Saturday, May 15, 2004

Post Coverage of Prager Lynching 

The State's Attorney said that he attributed the lynching to lack of promptness on the part of Federal authorities in stamping out and punishing disloyalty. "

It's clear from the lede that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was more jingoistic than its competitor The St. Louis Times in reporting the lynching of Robert Paul Prager. From the get-go the Post labeled Prager as being "suspected of hostility to the United States Government," when there is absolutely zero evidence of that accusation.

April 5, 1918:

An immediate attempt to identify and arrest the members of the mob which lynched Robert Paul Prager, 22 years old, a German enemy alien near Collinsville, Ill. at 12:30 o'clock this morning was ordered today by Attorney-General Brundage of Illinois. Prager was suspected of hostility to the United States Government, but denied the accusation.

An Associated Press dispatch from Springfield said the Attorney-General had directed State's Attorney Streuber of Madison County to begin at once the most strenuous effort to learn the identity of the lynchers with a view towards prosecution. Gov. Lowden met at noon with the Attorney-General and with Assistant Adjutant-General Shaad, to discuss the situation and he notified the Sheriff of Madison County to take every precaution against further outbreaks.

Gov. Lowden, after the conference in his office, said that if it was found impossible to preserve order ... there would be nothing other to do but declare martial law in the county where the crime was committed. He said he was prepared to take such action promptly if he should determine that it is required.

Chief of Police Tony Staten of Collinsville, when asked by a Post-Dispatch reporter whether the lynchers were known to the authorities, replied that the police knew many of the men in the crowd which took Prager away from the policemen and carried him to the place of the lynching. He was asked if the police did not intend to make arrests, and he said:

"No, we don't propose to do anything. It's up to the Sheriff and the State's Attorney. The lynching was outside the city limits of Collinsville."

The Attorney-General earlier in the day said he would probably send one of his assitants to co-operate in the investigation. In his first message to State's Attorney Streuber, the Attorney-General said:

"Mob spirit must be suppressed. Whatever the motive may be, lynching is never justifiable. It is an unwarranted breach of the law, and it must be punished."

The State's Attorney said that he attributed the lynching to lack of promptness on the part of Federal authorities in stamping out and punishing disloyalty. "I have been trying to avoid such occurrences as the lynching," he said. "With the end in view I have reported many instances of disloyalty to the United States authorities at Springfield, but not attention was never given to one of my reports." ...

Kiss the Flag and Die, Traitor! 

I learned about the lynching of John Paul Prager from the late Irving Dilliard. Dilliard, a Collinsville native, was the retired editorial page editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. I met him by chance at the Mercantile Library and arranged an interview at his home. Dilliard recalled the lynching from his youth. He viewed Prager's body at a Collinsville undertaker. During his long tenure as an editorial writer for the Post-Dispatch Dilliard advocated civil rights long before it became an accepted stance.

Below is an excerpt from a historical study of the Prager lynching by Donald R. Hickey. Hickey repeatedly calls the mob a "crowd."

"... Prager had worked for a time as a baker in St. Louis and in Maryville and Collinsville, in southern Illinois. Shortly before his death he decided to become a miner, but his efforts to join the miners' union were unsuccessful, probably because he was an active socialist (it seems likely that his German birth was not the reason for his rejection since there were many German-Americans in the Collinsville area who were union members.)

Prager's rejection by the union made him angry. The union president had called him a spy and a liar, charges which prompted him to post handbills in Maryville and Collinsville denying these allegations and asserting his loyalty to the United States and to the union. Prager also accused the union president of trying to incite a mob against him of trying to have him arrested, and of warning him to stay away from Maryville.

A group of miners in that community were incensed at the handbill and formed a committee to deal with Prager. The miners were also angry because Prager had tried to convert some of the workers at Maryville to socialism and because he reputedly had made derogatory commments about President Wilson. On Thursday, April 4, Prager was seized by the miners and forced to kiss an American flag . ...

In the evening a group of miners gathered at a saloon on the outskirts of Collinsville. They discussed the events which had occurred earlier in the day and the accusations which had been made against Prager. Most of the miners were foreign-born and spoke little English, and it is believed that comments imputed to Prager were magnified completely out of proportion. ...

The group left the saloon about 9 p.m. and went to the house where Prager boarded. He was dragged outside, some of his clothes were ripped off, and he was forced to march through the streets of Collinsville barefoot and draped in an American flag. ... The police, fearing for his life, seized him and put him in jail for his own safety.

A crowd soon gathered at the jail, however, and demanded that Prager be handed over. ... (the mayor refused to accede to the mob's wishes at first)

At 10:15 p.m., Joseph Riegel, a 28-year-old miner who resided in Collinsville, arrived on the scene. Because he had recently served in the United States Army, he was made the unoffical spokesman for the crowd. ... (Riegel and the mob entered the jail and extracted Prager.)

The mob, said to have consisted of primarily of young men of draft age, stopped about one-half mile outside of town at the intersection of the Collinsville and Caseyville roads.

Prager was questioned for about 20 minutes under a big elm tree from which he was later hanged. He denied that he was a spy or that he had hoarded powder with the intention of blowing up a mine in Maryvill.e He was asked why he had not kept a date with one of the union leaders ... but refused to answer. He was then allowed to write a message to his parents and say a prayer. After a rope was put around his neck, he was hoisted into the air; but because his hands were free, he was able to hold on to the rope and thus avoid choking to death.

The victim was lowered in order that his hands might be tied. At that point Prager asked to kiss an American flag; he was questioned some more; and then his hands were securely bound. At the inquest Riegel said he might have been the one who tied Prager's hands; he was drunk at the time of the lynching and therefore could not be certain of his actions. Riegel also testified that Prager had said, "All right, boys, go ahead and kill me, but wrap me in the flag when you bury me." The victim was then hoisted up again and shortly thereafter died of strangulation. ..."

The Lynching of Robert Paul Prager 

Robert Paul Prager, a German immigrant and socialist was lynched by a drunken, jingoistic mob in Collinsville around midnight on April 5, 1918. The mob execution resulted in a congressional investigation, after a local grand jury let all of the perps off the hook. Prager is buried in a small cemetery in South St. Louis. I visited the grave years ago. Here's an excerpt from the St. Louis Star on the lynching:

The St. Louis Times, April 6, 1918


St. Louis Baker Declares Victim of Collinsville Hanging Caused His Arrest for Protesting at U.S. Flag Display

His Draft Questionaire Had Been Returned Unanswered and His Name Was Reported to State Officials

Robert Paul Prager, 22 years old, an alien enemy hanged early yesterday morning in Collinsville, Ill. was a "crank on Americanism," and had incurred the enmity in a neighborhood where he formerly lived by causing the arrest of a benefactor who objected because Prager hung an American flag out of his window.

These facts were given The Star today by John Pohl, the man whose arrest Prager caused.

Pohl, a baker, 1105 South Thirteenth street spent thirty-two days in the city jail as a result of Prager's reporting him after the flag incident. It was erroneously stated yesterday in the The Star that Pohl was interned. There never was any charge made against him by federal officiers and he was vindicated as an American citizen.

Prager Flew American Flag

Pohl said that despite the trouble Prager caused him, he could not refrain from saying Prager was so devoted to his adopted country that he was a crank on the subject. Mrs. Pohl shuddered as she spoke of Prager's end, and said:

"Prager caused us much trouble. He had my husband put in jail and I was greatly worried and I did not feel friendly towards him. But I became sick yesterday as I read of his terrible end. He always talked of his great love for this country.

Pohl said Prager came to his home about eighteen months ago, penniless. Prager was a Saxon. Pohl took him in and fed, clothed and found work for him. Afterward Prager repaid him. Before America's entry into the war, Prager hung an American flag on the house and he (Pohl) expostulated, saying there were persons of many nationalities in the neighborhhood and he believed it better not to hang the flag except on holidays, when such display was called for.

Prager became incensed and talked so much about it that Pohl was finally arrested. He was taken to police headquarters but not to court because Prager would not prosecute . After America's entry in the war and when Prager had moved away, secret service agents came to his home, Pohl said, and took him in an automobile to the Federal Building. Later that day they put him in city jail. He never was tried, but was finally released unconditionally.

A reporter who visited the shack in Collinsville, where Prager had lived, found three American flags on the walls, hung there by Prager.

Continued inquiry among miners, men who are said to have participated in the hanging party, and the officials of the miner's union has elciited no information as to the suppoed disloyal utterances of Prager. Some said he was a Socialist. In a statement, he wrote he said he was "loyal to the good old U.S.A.," and as he was being hanged to his "brothers" in the crowd as "U.S.A. workingmen."

Inquiry in St. Louis today revealed that although Prager registered for the draft in the seventh ward, his questionaire had been returned unclaimed and his name was on a list to be sent to Lieut. Col. McCord in Jefferson City. He would have been automatically inducted into the service. He also had registered as an alien enemy, but had moved to Collinsville from St. Louis without notifying the United States marshal.

Prager, from letters he had written apparently understood English, and was quite intelligent. Peter Beisel, secretary of the Bakers' Union No. 4, said today that he recalled Prager as a baker who preferred to do extra work rather than hold a steady job.

Mrs. Kate Kriegler, with whom Prager roomed for six weeks last spring at 1809 La Salle street, said today she recalled Prager as a quiet, unassuming person, who went about his own business. He once said to her he had caused a man's arrest on a disloyalty charge, and asked what she though he ought to do. She advised him to appear in court against the man, and she said he replied:

"I guess you're right, I'll do so." She never heard him discuss the war in a disloyal manner. He also lived on Dillon street but that house now is vacant. Mrs. Kriegler gave his name to the police as an alien enemy, in the canvass last year, and he registered from her home. He told her he had lived at the bakers' home before he came to room with her.

