March, 2004 link archive

Monday, March 1, 2004

'The Deal' The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh reports that the U.S. has agreed to go easy on Pakistan's nuclear black marketeers in exchange for permission to put troops into Pakistan to look for Osama Bin Laden, in an area where, notes a former CIA operative, "Alexander the Great lost an entire division."

As the U.S. and Pakistan deny an Iranian radio report that bin Laden has been captured, the U.S. says it is getting 'Serious about Osama.'  Plus: 'Campaign checklist - first, find Osama ...'

Former Sen. Bob Kerrey, a member of the 9/11 commission, tells "Hardball's" Chris Matthews that the U.S. should have declared war on Bin Laden and his army instead of on "terrorism."

Newsday columnist Ellis Henican measures President Bush's words on the 9/11 probe -- "you'd think he was a major booster of the inquiry" -- against "the trail of what he has done," and wonders why "Bush seems so reluctant to let the truth come out." Plus: Article floats possibility that Bush will deliver his Republican convention acceptance speech at Ground Zero.

The Boston Globe's Walter Robinson discovers that an official biography of Bush on many government web sites, exaggerates his military service, claiming that he flew F-102s for almost six years rather than two. A White House spokesman admits that "It does not reflect the facts of his service. It will be corrected."

As U.S. ambassador James Foley lauds Jean-Bertrand Aristide for making "a decision for the good of the Haitian people," an eyewitness tells a French radio journalist that U.S. troops forcibly removed Aristide from his home. The New York Times, however, reports that "Aristide and his small circle found their own way to the airport in the darkened streets."

But "Democracy Now!" reports that according to "Multiple sources... Aristide says he was 'kidnapped' and taken by force to the Central African Republic." White House and Pentagon deny claim.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez calls President Bush an "---hole" for meddling in his country's affairs, vows never to quit office, saying that "Venezuela is not Haiti and Chavez is not Aristide."

A Los Angeles Times article on the prospects for U.S.' nation building in Haiti, notes that U.S. aid to the country this year will be $55 million, compared to several billion dollars in aid to Israel and Egypt.

In an interview with Portugal's Expresso newspaper, former U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft says Iraq "could become a Vietnam in a way that the Vietnam war never did," because "Our exit from that country did not have grave consequences, while if we wanted to get out of Iraq today, the consequences would be very deep."

As a coalition of groups opposed to the invasion of Iraq says it plans to take legal action in the International Criminal Court against Prime Minister Blair and President Bush for the "mass murder of 20,000 or so Iraqis," Hans Blix says he suspects that his U.N. office and New York home were bugged by the U.S. during the run-up to war.

'Bullet Magnets' The Guardian's Suzanne Goldenberg reports from Ft. Bliss, Texas, where tens of thousands of weekend warriors who "simply do not know how to fight," get brief drills in basic survival before deployment to Iraq.

As Israel's Supreme Court orders a temporary halt in construction of a section of the West Bank barrier, Left I on the News flags a little-reported story about a Palestinian boy who was shot in the back in the presence of U.N. workers, one of whom said: "There is absolutely no doubt in my mind the bullet came from the Israeli army position."

Activists slam U.S. for its decision to not sign the global Landmine Ban Treaty.

Ruminate This finds more evidence that the Bush administration "continually cooks the books when it comes to science," in Friday's dismissal of two members of the president's Council on Bioethics who "have both expressed views on embryonic research and other issues of biotechnology that ran counter to those of Chairman Leon Kass."

Political Science A Columbia Political Review article looks at how, "rather than using his political power to stimulate scientific advances, Bush has used science—and pseudo-science—to advance his political power," concluding that "The only reality on this President’s mind is the impending election."

The Washington Post reports on an analysis by the Environmental Working Group, that says the Bush administration is virtually giving away previously protected sensitive lands in Utah to campaign contributors, opening critical wildlife habitats for development by leasing them for as little as $5 an acre.

The New York Times Elisabeth Bumiller reports that White House officials say President Bush "will not speak out about the amendment banning gay marriage in his political trips around the country," and that some of his advisers think he "would have been better off keeping his opinions to himself."

In Sunday's Democratic presidential debate, Bumiller asked the candidates if they thought God was on America's side, which Slate's William Saletan called "One of the strangest things about this debate... to begin and end the hour with questions about the candidates' religious faith... in what must be the most secular city in America."

A Washington Post analysis headlined 'Debate Raises Doubts For Kerry-Edwards Run,' reports that "Kerry allies say privately that the senator is not a particular fan of Edwards..."

A CBS poll finds that while both Kerry and Edwards are running even with President Bush, registered voters would choose a Kerry-Edwards ticket over a Bush-Cheney ticket by 50% to 42%.

February 27-29

Tuesday, March 2, 2004

CNN reports that former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide -- in an interview with CNN -- charged that the U.S. deposed him in a 'coup d'etat,' saying "I was told that to avoid bloodshed I'd better leave."

But the CNN article ignores Aristide's allegation that his resignation letter was altered. According to the interview transcript and a Reuters report, he claims that "They took out the sentence where I said, 'If I am obliged to leave in order to avoid bloodshed.' They took that off the document."

'Things Fall Apart' Billmon has more on the CNN article and other reports. He also observes that Secretary of State Powell's "primary beef seems to be with those in Congress who dared to take Aristide's case to the public without first checking with a higher authority -- namely him."

Sen. Christopher Dodd, also interviewed on CNN, said that while he didn't know if there was a U.S.-led coup, "we said to President Aristide, look, you can stay and be killed or you can leave. You make the choice. That's hardly a voluntary departure... the administration basically is complicit in watching a democratically elected government have to leave office." [Scroll Down]

Heather Williams says that "At least four lines of inquiry were left nearly untouched in the last four weeks of reporting" on Haiti, and Jeffrey Sachs argues that "today's chaos was made in Washington -- deliberately, cynically and steadfastly. History will bear this out."

Recent positive news from Iraq is interrupted by bombings that killed more than 140 people, the bloodiest day in Iraq since Saddam Hussein's fall. More than 40 Shiite Muslim worshippers were also killed in Pakistan.

Pakistan's government denies the allegation in Seymour Hersh's New Yorker article, that it has struck a deal that would allow U.S. troops to hunt for Osama Bin Laden on its soil. Plus: Hersh speaks on the "scary situation" in Iraq, predicts that a civil war between the Shiites and Sunnis is inevitable after the U.S. leaves.

The Los Angeles Times reports on developments in Iraq that it says "throw into question the widely held view that Iraq's suicide bombers are exclusively foreign jihadis."

Howard Kurtz looks at the danger facing American reporters in Iraq. While he finds news organizations universally opposed to the arming of reporters and photographers, he notes that the major TV networks "have signed with expensive security firms that provide squadrons of armed guards."

Editor & Publisher columnist lauds Iraq reporting of UPI's Mark Benjamin, "a low-profile journalist who did not cover the war itself and has never even been to Baghdad."

USA Today reports that U.N. weapons inspectors will release a report saying that they now believe there were no WMD of any significance in Iraq after 1994.

'No Skunks Allowed'  Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern asks why a Senate intelligence committee refuses to hear from the analysts who were right about Iraq.

Sheldon Richman notes that when President Bush appeared on "Meet the Press," he summarized his pre-war position as, "We expect you, Mr. Saddam Hussein, to disarm, your choice to disarm, but if you don't, there will be serious consequences." Richman asks: "But if Bush was prepared to leave him in power, why does he now list Saddam's brutality against the Iraqi people as grounds for war? There's only one way to resolve this paradox: Bush is not telling the truth."

'Odd Man In' Matt Taibbi explains why he "will never forgive America for what Dennis Kucinich went through this year," as Kucinich's paradigm-shifting proposals have resulted in his being "labeled a lunatic by nearly every 'responsible' press organ in this country and cruelly mocked to a degree that no civil society should allow an honorable man to endure." Kucinich is 'Still waiting to be called on.'

Russ Baker examines Karl Rove's "evolving playbook" for November, and tells Democrats that if they're going to beat Bush, "they'd better do two things: 1) agree on a focus for anti-Bush campaigning and stick with it, and 2) decide what they're for and pound that message home." Plus: Winners announced in contest to name a slogan for the Bush/Cheney campaign.

The Washington Post reports that "Republicans plan to use Congress to pull Sen. John F. Kerry and vulnerable Democrats into the cultural wars over gay rights, abortion and guns, envisioning a series of debates and votes that will highlight the candidates' positions on divisive issues."

Baylor University's student newspaper draws heat from the school's president and student publications board, over an editorial supporting gay marriage. Read the president's statement.

The author of "The Oh Really? Factor," calls Fox News' Bill O'Reilly on recent 'No Spin Zone' spinning, as Business Week values "Brand O'Reilly" at $60 million.

March 1

Wednesday, March 3, 2004

The commission investigating the 9/11 attacks is refusing to accept the White House's conditions for interviews with President Bush and Vice President Cheney, and will continue to press National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to testify in public.

In an interview with the Guardian, David Kay again calls on President Bush to "come clean with the American people" about the lack of WMDs in Iraq.

