Saturday, November 24, 2018

When the Trib, Col. McCormick played Julian Assange to

The Chicago Tribune, like all mainsteam media outlets, has done nothing to defend the right of Australian journalist Julian Assange to publish classified facts about US war crimes in Iraq. That brought prosecution and conviction of PFC Chelsea Manning under the Espionage Act for disseminating the information to Assange for publication. Manning spent two years in solitary confinement and another five in federal prison before being pardoned by President Obama. The US has had no success bringing Assange to legal US justice but is punishing him harshly nonetheless. He's been under detention in London starting in 2010, the last six years holed up in the Ecuador embassy there under conditions some argue are life threatening: no medical care, no exercise, no contact with the outside world. That  Assange conspired with Manning to reveal classified US government is not in dispute. The reality is that the free press worldwide depends on leaked secret information to reveal the truth about government wrongdoing and that it's rarely punished. It's certainly not out of reverence for a free press but simple expediency the US government doesn't want to frogmarch revered NY Times, Washington Post or Chicago Tribune publishers into federal court. Hold the presses. Back in 1942, FDR tried to do just that to Col. Robert McCormick and his 'World's Greatest Newspaper' Chicago Tribune. Col. McCormick used purloined classified Navy information on Japanese plans to attack Midway in his June 7, 1942, page one scoop entitled 'Navy had word on Jap plan to strike at sea', while the Battle of Midway was still raging. The article strongly implied the US had broken the Japanese code to get that critical info, a leak that jeopardized future code breaking revelations. FDR threatened to send in the Marines to occupy the Tribune Tower. He ordered the Navy to convene a federal Grand Jury to consider espionage charges against the Trib reporter, editor and the Colonel himself. The Trib escaped prosecution when the military decided that further state secrets would likely be revealed in prosecuting the offending exemplars of the free press.

McCormick  lived another thirteen years to rail editorially against his bete noir FDR and his hated New Deal. Maybe if Col. McCormick could be granted another reprieve, this time for an earthly visit to the Trib Editorial Board, he might remind them that "What's good for the journalist good for the journalist Assange". 

Friday, November 23, 2018

Free Julian Assange

To me the basic tenant of democracy is Laws are made to be broken...if following them does great harm to society. Consider Martin Luther King, Jr  Should he have spent years in jail for using peaceful civil disobedience to break racist Southern laws? Of course not. He deserved the Nobel Peace Prize and a national holiday which he received for doing precisely that. Consider PFC Chelsea ManningDid she deserve 7 years of prison including two of torture in solitary confinement for revealing classified info on US war crimes? Of course not. Had we a Manning and her conduit journalist Julian Assange in 2002, we might have avoided criminal Iraq war that needlessly killed hundreds of thousands, including 4,400 Americans

Then there is Australian journalist Julian Assange who published the classified information on US war crimes provided by PFC Manning. Assange has been languishing under extra judicial detention in the Ecuador embassy in London for 8 years now, deprived of proper health care, exercise and contact with the outside world, including legal representation. The UK and US governments would be thrilled if Assange dies there, riding them of an inconvenient journalist exposing monstrous polices they wage thru secrecy, fear and intimidation. Assange must be destroyed to deter others from practicing the profession that restrains governments from waging war around the globe.

Some believe Assange is rightly being punished for possibly colluding with Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 election. They feel these alleged new actions justify six previous years of persecution for revealing the truth about criminal war. To hold that position violates every shred of reverence for a just legal system and the unfettered right of a free press to disseminate the truth about our leaders.

