|February, 2004 link archive
Monday, February 2, 2004The Washington Post's Dana Milbank writes that in deciding to back an independent review of intelligence, "President Bush is implicitly conceding what he cannot publicly say: that something appears to be seriously wrong with the allegations he used to take the nation to war in Iraq." Milbank also catalogs how "the White House, at various times, went beyond what the CIA advised."
In reviewing Secretary of State Powell's testimony to the U.N., Post columnist William Rasberry asks: "Did the intelligence agencies serve the secretary of state a batch of cooked evidence? Or was Colin, my personal hero, in the kitchen?" Rasberry says he's "increasingly inclined to believe, that the administration lied to us in calculated and quite deliberate ways." Plus: "Are journalists supposed to have 'personal heroes?'"
U.S. News reports that according to the study released in January by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, "there were some 40 different caveats and dissents included in the National Intelligence Estimate." Kurt Nimmo says, "It wasn't the CIA who twisted the truth into a pretzel."
U.S. News also notes that in the last four years, David Kay has given political contributions to both President Bush and the Republican National Committee, but a New York Times article -- "Dr. Kay, who calls himself a political independent" -- makes no mention of the contributions.
The Times article quotes Pentagon adviser Richard Perle as saying that "The president is a consumer of intelligence, not a producer of it," and that "I have long thought our intelligence in the gulf has been woefully inadequate." To which Josh Marshall replies: "if the CIA is all wet, Perle is all wet squared. Or probably even cubed."
The Guardian quotes an American intelligence official as saying that U.S. military survey teams had enough evidence within three weeks after Baghdad fell to know that there were no WMDs in Iraq, and a former Bush administration official tells Maureen Dowd that "Most intelligence failures are about missing something happening. What's so bizarre about this is, they thought something was happening that wasn't. This is right up there with Pearl Harbor and the Bay of Pigs."
Newsweek analyzes non-existent WMDs as an aspect of Saddam Hussein's rich fantasy life and uncovers an independent government panel that back in 1998 explored "the Wizard of Oz theory: that the whole Iraq WMD program was smoke-and-mirrors, and Saddam was just a little guy behind a curtain."
TBOGG celebrates "Intelligence Failure Week in America" by highlighting a passage from Kevin Phillips' "American Dynasty," which discusses how "the seeds of two Persian Gulf wars and hundreds of terrorist strikes [were] fertilized and watered" by "covert actions during George H. W. Bush's tenure at the CIA and as head of President Reagan's Special Situation Group."
The Independent reports that British Prime minister Tony Blair, who has resisted calls for an inquiry into pre-war intelligence on Iraq, fears that he's being hung out to dry by President Bush. Plus: Bush and Blair nab nominations for Nobel Peace Prize.
Disputing the view that the Hutton report was so favorable to Blair that it might have been written by Alastair Campbell, Andrew Rawnsley writes that "Had Number 10's former director of communications really been in charge of the Hutton report, the great spinmeister might have issued instructions to sex it up with at least a bit of criticism of the Government in order to make the findings more credible with the public."
In a piece headlined "The Destruction of the BBC," a Sunday Herald correspondent looks at the growing fear that Blair and Campbell might wish to "make sure the BBC could never pose a threat again."
"Until now, this quasi-governmental outlet has refused to play Izvestia to any prime minister, Labour or Tory," writes Greg Palast, who calls Blair's apparent victory over the BBC a "second invasion" in the Iraq war, one in which "our two governments bent the information, then hunted down the questioners."
Aljazeera.Net reports that U.S. occupation chief Paul Bremer has told an Arabic-language newspaper that Saddam Hussein will be handed over to a special Iraqi court for trial. Although the Red Cross has insisted on its right to interview Saddam, Bremer said there will be no interviews before the trial. Plus: Iraq's Governing Council temporarily bans Al-Jazeera from covering its activities, over a program that focused on "Israel's infiltration into Iraq."
According to the Wall Street Journal, Halliburton's Kellogg Brown & Root subsidiary may have charged more than $16 million for meals at a U.S. military base in Kuwait, that the government says were never served.
A Halliburton spokesperson told Bob Herbert that the company paid only a little over $15 million in federal income taxes for 2002, a year its CEO called "a very good year for Halliburton." For 2003, "government-related activities in the Middle East" sparked a 63 percent jump in revenues for the company.
A Knight Ridder article on the "stunning swiftness" with which a consensus is emerging among many Democrats that Sen. John Kerry be the party's nominee, quotes a political scientist who says that "There is no strong emotional commitment to Kerry. The emotion that is there is all anti-Bush." The Atlantic's Jack Beatty fears that Kerry suffers from "terminal Senatitis" and belongs to "a long line of Democratic bores ... who lost because people could not bear listening to them."
Walter Russell Mead urges Democrats to trade purity for electability, run to the right of President Bush and challenge his war strategy as "too weak."
Washington Times' editor-in-chief, Wes Pruden, was busted by a C-SPAN caller for doctoring John Kerry's 1971 testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. More on the fine art of "Prudenizing."
Weighing the prospects for continued Republican dominance in national politics, especially in Congress, Grover Norquist looks at the race for president and concludes that "Anything short of placing snipers on the rooftops of D.C. would be an underreaction by the Left."
January 30 to February 1
Tuesday, February 3, 2004
Current and former U.S. officials call for President Bush's Iraq intelligence inquiry to examine secret intelligence efforts led by Vice President Dick Cheney and Pentagon hawks. White House officials say the panel will decide what gets investigated.
During a press briefing, White House spokesman Scott McClellan used the word "broad" -- or a variation thereof -- 23 times to describe the inquiry.
Asked by the Washington Post if he would have recommended an invasion knowing Iraq had no prohibited weapons, Secretary of State Powell said: "I don't know, because it was the stockpile that presented the final little piece that made it more of a real and present danger and threat to the region and to the world."
A Newsweek poll conducted after David Kay's Senate testimony, found that 55% of respondents "think Iraq actually had banned chemical or biological weapons right before the Iraq War started in March," and that 49% believed "Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq was DIRECTLY involved in planning, financing, or carrying out the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001."
'Shock Jock's Feeling the Heat' "Here & Now" interviews the conservative radio talker who claimed in a magazine article that his anti-war views got him relegated to the "Outer Darkness" of a Phoenix Clear Channel station. A station representative says that it was because his views weren't selling.
The BBC's recently-resigned director-general reportedly sent a letter to Prime Minister Blair during the invasion of Iraq, in which he wrote that a BBC committee "faced with a massive bias against the war among phone-in callers, decided to increase the number of phone lines so that pro-war listeners had a better chance of getting through..."
Former Washington Post ombudsman and Des Moines Register editor, Geneva Overholser, resigned from the National Press Foundation's board, over its plans to honor Fox News anchor Brit Hume. She told USA Today that "Fox wants to do news from a certain viewpoint, but it wants to claim that it is 'fair and balanced.' That is inaccurate and unfair to other media who engage in a quest, perhaps an imperfect quest, for objectivity.''
A Washington Post editorial calls the Bush administration's 2005 budget, which omits the cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, "a masterpiece of disingenuous blame-shifting, dishonest budgeting and irresponsible governing," and Paul Krugman reminds that two years ago, the administration projected a fiscal 2004 deficit of $14 billion. Plus: 'Why not sell advertising right in the middle of the federal budget documents?'
MaxSpeak asks "how bad is 'No Child Left Behind?' So bad the entire Virginia legislature, that radical hotbed, voted against it, 98 to one."
Record High in January The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says new data shows that an estimated 375,000 jobless workers exhausted their unemployment insurance benefits in January, with the number expected to hit 2 million over the first six months of 2004.
A Newsweek report credits the financial-news blog footnoted.org, with noticing that in a recent SEC filing, Halliburton warned investors that its connection with Vice President Cheney has become a "risk factor." Plus: Speculation on Bush/Romney ticket as Cheney stays in the hunt.
Slate's Chris Suellentrop says that two Bush campaign rallies he recently attended, both emphasized that the "president merits re-election as a reward for past performance, as much as -- or even more than -- any promise of future results... The Republicans want the threshold question of this election to be: On Sept. 11 and Sept. 12, 2001, would you rather have had George W. Bush as president, or his Democratic opponent?"
Military professor asks: 'Will Osama rock the vote?'
The White House is refusing to give the panel investigating the 9/11 attacks the notes on presidential briefing papers taken by some of its own members. Plus: 'Is Ignorance Bliss?' and 'Bush to 9/11 families: 'enough already.'
"What enriches 'The Price of Loyalty,' writes reviewer Michael Tomasky, "aside from the accretion of persuasive detail, is its assertion that in this administration, a time-honored notion of public service has been deeply corrupted."