Juan Cole says that for Iraqi Shiites, the bombings in Karbala and Baghdad were the psychological equivalent of a Good Friday Vatican truck bombing. Baghdad Burning's Riverbend describes the mood leading up to Ashoura, and the Independent surveys the aftermath of the bombings, when crowds threw stones at American tanks and "soldiers responded with live fire."

Interviewed by Ray Suarez on PBS' "NewsHour," Cole and The Nation's Christian Parenti speculate on who might be behind the bombings, and Parenti cites "the failure of meaningful reconstruction" by "Bush-connected" companies as a source of Iraqi anger at the U.S. Earlier: Parenti goes among the insurgents in Iraq.

A Washington Post analysis of the potential political fallout from instability in Iraq, headlined 'For Bush, an Election-Year Powder Keg,' notes that Vice-President Cheney "brushed off the attacks as a sign of 'desperation' among U.S. foes -- a response the administration has used for other bloody setbacks in Iraq."

Cheney made his comment during one of three Super Tuesday interviews he gave to cable news channels, MSNBC, CNN and Fox News. A new Annenberg Public Policy Center poll finds that Cheney's unfavorable ratings are now higher than his favorable ratings, and that more than one in four Republicans think Bush should choose a new running mate. More on the poll here.

Sen. John Kerry said that "President Clinton was often known as the first black president. I wouldn't be upset if I could earn the right to be the second." A New York Times op-ed suggests that Kerry pick the first as his running mate.

Howard Kurtz asks: "How long before reporters become nostalgic for the primaries?," and The Daily Howler looks at the "serial foolishness" on display by moderators in Sunday's Democratic debate, exemplified by New York Times' reporter Elisabeth Bumiller's line of questioning about whether or not God is on America's side.

As former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers continues his journey from 'folk hero to failure,' a business professor calls attention to the uncanny timing of stock transactions by U.S. senators, whose portfolios, according to a study, outperformed the market by an average of 12 percent a year.

A commentary in the Guardian says it was essential to the U.S. and France that Jean-Bertrand Aristide "not only be forced from office but utterly discredited in the eyes of his people and the world," and an analysis on World War 3 Report argues that Aristide's overthrow began in December 1990.

South Africa's U.N. ambassador disputes reports that Aristide either sought or was refused asylum in his country, an Orthodox priest in Haiti claims to have spoken to witnesses who say Aristide was kidnapped, and Justin Raimondo asks: how many times has the U.S. "restored order" in Haiti?

The News Dissector calls media coverage of Haiti "a snuff movie on TV with almost no analysis," and Liberal Oasis catches White House press secretary Scott McClellan dodging four key questions on Haiti.

'Whom to Trust?' The Star Tribune editorializes that if "Aristide is fibbing... as we suspect he probably is, then it's an ingenious fib because it hits squarely at the Bush administration's most vulnerable spot."

A Green Party official claims the Bush administration intends to "restore the Helms Doctrine" in Haiti and establish "a beachhead for the U.S." against Fidel Castro in Cuba and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and a FrontPage commentator calls Castro and Chavez the second and third dominoes in an "Axis of Red Evil."

In January 2003, a Florida judged dismissed a lawsuit claiming that Venezuela had funneled money to the Taliban and bin Laden, but a Houston Chronicle op-ed by an ex-press secretary to former Sen. Bob Dole, calls Chavez "an evil just as unpalatable, just as real and potentially just as lethal as Osama bin Laden."

Andrew Sullivan responds to a column by Dennis Prager, which he says characterizes gay people as "the moral equivalent of Osama bin Laden."

The mayor of New Paltz, NY is charged with 19 counts of "solemnizing marriages without a license," Portland, Oregon begins issuing marriage licenses to gay couples and California Gov. Schwarzenegger says he "strongly opposes" a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Plus: Schwarzenegger's stalking points.

TBogg flashes back to show why fundamentalists oppose gay marriage: according to Dr. Paul Cameron, founder of the Family Research Institute, it's because homosexual sex is "too powerful to resist ... almost like pure heroin." And, says Gary Bauer, it's three times deadlier than smoking.

March 2

Thursday, March 4, 2004

A Knight Ridder report says the Bush administration's claim that Saddam Hussein had ties to al-Qaeda, "appears to have been based on even less solid intelligence than the administration's claims that Iraq had hidden stocks of chemical and biological weapons," and that "before the war and since, Bush and his aides made rhetorical links that now appear to have been leaps."

A Columbia Journalism Review article asks: 'Did our leading newspapers set too low a bar for a preemptive attack?'

The Hill reports that Sen. John McCain and the White House are clashing over McCain's push to get subpoena power for the Iraq intelligence commission, and to expand its scope to include how policymakers used the intelligence. Plus: 'Could Kerry Pick McCain for VP?'

Stan Cox gives his read on an article describing an appearance by retired Gen. Tommy Franks at a Chamber of Commerce banquet in Salina, Kansas, during which Franks said that when asked if the number of American lives lost in Iraq has been too high, he responds: "If it costs 500, that's OK, or 5000, OK, or 50,000, that's OK with me."

As Shiite Muslim militiamen deploy around bombed Baghdad shrine, the Iraqi Governing Council and the U.S. are at odds over the death toll from Tuesday's bombings, with the Iraqis claiming that 271 people were killed and U.S. officials putting the number at 117. Plus: U.S. occupiers have 'become easy scapegoat for Iraqis.'

How many decades will the U.S. military be in Iraq?

Pentagreens New York Press columnist Alexander Zaitchik says a Pentagon report warning of the potential catastrophic effects of abrupt climate change, could result in the military becoming an ally in the war against global warning, as well as inject climate change and U.S. energy policy into this year's presidential campaign.

A study by Swiss Re, the world's second largest reinsurer, warns that the costs of natural disasters, aggravated by global warming, could double to $150 billion a year in 10 years, hitting insurers with annual claims equivalent to the World Trade Center attack. Earlier: 'Dangerous Intersections.'

Class Warfare A former Harvard Business School professor remembers student George W. Bush as being "opposed to labor unions, social security, environmental protection, Medicare, and public schools... To him, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal was 'socialism.'" challenged by Bush/Cheney TV spots that were "nearly devoid of factual claims for us to check."

Campaign forced to defend commercials that are not playing well in New York, as head of firefighters union says "use of 9/11 images are hypocrisy at its worst."

Ahmad Chalabi suggested for cameo in possible spot featuring Vice President Cheney. Plus: Restricting presidential vote to U.S. citizens is said to hurt Kerry.

"Rogue State" author William Blum, slams Kerry's foreign policy positions as "nothing at all threatening, or even challenging, to business as usual..." Plus: 'Kerry's Waffles.'

Robert Novak says that "normally loyal Republicans -- actually including more than a few members of Congress -- are privately talking about political merits in the election of Sen. Kerry."

Josh Marshall handicaps investigations 'that could make or break Bush,' and Joseph Wilson promises to name names.

CNN's Aaron Brown initiated a debate about the best way to engage media executives, after he branded as "lemmings," senders of a cut-and-paste letter asking him to devote more airtime to problems with e-voting machines.

Howard Stern says he was yanked from the air by Clear Channel because he had recently begun trashing President Bush, but Bryan Curtis says Stern's real problem is that he helped create a shock culture that makes him seem harmless by comparison.  Earlier: 'Andy and Howard will burn in Hell.'

New York Times drops Ted Rall's cartoons from its online edition, citing as reason that "some of his humor was not in keeping with the tone we try to set for" But Rall tells Editor & Publisher that it's because the site was tired of dealing with e-mail campaigns from conservatives who don't like his work.

The Boston Phoenix checks in with former Minnesota governor -- and current Harvard fellow -- Jesse Ventura, and finds him still complaining about the "jackals," who he says "stuck it to me, screwed me, abused me. The state of Minnesota's media has dissed me forever."

March 3

Friday, March 5, 2004

A federal grand jury has subpoenaed phone records from Air Force One for the week before CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity was leaked in a Robert Novak column, according to documents obtained by Newsday. The subpoena also seeks records from the little-known White House Iraq Group, established to create a strategy to publicize the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. More from Josh Marshall on follow-up stories in Saturday's papers.

The Washington Post reports that the main source for the Bush administration's claim that Iraq had mobile bioweapons labs, has never been interviewed by U.S. intelligence. The source is said to be a relative of a senior member of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress. Plus: Hans Blix claims Iraq war was illegal.

Sen. Edward Kennedy accuses President Bush of resorting to "pure, unadulterated fear-mongering, based on a devious strategy to convince the American people that Saddam's ability to provide nuclear weapons to Al Qaeda justified immediate war."

Friday's planned signing of Iraq's interim constitution was delayed indefinitely, after five Shiite members of the Governing Council rejected the makeup of the presidency and concessions to Kurds, reportedly at the behest of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

A CounterPunch article says that regardless of who was responsible for this weeks bombings in Karbala and Baghdad, the U.S. "has reneged on its most basic responsibility under the Geneva Conventions; to provide security for the occupied people."

A Senate investigation documents 18 months of spying on Democratic computer files by Republican staffers, including the top aide to Majority Leader Bill Frist. Queried by Sen. Patrick Leahy as to whether or not the White House received any of the stolen information, counsel Alberto Gonzales offered a denial that the New York Times describes as "less than categorical." Earlier: Sen. Orrin Hatch branded a traitor by conservative activists.

