Roundup: Media's Take
This is where we excerpt articles from the media that take a historical approach to events in the news.
Nadine Gordimer, in the Independent (April 14, 2004):
To think we can look back at freedom as part of our history: a decade of attainment to follow on the long struggle against colonialism and its culmination in apartheid.
But what is history? The dictionary says: "A narrative of events; a story; a chronicle. A chronological record of events, as of a life, development of a country, the branch of knowledge that records and analyses past events."
From our experience of past centuries recorded and of the more immediate times within living memory, and finally in the lifetimes of even the young among us, we could add several further definitions.
To begin with: History is traditionally written by the victors in the conflict. It seems it is one of the fruits of victory: sweet for the victor, bitter for the vanquished. In our own case, our own South Africa, our own African continent, history has long been written and therefore taught from the point of the beliefs, the analyses of colonialists, for whether Dutch, British, Portuguese, French, Belgian, German, they were the victors over the indigenous peoples.
History has its phases, or its progress, whichever way the victors look at it. The history that was colonialism has ended, overcome in a struggle of many kinds over many years. In the 10 years of freedom we are celebrating this year we have been confronted among many other problems with the need to unmask, to uncover from its old colonial wrappings, the other side of our history.
I do not want to fall back on the term "alternative history", because I believe it would be as unrealistic as colonial histories were. To establish as much of the truth as is possible, while we are in the present, is our only guarantee of creating the best of democracy for the future, from our admirable start in a single decade.
But there is a vital adjunct to the historical chronicle. Individual people make the history. The individuals whose lives, before the historic dates, before the day and hour of crisis, the continuation of whose lives must go on beyond the blood, exile, imprisonment and sacrifice: it is this that is completed in literature - fiction, poetry, plays....
We cannot understand ourselves without knowing and acknowledging the past; that knowledge and understanding is the only guarantee we human beings have of never being doomed to repeat the past, its ghastly injustices, terrible events, its cost in suffering. To stride in the open air of democracy, our hard-won freedom, we need our historians and our makers of literature, the poets, the novelists, the playwrights. And to bring to light the new creative literary talents among young people we need a literate population, in city, village and so-called informal settlement, at all levels and ages.
In 10 years, the people of South Africa have achieved so much: may literacy for all in the new decade bring this basic human right, this essential for developing the economy, for any working life, and the lifelong revelation and joy of reading, to all. May we create the libraries, and nurture the new historians, poetry, prose and play writers to fill the shelves with what we have been, what we are, how we are making the present, and see the future of our country.
Christopher Hitchens, in Slate (April 12, 2004):
Of what does this confrontation [between the coalition and Iraqi insurgents] remind you? Why, of Vietnam, says Sen. Edward Kennedy. No, more like Lebanon in 1982, says the New York Times. The usually admirable Colbert King, in the Washington Post, asking how we got ourselves into this, compares pro-American Iraqis to the Uncle Toms on whom liberal opinion used to rely for advice about the black ghetto. And Thomas Friedman, never more than an inch away from a liberal panic of his own, has decided that it is Kurdish arrogancein asking to keep what they already havethat has provoked theocratic incendiarism.
If the United States were the nation that its enemies think it is, it could quite well afford to Balkanize Iraq, let the various factions take a chunk each, and make a divide-and-rule bargain with the rump. The effort continues, though, to try and create something that is simultaneously federal and democratic. Short of that, if one absolutely has to fall short, the effort must continue to deny Iraq to demagogues and murderers and charlatans. I can't see how this compares to the attempt to partition and subjugate Vietnam, bomb its cities, drench its forests in Agent Orange, and hand over its southern region to a succession of brutal military proxies. For one thing, Vietnam even at its most Stalinist never invaded and occupied neighboring countries (or not until it took on the Khmer Rouge), never employed weapons of genocide inside or outside its own borders, and never sponsored gangs of roving nihilist terrorists. If not all its best nationalists were Communists, all its best Communists were nationalists, and their combination of regular and irregular forces had beaten the Japanese and French empires long before the United States even set foot in the country, let alone before the other Kennedy brothers started assassinating the very puppets they had installed there....
As for Lebanon: Gen. Sharon in 1982 set out to "solve" the Palestinian problem by installing a fascist-minded Phalange Party, itself a minority of the Christian minority, in Beirut. (To watch American policy in Iraq, you would never even know that there was a 6 percent Christian minority there.) And Sharon invaded a country that already had a large population of Palestinian refugees, a country that had committed no offense against international law except to shelter those Palestiniansagainst their will and that of Lebanonto begin with....
Here is the reason that it is idle to make half-baked comparisons to Vietnam. The Vietnamese were not our enemy, let alone the enemy of the whole civilized world, whereas the forces of jihad are our enemy and the enemy of civilization. There were some Vietnamese, even after the whole ghastly business, who were sorry to see the Americans leave. There were no Lebanese who were sad to see the Israelis leave. There would be many, many Iraqis who would be devastated in more than one way if there was another Somalian scuttle in their country. In any case, there never was any question of allowing a nation of this importance to become the property of Clockwork Orange holy warriors.
Charles Lane, a staff writer at the Washington Post, in Slate (April 14, 2004):
In the spring of 1941, a 46-year-old German intelligence officer named Lothar Eisentrager slipped across the Soviet-Chinese border and made his way to the Pacific port of Shanghai. There he assumed the name of Ludwig Ehrhardt and took charge of German espionage operations for the entire Far Easta mission that would ultimately lead to his conviction as a war criminal by an American military commission, a stretch at a U.S. Army prison in Bavaria, and a failed bid for freedom at the U.S. Supreme Court. Today, Eisentrager's long-forgotten case has re-emerged at the center of another Supreme Court struggle over the Bush administration's war on terrorism.
Next week, the justices will hear oral argument in appeals brought by 16 foreign nationals, held at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who are accused of ties to al-Qaida and the Taliban. The court's decision could be one of its most important statements ever on executive power in wartime. As Eisentrager once did, the detainees seek the right to petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. Put simply, they want a day in court. The Bush administration says American courts have no jurisdiction to hear their petitions because they are enemy combatants and foreign nationals, held outside U.S. territory. (Under a century-old lease with Cuba the United States has "jurisdiction and control" at Guantanamo, but Cuba retains "ultimate sovereignty.") Therefore, the administration argues, the United States can hold them on Guantanamo indefinitely, without access to counsel or other legal rights.
As authority for this proposition, the administration cites the Supreme Court's June 5, 1950, ruling in Johnson v. Eisentrager, in which the court held that the constitutional guarantee of habeas corpus does not apply to enemy aliens who, like Eisentrager and his 20 German co-respondents in the case, were detained by the United States on foreign soil. So far, a district judge in Washington and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit have agreed with the Bush administration.
But should Eisentrager control the outcome of the Guantanamo case? Lawyers for the detainees say the situations then and now differ significantly. When the German Reich capitulated on May 8, 1945, Eisentrager and other China-based Germans found themselves thousands of miles from a devastated homeland with no mission and no money. Approached by representatives of the Japanese high command, they signed contracts to help Japan's military. Until Japan surrendered the following August 15, the United States later charged, these Germans supplied the Japanese with intercepts of U.S. naval communications (including key information during the Battle of Okinawa), German-made aircraft parts, and tens of thousands of leaflets aimed at U.S. troops.