In Collinsville, Prager worked for an Italian baker named Bruno. It was said they had a quarrel and ...

War of Words 

Using propaganda to stir up wartime hysteria isn't something that was just invented by Fox Network. No, the Fox fascists just improved the product. Starting in World War I, the U.S. government initiated the first modern mass disinformation campaign to enlist support for the Wilson administration's march to war. I wrote about it for the Riverfront Times at the start of the last Iraq war in 1991. Here's the story:

War of Words
by C.D. Stelzer
The Riverfront Times
Aug. 21, 1991

"The Road to Baghdad," one of many titles on display in the downtown Mercantile Library's reading room, doesn't chronicle the latest military conflict. Instead, this example of yellowing journalism -- part of an exhibit called "Words at War" -- details the Turkish conquest during World War I.

One of David Cassens' first duties after becoming a curator ot the Mercantile five years ago was creating an annotated catalog of World War I ephemera. Included are 394 propaganda titles from the era, many with anti-German views expressed by the British, French and eventually American propagandists.

"These pamphlets were sent to libraries, churches, schools, private individuals, even Rotary Clubs," says Cassens. The intent was to sway American public opinion, he says. Ultimately, the campaign succeeded -- but at the Mercantile, the material only collt.

Like all good propaganda, the tracts contained elements of truth, says Cassens: "Unrestricted submarine warfare, the destruction of historic towns and the deportation of civilian populations to Germany to work on the labor force -- these are all things did happen." Germany's ally, Turkey was also responsible for the first modern holocaust: the murder of about 1.5 million Armenians, says Cassens.

Despite all of this, before the Unites States joined in the allied effort, many influential members of the large German-American community in St. Louis argued for neutrality. Former library staffers recall German patrons objected to the material, Cassens says. So most of it was discreetly shelved and went unread.

Ignoring wartime hysteria didn't make it go away. Germans were being stereotyped in the European propaganda as barbarous Huns. As the United States became drawn into the conflict, anti-German propaganda began to flourish here as well. One pamphlet, part of a "Patriotism Through Educations Series" issued by the National Security League, was called "The Tentacles of the German Octopus in America." Written by a librarian and professor of history at the University of Syracuse University, it warned about German schools, churches, cultural societies and newspapers.

Another pamphlet, published by the U.S. government in cooperation with the St. Louis Republic, a daily newspaper, attributed all wartime rumors to German spies. The tract, titled "The Kaiserite in America: One Hundred and One German Lies," implored traveling salesmen to report the identities of gossipmongers to the Committee on Public Information in Washington, D.C.

"You have met him, Mr. Commerical Traveler, ... The agents of the Imperial German Government are busily spreading throughout the country all sorts of poisonous lies and disquieting rumors and insidious criticisms of the Government and its war-work. And in no place have they been busier than in tyhe Pullman smoking cars and the hotel lobbies."

Mass paranoia bore its consequences. Cassens' own great-grandparents, who immigrated from Germany, lived in Galanbeck, Ill. During the war, he says, the town's name was changed to Hamel.

Assimilation had become a matter of survival for millions of German-Americans. Many were forced to kiss the American flag or sing the national anthem as a demonstration of allegiance. Those who chose to retain their ethnic identities or expressed divergent poliital views risked intimidation, jaile and even death. Armed guards patrolled the entrance to the nearby German settlement of Maeystown, Ill. for a brief time during World War I, says local historian Gloria Bundy. The sentries were posted in response to vigilantes from Williamson County whbo had threatened to abduct the Rev. Paul Schultz, the town's minister for conducting services in German.

In St. Louis, Charles H. Weisberg, head of the German American Alliance in Missouri, was indicted on charges of violating the newly enacted Espionage Act for allegedly making disloyal remarks to two St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporters. Although he was later acquitted, Weisberg's organization dissolved because of the war hysteria.

The most tragic result of doughboy jingoism came just after midnight on April 5, 1918, when a drunken Collinsville, Ill. mob lynched Robert Paul Prager, a German immigrant and socialist whom they suspected of being a spy.

Words at War is on public display in the Mercantile Library reading room (on the sixth floor of the Boatmen's Bank building, 510 Locust St.) through Sept. 8. Library hours are 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday. A booklet describing the exhibition is for sale, and Cassens will give a tour and lecture on Wednesday, Aug. 28 at 5 p.m. For reservations, call 621-0670.

Rumors of War 

Lying by Numbers
by C.D. Stelzer
the Riverfront Times
Aug. 21, 1991

The following are excerpts from the U.S. government's and St. Louis Republic's "The Kaiserite in America: "One Hundred and One German Lies.:"

Lie No. 68
Malden, Mo. reports pro-Germans are circulating stories there concerning the health and morals of nurses employed in Red Cross work, both in the United States and overseas. This person said he was told recently in St. Louis that 600 nurses in America alone are now ill in hospitals.

It is questionable whether such a lie was ever told in St. Louis. It is the first time it has been brought to the attention of the Republic. At any rate, while some nurses may be ill and who doesn't get sick now and again? there are not 600 of them in all the hospitals in the United States. The morals of women employed in Red Cross hospital work are above reproach.

Lie No. 75
Word comes from Falcon, Mo. that pro-Germans are circulating the story the Government will compel every man and woman to buy Thrift Stamps and Liberty Bonds, and that the Government also intends confiscating without compensation all the walnut timber in America.

The government urges everyone to buy Thrift Stamps and Liberty Bonds. It is not compulsory. But the man or woman who doesn't purchase either who doesn't lend his or her Government every possible cent is a traitor at heart and should be watched. As for the Walnut timber it's too absurd to even deny. ...

Lie No. 63
Here is one of the worst lies yet brought to the attention of the The Republic: German spies in the Government Printing Office have injected bacteria of one form or another into the Liberty Bonds, which in the course of a few months leaves them a dirty gray piece of flimsy paper which crumbles at the slightest touch. Because of this lie farmeres in the vicinity of Razenburg, Ill. are afraid to invest in the Bonds.

The Fedral agents in charge of the Government Printing Office in Washington declared there is no word of truth in the story.

Lie No. 71
The Democrat-Tribune of Jefferson City, Mo. prints a story to the effect that 3,000 girls are to be enlisted by the Y.W.C.A. of Seattle, Wash. as dancing partners for soldiers at Camp Lewis and that they are to be paid $15 a week and a commission of 5 cents on each dance.

There is no reasonable excuse for the publication of such a story. it is plainly propaganda. ... Three thousand girls at $15 a week means $345,000 a week salaries, or more than $2,000,000 a year. Nothing but bunk.

Lie No. 77
... Another story is that many French girls from 13 to 18 years of age are soon to become mothers by American soldiers.

... One American soldier in France has been tried by court-martial and executed since the United States overseas force reached France, because of an attack upon a French woman. No other such outrage has been committed. American soldiers are not that sort.

Lie No. 94
A St. Louis woman writes The Republic of hearing the story that all our wheat is sent abroad to make whiskey ...

This is clearly more "bunk" to hamper the Government's conservation work. The views of this country on the whiskey question are too clear now to give any reason for belief in such a story. Besides, but little wheat is used in making whiskey.

What is a Star-Nosed Mole? 

A mole of North America having 22 small fleshy tentacles encircling its nose in a starlike pattern.

Evoultionary Discovery: A Mole and a Beatle 

A photograph of Beatle drummer Ringo Starr appears on page 1326 of the American Heritage College Dictionary directly below an illustration of a star-nosed mole, condylura cristata. They look like they're related.

Draft Nixon or McCain or Me 

Silly me, I thought President Richard M. Nixon was bad. The Dems and peaceniks labeled him "Tricky Dick." What did Nixon do, really, other than further Bob Woodward's career? He ordered a couple of burglaries; employed the plumbers and ratfuckers to sabotage Democratic presidential candidates' reputations, made Ed Muskie cry; misappropriated a few hundred thousand dollars in campaign funds, and then covered it up. So what if he had an enemies list and asked J. Edgar to keep tabs on commies in the press.

Nixon's transgressions are nothing compared to those of Bush and his cronies, zero, zip, nada. Nixon signed the law creating the Environmental Protection Agency, Bush has gutted the agency.

In the waning days of his presidency, Nixon went over to the Lincoln Memorial late at night, by himself, I think, and talked to a bunch of young, long-haired anti-war protestors who were squatting there. Can you imagine Bush doing the same thing? He'd tear gas them and arrest them as enemy combatants, then hold them indefititely without legal counsel. I wonder if Bush has ever even read a portion of the U.S. Constitution. I doubt it.

A dead Nixon running for president is worth two George Bushes on the stump. But short of the Second Coming, Dick won't be able to be raised from the dead and be kicked around before the election. So the Republicans, if they had any smarts, would ditch Bush and draft John McCain. But the Republicans don't have any sm smarts otherwise they would have nominated McCain in 2000.

Hell, I might he even vote for McCain. Why? Certainly not because I agree with him on the isses. I would vote for McCain because he is a reasonable man and shows leadership ability. Nobody can say that truthfully about Bush. Seriously, look at this guy. Look at how he holds himself. Look at how he talks or his inability to talk. You might as well elect me president, I couldn't possibly fuck things up any worse than this guy. He's pathetic.

What Do You Get for a $25,000 Lunch? 

President George W. Bush spoke to a group of wealthy supporters at a luncheon fundraiser held at Hunter Engineering in Bridgeton yesterday," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. His appearance raised $2.2 million for the Republican National Committee.