Vanity Fare The Washington Post reports that 'Loyalty' author Ron Suskind gained access to the Bush administration after the president's "protector-in-chief," Karen Hughes, "was successfully pitched by Esquire magazine to have a profile done about her. Folks at the White House may have been led to believe Suskind was a fluffy feature writer, and word went out to 'talk to this guy.' So they did."
A New York Times editorial calling for the exclusion of Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Rev. Al Sharpton from future debates, prompted Kucinich's campaign to issue a post-South Carolina debate statement saying, "It seems clear why the New York Times wanted to keep them out: They're just too good at debating." Plus: CNN's Wolf Blitzer brands Kucinich a loser.
A Joe Citizen essay argues that "because of how this election will be presented by the media -- in the end Kerry will be no more electable than Dean." A spokesperson for Kerry's campaign tells Howard Kurtz that "We have nothing to hide" and Paul Krugman tells an interviewer that the mainstream media will "never do to Bush what they did to Dean in the last few weeks."
A Utah owner of a private security company claims it's no coincidence that at the same time the state began downloading motor vehicle records into Matrix, a federally funded crime and terrorism database, he began receiving direct-mail pitches from American Express.
Wednesday, February 4, 2004
Ivan Eland examines the Bush administration's promotion of a major spring offensive against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and NPR interviews Ahmed Rashid on 'The Mess in Afghanistan,' his New York Review of Books article about the re-emergence of the Taliban.
The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg, who wrote about what was missing from President Bush's SOTU address, discusses the Bush campaign's "three-pronged rhetorical approach." Plus: 'Sex, lies and Bush on tape.'
In Is Out Former CIA Director James Woolsey, who is being touted for possible inclusion on the Iraq intelligence commission, is said to have repeated President Bush's "weird statement," that Saddam didn't let U.N. weapons inspectors into Iraq before the war. Scroll down to 2/3 for a listen.
A 2002 Washington Post column that praised the Bush administration for pressuring CIA analysts on Iraq intel, goes down the memory hole.
In a primary night interview on MSNBC, Sen. John Kerry slammed Bush on Iraq, saying the administration "obviously misused information and misled the American people," breaking promises that "they would build an international coalition...honor the United Nations inspections and... go to war as a last resort."
An AP report on the January death toll for U.S. soldiers in Iraq, the second highest since May, notes that many of the fatal attacks were in the areas of two commanders who recently claimed to have broken the back of the insurgency. Plus: Paul de Rooij on the 'Deliberate undercounting of "coalition" fatalities.'
A former Marine guard, testifying at a preliminary hearing in the death of a ranking Baath Party member at a prison camp in Iraq, said it was common practice to kick and punch prisoners who didn't cooperate.
Princes of Darkness "An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror," by Perle and David Frum, is reviewed with "Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground," recently reissued by Feral House.
Antiwar.com's Eric Garris flags a bill making its way through the U.S. Congress, that would authorize the federal government to "embed" CIA agents within local police departments.
Slate's Dahlia Lithwick advises Supreme Court Justice Scalia to step aside over "Duckgate," but argues that it should be his call.
Editor & Publisher interviews Walter V. Robinson, the Boston Globe reporter who broke the story of President Bush's alleged absence without leave from the Texas National Guard. Citing Tuesday's Washington Post article investigating the episode, he said, "It would have been nice if the Post had mentioned it in 2000." Plus: White House defends Bush's record.
They're Off A MediaChannel.org analysis finds that in January, the big three TV networks devoted less than five percent of their coverage of the Democratic presidential campaigns to reporting candidates' positions on the five election issues that Americans say matter the most.
Intervention's Stewart Nusbaumer describes being caught in an election-day media melee in South Carolina, CJR's Campaign Desk scolds blogs for linking to early exit poll numbers and the pundits pump Edwards.
Thursday, February 5, 2004
As the White House reverses position, saying it will now support giving the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks an additional 60 days to produce its final report, commission member and former Senator Bob Kerrey tells the New York Observer that he wants National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's testimony to be under oath and in public.
Hullabaloo post speculates on the possible impact of a forthcoming book by former National Security Council counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke, who is said to have warned on July 5, 2001: "Something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it's going to happen soon."
Republican Sen. Charles Grassley says of bin Laden: "Obviously, he’ll be caught between now and the election."
UPI survey estimates that of the 650 detainees the Pentagon acknowledges are being held at Guantanamo, 160 are from Saudi Arabia, with about 80 detainees from each of three countries -- Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In a suit brought by Larry Flynt and Hustler magazine over access to U.S. troops in Afghanistan, a federal appeals court rules that there is no constitutional right allowing journalists to cover troops in a war zone.
In pamphlets circulating in Ramadi and Fallujah, Iraqi insurgent groups vow to take over cities vacated by U.S. troops, and promise that non-collaborators will be allowed to form city councils once American soldiers are gone.
What 'They' Meant In a preview of a speech by CIA Director George Tenet, the Washington Post also reports that when Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was pressed by Sen. Edward Kennedy about his late March statement on WMD in Iraq, that "we know where they are," he said 'they' was "shorthand" for "suspect sites," not weapons stockpiles.
Rumsfeld also said he never saw a Defense Intelligence Agency estimate contradicting his September 2002 claim that Saddam had "amassed large clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons." Sidney Blumenthal, arguing that there was no failure of intelligence, says the DIA was one of "several intelligence agencies" whose "Discordant views... were kept from the public as momentum was built for a congressional vote on the war resolution."
Newsweek reports that the Justice Department has opened an inquiry into whether Halliburton was involved in possible kickbacks to obtain contracts to build a natural gas plant in Nigeria when Vice President Cheney headed the company.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia traveled as Cheney's official guest, "on a small government jet that served as Air Force Two" when the pair hunted ducks in Louisiana last month. Plus: Cheney calls around on Iraq intelligence panelists.
A media firm that is working for President Bush's re-election campaign, will get a cut of the $12.6 million in taxpayer-funded advertising that the Bush administration is placing to promote the Medicare bill.
Wedded to the Base The New York Times reports that President Bush is expected to back a constitutional amendment defining marriage to be between a man and a woman.
'Bush's Missing Year' Boston Globe reporter Walter Robinson tells Salon's Eric Boehlert: "I think some documents were taken out" of Bush's military file. "And there's at least one document that appears to have been inserted into his record in early 2000."
Cable's Wired Trade publication reports that "Bush and Kerry are two politicians who -- while poles apart, ideologically, on national security and fiscal policy -- don't appear to harbor animosity toward the giants of pay TV." Plus: Common Cause investigates "Bush's $800,000 'Pledge Break.'"
Friday, February 6, 2004
Billmon compares CIA Director George Tenet's "never said" speech with his 2002 claim that "There is no inconsistency between our view of Saddam's growing threat and the view as expressed by the President." Plus: 'Neocons busted!'
James Klurfeld argues that far from being "an innocent victim of poor intelligence information," the Bush administration "did not care what the intelligence said."
Calling this "an Orwellian moment" in America, Paul Krugman writes that "On both the foreign policy and the fiscal fronts, the Bush administration is trying to rewrite history, to explain away its current embarrassments."
Flunking Iraq "A president's report card may be a bit harder to fix than a child's," writes USA Today founder Al Neuarth. "But the approach should be the same. First, accept blame. Second, apologize. Third, get back on track. If that doesn't work, it's out to the woodshed."
Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern marks the first anniversary of Secretary of State Powell's U.N. presentation of the case for preemptive war by observing that "Now the whole world knows there was nothing to preempt."
Norman Solomon on how "the news media helped to create a great market for war."
"60 Minutes II" also marked the anniversary by rerunning last fall's interview with former State Department analyst Greg Thielmann, who said the Bush administration relied on "faith-based intelligence." Or was it Feith-based? Josh Marshall said that Defense Undersecretary Douglas Feith's name is all but "synonymous with finding what you want to find."
"It wasn't intelligence, it was propaganda," says Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, describing the work product of the secret Pentagon unit operating out of Feith's office, with a pipeline into Cheney's, that Robert Dreyfuss and Jason Vest say was "created to build the case for war against Iraq."
UPI is reporting that federal investigators in the Valerie Plame case "have developed hard evidence of possible criminal misconduct" by two key employees in Vice President Cheney's office, chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby and John Hannah, who has the Middle East portfolio.
In a New York Times op-ed, Geneva Overholser writes that "journalists should call upon" Plame-outing columnist Robert Novak "to acknowledge his abuse of confidentiality and reveal his sources himself." Earlier: Overholser resigned from the National Press Foundation's board over its plans to honor Fox News anchor Brit Hume.
The Daily Howler says that key facts are AWOL from media accounts of President Bush's National Guard record, Nick Confessore wonders whether Tim Russert will ask the "few simple questions" that could "break this story wide open" when Bush appears on "Meet the Press" Sunday, and Berry's World provides a list of quotes from commentators calling on Bush to release his military records.