In a Los Angeles Times op-ed, Jeffrey Sachs writes that the U.S. "froze all multilateral development assistance to Haiti from the day that George W. Bush came into office, squeezing Haiti's economy dry and causing untold suffering for its citizens." Plus: is Aristide still president?

The Times also reports that a new study by the Justice Policy Institute finds California's three-strikes sentence law to be costly and ineffective, with blacks and Hispanics imprisoned far more often than whites under the law.

A Republican official quoted by the New York Times, tries to put a positive spin on the controversy over the use of 9/11 imagery in Bush/Cheney campaign ads, crowing that "we changed the tone fundamentally... Are we on the Democrats' issue of health care, or are we on the Republican issue of national security?" Plus: Classic image of firefighters raising American flag over WTC wreckage, is being used to promote a credit card.

Inheritance Tacts Dana Milbank looks at how one of the ads "unilaterally changed the official start of the recession," winding it back to the last months of Clinton's watch.

A U.S. Labor Department report says private-sector employment was unchanged in February, while the government added 21,000 workers. The department also revised lower its count of jobs gains in January and December. Plus: Jobs vs. forecast.

From Zero to Two The Washington Post reports on President Bush's appearance at "a talk-show-type event the White House stages regularly in front of television-friendly signs that say, 'Strengthening the Economy,'" during which he touted the possibility that a stock-car firm will add two jobs this year. Also: Molly Ivins on Vice President Cheney's jobs growth gaffe.

A Wall Street Journal columnist charges that CNN's "Lou Dobbs is ranting nightly about 'cheap overseas labor' as a pure ratings play... Companies outsource to protect their market share, and Lou attacks outsourcing to protect his market share." Plus: Dobbs mixes it up with Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen.

Unknownables The Denver Post reports that the citizenship of 16,031 members of the U.S. military is listed as "unknown," and, according to a timeline at Democratic Underground, BUSH '04 = DRAFT '05.

John Pilger argues that "A myth equal to the fable of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction is ... that John Kerry offers a world-view different from that of George W. Bush."

No Hitler Oklahoma congressman Tom Cole stands by his remark that a Bush defeat is a victory for Osama bin Laden, but says he didn't intend to equate a vote against Bush to a vote for Adolf Hitler.

Horsing Around? Report suggests that until now, the U.S. has not been using high-tech surveillance tactics, 24/7, to hunt bin Laden. speculates on how Boeing's ads would look if they told the truth.

Consortium News turns President Bush's favorite new joke inside-out, imagining an internal debate created by "splicing together clips of Bush 2000 with Bush 2004." Plus: Nicknamer-in-chief was known as "the Texas Souffle" for his work on Alabama Senate campaign.

March 4

Monday, March 8, 2004

Prior to Monday's signing of an interim constitution, Baghdad Burning suggested that the Iraqi Governing Council and U.S. occupation head Paul Bremer, "just set up an office" for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Baghdad's Green Zone: "They wouldn't have to keep running down to Karbala to beg for his approval. It's unbelievable... How is it that an Iranian cleric is moulding the future of Iraq?"

Given that the American compound in Baghdad "can apparently be struck at will by guerillas," Juan Cole says Sunday’s rocket attacks made him "wonder if the whole center-north of Iraq wasn't just one big Black Hawk Down," as "lots of Mogadishu's are being pulled on the U.S. and its allies in Iraq these days."

Although the New York Times reports that the Justice Department will send some 50 lawyers, prosecutors and investigators to Iraq to build a case against Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi lawyer in charge, the nephew of Ahmad Chalabi, says "No one should misunderstand that this will be an Iraqi process with decisions by Iraqis."

The Times also reports that "Iraq has a new generation of missing men. But instead of ending up in mass graves or at the bottom of the Tigris River, as they often did during the rule of Saddam Hussein, they are detained somewhere in American jails."

"No War in '04" is what a Washington Post news analysis calls the Republican's "crisis-avoidance mantra for the election season."

Israel's decision not to withdraw troops from the Gaza Strip before the U.S. presidential election, is the latest of many examples that suggest America's "war president" is playing politics with war.

Newsweek, in a story on reaction to the Bush/Cheney ads featuring images from 9/11, that included actors portraying firefighters, quotes a GOP consultant as saying that "It's quite shocking ... to watch them stumble out of the block like this." Plus: Bush administration and its backers distort controversy over ads.

Tapped writes that "It's hard not to feel cynical" about the way the U.S. seems to be hunting for Osama bin Laden: "slowly and then, as the election approaches, with renewed vigor."

Wesley Clark tells CNN's Wolf Blitzer that "we deserve an answer to what went wrong that enabled Osama bin Laden and the terrorists to come in and conduct the attacks of 9/11. If that does become the issue, I think it's a loaded gun pointed right back at the White House."

As the Voter Fund says it will increase its ad buy for spots challenging President Bush's economic record, the Republican National Committee warns 250 TV stations against running the Voter Fund's ads, claiming they violate Federal Election Law. Plus: Rigging the campaign.

A new poll that shows Sen. John Kerry leading President Bush by six points in Florida, also suggests that Kerry wouldn't benefit from naming a Floridian as his running mate. And a poll commissioned by The Alliance to End Hunger and Call to Renewal, found that 78 percent of respondents are more interested in a candidate's plan for fighting poverty, than their position on gay marriage.

After Kerry said he would have handled Haiti differently than President Bush, Left I on the News asked: 'Did Kerry learn anything from Iraq?'  Plus: Daily Kos documents President Bush's flip flops.  

Human Rights Watch has issued a report titled "Enduring Freedom: Abuses by U.S. Forces in Afghanistan," which accuses the U.S. of using "unprovoked deadly force" and committing acts "amounting to torture" in a system of arrest and detention "outside of the rule of law" where civilians are held in a "legal black hole."

The New York Times reports that increasing numbers of Afghan women, perhaps hundreds per year, are resorting to self-immolation to escape intolerable conditions.

Three Strikes? The Los Angeles Times reports that Justice Antonin Scalia, in what it calls a third recent instance of an "appearance of partiality," made a keynote speech to a group advocating against gay rights while the Supreme Court was weighing its decision (from which Scalia dissented) to strike down Texas sodomy laws.

Last week, Corporate Crime Reporter's Russell Mokhiber brought up instances one and two with White House spokesman Scott McClellan, both of which were also originally reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Newsday has published the subpoena list from the federal grand jury looking into White House contacts with more than two dozen journalists and news media outlets in the Valerie Plame affair.

Appearing at Arnold Fitness Weekend, California Gov. Schwarzenegger announced his new role as executive editor of two muscle and fitness magazines owned by tabloid publisher American Media, which was accused of pulling its punches during the California recall campaign. notes that he also introduced a new event called the Mr. Fundraiser competition.

Both George W. and Jeb Bush were no-shows this weekend at the Houston wedding of their brother, Neil, "the Bush most likely to embarrass the White House."

Materialism Calling President Bush the "gold standard" for political humorists, cartoonist Garry Trudeau said "I'd be crushed if he lost."

March 5-7

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

An "Unknown Soldier" back from Iraq, speaks out about the military and political situation there, including the lack of training for reservists, the treatment of wounded vets, the role of private contractors and the military's attempt to silence dissident voices. "We did our job," he says. "We need to come home."

When asked what he expected to happen with large numbers of soldiers coming back from Iraq, he said "Mass exit from the military. Mass!" The AP reports on attempts by U.S. CentCom commander, Gen. John Abizaid, to convince soldiers to re-up. Plus: Greg Palast on 'The Forgotten Soldiers.'

The "unknown soldier" also said that the only troops allowed to have Thanksgiving dinner with President Bush, were those who expressed support for him in a pre-visit questionnaire. NBC reports that the company that served the dinner, Event Source, is owed $87 million by the Halliburton subsidiary that contracted it.

The Guardian reports that the U.S. is hiring Chilean mercenaries to replace soldiers guarding oil wells in Iraq, with recruitment being handled by Blackwater USA, which Barry Yeoman reported on in 'Soldiers of good fortune.'

American Conservative contributor James Kurth argues that the Iraq War has caused "grave and long-term injury" to American interests and that ultimately "virtually all honest and reasonable people will agree that it would have been best if the United States had never gone to war at all."

Paul Krugman shows and tells how the Bush administration's job growth forecasts are off the charts, calling "wishful thinking on this scale... unprecedented." Plus: Current unemployment also said to be 'unprecedented.'

Sen. John Kerry leads President Bush 48% to 44% in a Washington Post/ABC poll of registered voters, and 52% to 44% in a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll of likely voters, in which 52% of respondents said they think Bush will win the election.

The Post article says respondents viewed Kerry as more understanding of the problems of "people like you." CNN reports on a TV spot that attempts to undermine that perception, calling Kerry "another rich liberal elitist from Massachusetts who claims he's a man of the people."

A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article says the group behind the spot, Citizens United, which also produced the Willie Horton ad, is gearing up to depict Teresa Heinz Kerry "as a temperamental political spouse and financier of radical groups."

Tom Frank, editor of The Baffler, examines the power of right-wing populism, calling President Bush "merely the latest and one of the most accomplished in a long line of pro-business politicians expressing themselves in the language of the downtrodden."