The CEO of Hunter is Stephen Brauer, a St. Louis Cardinal owner, former ambassador to Belgium and generous GOP donor. Brauer and his wife "Kimmy" live on a 400-acre estate, Hunter Farm, in Town and Country, an affluent suburb of St. Louis. When Bush comes to St. Louis, he stays at Hunter Farm. St. Louis County zones half of Hunter Farm agricultural. As reported previously on Media Mayhem, the Brauers pay property tax of under $90 for 50 acres of their estate because of the agricultural designation.

Brauer and other Cardinals owners -- all financial suporters of George W. Bush -- are being handed a $45-million, 30-year, no-interest loan by St. Louis County to help subsidize the building of a new, privately-owned baseball stadium in downtown St. Louis, which is not within St. Louis County's political jurisdiction. The money is being tapped from the County's tourism tax, which is accessed on lodgers who stay at motels and hotels in St. Louis County. Earlier this spring, St. Louis County announced that it would shorten the season at County-operated swimming pools because of budget problems in the County Parks Department. Voters turned down a ballot proposal last month that would have increased local sales tax to bolster Parks Department coffers. Many voters opposed the tax hike because of the loan to the Cardinals owners.

In his speech on Friday, Bush said, "We have a war to win. We have a responsiblity to spread peace and freedom around the world."

Press coverage on the Iraqi war in recent weeks has exposed the use of torture by the U.S. military against Iraqi prisoners including: pissing on them, stripping them naked, depriving them of sleep for days, shoving broomsticks up their asses, forcing them to jack off in front of U.S. female military personnel and punk each other in the ass in front of cameras.

David Brooks Shuns Smirk: Times Reports on Golden Showers and Baseball at Camp Cropper 

A funny thing happened on the PBS News Hour last night, New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks forgot to smirk. His normally glib responses were muted, and he conceded that President George W. Bush's popularity had taken a nosedive. Maybe his contrite performance had something to do with his contention a week earlier that the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison were an abberation. Since then, the International Red Cross, members of the U.S. Congress and the Bush administration itself have said otherwise. In other words, Brooks lied. Lying, of course, is what he gets paid to do. He is normally a very good liar, equivocating and qualifying, dodging and weaving, searching out the appropriate spin to put on his bogus world view. In this case, he made a severe miscalculation, however. Doesn't he read the New Yorker? Sy Hersh scored a direct hit, sans spin. I assume Brooks is marginally a member of the East Coast intelligensia, so the New Yorker must be on his radar screen. What was this dumbkopf thinking? Well, he must have been thinking along the same lines as Bush, saying the same mantra, chanting incantations of freedom and democracy. Maybe in his heart of hearts, he secretly loves Bush and needs to believe. Alas, poor David, innocence lost, spurned love -- and he's losing his hair on top of it all.

The New York Times reports today that, as early as a year ago, the International Red Cross filed formal complaints to U.S. commanders about the treatment of prisoners at Camp Cropper, a detention facility near the Baghdad airport. In July 2003, the Red Cross cited 50 instances of abuse at Camp Cropper, the Times reported.

"In one example cited to U.S. officiers in Baghdad that month by the (Red Cross) committee officials, a prisoner said he had been beaten during interrogation, as part of an ordeal in which he was hooded, cuffed, threatened with torture and death, urinated on, kicked in head, lower back and groin, force-fed a baseball which was tied to his mouth using a scarf and deprived of sleep for four consecutive days," according to the New York Times.

Doctors examinations confirmed at least some of the prisoner's allegations.

Another Story You Won't See in the Riverfront Times.  

In today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Todd C. Frankel reports on an alleged towing scam involving a funeral parlor on Delmar Boulevard and a Wellston towing company.

The victims of the towing rip-off had to pay an average of $330 to get their vehicles back. Most of car owners were concert goers who parked in the parking lot of Ronald L. Jones Funeral Chapels at 6175 Delmar. A sign in the lot advertises parking for $10. But after parking, drivers claim that they couldn't find an attendant, so they just mossied over to the Paegant to hear the music. When they came back, their vehicles were gone, gone, gone.

Frankel reports that the office of Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon is looking into allegations that the funeral parlor owner colluded with Tipton & Sons Towing, splitting the profits from the towing scam.

Ronald Jones, the owner of the funeral parlor, contends that the problem is not about the towing but his refusal to sell his parking lot to Pageant owner Joe Edwards, the U City Loop developer. In one sentence, Frankel says that the dispute involves a $350,000 loan that Edwards received from "St. Louis' Local Development Co." to develop parking on Delmar. Edwards could not be reached for comment.

The Post-Dispatch story appeared on page seven of the Saturday edition.

In the Riverfront Times halcyon years, somebody would have picked up on this under-reported controversy and turned it into a cover story. And it wouldn't have taken six weeks to do it. The story would have been turned over in a week, two weeks max.

The reasons the story is a perfect RFT fit are obvious: it's local, it involves a popular entertainment venue and their are two clear sides to the controversy. Plus, AG Jay Nixon loves ink, so it would be no problem getting cooperation from his office.

But this story will never run in the RFT, unless it gives Edwards a free pass. That's because Edwards owns not only the Pageant -- he also owns the Tivoli Theater building, which is where the RFT offices are located. In other words, Edwards is the RFT's landlord.

In addition, Edwards advertises heavily in the RFT each week. Edwards' Blueberry Hill bar, which is also located on Delmar, and the Pageant combine to buy up two-full pages of ad space in the RFT every week.

If the RFT doesn't have the balls to go after a crooked casino that advertises in its pages, or topless clubs run by racketeers, it's certainly not going to go after the King of the Loop.

Now what I'd like to really know is what the hell is "St. Louis' Local Development Co? Did Frankel error? Is he is talking about the city's St. Louis Development Agency or CDA or one of the other myriad of public alaphet soup agencies, the phantom City Hall. What is St. Louis' Local Development Co.? Is it a private outfit? Tell us more details. Inquiring minds wanna know.

Texas Torture: Media Mayhem Scoops the Post by Two Weeks 

On May 1, Media Mayhem reported on the abuse of Missouri prisoners incarcerated at the Brazoria Dentention Center in Brazoria, Texas in 1996. The abuse scandal broke when George W. Bush was governor of Texas. I compared the prisoner abuse in Texas to the more recent torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. In both cases, images of the abuse finally resulted in public condemnation of the acts.

In today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Washington Bureau Chief Jon Sawyer reports the same story, two weeks later. He even interviews the former director of the ACLU for Eastern Missouri. I cited an ACLU press release in my story.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Cop Union Backs Kerry 

The Associated Press tonight reported that the Brotherhood of Police Officers has endorsed presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry over incumbent Republican President George W. Bush.

Media Mayhem: Your Turn 

The following unsigned letter arrived in my mailbox today:

Dear Mr. Stelzer:
I don't know if the address to which I am sending this actually is your's (sic). I assume it is.

I and my friends, both liberal and conservative, have agreed that your website, "mediamayhem," no longer is worthy of our time.

Your website began as a readable, somewhat enlightening, recitation and chronlogy of past events, organized crime, community, civic, personalities, etc. based on previous factual presentations. Even though you rehashed history, it was interesting and somewhat enlightening information. You showed a bit of professionalism. Most of us were familiar with these matters and enjoyed reading about them.

However, it has degenerated to nothing more than (a) diatribe, ranting and raving, often solely of your distorted opinions, against the Bush Administration. You have strayed from reality and factuality (sic) and you appear to be nothing more than a mouthpiece for liberalism, if not socialism. Do you realize that sometimes you present yourself as left of Karl Marx?

Why don't you devote a few thousand inches to the machinations of Clinton, the most corrupt and evil president we've had? Who didn't want to prosecute Bin Laden? Who sold his -- and America's soul to the Chinese for ... campaign contributions? We don't even have to mention the presidential pardons. Have you bothered to check his antics in Arkansas while governor? The strange events that happened there during his time.

We thought that you were making an honest journalistic effort. However, you have far too may axes to grind for you to be credible. You detest the Riverfront Times because you lost your job there and blame it on new owners. Could the cause of your firing have been you? Your attitude? Your arrogance? Your inefficiency?

You abhor the Post-Dispatch because it did not hire you. What were your professional credentials? A former brewery worker with a few years experience on a weekly newspaper? That hardly qualifies you for much of anything. Look at what you really are and were. A frustrated wanna-be investigativer reporter who couldn't make the grade. Dream on, Sunshine!

You resent and criticize Bill "Malibu" McClelland (sic). Could it be you are consumed by professional jealousy of an accomplished journalist that you can never be?

You seem to have a grudge against those, especially Republicans, who have comfortable lives and a few dollars. Another demonstation of jealousy? Or are you a proponent of redistribution of the wealth and class envy like Marx? You conveniently forget the wealth and privelage possessed by Hanoi John. But, then, he's a liberal Democrat! Be fair! If that is a word in your vocabulary.

We haven't read anything on your website about wealthy or influential Democrats contributing to Kerry and other party functionaries. I suppose that doesn't count as news. Liberal Democrats can do no wrong, can they?

And finally, we question your patriotism. You have links to Aljazeera and other Muslim and American "hate America, love Democrats" web sites. Are you perhaps a closet radical Muslim. A verbal terrorist? You can't stand up for America because George Bush is president, can you? Unfortunately, America has to stand up for the likes of you.

We accept that you have the right to your opinions, as it should be, and we would not deny you that. But should they not be balanced opinions and less inflammatory. Get a life and get real!

Since you elect to remain anonymous as far as an e-mail address so do we.

Dear John Doe,
Thank you for reading Media Mayhem, and taking the considerable time to write the letter you sent. You asked a dozen question in the space of one page, so let me try to respond, at least to some of them, in the order they were asked.

