Sylvester was clear on his support for Barr and lambasted McCain and Obama. "I could have swallowed the jagged little pill known as John McCain but he is too arrogant to even pay lip service to those in his party that want the third world hemorrhaging across the southern border to stop," he said. "As far as Barack Obama goes...the guy is a joke. He is the most unqualified candidate to ever get a major party’s nomination."

Asked if the Barr candidacy might splinter the Republican vote, and result in Obama claiming the presidency, Sylvester said, "Ultimately its going to be a mute point. I think ultimately conservatives are going to stay home. They don't have anybody to vote for this time."

Sylvester was also clear that part of the issue was that the American democracy was stuck in a two party system and Bob Barr, not being in either of the two mainstream party camps, was unlikely to get the money to get his message out. Asked if the media should cover Barr like all the other candidates, Sylvester laughed.

"I think it would probably be best that you didn't because you already dislike John McCain's thinking," he said referring to the alternative media like Michigan Messenger and Between The Lines. "I can imagine how the coverage would be on someone right of McCain like Barr. If you wanted to tear apart the conservative movement, yes (you should cover it). Objectively, you should cover all the people running."

As for his connections with well known anti-gay leaders in the state like Rep. Jack Hoogendyke from Kalamazoo and Gary Glenn of the American Family Association of Michigan, Sylvester said he supported them.
"I've met Mr. Glenn working on the failed "Stop Overspending Initiative." He seems to be genuine. Maybe I'll be in his cross hairs, who knows? I don't question his motives, only some of his logic," Sylvester said. "Jack Hoogendyk is a good man. I support him 100 percent because I believe it for the greater good that Carl Levin be forced into retirement and Jack take his spot."

On War, Deception and Now Denial

By Jay Bookman
June 11, 2008
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Did President Bush and his administration lead us into the Iraq war under false pretenses?

Absolutely, they did. The documented evidence is overwhelming. Nonetheless, some of those who initially backed Bush’s decision to invade Iraq continue to claim otherwise, arguing that the president — and they themselves — were upfront with the American people in laying out the invasion case.

For example, in a recent column, Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt described the “Bush lied, people died” thesis as a fiction, citing a new report issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee chaired by Sen. John Rockefeller (D-West Virginia).

To Rockefeller, the report documents “the absolute cynical manipulation — deliberately cynical manipulation, to shape American public opinion,” and says he too had been fooled into supporting the war. But to Hiatt, the Rockefeller report actually absolves Bush of the charge of deception. As he points out, the report confirms that pre-war statements concerning Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs were “generally substantiated by intelligence information.”

Unfortunately, that information just turned out to be “tragically, catastrophically wrong,” Hiatt writes. ...

[The] case for war was based on two additional assertions: First, that Saddam had close ties with al Qaida and other international terrorist groups, and that because of those ties, he might give those groups access to WMD to be used against the United States.

Neither claim had a foundation in reality or intelligence, and in fact were contradicted by reports from the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies. The Rockefeller report is quite explicit in its conclusions:

“Statements by the president and vice president indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by intelligence information,” it stated.

It further concludes:

“Statements and implications by the president and secretary of state suggesting that Iraq and al Qaida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al Qaida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence. Intelligence assessments, including multiple CIA reports and the November 2002 NIE [National Intelligence Estimate], dismissed the claim that Iraq and al Qaida were cooperating partners.”

However, there had also been a larger, more important lie behind the invasion of Iraq. The Bush administration did not seriously believe that Iraq posed a danger to the American people. It sought war for another reason entirely, because it believed that the invasion of Iraq and the assertion of U.S. military might could be the first step in transforming the Arab Middle East into a pro-American region and turning Iran into a docile puppy dog. Others in Washington, including some Democrats and members of the national media, shared that simplistic assessment.

However, they also understood that the American people would not agree to fight a war in pursuit of such grandiose goals. To agree to war, we had to be frightened into believing that our own safety was at risk, that without an invasion, mushroom clouds might soon rise over American cities.

So the Bush administration constructed a scenario that would accomplish that feat, and many in the Washington-based media — “complicit enablers,” as former Bush press secretary Scott McClellan described them — put that scenario on their loudspeakers without questioning its veracity.