Air War C-SPAN head Brian Lamb says the network is considering instituting a phone line delay, citing "serious problems in the last month that worry us.... angry callers call first and then the others begin to react to it. The lines against George Bush light up before the lines for him." Plus: 'Have Rove & Bush lost their mojo?'

Rove reportedly told the FBI in an interview last October, that he circulated and discussed damaging information regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame with journalists and others, but only after it had appeared in Robert Novak's column.

Editor & Publisher's leaked list of Pulitzer Prize finalists includes WMD reporting by the Washington Post's Barton Gellman, but does not include work by Knight Ridder's Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay.

In "Now They Tell Us," Michael Massing wrote that "Almost alone among national news organizations, Knight Ridder had decided to take a hard look at the administration's justifications for war." Plus: WMD joins the Hall of Intelligence-Twisting Fame.

The Wall Street Journal reports on "a little-noticed side effect of the war on terrorism," the U.S. military's expanding role in domestic intelligence gathering and law enforcement.

'Crossing the Threshold' A Boston Phoenix article warns that "the hue and cry raised over the Patriot Act has distracted most of us from the Bush administration's far more dangerous assault on another class of liberties, which might be called 'threshold rights,'" which "are structural, and therefore changes to them are more enduring."

An Amish man from Pennsylvania is trapped in Canada, because he doesn't have the photo ID needed to allow him to reenter the U.S. Plus: 'Innocent trip marred by a name.'

Washington Post magazine columnist Peter Carlson isn't buying the argument put forth by Samuel Huntington, that Latin American immigrants, especially Mexicans, threaten the U.S.' "Anglo-Protestant culture," because of their unwillingness to assimilate.

Blogger What Would Dick Think?, chronicles the life of Christian conservative radio broadcaster Marlin Maddoux, who died last week: "If Rush Limbaugh is the father of conservative talk radio, Marlin Maddoux is the grandfather."

March 8

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Editor & Publisher reports on a study faulting the media for its coverage of Iraq's alleged WMD, which concludes that "Many stories stenographically reported the incumbent administration's perspectives on WMD, giving too little critical examination of the way officials framed the events, issues, threats and policy options."

A Calpundit post on CIA Director George Tenet's testimony before a Senate committee, during which Tenet reversed himself and said that he has privately corrected statements by Vice President Cheney and others about Iraq, launches a commenter's debate about the coverage of Tenet's testimony and the prospects for Cheney remaining on the Republican ticket.

Knight Ridder's Jonathan Landay is credited with capturing the essence of the "kabuki" between Sen. Edward Kennedy and Tenet, who acknowledged in his testimony that the CIA had been "wildly inconsistent" about policing White House statements on Iraq.

Also revealed at the hearing was that the Pentagon's controversial Office of Special Plans privately briefed senior White House officials on alleged ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda. In 'The New Pentagon Papers,' retired Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, describes how from May 2002 until February 2003, she observed firsthand the formation of the Office of Special Plans.

Assessing the state of nuclear proliferation, New York Times' columnist Nicholas Kristof warns that "the risks of a nuclear 9/11 are increasing." Earlier this week, the Times followed up on a DefenseTech report on missing weapons-grade uranium that the U.S. distributed to 43 countries, including Iran and Pakistan, during the Atoms for Peace program.

Slate's Fred Kaplan examines President Bush's charge that Sen. John Kerry "was willing to gut the intelligence services" by introducing a bill that would have cut the 1995 intelligence budget by $300 million. Kaplan points out that the estimated intelligence budget that year was $28 billion.

As the Media Fund -- a group partially funded by George Soros -- and Log Cabin Republicans begin running ads targeting President Bush, the Washington Post reports on the parallel campaign being formed by Democratic Party interest groups. Read the text of the Media Fund's ad.

Pointing out the similarities between a column by David Brooks and a Citizens United ad attacking John Kerry, The Daily Howler asks New York Times' editorial page editors: "Are you surprised to see your brilliant columns turned into dim-wit political ads, paid for by our emptiest operatives?" Plus: 'AP goes into the tank.'

Billmon argues that the troubles with the Bush re-election campaign are not so much tactical as strategic: tactically, running the old Lee Atwater playbook, strategically, trying to restore the Reagan coalition.

The Hill reports on a House Democratic plan to run against Majority Leader Tom DeLay the way they previously ran against former Speaker Newt Gingrich, a strategy aimed at Republicans who "claim to be moderates at home while taking marching orders from DeLay in Washington."

Forget NASCAR dads, says the Center for Advancement of Public Policy's Martha Burk: Democrats should focus instead on the "65 percent of single women [who] think the country is headed in the wrong direction."

The Guardian reports that women will be allowed to vote in Saudi Arabia's first elections in October, and on International Women's Day, President Hamid Karzai urged Afghan men to let women register to vote, telling them they can control who they vote for later.

American gun rights organizations say something's missing from Iraq’s new interim constitution.

Catch and Release The Portland Tribune reports that Oregon's largest county routinely releases people charged with robbery, identity theft and drunken driving because it cannot afford to incarcerate them, a situation that's not unique.

A former U.S. National Security Council official says that by undermining a State Department effort to resolve the crisis in Haiti, the Bush administration has created a disaster. And a TV talk-show host from Boca Raton, Florida, has been selected as Haiti's new prime minister.

DUMP In advance of Media Democracy Week, Eyeteeth looks at a community radio station that broadcasts from the site of Indonesia's largest landfill, which is populated by hundreds of scavengers in search of food or items suitable for resale.

Tom Tomorrow finds a tear in the fabric of a Thomas Friedman column, which presented an anecdotal account of an unemployed American who made money off the outsourcing of his job. Plus: 'Get 'em while they're hot.'

March 9

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Homegrown?  U.N. inspectors in Iran are said to have found traces of uranium that was highly enough enriched to be used in a nuclear bomb. Plus: International Atomic Energy Agency turns up the heat as 'Iran reaffirms its goal of controlling the nuclear fuel cycle.'

Spanish officials blame Basque separatists for the worst terror attack in the country's history, but 'experts unsure about ETA involvement.'

Bad Attitudes wonders why it took CIA Director George Tenet 59 days to find out about Vice President Cheney's statement alleging links between Saddam and al-Qaeda, that was made in a January interview with the Rocky Mountain News.

Jim Lobe finds it "highly doubtful" that Tenet was "the last person in Washington to find out that both the president and vice president were being fed phoney or 'sexed up' intelligence about pre-war Iraq by a Pentagon office staffed by ideologically driven neo-conservatives."

The clock may have run out on Richard Perle's threatened libel suit against The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh. Earlier: Did Perle resign from his position on the Defense Policy Board or was he fired?

As lawmakers press the Pentagon on the cost of future operations in Iraq, the Los Angeles Times reports that "A government audit memo and a briefing given to congressional Democrats indicated systematic problems in the contracts awarded to Halliburton Inc."

The Times article also notes criticism by a U.S. military commander over delays in delivering equipment needed by Iraqi security forces, resulting from the Pentagon's canceling of a controversial contract that had been awarded to a company with no history of arms dealing, and whose president had close ties to Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmed Chalabi.

A New York Times article on the Pentagon's payments of $340,000 a month to Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, which credits Knight Ridder with breaking the story, reports that a "Defense Department official who defended the continuing ties... said the arrangement was proving more useful now than it had before the war."

Head of 'Egomania, INC.' was recently interviewed on "60 Minutes."

The Baltimore Sun reports on the University of Maryland study criticizing the media's WMD coverage, and Michael Massing responds to letters from Washington Post' and New York Times' reporters, taking issue with his article, 'Now They Tell Us.'

"The debate over Iraq has been reduced to an evidence-based dissection of everything but the war," writes Brendan O'Neill, "where neither side is prepared to offer a political or moral defence or critique of the invasion."

U.S. military absolves its forces of blame for December air raid that killed nine Afghan children, says report will remain "top secret."

Watch Vice-President Cheney make what the executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans calls "a powerful case against amending our sacred Constitution." More on the ad campaign.

Providence Journal article fails to provide background on parent who protested a lecture at his daughter's high school by historian Howard Zinn. The same Bob Tingle who ran for the U.S. Senate?

Uzbekistan for Bush?  A Guardian article speculates on who world leaders are backing in the U.S. presidential race.

As a Saudi judge blasts the U.S.-financed, Arabic satellite TV station, Al-Hurra, Salon publishes the first in a series of excerpts from Craig Unger's forthcoming book, "House of Bush, House of Saud."

Air America Radio sets launch date of March 31, announces programming lineup that includes "The O'Franken Factor." Earlier: 'Reclaiming the Air.'

Sen. John Kerry meets with Howard Dean, calls for deeper tax cuts for the middle class than proposed by President Bush, and riles the Bush campaign with a statement that his spokesman said was directed at Republican critics in general. Plus: Maureen Dowd 'reverts to form' and Sen. John McCain does in-out.

President Bush is reportedly reconsidering his choice to head an office to help struggling manufacturers, after Democrats revealed that his candidate had opened a factory in China.

An article looking at what Photoshop has wrought, notes Hippolyte Bayard's 1840 staging of a picture of himself as a drowned man, described as "the first known example of the use of photography for propaganda purposes, and also of a faked picture..." Plus: 2003 as 'The year of the fake.'

