Editor’s Note: Readers had some fascinating comments about stories we posted over the past couple of weeks. Here is a sample:

Re: “Mobile Labs to Target Iraqis for Death

Just wanted to thank Robert Parry for writing about these mobile death labs that are going to be used in Iraq.  It never ceases to amaze me how the government spins such programs: i.e., as a "humanitarian" effort to ensure the good people are "spared."  In other words: efficient death labs.  The entire underlying argument presupposes that the war itself is just, and that the mobile death labs will do a good job at discerning between "good" and "bad."

Mark Anderson

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Re: “Surprise! Mukasey Covers Up Torture

Disagree.
If he is carrying on a legit internal investigation the issues are
a) Can you brief us in executive session?;
b)  how long will it take so we can hold a pubic hearing on your report?

Arthur Springer
Lay Advocate for People With Disabilities

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It is futile to expect the Democratic Party, as it is presently constituted, to mount any significant opposition to the neocons--because they majority agree with the agenda. It is only folks like the Progressive Caucus--Barbara Lee, Dennis Kucinich, etc.--who have any resemblance to the core values of the old Democratic Party. Once this reality is understood, perhaps only then will the need to abandon the dysfunctional two-party system sink in. The Democratic Party's majority are like Hillary Clinton—political hacks and neocons dressed up as so-called "liberals."

Nothing more, nothing less.

Charlie Kaften

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Re: “America’s Judicial Coup

After reading Robert Parry's partisan yet fair explanation of what happened in Florida to elect Bush as President, I wonder if there is some way to reach these people? I've had no luck online.

I think they should be reminded time and again that many Americans feel they have betrayed the very oath of office they took to hold their jobs. The 'partisanship' described here is too weak an adjective rather the fundamental lack of integrity so demonstrated would be much more to the point.

James Fairley

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Another point not made often enough is that both Thomas and Scalia had family members working on the Bush campaign, and O'Connor had clearly expressed bias before hearing the facts and evidence.

In any Superior Court, in any county in California, judges in such situations would have recused themselves from hearing the matter for conflict of interest and/or  appearance of impropriety grounds.  Yet, these justices went ahead and changed history, bias and impropriety notwithstanding.  I suppose the ethical violations that accompanied these terrible acts aren't as great as the acts themselves, but it says a lot about the agenda of these judges that they would act, and fear no consequences, when every relevant canon of judicial ethics argued against their participation in the case.

Gary Rose
Los Gatos, CA

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Re “Are Americans Better Than That?”

Ray Mcgovern's meditation on the piece about Kiriakou and the disclosures about Pelosi-&-Co is important and altogether admirable. Only one matter of omission strikes me. It occurs in connection with his fully justified roasting of official religion, for its near-total silence on torture practices.

Given McGovern's attention to all of these matters, I assume that he is aware of the 5-month federal sentences currently being served by Fathers Louie Vitale, OFM, and Steven Kelley, SJ, for attempting to deliver a letter of protest to General Barbara [X] at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where interrogation procedures are taught. More than those few thelogians who do speak out on this matter--whom McGovern honorably cites--these priests deserve notice for crossing the line with their bodies, at steep personal cost to themselves, in their identity as American men of God. (Fr. Vitale, as a former interceptor pilot, carries a special aura in this witness.)

McGovern quotes M.L. King on the virtue of sometimes putting one's body "into it." He might just as well have cited Thomas More on the necessity of proving things upon one's body. Well, these priests have done exactly that, speaking to precisely the issue which concerns McGovern.

The Cathoic Left, as the MSM calls it, is still feisty, quietly fierce, and up to no good in conventional terms. I am no Catholic, nor do I attach myself to any organized communion; but these men speak for me right down to the ground. And as for the lament and accusation raised by McGovern against the silent churches, these two men shoot large holes through the rancid fabric of ecclesial silence in this country on this matter of torture practice.

That silence is typical--the main-line churches, with exception of the Society of Friends, have always been lazy, shabbily protective of conventional peace-of-mind, and shamefaced latecomers to the witness ground against American government military policies. All the more reason to keep an alert and thankful eye trained on those few but persistently brave clerical witnesses who time and again point the way to redemptive moral clarity through thoughtfully framed direct action.

With thanks again for your diligent reporting and reflections at the site, and in your salutary between-covers writing,

John Peck
Jungian analyst, poet, freelance editor and translator

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Re “America as a Prisoner of Primacy

One underlying result of the USA's (which I attribute largely to Bush/GOP) attempt to dominate the world militarily is that it has actually created new enemies of America and Americans. Leaders who have been elected by Democracy or otherwise come to power largely due their resistance to the USA. Anti-American sentiments drive the politics of a host of countries as never before.