In early 1946, the Germans were rounded up by the American Military Mission in China, and an American military commission convened in Shanghai that fall to hear the case against them. Their post-V-E collaboration with the Japanese was prosecuted as a war crimespecifically, contributing to the military efforts of the United States' enemies after their own country's unconditional surrender.
The charge was creative, but the proceeding was no kangaroo court. The Germans' U.S.-supplied defense lawyers fought vigorously, winning acquittals for six defendants. But, in January 1947, 21 others were convicted and sentenced to prison in the U.S. occupation zone in Germany. Eisentrager got a life term.
From prison, however, Eisentrager was able to contact an American lawyer. On April 26, 1948, he filed for a writ of habeas corpus in the U.S. District Court in Washington. On Sept. 30, 1948, Judge Edward A. Tamm dismissed the petition in a four-paragraph opinion. Since the Germans "are not now and have never been in the United States," Tamm wrote, they had no case. In April 1949, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously reversed, holding that the constitutional guarantee of habeas corpus applied to conduct by U.S. government officials, wherever they might be.
The Truman administration appealed to the Supreme Court. In his brief, Solicitor General Philip B. Perlman argued that, even if the Constitution follows the flag, as the D.C. Circuit had ruled, "it does not necessarily follow that a judicial remedy is available. There are many instances, particularly in the realm of foreign affairs and the conduct of war, in which the Executive is the primary and often the sole guardian of the Constitution." Eisentrager's lawyers countered that this "would make the exercise of fundamental rights depend on the accident of locus of incarceration."...
Even though they lost their case, Eisentrager and his co-defendants soon won their freedom. By 1950, the Truman administration was feeling pressure for leniency toward German war criminals; both within the United States and a fledgling West Germany, the argument was made that friction over war crimes prosecutions hurt U.S.-West German unity against the Soviet Union. Truman set up a clemency process that, continued by the Eisenhower administration, resulted in the emptying of the U.S. prison for German war criminals by 1958. In Eisentrager, ironically, the Truman administration won the legal authority to deal with German war criminals as it pleased, and then, for political reasons, used that authority to let them go...
Chuck Colson, in Townhall.com (April 15, 2004):
Ive known President Bush since he was governor of Texas and gave us permission to start the first Christian prison in this country. One thing Ive always liked about him is that he says what he means and means what he says.
Thats why I felt something was missing in his speech and press conference Tuesday night. I think he would have liked to have told us the whole story, but its impossible for him to do so.
The president said we werent on a war footing before September 11, 2001 . Thats true. He went on to say that we are now on a war footing and are in a waralso true, but I think he had to pull his punches in telling us the character of that war.
We Westerners forget history. We forget that from the time Muhammad began writing the Qur'án in 610 A.D., Islam and the Christian West were engaged in armed conflicts that lasted for a thousand years. Islam even occupied Spain during much of this period, and it wasnt until 1683 that the Ottoman Empire was finally defeated at Vienna.
We see what is happening today as an isolated case of terrorists taking a misguided reading of the Qur'án. I wish it were that simple. The truth is theres an element in Islamsome estimate as high as 20 percentwho see this battle as a resumption of the thousand years of war. In fact, Osama bin Laden was a student of Mohammed Qutab whose brother, Saeb Qutab, a radical Egyptian Islamist, argued for a resumption of this conflict with the West. Saeb Qutab was thoroughly anti-Semitic, had a burning hatred of the West, and saw its destruction as the worlds only hope. And thats what filled the mind of Osama bin Laden.
Were kidding ourselves if we think that containing a few terrorists will allow America to live in peace and safety. Were kidding ourselves if we think we can bring troops home from Iraq and thats the end of the war. This war is going to be with us for generations. Millions of followers of Osama bin Laden and those like him believe that it is their manifest destiny as Muslims to bring about the utter destruction of Jews, Christians, and Western civilization.
Now the president cant say this because it would alienate moderate Muslim governments and might unleash frenzy among Islamists.
But those of us on the sidelines can say things the president cant say.
If we can create a democracy in the Middle East , Muslim people will see it
and realize it is good for them. And moderate Muslims may then capture control
of Islamic governments.
Enda O'Doherty, in the Irish Times (April 12, 2004):
For former British foreign secretary Robin Cook, writing in the London Independent, President Bush's rhetoric in response to the latest violence was based above all on denial. It is difficult to believe, he concluded, that the coalition forces will find a solution until they first admit they have a problem.
Manuel Carvalho, writing in Publico of Lisbon, thought the coalition's problems were primarily due to its failure to understand history or respect its lessons. The US concept of "nation-building", he argued, was nothing other than "an extremist ideology, a dangerous combination of Messianism and voluntarism which is completely devoid of any sense of history". "In seeking to make Iraq a testing ground for this belief, Bush and his falange of radicals are demonstrating their complete failure to understand an elementary truth: you never make friends by the use of force." The "theologians" of Washington could do worse, Carvalho thought, than to read T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom, where they would learn of the effect British invasion of Iraq in 1916 had on encouraging the emergence of Arab nationalism.
In the Daily Telegraph British historian Niall Ferguson wrote of a meeting he had had in Washington where an official charged with reconstruction in Iraq told him she was looking principally to central Europe's post-communist economies as a model for the Iraqi process.
"Not for the first time," wrote Ferguson, "I was confronted with the disturbing reality about the way the Americans make policy. Theory looms surprisingly large. Neoconservative theory, for instance, stated that the Americans would be welcomed as liberators, just as economic theory put privatisation on my interlocutor's agenda. The lessons of history come a poor second, and only recent history - preferably recent American history - gets considered." In 1917, Ferguson reminded us, a British general proclaimed in Baghdad: "Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators." Within a few months there was an anti-British revolt, which by 1920 had become a full-scale rebellion. The agitation began in the mosques and soon, contrary to British expectations, united Sunnis, Shias and even Kurds. After horror stories of mutilated British bodies and thousands of casualties, the rebellion was eventually put down by a campaign of aerial bombardment of tribesmen and punitive village-burning, followed by the installation of a puppet monarchy.
It seems that at the moment, Ferguson concluded, "US policy in Iraq is in the hands of a generation who have learnt nothing from history except how to repeat other people's mistakes".
Keith Suter, in the Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia) (April 12, 2004):
One of US President George W. Bush's most controversial decisions in the war on terrorism is the creation of military tribunals to try suspects, including two Australians. Part of the President's problem is that American military tribunals have a long and controversial history.
Military tribunals use military officers as the prosecution, defence, judge and jury, and there is no role for civilians. They are used to deal with military crimes that do not arise in most civilian legal systems, such as spying and sabotage.
Tribunals are answerable only to the President -- they have no oversight from Congress, civilian appeal courts or the public. The media are often excluded from trials and the defence team is appointed by the military.
During the War of Independence from 1776 to 1783, General George Washington used military tribunals to try people accused of spying for Britain. The US constitution gives the president broad powers in wartime as the nation's commander-in-chief.
During the American Civil War (1861-1865), Abraham Lincoln's government set up military tribunals and denied people their right to trial by jury. The accused were unable to challenge the legality of their arrest and conviction.
