Japan Attempts to Gag Its Media over Iraq Troop Deployment

The Japanese Defense Ministry has made clear that criticism of the upcoming deployment could result in a “news blackout.” However, the Japanese news media does not seem to be willing to fall into lockstep with government propaganda and censor themselves as so many of America’s media outlets have sadly done since 9-11.

Ahead of its most sensitive dispatch of troops abroad since World War II, the Japanese government has warned media not to “obstruct” its mission in Iraq or face a news blackout, a stance that has local critics fuming. A letter to the media from the Defence Agency last week was labelled by critics as a reminder of Japan’s wartime censorship, and an affront to the freedoms it pledged to help restore in war-battered Iraq.

“Japan’s militant nationalism has gone, but the methods for controlling the Japanese media have remained,” Teruo Ariyama, a journalism professor at Tokyo Keizai University, told AFP. “The Japan Defence Agency will decide what information is safe or not and no one can inspect what the standard is,” Ariyama said.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters the requests “just means that we want you to report while taking security issues into consideration.” But analysts said the intention was just the opposite. “This is no different than the (wartime propaganda) ‘Announcement from Imperial General Headquarters’,” wrote Rikkyo University mass media professor Takaaki Hattori in the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper. “The brazen, anachronistic attitude of the Defence Agency is nothing short of amazing,” he wrote.

News outlets insisted they would exercise their own judgment as to what to report. Publicly funded network Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) said it would continue to report developments on the ground “as they happen”. “It is the role of news organisations to answer the public’s right to know,” it said in a statement to AFP. “Even if we take into consideration the safety of troops, we cannot accept the Defence Agency’s request as it is.”

First article

UPDATE: An additional article from The Japan Times covers this matter as well as security leaks believed to be coming from the Defense Agency. (Note their banner motto: “All The News Without Fear or Favor.”)

Second article

Is an Anti-US Fatwa in the Works?

That possibility has been brought up by a close aide to the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani:

KUWAIT, Jan 15 (Reuters) – Iraq’s most revered Shi’ite cleric could issue an edict that would ban Iraqis backing a U.S.-appointed council and spark mass protests if Washington does not hold direct elections, a close aide said on Thursday.

“The imam insists on his opinion that general and comprehensive elections should be conducted in all regions of Iraq so that the Iraqi people will have the final say,” Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Mohri, a Kuwait-based aide to Sistani, told Reuters.

“He (Sistani) also says we don’t accept letting people from outside rule, and by that the imam means the coalition forces.”

…Mohri earlier told Abu Dhabi television Sistani would issue a religious edict if the U.S. administrator in Iraq ignored his opinion. “If Bremer rejects…Ayatollah Sistani’s opinion, he would issue a fatwa depriving the U.S-appointed council of its legitimacy,” he said.

“After this, the Iraqi people will not obey this council, as it will be a caricatural council named by Americans.”

Read complete article

Bill Evers Goes Neocon

It’s funny, but Bill Evers used to be one of those libertarians who went around giving everyone else a purity test, and he often found them wanting. Back in the good old days, he used to write a column for Libertarian Vanguard, the newspaper of the Radical Caucus, called “Brickbats and Bouquets,” in which he handed out kudos and judo chops to those that, in his view, deserved them. The ideologially pure were praised, and the deviationists were denounced in no uncertain terms. How fitting that he – the self-appointed enforcer of libertarian political correctness turned apostate, who makes Judas Iscariot look like Horatio at the bridge — should now be the recipient of one of the biggest brickbats of all time.

Oh, but don’t hold it against him. I, for one, am glad to see that Bill has finally settled down and found himself a decent job. After all, how long can you pretend to be a grad student – at the age of fifty-something?

The Triumphant Return from Iraq of The Once-Great Libertarian

Today’s Wall Street Journal as an OpEd by one of my oldest friends.

I got involved with the libertarian movement in 1972. One of the first libertarians I met and quickly became friends with was Bill Evers. In 1973 I initiated a faction fight in California’s Peace and Freedom Party (which I had been active in for a few years) between libertarians and socialists. By 1974 we had won a statewide primary fight and took control of the legal structure of the Party.

Bill Evers was one of the intellectual guiding lights for our successful faction. He co-wrote the 1974 platform of the California Peace and Freedom Party, which was unabashedly libertarian and specifically Rothbardian. Later that year, Murray Rothbard changed his earlier position and joined and endorsed the young Libertarian Party (LP).

At the 1975 national LP convention, Murray Rothbard and Bill Evers rewrote the party platform. The essential hardcore elements of the Rothbard-Evers platform continue today, partly due to LP rules which make it extremely difficult to change platform planks.

In 1978, Justin Raimondo, Bob Costello, and I formed the Libertarian Party Radical Caucus (LPRC) to continue to move the LP toward more principled stands, with a central focus on foreign policy. Shortly after the formation of the LPRC, Bill Evers joined and urged Murray Rothbard to do the same. We expanded the LPRC Central Committee to include Bill and Murray. Bill’s friends Colin Hunter and Scott Olmsted soon joined the Central Committee.