And the likes of  Alqaeda (not even a country), has gone from a rag-tag band of murderous suicidal lunatics living in caves to world super-power thanks to Bush and the US corporate media.

Among other consequences is the re-emergence of Russia as a world super-power, which is being further provoked/enhanced on almost a daily basis evidenced by their recent rejection of US-proposed Iran sanctions and their promise to militarize their European borders in response to Bush's proposed "missile shield". I believe (and hope) the shield will never be built.

And of course China is going to defy and undermine the USA in every way (but militarily), across the world. What the USA loses is their gain. And all of America's rivals, military, economic and political will find an open-armed, wealthy capable ally in China.

But perhaps worst of all (for America), Bush has exposed the USA as the "paper tiger" China accused it of being decades ago. Their inability to invade and force their will upon two defenseless 3rd world countries, Iraq and Afghanistan has made  America appear essentially weak and defenseless.

This is all good for most of the world. Chavez and Putin have shown their respect for Democracy in the last two weeks, while Bush has shown utter contempt for the public will.

The misled and ignorant American people oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for all the wrong reasons. Not because they were illegal, ill-advised and have unjustly resulted in thousands of deaths and untold human misery, but because they are losing and going broke.

T.Rossevelt said you "carry" the big stick. Actually using the big stick is an untidy and perilous last resort.

Kevin Sysyn

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Re “Gary Webb’s Enduring Legacy

Have read Mr. Webb's story before and am saddened to see individuals like him be treated with such saw distaste, especially when the truth is that they have done such an excellent job. Life can be very unfair. It makes the whole "Just Say No!" campaign look not only inadequate but terribly cynical (although Nancy Reagan may not have had any idea about all this, I don't know.)

During an economics class I took in college about pricing and decisions, the college professor made a profound (to me at least) statement which I remember to this day: "Knowledge is not free." Mr. Webb was treated shamefully by his colleagues and managers back then. However, we still see pervasive evidence of this type of collusion to distort events today. The enduring commitment you and your contributors have to the best values in journalism deserves the highest praise. I found a copy of the public version of the CIA Inspector Generals report (version II) on the web this afternoon and will read it with high interest. Thank you.

Erik Strand

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Thanks for the piece on Gary Webb. I knew him when he worked at the Merc's Sacto bureau, and respected him.

While his nightmare was exceptional, I've noticed that, far from the Nixon times when investigative reporters were rock stars, nowadays they tend to get "disappeared" by their papers. I read a stunning series of articles on moneyed interests, wonder how the paper had the balls to run it, and then ... the reporter is gone. Poof.

Nicholas Carroll

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Re “Why the Democrats Could Lose

Your conclusion: “More than anything, many in the Democratic base want to send a message to the Democratic leadership that –regardless of what the professional pollsters might say -- principles do matter to Americans.”

Dear Mr. Parry,

I agree with your assessment that Democrats are vulnerable in 2008. I, along with other grassroots Democrats, have compiled a 10-point, 193-word progressive vision statement along with a chart of progressive definitions for fundamental concepts such as prosperity, vibrant economy, national security, and good government.  (I use the term "progressive" to contrast with "conservative.") The attached report was in response to a request by Commonweal Institute to expand upon an earlier report mailed to the DNC and Texas Democratic Party.

During my research I came to the conclusion that the real genius of the conservative movement and Republican Oath/Principles was to redefine the role of government and the relationship between government and citizens. It enabled conservatives to successfully reposition good government as limited government, fiscal responsibility as less government, and the common good as the private sector. Democrats have yet to respond or offer a progressive vision...the big ideas, the big connections that define the big picture.

Without a vision statement, Democrats cannot frame with the three-step formula: state the problem, state the solution, tie into the big picture. The last step is hard to do when the big picture is undefined.

This project has been working since 2004. The most difficult part was not figuring out what Americans want...it has been to get the party leadership, think tanks, and strategists to take notice of the research being offered. Thank goodness for Steve Kirsch, Jim Hightower, Barry Kendall of Commonweal, and others. Without their encouragement, I would have given up long ago. The importance of grassroots is a myth. Either you are inside...or outside.  

Kim Paxson

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I'm a Viet Nam vet and was a long time republican until the atrocity called "shock and awe".  I reregistered as a democrat, but have been sorely ashamed of their cowardice. 