Confederate agents and sympathisers were accused of conspiring to seize Union weapons, liberate prisoners of war and persuade allies in the north to join the South in destroying the Union. About 4000 people were tried by tribunals.
One famous tribunal immediately after the Civil War was to try those accused of participating in the conspiracy to kill Lincoln in April 1865. The killer, John Wilkes Booth, had been tracked down and killed on the spot but eight others were rounded up as part of the plot.
All eight were found guilty; four were executed and four were sentenced to long prison terms. Historians and legal scholars continue to debate these penalties, with some claiming that they were undeserved.
America's use of military tribunals during World War II also remains controversial.
After the US entered the war in December 1941, Hitler instructed German naval intelligence to infiltrate the US with sabotage teams and bomb railway stations, water-supply facilities, factories and Jewish-owned stores. The agents were living in Germany but often had American backgrounds and good local knowledge. But they were not highly trained Nazi killers and had only a few weeks' training in military operations....
A secret military tribunal was hastily established in Washington DC in July 1942. Seven generals acted as judges and jurors. Military lawyers were appointed to defend the Germans. Colonel Kenneth Royall took his defence duties seriously and midway through the trial he petitioned the Supreme Court on the tribunal's legality. The Court quickly ruled that the tribunal was legal and could proceed.
The trial continued. All eight Germans were sentenced to death. The verdicts went to the president, who decided that six should die but [George Dasch, the German leader] should get 30 years and [his partner Ernest Peter] Burger (who had also helped the investigations) should be sentenced to life in jail.
A few hours later the six Germans were executed in the electric chair. They were secretly buried in Washington.
The memory of the case hangs heavily over scholars and historians and some argue the punishments did not fit the crime.
Dasch was sent back to Germany after the war. He was hated as a traitor and he tried to get back to the US, but Hoover kept him out on the grounds that he was a communist. Dasch died in Germany in 1991.
Captain Henry Wirz, commandant of Confederate Andersonville Prison during the American Civil War, was hanged in 1885. He was convicted by a military commission for war crimes against Union prisoners and is the only person ever executed in the US for war crimes. Historians believe that he was a scapegoat.
Claude Salhani, UPI International Editor (April 12, 2004):
Since the eruption of the recent bloody clashes in Iraq, pitting U.S. and coalition troops against Shiites and Sunnis, the situation in the war-torn country has been alternatively compared to the Vietnam war and to the Palestinian intifada. But one missing comparison has been to that of a much closer analogy -- that of Syrian and Israeli involvement in Lebanon. In both instances, the same ingredients -- Shiite fanaticism and foreign forces were involved.
One of the great dangers that the United States now faces in becoming involved in inter- and intra-Iraqi disputes is that they can inadvertently become ingrained in the conflict, as has transpired last week when the U.S. civilian administrator L. Paul Bremer ordered the closure of a Shiite publication. The censure of al-Hawza, Sheik Moqtada Sadr's publication, was the spark that ignited the latest round of fighting and set off a popular Shiite uprising that risked spiraling out of control and growing to alarming proportions.
The hazard in such a situation is that American troops could find themselves turning into another armed faction in the conflict, adding to the problem rather than to its resolution.
A precedent for this is Syria's involvement in Lebanon.
As a reminder, Syrian troops entered Lebanon in 1976 at the height of the Lebanese civil war to ostensibly to help quell the fighting. Syrian troops arrived as part of an Arab Deterrent Force, a thinly veiled Syrian-led and dominant coalition, meant to give Syria an Arab and international blessing to intervene militarily in neighboring Lebanon.
Soon Syrian troops found themselves bogged down in inter-Lebanese politics and clashes, first siding with Christian militias fighting against Palestinian and Muslim-leftist forces. In due course, Syrian guns turned on the Christians (which were later backed by Israel) in support of the Palestinian-Muslim-leftist alliance.
Now 28 years later, the Syrians are still in Lebanon.
Another blatant comparison to the Lebanon conflict are the similarities between the firebrand, fiercely anti-American cleric Sheik Moqtada Sadr, and another young hothead Shiite cleric -- south Lebanon's Ragheb Harb.
If Harb's name does not ring any immediate bells, you are not alone. Outside of the immediate region, Harb did not raise much concern or make much news. But long before Hezbollah became a household name among counter-terrorist specialists or 24-hour cable news channels, Harb managed to win the attention of Israel to the point that they arranged for his assassination.
Sheik Harb, who came from a small village in south Lebanon called Jibsheet, had started a small movement of approximately 50-60 youngsters, called the Islamic Students Union. By the early 1980s, Harb began openly calling for armed resistance against Israel's occupation of Lebanon which had begun two years earlier, in 1978. At the time of the invasion, Harb was in Iran, but later returned to his native Jebsheet to fight the Israeli occupation with the blessing and support of Tehran's ayatollahs in 1980.
Does this scenario ring any bells yet?
According to the London-based Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Iran is spending nearly $1 billion to fund at least 18 covert centers in Iraq. The centers operate as" charities" in Baghdad, Basra, Karbala, Najaf, Nasseriyah and Suleimaniyah. Iran is also reported to have sent hundreds of intelligence agents into Iraq over the last year and a half, many disguised as Iranian pilgrims and Iraqi refugees.
Another striking comparison between the Iraq of today and the Lebanon of yesterday can also be drawn between Harb and Sadr. Much like Harb's policy vis-à-vis the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, Sadr advocates a tough-line, militant approach toward the U.S. occupation of Iraq. And much like the mainstream Shiite clergy in southern Lebanon disapproved of Harb's militaristic solution to the Israeli occupation, preferring instead quiet, civil disobedience, so it would appear does Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani who frowns on Sadr's call to arms.
The underlying thread in both instances and both occupations that helped fuel the civilian uprising has been the suffering of the civilian population brought about by the continued occupation. Eventually, Harb's movement paved the way for the creation of Hezbollah, and as they say, the rest is history. And history in Iraq is dangerously close to repeating itself. ...
Charles Leroux, in the Chicago Tribune (April 4, 2004):
The dead were four Americans working under Pentagon contracts who had been killed and mutilated by guerrillas in Fallujah, Iraq. On Tuesday, images of the atrocity landed in the laps of TV producers, Web masters, newspaper photo editors and their bosses almost like live grenades, things to be handled with extreme care and respect for their power.
What made these particular images so incendiary? Was it because they showed not just death, but difficult, violent death; not just violent death, but violent death of some of our own? And did the political back-story and the jubilant crowd ramp up the emotion?
"All of that," said W.J.T. Mitchell, professor of English and art history at the University of Chicago and author of "Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation."
"First, there's a taboo on photos of dead bodies," Mitchell said. "That's somewhat recent." He noted that, in Victorian times, photos would be taken of dead loved ones and kept in albums. They were thought of as comforting, an image of the person as though sleeping.
There also was the 1973 book "Wisconsin Death Trip," which reproduced death portraits taken by the town photographer in Black River Falls, Wis. These shots were taken during the economic crash of the 1890s and document the end products of the strain of failure and harsh weather and diphtheria. Looking into the face of a young mother, one wonders, "What made you drown your children?"
Later photographers such as Weegee captured the violence of late night New York City in the 1940s, shooting the bodies of suicides, murder victims and those who had run afoul of the mob.