A new AP-Ipsos poll puts Bush's approval rating at 47 percent, down from 56 percent a month ago.
Tory leader calls on Blair to resign, following Blair's admission that he didn't know the claim Iraq could use weapons within 45 minutes referred only to battlefield arms.
Juan Cole looks at the conflicting reports about whether Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani was the victim of an assassination attempt on Thursday. Plus: 'U.S. plan to transfer power may shift drastically.'
Israeli Prime Minister Sharon has effectively placed both President Bush and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat under house arrest, says Thomas Friedman, with Arafat surrounded by tanks and Bush by lobbyists and political handlers in an election year.
Fears that hackers in Iran might select a U.S. president have abated now that the Pentagon has dropped plans for online voting by troops serving overseas. However, for Saturday's Michigan caucuses more than 21,000 people had already voted online as of Thursday.
The New York Times' Robin Toner reports that Republicans are preparing a classic strategy for November. In Jerry Bowles' words, "They're going to focus squarely on the issues: Sen. John Kerry is a commie, faggot-loving, gun-hating baby killer."
Pandagon's Ezra Klein analyzes Kerry's rhetoric and implores the senator to speak in soundbites rather than "term papers."
The Black Commentator reacts to a Village Voice article detailing the alliance between Rev. Al Sharpton and Republican operative Roger Stone, the veteran dirty trickster now advising Sharpton's campaign. Stone "doesn't appear anxious to hide the fact that he has captured a Negro," says BC.
Daily Kos notes that an article in The Hill depicts Republicans claiming that Bush judicial appointees and GOP staffers are the real victims of the furor over leaked Democratic Judiciary Committee memos that a Republican staffer accessed through a server glitch. Plus: Aide to Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist resigns over probe.
Mad cow disease has been "indigenous in North America" for ten years and could "spread all over the place," experts tell a subcommittee appointed by USDA Secretary Ann Veneman, who says she does not "anticipate that we have a significant issue in this country."
Monday, February 9, 2004
Michael Massing offers a devastating critique of pre-war reporting -- especially by the New York Times -- on Iraq's alleged WMD: "Despite abundant evidence of the administration's brazen misuse of intelligence in this matter, the press repeatedly let officials get away with it. As journalists rush to chronicle the administration's failings on Iraq, they should pay some attention to their own."
The Washington Post reports -- on page A17 -- that not only did President Bush and his top advisers ignore many of the caveats and qualifiers included in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, "In fact, they made some of their most unequivocal assertions" about Iraq's unconventional weapons before the report was completed.
Under fire for claiming that Iraq posed an imminent threat, President Bush said during his "Meet the Press" interview, that he must deal with threats "before they become imminent."
The Center for American Progress annotates the interview transcript and takes issue with 17 assertions that Bush made, in a "Claim vs. Fact" analysis. Plus: Numbers counts for "terror" and "terrorist" and "war" and "peace."
Peggy Noonan says Bush's performance was "not impressive" because he "cannot remember talking points." Calpundit rounds up reaction to the interview by other conservative commentators, one of whom observes that "If he loses this year, this will be the day he lost it"
Calpundit also looks into Bush's military service records, solving one mystery and uncovering a new one involving Bush's possible transfer to a "paper unit" in Denver for disciplinary reasons.
Slate's William Saletan writes that "The joke is that Bush accomplished exactly what he set out to do in this interview: He showed you how his mind works."
Joshua Claybourn says Bush was being "deceptive and false" when he claimed that discretionary spending has declined steadily under his administration. Introducing Claybourn's analysis, Andrew Sullivan writes that on the budget, Bush is either "frighteningly unaware" or "lying."
In a brief history of 'Bush family values,' Kevin Phillips says that while "They know what they're in politics for," their problem is that "The American people are also starting to find out." Plus: Paul Krugman reviews Phillips' "American Dynasty" and Ron Suskind's "The Price of Loyalty."
The Revision Thing On the same day that Bush told Tim Russert that Saddam "had the ability to make weapons at the very minimum," Vice President Cheney told a group of Republican donors that Saddam "had the intent to arm his regime with weapons of mass destruction."
Cheney's Bubble "Whatever one might say about the rarefied air of the World Economic Forum," writes Orville Schell, "no one in the Davos bubble is in an individual bubble as well -- or at least that was true until Vice President Dick Cheney descended on Davos." Earlier: Davos presenter puts America on the couch. The prognosis?
The Observer reports that Great Britain helped the U.S. spy on other U.N. Security Council members prior to Secretary of State Powell's U.N. presentation.
Brendan O'Neill asks "what if Iraq did have WMD? What if the coalition does discover some old but potentially lethal stockpiles of mustard gas, carefully hidden away? What if it had been true that Saddam was building a nuclear bomb?... Would the war have been justified then?"
Clips Clipped? Senior Pentagon managers are said to have repeatedly ordered the department's clipping service to exclude articles critical of the military and Rumsfeld.
Stars and Stripes reports that the Pentagon has ordered an investigation after almost 90 reports of sexual assault among troops in Kuwait and Iraq.
The New York Times reports on white collar killings in Iraq, where government officials estimate that hundreds of intellectuals and midlevel administrators have been assassinated since May in a "widening campaign" against the country's professional class.
An AP article on the hunt for Saddam's money, notes that while the U.S. may have found $300 million that he hid in banks, the amount is nowhere his estimated stash of $40 billion. Officials cite "weak U.S. intelligence and slow-moving investigators" for allowing "insurgents time to empty accounts and transfer funds."
The Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat, says that Al-Qaeda has possessed suitcase-sized tactical nuclear weapons since 1998.
TV news execs respond to their incessant showing of Howard Dean's "scream" clip, which the political newsletter Hotline says was aired on cable and broadcast news networks 633 times in four days, even though an ABC report showed that the "scream" was barely audible to Dean's live audience.
A Globe and Mail columnist speculates on why the 'media disappeared Dean.'
A soccer crowd in Mexico chanted "Osama! Osama! Osama!" as the U.S. team left the field after defeating Canada.
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Sacred Hem The Washington Post reports that Israel has nearly completed its "decades-long effort to surround Jerusalem with Jewish settlements, walls, fences and roads that will severely restrict Palestinian access to the city and could reduce the chance of its becoming the capital of a Palestinian state."
Might Makes Right? Fred Kaplan says that in his interview on "Meet the Press," President Bush seemed "to be vastly enlarging his doctrine of pre-emptive warfare," now "asserting a right to strike first not merely if a hostile power has deadly weapons or even if it is building such weapons, but also if it might build such weapons sometime in the future."
The Center for American Progress unpacks a Knight Ridder article reporting that doubts and dissent were stripped from the public version of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate: "The stark differences between the public version and the then top-secret version... raise new questions about the accuracy of the public case" made for invading Iraq.
Some members of the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks are threatening to subpoena the White House for access to notes taken by four commission members who were allowed to read the President's Daily Brief.
A commission official tells Newsweek that unless the panel gets to see the documents it's seeking, the report "will not withstand the laugh test."
The Washington Post reports that the FBI has interviewed eight current and former White House officials, as the Valerie Plame investigation intensifies. Phone logs are said to indicate that several White House officials talked to Robert Novak shortly before his July 14 column. Plus: Meetings with presidential aides "described as tense and sometimes combative."
Rapping Russert David Corn says that when Tim Russert interviewed President Bush, he "was more enabler than interrogator," repeatedly letting Bush "slide or elide."
The New Republic's Spencer Ackerman faults Russert for not challenging "a single one of Bush's ridiculous contentions about the future of democracy in Iraq," and The Daily Howler wonders: "What became of Bulldog Tim?... That 'dog' didn't bark, hunt or slobber."
Bush's interview claim that the growth of discretionary federal spending has slowed markedly since he took office, is debunked by FactCheck.org, which says "annual growth has been in double digits for the past three years, far higher than in any year of the Clinton administration."
Atrios links to commentary on the Bush administration's "crazy-ass prediction" that 2.6 million new jobs will be created in 2004. Plus: Paul Krugman on jobs, wages and why "Mr. Bush must put on a brave face."
A New New Jersey? Mokhiber's Corporate Crime Reporter recently released a report titled "Public Corruption in the United States," that ranks states from most to least corrupt. He discussed the report on "Democracy Now."
The Los Angeles Times looks at how competing job offers can grease the revolving door for retiring members of Congress, who aspire to become lobbyists and who will, in the words of one, "need a check on the 1st of January."
Wednesday is the last day to submit entries for a contest naming the category of fundraisers who are able to bundle more than $500,000 for President Bush's re-election campaign. One of the judges is the founder of "Billionaires for Bush," who goes by the name Phil T. Rich. Read the Washington Post article that inspired the contest.