War LiT MIA "The effort to make contemporary literary sense of our urges for and against war seems to have moved to the periphery of national attention," laments Leo Braudy, "not coincidentally as the Army itself draws less and less broadly on the variety of American society." Earlier: Book querying literary figures about their stance on Iraq war called 'pointless prose.'

March 10

Friday, March 12, 2004

An inspector for the firefighting department of Madrid tells the AP that "This catastrophe goes beyond the imaginable," and the Los Angeles Times quotes a witness who described the scene as "So much blood, so much blood. And so many blankets, all covering the bodies. It was Dantesque."

The Times article notes that the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, which claimed responsibility for the bombings in a statement published in a London-based Arabic newspaper, also claimed to have been behind last summer's blackouts in the U.S., Canada and Britain. Plus: 'Spain's 3-11: Basques, bin Laden, or both?'

A Reuters report quotes a Spanish newspaper commentator as saying: "If the hell unleashed which burned the whole of Madrid on Thursday is the result of Islamic fanaticism, we must look at Spain's role in the Iraq war: an involvement which our citizens rejected." In mid-February, tens of thousands of Spaniards demonstrated to commemorate the anniversary of last year's anti-war marches.

See front-page treatment of the bombings from newspapers around the world.

Sidney Blumenthal writes that "public opinion has been a terrible, swift sword" against the Bush/Cheney campaign's use of imagery from 9/11. He quotes Newsday columnist James Pinkerton, who was the research director of George H.W. Bush's 1988 campaign, as saying, "It didn't dawn on them it cuts different ways. If they aren't ready for this, what are they ready for?"

Pinkerton, who Blumenthal described as having been "responsible for developing the attack lines" against Michael Dukakis, also wrote about the backlash against the ads, in a column headlined 'Bush's campaign advisers better call 911.'

Re Willy New Bush/Cheney TV spot dubbed "Muhammad Horton ad." The New Republic's Ryan Lizza writes that "Bush's team must have known that by using this actor they would probably ignite a debate about race, ethnicity, and terrorism." Plus: The Poor Man storyboards an alternate version and the Photoshop wars heat up. notes that the ad, which also claims that Kerry plans to raise taxes by $900 billion, neglects to mention that Kerry’s spending plans would bring health insurance to 26 million people who aren’t covered now. Kerry’s rapid response -- that the tax-hike number is "completely false" -- gets scrutiny as well.

The Washington Post's Walter Pincus and Dana Milbank debunk President Bush's claim that Kerry's 1995 proposal to cut $1.5 billion from the intelligence budget over five years, would "gut the intelligence services." They point out that in that same year, the Republican-led Congress cut more than twice as much as Kerry proposed.

New Dean Scream? The CJR Campaign Desk clocks the cable new channels' coverage of Kerry's "crooked liars" comment, and Left I on the News finds something missing from CNN’s "Inside Politics" coverage of Kerry’s open mike "scandal." He also notes that the program devoted only one sentence to the withdrawal of Bush's choice for "manufacturing czar."

It took British police less than 24 hours to clear and release four British citizens who had been branded "the worst of the worst" by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and held at Guantanamo Bay for more than two years.

Daily Kos provides the headline you didn't see, describing the arrest of Susan Lindauer, a former journalist and Congressional aide, and a self-described "anti-war activist," on charges of being a paid Iraqi intelligence agent.

'U.S. Intelligence Follies' In "a virtual one-party state, accountability goes out the window," says Juan Cole, explaining why he thinks Vice-President Cheney, Defense Undersecretary Douglas Feith and bad intelligence peddler Ahmad Chalabi have not been impeached.

Halliburton has admitted giving faulty cost estimates for a $2.7 billion Iraq contract. At a Thursday hearing, Rep. Thomas Davis, chair of the House Government Reform Committee, cautioned against "partisan sniping aimed merely at undermining the overall reconstruction efforts."

An AlterNet commentary suggests amending the U.S. constitution to include the same right to privacy guaranteed by the new Iraqi interim constitution.

As President Bush repeats his call for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, during a teleconferenced address to a National Association of Evangelicals' convention, Marianne Means notes that it's the seventh amendment he has supported, and that the Equal Rights Amendment was not one of them.

Calpundit sums up a Knight Ridder report that the Bush administration threatened to fire its expert on Medicare costs if he revealed his $551 billion cost estimate for the Medicare bill: "They knew their estimates were bogus five months before the bill was passed... and one of their stooges basically told him to either shut up or sleep with the fishes."

Rep. Bernie Sanders uses the Medicare legislation to illustrate 'How a bad bill becomes law.'

U.S. News & World Report’s Terence Samuel examines congressional jockeying over a 'lousy jobs report,' as Republicans test-drive the term "insourcing."

On the job front, "Things aren't as bad as they seem; they're worse," says Paul Krugman. Plus: "It’s the Economic Team, Stupid," according to former Clinton speechwriter David Kusnet.

The Nation’s Marc Cooper pays tribute to "one of the greatest social justice journalists of the past fifty years," the late Marshall Frady.

Radio, Radios Report says that Howard Stern has "not ruled out the idea of going to satellite radio. However, he feels that satellite companies are not prepared to quickly manufacture the number of radios that would be needed to accommodate all of his fans that would want to buy them..."

March 11

Monday, March 15, 2004

Spain's ruling Popular Party becomes the first government that backed the Iraq war to be turned out of office. A New York Times analysis says members of the Bush administration "scrambled to hide their disappointment," and William Rivers Pitt looks at 'Three Days in Spain.'

As analysts debate al-Qaeda's role in the election outcome, the Washington Post quotes a Popular Party official as saying, "We have transformed terrorists into political actors with this."

A Guardian article looks at the immediate challenges facing incoming Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who reiterated his vow to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq.

A Moroccan arrested by Spanish police in the train bombings was previously investigated during a post-9/11 sweep, says the Los Angeles Times. He and two other Moroccans are suspected of providing cell phones used as bomb timers and may be examples of "sleeper cells" that became "front-line killing teams," says the paper. Plus: Obscure groups piggybacking on al-Qaeda brand?

Brendan O'Neill fingers pro-war commentators for what he calls "gloating at the horror in Madrid," saying that some seem "almost excited by the prospect that Europe has been 'shocked' back to its senses and might now do its duty in the war against terror."

In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice characterized pre-war Iraq as an "urgent threat" and rejected the idea that the war had "stirred up a beehive" of terrorists. Also appearing on the program, Howard Dean said, "my greatest fear right now is that President Bush for political reasons will withdraw our troops prematurely from Iraq."

Appearing on CBS' "Face the Nation," Defense Secretary Rumsfeld claimed that he had never described Iraq as an "immediate threat." He was then reminded of what he said in testimony before Congress in September, 2002: "No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq."

More on the "Sunday Show Stonewall" from the Center for American Progress, which has posted a video clip of the exchange with Rumsfeld.

A Knight Ridder article finds evidence that President Bush’s support among military voters is eroding. It quotes the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq as saying, "I voted for Bush in 2000, and I'm not going to vote for him again... He just kept screaming, screaming, weapons of mass destruction, weapons of mass destruction ... and now there aren't any.''

As "new and grimly devious tactics" contribute to a rising death toll among U.S. troops in Iraq, UPI's Mark Benjamin reports that the Army appears to have "inappropriately" sent mentally ill troops to fight there. Earlier: Benjamin gets "vote for Iraq reporter of the year."

The Selective Service System has taken the first steps toward a targeted draft of Americans with special skills in computers and foreign languages, that a spokesman says could take up to two years to implement.

Juan Cole expresses concern that the U.S. may have "discredited democracy in the region" by sowing gridlock in Iraq.

In 'The Empire Backfires,' Jonathan Schell asks: "Why did the United States, standing in the midst of the Pakistani nuclear Wal-Mart... rush out of the premises to vainly ransack the empty warehouse of Iraq?" A van packed with explosives was discovered at the U.S. consulate in Karachi, two days before Secretary of State Powell visits the country.

Both Powell and a Republican heckler at a town hall meeting press John Kerry to name names, and identify the world leaders who he claims told him that they want President Bush out. The New York Observer names a former adviser to John McCain who may go to work for Kerry. He says the Bush campaign is "going to drop pianos on Kerry's head."

Salon's Eric Boehlert profiles Alex Castellanos, the GOP's "ultimate hit man," who produces anti-Kerry ads for the Bush campaign. Plus: Hit man's greatest hit?

The Washington Post editorializes that "voters are entitled to a minimum level of honesty in the argument. On that score, Mr. Bush's initial attacks fall short."

Commentators call on Sen. Kerry to hit back now on national security, and for President Bush to quit practicing 'The Politics of Self-Pity.'

A New York Times article headlined 'Newcomers Provide Fuel for Bush Money Machine,' names only one, a newly-minted "Ranger" who claims to make 300 fund-raising calls on his hourlong commute to and from work.

In the latest Salon excerpt from his book "House of Bush, House of Saud," Craig Unger calculates that at least $1.4 billion has passed to the former from the latter. Unger's Vanity Fair article, "Saving the Saudis" after 9/11, is also available online.

Israel vows to intensify assassination attacks against Palestinian militants in retaliation for Sunday's suicide bombing, which Hamas and Fatah claimed joint responsibility for in a leaflet ending with the threat that "The operation in Ashdod is one of the tell-tale signs of the next stage of the armed intifida."