Even with that history, the photos from Fallujah packed a huge, visceral punch, a wallop, Mitchell said, that isn't at all blunted for a public already hammered by pervasive violence in films, television, video games.
"People," he said, "even children down to a fairly young age, know this is not fiction; they know these pictures come with the credentials of truth.
"There are psychologists who talk about viewers becoming desensitized to violence by seeing it in entertainment. The scientific studies, however, don't support that. I think that view has more to do with the politics of the regulation of entertainment."
Awareness of reality
He noted that knowing the images are of reality may intensify them for someone who sees them and identifies, empathizes with the people shown.
"They imagine the scenario. They think what it would have been like for them to have been there. That's not just for the bodies of the Americans, but for the crowd in the foreground of the bridge picture as well. What would it be like to be swept up in such rage?
"That photo is like old photos of lynchings in the South. Part of the horror comes from the expressions of delight on the faces of the men, women and even children in the crowd."
He said that if the images acquire a name, the longevity of their punch will be assured.
"Just as the mention of the 9/11 images brings them all back to mind," he said, "if these become known as, for instance, the Fallujah pictures, they will persist."
"Powerful? Absolutely; yes," said Marshall Blonsky, who teaches seminars in semiotics (decoding symbols and images to reveal societal and cultural meanings) at New York's New School University, Parsons School of Design.
He explained how one image can trigger memories of other images, the emotions from each piling up to create a devastating effect.
"The photo of the charred bodies hanging on the bridge creates what we call intertextuality," he said, "an image that starts a whole cascade of other images. What I'm looking at on the front page of The New York Times [the same photo that appeared on the front of Thursday's Chicago Tribune] is a slaughterhouse scene, the way animals used to be hung by the feet and their throats slit back before there were laws against cruelty. You can almost imagine that you see a tail and a head that isn't humanlike.
"It's also bodies burned in effigy, but in this case there was no need to create the straw man, the effigy; they used real men. There are hints of crucifixion in the picture, and, with the blackened bodies hanging, hints of racial lynching. The man in the foreground has his arm raised much like the famous photo of Saddam holding up a rifle. Behind him, you can see someone's hand with the index finger extended. It's like a sporting event image: `We're No. 1.'"
The photos take on extra force not just from the cascade of recalled related images, he said, but also from repeated viewing.
Michael Moran, MSNBC News (April 2, 2004):
In May of 2001, one of the very few public figures who genuinely raised a warning about the threat al-Qaida and other terrorist groups pose to America won an audience with the new vice president, Dick Cheney. The public figure was a Republican stalwart, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, head of an obscure commission that had just issued a report six months earlier, “ Toward a National Strategy for Combating Terrorism .”
In its executive summary, released in December 2000, Gilmore wrote: “The potential for terrorist attacks inside the borders of the United States is a serious emerging threat. … Because the stakes are so high, our nation's leaders must take seriously the possibility of an escalation of terrorist violence against the homeland.”
Gilmore's panel studied the problem for two years before the attacks, but he felt the threat was being ignored. “The political and media people had nothing but Chandra and Monica on their minds,” he told me. “Our hearings were open, public events. Not once in two years did a major media outlet cover them.”
Gilmore hoped his meeting with Cheney was a breakthrough. “I had personal ties to the new administration, and the vice president seemed interested. He took notes, and I had a follow-up with one of his aides a few months later,” Gilmore says. “But nothing really happened. In the end, we didn't see any evidence of any interest at all. No one called us to Congress, no one called us to the executive branch.”...
Daniel Yergin, in the NYT (April 4, 2004):
[O]il is a finite resource, and fear of running out has always haunted the petroleum industry. In the 1880's, John Archbold, who would succeed John D. Rockefeller as head of the Standard Oil Trust, began to sell his shares in the company because engineers told him that America's days as an oil producer were numbered.
After World War I, the American government's top oil expert predicted a coming "gasoline famine." One solution was to cobble together the three easternmost provinces of the defunct Ottoman Empire into a new country, called Iraq, believed to be rich in oil resources and safely under British control.
After World War II, fears of shortages spiked again, and the industry invented offshore drilling. (Today, 30 percent of America's crude oil comes from the Gulf of Mexico.) Reserves in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, discovered just before World War II, were rapidly developed.
The oil crises of the 1970's - the 1973 Arab oil embargo and the 1979-80 Iranian revolution - were also seen as the harbingers of the "end of oil." In 1972, an international research group called the Club of Rome predicted the world would soon run short of natural resources. Spiraling oil prices in the following years - from $3 a barrel to $34 a barrel - seemed like a confirmation.
Of course, that's not what happened. Supply steeply increased from new non-OPEC sources like Alaska and the North Sea; coal and nuclear power plants pushed oil out of electricity generation, and conservation reduced demand. By the mid-1980's, oil, supposedly headed for $100 a barrel, instead fell to as low as $6.
Historically, then, dire oil predictions have been undone by two factors. One is the opening (or reopening) of territories to exploration by companies faced with a constant demand to replace declining reserves. The second is the tremendous impact of new technology. After World War I, seismic technology, used for locating enemy artillery, was adapted to oil field exploration. And in the 1990's, it became feasible to drill into deep offshore fields, which was inconceivable during those crisis years of the 1970's.
Better technology and management have increased Russian output by 45 percent since 1998, making Russia the world's second-largest oil producer. And if United States sanctions are lifted on Libya, new investment there could push up production. In the meantime, advanced information technologies and sophisticated remote sensing techniques are making exploration and production much more efficient, which could make an additional 125 billion barrels available over the next decade, an amount greater than the current proved reserves of Iraq.
Those who don't believe a shortage is imminent do not deny that a peak will eventually be reached. They just believe that it is much farther off into the future.
"You can certainly make a good case that sometime before the year 2050 conventional oil production will have peaked," said the head of exploration for a major oil company. He and others believe, however, that oil production will simply plateau, and then farther into the future begin to decline.
George Beres is an Oregon writer with religious roots in the Greek Orthodox Church. He has been a member of the Oregon Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East.
Observance of Easter Passion church services daily this week reminds me of the haunting seasonal music of the Greek Orthodox Church into which I was baptized. But a chance encounter a decade ago with the man responsible for translations in the Greek church reminded me that lyrics for some of the week's music are haunting in another way: the tragic prejudices they foster toward Jews. The attitudes are rooted in centuries of repetition in some scripture of the Christian church.
A priest of high rank in the Greek Archdiocese, Rev. Leonidas Contos, shared his concerns with me during the period when he was chief translator of text for the archdiocese, responsible for making clear and accurate translations from the original Greek into English. His main concern was revising translations of Holy Week services about the crucifixion. "In their existing form," he said, "they do something very unChristian. Some portions have for many generations demonized Jews as supposed killers of Jesus, leading to hatred of Jews among impressionable Christians."
That reminded me that many Christians don't seem to understand the cloud of prejudice they impose on neighbors who happen to be Jewish. Reading a published account of a Jewish friend's lifelong encounter with prejudice created some awareness. But a recent public discussion of the Mel Gibson film, "The Passion of Christ," convinces me we still don't get it. It reviewed the controversial new film and its interpretation of the death of Jesus, relevant because of debate that swirls over whether or not the effect of the movie brings to the surface latent anti-Judaism among some viewers.