* In regard to me being further to the left than Karl Marx, I realize that in the narrow spectrum of modern American politics some of my ideas may seem radical. Ray Hartmann, the former publisher of the Riverfront Times, was routinely voted the most radical St. Louisan in an annual RFT poll. I always thought of Ray's politics as being more libertarian. But he is guilty of associating with commie pinkos, none of whom appear on Donnybrook, by the way.

* As for Clinton's escapades, I think you're overestimating the heinous nature of his crimes. One thing sure about old Slick Willie -- he's not gay. I'm not so sure about Dubyah, are you? As Arkansas governor, Clinton did allow Bushites, including Ollie North, to run Contra gun-smuggling and drug-trafficking operations out of a small airport near Mena, Ark., but it was probably in the spirit of "bi-partisanship." Besides, them spicks down in Nigarauga deserved every bullet hole they got, including the commie priests and nuns.

*You're right, I don't like the Riverfront Times anymore because they fired me. Don't be swayed by my sour grapes, however, judge the paper yourself.

* Regarding my professional credentials, I don't have any. I learned how to read and write in the St. Louis public school system and attended Forest Park Community College.

I'm proud that I worked as a Teamster at the brewery for 20 years. It wasn't easy, changing shifts every week, working in the heat and the cold, slamming in and out of box cars and truck trailers, working on the assembly line. You learn much about yourself and others doing this kind of work for decades.

*As for "not being qualified for much of anything," I figure I did pretty good for a college drop out; won me a bunch of journalism awards, too. That and a buck-two-fifty will get you a latte at Kaldi's. If I didn't make the grade, it wasn't for lack of trying. By the way, who's doing the grading? Can I pay somebody off?

*If you think I'm arrogant, you've obviously never met Mike Lacey, the new owner of the RFT. And, again, you're correct, I was fired because of my attitude: I sincerely believed that my job was to report the news not cover it up.

* No, I don't abhor the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but I do feel a responsibility to call attention to the newspaper's failings. Believe it or not, sometimes I praise Post reporters, too.

* Yeah, I'm envious (not jealous) of Bill McClellan, but not about his writing or reporting skills. I'd just like to get his fat weekly paycheck once a month. But in fairness, McClellan has typed a lot of words for a very long time. I think my favorite column of his was when he went to Iraq in the First Gulf war and the military wouldn't let any of the reporters get near the front lines. So Malibu went out on a boat with an Iraqi fisherman and described it. It was a very well written piece. I like the idea of him getting a shot at being a gung ho war correspondent and then writing a gentle, humane, story about everyman. I wish he did it more often. But it's not easy to write three or four columns a week. In fact, I wouldn't want to do it. So I'm not envious of his work load. I have to say, though, that I was pleased to hear you refer to McClellan as "Malibu." That was the best laugh I had all day. I don't know Malibu, but I've been taking pokes at him off-and-on for years. He's a big guy with fists the size of hamhocks, I know that much. If he ever took a real poke at me, I'd be a goner. Your letter is probably an example of the kind of invective he receives daily. What irritates me about Malibu's opinions and yours is that they're often based on ignorance. Unfortunatley, true patriots such as myself have to stand up for your rights, too, at least until you lynch me. Please, don't shoot the messenger. I know everybody has a legal right to carry Glocks now, thanks to the Republicans.

* However much Malibu's opinions differ from mine, we share one thing in common this year -- we support Hanoi John, as you refer to him. Malibu went to Nam as a Marine and would disagree with that slur, I'm pretty sure. Sen. John Kerry, the presumed Democratic nominee for president, saw combat in the Army in Vietnam, too. He could have got out of going because he was rich. But he didn't. You can't say that about Dubyah. Did I convey that clearly and simply enough?

*As for me, I dodged the draft by attending college -- and I was poor. Later, when they implemented "the lottery" system, I got lucky. I assume you dislike Kerry because he threw away his Silver Star and other decorations in protest against the war, after he returned stateside. Well, I don't know your service record, but all the Nam vets I knew, including the heroes, hated Nixon and hated the war. Kerry, no doubt, got a belly full of it, and probably killed a few gooks for Christ, too. I think he took some shrapnel in the leg, as well. I salute him for throwing away his medals. I figure being in the military, particularly a war, must be a lot like working at the brewery or doing time in prison: you learn to smell bullshit a mile away. To quote another John, John Prine, my favorite singing postman and vet: "Your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore, it's already overcrowded from your stinking little war. ..."

*Yes, I am a proponent of redistributing the wealth. I didn't come to this opinion by taking a course in Marxism in college (although it is in my college transcripts and FBI file), but by seeing that in the real world rich people all sit on their fat asses and don't do anything. Does your boss do more work than you? I didn't think so. Does he get paid more? Of course. To paraphrase the bumper sticker: It's called capitalism, stupid.

*Am I a verbal terrorist? No more so than that scumbag, dope pusher Rush Limbaugh, another native Missourian. (By the way this is blog not a website.) My old website was entitled The Urban Guerrilla Journal. I'd probably be arrested and detained indefinately under the "Patriot Act" for having a webpage called that now.

*Am I a closet Muslim? No, but my former editor Safir Ahmed is a Muslim. I don't believe he practices his religion. Ahmed was an excellent editor, he just didn't show up for work much and he got paid more than twice as much as me. Plus, he made a couple of real dodgy editorial decisions to suck up to his bosses at New Times in Phoenix. I questioned his authority. So, I guess that makes me inefficient.

No, I'm a Southern Baptist and a born-again Christian just like our righteous president. Well almost. I'm a backslider. I hope, for heaven sake, Dubyah doesn't cause the end of the world by trying to save it. Maybe he could use a little backsliding of his own, Bubba.

P.S. That was my correct address. Next time send a check.


Jerry Bohnen Reporting from KTOK Radio, Oklahoma City 

Chemistry of a Coverup
by Jerry Bohnen
November 26-30, 1990

Radio reporter Bohnen, who reported for KTOK Radio in Oklahoma City in the early 1990s, was one of the few journalists in the United States who understood the murky area that Danny Casolaro was investigating.

Here's a excerpt of a transcript of a radio series that Bohnen did on the mysterious Ishan Barbouti. In this sound bite, he mentions Robert Bickel, the source I previously cited (see below). (Remember the photograph of Donald Rumsfled shaking hands with Saddam Hussein? Saddam had to be taken out just like the Mafia disposes of one of their own, when he becomes a liability.)

(Bob Bickel) "... We have obviously got a situation whereby certain segments of our government were making available to the Iraqis sensitive military equipment in support of their military complex."

Bob Bickel's assessment of the strange U-S relationship with Iraq in the 1980s comes from first-hand knowledge. The Houston-based independent oil consultant and engineer also spent the past 18 years as an asset of the U-S Customs, often providing sensitive information and doing tasks for the federal agency, something confirmed by a Customs agent. In early 1989, a firm called Southern Brokers, which later folded shop and disappeared and is now suspected of having been a C-I-A front, contacted Bickel. He was given a five page shoppinjg list of oilfield technology and specialized equipment to be bought for Iraq. Not red-iron drilling equipment but high-tech stuff like micro chips and some things Bickel knew could not be exported or had other possible uses.

"All of this equipment links right straight back to the ultimate development of the fuel-air explosive device which we know Iraq is currently in possession of which our military has no defense against in the Middle East crisis at this point."

Deadly fuel-air explosives, a powerful weapon which releases combustible gas to create a massive fireball and subsequent killer shockwave.

Some believe fuel-air explosives were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U-S Marines in Beirut, not plastic explosives as reported by the government. Some of the shopping list items could be converted to atomic weapons use with relative ease.

"There were capacitors in there that could very well be used for that or be used for commuincating the triggering signal to this to the triggers."

"Oh, like the dipold antennas?"


Oklahoma and Texas oilfield supply companies were among those targeted to help Iraq in its buildup of weapons in the war against Iran.

Bickel's contact with the Iraqis often conversed with Doctor Ihsan Barbouti and with officials in the Iraqi embassy in Washington. He went to Customs with his story, a story verified by Customs agents. But what happened next is puzzling.

"After some four weeks back and forth, uh, Customs received word, Jack Moore notified me that Customs was calling off, uh, the investigation."

In Texas, a Customs spokeman told me, however, a source never knows the full story and added `we've just don't get called off investigations.

Bickel thinks otherwise.

"You know, you can't get, uh, a lot this stuff without the intelligence community knowing about it anyway. They know about it as soon as the phone rings.

"Who ordered Customs to back off? All I know is that the order came down from upstairs and outside of the agency. Either through the State Department or through Commerce Department."

Now because he has tried to go public with his information Bickel believes the federal government is the source of his own legal problems, problems which have forced him to delve deeper into this mystery. The same mystery has resulted in death threats for Dallas businessman Bruce Munden and for him him, life has become dangerous.

(Bruce Munden)
"Dangerous enough that I, uh, I'm, I have federal protection. I'm armed. Uh, every precaution possible.

His story in my next report. I'm Jerry Bohnen, KTOK News.

Barbouti and Bush: Arming Saddam or Why Nobody Can Find WMD 

Who is Ihsan Barbouti and what are his connections to the Bush dynasty?

I first stumbled across the name of Ihsan Barbouti in the fall of 1992, while rummaging through a filing cabinet in the basement of Walter Williams Hall at the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 1992.

The files belonged to the late Danny Casolaro, a freelance journalist who was found dead the previous year in room 517 of the Sheraton Inn in Martinsburg, West Va. His death was ruled a suicide.

But many of Casolaro's friends and relatives thought he was murdered, including William and Nancy Hamilton of Inslaw Inc., a computer software company in Washington, D.C.

At the time of his death, Casolaro was looking int a far-flung conspiracy that allegedly involved high-level Justice Department officials and members of the Reagan and Bush administrations.