"It hardly matters what Bush did or did not do back in 1972," writes self-described National Guard "deserter," Richard Cohen. "All that really matters is how one accounts for what one did." Plus: Will the White House press corps fall for this one?
Bank Job Alexander Cockburn suggests that a sequel to "The Fog of War" might show how Robert McNamara, who became head of the World Bank following his stint as Secretary of Defense, "amplified the blunders, corruptions and lethal cruelties of American power as inflicted upon Vietnam to a planetary scale."
"On the Media's" Bob Garfield calls recent video clips of Howard Dean, Janet Jackson and a Florida girl being abducted from a car wash, examples of "The logo-tization of news... a relatively new phenomenon, occurring when a journalistic image ceases to tell a story but becomes a symbol for a story, denuding it both of its actual news significance and of its inherent drama."
American Airlines apologized for a pre-flight announcement by a proselytizing pilot, who told passengers that he had recently been on a mission and that he'd like all Christians to raise their hands.
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Twenty-four hour death toll pushes 80, as two car bombs target Iraqis applying for police and army positions. The article also notes that according to the Iraqi Interior Ministry, at least 300 police officers have been killed since April. Other reports put the death toll from the bombings at about 100.
Knight Ridder's Joseph Galloway, in a column headlined 'Pentagon eager to wash hands of Iraq mess it created,' quotes a senior administration official who says that "Rumsfeld and his people... can't wait for July 1 when the CPA turns into the U.S. Embassy and the whole mess they have made becomes Colin Powell's." Plus: 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.'
"Democracy Now!" interviews Tariq Ali and Greg Palast about the situation in Iraq, Pakistan's nuclear program, and the backlash in England to the Hutton report. Another segment asks: 'Did Bush spike probe of Pakistan's Dr. Strangelove?'
The program also featured an interview with the head of the National Lawyers Guild, about the subpoenas, now withdrawn, that were directed at Drake University and four activists, following an anti-war forum held at the school last November.
A Maine man was fined $10,000 upon returning to the U.S. after crossing the border to attend Sunday mass in Canada.
Greenpeace inquiry leads Bush adminstration to back off a claim made by the president in his 2002 State of the Union address, that the U.S. had found "diagrams of American nuclear power plants" in Afghanistan.
In a deal reached between the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks and the Bush administration, each of the commission's 10 members were allowed to read White House-edited versions of summaries of President Bush's daily intelligence briefings.
A Washington Post article on the release of Bush's Texas Air National Guard service records and pay documents, quotes a White House official as saying that "We were taken aback" by the intensity of reporter's questions about what the records proved and did not prove.
PBS' "NewsHour" examines the records with the Boston Globe's Walter Robinson and two retired military officers who held senior positions in the National Guard, and who differ in their assessment of Bush's service.
Calpunit questions the supposition that Bush spent the weekend of October 28-29 on drills: "On the face of it, this seems unlikely since he was acting as assistant campaign manager for Winton 'Red' Blount at the time and this particular weekend was nine days before the election."
'Shrub's Lost Summer' Noting that an investigative reporter friend for a major metro paper has been assigned to look into the AWOL allegations against Bush, Billmon writes: "The fact that this particular paper is doing the looking is a sign of just how much the media's 'master narrative' on Bush has changed in the past few weeks."
TomDispatch looks at how President Bush has been "ambushed in Credibility Gap." He also discovers a link, via AOL, to Time's most recent cover story -- "When Credibility Becomes a Campaign Issue" -- that is supposedly available only to subscribers.
"We don't need nine more months to conduct this election," writes CBSNews.com's Dick Meyer. "Nine months, for crying out loud. A full gestation period... How long can the nation focus on Kerry versus Bush? This is cruel. It's usual. It's quite insane."
October Surprise? Jerry Doolittle says the "pertrifying truth is that Osama needs Bush to stay in the White House as long as possible, and the awful danger is that he will make it happen..." Plus: Young Muslims urged to wage holy war in "Dirty Indifels" rap video.
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly apologizes for supporting prewar claims that Iraq had WMD, and Hans Blix likens the British government's WMD sell to "vendors of some merchandise... trying to increase and exaggerate the importance of what they have." Read the transcript of David Frost's interview with Blix.
Thursday, February 12, 2004
A Washington Post article airs concerns about the potential takeover of Walt Disney by Comcast, and Rep. Bernie Sanders, predicts a new wave of mergers, in which "Media giants will become media titans." Plus: 'Diversity under attack.'
Ha'aretz's Amira Hass argues that if it wasn't for the international uproar over Israel's separation barrier, it's "doubtful that various representatives of the state would be hinting about a change in the route... and admitting a failure to 'predict' how bad the damage would be to the innocent. They simply did not care about the damage."
Hass also reports on a village's protests against the barrier.
Gail Sheehy says that commissioners investigating the 9/11 attacks were denied crucial information "because their chief of staff, Philip Zelikow, chooses which evidence and witnesses to bring to their attention. Mr. Zelikow, as a former adviser to the pre-9/11 Bush administration, has a blatant conflict." Plus: 'Investigating the Investigation.'
Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern suggests that one reason agency director George Tenet still has his job, is because he warned President Bush "about the threat of terrorism almost ad nauseam during the entire spring and summer of 2001... Were they to have dismissed Tenet on September 12, they could not have been sure that he wouldn't have said... 'Let me show you what I told the president in the president's daily brief on August 6, 2001.'"
Jim Lobe writes about MoveOn.org's campaign demanding that Congress formally censure President Bush for lying to it about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
Testifying about pre-Iraq war intelligence claims before a congressional committee, Secretary of State Powell scolded a staffer and clashed with a congressman who contrasted Powell's military experience to President Bush's record with the National Guard, saying Bush "may have been AWOL" from duty.
The AWOL issue highlights what The Center for American Progress calls "a troubling pattern by the White House: duplicitous resistance to releasing critical information on issues of public concern."
Slate concludes: 'AWOL? Probably not. A draft dodger? No question.' Scroll down for timeline.
USA Today article airs charge by Bill Burkett, a former senior officer of the Texas National Guard, that as Bush prepared to run for president, top-ranking Texas Guard officers and Bush advisers discussed ways to limit the release of potentially embarrassing details from his military records. Calpundit interviews Burkett.
The article notes that the White House hasn't responded to a request to release the records with nothing blacked out, which Bush could do as the subject. But it did release a document placing Bush at an Alabama base for a dental exam. Plus: Cutting his political teeth.
Atrios suggests that journalists pursue the story of why Bush obtained a new driver's license number while governor of Texas.
The U.S. Treasury Department has reportedly reopened an investigation into Halliburton's dealings with Iran, via a subsidiary that was featured in a recent "60 Minutes" segment, 'Doing Business with the Enemy.'
An article in this week's New Yorker, 'Contract Sport,' details Vice President Cheney's role as an "architect and a beneficiary" of the hand-in-glove relationship between the Pentagon and private military contractors. It begins by calling attention to the fact that Cheney's Halliburton years are missing from his Web site bio.
The New York Daily News reports that MSNBC.com accidentally posted Cheney's obituary. (Scroll Down)
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told an audience at Amherst College that there was nothing improper about his duck-hunting trip with Cheney: "It's acceptable practice to socialize with executive branch officials when there are not personal claims against them. That's all I'm going to say for now. Quack, quack."
Friday, February 13, 2004
The Financial Times reports that a confidential U.S.' "January national review of Iraq," cites the "highest rate of violence since September 2003" and warns that "A fear of some is the 'Balkanisation' of Iraq if security, economic and infrastructure situations do not improve."
USA Today says a classified U.S. intelligence study from December 2002, predicted that "U.S. military tactics, guerrilla warfare, looting and lying by Iraqi officials would undermine the search for banned Iraqi weapons."
A Washington Post/ABC poll finds that 54 percent of Americans believe that President Bush exaggerated or lied about prewar intelligence and that 48 percent now believe the war was worth fighting, down 8 points from last month.
The poll also found that 51 percent prefer a report evaluating the accuracy and use of prewar intelligence before the election. A Senate committee has decided to expand its probe, and investigate whether White House officials exaggerated the Iraq threat and pressured analysts to provide evidence that would bolster the case for war.
"Democracy Now!" interviews Gary Sick and Jim Lobe about the career of "longtime Republican operative," Judge Laurence Silberman, co-chair of the commission investigating intelligence failures on Iraq. Plus: 'The Right Man or the Right's Man?'
"How we were persuaded to go to war raises grave questions about the character and competence of those who led us into it," writes Pat Buchanan. "And if it was not the weapons, what was the real reason America went to war on Iraq?" Plus: 'Et tu, Colin?'