Of five panelists, two--a minister of the First Christian Church and a Jewish university professor-- directly addressed the issue of the film building bigotry. They said they believe it does. There was uncertainty in the views of three others: a Roman Catholic priest; a Baptist minister, and the head of the Islamic Cultural Center.
The Baptist minister said he does not think the film "in any way is anti-Judaic." For me, he cast doubt on his credibility about the film when he said: "In all my years in the ministry, I've not been aware of anyone with anti-Jewish feeling."
The others skirted the edges of the question without addressing it. The priest said the film has caused him to "look at the crucifixion in an entirely different way," and removed from him "some of the complacency I had developed about the crucifixion." The Muslim said Islamic teaching accepts Christ, and rejects the idea he was crucified, but "We believe he was the Messiah of the Jews." From the audience, a Greek Orthodox priest pointed out that "Christians, like Jews, were killed because of Christ in the early centuries."
Evasiveness of three of the panelists and the cleric in the audience left unaddressed the fundamental question: Does the movie feed prejudice toward Jews?
The Christian Church minister placed the issue squarely on the table at the outset when he said: "The Holocaust of World War II could not have happened" had it not been for the way the church through the centuries has taught the passion story and the role in it of the Jewish people. He said impact of the movie, "while probably not intended, encourages anti-Judaism."
The professor was explicit: "This film is sado-masochistic. It is a reflection of the bloody, pre-Vatican II passion play. Its violence is pornographic. If one says this is based on the Gospel, then there has to be something wrong with the Gospel. The movie reverses 40 years of progress since Vatican II."
Personal experience plays a role for my Jewish writer friend, as it does for the professor. One wrote of a childhood memory, when a playmate told him, "You'll go to hell because you're Jewish; because you guys killed Jesus Christ." The other remembered "having to fight back when kids called me Christ-killer."
That reminded me of research 16 years ago for my published commentary about another controversial film on Jesus. Response to that movie among Christians was the opposite of today, when some churches have sent busloads of members to the Passion of Christ movie, which broke a record while making more than $125 million in its first five days. The earlier film was "The Last Temptation of Christ." I had to go out of town to see it, because boycotts by Christian filmgoers were expected to keep it from being shown in my town. Before seeing the film, I'd read the Nikos Kazantzakis book on which it was based.
Comments about being called Christ-killer related to something Kazantzakis wrote about his childhood on the island of Crete: "Every year during Holy Week that leads into Easter, Jewish children had to be on their guard. They were my friends. But I think they understood that other Cretan boys and I would have to hit them because of what Jews did to Christ."
A question from the audience at the discussion asked if heads of Christian sects could meet to agree on how to expurgate scripture of such bigotry.
While recognizing merit of the concept, the Christian Church minister said scripture is sacrosanct-- too sensitive for church leaders to ever consider revising.
As the discussion ended, I wondered: What set of values results in our being concerned over hate crimes that harm Jews, while we protect 1,900-year old writings that persist in encouraging those crimes?
Michael Oreskes, in the NYT (March 28, 2004):
It is one thing for a deputy at the National Security Council to accept blame on behalf of not one but several administrations, an act perched between admirable and presumptuous. But it is quite something else for a president of the United States to say he is sorry.
In October 1983, terrorists in Lebanon drove a truckload of explosives into a building housing American marines, killing 241. That December, a Defense Department commission prepared to release a report castigating officers in the chain of command for failing to safeguard their troops.
A copy was sent to President Reagan before its release. He read through it, David R. Gergen, then an aide, recalled, and with little discussion headed for the press room. "If there is to be blame," Mr. Reagan said before the assembled corps, "it properly rests here in this office and with this president. And I accept responsibility for the bad as well as the good."
The commanders, Mr. Reagan said, should not be punished "for not fully comprehending the nature of today's terrorist threat."
There was some criticism at the time that Mr. Reagan had pre-empted the military disciplinary process. But over all, Mr. Gergen said, the acceptance of responsibility for something that happened during his term vastly improved Mr. Reagan's status with the military and strengthened him for the rest of his presidency.
"Every time I've seen a president or his team take responsibility it has had a salutary effect," Mr. Gergen said. "The reason why it has become so rare is the way the blame game is played. It can be so ferocious that any time they admit the slightest mistake it's going to be exploited by the other side."
Of course, accepting responsibility, let alone blame, for the events of Sept. 11 is on a scale different from virtually anything else a modern president has had to deal with. Certainly, an argument could be made that Sept. 11 is more analogous to Pearl Harbor than to Beirut, and Franklin D. Roosevelt never accepted responsibility for that sneak attack. Indeed, he talked the Republicans out of making it an issue in the 1944 campaign, saying it would hurt the war effort....
To Harry S. Truman that meant accepting responsibility for making tough decisions, including firing Gen. Douglas MacArthur. But it did not necessarily mean expressing regret for them later. He was proud of saying he never lost sleep over his decision to drop the atom bomb, and 10 years later when he was invited to Japan he said he would go only if he did not have to kiss the posterior portion of any Japanese citizen's anatomy. (He didn't go.)
Mr. Bush made it clear last week that he was more in the Roosevelt than the
Reagan mode of the responsible commander in chief, offering a narrow test of
presidential responsibility in the Sept. 11 context.
James Ricci and Patricia Ward Biederman, in the LAT (March 30, 2004):
That gays are more widely accepted in American society is readily apparent in everything from television sitcoms to corporate anti-discrimination policies to recent U.S. Supreme Court opinions.
Less apparent is why and how the shift in attitude occurred. Although some religious and social leaders believe the new visibility of gays points to a national moral decline, the evolution of attitudes about gays is a complex brew of factors, according to historians, social psychologists and others who have studied the phenomenon.
The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., has compiled 30 years' worth of major public opinion poll results on Americans' attitudes toward homosexuals. While the surveys consistently show that about two- thirds of Americans oppose gay marriage, an issue that has now reached the California Supreme Court, they also demonstrate remarkable shifts on numerous other fronts. For example:
Public acceptance of gays in the military grew from 51% in a 1977 Gallup Poll to 80% in 2003.
Approval of gays as elementary school teachers grew from 27% in 1977 to 61% over the same period.
A 1999 Gallup survey showed that 59% would vote for a well-qualified presidential candidate who was homosexual, up from 26% in 1978.
"There's been an enormous increase in tolerance that's the bottom line," said Karlyn Bowman, who compiled the poll results for the institute.
Some of the factors fueling the changes have been related to gays' own efforts, some have not. Some factors have opposed one another, some have been mutually reinforcing. The black civil rights movement, changes in state and local laws, the AIDS epidemic and even the Sept. 11 catastrophe have been part of the mix.
Two powerful societal forces associated with the 1960s the sexual revolution and the civil rights movement are credited with driving the change in attitude.
The emergence of widespread contraception and a new insistence on sexual privacy were key elements in Americans' evolving view of sexuality, according to Gregory Herek, a UC Davis psychology professor and an authority on sexual orientation and prejudice. That a person's sexual behavior was his or her affair, and not society's, became an accepted precept...