US presidents hand out hero medals like candy to proven criminal war enablers like George W. Bush, George Tenant and Dick Cheney. It's time to recognize those working at their peril to expose the crimes of these medal holders, starting with Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Echos of NRA in Kass Mercy Hospital shooting column

John Kass never misses a opportunity to display heartless cynicism regarding the political process. His column on the Mercy Hospital mass shooting, however, is among his most cynical. While spending most of the piece lamenting the tragedy on the families involved, Kass couldn't miss a chance to denigrate people of good will seeking to reduce gun violence with this cruel quote:
"There are plenty of politics to be played here, about whether the murders could have been prevented and what could have been done. But I’ll leave those hot and eager to play politics with the dead to hold their news conferences and make their speeches and do their virtue signaling."
That quote could have come straight from the NRA public relations office. His long column could be summed up thusly: "No solutions here. Let's just have a good cry while awaiting the next mass shooting."
Walt Zlotow
Glen Ellyn

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Hundreds of millions of guns = hundreds of thousands of victims

The Trib's editorial 'And now, a massacre at Mercy Hospital' ends on this upbeat note: "The Mercy Hospital community will be a long time healing. Monday night, though, the lights of its windows were little beacons over Chicago’s South Side. There were patients to treat. There were lives to save." Please, Trib Editorial Board, no more meaningless, valueless editorials on Chicago's gun violence. If you cannot lead with an urgent demand for sane gun legislation to curb the most gun violent nation in the industrialized world, then say nothing at all. You have been AWOL in the gun availability issue, including machine gun assault weaponry and high capacity hand guns, from Day One of the gun control debate. Whether that's because it's largely a progressive Democratic issue or because of the capitalist mantra of unfettered free enterprise, regardless of innocents destroyed, or simple cluelessness is immaterial. Every day I enter Chicago I ponder if I'll hear gunfire and whether it will ensnare me. That is unacceptable to me and every citizen. When I visit my daughter in Germany I have no fear of gun violence because there are virtually no guns. It's that way in every other country I've visited in Europe and other places as well, including Cuba. If you cannot offer anything helpful on the unending crisis of hundreds of millions of guns, and billions of bullets, in the shooting gallery that is the United States of America, then please say nothing at all. Remember, some of those 'little beacons' you so charmingly mention at Mercy, shine in the rooms of Chicago's unending gunshot victims.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Instant death in consulate, 6 years of isolation in embassy link disparate enemies of free press

On October 2, 2018, Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi walked into the Saudi consulate in Turkey and was brutally murdered by Saudi government agents. In 2012, Australian journalist Julian Assange walked into Ecuador's London embassy, beginning a six yer odyssey under life threatening solitary confinement that continues to today, to avoid a likely lifetime prison sentence, even execution, in the American legal system. Both have suffered extra legal government punishment for practicing what most in the media take for granted: the right to publish truth about government wrongdoing. Khashoggi is dead and Assange, cut off from medical care, access to legal assistance, indeed all contact with the outside word, incurs what former Ecuador president Rafael Correa, whose government granted the journalist political asylum, describes as “torture.”
Killing or extra legally imprisoning unfriendly journalists for years enables governments bent on perpetual war that ruins the lives of millions while squandering trillions, must be resisted by every journalist, indeed every citizen. The actions of the Saudis, the Brits and the Americans attacking a free press are all of a piece...and are the antithesis of peace.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Khashoggi chop job....look likes bin Salman did it

President Trump is not ready to accept the CIA's public assessment Saudi Crown Prince and de-facto ruler Mohammad bin Salman ordered the assassination of Saudi journalist and US resident Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey October 2. The CIA evidence presented is substantial and convincing, but Trump is mum on both accepting and acting on it for all the wrong reasons. Bin Salman is best buddies with Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner and war loving National Security Adviser John Bolton. Bin Salman buys hundreds of billions in US weaponry, sales Trump needs to goose a vibrant US economy drenched in Yemeni blood. These weapons are then used with US intelligence and logistics to commit near genocide in the Saudi war on Yemen, resulting in over 15,000 dead civilians with another 5,000,000 suffering cholera and starvation. Trump gives these Saudi, US war crimes in Yemen a pass because that war is seen as a bulwark against Trump's real bogeyman Iran, whom both the US and Saudi Arabia claim are supporting the Yemen rebels opposed by Saudi Arabia. Trump is simply following the foreign policy truism that 'The enemy of my enemy is my friend.' For Trump, add to that 'The buyer of my weaponry to commit war crimes is also my friend.'