Most of the reporting on Casolaro's investigation has centered on Inslaw and the Hamilton's fight with the Justice Department over the ownership of PROMIS, a sophisticated software originally developed to to keep track of federal court cases. With the Hamiltons encouragement, Casolaro began investigating the case, which had mushroomed into a complex conspiracy. The more the Hamiltons and Casolaro investigated, the more they found that lead them to believe that not only had PROMIS been purloined, but that the software had fallen into the hands of the CIA and was being used for various intelligence gathering purposes.

Casolaro, who ran up monthly phones bills of hundreds of dollars, began developing sources all over the country. And he followed all kinds of leads. Investigative reporters who have looked at Casolaro's files have never been able to deduce the significance of much of his wide-ranging inquiry. Most of those reporters quit trying to make sense of it years ago, in deference to their own mental health.

The source who told Casolaro about Ishan Barbouti was Robert F. Bickel, a Customs Service informant.

Here is a verbatim transcript of a confidential memo sent by Bickel to a Treasury agent in 1991:

Date: March 21, 1991
To: The Special Agent in Charge
United States Department of the Treasury
San Diego, California
by Fax 619-557-5109

From: Robert F. Bickel, Sr. (Youngblood)
(Ref. Customs Documents Investigation Procurement February 1989)


The activities of Ishan Barbouti and his associates as agents and operatives of the Iraqi government in the procurement of technology, scientific resources, materials and equipment for the enhancement of the Iraqi military and the Ministry of Industrial and Military Production is significant. In spite of the irrefutable documentation and intelligence available for various sources no indictment of their activities has been achieved in relation to their activities thus far.

Activities of principals of the Iran-Contra operations are documented as of 1987 through interviews with individuals associated with their activities and an analysis of telephone toll sheets., October 1987, November 1987, March 1988, and April 1988. The established tie to Richard Secord was cultivated for Ishan Barbouti through his business associate Dan Seaton, Vice Chairman of the Louisiana Export Council. This association has also been documented by individual interviews and confirmation of Mr. Seatons (sic) position with the Louisiana Export Council by Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Links to the activities and events related to violations of federal statutes and BNL (Banca Nationale Del Lavoro) funds transfer documents and Barbouti financial documents. The Export Council connection through Seaton as part of the overall support and maintenance of the Iraqis by Commerce provided strategic and tactical enhancement for the Iraqi military for a considerable period of time prior to the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq.

In an analysis of telephone tolls of the Barbouti company facility at 777 Post Oak, Houston, Texas another sequence of activities and events has been determined to have occurrred that is significant to the relationship of the Barbouti network as agenst and operatives of the Iraqi government.


In conducting an analysis of telephone tolls from billing statements for various Barbouti, personal and company facilities including those of associates, a sequence of activities and events corresponding to the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq on 2 August 1990 and the telephone activities of Barbouti office facilities at 777 Post Oak, Houston, Texas, has been detected. Corresponding to the invasion date of Iraq into Kuwait, an intensity of telephonic activity began relating to calls to numbers in areas from the East Coast through the West Coast of the United States.

For a period of time from 1 August 1990 through 27 August 1990 each call made from 713-623-0777 was made to an address and location in close proximity to US military facilities of a strategic and tactical nature. Given the current condition of hostility with the country of Iraq by the US and its allies and the potential nature of the ceasefire, I feel it prudent to summarize the findings of the analysis and potential security risks posed. Much of the telephone activity is directly associated to locations in the Washington, D.C. area corresponding to the invasion date including sensitive security facilities.

Beginning 1 August 1990 the activity of calls in and of itself on that dater is significant not due to intensity but location. Just after midnight on 1 August 1990, calls were placed to Newark, N.J. and Oxon Hill, Md. The military facilities within reasonable physical proximity to these numbers called ared the Naval Yard facilities at Newark and Andrews AFB and other styrategic facilities close to Oxon Hill, Md., which is actually a suburb of Washington, D.C. Calls to this Oxon Hill number indicate it is a private residence. Also on 1 August 1990 contact was made from the Barbouti facility in Houston to Bolin AFB in Washington, D.C. at approximately 0810 Hrs. Washington time. This Air Force facility is understood at this time to house Office of Strategic Investigation (OSI). This call was of a duration of 6.3 minutes.

On 2 August 1990, the day following the invasion of Kuwait, initial calls from the subject number at 0013 Hrs. was to a number in the immediate vicinity of Andrews AFB at Clinton, Md. A second call went to Jacksonville, Florida which supports two Air Force bases. At 0733 Hrs. contact was made with the subject nimber to Bolin AFB again, this contact lasting 13.5 minutes. The last call recoreded on the toll sheets for the subject number for 3 August 1990 wat to Broomfield, Colorado at which is located the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. This call was of a duration of 21. 9 minutes at 0829 Hrs. Broomfield time.

From 7 August 1990, through 16 August 1990, the intensity of calls from the subject number is concentrated in the area of southern Florida not only in relation to total number of calls placed, but in total minutes of toll time. At each location called from the subject number there is a significant military installation within the immediate area. Another significant issue noted during this time period are calls made to Multiquest, 900 dialing service number. When this number was checked it was found to be an electronic voice mail system through which messages could be sent or retrieved. Between 7 August and 16 August there were four contacts made with the Multiquest number for a total of 12 minutes. Details of calls, times, locations and proximities to strategic military facilities are contained in an attached summary.

On 17 August 1990, there was one phone contact made from the subject number to the number located at the facility determined to be Bolin AFB. The contact lasting a total of 9.5 minutes beginning at 0833 Hrs. Washington, D.C. time.

No other contact was recorded on toll sheets except a call out to Panama City, Florida on 18 August 1990, and other calls to numbers in that immediate area on the same date for a total of 75 plus minutes. These calls are in the area of Tynedell AFB. (See attached summary.)

On 21 August 1990, a final call was recorded as being placed to the number located at Bolin AFB in Washington, D.C. from the subject number. This call lasted a total of 25.9 minutes. Once again it has been determined that this is a military administrative facility and that OSI is located there. The phone at the Bolin facility is anwered MAJCOM or MAGCOM.

The last numbers provided by these billing and toll sheets are calls to Jacksonville, Florida from the subject number at 0719 Hrs. and 0802 Hrs. Houston time on 22 August 1990, the location of two Air Force facilities.


There are several issues to consider that potentially would have never surfaced in the telephone tolls had Iraq not invaded Kuwait. Given the speicfic and selective nature of the telephone calls being made from the subject number to the various areas of the US the following should be given pointed consideration:

*Each number called from the subject number is closely situated to a United States Air Force Base, Strategic and Tactical.

* The number and timing of calls from the subject number are seemingly very specific with no random association as would be reasonably expected from a normal business number.

* Initial and last calls for the toll and billing period coincide with the most active initiation of the mobility of the American military. These calls also coincide in being placed from the subject number to an American Air Force administrative facility.

* Richard Secord is a "Retired Major General" in the United States Air Force and Barbouti associate.

*Calls are being placed from the subject number belonging to and located at an Ishan Barbouti company facility to a United States Air Force facility at conventional duty hours.

At a time of extreme security consideration the following should be considered and questioned in relation to the known and documented activities and events:

* Areas of significance strategic and tactical security sensitivity are obviously under close surveillance by known agents and operatives of the Iraqi government. These areas include facilities sensitive to the security of the President, Vice President, Senior Administration and Congressional members.

*The potential exists that further evaluation of telephone tolls would provide identification and knowledge of multiple cells of Iraqi agents and operatives related to the actiivites and events guided by Ishan Barbouti and his associates in enhancing the Iraqi military. (These being primarily non-Arab)

* An evaluation of all intelligence capable of being developed related to these issues would establish the existence of the environment for violation s of federal criminal codes related to national security during time of declared war.

* Barbouti associates have either been acting as agents of the US intelligence community or acting with the assistance of parallel operations extended out of Iran-Contra in violation of federal, civil, and criminal statutes.

Attached are copies of telephone toll and billing sheets as stated above for Barbouti company and associate business facilities. Also attached is an analysis of the numbers called taken from the toll sheets organized by date, by time, and related to military facilities in their immediate vacinity.

Robert F. Bickel, Sr. (Youngblood)


Lessons of Vietnam: Some of Duffy's Blues 

I remember standing on a sidewalk in Washington, D.C. on the day of President Richard M. Nixon's second inauguration. I had decided to take the train down from Baltimore that morning to experience the historic event. Baltimore is only about 30 miles away from D.C. At the time, I was attending a satellite campus of Antioch College.

As I wandered through the streets of the nation's capital that day, I found myself cast into a surreal scene comparable to a Fellini movie. The city and the country were divided by the Vietnam war. And I walked between the two camps. On the inaugural route, midgets juggled on street corners and hawkers sold bangles and baubles to the throng. At one point, I glimpsed the re-elected president through the grandstands, standing up through the sunroof of his black limosuine, smiling and waving at the crowd. I remember it was January and Nixon had a deep tan, evidence of a recent holiday visit to his pal Bebe Rebozo's mansion in Key Biscayne, Fl.

On the other side of the barricades, along the pedestrian mall, hundreds of thousands of protestors had gathered for the last anti-war march on Washington. The atmosphere was somber. They carried plackards, sang hymns and chanted slogans; people of all ages and walks of life united. I stood on the sidelines, more an observer than a participant.

Between the two processions were school buses full of U.S. Army troops. I had long hair then, which was a sign that I was a member of the enemy camp. The buses were lined up for blocks. Thousands of troops were on standby in case violence broke out. None did. But standing next to one of the buses, I watched and listened as the soldiers screamed invectives at me. I have never since experienced so much mass hatred directed towards me.