Marc Morano, in the Cybercast News Service (April 1, 2004):
The 1970s anti-war group that included John Kerry was "heavily infiltrate[d]" by individuals dedicated to the teachings of Chinese communist leader Mao Tse-Tung and to the use of violence, if necessary to achieve their goals, according to a historian friendly to Kerry.
"The RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party) was already beginning to heavily infiltrate the [Vietnam Veterans Against the War in 1971]. They eventually took it over around '73 and basically pushed out all the real veterans and brought in all the RCP functionaries and destroyed the organization," Gerald Nicosia, author of Home to War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans' Movement and a Kerry supporter, told CNSNews.com.
"Even in 1971, there was an RCP presence ... [RCP is] a crackpot organization, very violent, extremely violent, far left Maoist organization," led by a man named Bob Avakian, Nicosia said.
"[In 1971] they were trying to take over and eventually did take over VVAW," he added.
Nicosia said Kerry was aware of communism's increasing presence in the VVAW operations and it was one of the factors that led to his resignation as one of the leaders of the group in November 1971.
But even though Kerry resigned from the group's leadership in November 1971, several published news accounts cite Kerry as a representative of VVAW into 1972.
The RCP's efforts to control VVAW came to a head in 1978, when the communist factions split off to form their own group called Vietnam Veterans Against the War - Anti-Imperialist (VVAW-AI.) This group still exists today and refers to the U.S. as "AmeriKKKa" on its website.
Other radical factions influenced VVAW, according to Nicosia.
"There were guys that were not Maoist, but guys who were like Scott Camil," Nicosia said, referring to the man who allegedly advocated the possible assassination of U.S. senators still supportive of the U.S. war effort in Vietnam. "They were veterans and still believed in the U.S and still saluted the flag, but believed this government was all wet and wanted to get rid of it," Nicosia said.
"There was Al Hubbard, who was a Black Panther who was also pushing the organization toward violent confrontation," Nicosia added. Hubbard, who had appeared at Kerry's side in April of 1971 on NBC's Meet the Press , was later shown to have lied about his military record.
Current VVAW member David Cline dismissed the communist presence in VVAW during the time Kerry served as the group's spokesman.
"Some people had philosophies of varying types. There [were] people who
were driven by religious views ... there was one guy who was involved in Veterans
for [the George] McGovern campaign. So there [were] people coming from different
areas," Cline told CNSNews.com . "Anytime you are going to get a big
organization, you are going to get a lot of different views."...
Mike Anton, in the LAT (March 31, 2004):
Throughout most of human history, a man married a woman out of desire -- for her father's goats, perhaps.
Marriage was a business arrangement. The bride was a commodity, her dowry a deal sweetener. And the groom was likely to be an unwitting pawn in an economic alliance between two families.
A church may or may not have been involved. Government was out of the loop. There was no paperwork, no possibility of divorce, and -- more often than not -- no romance. But there was work to be done: procreation, the rearing of children and the enforcement of a contract that allowed for the orderly transfer of wealth and the cycle of arranged matrimony to continue.
In the debate over same-sex marriage, each side offers competing ideals that they claim hark back to the historical essence of matrimony.
In calling for a constitutional amendment banning homosexual marriage, President Bush has described contemporary heterosexual marriage as "the most fundamental institution of civilization," forged during "millennia of human experience." Thousands of gays and lesbians who have married in defiance of state law in San Francisco and elsewhere maintain they possess what has always mattered most in a relationship: Love.
But marriage, it turns out, has never been that simple. For much of its history, matrimony has been a matter of cold economic calculation, a condition to be endured rather than celebrated. Notions of marriage taken for granted today -- its voluntary nature, the legal equality of partners, even the pursuit of happiness -- required centuries to evolve.
"We live in such a chaotic world, the idea of a relationship that is constant -- not only in our own lives but historically -- is something we want to invest in," said Hendrik Hartog, a Princeton University history professor who wrote a book on the legal evolution of marriage. "It's natural to romanticize the history of marriage, and advocates of gay marriage are as invested in this as conservatives are."
Marriage as Americans know it today didn't exist 2,000 years ago, or even 200 years ago. Rather than an unbending pillar of society, marriage has been an extraordinarily elastic institution, constantly adapting to religious, political and economic shifts and pliable in the face of sexual revolutions, civil rights movements and changing cultural norms.
"It's extremely malleable," said Thomas Laqueur, a history professor at UC Berkeley who has studied marriage and sexuality. "Historically, anthropologically, the word 'marriage' needs to be placed in quotation marks." One reason that marriage seems so unchanging is that it has evolved glacially, inching forward on many paths at once.
In Greek mythology, Zeus created Pandora, the first woman. Then he made her the first bride and gave her as a gift to the Titan Epimetheus. The union ended poorly when Pandora opened the wedding gift she came with, unleashing from the box all of the evils of mankind.
And some newlyweds today complain when they get a toaster.
Like Zeus, Greek fathers considered their daughters property and essentially bartered them for the purpose of cementing an economic or political alliance.
The Romans codified marriage, introducing the idea of consent and setting the minimum age of grooms at 14, brides at 12. There were three types of union, and which one you got depended on your social class. The rich got a confarreatio, which included a big celebration, a special cake, maybe an animal sacrifice. The masses simply shacked up, and after a time they were considered married. A woman in a coemptio was essentially sold to her husband and had the same status as a child.
Arranged marriages remained common in Western societies into the 19th century. It is still the rule in parts of central Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It's a practice replete with abuse, from female infanticide by parents fearful of having to pay for a marriage someday to "bride burnings" of women whose families provide an insufficient dowry.
The Romans promoted monogamy at a time when polygamy was common throughout the pre-Christian world. The ancient Chinese had their concubines, and from David to Abraham, the Hebrew scriptures read like Utah in the mid-19th century, full of men who had dozens, even hundreds, of wives.
"Now King Solomon loved many foreign women: the daughter of Pharaoh, and Moabite, Ammonite, E'domite, Sido'nian, and Hittite women ... ," reads 1 Kings 11:1, in the revised standard version of the Bible. "He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart." Add a pickup, and it's a country song.
In fact, polygamy has been more common than monogamy over the full sweep of human history. The Roman Catholic Church would take up the push for monogamy, and through the centuries it overtook polygamy as the standard worldwide.
But polygamy is stubborn. Though the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed it in 1879, polygamy survives in the shadows of the Mormon West. And, while waning, it is still practiced in the Muslim world and illegally in Israel by some ultra-orthodox Jews, among other places. Polyandry, marriages involving one woman and more than one man, have cropped up among Eskimos and, even today, in Tibet.
Even where there have been clear rules about marriage, there have been more loopholes than there are in the U.S. Tax Code.
King Henry VIII famously broke from Catholicism and started his own church largely so he could divorce and marry again -- and again. European commoners who couldn't legally divorce sold their wives.
The Muslim tradition of a temporary "pleasure" union, which dates to the days of Muhammad, is still used to legalize sex under Islamic law.
Its Western counterpart: the Vegas quickie wedding, sometimes sanctified at a drive-through chapel or presided over by an Elvis impersonator. Impassioned couples began to flock to Nevada in the 1920s, after California imposed a three-day waiting period in an attempt to keep drunken lovers from the altar.