The former head of the Iraqi oil industry reconstruction effort, retired Shell Oil CEO Philip Carroll, argues that Halliburton was actually helping to prevent civil unrest with deliveries of gasoline for which it reportedly overcharged the U.S. government by $61 million. Two ex-Halliburton employees tell Congress a different story.
CNN's Lou Dobbs, who regularly rails against companies that export American jobs, conducts a contentious interview with "journo-lobbyist" and "Dow 36,000" author James Glassman, who recently called Dobbs "a table-thumping protectionist."
The president's job-creation targets reveal "an administration that strives for mediocrity, and comes up short," says Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Plus: 'See what happens when you don't read?'
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan sounds a deficit warning: "The longer we wait before addressing these imbalances, the more wrenching the fiscal adjustment ultimately will be."
The New York Times airs retired colonel Bill Burkett's charge that Bush's Texas Air National Guard files were scrubbed in 1997, and the Boston Globe reports that Air Force regulations required an investigation at the time of Bush's suspension from flight duty.
A former officer with the Alabama Air National Guard tells the Washington Post that he saw Bush "eight to 10 times for about eight hours each from May to October 1972," but the Memphis Flyer interviews two members of the unit who say they never saw him. "There's no way we wouldn't have noticed a strange rooster in the henhouse," said one, "especially since we were looking for him."
Progressive Southerner provides a colorful account of George Bush Jr.'s -- as he was referred to by newspapers in those days -- "lost year" in Alabama, including his role in distributing campaign smears against then-Sen. John Sparkman.
The Toronto Star's Antonia Zerbisias says the major media were MIA for four years, as evidenced by 13,000 stories on Bill Clinton's draft avoidance against about 50 on Bush's military career, and Robert Kuttner says "It's good to see the media doing their job again." Plus: Berry's World offers up evidence that Bush is losing late night.
'There he goes again!' Joe Conason says the template for Matt Drudge's "World Exclusive" on Sen. John Kerry "was pure Monica: Intern has affair with married politician, is betrayed by a 'close friend,' and finally exposed by the pliant Drudge." Andrew Sullivan wonders if he was "Moby'ed" on the story.
The New York Times reports that presidential aides are experiencing "unusual personal stress" as the Valerie Plame leak investigation heats up, and an American Prospect article says columnist Robert Novak was warned not to expose Plame's identity as a CIA operative.
Monday, February 16, 2004
John Dean examines the fine print in President Bush's executive order establishing a commission to investigate the intelligence failure on Iraq, and concludes that "His commission is a sham, and simply ignores the very reason he was pressured to create it." Plus: White House refuses to disclose financial ties of commissioners.
An earlier column by Dean carried the title of his forthcoming book, 'Worse Than Watergate,' about which Library Journal wrote, if "Dean of Watergate notoriety is alarmed by Bush's obsession with secrecy, then you know there's a problem."
As Knight Ridder reports on the unreliability of intelligence provided by Iraqi defectors, Maureen Dowd writes that Ahmed Chalabi "conned the neocons," and that "bogus stories snewed by Iraqi exiles and defectors ricocheted through an echo chamber of government and media, making it sound as if multiple, reliable sources were corroborating the same story."
Dowd refers to a new book by James Mann, "Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet." The Washington Post reported that in an excerpt from the book, which Mann discusses here, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger thought of Donald Rumsfeld as an "incorrigible peacenik and an annoying White House dove."
In April 2001, Mann wrote that "Bush's new foreign-policy team, for all its reassuring stability and experience, may be a bunch of risk takers."
At the end of a week which claimed more than 125 lives in Iraq, U.S. occupation head Paul Bremer blamed foreign terrorists for a daring raid in Fallujah, but an Iraqi official says "it was a bunch of criminals" and "gangsters, not terrorists." Juan Cole looks at the 'Controversy over whodunit in Fallujah.'
A Telegraph report detailing the professionalism of the raid, quotes an Iraqi police sergeant as saying that "there was so much firing, we thought the Americans were attacking us." Earlier: Why Iraqi forces "are unlikely to be particularly effective against the insurgents."
Tailor Made Libyan documents delivered in a shopping bag from a Pakistani clothing store, are said to confirm China as the ultimate source of Libya's nuclear weapons designs, and Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani scientist recently pardoned for his central role in proliferation is reportedly in critical condition after a heart attack.
Billmon analyzes the document dump of President Bush's military records, which contained no new evidence that he ever reported for duty in Alabama, and USA Today says the documents also failed to clarify why Bush stopped flying or why he was not assigned another job when he did.
The Washington Post contrasts the vivid, lasting impression Bush made on the Alabama Republican establishment in 1972 with the lack of evidence that he reported for guard duty in Alabama, and Calpundit weighs the claims made by former Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, about the purging of Bush's records.
A White House correspondent says that spokesman Scott McClellan is "dissipating the goodwill he had for not being Ari Fleischer," following a heated exchange that began with Helen Thomas asking: "Did the President ever have to take time off from Guard duty to do community service?"
In advance of Bush's taxpayer-funded appearance at the Daytona 500, NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip took questions on "Ask the White House," the second time in two months that the interactive forum has been hosted by a NASCAR driver.
The AP says Howard Dean "pulled his punches" in a Wisconsin debate, the Los Angeles Times found Sen. John Edwards "far more forceful" than before, and Dennis Kucinich is taking his campaign to "places where no one goes."
Tufts Guy Martin Nolan finds theatrical parallels in Campaign 2004, especially with Gilbert and Sullivan, and someone who served under Sen. John Kerry in Vietnam, describes him as having been a "tough, tough, tough" officer.
'Glass-House Attack' An ad that the Bush-Cheney campaign claims was e-mailed to 6 million supporters, points out that Kerry has raised some $640,000 from lobbyists since 1989. But according to the Center for Responsive Politics, President Bush raised $842,262 from lobbyists in the current election cycle -- almost four times what Kerry raised.
CBS stops running an ad prepared by the Bush administration, touting the benefits of the new Medicare bill. A media firm working for President Bush's re-election campaign, is getting a cut of the action for placing the ads.
Daniel Okrent writes about his experience as the New York Times' first-ever ombudsman, following 11 weeks and 11,000 e-mail messages. Plus: Times taken in by doctored photo of John Kerry. What's next?
Young Republicans at Roger Williams College counter affirmative action with whites-only scholarships.
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
'Wake-Up Time' Eric Alterman and Michael Tomasky offer editors and reporters five suggestions for how to "reassert their power and professional pride" during the 2004 presidential campaign.
The Washington Post's ombudsman points out intelligence reports that got it right on Iraq's alleged WMD, and notes readers' complaints that the paper buried an article about President Bush and his top advisers ignoring caveats in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate. Plus: What would a clean sell have looked like?
Slate's Chris Suellentrop asks of Sen. John Kerry: "if you vote for broadly written laws that are abused by the administration in power when you passed them, aren't you at least partly to blame for the consequences?"
It's 'Kerry 1, Drudge 0,' but Steve Perry reminds that "it's still the first inning." Rocky Mountain News columnist Mike Littwin unpacks "the story that wasn't a story about an allegation that wasn't an allegation...," and Newsday's James Pinkerton dubs Drudge the "Mayor of Mucky City."
North Carolina native goes home again to "probe the heart of John Edwards in the heart of John Edwards country."
Commenting on an AP report that President Bush suggested "Democrats would endanger America's fiscal health by raising taxes," Josh Marshall says "This is the arsonist in your house telling you that stranger outside with the hose can't be trusted."
Paul Krugman says that the discussion of health care in the Economic Report of the President, released last week, "shows a remarkable indifference to the concerns of ordinary Americans -- and suggests a major political opening for the Democrats."
Samsidized A "blistering" report released by a Democratic state legislator in advance of a vote in California's Contra Costa County to block Wal-Mart superstores, details how the largest employer in the U.S. and Mexico allegedly imposes financial burdens on local governments.
The AP reports on U.S. soldiers in Iraq who plan to forego re-upping to work for private contractors like Kellogg Brown & Root, whose work force of 15,000 in Iraq and Kuwait outnumbers Britain's 11,000 troops. Earlier: Halliburton gets an investigation's scorecard and the GAO turns up $3 billion in unpaid taxes owed by defense contractors.
DefenseTech flags an Energy Department report that says tons of highly enriched uranium, given to countries including Iran and Pakistan as part of the Cold War's Atoms for Peace program, have gone missing.
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
"Not So Fast, John Kerry" After Sen. John Edwards all but wiped out Kerry's seemingly insurmountable lead in Wisconsin's Democratic primary, a Los Angeles Times report says Edwards is now "a serious challenger" and Bob Dole asks Edwards if Kerry is on his short list of possible running mates.
Slate's William Saletan charts Edwards' success with independents and crossover Republican voters and ponders a scenario in which the delegate count could turn in Edwards' favor. Is it getting personal?