RT Carpenter, Florida

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Re “Neocons Down, Not Out

I occasionally send comments, since I do read your articles, which I find insightful and probably far closer to the truth than much of the stuff to be found in the MSM. Whereby, I might add, my history teacher always told us that to really understand politics, forget part one of most papers and turn to the business sections. I have never forgotten that.

You write: “That neoconservative strategy reached its zenith after the 9/11 attacks as the U.S. intelligence community and the Washington press corps caved under intense political pressure.”

As a journalist, let me tell you that most of the American media landscape has caved into pressure. You wouldn't believe the power of the editors there, who probably have the advertisers and publishers sniffing at their chairs all the time, ready to bark and bite the moment something winds up in print that could in some way tarnish not so much the image of a politician, but the  image of the political and social world they would like to project.

The American press gregariously prides itself on Watergate and its tiny stand against the Vietnam War. This was easy stuff. American journalists (and I have met some) wander around borrowing lines and attitudes from Hemingway. Well that is all nostalgia, like those Hollywood films that somehow whoop up the Fifties as some great era.

Mr. Parry: I studied communications (U-Mass Amherst, MA), and I followed the media's coverage of the totalitarian world of Communism. In the 1980s, after moving to Europe, I visited East Germany and Hungary a lot. I speak the languages in those countries. I could not get a single piece published in the USA about the impending fall of the wall. American editors refused to see it happening. Then it happened, they scrambled, declared victory, and moved on.

They have, to this day, maintained the We Did It myth. In 1986, I remember writing a piece in which I pointed out that most East Germans had relatives in the West. And -- this I had first hand -- the East German Army (NVA) and the Russian units were not in any position to begin a war. I think they were drinking the gasoline -- I jest here -- destined for their ancient motorized divisions. The entire East-West conflict was hype to sell newspapers. But even the liberal press would not touch the Sacred Image of Totalitarian Russia.

Another image: "Europe" and America being the brave bringer of good tidings, because Europe is always at war... Well, Europe consists of sovereign states, and they were often art war with each other. The USA is at war every few years with others in the world community. There is no difference. But no one will touch that.

The myth of the Liberal Media, is just that. A myth, Mr. Parry. I am not sure whether it was a point or an unfortunate effect, but the result of promoting the myth was to dumb down the country to the level of Dayton Tennessee, 1925. That, and by extent those scurvied Puritans in the 17th century with their literally medieval liturgy, is at the source of today's mess, including the limp-wristed press.

 All this to say: The press never collapsed. It was never really standing up. Otherwise the choice Americans would have as presidential candidates would be of far higher quality. In 2008, we will be choosing between a spineless democrat beholden to corporate interests, and a venal and corrupt republican beholden to corporate interests. And people will swallow that and hope that something can change in the following four years. I have bad news: A) I believe that someone beholden to corporate interests will win, and anyone believing that big corporations have our best interests in mind will still be waiting for the pumpkin. And B) By the time the USA shovels itself out of its mess, which is so far-ranging, it will have become a kind of pariah.

Marton Radkai
Assistant Editor
Business Guide
Basel/Switzerland

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An item from VerityFidelity:

After 10+ years of relentless effort, I am beginning to distill the journalistic lies, and ideological bull**** behind the 2000 stolen-election Scalia coup in America down to one-page tidbits.

This week, amazing journalist GENE LYONS outdoes himself - not only did he (along with his partner, Joe Conason) compile THE book on media lying during the 1990s ("The Hunting of the President", with 25 pages of mostly one-line footnotes and sources!)   but this week, Mr. Lyons documents that not only were the Clinton haters who shouted "Clinton is a Rapist!" and "Clinton is a murderer!" factually wrong.... but their hate-obsessed hysteria actually led to a  known Rapist being PARDONED by then Arkansas  Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee, that rapist going on to MURDER one if not two women!

This is a simply amazing little rip in the space-time 'reality' continuum  that makes one gasp and  stare in wonder!

It also gives us the ideal format or opportunity to go back and swiftly revisit how it is that George W. Bush became president based on an "honor and dignity" campaign, even though, even with a superficial glance, it is apparent that he and his running mate were both Vietnam war evaders.  Deeper digging into either Bush or Cheney's past reveals much criminal conduct that would get ordinary Americans arrested and convicted - as Martha Stewart was convicted and sentenced for "lying" (about "dumping" ImClone stock, a company she had NO CONNECTION WITH)    while George W. Bush got away with "dumping" his Harken Energy stock, almost 2/3rds of a million dollars, while he was on the board of directors AND on the Audit Committee, with a Harvard MBA on his resume, yet he pleaded complete ignorance of  either Harken's debt, or the need to notify the SEC prior to selling stock of a company he sat on the board of!  