A Palestinian judge has ordered the release of four suspects who were being held in the death of three U.S. embassy security guards who were killed in an October 2003 explosion in Gaza. Noting that the FBI arrived within 24 hours to investigate the incident, Elizabeth Corrie wonders why there has been no U.S.-led investigation into the death of her cousin Rachel, who was run over by an Israeli bulldozer last March 16.

The GAO is investigating video news releases distributed by the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the new Medicare law. The company that produced them said it hired a paid actor to pose as a journalist and read a government-prepared script.

Dan Frosch examines what it might be like for ailing Attorney General John Ashcroft to try to get, and pay for, emergency treatment for his gallstone pancreatitis without medical coverage.

March 12-14

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Knight Ridder reports that in a June, 2002 letter to a U.S. Senate committee, the Iraqi National Congress listed more than 100 published articles that were based on information provided by the INC's Information Collection Program, containing assertions that reinforced President Bush's claims that Saddam was in cahoots with bin Laden, was developing nuclear weapons and was hiding biological and chemical weapons.

Maureen Dowd described the effect in a mid-February column, writing that "the bogus stories spewed 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. Rather, one self-interested source was replicating like computer spam."

Nathan Newman points to a provision in the new Iraqi constitution that could make it easier to privatize the country's assets after June 30.

In a Salon article titled "Rebirth of a Nation," Norman Birnbaum provides background on the Spanish election, which he says "has already changed Spain and the dynamic in Europe...Clearly, U.S. interference in the affairs of other nations has now generated the sort of reciprocity that Americans will have to learn to live with." Plus: 'Did al-Qaeda Win the Spanish Elections?'

Jim Lobe on 'Spanish Blowback' and Paul Krugman on why the Bush administration is 'Weak on Terror.'

An article on the splintering of al-Qaeda quotes Peter Bergen as saying, "This is not like the Gambino crime family... where if you just arrest the leaders it goes out of business. This is more like a mass movement, and you can arrest as many people as you want. But it's very hard to arrest the movement of ideas."

Also quoted in the article is M.J. Gohel, who last fall warned that "We are breeding terrorists right here in the UK and Europe and yet the public -- the best source of intelligence -- are being asked to focus on Osama bin Laden, dead or alive, hiding in some cave or location in Pakistan or Afghanistan."

French general claims that bin Laden has on several occasions narrowly escaped capture by French troops working alongside U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Robert Dreyfuss says that recent news reports suggest that "What's happening in Syria has all the hallmarks of a classic, 1950s-era, Cold War-style CIA coup d'etat scheme."

Jean Bertrand Aristide arrives in Jamaica, 'defying Washington' and 'triggering a row' with Haiti's interim leader. In an interview with the Washington Post's Peter Eisner, who was traveling with the delegation, Aristide makes the case that he was a victim of a "coup and a modern day kidnapping" carried out by U.S. officials.

Articles in USA Today and the Washington Post distill the findings of the Project for Excellence in Journalism's annual report on 'The State of the News Media,' which says that the news business is "in the middle of an epochal transformation, as momentous probably as the invention of the telegraph or television... Journalism is not becoming irrelevant. It is becoming more complex."

The report slams cable news for all but abandoning "what was once the primary element of television news, the written and edited story." During an NPR discussion of the study, callers complained that White House correspondents for the cable channels were little more than mouthpieces for the administration.

On the one-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq -- which NPR's Juan Williams calls "the anniversary week for the war on terror" -- FAIR notes that Sunday morning interview shows on U.S. TV networks are still short on critics.

Al Giordano credits Al Franken with having "transplanted a backbone into Alan Colmes, long distance. And put Fox News on the defensive to the point where it has to give Colmes more maneuvering room." Plus: Let's play softball!

As a New York Times/CBS News poll finds Ralph Nader at 7 percent, pulling almost all of his support from Sen. John Kerry, a Texan weighs "two rather extreme choices for president."

White House pushes hard to try and turn Kerry's 'foreign leaders' comment into an issue, with President Bush saying that "If you're going to make an accusation in the course of a presidential campaign, you ought to back it up with facts."

David Neiwert follows up on a Spokane Spokesman-Review article that he calls "an important advance in the AWOL story," that raises the question: "Have Bush's records been tampered with or altered?"

The Los Angeles Times reports claims by EPA staffers, who say that when they were crafting revised mercury standards, they were told by the agency's political appointees, "not to undertake the normal scientific and economic studies called for under a standing executive order."

March 15

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

The Los Angeles Times reports that despite President Bush's appeal to coalition partners to keep their troops in Iraq, Honduras is pulling out, El Salvador and Guatemala may follow, and Dutch officials won't commit to stay.

As the White House warns that "terrorists must not be allowed to think that they influence elections," the Washington Post reports that the outcome of Spain's vote was propelled by "suspicion that the government manipulated information," which included persuading the U.N. Security Council to name ETA as the perpetrator in the Madrid bombings.

Salon's Scott Rosenberg concludes that the lesson of the Spanish election is that "if you're trying to lead a democracy in a war against terrorists, your first duty is to tell the truth," and the New York Times quotes a Spanish voter as saying, "If the government had said, 'We don't know who did it'... Zapatero would not be there."

On PBS' "News Hour," two experts on Spanish politics reject the suggestion that terrorists were able to determine an election and "set Spanish policy" with the Madrid bombings. And calling the fall of the Spanish government a "crucial moment," Tom Engelhardt says, "Don't believe for a second that it can't happen elsewhere."

The Christian Science Monitor reports on a new global survey by the Pew Research Center, which finds that large majorities in most countries think U.S. and British leaders lied about WMDs in Iraq, 65 percent in Pakistan view bin Laden favorably, and "overwhelming majorities in Jordan and Morocco believe suicide attacks against Americans and other Westerners in Iraq are justifiable."

A Telegraph article says that Republican campaign officials are seizing on Sen. John Kerry's remark about world leaders wanting Bush out as a chance to paint Kerry as "a man with suspect foreign connections and tastes." Earlier: 'he looks!'

As Sen. Joseph Biden says that he too has "had world leaders, heads of state, make it pretty clear to me that they're hopeful that there is a change in the Administration," Berry's World chronicles Scott McClellan's transition from 'people's spokesman' to campaign apparatchik. Plus: 'W's smaller circle of international pals.' shoots holes in the latest Bush/Cheney campaign ad, "Troops," which depicts Kerry casting three separate "no" votes on body armor for troops, higher combat pay, and health-care benefits for reservists, when in fact he cast one vote on an entire $87 billion package. And it was Bush, says FactCheck, who didn't send enough body armor in the first place.

The Washington Times' Jennifer Harper slams the 'Media at War' conference for its liberal bias, complaining that her paper wasn't represented and that no one from Fox News was invited to speak. Earlier: 'Harper circles the globe.'

Harper quotes the head of the Center for Media and Public Affairs, which she describes as "nonpartisan," but the group is heavily funded by conservative foundations.

Atrios calls Lisa Myers "a Republican operative who happens to run NBC's investigative news operation," after Myers' "blame Clinton" story that used "essentially ... the same information" as an eight-month old AP report on Bush's failure to use Predator drones to catch Osama bin Laden in early 2001.

Although a Washington Post article called them "U.S. aid workers" who were "determined to make a difference," Billmon says that the killing of Southern Baptist missionaries in Iraq stems from the "forced opening of Iraq to Christian proselytizers."

Cynthia Cotts reports that PBS' Jim Lehrer "apparently went ballistic" after the Nation's Christian Parenti, during a "NewsHour" appearance with Juan Cole, suggested that the U.S. occupation might be contributing to the instability in Iraq and that Halliburton and Bechtel have failed to provide "meaningful reconstruction." Parenti's latest: 'Al-Jazeera Goes to Jail.'

'Big Media Meets the Bloggers' PressThink's Jay Rosen says a Harvard University report on coverage of remarks by Sen. Trent Lott, that led to his resignation as Senate majority leader, "does not portray the blogs as lead actor, but as intelligent reactor to an event of neglect... within professional newsrooms, where the story of Lott's remarks languished and nearly died."

Health and Human Services Sec. Tommy Thompson orders a formal investigation of allegations that the administration withheld facts about the cost of the Medicare prescription drug bill, which he says Democrats have tried to "demonize." The CJR Campaign Desk follows up on the story about the HHS' touting of the Medicare law via video news releases that feature actors portraying reporters.

In 'The Actuary and the Actor,' the New York Times editorialized that "An Orwellian taint is emerging in the Bush administration's big victory last year in wringing the Medicare prescription drug subsidy from a balky Congress." Plus: Slate's Timothy Noah on the Bush administration's "war against empiricism."

Accused "eco-terrorist" Michael Scarpitti, aka Tre Arrow, has been arrested in Canada. The FBI has connected him with the Earth Liberation Front, which the Bureau considers its No. 1 domestic terrorism priority. A former ELF spokesperson issued a statement calling Scarpitti "neither a terrorist or a criminal but a hero." Previously: was it terrorism or just vandalism?

Pat Buchanan asks whether terrorism isn't, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder.

March 16

Thursday, March 18, 2004

'In Iraq, Shock And Deja Vu' as one-year anniversary of invasion nears. Plus: 'Postcard from Hell.'