That’s the awkward truth.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Zimbabwe: U.S. Republicans, Movement for Democratic Change Alike in Media Deception

The Herald (Harare)
4 June 2008
Posted to the web 4 June 2008

By Lloyd Whitefield Butler, Jr

STELLA Orakwue writes eloquently in the May 2008 issue of New African magazine "It is a pity!": "Do you think that if 'Mugabe', had got the money, the financial credits that Zimbabwe needed, that Zimbabwe's economic situation would not be utterly different, and that 'the people' would not have given him the vast majority he deserved? . . . It is a pity that the people who voted against President Mugabe have no ability to remember the servitude they existed in prior to the last eight years . . . Is it too hard without the white man? Without the Westerner in charge of your resources, your money, looking after you behind the scenes?"

US Congressman Robert Wexler is demanding that White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan must testify under oath before House Judiciary Committee concerning devastating revelations made in his new book on the Bush Administration's deliberate efforts to mislead the American people into the Iraq War.

In his book, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception," McClellan writes that Bush manipulated public opinion through a "political propaganda campaign" to justify going to war in Iraq.

Public officials, whether pro-Anglo MDC-T [Movement for Democratic Change] or pro-Zanu-PF, should be held responsible for any actions that could lead to civil war, social disruption, and or additional economic sanctions. Sanctions are designed specifically to destroy the financial infrastructure of a country.

For years MDC-T has media slandered the people of Zimbabwe with the most savage, filthy, and disgusting language, and disinformation ever written by an African. This is reminiscent of the American systematic dismemberment of a political candidate and a scorched earth strategy.

After reading 'What happened' it appears Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC-T are imitating the George Herbert Walker Bush's 1988 campaign against Michael Dukakis: On page 68 McClellan writes "Instead, they developed a calculated strategy to go negative that had little to do with building their candidate up and everything to do with tearing their opponent down."

"The campaign was by most objective accounts full of distortions, misrepresentations, and zero-sum politics, accusing Dukakis of everything from embracing furloughs for dangerous criminals to disliking the pledge of allegiance (the innuendo being that he was unpatriotic).'

Tsvangirai is using all the American political personality deceptions and media spinmiesterism found common among American politicians; fooling a majority. A recent photo of Tsvangirai crying at a funeral is a typical public relations photo-shoot. It is no different from US presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton's tear jerk response at Press time claiming she's being attacked. World media is finally recognising and stating in their Press comments how she, like Tsvangirai, is waiting for a dreadful event for her to become president.

MDC-T's relentless attack and permanent Press campaign against President Mugabe personally can be likened to Bush and the Republican Party's media spinmiesterisation that White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan regretfully participated in.

"Media outlets should denote more resources to fact-checking ideas and information provided by political campaigns, politicians in office, or special interest organisations. When a candidate bends the truth, reporters shouldn't hesitate to point that out. When a television commercial uses, emotional appeals, distorted imagery, or misleading selective facts to promote a particular point of view, news organisations should expose those tactics, even if it means braving the fury of an offended advertiser.

The do's and don'ts of the Media Spinmiesters and the journalistic stage they set are well defined in former White House Press secretary Scott McClellan's book "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception" making visibly clear MDC-T's "permanent campaign":

Do not discuss any economic and trade issues, never discuss economic sanctions, never discuss direct investment for agricultural and educational institutions. Never discuss with Zimbabwe citizens the ways and means that white Rhodesians became owners of the best preserved land in Zimbabwe.

Do not discuss the slaughter of millions of Zimbabweans who died in the wars and forced labour mines and plantations. The wars that matched African spears against European cannons and machine guns are crimes against humanity and never to be mentioned.

Never discuss how the British wrote and signed their own land ownership papers and leases in Zimbabwe? Do not discuss how Zimbabwe's farmers ended up in South Africa nurturing a neighbours' land and neglecting their own farm land; is it a result of sanctions? If yes, illegally imposed sanctions should be the Press media's target for investigation.

MDC-T's hired political media spinmiesters always direct the topic of discussions and comments to suffering and death issues, the American boogey man, the "evil" president and the "corrupt" Zanu-PF and ZEC fear and scare tactics. Do not define the New Zimbabwe in specifics.