When I came back to St. Louis, I took up playing the guitar and met a Duffy, an ex-Marine. Duffy, who was of Scandinavian descent, looked like a viking, blue-eyed and blond. He was the son of a chauffeur. When he was young, he lived above a garage in Ladue. Duffy used to play lead guitar for a band that featured a 400-pound drummer named Earthquake. The singer and harp player in the band was the son of Jimmie Reed, the legendary Chicago bluesman. Jimmie Jr. played all of his father's standards, including Big Boss Man. Duffy showed me how to play bar chords and rudimentary three-chord progressions.

Duffy knew more about the blues than just how to play them, however. He had his leg blown off in Vietnam. When he came back, he couldn't find a job. Eventually, he got on with the post office. Now he's retired.

I remember closing up the Waterhouse, a saloon on Manchester Avenue across from Scullin Steel, one night. Duffy decided he wanted to visit a friend of his in Southern Illinois, another amputee who had served time at the Philadelphia naval hospital with him. I agreed to drive. We threw our guitars in the back of my VW bus and took off, with a six-pack for the road, of course. I got lost driving on the backroads somewhere between here and Carbondale. Duffy passed out. Around dawn, I decided to head back and return the war veteran to his wife.

Duffy taught me the blues.

Back to Reality: Potentate Bremer and the New American Empire 

In an op-ed article that appeared in the New York Times this week, Paul Krugman alludes to an overlooked detail concerning the Bush appointed ruler of Iraq Paul Bremer and his Coalition Provisional Authority or CPA. According to Krugman, the CPA, which by no small coincidence also stands for "certified public accountant," has no legal standing. As Krugman points points out:

" ... What is the legal basis for Mr. Paul Bremer's authority? You may imagine that the Coalition Provisional Authority is an arm of the government, subject to U.S. law. But it turns out that no law or presidential directive has ever established the authority's status. Mr. Bremer, as far as we can tell, answers to nobody except Mr. Bush, which makes Iraq a sort of personal fief. In that fief, there has been nothing that Americans would recognize as the rule of law. For example, Ahmad Chalabi, the Pentagon's erstwhile favorite, was allowed to gain control of Saddam's files — the better to blackmail his potential rivals. ..."

As Media Mayhem reported this week, the CPA's URL identifies the authority as an "org," or non-governmental agency in InternetSpeak. The idea that the CPA is acting as a "certified public accountant" for government contracts doled out to private corporations is not so far fetched, either. Indeed, the CPA offers companies a means to submit contract bids online.

Media Mayhem's Weekend Literary Supplement: Kings' Corner 

Kings' Corner
by C.D. Stelzer
copyright 2004

Chapter I
Eddie’s Eyes

Each time a car rolled through the stop sign Eddie let out a string of obscenities. The drivers inevitably turned their heads, scanning the street corner, searching for the source of the disembodied voice. Eddie would take a sip of peppermint schnapps and snicker, peering out of the storm sewer at the reflection of the trees in the hubcaps. This routine usually went on until he passed out. After he woke up, he would push the manhole cover aside and stumble back home to his mother’s place to sleep it off.
The guys across the street in the park were pretty much oblivious to Eddie’s antics, having seen and heard them many times. True to their habits, they were congregated at the sagging picnic table playing cards, smoking dope and drinking beer. Some of the guys remembered Eddie from when they were members of the same Boy Scout troop in elementary school. About half of them were Nam vets, and, even though Eddie’s behavior was considered weird, they accepted it.

Eddie came back from the war with a Bronze Star and a metal plate in his head. He received the honor along with an early discharge, after being hit by shrapnel in a junkyard outside Saigon. Eddie had been looking for war souvenirs when the land mine went off.

The last time anybody remembers hearing Eddie was when a convertible full of teen-aged girls passed by and honked. As the light faded, most of the card players drifted off one or two at a time.

It was getting too dark to read, too, so Hines stuck his paperback in the back pocket of his jeans and began methodically rolling a cigarette. When he finished the delicate operation, he tossed his long hair back and lit the cigarette with his Zippo. The cigarette ember glowed like the tip of the setting sun. He exhaled a plume of smoke and watched as Rick threw a chewed-up Frisbee into the deserted softball field. Rick’s German shepherd, Freak, tore after the plastic disk and brought it back panting. In the distance, thunderheads gathered on the horizon.

Hines got up off the ice cooler and opened the lid. "We’re outta fuckin’ beer, man." He drained the cooler into the dirt and watched the cigarette butts and bottle caps float for a second or two.

"I’m going to the liquor store." Before Rick could answer, Hines walked to the park stairwell across the street from Eddie’s sewer. He unbuttoned his fly and stared blankly at the graffiti on the wall, while urinating on broken shards of amber glass.

"Eddie, why don’t you get the fuck out of that hole and do something with your life," said Hines. When there was no response, Hines laughed and looked across the street. A narrow swath of light from a nearby streetlight illuminated Eddie’s eyes inside the sewer.

Hines walked over and kneeled down, casting his shadow across the sewer opening.

"Wake up, man. Looks like rain. You don’t wanna drown down there." Eddie didn’t move. So Hines pulled the manhole cover up and rolled it aside. It clanged like a church bell when he let it drop on the sidewalk.

"C’mon, wake the fuck up, dumb shit." Hines reached down into sewer and shook Eddie’s shoulder. The body slumped over and Eddie’s head hit the brick wall with a dull thud.

"Holy shit," said Hines. He let go of the shoulder of the olive-drab field jacket and placed his fingers on Eddie’s neck to see if he could detect a pulse.

"Jesus fuckin’ Christ, Eddie’s dead, Rick!"

"Don’t bullshit me, Hines." Rick tossed the Frisbee one more time, tipped his head back and killed his last beer. Then he walked gingerly down the pissed-soaked stairwell, carefully avoiding the broken glass. Once across the street, he did a push up in the gutter and looked directly into Eddie’s vacant eyes.

"Eddie give me a hit of that peppermint schnapps, bro." Rick leaned down into the hole and pried loose the bottle of booze from Eddie’s hand and checked his wrist for a pulse at the same time.

There wasn’t any.

"You’re right. He’s dead." By this time, Freak had crossed the street, poked his snout into the sewer and began barking at Eddie’s lifeless body.

"I didn’t need your profession medical opinion to tell me he was dead. What the hell are we going to do?" said Hines.

"We're going to get the fuck out of here right now," said Rick. "If the cops haul us in for questioning, they’ll nail us both for God knows what. I’m AWOL, man. I can’t hang around here with a dead body in the sewer. Fuckin’, Eddie, he never could do nothin’ right. He couldn’t even die right. We’ll call the cops from the liquor store. Whatya think happened? Ya think he ODed on something?"

As they discussed Eddie’s demise, both men remained prone looking into the sewer, Rick lying in the gutter and Hines on the sidewalk, while Freak circled around them, howling.

"He wasn’t such a bad guy," said Rick.

"This will probably kill his mother."

Yeah. Well, what should we do?"

As Rick asked the question, they both noticed that Eddie had his Bronze Star pinned to the pocket of his field jacket. When Hines leaned down to unpin the medal, he felt something in the pocket. He opened the flap, stuck his hand inside and pulled out an airport locker key.

They both got up off the ground and took turns turning the silver key in their fingers. "Whatya think Eddie has stowed out at the airport?" said Rick.

Rick took a swig of peppermint schnapps and let the bottle drop from his hand. Instead of breaking, it bounced once and rolled back into the sewer.

"Fuckin’, Eddie, he never could do anything right. C’mon, let’s go Freak."

Media Mayhem's Weekend Literary Supplement: The Last Story  

The Last Story
by C.D. Stelzer
copyright 2004

Chapter I
Jake's Cubicle

Cascades of newsprint surround Jake Delaney’s desk. Piles press against the cubicle walls, spill on to the floor, forming a valley around his chair. In spring, when he cracked the window, traffic noise mixed with the faint sound of his transistor radio tuned to the baseball game. The smell of musty pulp then wafted through the office and a breeze would rearrange the latest batch of press releases in such a way that he could lay his hands on any scrap of information well into autumn.

With his semi-annual cleaning and indexing completed, Jake would begin to whistle the same song he hummed all winter. This happened every year on a Thursday afternoon in late April or early May. At least that’s the way I remember it.

If this description sounds contrived, that’s the way Jake would have wanted it. He nurtured idiosyncrasies as virtues. Other staffers called Jake’s cubicle the recycling bin. Clippings, business cards, cheesecake photos and mugshots covered every inch of available wall space. In its normal state, Jake’s work space looked like it had been ransacked. Unread police reports littered the floor. Government reports were strewn haphazardly. A newsroom joker once strung a bright orange, crime-scene ribbon across the entrance of Jake’s cubicle. Jake never bothered to remove it. The ribbon stayed up long after the prank and prankster had been forgotten. Out of nostalgia, Jake kept his old typewriter next to his computer, and stashed a sealed bottle of bourbon in the bottom drawer of his filing cabinet. Jake didn’t drink and he didn’t file. He said he kept the libation close at hand just in case he was ever fired or the newspaper was sold.

As younger journalists arrived on the scene, Jake’s eccentricities became more pronounced. The piles of paper grew until they could be seen jutting over his cubicle walls. Jake mused that the perpetual avalanche gave the appearance he was hard at work, and, thus, provided him with job security. But he certainly didn’t seem convinced of this himself. Instead, the paper fortress he was building seemed to represent some kind permanence in an unsettled atmosphere, where work rules and quotas could change without warning. Jake didn’t like all the jockeying for position that preoccupied most of the reporters’ time. He called them all kiss asses and quipped that he could no longer tell the difference between the new breed of reporters and public relations flacks. The new hires had their suspicions about Jake, as well. For starters, few of them saw Jake enter or leave the newsroom. Rumors circulated: Jake lived in his cubicle. He subsisted on meals from the snack machine in the break room. He washed his socks and underwear out in the men’s room. Women reporters complained of his body odor.