American freedoms, if not democracy itself, are under assault by the relentless ability of billion-dollar corporations to CONTROL the news.   This story is simply fascinating simply because it shows a COMPLETE, 100% INVERSION  of the 'real truth', in service of a popular right-wing/major-media theme (that Bill Clinton and the Democrats were ungodly, amoral, budget-squandering Christian haters, and that Republicans are moral, law-abiding, concerned-with-the-common-folks budget hawks, etc.

     ================================

NY Post writer "CHURNED OUT articles of NEAR HALLUCINATORY INACCURACY" to spring Rapist who would go on to murder other women....

The Great GENE LYONS pops up just in time to RESCUE REALITY ITSELF from the grim, dark clutches of America's stupid, cowering, craven, greedy, amoral, chronically lying, sadistic, ghoulish, craven (did we mention 'craven'?) media whores. As we know, the media whores judge their talents - and are rewarded by their corporate masters (and a dazed and ignorant American public) with SUCCESS, in DIRECT, INVERSE PROPORTION to their factual reporting skills.

Tell American readers that the Bush-Cheney "WAR ON TERROR" is making America LESS SAFE, or that the INSANE Bush BUDGET DEFICITS in support of tax-cuts for the wealthy, and positively GROTESQUE levels of corruption and crony spending in that "war on terror" are DESTROYING the American standard of living, then you will be run out of the "major media" on a rail, mocked and sneered at (if not smeared), as Robert Scheer was fired from the LA Times after 30 years for relentlessly hammering at the Bush-Cheney lies-to-war, to be replaced by a rabid WingNut Bush wars apologist Jonah Goldberg. (Or as Dan Rather was run out of CBS, for daring to point out that during the Vietnam War then Texas National Guard Lt. George W. Bush had gone Absent Without Leave, AWOL, and had refused a direct order to take a flight physical exam, after having been trained to be a jet pilot with over a million dollars worth of expensive war-time training.)

But before George W. Bush could go on his month-long vacation of August 2001 while Al Qaida terrorist plotted, unmolested by the entire US multi-trillion dollar defense/intel/counter-terror (CIA/FBI/national-security) establishment to attack America.... before Dick Cheney could hand taxpayer-funded billion dollar, no-bid, no-oversight contracts to his "former" company Halliburton like parents handing out candy on Halloween night; before Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Wolfowitz could dream up America's Stalinesque torture gulag and unleash American bombs all throughout Afghanistan and Iraq, there was first the little problem of getting such a psychopathic, pathological Republican president elected in the first place.

And that is where the EIGHT YEARS of CLINTON HATING MEDIA comes in. Gene Lyons and his reporter partner, Joe Conason, LITERALLY WROTE THE BOOK, COMPILING THE LIES of the "MAJOR MEDIA," which all through the 1990s became little more than a wing of the CLINTON-HATING RIGHT, in their book, "The Hunting of the President."

The NEWYORK TIMES and the WASHINGTON POST were the WORST OFFENDERS - the Times, itself, "CHURNING OUT ARTICLES OF NEAR HALLUCINATORY INACCURACY" on a weekly, if not daily basis. The Times reporting was so bad that they had to pay a LIBEL penalty to Los Alamos physicist WEN HO LEE after it was revealed that the Times' breathless "TREASON IN THE RANKS!" reporting about alleged nuclear spying by Lee was little more than Nazi-esque Smear Mongerings. The Times break with reality, and sad, sordid "reporting," reached a sorry nadir with the "WHITE HOUSE TRASHING SCANDAL" a "SCANDAL" concocted by KARL ROVE, DICK CHENEY, and GEORGE BUSH to RUN VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE OUT OF TOWN, on a rail, tarred and feathered in January of 2001, after Gore had won the popular vote in the presidential election of November 2000.

By SMEARING Clinton-Gore staffers as "TRASHING THE WHITE HOUSE," Rove and the Republicans LEGITIMIZED their THEFT OF THE ELECTION. And the NEWYORK SLIMES, and WASHINGTON LYING POST, were there every day of the "White House Trashing Scandal," publishing BREATHLESS "reports" and felling entire forests of trees to wax and comment on the alleged "lack of moral values" of the Clinton-Gore staffers.

