Target Centermass

5/31/2005

Deep Throat Steps Forth

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:20 pm

[NOTE: I really planned to ignore the Deep Throat crap until I stumbled across a little story from Iowa. Iowa — famous for a baseball field in the corn, dating Dean but marrying Kerry and … well … more corn.]

And so ends the mystery.

The legendary source “Deep Throat” in the Watergate scandal that brought down a president was identified Tuesday by Vanity Fair magazine and The Washington Post as W. Mark Felt.

Felt, now 91, was the No. 2 official at the FBI in the early 1970s. The information he provided Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein helped them break many of the stories that led to the resignation of President Nixon in August 1974.

The revelation ended more than three decades of speculation about Woodward and Bernstein’s famous confidential source in reporting on the cover-up by the Nixon White House following the bungled break-in of National Democratic Committee headquarters at the Watergate office-hotel complex in June 1972.

Not with a bang, but with a yawn.

The identity of Deep Throat, the source who leaked information about President Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal, often is cited as one of the 20th century’s greatest mysteries.

However, Quad-City residents interviewed Tuesday are indifferent to the revelation that it is former FBI official W. Mark Felt.

“Not too many years ago, I had a student come up to me and say, ‘Did that really happen?’,” said Ann Preston, journalism department chair at St. Ambrose University. “That student who said that would be close to 30 now. Younger adults, they see it more as urban legend than as history.”

For some, the mystery behind Deep Throat is for another generation.

I would suspect that more of the disinterest lies in the generational stance rather than the disbelieving stance. The days when this would have been a story with national legs are long past, especially without a big name being revealed.

Josh Anderson, 23, of Rock Island, learned about Deep Throat in high school and college. He said the identity of Deep Throat and the scandal as a whole do not really matter today.

University of Iowa sophomores Phil Young, of Davenport, and Allison Hildebrand, of Princeton, Iowa, said they also learned about Watergate in high school. However, they were unfamiliar with Deep Throat and the circumstances surrounding how the Watergate scandal broke.

Eileen Benson, 68, of Bettendorf, remembers learning about Deep Throat but does not particularly think much of the revelation.

“There are so many other problems in our world today that it’s not my top priority,” she said.

For Preston, the disclosure that Deep Throat was Felt makes the mystery less interesting.

“The mystique is gone; it also cuts out the hope that within that corrupt administration, there was somebody honest who was trying to the right thing in a backward way,” she said.

Preston is right about the loss of mystique. The story is a yawner because that mystique was not replaced by substantial identity. However, the rest of Preston’s statement, her willingness to condemn an entire administration, will tie into my issue with Deep Throat, Watergate and the state of journalism shortly.

Preston uses the book “All the President’s Men” in her classes to demonstrate journalism’s importance.

The book, written by Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, recounts in detail the reporting surrounding the Watergate investigation.

“I use it to show the insignificance, yet significance of the world of journalism,” she said. “In one of the scenes in the movie, it shows (Woodward and Bernstein) in the Library of Congress,” she added. “Two tiny guys with a stack of material; the camera pulls away from them to make them even more insignificant and tiny, yet they are the people who bring down the presidency.”

You want to know why the yawn? It’s people like Preston, people who have tainted journalism ever since the Watergate days. Felt brings no glamour to the story. All the President’s Men had glamour; being a rebellious journalist racing after the truth had glamour.

Before the Watergate story, journalism wasn’t about glamour. It was generally a trade of love for most involved, a craft devoted to getting the story right and doing it the best. The slant, the color, the opinion — that was the domain of the paper’s two editorial pages and not to enter the realm of any and every news story.

Woodward and Bernstein did some solid journalism. They had a story and chased after it like my dog does a tennis ball. They were tenacious in their quest and in their research. They brought down a presidency.

And therein lies the problem. The face of journalism was changed, as even Preston shows. The lesson to be learned should have been how they worked their story; instead, it became “they are the people who bring down the presidency.” Journalists could now be the story, if they could break the biggest tale, bring down the highest figure.

This is the mentality that has hung over much of the mainstream media since the days of Deep Throat (the source, not the movie). Get there first, with the most damage, and hang onto the story with utmost determination. See, for example, CBS’s foul-up with the Bush-AWOL forgeries for an eagerness to be first and not relent, despite extremely inadequate research. See Newsweek’s Koran-flushing tale for the same eagerness. See the fact that the New York Times ran the Abu Ghraib story on the front page for 32 consecutive days for the misplaced doggedness. See the ever-growing distrust by the American public of a media, colored in the years since Deep Throat by a leftist nature still celebrating its ability to bring down a Republican administration and trying, always, to recapture that glory and the accolades that Woodward and Bernstein earned. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein may have been politically motivated to a degree, but their research was solid. Today, from journalism, we tend just to get the politically-motivated glory-hound aspect.