Jake appeared oblivious to these slights. When he was immersed in his work, nothing phased him. As usual, Jake refused to talk about his last story, though occupying the cubicle next to his I couldn’t help overhear his phone interviews. His sources were located all over the country and didn’t seem to have any apparent relationship to one another. He talked to cops and politicians and FBI agents. Because I was busy with my own work and not acquainted with Jake’s crime beat, I didn’t really understand the gist of these conversations. Plus, I could only hear Jake’s questions not his sources’ answers.

Drummond, the managing editor, pulled Jake into his office several times during this period and I suspected that whatever was driving Jake over the edge had more to do with the story than other work-related issues. On one occasion, I could hear shouting coming from behind Drummond’s closed door. As I was passing by, Jake opened the door and I heard Drummond’s sarcastic comment: "When you write the book, remember to make my character 30 pounds lighter." At the next weekly staff meeting, Drummond announced Jake’s disappearance. As he read his written statement, he twisted a paper clip into a stick figure. The comments were perfunctory, as if Jake had taken a leave of absence or sabbatical. The paper piles are the sole reminder of Jake Delaney. Nobody knows if he’s dead or alive.

They don’t even mention his name anymore.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Does Wendy Back Bush Despite or Because of His Fascist Nature? 

Appearing on Donnybrook Your Turn tonight, radio talk show host Wendy Weise supported incarcerating and torturing Iraqi prisoners, siding with a caller who claimed that the prisoners aren't there "because they had parking tickets." This is the same lame argument that one of the right-wing senators took in response to the Senate Armed Service Committee's hearings on the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison. It's the same view as blowhard, drug addict Rush Limbaugh.

In reality, many of the detainees at Abu Ghraib were swepted up in raids in which the entire male populations of villages were arrested. They were never charged with any crimes and eventually many have been released. Their only crime is they're Iraqis. Indeed, following his visit today, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld belatedly announced that he will cut the population of the Abu Ghraib prison by 50 percent.

Quite simply, the U.S. invaded Iraq based on false information from President George W. Bush. No weapons of mass destruction were found. Saddam Hussein wasn't a threat to his neighbors, let alone the U.S. The atrocities he committed against his own people was done with technology provided by the first Bush administration. (It was called Iraqgate, remember?) And until after the U.S. invaded last year, Al Qaida didn't use Iraq as a base for terrorism. The Bush administration created this quagmire. The entire world now hates the United States. (How could George W. Bush possibly accomplish global alienation in three years? He did, though.)

Moreover, the war is costing U.S. taxpayers $4.5 million a month. The deficit is through the roof (Another amazing accomplishment; the budget was in the black under Clinton.)

In addition, more than 10,000 innocent Iraqi civilians, including infants andchildren, have been killed by U.S. forces. Hundreds of American service men and women have died.

Why do you think Rumsfeld and the Pentagon hid the pictures of abuse at Abu Ghraib for four months? Do you think they were doing that to protect the military police who are shown in the photographs?

No, Rummy and company are covering their own asses. Military intelligence and the CIA have been promoting the systematic torture of suspects under secret executive orders signed by the president since shortly after 9/11. Yes, the president is responsible for the torture. The buck stops at the president. Who else should take full responsibility, Pfc. Lynndie "Smoke em if You Gottem" England?

The Abu Ghraib abuse is not an abberation, as the Bush apologists have said. Military intelligence and the CIA have been engaged in the torture of detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq and Cuba. The abuse is already part of the official record. And more evidence is sure to surface.

There is absolutely nothing defensible about the Bush administration's policies in Iraq. The only ones who are profitting from this war are defense contractors and oil companies tied to the Bush administration. Anybody that can't see this by now must have their eyes closed.

There is a very sick individual in the White House. And he's going to be in St. Louis tomorrow. Bolt your doors, everybody. November can't come soon enough.

Press Visa My Ass 

British writer Elena Lappin, who surely has more professional credentials than I do, was denied entry into the U.S. by Homeland Security earlier this month because she didn't have a press visa. She was detained overnight. Searched. Fingerprinted. Mugshots of her were taken. The next day she was put on a plane back to London. [see previous Media Mayhem posting for details]

Since 9/11, I've traveled to five foreign countries. The majority of those trips had to do with my job as a writer. The countries I traveled to included: Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, England, the Netherlands, and Italy. In most instances, when asked my reasons for entering these countries, I said I was there as a writer. (I was trying to cut a book deal in England. Canada and Trinidad were travel writing assignments.) None of the immigrations officials I encountered asked me for a "press visa." What the hell is a press visa, anyway> In Italy, they didn't ask me anything nor did they stamp my passport. I could have stayed in Italy indefinitely. And sometimes I wish I would have.

American Lockdown: Foreign Journalists Denied Entry to U.S. 

British reporter Elena Lappin, on assignment for the London Guardian newspaper, was detained at the Los Angeles International Airport on May 3 and then deported the next day, according to Reporters Without Borders, a journalists' advocacy group.

Lappin's expulsion has been preceded by more than a dozen similar incidents involving foreign reporters in the last year, including six journalists from France. [read more]

Back by Popular Demand 

With God on Our Side
by Bob Dylan

Oh, my name it is nothin'
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I's taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And that land that I live in
Has God on its side.

Oh, the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on its side.

Oh, the Spanish-American
War had its day
And the Civil War too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
I's made to memorize
With guns in their hands
And God on their side.

Oh, the First World War, boys
It closed out its fate
The reason for fighting
I never got straight
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don't count the dead
When God's on your side.

When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side.

I've learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war starts
It's them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side.

But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we're forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God's on your side.

In a many dark hour
I've been thinkin' about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can't think for you
You'll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.

So now as I'm leavin'
I'm weary as Hell
The confusion I'm feelin'
Ain't no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God's on our side
He'll stop the next war.

Rummy's Dirty Little Secrets: Abu Ghraib Scandal Leads Straight to the Pentagon 

The scandal over prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq involves not only miliatry police and miliatary intelligence, but two private contractors doing business with the Pentagon.

CIAC, one of the contractors, supplies computers to the Pentagon, according to a story posted at the Warprofiteer.com website.

CIAC began doing business in the 1960s as the California Analysis Center Inc. The company was founded by Herbert Karr and Harry Markowitz, a 1990 Nobel prizewinner in economics. Markowitz received the distinction for his work in stock portfolio diversification.

Lately, however, CAIC (pronounced Khaki) has been focusing most of its own interest in one direction -- military contracts. As recently as last month, CAIC's income was reported to have surged 37 percent.

Not surprisingly, CAIC officers and directors are stacked with former military and intelligence officials, including Barbara McNamara, the former deputy director of the National Security Agency.

CAIC-hired interrogators were alleged to have encouraged military police at Abu Ghraib prison to "soften up" prisoners for interrogation by forcing them to engage in sexual acts. Digital photographs were then taken of the demeaning actions, allegedly to aid the interrogators in acquiring information from other prisoners.

The CAIC employees worked for a company that supplied computers to the Pentagon. After one of the military police reported the abuse, the Army confiscated as many as 1,800 images and an unknown number of video clips from military computers. The images showed Iraqi prisoners being forced to masturbate and have sex with each other, among other things.

To ignore the possibility that these images were transmitted electronically via military computers supplied or supported by CIAC or other private military contractors is to defy reason. Engineered Support Systems Inc., for example, owns a subsidiary, TAMSCO, which supplies the Army with a program called the "Multi-Media Communications System, which permits the digital transfer of video images. The confiscated images stored on the soldiers' harddrives may have earlier been sent either officially or unofficially to other members of the military or intelligence agencies, including military intelligence officers at the Pentagon.

The delay of months in exposing the scandal by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon brass suggests a coverup that goes beyond the walls of Abu Ghraib prison.

The Business of War 

The Coalition Provisional Authority's website offers war profiteers a means for applying for contracts online.

This further draws into question why Nick Berg, the slain telecommunications whiz, thought it necessary to go wandering around the war zone without a contract.

The acronym-laden jargon of defense contracts is similar to the lingo of stateside developers. I never heard of a RFP until I started covering tax increment financing (TIF) boondoogles for the Riverfront Times. RFP stands for "request for proposal." The CPA website has scads of RFPs, ranging from dental supplies to riot gear. To see what kinds of business opportunities are available in Iraq, click here.

Coalition Provisional Authority an NGO, according to Internet ID 

What's in an acronym?


The URL for the Coalition Provisional Authority's web site identifies it as an "org," rather a "gov." Non-profit organizations that are unaffiliated with government agencies typically attach the "org" identification to their Internet addresses.

Am I nitpicking? Of course. But the identification of the occupying power in Iraq as a non-government agency is not an accident.

In a the nascent days of the Internet, the National Academy of Sciences came up with a classification system for Internet web sites, if my memory serves me correctly.

Obviously, the CPA is acting in the capacity of a governoring body
regardless how much hype is directed towards the Iraqi Governoring Council. Ambassador Paul Bremer represents the U.S. government. The CPA's press office is stacked with Republican partisans of George W. Bush. So the "org" status is misleading.

Interestingly, CPA is not identified as a "mil," either, which stands for military organization in Internet parlance.

So what is the CPA, exactly, if it's not a governmental or military entity? It must be a chartiable organization -- for Halliburton, Bechtel, British Petroleum, Exxon-Mobil, et al.