Propaganda media spinmiesters discourage intellectual debates and promote distrust among political opponents by making the opposition the enemy. Emphasise tribal, political, or religious differences.

The media spinmiesters will make Zimbabwean nationalism, self-determination, and independence an unknown and unachievable factor by constant media bombardment of government failures. Media spinmiesters never report success events or achievements.

Should President Mugabe and Zanu-PF have responded to MDC-T like the Clintons?

"By 1992, Clinton and his political advisors felt they had learned the lessons of the 1988 campaign: answer every attack; counter misrepresentations and distortions of one's record by using the same tactics against the opponent; play by the same rules the opposition plays by, but do it better. ...the Clinton political machine became famous for its aggressive push back tactics, its subtle and not so subtle intimidation of reporters, its mastery of spin, and its rapid response to charges."

"It was recorded in The Quest for the Presidency by Peter and John Matthews Goodman, the systematic dismemberment of Michael Dukakis" based on a "scorched-earth strategy."

When illegally imposed sanctions began to deteriorate the success of the educational institutions from grade schools to the Universities in Zimbabwe; did MDC-T call a truce at any cost to avoid the near collapse of its educational institutions?

The essentiality of any society begins in the home; it ends in the schools and learning centres that later evolve into scientific research and development laboratories of entrepreneurship. What is the cost of sanctions? Answer: a generation of students and citizens denied the social benefits and fruition of their scholarship.

By MDC-T's demonisation of their head of state and its ruling political party they actually demeaned every Zimbabwean.

If American laws are applied to Zimbabwe's present state of affairs charges of sedition, treason, and subversive activities would easily be applied to MDC-T top officials and their media spinmiesters.

Zimbabwe is more of a "Democracy" than America. MDC-T officials are allowed to advocate, solicit, and join foreign forces in their attempt to "remove" the President and government from existence. This behaviour will never be tolerated in America, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the European Union. The support of foreign illegally imposed sanctions is a criminal act.

Media Spinmiester "Tendai Biti, secretary general of the MDC, said Sadc must 'play the midwifery role' in easing President Mugabe from power in the aftermath of the March 29 election. Mugabe placed second to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in that vote but has vowed to win a runoff."

"If diplomacy fails, the next thing is a war," Biti said after a news conference here. "It's not an option to us, but one day some [person] is going to say, 'This is the only solution.' Sadc must act now before rivers of dead people start to flow, as they did in Rwanda."

Writer MacDonald Dzirutwe writes "The MDC insists Tsvangirai won outright the first time."

"We decided to participate in the run-off to give the people of Zimbabwe a second chance to kick out the dictatorship. We have now declared a zero vote for Robert Mugabe," Khupe told supporters on Sunday.

"We need to give Mugabe a final blow. On June 27 we will be having a Zanu-PF funeral. We are going to make sure we bury them so that they will not resurrect again."

"The MDC has alleged electoral fraud in the March election, and Khupe said verification of results in next month's vote should be open to the media and observers and recorded on camera "so that Zanu-PF will not cheat."

Well, MDC-T, in America if the President of the US, the Commander in Chief, is found to have deliberately deceived the American public for the purpose of going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan the president will be impeached and face federal charges for deceiving the US. You MDC-T have made explosive statements that ought to be answered and verified to the world public with actual facts.

However, if the statements by MDC-T are to be taken at face value one can conclude the MDC, led by Tsvangirai is at war with the Government and people of Zimbabwe. I hope I am wrong.

The seat of authority must always be respected even if it is a dictatorship or a family ruled monarchy. The respect you show today for the seat of authority will be the respect given to you if or when your time arrives for change.

US gangsters or mobsters aka the Cosa Nostra have a rule of law in their Commission or Board of Directors: it states that whichever (member) calls for the removal of the chairman from his seat of authority cannot then be the chairman himself after the removal. In Japan it is said that one cannot be charged with treason if the foreign collaboration be determined to be in the best interest of the country. Sanctions have irreparable effects.

There is a vast difference in being elected to a position of authority and the demand for the removal of a commander in chief from his or her position of authority. The demand places you in legal jeopardy particularly with non-members.