Such are the final results of Watergate: a yawn at the end of a mystery, a media ever chasing the next Watergate, and the eternal damnation drilled into the public of a version of Richard M. Nixon, deserved in part as long as his accomplishments are not swept under the rug.

And don’t get me started on all this “-gate” scandal-naming. Were Watergate to happen today, the trend is so ingrained in the collective media that the story would be labeled Watergategate. I’m freakin’ sick of it.

5/30/2005

Wrapping up Memorial Day ’05

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:54 pm
Tomb of the Unknowns: Changing of the Guard (embossed)

I opened my Memorial Day posting with an image of the Tomb of the Unknowns, taken by my girlfriend on our trip to D.C. I will close the day’s posting with an image from the Changing of the Guard ritual.

The guard is changed every hour on the hour Oct. 1 to March 31 in an elaborate ritual. From April 1 through September 30, there are more than double the opportunities to view the change because another change is added on the half hour and the cemetery closing time moves from 5 to 7 p.m.

An impeccably uniformed relief commander appears on the plaza to announce the Changing of the Guard. Soon the new sentinel leaves the Quarters and unlocks the bolt of his or her M-14 rifle to signal to the relief commander to start the ceremony. The relief commander walks out to the Tomb and salutes, then faces the spectators and asks them to stand and stay silent during the ceremony.

The relief commander conducts a detailed white-glove inspection of the weapon, checking each part of the rifle once. Then, the relief commander and the relieving sentinel meet the retiring sentinel at the center of the matted path in front of the Tomb. All three salute the Unknowns who have been symbolically given the Medal of Honor. Then the relief commander orders the relieved sentinel, “Pass on your orders.” The current sentinel commands, “Post and orders, remain as directed.” The newly posted sentinel replies, “Orders acknowledged,” and steps into position on the black mat. When the relief commander passes by, the new sentinel begins walking at a cadence of 90 steps per minute.

If you have not seen the ceremony, I’ve witnessed it more than once and highly recommend it.

It is slow. It is determined. It is meticulous. It is touching.

The majesty of the ceremony lies in its detailed, determined nature. It shows that our honored dead are not remembered only one day a year by our military — their memory is unfailingly revered . Their sacrifices receive tribute constantly from both comrades and strangers. Such is as it should be, both in the military and among all of the citizenry that value the freedoms and security that have been bought and paid for in blood and sacrifice. Our heroes deserve their special day, but their honor deserves our hearts throughout the year.

(On a side note, the photo of the ceremony was perfect in every way but one, a slight discoloration I was unable to overcome. In desperation, I tried the embossed effect and was quite happy with the outcome.)

Looking at Today’s News

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:32 pm

Sex Assaults Against Women GIs Increase in War Time

Sexual assault reports involving members of the Armed Services rose to 1,700 in 2004, up from the previous two years, according to Pentagon statistics, leading some critics to say the Department of Defense is not doing enough to prevent sexual misconduct in the military.

There is much to be mulled over in this article, and ammunition is to be found for both sides of the women-in-combat debate and the Pentagon-isn’t-doing-enough argument. Perhaps the sanest point is as follows:

Ret. Navy Capt. Lory Manning, a senior fellow with the Women’s Research and Education Institute in Washington, said it is unclear whether the Pentagon’s latest figures on sexual assault reflect an increase in the number of incidents or are the result of women feeling more comfortable reporting them. She added that she believes the military is doing a good job in addressing the problems.

Two busted in Al Qaeda plot in U.S.

The son of a former Malcolm X aide was nabbed yesterday, along with a Florida doctor, in a plot to start an Al Qaeda training camp in the U.S. – even scouting out a Long Island warehouse for a terror school, officials said last night.

Tarik Shah, 38, a self-proclaimed martial arts expert from the Bronx, and Dr. Rafiq Sabir, 50, presented themselves as a “package deal” to help Muslim “brothers” wage jihad here and in the Middle East, said Manhattan U.S. Attorney David Kelley.

Grant them due process. Ensure a fair trial. Destroy them if guilty.

Hariri Bloc Sweeps Beirut Parliamentary Elections

The Interior Ministry in charge of parliamentary elections in Lebanon announced a landslide victory for the son of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in the Beirut district. Three more rounds of voting in other regions of the country lie ahead.

In the first vote since the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanese territory, official results are in from the first round of voting in Lebanon’s parliamentary elections. The landslide victory went to the list of candidates headed by Saad Hariri, the son of slain former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The Cedar Revolution continues.