Only thing... the entire story, the reporting, the smear-mob opinions masking as commentary... simply WERE NOT TRUE. THERE HAD BEEN NO "trashing" of the White House. KARL ROVE has simply taken the ROUTINE WEAR AND TEAR on offices after an 8 year lease was up - worn carpets, out of date phones and a jungle of computer lines, fading paint and worn furniture - and TURNED IT INTO a MAJOR, NATIONWIDE SCANDAL - with the abject, craven, incompetent, lying cooperation of Arthur Sulzberger's NEWYORK SLIMES, and Fred Hiatt's cowardly "PRAVDA ON THE POTOMAC" Washington Post.

Lyons (and Conason's) book "The HUNTING OF THE PRESIDENT" came out before the whore Times and whore Post turned the so-called "White House Trashing Scandal" into a Karl Rove wet-dream that legitimized stolen-election 2000, and helped chase popular vote winner Al Gore out of Washington in disgrace. Senator JOE LEIBERMAN would show his cowardly colors by REFUSING TO SPEAK UP for the SMEARED Clinton-Gore staffers, because Mr. Lieberman realized even in early 2001 that his goals - permanent US wars in the Mideast at the behest of Israel - were more in line with Dick Cheney's PNAC "go to war in IRAQ!" policy aims, than they ever would be with Al Gore's policy priorities.

(Dick Cheney signs the Project for a New American Century, PNAC, manifesto, advocating war and invasion of Iraq, June 1997. By January 1998, PNAC had codefied its "statement of principles" to specifically indicate that invading Iraq with US military power was the raison-d'etre, the Alpha-and-Omega, for PNAC.
http://newamericancentury.org/statementofprinciples.htm

And, we apologize: just trying to TOUCH the SURFACE of America's media whoredom over the past decade plus involves a long, relentlessly sourced rant. (Speaking of "sourcing" "The Hunting of the President" has over TWENTY FIVE PAGES of mostly single-line sources and footnotes!)
But this week, Gene Lyons outdoes himself, and magnificently illustrates the sheer, literally MURDEROUS HYPOCRISY of the radical-right CLINTON-HATING "moral values" MEDIA; who for eight long years shouted "CLINTON IS A RAPIST!" and "CLINTON IS A MURDERER!", and in their INSANE LUST to prove exactly that.... THEY advocated the release from prison of a known RAPIST who WOULD, INDEED, go on to MURDER two other women!!

For a taste of Lyons' "the mainstream media got it all wrong about Whitewater" see his index page at SALON.com here:
http://dir.salon.com/topics/gene_lyons/
or, specifically, this little gem that illustrates exactly how Clinton-hating Republican lawyers scuttled a deal in the 'sexual harassment' case between Paula Jones and President Clinton, thereby giving Ken Starr the opportunity to depose President Clinton about an affair that had nothing to do with Starr's $70-million taxpayer financed "Whitewater" financial investigation.
http://dir.salon.com/story/news/feature/2000/03/04/willey/

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There’s more to character than being charming
Gene Lyons
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
http://www.nwanews.com/adg/Editorial/210393/

Pundits and TV anchorcreatures love pronouncing about politicians ’ “character,” when all they’re really talking about is personality. Hence glib, superficially charming candidates invariably win plaudits in the reality-TV epics we call presidential elections. This year’s GOP Prince Charming is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. When it comes to ingratiating himself, few surpass the one-time Baptist preacher. He’s witty, he’s warm, and doggone it, people like him. Character consists of something deeper. That’s why it’s important to know the truth about Wayne DuMond, the serial rapist and murderer Huckabee freed from the Arkansas penitentiary to kill again. Unfortunately, that’s the last thing you’ll hear from the candidate himself.....


After Clinton became president, Du-Mond portrayed himself as an innocent victim of the satanic “Clinton machine.” Soft-headed conspiracy theorists who circulated “Clinton death lists” found the notion irresistible.
New York Post columnist and “Current Affairs” correspondent Steve Dunleavy CHURNED OUT ARTICLES OF NEAR-HALLUCINATORY INACCURACY  championing DuMond’s cause. He portrayed DuMond as a blameless Vietnam vet with no criminal history. In fact, DuMond avoided prison in Oklahoma by testifying against men tried and convicted of beating a man to death with a claw hammer. He’d been convicted of second degree assault in Oregon, and charged with but not tried for a previous rape in Arkansas.

From VerityFidelity

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