Justin Raimondo says that while "the War Party is becoming increasingly isolated from the rest of the country" on the invasion of Iraq, he warns that "we are in for a long one" as both parties maneuver to cash in on U.S. nation-building.
He also credits Pat Buchanan for dropping a "bunker-buster of a review" on "An End to Evil," Richard Perle and David Frum's "prescription [for] endless conflict." Pandagon points out how far preemption fan Frum was behind the curve on the Kerry scandal rumors.
"In the wake of this new 'Let's Shaft Bush' movement in the pages of the major dailies and news mags," writes Matt Taibbi, "I thought it would be instructive to go back and look at what some of these newly WMD-obsessed journalists were writing a year ago... one particular journalist stands out as the worst offender."
A Gulf News op-ed finds Arab governments curiously silent on the failure to locate WMD in Iraq, and laments their inability "to assume any significant role in holding the American and British governments accountable."
"We treat Iraq as if it no longer exists," writes Donnie Johnston. "Every poll I have seen lately places the economy at the top of America's trouble list... I suppose that's understandable. It is our money, but, for most, it is someone else's son or daughter over there getting shot at."
Echoing Ann Coulter's assault on the triple Vietnam amputee, columnist Mark Steyn calls former Sen. Max Cleland "a beneficiary" of "medal inflation" who "learned to stop hating himself" and became a "valuable mascot."
Citizens for Tax Justice calculated the state-by-state cost of the Bush tax cuts. Example: every dollar Floridians get back between 2001 and 2006 will cost them $3.13 in added federal debt, thanks to the deficit. By 2006, 87% will receive less than $100 in tax cuts.
The group said that in New Mexico, where Vice President Cheney preached tax relief while raising $200,000 on Monday, the top 1% will get an average tax cut of $41,765 and 90% will receive less than $100 by 2006. Plus: Norman Vincent Bush?
City Pages' Steve Perry reviews a "rough week at Bunker 1600" over a Guard issue that "is hardly over" and says, "the cover-up's the thing."
In an interview with "Democracy Now!," Corporate Crime Reporter's Russell Mokhiber reveals that Halliburton has hired a Bush family lawyer to investigate its role in an alleged $180 million kickback scandal in Nigeria in the late 1990s. Meanwhile, CorpWatch uncovers Halliburton's monthly pay scale for temps in Iraq: $8,000 for Texans, $300 for Indians, $100 for Iraqis.
The Washington Post reports that attacks on private contractors in Iraq are increasing the cost of security and "compelling U.S. officials in Baghdad to contend with growing legions of private, armed security teams spread throughout the country."
Andrew Gumble reports on the Haitian government's struggle to counter a paramilitary rebel force with a "slumland army of enforcers." Although U.S. officials have "all but ruled out" military assistance, The Nation's Amy Wilentz argues that while President Aristide is "no Mandela," his country needs institutions and the rule of law, and the U.S. should support him "not because he is good but because he is president."
The Guardian's Martin Kettle explores where Prime Minister Tony Blair's allegiances might lie in the U.S. presidential election, given his strong relationship with President Bush.
The winners of the 2003 Polk Awards include the Los Angeles Times for "The Wal-Mart Effect," Business Week's "Is Your Job Next?," Southern Exposure's "Banking on Misery," and a New York Times, CBC and "Frontline" collaboration, "A Dangerous Business."
The Center for Public Integrity won the first Polk award for Internet reporting for "Windfalls of War," Carolyn Coe won the photojournalism award for war photos from Iraq and Liberia, and the Chicago Tribune won for "Tossed Out of America." It's registration only, but here's an overview.
Thursday, February 19, 2004
The Boston Globe reports on a new analysis by the Project on Defense Alternatives, that takes the Pentagon to task for refusing to discuss, or make any public effort to tally, civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report terms the tactic "casualty agnosticism," which it says is an effort "to sink the whole issue of war casualties in an impenetrable murk of skepticism."
"To talk about the price of the Iraq war strictly in terms of U.S. casualties and tax dollars is an obscenity," writes Naomi Klein. "Yes, Americans were lied to by their politicians. Yes, they are owed answers. But the people of Iraq are owed a great deal more, and that enormous debt belongs at the very centre of any civilized debate about the war."
She chides the leading Democratic presidential candidates for ignoring the plight of Iraqis, but reparations are a central element of Rep. Dennis Kucinich's campaign. Watch his "Iraq War" flash animation.
David Corn has some questions that the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks should ask President Bush, and he calls on the commission to "make public the transcripts of its sessions with Clinton, Gore, Cheney and especially Bush." The 9/11 Family Steering Committee has more questions.
In an open letter to the U.S. Attorney heading the Justice Department probe into who leaked the identity of Valerie Plame, Jim Lobe writes that "I think I may have a solution to your problems. His name is Clifford May." Richard Perle says "I have not been questioned... I wish whoever is putting this out would cease and desist..."
Reporter and National Press Club chairman, John Donnelly, talks to "On the Media" about new restrictions on what may be posted on the Defense Department Inspector General's Web site. Plus: 'Pentagon tight-lipped as self-inflicted deaths mount in military.'
'Lie Factory' co-author Robert Dreyfuss introduces a Newsday investigation into two contracts totaling more than $400 million, that the Coalition Provisional Authority awarded to a start-up company with extensive family and business ties to the Iraqi Governing Council's Ahmed Chalabi. Spain and Poland are up in arms over one of the deals.
Booze Hound The New York Times reports on the violence directed at liquor vendors in Basra.
After President Bush and top administration officials distanced themselves from a forecast that 2.6 million jobs would be added to the economy in 2004, a reporter asked spokesman Scott McClellan: "why predict a number? Why was the number predicted? Why was the number predicted? You can't get away with not -- just answer the question. Why was that number predicted?"
McClellan denied that President Bush's visit to a Louisiana Army base on Tuesday had anything to do with the controversy over his Guard service, saying the trip "been in the works for several weeks." But reporters were told a different story by officials at Fort Polk. Plus: 'The hypocrisy of Colin Powell.'
USA Today reports that President Bush's "score for honesty and trustworthiness is at the lowest point of his presidency," in a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll that has him trailing both Sens. Edwards and Kerry by double digits.
A longtime polling executive said the failure to detect Edwards' late surge in Wisconsin, "exposed the biggest polling goofs in my memory," giving Edwards more of a bounce than he might otherwise have had, a critique dismissed by pollster John Zogby as the rantings of "a grumpy old man."
President Bush said he was "troubled by activist judges who are defining marriage," and First Lady Laura Bush told the AP that gay marriage is "a very, very shocking issue to some parts of the American people." Plus: 'Into the Storm' and 'Now, That's San Francisco.'
Friday, February 20, 2004
Nader's comments about impeachment were given little play: "If there's any better definition of high crimes and misdemeanors in our Constitution, than misleading or fabricating the basis for going to war, as the press has documented ad infinitum, I don't know any cause of impeachment that's worse."
The CIA has acknowledged that it witheld information from the U.N. about 21 of the 105 sites in Iraq singled out by U.S. intelligence as the most highly suspected of housing banned weapons, contradicting public statements by director George Tenet and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
Tenetative The Los Angeles Times reports that, according to current and former CIA officers, "a series of stumbles and operational constraints have hampered the agency's ability to penetrate the insurgency in Iraq, find Osama bin Laden and gain traction against terrorism in the Middle East."
Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern calls the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate "the centerpiece of an incredibly cynical campaign playing on the trauma of 9/11 to deceive our elected representatives into forfeiting to the president their constitutional prerogative to declare war. One is left wondering: How did they think they could get away with it?"
In an interview with London's Telegraph, Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmed Chalabi said: "As far as we're concerned we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important."
William E. Jackson says a New York Times editorial on Iraq intelligence distortion was so sharp, that its "logical implication might well have been to charge senior officials -- in particular the vice president -- with an impeachable offense. However, strangely missing... was any indictment of the national press, starting with the Times, for its obvious role in gravely misleading the institutions of government and the public when hyping the WMD threat."
In response to another Times editorial, that decried "Katherine Harris' massive purge of eligible voters in Florida," Left I on the News points out that "the Times, and other 'mainstream' American outlets, failed to even mention the outrage at the time when it was most relevant."
Left I also flags a Politics in the Zeros post about the dearth of foreign policy statements on Sen. John Edwards' campaign Web site, with "nearly nothing on Iraq," which, may be on the verge of breaking up. Scroll up for 'Base Motives.'
An AP article quotes (misquotes?) Edwards as saying that while Kerry "supported NAFTA. I voted against NAFTA and other trade agreements that he supported." But Kerry voted for NAFTA in 1993, five years before Edwards was elected to the Senate.
