W. Mark Felt, Watergate Deep Throat, Dies at 95
By Tim Weiner, The New York Times
"W. Mark Felt, who was the No. 2 official at the F.B.I. when he helped bring down President Richard M. Nixon by resisting the Watergate cover-up and becoming Deep Throat, the most famous anonymous source in American history, died Thursday. He was 95 and lived in Santa Rosa, Calif. ...
Mr. Felt played a dual role in the fall of Nixon. As a secret informant, he kept the story alive in the press. As associate director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he fought the president’s efforts to obstruct the F.B.I.’s investigation of the Watergate break-in.
Without Mr. Felt, there might not have been a Watergate — shorthand for the revealed abuses of presidential powers in the Nixon White House, including illegal wiretapping, burglaries and money laundering. Americans might never have seen a president as a criminal conspirator, or reporters as cultural heroes, or anonymous sources like Mr. Felt as a necessary if undesired tool in the pursuit of truth."
The Geneva Conventions, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, are "international treaties that contain the most important rules limiting the barbarity of war. They protect people who do not take part in the fighting (civilians, medics, aid workers) and those who can no longer fight (wounded, sick and shipwrecked troops, prisoners of war)."
The 3rd Convention, on prisoners of war, was revised and expanded in 1949. The Geneva Conventions has been acceded to by 194 states and enjoy universal acceptance.
However, the Bush Administration, as noted in an editorial in The New York Times, issued "a presidential order saying that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to prisoners of the “war on terror” — the first time any democratic nation had unilaterally reinterpreted the conventions."
The Torture Report - Editorial, The New York Times
"Now, a bipartisan report by the Senate Armed Services Committee has made what amounts to a strong case for bringing criminal charges against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; his legal counsel, William J. Haynes; and potentially other top officials, including the former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.
The report shows how actions by these men “led directly” to what happened at Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan, in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in secret C.I.A. prisons.
It said these top officials, charged with defending the Constitution and America’s standing in the world, methodically introduced interrogation practices based on illegal tortures devised by Chinese agents during the Korean War. Until the Bush administration, their only use in the United States was to train soldiers to resist what might be done to them if they were captured by a lawless enemy.
The officials then issued legally and morally bankrupt documents to justify their actions, starting with a presidential order saying that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to prisoners of the "war on terror", the first time any democratic nations had unilaterally reinterpreted the conventions.
That order set the stage for the infamous redefinition of torture at the Justice Department, and then Mr. Rumsfeld’s authorization of “aggressive” interrogation methods. Some of those methods were torture by any rational definition and many of them violate laws and treaties against abusive and degrading treatment.
These top officials ignored warnings from lawyers in every branch of the armed forces that they were breaking the law, subjecting uniformed soldiers to possible criminal charges and authorizing abuses that were not only considered by experts to be ineffective, but were actually counterproductive."
Let there be no doubt that the modern Republican Party has never been a friend to workers. Their interests lay with management. Businesses that they are beholding to have done all they can to keep wages and benefits low. Now, they are trying to scuttle the commitments they have made to pensioners.
The Big Three auto companies, in particular, are whining that they need relief from their 'legacy costs', contractual obligations for the long term well-being of their longtime labor force. They're trying to poor-mouth their way out of financial contracts with their retired workforce.
In an article on the USA website today by DeWayne Wickham, he says a memo reveals the real motive behind Senate Republicans' opposition to the bailout of Detroit. An unsigned 'Action Alert' says: "Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor, instead of taking their first blow from it."
In the same edition a reader's letter to the editor notes that three of the senators opposing the bailout are from Southern states that are host to foreign automaker plants, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama, where workers have lower wages and fewer benefits than their counterparts at the Big-Three.
So, the message from the GOP continues to be clear - they are for higher profits for management, bigger dividends for stockholders and lower wages and benefits for workers.
Back in the Sixties, the folk music artists of the time played in coffee houses in Greenwich Village and across America. There they found attentive audiences for their social protests.
Nowadays, a singer/songwriter can expect the spare caffeinated crowd in the local java joint to be deeply distracted, lost in their laptops.
Such was the case this past Sunday afternoon as I played a charming old coffee house in West Seattle. Two of the audience members actually put in their ear buds when I started playing, never averting their eyes from their computers.
Of course, they didn't come to have me interrupt their quiet online solitude. So, we managed to coexist - they in their digital screens and newspapers, and I on the stage, playing over the sounds of the espresso machines.
Luckily there was a window to my left through which I could amuse myself as I played my original songs.
Here's one of them, 'Careful of You'. (Friends came in the door just as I was finishing my first set.)
I won't mind if you get lost in your Internet browser as you listen. Just happy to have the songs heard. Enjoy.
(NOTE: Slow video load and low audio level.)
Union autoworkers in this country do NOT make too much money. They DO however, make inferior products. That's the trouble with Detroit. It's not that they pay their workers too much, it's that they don't produce cars that people want to buy. That's the fault of management.
David Leonhardt, writing in The New York Times, says that labor costs make up only about 10 percent of the cost of making a vehicle. The chart below compares the costs between American and Japanese companies building cars in the United States.
I am a child of television. I have watched many hours of outstanding serial dramas at 10:00 pm each weeknight. I was hooked by shows like St. Elsewhere and Hill Street Blues. I couldn't live without them.
But these kind of shows are expensive to make. So, for a long time, the networks tried to replace them with 'real dramas' on shows like 20/20, PrimeTime, 48 Hours and Dateline NBC. They were over-wrought, over-written tales of crime and celebrity downfall.
So, then the networks went back to a glut of crime dramas - ever-cloning shows like CSI and Law and Order. They were never really my cup of tea. And I haven't been drawn into the pseudo prime-time soap operas taking places in hospitals, like Gray's Anatomy and House.
The well-written, well-acted, well-produced and well-directed dramas (and dramadies) are all now on cable - The Wire, The Sopranos, Weeds, Battlestar Gallactica, Californication, Saving Grace, etc.
So, Jeff Zucker, the wunderkind of NBC and Universal is now mostly abandoning spending any money on high-quality dramas for adults, and instead, is stripping a prime-time version of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno across the weeknights at 10:00 pm.
As the movies have degenerated into mostly mindless action blockbusters, it's hard to find good drama anywhere.
Such is life.
On this day in 1980, John Lennon was murdered.
At the time, I was producing a live, two-hour talk show at CNN, called "Take Two." We devoted the entire show that afternoon to Lennon.
A year later, I produced and directed a documentary, "Lennon Remembered", a half-hour television tribute produced at CNN and broadcast on Superstation TBS, strung together, on the cheap, with bits and pieces from 'here, there and ev'rywhere.' It featured the musician and man, in his own words.
Below is that program (digitized from an old VHS copy), in remembrance of the singular artist lost on that tragic day.
I want to thank staff reporter Cydney Gillis of Real Change newspaper in Seattle for her cover story featuring the 'Truth Sessions' multimedia storytelling project I co-authored with photographer Doug Vann, painter Keven Furiya and composer Andy Zadrozny. The newspaper's mission is "to create opportunity and a voice for low-income people while taking action to end homelessness and poverty."
George W. Bush is a buffoon. He continues to believe and state that the essence of the presidency is to make the 'tough decisions', and that that, in and of itself, is leadership. He has no understanding that you have to make the 'right decisions.' Thank goodness his damaging presidency is coming to an end. He is giving a series of interviews as he exits the national stage. Good luck and good riddance.
Matthew Alexander led an interrogations team assigned to a Special Operations task force in Iraq in 2006. He is the author of "How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq." He has an excellent piece on the Washington Post website, called "I'm Still Tortured by What I Saw in Iraq."