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Week of December 19 2005
Domestic Spying First we learned from NBC News last week that the Pentagon has been keeping a secret database (see an excerpt of the 400 page document) on the perfectly legal and peaceful activities of anti-war and counter recruitment groups.
Then we learned from the New York Times that Bush secretly "authorized" (with no authority to do so) the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens, with no court order. This article raises serious issues. First, this is a blatant abuse of power, made even more disturbing by Bush's vow to continue with the illegal
surveillance "as long as I am president of the United States." Working for Change is calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the matter. Send a message to Attorney General Gonzales and your representatives. See the ImpeachPac web site for a series of articles on renewed interest in removing Bush from office.
And secondly, the fact that the NYT held this story for a year as per a White House request. Why publish it now? It seems there is a book deal. Read the article At the Times, a Scoop Deferred on the Washington Post. Contact Bill Keller, Executive Editor of the NYT with your comments on their decision to sit on the story: firstname.lastname@example.org.
International Peace Conference in London On December 10 more than 1400 activists gathered in London for an all day conference which focused on ending the occupation of Iraq with speakers from the U.S., Iraq and the U.K, including Tony Benn, Tariq Ali, Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin and George Galloway. Read reports on the Stop the War web site, the organizers of the conference. Stephanie Westbrook of our group was also there, read her report. The conference was followed by a performance of a new play about Cindy Sheehan by Dario Fo called Peace Mom.
(Pretty) Good News The good news is, the overzealous actions of the Bush Administration have led to bipartisan efforts to reign them in. After months of opposition, the White House finally backed down and the McCain anti-torture amendment passed the House with a 308 to 102 vote, including 107 Republicans voting for the ban. It still has to pass a House/Senate conference committee, and there is the Graham-Levin Amendment, which undercuts the ban, but it is a clear sign that at least some in Washington have limits.
Meanwhile, renewal of the USA Patriot Act is stalled in the Senate by a bipartisan group led by Russ Feingold. There is little doubt that the act will eventually be renewed, however at least some of the more dubious provisions are at risk thanks to public pressure and the tireless work of some lawmakers.
C-SPAN Leans to the Right
A study by FAIR shows that the Washington Journal, a political program on C-SPAN, is not quite as balanced as they claim. The study monitored the guest list for a 6 month period, revealing, among other things, that "of the partisan guests, Republicans outnumbered Democrats nearly two to one (134 to 70). Not a single representative of a third party appeared during the study period." See the FAIR web site for contact information on C-SPAN so you can send your comments.
Mavericks of 2005 Rolling Stone magazine's year end issue includes a tribute to Mavericks, Renegades & Troublemakers, the majority of which spoke out against the Bush Administration and the occupation of Iraq. Read Michael Moore's introduction and see the entire list on the Rolling Stone web site.
Video of Nasiriyah RAI News 24 aired another revealing video, this time illustrating the "humanitarian mission" of Italian soldiers in Nasiriyah. See the video and read about the decision not to air the video by Berlusconi's Mediaset.
Bush Speaks to the Public and the Press Last week, President Bush spoke to the American public with an address from the Oval Office on Iraq. See the video on C-SPAN and read an article on the Los Angeles Times, War Data Cited by Bush Are Debatable.
The following day, Bush held a press conference in which he was asked about Iraq and domestic spying. Watch the video on C-SPAN or read the transcript.
Dahr Jamail Video Independent journalist Dahr Jamail spoke at CIIS in San Francisco about the situation in Iraq and the media in the U.S. See the video, recorded and edited by Truthout.
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