"During electoral campaigns, reporters should work harder to pin the candidates down on policy specifics rather than accepting generalisations and rhetorical flair."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The `Village Voice' Alternative Media Monopoly's Hidden History--Parts 1 & 2

By Bob Feldman

(Most of the following article originally appeared in the October 9, 1996 issue of Downtown/Aquarian Weekly)

“The Village Voice became not something there because of the need for it, to give a voice to voiceless people, but a prize of booty on the battlefield of venture capitalism, something to be looked at and fought over, put into the portfolio of a corporation, used by one individual on the make after another…As of 1977, it had become part of a super-empire…”

--Kevin McAuliffe in The Great American Newspaper: The Rise and Fall of the `Village Voice’ in 1978

Denver’s “alternative” weekly newspaper, the Denver Westword, may not be publicizing on a regular basis the current efforts of local antiwar activists to protest against the Democratic Party-controlled Congress’s failure to end the U.S. military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and impeach Bush and Cheney, by mobilizing antiwar Denver residents to demonstrate outside the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

One reason might be because the Denver Westword is owned by the Phoenix-based Village Voice/New Times “alternative” weekly newspaper chain that also owns the Village Voice, the LA Weekly, the Seattle Weekly, the San Francisco Weekly, the Minneapolis City Pages, the Phoenix New Times, the Dallas Observer, the Orange County Weekly, the Houston Press, the Cleveland Scene, the Nashville Scene, the St. Louis Riverfront Times, the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, the Miami New Times and the Kansas City Patch. In fact, the free circulation of the “alternative” weekly newspapers which the Denver Westword 's out-of-state parent company owns represents 25 percent of the free weekly circulation of all U.S. “alternative” weekly newspapers.

But prior to the 2005 merger between the Wall Street bankers who had purchased the Village Voice from former Voice owner Leonard Stern for $170 million in 2000 and New Times media company owner Michael Lacey, the Voice was also not controlled by its original owners. For--like current Voice/Westword owner Michael Lacey--the Wall Street bankers, former Voice owner Leonard Stern and former Voice owner Rupert Murdoch did not provide the initial money or initial labor that was needed to launch the Village Voice on October 26, 1955. The Voice was actually started by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher and Norman Mailer—using money from Mailer’s bank account and from Fancher’s inheritance.

(Downtown/Aquarian Weekly 10/9/96)


(Most of the following article originally appeared in the October 9, 1996 issue of Downtown/Aquarian Weekly.)

Voice co-founder Wolf was the husband of a social worker. After his involvement in the world of Manhattan alternative journalism enabled him to become a millionaire by the early 1970s, Wolf turned neoconservative and eventually moved into a City Hall office in 1977 to be an aide and close adviser to then-New York City Mayor Ed Koch.

Voice co-founder Fancher was a Lake Placid, New York prep school graduate who had become a Manhattan doctor. He had also inherited $30,000 (in 1950s money) worth of Orange County Telephone Company stock from his grandfather.

Fancher used part of his inherited utility company stock to come up with the $5,000 that he initially contributed to launch the Voice. [Now-deceased] Best-selling Novelist Mailer also put up $5,000. In exchange for his $5,000 investment, Mailer and his lawyer received 40 percent of the Voice’s stock. In exchange for his $5,000 investment, Fancher and his close friend, Dan Wolf, received 60 percent of the Voice’s stock.

The idea of naming their Manhattan alternative newspaper, “The Village Voice,” however, was apparently not thought up by either Mailer, Wolf or Fancher, but by a woman named Patricia Woods, who worked as an English teacher during the 1950s. Wolf took the title of Voice editor-in-chief, but a hip guy named John Wilcock was named the Voice’s first news editor. Other editorial employees initially included Florence Ellerbert and Jerry Tallmer, who was a former editor of Dartmouth College’s student newspaper. Although Wolf was approaching his 40th birthday when the Voice was first published, “in the first issue he would lie and say he was only 33,” according to The Great American Newspaper: The Rise and Fall of the `Village Voice’ by Kevin McAuliffe.