James Pinkerton suggests that "Americans might ask themselves... Has the invasion of Iraq really made the United States safer?"

The Washington Post reports on U.S. plans to spend up to $100 million over 14 months to further privatize security in Baghdad's Green Zone, a Knight Ridder correspondent examines why many Iraqis haven't embraced the occupation, and a former Iraqi colonel is down on life after Saddam.

Appearing on "Hardball," Sen. Joe Biden said "you can't find a single person in the [Bush] administration who is going to tell you who's in charge when" the U.S. hands over power to the Iraqis. Asked if the transfer would take place as scheduled, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld hedged: "Will it happen for sure? Who knows? I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow."

Iraq'd is offering a prize for the the most creative video remix of Rumsfeld's dissembling on "Face the Nation." His apppearance has been turned into a ad that is part of a campaign to have President Bush censured. Plus: Former ambassador Joseph Wilson on 'The Pinocchio Presidency.'

David Corn introduces a report prepared by the Democratic staff of the House Government Reform Committee, that identifies 237 specific misleading Iraq-related statements made by President Bush and four top advisers, in 125 separate public appearances. A searchable database includes "Urgent Threat."

Polish president says country was "taken for a ride" about alleged existence of WMD in Iraq.

Time looks at the backgrounds of panel members named to study pre-Iraq war intelligence, and finds "a web of sticky connections to the Bush team." The article also notes that "Five weeks after being appointed, the group has not met, and it is unclear when it will."

Josh Marshall responds to Bush administration supporters who decry negativity on Iraq and other foreign affairs, at a time "when the nation faces grave challenges which we need to focus on solving."

Newspaper editors express surprise that only six of 42 Pulitzer finalists are Iraq war related. One of the six was the Washington Post's two-part series on the plight of veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which wasn't nominated by the paper. A Post writing coach ponied up the $50 entry fee.

As conservative commentators attempt to hawk Madrid as Munich, will "Freedom Flamenco" replace "Freedom Fries?"

Spain's Popular Party says it will take legal action against film director Pedro Almodovar, for having said that "We were on the point (of having) a PP coup d'etat," in reference to rumors that the party might seek to postpone elections in the wake of last week's bombings.

Loco For Local "On the Media" talks to a New York Times correspondent about how the Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez is funneling money into low-power radio stations that are sympathetic to its cause. Plus: Chavez invites Jean-Bertrande Ariside to come on down.

An unnamed Bush/Cheney campaign adviser tells the Washington Post that Wednesday's speech by Vice President Cheney was "the beginning of the process of trying to detoxify him and make him back into the political asset that he should be and that we know he will be." The speech's language was described as "more common to a political fund-raiser than a high-profile foreign policy address."

White House political adviser Karl Rove crows that 'Kerry has taste of Bush campaign.' Does Al-Qaeda have a taste for Bush?

Meet "The Apparat: George W. Bush's Back Door Political Machine."

Medicare's chief actuary goes public with an e-mail he received last June from the top aide to Medicare administrator, Tom Scully. It advised him to "Work up the numbers and share them with Tom Scully only. NO ONE ELSE," warning that "The consequences for insubordination are extremely severe." Plus: 'Mysterious fax adds to intrigue.'

One story dominates "news of the day" on the Web site for Tennessee's Rhea County, where the Scopes "Monkey Trial" was held.

In Philadelphia, real world intrudes on "Real World."

March 17

Friday, March 19, 2004

In a "60 Minutes" interview, former top White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke says he never briefed President Bush on terrorism until 9/11: "I find it outrageous that the president is running for re-election on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11."

Clarke is among the Clinton administration officials who will reportedly testify before the 9/11 commission that they warned their incoming Bush administration counterparts about the threat posed by al-Qaeda. Clarke tells the New York Times that the warning "was very explicit."

'Off the Mark' One year after the U.S. invaded Iraq, Dana Milbank and Robin Wright look at prewar expectations vs. postwar reality. Plus: 'One Year, Many Distortions.'

When asked how long it might take to restore security in Iraq, the U.S. commander of Baghdad said, "I have no idea." And occupation head Paul Bremer warned Iraqi leaders that they "risked isolating themselves and their country if they continued to snub the United Nations." Plus: 'Truth by Decree.'

With South Korea's announcement that it will decline to send troops to northern Iraq as requested, an AP report says "the coalition may not be crumbling, but neither is it gaining the political traction the Pentagon had hoped for."

After Poland's president said his country was misled about whether Iraq had WMD, Bush administration officials were quick to argue that the Poles are now being misinterpreted.

Appearing on PBS' "News Hour," Deputy Defense Sec. Paul Wolfowitz said he didn't think Poland's president had "a right to say they were misled," and that Spain would "appear to be appeasing terrorists" by pulling its troops out of Iraq. Regarding terrorists in Iraq, Wolfowitz claimed that "most of the people we're dealing with were there before" the U.S. invaded.

Paul Krugman says that denunciations of Spain for appeasing terrorists, "serve a crucial domestic purpose: they help re-establish the political climate the Bush administration prefers, in which anyone who opposes any administration policy can be accused of undermining the fight against terrorism."

The Son Also Sinks William Saletan says President Bush's campaign message is the same as his father's was in 1988: "If you oppose George Bush's policies, or if you're supported by anybody who opposes George Bush's policies, you're anti-American." Plus: Official Bush Web site peddled clothing made in Burma.

Pandagon introduces a Time article that says Department of Homeland Security employees "have been asked to keep their eyes open for opportunities to pose the President in settings that might highlight the Administration's efforts to make the nation safer. The goal, they are being told, is to provide Bush with one homeland-security photo-op a month."

While a Los Angeles Times article about U.S.-Europe relations calls Sen. Kerry "the continent's new poster boy" and says that Europeans "swoon and giggle" over him, Spain's incoming prime minister rejected Kerry's appeal to reconsider pulling Spain's troops out of Iraq. Plus: 'Viva Spain, viva democracy.'

Roger Ailes points out that Howard Kurtz, who interrupted his honeymoon to report on Jayson Blair, gave short shrift to USA Today's accusation that a former reporter for the paper 'faked major stories,' leading his column instead, with "stale" excerpts of articles bashing Kerry.

Agence France-Presse reports that Pakistani troops saw a heavily-guarded "foreigner" flee a siege near the Afghan border in a bullet-proof landcruiser. "They were certain it was not bin Laden, but they speculated it could be Ayman al-Zawahiri," who may have "slipped the net."

The New York Times reports that news of Zawahiri's possible entrapment came just hours after Secretary of State Powell, on a visit to Pakistan, announced that Pakistan would be named a major non-NATO ally by the U.S., making it easier for the country to acquire American arms. Plus: Major ally status called "more psychological than substantive."

Reuters reports that about 30 Arab journalists walked out of Powell's press conference in Baghdad, to protest the killing of two Iraqis employed by the satellite TV channel Al Arabiya, who were said to have been shot by U.S. troops.'s Justin Raimondo sees a "deja vu war" as he sifts through blowback from Kosovo and Iraq.

Mark Engler looks at the peace movement one year later, and Richard Oxman gives six reasons why he thinks Saturday's protests will fail.

Halliburton is said to have earned $73 million in the 1990s for drilling a hole in the sanctions and helping Saddam Hussein.

Richard S. Foster, the chief Medicare actuary who was threatened with firing if he disclosed his cost estimates for the Medicare bill, says he believes the White House was involved in the decision to withhold information from lawmakers.

CJR Campaign Desk interviews the suddenly infamous Karen Ryan, a communications consultant who appears as a "journalist" in the Health and Human Services Department's video news releases that tout the new Medicare law. "I do feel I was singled out in this whole political mess," she says. "I feel like political roadkill."

The head of the Office of Special Counsel, Scott Bloch, tells Federal Times that his reading of the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act leads him to believe that federal employees can be fired simply for being gay. Earlier: Bloch removed references to sexual orientation discrimination from an agency Web site.

Officials in a Tennessee county now say they didn't know what they were voting for when they endorsed a proposal to make homosexuality illegal. The Vanderbilt Hustler juxtaposes a story about a Tennessee bill prohibiting gay civil unions with one describing a study showing that 53 percent of Tennesseans are functionally illiterate.

A Washington Post reporter begins an online chat with "Greetings from Baghdad on the, well, on the Tigris. It's right below my window, beyond the cookout that some TV crew is having. I suspect it's Fox, just going by the amount of red meat." Plus: C-SPAN turns 25.

Eric Alterman writes about his appearance on the "Dennis Miller" show: "never have I encountered a guy who could not be bothered to make his own case on his own show." South Knox Bubba has more, and you can watch a clip here.

A "mild-mannered" TV reporter in Kansas City has a past as the frontman for Social Distortion.

March 18

Monday, March 22, 2004

Following the assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, Hamas issued a statement implying that the U.S. could be a target for retaliation. Hamas also said that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel "Sharon has opened the gates of hell" by killing Yassin, in a strike that Israeli radio reported was personally supervised by Sharon.

Pat Buchanan asks, "why do scores of millions of Arab and Islamic peoples hate us and wish to see us humiliated in Iraq? At one time, we were the most admired nation on earth. Is any of this our fault, unpatriotic as that question may seem?"