The Pitch: Iraq's Soccer Team Scores 

At the Coalition Provisional Authority's web page, you have to scroll long and hard to find any mention of the bad news coming out of Abu Ghraib. Instead, the lead story is about the Iraqi national soccer team beating Saudi Arabia, which permits them to advance to the Olympic Games in Athens this summer. [read the Good News brought to you by the CPA]

Spoiler Nader 

Consumer advocate and Democratic Party spoiler Ralph Nader has gained access to seven additional state presidential ballots, due to the endorsement of the Reform Party, which backed former 3rd party presidential hopeful Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996.

Perot's presence in the presidential race in 1992 tipped the advantage to Democratic candidate Bill Clinton.

In 2000, Nader's candidacy did the opposite, drawing away votes that would have most likely have been cast for Democratic nominee Al Gore. As a result, George W. Bush gained the White House in a widely contested election, which was ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court rather than the American electorate.

Nader's candidacy threatens to do the same thing in 2004. Presumed Democratic nominee John Kerry this week gained a slight lead in the polls. But when Nader's three to five percent is factored into the polling the race between Kerry and Bush is a dead heat.

Bending Over for Bill Gates and Blogger 

Contrary to the addage, you can teach an old dog new tricks, but that doesn't means he's not going to growl. Blogger's recent changes have forced to me use Microsoft Internet Explorer. Sorry Netscape, it's been a nice ride.

Thinking South of the Border: UFOs Sighted Over Mexico 

Larry Connors of Channel 4 News altered me to this story last night, during a teaser for the 10 o'clock broadcast. The news of UFOs over Mexico wasn't enough to keep me from retiring for the night early, however.

Press accounts of UFO sightings often seem to peak at times when the public is stressed by other bad news.

In this case the sightings were made by Mexican Air Force pilots, who snapped pictures of the UFOs.
[read more and see the grainy photographs]

American Way of Death: Jessica Mitford on Objectivity 

... "I do try to cultivate the appearance of objectivity, mainly through the technique of understatement, avoidance where possible of editorial comment, above all letting the undertakers ... or prison administrators pillory themselves through the ir own pronouncements. `When are you going to get angry?' a friend asked ... Never, I answered; it is not in my sweet nature to lose my temper, especially in print. ..." -- from the Poison Penmanship: The Gentle Art of Muckracking

Well, it's a goal wort h striving towards. ... letting them hang themselves, that is, not the appearance of objectivity. ˇ

Durbin Goes to Hell 

On viewing the images of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told aides: "... it was like being in the ninth circle of hell. ..." í

Probing Questions 

Onward Christian Soldiers

The Associated Press is reporting today that an Afghan police colonel has alleged
that U.S. military intelligence put their finger in his anus as they accused him of working for the Taliban.

The police officer, Sayed Nabi Siddiqui, said he supported the U.S. invasion of

The alleged torture took place last summer.

Siddiqui was held for more than a month. He suspects that a family enemy told the
U.S. forces that he was an ally of the Taliban.

During his detention, Siddiqui says she was beaten each day by six or seven
interrogators. He was blindfolded, but says that he could see flashbulbs going off,
an indication that his abuse was photographed.

Siddiqui also alleges that his captors referred to his wife and daughters as whores
and he was threatened with attack dogs.

He was released Aug. 20, with a note from military police that indicated that no
charges were filed against him.

Army Produces XXX-rated Gay Porn and Snuff Flicks 

Senators on the Armed Services Committee viewed more than 1,800 still photographs and some videos of sexually degrading acts that Iraqi prisoners were forced to perform by prison guards at Abu Ghraib prison.

"Lawmakers said the images they saw included p ictures of forced sexual acts between male detainees, consensual sex between American soldiers and a soldier posing with the body of a dead prisoner," according to the AP.


Torture as American as Apple Pie 

The New York Times reports today that interrogators routinely used torture to gain cooperation from suspected Al-Qaida operatives in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

The torture was condoned by the CIA and Justice Department, based on a set of secret rules, the Times reported.

The use of coercive tactics, including holding suspects heads under water for extended periods, could have set the pattern for the abuse of prisoners in Iraq.

Rummy Flies to Baghdad 

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld flew to Baghdad today to inspect the Abu Ghraib prison, site of brutality against Iraqi detainees.

Rumsfeld's surprise visit follows continuing controversy over images of prisoner abuse at the prison.

The purpose of the defense secretary's unanticipated inspection of the prison is unclear.

Meanwhile, President George W. Bush is expected to be in St. Louis tomorrow.

Among the many defense contractors headquartered in St. Louis is Engineered Support Systems Inc. TAMSCO, a subsidiary of ESSI, has the contract to supply the Multi-Media Communication System used by the Army in Iraq.

Who Killed Nick Berg? 

Using libertarian and conservative policy wonks for his sources, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Philip Dine writes that the beheading of Nick Berg was likely a recruitment tool for Al Qaida.

Dine cites experts from the Lexington Institute and Heritage Foundation, both right-wing think tanks.

"Al Qaida's judgment on how to influence Western opinion is so poor that in the midst of a Washington scandal created by pictures of brutality, they released their own pictures depicting far worse atrocities," Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute told the Post-Dispatch.

The Post-Dispatch featured the libertarian view point on the front page.

Who funds the Lexington Institute? The Post-Dispatch doesn't tell us.

Conspiracy theories originating in Iraq and elsewhere in the Mid East suggest that the execution of Berg may have been carried out at the behest of the CIA to offset the negative publicity from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

This kind of unsupported speculation is obviously suspect, but so, too, is the opinions of right wing think tanks.

The Post-Dispatch can do better.

Live From Baghdad 

Click here to read a blog by a Brit of Iraqi descent who is charged with building a TV studio in the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad.

The Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld 

"As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know there are known unknowns ... " -- Donald Rumsfelf, Feb. 12, 2003

The Associated Press reports today that the words of Donald Rumsfeld have been set to clasical music.

Two San Francisco music buffs have recorded a CD of an operatic soprano singing the words of Donald Rumsfeld.

The CD is entitled "The Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld and other Fresh American Songs.


Wednesday, May 12, 2004

On the Other Hand  

Contrary to Burke's sage advice, we'd probably be better off, if Bush would have done nothing. But that counter-intuition presumes that he is a good man, which is highly suspect by now.

Better if he would have just stayed down in Crawford, scratched his ass, farted and ate barbeque.

"Evil flourishes when bad men do something." -- C.D. Stelzer

Quote of the Day 

"All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing." -- Edmund Burke

FDR on the Roots of Fascism 

"The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the
growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its' essence, is fascism-ownership of government power by an individual, by a group or by any controlling power." -- President Franklin Delano Rooseveltt

Gov. Holden:Dying for Halliburton Not in Their Job Description 

Missouri Gov. Bob Holden has sent a letter to President George W. Bush, complaining that members of a Missouri National Guard unit in Iraq shouldn't be forced to act as glorified security guards for private contractor employees.

Members of 1221st Transportation Company are protecting convoy drivers who work for KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton.

Holden and Missouri National Guard Gen. Dennis Shull both say that is not the military's duty to guard private contractos, according to a story today by St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Terry Ganey.

Red Cross Report Cites Widespread Abuse 

The International Red Cross report on U.S.-administered prisons in Iraq cites the widespread use of violence against those held. The report is basec on inspections of prisons and interviews with inmates.

The report contradicts claims by Bush administration apologists such as David Brooks, who claim that prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison was an isolated incident and not reflective of the overall conditions. [read the Red Cross report]

Online Taguba Report Shut Down by Government  

Apparently the Government Printing Office has disabled the link to the Taguba report for "security" reasons, according to a posting today on government documents list-serve. Here's the verbatim posting:

Subject: Re: Taguba Report

Unfortunately, GPO updated this information this morning. Both PURL and
URL have been disabled for "security reasons". If you click on either you
can see this message:
Reason for Change: this PURL has been disabled for security reasons;
however it is still stored on .permanent server and can be relinked as
needed. Taguba Report; sent to .permanent for cold storage jkd5

Can You Hear Me Now? 

Nick Berg, the American civilian slain in Iraq in retaliation for U.S. abuses at Abu Ghrail prison, was a free-lance telecommunications entrepreneur, according to press accounts, who was interested in installing cell phone towers in Iraq.

After being stopped at an Iraqi police checkpoint in Mosul on March 24, he was held for week and interrogated by the FBI, according to press accounts.

Exactly how he gained entry into Iraq and the specific purpose of his visit are unclear.

Some of the digital photogrpahs of the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison were taken by digital phone cameras. In addition, private contractors involved in the interrogations at the prison were employed by U.S. information technology companies that specialize in electronic communicxations systems.

Denial After Denial 

More Lies from the Lying Liars

The Bush administration's response to increasing criticism about its handling of the war is to deny responsibility.

Testifying before Congress again today, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that interrogation methods used by U.S. military intelligence doesn't violate the Geneva Conventions. Rumsfeld's argument hinges on the fact that the U.S. refuses to classify those held as prisoners of war, preferring instead to refer to them as "detainees." Evidently, a "detainee" has absolutely no human rights whatsoever.

Dan Senor, spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority, said today that the FBI never detained Nick Berg, the Philadelphia man who was beheaded by an Al Qaida-linked cell in Iraq. Berg was held for weeks without casue by the Iraqi police. During that time, he was repeatedly questioned by the FBI. Berg's father counters that the CPA's spokesman, who is a Republican, is just mincing words. The FBI tells the Iraqi police what to do not the other way around, says Michael Berg.

And in Washington yesterday, Stephen Cambone, under secretary of defense for military intelligence, claimed that military wasn't calling the shots at Abu Ghraib prison, site of human rights abuses against incarcerated Iraqis. Cambone's denial is in direct conflict with the testimony of Maj. Gen. Antonio Tabuba who conducted an investigation into the abuses at the prison earlier this year. 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?