What constitutes a marriage is so fluid that many anthropologists sidestep the word altogether, preferring "unions" or "alliances," said Roger Lancaster, a professor of anthropology and cultural studies at George Mason University in Virginia. Other scholars refer to same-sex unions throughout history -- in cultures as varied as ancient Greece, tribal Africa and native North America -- as marriages.
Back in the early 1970s, two New York Times journalists — Drew Middleton and Herbert Matthews — set out part of the practical argument which faces war reporters. Middleton contended that the correspondent's duty is"to get the facts and write them with his interpretation of what they mean to the war, without allowing personal feelings about the war to enter into the story. No one," he added," can be completely objective but objectivity is the goal." Matthews, however, argued instead for"honest, open bias" proclaiming that"a newspaperman should work with his heart as well as his mind."
There, in a nutshell, is the dilemma every journalist — whether a reporter on assignment or an editor running a paper — must face in wartime. Heart or mind. Patriotism or professional detachment. Propaganda or objective reportage.
Now, I'm going to take you through a good slice of history because I find the structure an excellent way of ensuring that the dilemmas I'll be exploring are grounded in reality. Considering what happened in the past provides both detail and context for the contentions I'll take up as I proceed. So let's scare you just a little by starting way back in 55 BC, when Julius Caesar's legions invaded Britain. There were no newspapers around then, no cameras, no rolling news channels, not a scribe — not a war correspondents — in sight.
But Julius knew the value of telling the Roman people about the bravery of his army, about his battle victories and, naturally, about his own heroic part in leading the conquest of another country. So he played war correspondent to tell the story of his own war, bequeathing us the only report of what happened at a crucial moment in European history.
He had several advantages, of course, not the least being the fact that he didn't file his copy until years afterwards, well after British territory was indisputably Roman, thus allowing himself the luxury of telling of some of the reverses suffered by his troops. We can't be certain that he told the truth in his 'Commentaries on the Gallic Wars' [De Bello Gallico] — because there were no fact-checkers, what joy! — but it's generally accepted that he didn't embroider his story because he didn't need to. What isn't in dispute is that his account amounted to propaganda: Caesar's military exploits in Gaul and Britain added to the greater glory of Rome and, undoubtedly, to the greater glory of General Julius.
He wasn't the first soldier to talk up his triumphs — various Greeks did it hundreds of years before — and he certainly wasn't the last. Indeed, for many hundreds of years soldiers were virtually the only sources for wars and improbably were usually considered to be authoritative. British newspapers up to the mid-1800s relied on letters from junior officers and treated them as true accounts of what had happened.
William Howard Russell, the man who deserves to be known as the father of war reporting — well, the great, great, great grand-papa, if you like. His reporting of the Crimean war in 1854 is remarkable in all sorts of ways since, in almost every aspect, it prefigures the subsequent clashes between the government and its military on one side, and journalists and their editors on the other. The conflict between the two sides, put quite simply, was about whether Russell's attempts to tell the truth were unpatriotic.
Russell was sent to the Crimea by the London Times, which had been a cheerleader for the war against Russia. But Russell's Gallipoli dispatches revealed that British soldiers were living in substandard conditions and highlighted the administrative inadequacies of the army. The military hadn't wanted Russell there in the first place, having prevented him from sailing on a troop ship.
Once they realized what Russell was writing, they did their best to frustrate him, denying him the right to sleep within army lines and looking the other way when his tent was torn down. But Russell stuck to his task, won over many of the junior officers who agreed with him and also sent back descriptive articles — of the battle of Balaclava and the charge of the light brigade — which rank as classic pieces of reportage. He later told of the horrific deprivations suffered by soldiers during the winter months, concentrating especially on the lack of proper medical facilities.
Back in London, Russell's editor — John Delane — stayed local to his correspondents by fearlessly publishing his controversial reports. He did so in the face of considerable heat from a host of establishment critics, who included powerful figures in both the main political parties, not to mention the monarch, Queen Victoria, who called The Times an"execrable publication." One senior politician remarked:"If England is ever to be England again, this vile tyranny of The Times must be cut off." The British government reacted as war-making governments in a corner inevitably do, accusing Russell of exaggeration and sensationalism, while desperately trying to discredit The Times.
But people flocked to donate money to a fund set up by The Times to send out medical supplies — and Florence Nightingale. Several politicians made formal complaints about the paper breaching security and made vain attempts to censor it. Many of the attacks on The Times referred to it misusing its supposed"power." But it was The Times which came out on top: the government was forced to resign and The Times' status grew immeasurably afterwards.
Now, let's be fair here: Russell's writing style was florid, emotive and, yes, often sensational and it later became clear that he was far from 100 per cent accurate on occasion, getting many details wrong. But, in essence, he got the substantive story right: largely through incompetence, the politicians and the military high command had allowed more than a third of their army to perish through sickness. He had done a good journalistic job.
So, 150 years ago, at the very dawn of professional war reporting, we can see the schisms opening up: the reporter at the front was doing his job while the generals at the front were attempting to do theirs. The editor back in London was fulfilling his proper role while the government was fulfilling its.
From an interview on NPR's Talk of the Nation (March 2004):
Magnus Ranstorp: ... I think if you ask any Hamas official, they would see themselves as part of a chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood that was created in 1928. The Muslim Brotherhood was one of the first forces that fought Israel in the war of independence in '48, '49. Hamas--or shall we say that what Yassin sort of was responsible for creating--was primarily in the social sphere. He created the Al-Mujamma Al-Islami, the social sphere which was registered with Israel in 1978. It was primarily at a time in the late 1960s and the '70s that Hamas was expanding its social activity and trying to re-Islamicize society from the bottom up. In the 1980s, the movement became somewhat more militant in the sense--in '84 Yassin was charged and he was also imprisoned for some time for involvement or at least association with some terrorist activity in having weaponry, and he remained in prison for a majority of the time in the late 1980s.
Of course, Hamas really, as we know it today, came out of the first Palestinian uprising that began on the 9th of December, 1987. A few days later in early '88, Hamas actually adopted the name The Islamic Resistance and began to participate in the uprising against Israel. In 1988, it also--and '89--began to want to pursue a more violent strategy. And progressively it has escalated using different means of violence, beginning in 1989, 1990, with a war of knives; kidnapping Israeli soldiers, that led to the expulsion of 415 Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists to South Lebanon; and of course, coming into contact with Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Lebanese Shiite group that had been fighting the Israelis, adopted the suicide bombing and imported that into the Palestinian territory and began its first operation in terms of suicide bombings in April of 1994....
I see that its turn towards violence is very much a function of its competition for leadership in the Palestinian polity with the PLO, now the PA--that is to say, it has moved in this direction in order to outflank the Fatah-PLO-PA bloc, which it has succeeded in doing. The net effect of its actions--not only suicide bombings, all of its actions--and of this approach has been that it has gone from having less than 20 percent support in most polls to having close to double that right now.
Jimmy Breslin. in Newsday (March 30, 2004):
I just made a professional appearance in Washington and as I am a working person, as differing from these Pekinese of the Press, I found Ms. Condoleezza Rice's contention shady that she cannot appear under oath and in public in front of the 9/11 committee because of precedent and separation of powers.
Bush the president has told her not to appear. This makes him somewhat more than an innocent bystander in this.