Before the 1962 newspaper strike by local union people shut down all of Manhattan’s daily major newspapers for 114 days, the Voice was not much of a success, financially. In 1955, it only had a circulation of about 3,000, sold for 5 cents and lost up to $1,000 a week in 1950s money. It didn’t publish many classified ads, though, in those days and, therefore, consisted of only 12 pages.

To keep the Voice from going bankrupt in 1956, Mailer had to pour in about $10,000 more from his literary profits and Fancher had to shovel in another $10,000 from his utility company stock inheritance. But the Voice still had difficulty making money until the 1962 newspaper strike. Between October 1955 and the start of this strike, about $60,000 was lost by the then-alternative newspaper and then-Voice editor-in-chief Wolf had to be “supported by the income brought in by his wife, Rhoda, a social worker,” according to The Great American Newspaper: The Rise and Fall of the `Village Voice’. The Voice’s circulation, though, had risen to about 17,000 on the eve of the big Manhattan daily newspaper strike.


Sri Lanka: Defense ministry brands media as “internal enemy” in war against Tamil Tigers

Also see: "Sri Lanka's War Turns on Civilians"

7 June 2008

Reporters Without Borders condemns a defence ministry campaign against independent news media, especially journalists who cover military affairs. The ministry’s website is carrying virulent attacks on journalists critical of the government, accusing them of being in cahoots with the “terrorist enemy,” the Tamil Tiger rebels.

“While the civil war continues to claim innocent victims in both communities, defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is lambasting journalists who do not toe the line of his propaganda,” the press freedom organisation said. “He is directly threatening the safety of journalists by accusing them of agreeing with the enemy. The government has turned Manicheism into a state doctrine in which those not with the army are deemed to be with the Tamil Tigers.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “We call on President Mahinda Rajapaksa to restore trust and serenity to the government’s relations with the press.”

Two long articles - headlined “Stop media treachery against armed forces members!” and "Deriding the war heroes for a living - the ugly face of defence analysts in Sri Lanka” - were recently posed on the ministry’s website, attacking news media that dare to contradict official press releases about the fighting in the north of the country.

By blaming journalists for the military’s failure to “eradicate the LTTE terrorists,” the articles directly expose them to the possibility of reprisals. “Media freedom in this country has been encroached upon by few sociopaths that can be found in almost all anti-Sri Lankan outfits,” the website says.

Many local news media, including Sirasa TV, the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Times, and the Free Media Movement (FMM), a local NGO that defends press freedom are explicitly accused of sowing discord within the armed forces in their articles and statements. “Whoever lures disgruntled members of the armed forces to act against the good order and the military discipline of the service is committing treachery against the nation,” the site says.

The defence ministry also accuses the press of putting out false information although the army itself has often tried to minimise its losses, for example, after one of the most violent clashes in recent years in the Jaffna peninsula last April.

Pressure on the independent media is mounting amid repeated incursions by the security forces into LTTE-controlled areas and deadly bombings in the Colombo region that are blamed on the Tamil Tigers.

Keith Noyahr, assistant editor and defence correspondent of the English-language weekly The Nation, was kidnapped and beaten on 22 May in an attack apparently linked to his reporting on the government’s counter-insurgency campaign. TV reporter Paranirupasingam Devakumar and a friend were murdered six days later in an area of the Jaffna peninsula that is under military control. No suspect has been arrested.

Iqbal Athas, a reporter who specialises in military affairs, stopped writing articles for the Sunday Times several weeks ago after being the target of a campaign of intimidation. According to the Free Media Movement, Sirimevan Kasthuriarachchi, a journalist who does defence reporting for the newspaper Divaina, was threatened with reprisals by thugs who forced their way into his home on 29 May.

Frederica Jansz, the publisher of the monthly Montage and a contributor to The Nation, was followed by suspicious-looking vehicles in Colombo a week ago and the body of a bird was found outside her home in what might have been another threatening message.

Press freedom activists have also been the target of intimidation. On 27 May, soldiers went to the Colombo headquarters of the Sri Lanka Press Institute, an organisation that is respected for its defence of media freedom, and asked for the names of its employees.

The defence minister was added to the Reporters Without Borders list of “Predators of Press Freedom” on 3 May.