Dick: The Dark Side

PBS Frontline aired Dick Cheney: “The Dark Side” on Tuesday and it can now be viewed in its entirety on their Web site. Frontline cemented itself as THE premiere newsmagazine, imo, with 2004’s Rumsfeld’s War. Only a matter of time before we hear the d-word — that is if we even get to know ahead of time. I just wonder how long until we realize that we’re the butt of all the jokes and lies. It is, as Marty Kaplan writes, like George W. mocking Jon Stewart’s imitation of George W’s heartless chuckle. anyway, the Dark Side – with an all-star cast including Tenet, Libby, and of course, Darth Cheney himself, how can you skip it?

RJ Matson for the St. Louis Dispatch, 062206

Fear Factory

Can you feel it? Propaganda has peculiar ways and the U.S. continues to be one-upped as some left-field Web dispatches are making waves in the American press despite garnering little mention elsewhere.

Yesterday’s beheading video, in which, according to AP’s feature Iraq story: the “al-Qaida-linked Ansar al-Sunnah” web site, signaling that “the fight is still on after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s death,” posted video “showing the beheading of three alleged Shiite death squad members in revenge for killing Sunnis.” Al Jazeera, fwiw, had nothing on their web site regarding the video.

A Washington Post headline on Saturday suggested: “Zarqawi Helped U.S. Argument That Al-Qaeda Network Was in Iraq.” That being the case, this Guardian UK headline, a quote attributed to folks in Zarqawi’s native Zarqa, Jordan, is an understatement: “‘He is not dead, he is alive with God. This is a wedding, not a funeral.'”

Well color me poopless as so-called al-Qaida in Iraq is having one more field day with the media. Yet another “Web statement” is fronting AP, complete with the ominous headline: “Al-Zarqawi death prompts attack warning.”

Maliki/Bush can proclaim yet another “new day” in Iraq following al-Zarqawi’s death. But Riverbend says it best: “If ‘New’ is equal to ‘More’ and ‘Day’ is equal to ‘Suffering’, what does “New Day for Iraqis” mean?”

And as if one attack warning isn’t enough, the U.S. Embassy in China on Friday issued a warning: “Terrorist Threat against U.S. Interests in China.”

And if that’s not enough to convince us that the Communists are back as a leading nemesis in the war on terror, consider this: an act of war against the U.S. was committed yesterday in Cuba. We’re not talking Bay of Pigs, just reflecting on the completely absurd remarks by Navy Rear Admiral Harry Harris following the “coordinated suicides” of three “committed jihadists” who died in acts of “asymmetrical warfare.”

Now THOSE are fighting words. After all, these Guantanamo detainees — all suspected terrorists, will never get to stand trial. Now that they’re dead.

“They have no regard for human life,” Harris added. “Neither ours nor their own.”

Dare say it goes both ways? Now that’s something to fear.

ABC Reports: Zarqawi Dead

Perhaps it’s because I’m on the West Coast, but immediately when the ‘Special Report’ music broke into Nightline, I thought for a second that I must be watching Saturday Night Live.

Of course, 11:35pm Nightline in L.A. plays 3 hours behind the East Coast, where, for some reason, ABC has broken through in all time zones with an Abu Musab al-Zarqawi special. Granted, I have visited the headquarters of other major networks and know that certain obituary pieces are pre-produced and ready to go (Gerald Ford, Nancy Reagan, to name a couple), but “Now with Zarqawi gone, the U.S. can claim a tangible victory in Iraq,” stated on tape by Brian Ross, seems a bit far-fetched.

Zarqawi had a 25 million dollar bounty on his head. Considering the “insurgency” and all, I find it hard to believe that the non-profit U.S. troops would have hauled in the prize.

This will keep me up for a few hours, nonetheless.

UPDATE: Iraq PM Nouri al-Maliki and Gen. Casey just announced the death of Zarqawi on Iraqi TV. He was killed in a U.S. military-led airstrike at a “safehouse” north of Baquba, 30 miles north of Baghdad and not far from a handful of horrific beheadings earlier this week. Christiane Amanpour, on CNN Pipeline, is saying that the applause that followed the announcement of Zarqawi’s death is reminiscent of the official announcement of the capture of Hussein.

Gen. Casey is quick to add, “this is just a step….” Here is a link to the AP report that will continue to update with details. Full press conference at 3pm Baghdad time, 5am here in Pacific Daylight Time.

Reporting in Iraq

The recent car bomb that took the lives of two CBS crew members and left correspondent Kim Dozier in critical condition has sparked, yet again, a conversation about reporting in Iraq.

Dozier and her crew were attacked on Memorial Day, while producing a piece about “fighting on in memory of those who have fallen,” according to an e-mail sent by Dozier to her colleagues that morning.

The LA Times’ Tim Rutten attempts to make sense of it all as best as anyone can.

I highly recommend reading this entry from Ms. Dozier on CBSNews.com, reprinted last week in the LA Times:

journalists face awful, dangerous risks in Iraq, more so than almost anyplace else on earth right now.

But it’s nothing compared to the people we cover.

Also, today the LA Times reports that a record 1,400 bodies were brought into the Baghdad Morgue in May.

Pew: Nearly 50 Million Create Own Web Content

Another great study released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The Technology & Media Use report discloses that while “adoption of high-speed internet at home grew twice as fast in the year prior to March 2006 than in the same time frame from 2004 to 2005,” nearly 50 million Americans have posted their own content to the web.

At GigaOm, Robert Young believes that MySpace and other social-networking hubs are the primary reason for the uptick in user-generated content:

To some extent, self-expression should be viewed as a new industry, one that will co-exist alongside other traditional media industries like movies, TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. But in this new industry, the raw materials for the ?products? are the people?

The Pew report also points out the disappearing digital divide. More web postings are generated from within household’s under the $50,000 income threshold, than above it.

VoIP set-ups like Skype and municipal broadband projects taken on by the likes of Earthlink are also breaking down big-money barriers to broadband.