Germany Moves Closer to First Woman Leader

Germany’s opposition conservatives have named Angela Merkel as their candidate to challenge Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in September that could produce the country’s first woman leader.

The last obstacle to her nomination fell when Edmund Stoiber, the leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU)’s sister party in Bavaria, the Christian Social Union (CSU), backed her at a meeting of the parties’ top officials.

[…]

Opinion polls show the Christian Democrats will win, as Merkel faces off against the beleaguered Social Democratic leader who has seen his popularity plummet in the face of a stagnant economy and dissatisfaction over the direction of the country.

This will be an interesting race to watch but I won’t shed a tear should Schroeder fall.

Russia agrees to Pull Troops from Georgia by 2008

Russia on Monday agreed to shut its military bases in neighboring Georgia by 2008, a decision that effectively pares Kremlin influence in the increasingly West-leaning Caucasus region.

Russia’s bases in the Georgian Black Sea port of Batumi and near the Georgian-Armenian border are holdovers from the Soviet era and house about 3,000 troops. The agreement is a major victory for Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who has allied his country with the United States and Europe and aggressively pushed for the base closings.

Earlier this month, Georgian leaders threatened to take steps to force their shutdown by Jan. 1, including a prohibition on visas for Russian soldiers slated for assignment to the bases and a ban on cargo movement to and from the bases.

Pair this with the developments in Ukraine and we see a significant drop in Russian influence in two of its former Soviet republics, influence that is being replaced from a westward direction, albeit to a noticably lesser degree.

More Tributes from the Blogroll

Filed under: — Gunner @ 2:42 pm

The grilling has commenced, war movies play on the television, and the fine folk on my blogroll keep honoring the day.

Memorial Day around the Blogroll

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:59 am

I took a look around my favorite blogs overnight. Now, as I watch the NCAA lacrosse finals (Duke vs. Johns Hopkins) and prepare to grill, here are the tributes and honors I found.

Memorial Day 2005

Filed under: — Gunner @ 2:09 am

“Here Rests
In Honored Glory
An American Soldier
Known But To God”

U.S. Memorial Day.org
The Day’s Background
Arlington National Cemetery
The Tomb of the Unknowns
Texas National Cemetery Foundation
Texas National Cemetery Memorial Plans and Fundraising

5/29/2005

Hoax Suspected in WWII Holdout Story

Filed under: — Gunner @ 4:19 pm

There’s increasing speculation the story of two Japanese soldiers hiding out in the Philippines since later days of World Wars II may be fiction.

Diplomats from Tokyo said Sunday that they were not giving up on efforts to verify whether two Japanese soldiers had been surviving in the Philippine jungles since World War II. But there was increasing speculation that the astonishing tale could be a hoax.

The story about the alleged stragglers, reportedly separated from their unit six decades ago, has generated huge interest in Japan. About 100 Japanese journalists descended on the southern port city of General Santos, where the diplomats were staying, creating a security headache in a violent region where Muslim and Communist guerrillas and kidnaper gangs flourish.

“We are still doing our best to see them and we have not,” a Japanese Embassy spokesman, Shuhei Ogawa, said of the men who have been sought since Friday. “At this moment, it’s not the time to give up.”

The men – who would now be in their 80s – were said to have been separated from the 30th Division of the Imperial Japanese Army and stayed in the remote mountains on Mindanao island for fear of being court-martialed at home for leaving their unit.

The Japanese government urged caution, saying the report had come from someone who had not seen the men personally.

Any possible motivation for such a hoax? Of course there is and, as usual, it’s money.

Complicating the issue, the area where they supposedly were found is notorious for ransom kidnappings and attacks by Muslim separatists, who have waged war for three decades. Communist rebels also are active there.

Japan’s Asahi newspaper reported Sunday that a Japanese mediator in General Santos may have paid armed groups roughly $250,000 to secure safe passage from the jungle for the two alleged former soldiers.

Still, the story could prove true. I remember that one Japanese soldier that was found on Gilligan’s Island.

France Rejects EU Constitution

Filed under: — Gunner @ 4:07 pm

Good for the French.

French voters, who turned out in estimated record numbers Sunday, have rejected the proposed European Union constitution, according to early government results.

The Interior Ministry reported that, with 83% of the votes counted, the referendum was rejected by 57.26% of the voters. The EU constitution was supported by 42.74%, officials said.

The results of the French referendum are seen as critical because of France’s position as a key leader in the EU.

The most recent pre-referendum poll showed that 54% of the French electorate was against the constitution, despite some last-minute lobbying by the country’s president, Jacques Chirac.

So much for Chirac’s piss-off-the-Brits-and-Americans campaign.

Fallout from the vote is expected to have an effect on the euro and short-term make-up of the EU.