Edwards also accused Republicans of planning to exploit the 9/11 attacks at their convention in New York City, as an anti-poverty group announced plans to erect a "Bushville" tent city during the event.
In a December article, New York magazine reported that GOP strategists are planning to use New York City's ethnic neighborhoods as backdrops for spotlighting the party's dedication to diversity. More from RNC Watch, including links to other convention monitors.
Dan Kennedy says that "As a media story, the short-lived Kerry non-sex non-scandal wasn’t much... As a political tactic, though, the Kerry story was emblematic," demonstrating that "the Republican Attack Machine continues to operate on a hair trigger." Kerry's daughter says she "died laughing" after reading about rumored affair.
Arguing that Howard Dean's "bubble vanished" with the capture of Saddam Hussein, Ahmed Bouzid says Democrats "need to psychologically prepare the electorate for the possible capture of Osama bin Laden," by framing the question in terms of "why so long?" rather than "why not?" A British tabloid claims that bin Laden's surrounded.
After what one Republican observer called maybe "the worst six weeks of Bush's political career," Billmon's "not even sure Osama would do it." He cites Gallup's finding that in the last eight elections in which one of the candidates was an incumbent president, not one had gone on to win reelection when trailing a named challenger in the early months of the election year.
Bill Moyers is leaving "Now" after the November elections, to write a book about Lyndon Johnson. Moyers answered the questions in an interview about his career, which he described as "constantly interwoven between government and politics and religion and journalism."
As the Washington Post reports on the possibility of other municipalities following San Francisco's lead in granting licenses for same-sex marriages, presidential adviser Karl Rove is said to have told an alliance of conservatives that Bush will soon publicly endorse a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Plus: 'Evangelicals frustrated by Bush.'
White House spokesman Scott McClellan gets caught trying to push back the recession into Bill Clinton's term, is asked: "And the meaning of the word 'is' is?" Plus: The cooking up of manufacturing jobs.
Home Cookin' New Britain Herald profiles woman who reads... New Britian Herald!
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Played to Pay U.S. intelligence officials tell Knight Ridder that the Pentagon is still paying millions of dollars to the Iraqi National Congress, after it was recently reported -- also by Knight Ridder -- that Iraqi defectors offered up by the INC, "exaggerated what they knew, fabricated tales or were 'coached' by others on what to say."
According to a letter obtained by Knight Ridder, the existence of which was first reported by Newsweek in December, the INC stovepiped its claims about Saddam's weapons capabilities to "U.S. government recipients," including William Luti and John Hannah, aides to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney.
Robert Dreyfuss calls that "tasty grist for the investigative mill, since it catches the Pentagon in an outright lie that its secretive OSP didn't engage in intelligence collection, only analysis." Plus: 'Chalabi, Garner provide new clues to war.'
Interviewed on "Fresh Air" about covering the White House, Dana Milbank said a byproduct of limited access is that he does "a lot of textual research," analyzing "in some Talmudic way the public utterances of the president and comparing them to other utterances and other available facts." He also says of Bush's claim that he doesn't read the papers: "of course it's not true."
Milbank employs textual research in reporting that the Bush administration has "repeatedly and significantly overstated the government's fiscal health and the number of jobs the economy would create." He calls the administration's 2.6 million new jobs claim, one of its "more modest predictions." Plus: 'Bush assertion on tax cuts is at odds with IRS data' and "Clinton recession" becomes GOP talking point.
'McFactory Jobs' The Center for American Progress examines the issue of reclassifying jobs in the fast-food sector as manufacturing jobs.
Josh Marshall attempts to get to the bottom of Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign chairman Marc Racicot's claim, made in an interview with NPR's Juan Williams, that President Bush had volunteered for service in Vietnam but had not been 'selected.' Plus: 'Did John Kerry go AWOL?'
A Copley News Service article examines how President Bush's growing credibility gap may derail Republican plans to make an issue of the trustworthiness of his likely Democratic opponent.
The Los Angeles Times reports on the controversy surrounding an "unusual alliance" between First Lady Laura Bush and the National Security Council, to fund a new state-of-the-art children's hospital in Iraq, that would be operated under the guidance of a charity whose president is a Bush family acquaintance from Texas. Plus: 'All in the (Profiteering, First) Family.'
Pentagon opens criminal probe of Halliburton: "the corrupt investigating the corrupt?"
Ralph Nader urges "the liberal establishment to relax and rejoice," arguing that his campaign, which "strives to displace the current corporate regime of the Bush administration... is not going to get many Democratic Party votes."
Longtime Nader watcher Micah Sifry asks: "Can Nader really find a way to attract Republicans?" He also says the people behind Open Debates, which Nader writes about in his latest column, aren't thrilled about his running.
Blogger What Would Dick Think? -- the novelist, not the vice president -- wonders about the constitutionality of a law, invoked in an unsuccessful prosecution of some paintball-playing Virginia Muslims, that "bars Americans from waging war against countries that are at peace with the United States."
NEA Culpa Education Secretary apologizes for calling teachers union a "terrorist organization."
Snooping Around Reports on the death of Total Information Awareness called greatly exaggerated, as some projects from the disbanded unit are transferred to U.S. intelligence offices.
U.S. forensic intelligence investigators say that bomb-making methods taught in Osama bin Laden's Afghanistan training camps, may be showing up elsewhere, based on similarly designed car bombs turning up in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
According to a poll done for the Trio cable channel, 67% of Americans support the idea of televised executions, with 21% saying they would pay to watch the execution of bin Laden. Last week Tom Shales reviewed a documentary airing on the channel, "Feeding the Beast: The 24-Hour News Revolution."
Wheeere's Johnny? A Teevee.org contributor waxes nostalgic about a time when television talk show hosts were king, and laments the degree to which "Things that came before the Internet lack definition, like events before photography."
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
The Guardian reports that according to the book "Rumsfeld's War," by Washington Times Pentagon correspondent Rowan Scarborough, "On February 16, 2002, Bush signed a secret national security council directive establishing the goals and objectives for going to war with Iraq." Read excerpts from the book, parts one, two and three.
"The president launched a war today against the civil rights of gay citizens and their families," writes Andrew Sullivan. "Those of us who supported this president in 2000...backed him whole-heartedly during the war... trusted that this president was indeed a uniter rather than a divider, now know the truth." (Scroll up for responses.)
Dana Milbank notes that while Bush vowed to "extend the frontiers of liberty" when he spoke at a Monday night fundraiser, "15 hours later, he threw his support behind an amendment that would be only the second in U.S. history other than Prohibition to curtail public freedoms."
"It's his dad and the flag burning amendment all over again," writes Josh Marshall. "Is there really anything that tells you more about a man's character than this?"
Legal Fiction invokes the historical precedent of slavery, in predicting a backlash against the amendment, which Bush called for on the same day that a plunge in consumer confidence was reported by the Conference Board.
An article on the pros and cons of keeping Vice President Cheney on the Republican ticket, concludes with a think tanker's observation that "for Bush's conservative base, Cheney is a rock star."
Jason Leopold says that what's interesting about the Pentagon's criminal probe of Halliburton, now joined by the State Department, is that it's the second time in four years the company has been targeted for defrauding the federal government, "an unprecedented occurrence for a Fortune 500 company, according to officials in the Justice Department."
A World Policy Institute analysis calculates that Halliburton has enjoyed a 700% increase in the value of its prime Pentagon contracts since 2002. Read a review of analysis' co-author William Hartung's new book: "How Much Are You Making on the War, Daddy?"
An investigation by New York's WABC, finds that the Dept. of Homeland Security awarded $66 million in security grants to domestic oil companies, but none to the U.S. nuclear power industry.
Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, CIA Director George Tenet said al-Qaeda is still capable of launching "catastrophic attacks on the scale of 9/11" and that terrorism will remain a serious threat to the U.S. "for the foreseeable future -- with or without al-Qaeda in the picture."
"Democracy Now!" interviews the Observer's Paul Harris about his article on a Pentagon report warning of the catastrophic effects resulting from climate change over the next 20 years. Knight Ridder followed up, after the Pentagon made the 'secret' report available to news outlets.
The program also featured a segment on last week's accusations by a group of scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, that the Bush administration is distorting and suppressing scientific findings to suit its political needs. Plus: 'The New Scopes Trials' and echoes of Lysenkoism.
Eric Margolis says the only solution to Haiti's tragic situation is foreign intervention, but "the U.S. is too busy trying to colonize Iraq." The Black Commentator publishes two views on Haiti, one arguing that the Bush administration has longed to declare Haiti a "failed state," and another contending that the civil war was "engineered in the United States."
An Americas.org Q & A on Haiti, includes Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's clarification of the U.S. position: "We have no plans to do anything. By that, I don't mean we have no plans. Obviously, we have plans to do everything in the world that we can think of. But we -- there's no intention at the present time, or no reason to believe, that any of the thinking that goes into these things year in and year out would have to be utilized."