For the next few years (also the heyday years of the LP), the LPRC grew and gained influence within the LP. In 1983 the LPRC dissolved after the Central Committee split over the choice of a Presidential nominee for the LP. At the time, Bill Evers attacked Raimondo and me for "selling out" by supporting the Cato Institute-affiliated candidate, Earl Ravenal, over the "hardcore libertarian" choice of David Bergland.

During his involvement with the LP, I remember Bill Evers as Murray Rothbard’s closest associate, practically joined at the hip. The pair were explicit anarchists and proud enemies of the state.

In the 1990s Bill became a Republican and began his campaign to get a "high" government job. Bill was largely unsuccessful, landing only a low-level advisory position, rather than the assistant cabinet status he has been seeking, with a focus on the federal and California departments of education, while working at the Hoover Institution. The War on Terror changed everything, including for Bill. There was now an important connection (for the Empire) between the Department of Education and the Pentagon. Bill, with his unrivaled expertise in foreign affairs, soon became a more valuable asset.

In August 2003, Hoover announced that Bill was appointed senior adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Education. Actually, he would be working for the Pentagon via the Coalition Provisional Authority. Bill returned last month to Hoover as a hero, with his political future much brighter. In today’s article in the Wall Street Journal, Bill describes how successful the Pentagon has been at restoring public eduation in Iraq.

When Bill ran for Congress in 1982, he called for withdrawal of all US forces from around the world. He even made a point of calling for the abolition of the Marine Corps, in a challenge to his opponent, noted antiwar Republican (and ex-Marine) Paul McClosky.

I don’t know when Bill became pro-war, but I understand that he was a strong advocate of the invasion of Iraq, egging on the Stanford College Republicans to support the war.

Is Murray Rothbard rolling over in his grave?

Mayonnaise of Mass Destruction

A Halliburton whistleblower gets fired for trying to spare American soldiers from food poisoning. Don’t read this just before eating.

On July, 17, 2003, Heather Yarbrough flew to Kuwait to start a new job: monitoring the quality and safety of food served to soldiers on U.S. military bases in Iraq. Her employer was the Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) Government Services division of Halliburton, the Texas-based oil company formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney that has contracts with the U.S. government to support military personnel in the field and to help with Iraq reconstruction.

Yarbrough, 33, felt upbeat and excited. She had trained hard for a position like this, one that required expertise in food and science. She was banking on the high salary — $1,500 a week — to pay off her student loans. And unlike many of her fellow students at Humboldt State University, she supported the Bush Administration and its war on terrorism.

You probably already sense what’s coming, and I know what you’re thinking: Why does Heather Yarbrough hate America? Continue reading “Mayonnaise of Mass Destruction”

Calling David Brooks!

From The Jewish Week:

President George W. Bush will do better among Jewish voters in November than he did in 2000, even though Jews are much less supportive of his Iraq and anti-terror policies than other Americans.

And former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who hopes to be his Democratic opponent, will do better than some Jewish leaders predict.

The statistical portrait came in the yearly American Jewish Committee survey of Jewish public opinion, released this week at the start of what could be a watershed year in Jewish politics.

The 2003 survey also offered a slap at Christian conservatives, who are still seen as major propagators of anti-Semitism, and it pointed to continued Jewish resistance to government funding of religious schools.

There were hints of change, but also of a streak of political stubbornness in the Jewish community: For all the talk of a Jewish shift to the right, the community remains heavily Democratic, strongly liberal and deeply distrustful of some of the most conservative forces in American society.

David Harris, the AJCommittee executive director, said the most surprising statistic was the weak Jewish support for Bush’s war on terrorism in general and the U.S. effort in Iraq in particular.

Asked about Bush’s handling of the U.S. campaign against terrorism, 54 percent of respondents said they disapproved and 41 percent approved. The same proportion said they disapproved of the war with Iraq.

So a large majority of American Jews do not support Bush foreign policy, just as many of the Iraq war’s most vocal critics have been Jewish. The poll’s respondents also have some interesting thoughts on the sources of real anti-Semitism:

The poll also represented very bad news for a new ally of the pro-Israel community. In recent years Christian conservatives have become outspoken supporters of the current Israeli government, and many have railed against the rise of anti-Semitism around the world.

But in the AJCommittee poll, 20 percent of the Jewish respondents said that “most” members of the “religious right” are anti-Semitic, and another 21 percent selected “many.”

That puts religious conservatives second only to Muslims and far behind African Americans in being regarded as sources of anti-Semitism in this country.

Read the whole thing.

I suspect the “religious conservatives” referenced here are primarily the Protestant fundamentalist, pro-Sharon, pro-Armageddon types who make up Dubya’s core constituency.

[Side note: Please excuse the confusing all-italics script that begins a few posts down. There seems to be some sort of technical problem at the moment.]