Zbigniew Brzezinski says he was national security adviser in 1980 and that he appeared -"under oath!" - in front of a Senate committee in 1980.
We present herewith - and prominently - the proof that she has been lying.
Wednesday, Sept. 17, 1980
U.S. Senate Subcommittee to Investigate the Activities of Individuals Representing the Interests of Foreign Governments of the Committee on the Judiciary. Washington, D.C.
Senator Pell: Mr. Chairman, it seems to me that we have a mandate to be as wide-ranging as we care to be as a committee, but from the viewpoint of the White House this is already a historic occasion. It is the first time that I can recall that the National Security Adviser has come up in quite a while, if ever, or even a limited area and they chose to waive executive privilege only in the area concerning Libya and Billy Carter.
Mr. Brzezinski: I think it is the first time ever, Senator.
Sen. Pell: The first time ever in history that they have waived executive privilege, and I think that fact should be noted.
Mr. Brzezinski: That is my recollection, and I believe in testimony by other participants it's supported by them as well.
Sen. Dole: Now, were you aware of Mr. Kirbo's trip to Saudi Arabia in the spring of 1980 which related to the National Bank of Georgia, just a few days before the public Saudi F-15 decision by the White House?
Mr. Brzezinski: What was the date?
Sen. Dole: It was in the spring of 1980, a few days before the Saudi F-15.
Mr. Moses: What decision are you referring to?
Sen. Dole: Pardon?
Mr. Moses: What announcement was there from the White House that you're referring to? May we have the announcement?
Sen. Dole: The question was whether or not they should have more - or whether they should have the F-15s, but I was just wondering if Dr. Brzezinski was aware of Mr. Kirbo's trip to Saudi Arabia in the spring of 1980.
Mr. Brzezinski: (Are) you retracting the reference to some decisions about F-15?
Senator Dole: That's only a time frame.
Mr. Brzezinski: So you're not referring to any decision regarding F-15?
Sen. Dole: I'm just asking if you're familiar, personally familiar, with that trip to Saudi Arabia of Mr. Kirbo, whether you had briefed Mr. Kirbo, whether you had any discussion with Mr. Kirbo in the spring on 1980.
Mr. Moses: Senator are you associating Mr. Kirbo's trip with any decision made or considerations given F-15's or has that been withdrawn from your questions.
Sen. Leahy: Were you aware at the time of his [Billy Carter] public appearance around the country with Libyans?
Mr. Brzezinski: I have some recollection of the fact that he either hosted or was a co-host of a Libyan group in this country.
Sen. Leahy: Were you aware of ...
Mr. Brzezinski: May I finish?
Sen. Leahy: Were you aware of his financial problems?
Mr. Brzezinski: No, I was not aware at all of his financial situation.
Sen. Thurman: I ask you did you alert U.S. intelligence? Do you care to answer or not?
Mr. Brzezinski: I cannot allege someone to do something which they're already doing.
Sen. Thurman: Then you were satisfied with what you were doing then?
Mr. Brzezinski: Pardon?
Sen. Thurman: You were satisfied with what they were doing?
Mr. Brzezinski: I was satisfied that info they were giving indicated that they knew what was going on.
Sen. Thurman: From testimony we have heard so far there is substantial evidence that Admiral Taylor was not acting as director of Central Intelligence but as messenger ...
I have as I type this, 1,600 pages of this testimony in case somebody still feels that no national security adviser ever testified in front of a congressional committee. Anybody who wants to learn the rest of this testimony can call my newspaper and I will read it to you over the phone, and to Condoleezza Rice, who says what you just read never happened.
Neil A. Lewis, in the NYT (March 31, 2004), writing about the history of executive privilege:
A study published in 2002 by the Congressional Research Service, a branch of the Library of Congress, cited 20 instances since World War II in which presidents, waiving the privilege, had allowed senior White House aides to testify before Congressional committees.
In the case of Ms. Rice, however, the White House said no other incumbent national security adviser had ever testified in public concerning policy matters.
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter did allow his national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss efforts by the president's brother, Billy, to lobby on behalf of Libya. But that proceeding was considered something akin to a criminal investigation.
Some members of the Sept. 11 commission have noted that in 1994, President Bill Clinton allowed Samuel R. Berger, then his deputy national security adviser, to testify about American policy in Haiti. But Alberto R. Gonzales, the Bush White House counsel, pointed out in a letter to the commission last week that Mr. Berger's appearance had been in closed session.
In a letter on Tuesday in which the administration agreed to make Ms. Rice available for public testimony, Mr. Gonzales said the White House was making an"extraordinary accommodation" that"does not set any precedent."
One authority on executive privilege, Peter Shane, a law professor at Ohio State University, disagreed. Professor Shane said that if anything, Ms. Rice's testimony would bolster the idea that there is no impediment to having the national security adviser testify publicly.
"If the argument is that such testimony will damage the presidency and she goes ahead and testifies and the presidency remains undamaged," he said, that only makes it more difficult to resist the next time.
Matthew Stannard, in the San Francisco Chronicle (March 29, 2004):
When famous whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg boarded a plane to Cincinnati earlier this week, he took along a little light reading: a stack of articles about former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, who has stirred controversy with allegations in his book and testimony before a special panel that the Bush White House was somewhat indifferent to al Qaeda before Sept. 11 and obsessed with Iraq afterward.
Ellsberg, who in 1971 leaked the Pentagon Papers documenting government misrepresentations about the Vietnam War, sees Clarke as part of a trend:
well-placed individuals in the government who have gone public with books or interviews outlining their concerns and criticisms about their country's government--while that government is still in power.
Ellsberg is not alone in that observation--observers from across the political spectrum, whether they support Clarke's actions or not, agree that a new willingness exists to tell all far sooner, and far more publicly, than in the past.
Ellsberg cites officials such as Scott Ritter, the former lead inspector for the U.N. Special Commission on Concealment and Investigations team, and Katharine Gun, a British government linguist who leaked an e-mail purportedly from U.S. intelligence services asking for help spying on U.N.
Opinions differ on whether the willingness to tell all is a good thing, but to Ellsberg, who has been sharply critical of the war in Iraq and even written articles encouraging current government employees to leak what he calls "Iraq's Pentagon Papers," the phenomenon is a source of optimism.
"I think these people are heroes. They're really acting appropriately in a very dangerous situation," he said. "It's as if we are learning about the Tonkin Gulf a month or two later instead of years later."
Although Ellsberg, now 72 and living in Kensington, considers Clarke somewhat of a kindred spirit, he doesn't quite see him as a whistle-blower.
Clarke was no longer an employee of the administration when he spoke out and did not provide documentation to back up his accusations--accusations the administration has rejected.
Ellsberg said the only real whistle-blower of recent times is Gun, who briefly faced charges under the British Official Secrets Act and supported her claims with documents.
"I find her really admirable," Ellsberg said, but he considers the rest remarkable, too, for being willing to go public in a way and with a speed that simply didn't occur 40 years ago.
"Why are they acting differently from people in my generation?" he said. "We knew (Vietnam) was just as deceptive and the policy was just as bad, but we certainly weren't tempted to leak."
At least, not until Ellsberg did it. But since then, a number of observers said, going public early and often has become more and more acceptable, even among ranking government officials....