Expectations of a ‘no’ vote have pressured the European common currency in recent months, as a defeat of the constitution is seen as a political setback to the European project.

The euro has already fallen from above $1.34 in early March to the $1.25 level. Analysts have said part of the fall is related to the widening interest-rate differentials between the U.S. and the eurozone, but part of the move is also tied to political instability.

A ‘no’ vote has also weighed on Turkish equities, as a defeat would likely delay European Union ascension talks.

Holland is also expected to reject the constitution this week. Does that mean the constitution is dead on arrival. It should but, as I’ve pointed out before, it probably doesn’t.

5/28/2005

Timing of Statue’s Unveiling Upsets Vets

Filed under: — Gunner @ 4:31 pm

Nobody is questioning the honor, only the date.

Maj. Robert Rogers, the frontiersman whose 18th century manual on guerrilla warfare has become a blueprint for Army Ranger fighting tactics, is getting what some consider a long-overdue honor: a statue in his memory. But some veterans believe unveiling the monument on Memorial Day is insensitive because Rogers was loyal to England during the Revolutionary War.

“I think it’s a travesty that we would think about honoring a person, especially someone who fought against us, on that day,” said Bob Bearor, who served in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division in the 1960s. “It’s a sacred day. … Let’s honor our dead who died for our country.”

The life-size bronze statue is scheduled to be unveiled during a ceremony on Rogers Island in the Hudson River, 40 miles north of Albany. The island served as the base camp for Rogers’ Rangers during the late 1750s, when the British and French fought for control of North America.

On a day set aside to pay tribute to our fallen soldiers, what is the rationale for selecting Memorial Day for the unveiling of a man who fought against our soldiers?

Bearor says Rogers, a New Hampshire-born frontiersman who led his Rogers’ Rangers on guerrilla raids for the British during the French and Indian War, turned against his fellow Americans in the Revolutionary War.

But organizers of the May 30 event defend the timing, saying that holding it on the holiday allows the greatest number of local dignitaries and the public to attend.

The local newspaper, the Post-Star of Glens Falls, has editorialized against the Memorial Day ceremony, but some veterans aren’t so vexed. “I don’t see any problem,” said Harold Murray, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Glens Falls. “That’s going quite a ways back in history.”

I don’t care how far back in history we’re talking about, this unveiling is directly contrary to the meaning and spirit of Memorial Day. If the concern is wanting an open holiday to spur attendance, try Labor Day.

Richard Fuller is caretaker of the private portion of Rogers Island where the statue will stand. The property is owned by retired construction executive Frank Nastasi of Syosset. Both men are veterans and neither believes that holding the event on Memorial Day shows disrespect for America’s war dead, Fuller said.

But the head of a group of former and active-duty Rangers argues the although tribute may be well-intended, it is problematic.

“Memorial Day? They’re not thinking that through,” said retired Army Capt. Steve Maguire, president of the U.S. Army Ranger Association. “It just seems like I would try a different day.”

Although he doesn’t deny Rogers’ military legacy, Bearor, a French and Indian War re-enactor and author of several books on the conflict, questions holding a Memorial Day tribute to a man who George Washington didn’t trust.

Fearing Rogers was a British spy, Washington turned down his request to join the Continental Army at the outset of the American Revolution. Rogers went on to raise a company of loyalist rangers, but failed to have the impact he had in the previous war. A heavy drinker, he died a pauper in England in 1795 and lies buried somewhere beneath the streets of London.

“Even the English don’t look at him as a hero,” Bearor said. “They buried him in an unmarked grave.”

Honor the man as his contributions deserve. Just not Memorial Day.

5/27/2005

Israeli Troops Commandeer Palestinian TV

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:11 pm

A strange tale of Palestinian abuse at the hands of soccer-mad Israeli soldiers has surfaced.

Israeli soldiers barged into a Palestinian home and commandeered its television room so they could watch an international soccer match, an Israeli television station reported.

Footage on Channel 10 television showed broken furniture and windows in the room where the report said the troops watched Wednesday’s Champions League final in Istanbul between AC Milan and Liverpool.

The family said the soldiers caused the damage.

“I was walking in the street and eight soldiers asked if we have TV and satellite,” said Anan al-Zrayer in the West Bank city of Hebron.

“I said ‘yes,’ and told them we don’t have Israeli channels. (After they entered the house,) I gave them the remote control and they carried out a search. We were kicked into another room,” he said.

The Israeli army said it would look into the allegations and if they were found to be true, disciplinary action would be taken against the soldiers.

If true, this is just plain wrong for at least two reasons. Innocent Palestinians should be secure in their own homes and soccer is boring.

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