Human rights groups protest the Pentagon's refusal to allow them to observe military trials at Guantanamo Bay.
'Waffler' Kerry labels Bush a "walking contradiction," as 'Bush waffles on marriage rights' and 'Kerry straddles Israel's fence.' Plus: The Center for American Progress fact-checks Bush's speech to Republican governors.
Dick Morris argues that Bush is further behind Kerry than polls show, because "most undecided voters end up voting against the incumbent."
Thursday, February 26, 2004
U.S. lawmakers grill Pentagon's personnel head and four, four-star generals, over what the New York Times describes as the "gravest accusations of sexual misconduct in years." The article credits a Denver Post series, "Betrayal in the Ranks," with spotlighting the issue.
The Salvation Army is being sued by a group of current and former employees for creating a hostile work environment and preaching religious and sexual intolerance, in what a lawyer for the plaintiffs calls the "first major challenge to the coming wave of faith-based initiatives" of the Bush administration.
How many times can White House spokesman Scott McClellan say "sacred institution" in 36 minutes?
AFP reports that the Israeli army has opened an inquiry into soldiers' torching of a tent sheltering the family of a Palestinian suicide bomber whose house was razed by army bulldozers.
'Checkpoints and Charred Buses' Ha'aretz's Ari Shavit argues that "Since 2000 it has become unequivocally clear that anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head once more." Earlier: 'Survival of the Fittest?'
British government drops charges against whistleblower Katharine Gun for violating the Official Secrets Act, sparking allegations of a coverup. Former cabinet member Clare Short claims British spies bugged U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's office in the run up to the Iraq war.
Los Angeles Times editorial calls for resignation of CIA Director George Tenet: "The CIA fed the maw, but the White House knew what it wanted to consume. Yet that doesn't let Tenet off the hook."
About chief of staff Andrew Card's claim that he appealed to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, to reconsider his decision to not bring up legislation extending the deadline for the 9/11 commission, Josh Marshall writes: "I'm genuinely surprised that the White House believes that anyone is stupid enough to believe that their fortunes have dipped so low that the House leadership tells them to go jump in a lake when they say they want something done."
Scroll down for interviews with Gary Hart and 9/11 widow Kristin Breitweiser, about the commission, and a New York Times report that in March 1999, German officials furnished the CIA with the name and phone number of one of the hijackers.
'The Propaganda of William Safire' David Corn accuses Safire of "molding facts more than he was marshaling them," in a column claiming that a Times article provided evidence of a "clear link" between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
After describing an Al-Jazeera program on American propaganda in Arab media, Baghdad Burning's Riverbend writes that "I wish everyone could see Al-Hurra - the new 'unbiased' news network...The news and reports are so completely biased, they only lack George Bush and Condi Rice as anchors."
"It is an old political tradition to dump unpopular news on Friday," writes Dana Milbank. "But the Bush administration has been using the trick so routinely that it is losing effectiveness."
As the New York Times endorses John Kerry for the state's primary, editorial page editor Gail Collins complains that "Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton are planning to tag along anywhere John Kerry and John Edwards go that features a stage and a TV camera."
Singled Out Contrasting Nader's asceticism with President Bush's life as a family man, Hardball's Chris Matthews asked Nader: "Have you had an American experience to justify running for president?" To which Nader responded: "Chris, no wonder they parody you on "Saturday Night Live."
Friday, February 27, 2004
As House Speaker Dennis Hastert agrees to allow the 9/11 commission a two-month extension to complete its work, Josh Marshall writes: "So I guess that little 'president can't force Hastert's hand' charade didn't work out, did it?"
CNN's Aaron Brown had called Hastert's refusal to bring up legislation extending the deadline, "unconscionable and indefensible."
The U.S. Senate gears up for a rare secret session to examine prewar intelligence flaws on Iraq, and the U.N.'s special representative says that security in Iraq has worsened since last July, when a suicide car bomb attack killed his predecessor, Sergio Vieira de Mello.
Two For Two Deaths of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq copter crash gets two paragraphs.
Australia's ABC reports that British or U.S. intelligence services bugged Hans Blix's mobile phone when he was in Iraq, and another former chief U.N. weapons inspector, Richard Butler, says he was "bugged by at least four permanent members of the Security Council." As the world press seizes on bugging claims, spying at the U.N. is said to be a fact of life.
A report by Jane's Defense Weekly says that despite Pakistan's attempt to portray the sale of its nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea, as a rogue operation, it was a government-approved enterprise involving glossy brochures and official approval.
Ira Kurzban, a U.S. lawyer for the Haitian government, tells "Democracy Now!" that anti-government paramilitary forces in Haiti are "armed by, trained by, and employed by the intelligence services of the United States," and that "some kind of theater of the absurd" is being played out involving "opposition" leaders such as Andy Apaid (a U.S. citizen) and Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Kurzban also rejects bribery accusations aimed at Aristide by "one of Haiti's most flamboyant drug traffickers," as "just another piece of the effort to politically assassinate President Aristide before the U.S.-directed military coup physically eliminates him."
MADRE's comprehensive background report on Haiti, identifies Andy Apaid as a Duvalier supporter who "owns 15 factories in Haiti and was the main foe of Aristide's 2003 campaign to raise the minimum wage." Appearing on PBS' "NewsHour," Reps. Charles Rangel and Mark Foley debate the U.S.' role, with Foley saying Aristide is "going to leave by a Lear jet or he'll leave in a body bag."
The Boston Phoenix's Dan Kennedy looks at Vice President "Cheney's Nigerian Nightmare," and press coverage of the issue. White House press secretary Scott McClellan dismissed a reporter's question about it as "political commentary." Plus: GOP attempts to counter rumors that Cheney will be dropped from the ticket.
Inter Press Service reports that pressure is building for Congress and the White House to join the probes already launched by the Pentagon and State Department into Halliburton fuel overcharge allegations.
In "The Two Faces of Alan Greenspan," Billmon writes that "being Fed Chairman is just Al's day job. His other role is to act as a critical behind-the-scenes player in every major economic decision made in Washington -- and some non-economic decisions as well."
A World Socialist Web Site analysis of Greenspan's call for cuts in Social Security, cites a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which found that repealing the Bush tax cuts would "generate enough revenue to cover the combined deficits of Social Security and Medicare, with several trillion dollars to spare."
New York Times reporter and "registered Republican," David Cay Johnston, tells CNN's Lou Dobbs that Social Security taxes are already subsidizing tax cuts for the wealthy. Read an excerpt from Johnston's new book, "Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign To Rig Our Tax System To Benefit The Super Rich And Cheat Everybody Else."
Comrade Lou The Wall Street Journal reports that as the result of Dobbs' sharp attacks on companies that export jobs from the U.S. to other countries, some business leaders who formerly saw him as "reliable" now see him as a "communist."
Tally finds 42 Senators opposed to an amendment to ban gay marriage, as three prominent Virginia Republicans distance themselves from Bush's position. The Georgia House defeated such an amendment on Thursday, as black members compared the issue with the struggle for voting rights.
The Advocate amplifies a Los Angeles Times report, that gay conservatives, angered by President Bush's support for an amendment banning same-sex marriage, are planning a campaign against the proposal in swing states.
Tapped's Nick Confessore says his belief that President Bush isn't anti-gay, is not intended "as a defense of the man... I find it even more shameful when someone sacrifices what they know to be right on the altar of political expediency." Plus: Harold Meyerson on "the way Bushes run for president when they fall behind: They plunge us into culture wars."
Following Rep. Dennis Kucinich's strong second-place finish in the Hawaii caucuses, CNN's Larry King's first question to him in Thursday's debate was, "Why are you here?" People's Weekly World calls Kucinich's campaign "the most underreported story of 2004," and the Boston Globe looks at his relationship with the media.
Slate's William Saletan fact-checks debate claims made by Kerry and Edwards, TalkLeft looks at their different positions on the death penalty and medical marijuana, and a Washington Post article says Edwards has "seemed at times to consciously avoid making news," relegating him to the status of "an afterthought in the escalating exchange between Kerry and President Bush."
To exploit the Bush administration's vulnerability on trade and jobs, "Democratic presidential candidates have to walk a tightrope," writes Paul Krugman, "they must offer relief to threatened workers. But they also have to avoid falling into destructive protectionism."
Texas Monthly's Mimi Swartz says "questions about Mr. Bush's life story... linger 10 years after his first political victory. Why they linger is a more complicated question, one that has as much to do with the press as it does with the president. She notes that "each election cycle comes with a new set of 'complete' documents."
Tom Tomorrow deconstructs the reincarnation of Thomas Friedman, who wrote that "In my next life, I want to be a demagogue."
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