In an interview with The Independent, former president Jimmy Carter says, "There was no reason for us to become involved in Iraq recently. That was a war based on lies and misinterpretations." Earlier: Bill O'Reilly gets Blixed.

Reporting from Baghdad, The New Yorker's Jon Lee Anderson finds the Iraqi capital to be "a much more dangerous place than it was a year ago."

Zawahiri Today, Gone Tomorrow Reporting on a cease-fire between Pakistani troops and militants said to be linked to al-Qaeda, AFP quotes regional experts as saying the "high-value target" thought to be in the area is "more likely to be a Chechen or Uzbek militant leader" than Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Asked whether Pakistani officials had any evidence of Zawahiri's presence in the area, the head of security in the province tells USA Today: "No. We have no indication." Plus: 'Our Man in Islamabad.'

Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir, who wrote books on Zawahiri and bin Laden, and interviewed bin Laden after 9/11, says that Zawahiri told him that al-Qaeda bought nuclear bombs on the black market.

Responding to Richard Clarke's interview claim that President Bush ordered him three times on Sept. 12 to "see if Saddam did this," deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley told "60 Minutes" that "We cannot find evidence that this conversation... ever occurred." But the Washington Post reports that two other people who were present confirm Clarke's account, and that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice witnessed the exchange as well.

TBogg has a short version of Rice's response to Clarke's "outing" of her as a White House official, who, according to Clarke, "appeared never to have heard of" al-Qaeda. Plus: White House "at war" with Clarke, issues rebuttal.

'Grand Slam' "Clarke exuded hardliner crediblity," writes Billmon. "And whichever Mayberry Machiavelli thought it was a good idea to put Steven Hadley on the air as the designated flackcatcher should be fired, forthwith."

Juan Cole says that when he told a class "that on September 12, Wolfowitz wanted to bomb Iraq in retaliation. The class laughed. I mean they burst out into giggles. I was taken aback. I was just telling the story as we knew it then. I hadn't been going for a laugh."

Newsweek, which also interviewed Clarke, says his book "sharply whacks" Wolfowitz, and Justin Raimondo asks: 'Is anybody in charge?'

The Observer reviews the case of the Texas terrorists, which it calls one of "more than 30 plots by U.S. terrorists" that have been uncovered since Oklahoma City. Earlier: The 'Plot that the media ignores.'

A former editor at USA Today says reporter Jack Kelley was able to get away with fabricating stories because he was "a very earnest, moralistic Christian reporter."

The Los Angeles Times uncovers extensive FBI monitoring of Sen. John Kerry's antiwar activities in the 1970s and quotes Kerry as calling the surveillance "an offense to the constitution."

Steve Perry examines Karl Rove's role in crafting a re-election campaign that is "half poison-pen note, half Hallmark card." Plus: The interactive inner circle.

At a Florida rally, President Bush said of Kerry: "He won't tell us the name of the foreign admirers... I'm not too worried, because I'm going to keep my campaign right here in America," which is smart.

March 19-21

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Salon and Rolling Stone team up to investigate chemical-weapons dumps in the U.S. The article quotes an organizer for a coalition of citizens living near the sites, who says "that for all of the U.S. government's finger-pointing at Iraq and other countries" about WMD, "our country is riddled with similar weapons that our government itself can't even find."

Knight Ridder's Warren Strobel asks the experts about the likelihood that the assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin will prompt attacks on U.S. targets, a BBC analyst says the assassination was probably a show of strength in advance of Israel's plan to withdraw from Gaza, and David Ignatius points out how Ariel Sharon misread Machiavelli.

Flip Flop? The New York Times reports on how the Bush administration changed its stance on the assassination, after "a torrent of criticism erupted throughout the Arab world, and was then joined by condemnations from the European Union and Britain."

Strike supporters compare Sheikh Ahmed Yassin with "Sheikh" Osama bin Laden.

An Economist cover story on the fallout from Madrid asks: 'One down, three to go?' Plus: 'Spain Walks.'

In a "Talk of the Nation" segment, The New Yorker's Mary Anne Weaver, author of a book on Pakistan, criticizes the country for a lack of cooperation with the U.S., and discusses the protection of al-Qaeda fighters by Pashtun tribesmen in South Waziristan. Earlier: Harper's contributor interviewed about 'Where the Taliban Roam.'

Last week a French general claimed that French troops working alongside U.S. forces nearly captured bin Laden in Afghanistan, now France's Defense Minister says French troops helped find a location where bin Laden is thought to have taken refuge.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani warns of "dangerous consequences" if the U.N. endorses Iraq's interim constitution, and "Hardball" lives up to its name, as correspondent David Shuster grills Iraq occupation head, Paul Bremer.

A Chicago Tribune article looks at the string of inquiries faced by the Bush administration concerning WMD and Iraq, and the Carpetbagger Report has a list of GOP scandals under formal investigation.

'Sell-a-Vision' Medicare fake news flap calls attention to video news releases.

The White House's counter-attack against "Dick" Clarke, includes Vice President Cheney telling Rush Limbaugh that Clark "wasn't in the loop, frankly, on a lot of this stuff." But Josh Marshall points out that as counter-terrorism coordinator at the National Security Council, Clarke "actually ran the loop... Saying Clarke was out of the loop is less a defense of the administration than an indictment of it."

The Center for American Progress responds to the response of Bush administration officials to Clarke's charges, Uggabugga timelines the key events prior to 9/11, and a Wall Street Journal report finds that 'Government accounts of 9/11 reveal gaps, inconsistencies.' Plus: 'Lifting the Shroud.'

A common line of attack against Clarke is that his book is coming out during the heat of the presidential campaign, but in a "NewsHour" interview, Clarke claimed that it would have come out "earlier if the White House hadn't taken three months to clear it."

The Nation's John Nichols follows up on a Guardian report about National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice addressing executives from Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp.

On the Cume FAIR's Steve Rendall explains why CNN "is winning the real ratings war" with Fox News Channel, and how reporting on the rivalry "is often misleading -- and almost always over-hyped."

As observers from different sides of the political aisle assess the signage on display at anti-war protests in New York and San Francisco, the Taos News shows and tells how a papier-maché effigy of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was 'toppled without a hitch.'

March 22

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Bar patrons weigh in on Richard Clarke's testimony before the 9/11 commission. Scroll down at Road to Surfdom for the read on Clarke's book.

Gail Sheehy reports on the reaction of four 9/11 moms to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's testimony.

In its interim report, the 9/11 commission said that the Bush administration ok'd a provisional plan to overthrow the Taliban on Sept. 10, 2001, but the strategy was expected to take three years, the commission said.

In his opening statement, Former Defense Secretary William Cohen reinforced a popular misconception when he said that "some 3,000 Americans" were killed in the 9/11 attacks. According to an AP article, "nearly 500 foreigners from 91 countries lost their lives."

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said "It's a long-standing principle that the president's advisers do not testify in front of congressional committees." Although the 9/11 commission was set up by Congress, it doesn't fall under congressional rules, reports USA Today, which notes that relatives of 9/11 victims, who were in the audience at Tuesday's hearing, "applauded each time commissioners criticized Rice's decision not to appear and testify under oath." 'Why A No-Show?'

A Newsday article sees the commission's report and testimony by former Clinton administration officials as delivering "a couple of priceless gifts" to the Bush administration, but the insider Nelson Report says that the White House must still head-off charges that it mishandled the war on terrorism before the story gets "outside the beltway."

Although Hamas now says it will target Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, but not the U.S., Juan Cole says that by ordering the assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, Sharon, who has "done nothing for the U.S. effort in Iraq," now "doubles the danger" for Americans there. Plus: Attackers go for the green.

The Washington Post profiles the two "hard-liners" chosen to succeed Yassin, Abdel Aziz Rantisi and Damascus-based Khaled Meshal, both of whom have survived Israeli assassination attempts.

Asked at a cabinet meeting whether he was troubled by the killing of Yassin, President Bush said that "the attacks were troubling." Howard LaFranchi of the Christian Science Monitor looks at Washington's "evolving" response to the assassination, and finds that the mixed signals reflect conflicting visions in the White House and State Dept.

Michael Kinsley examines the Bush-Cheney campaign's well-traveled claim that John Kerry voted to raise taxes 350 times during his 20 years in the Senate. Kinsley says the "only actual tax increase ... is Kerry's support for Clinton's 1993 deficit-reduction plan." Plus: says 'Bush’s own words mislead reporters.'

Crisis Papers' Bernard Weiner notes that Kerry's name was "barely mentioned" during a large antiwar demonstration last weekend. He also refers to Noam Chomsky's recent qualified endorsement of Kerry, in which Chomsky said: "in this system of immense power, small differences can translate into large outcomes."

Gannett News Service reports that some moderate Republicans are upset by a House Republican Conference memo on how to handle the environment as a campaign issue. Sample talking point: "Global warming is not a fact."

The new Medicare law that Republicans predicted would solidify its future, has led the program's finances to take "a major turn for the worse," say the system's trustees in their annual report, which predicts that the fund that pays hospital bills in the health insurance program will run out of money by 2019.

"Medicare's finances have not changed," says the co-director of the Campaign for America's Future. "The Bush administration simply changed the numbers."

Blink and you might have missed the exoneration of Army chaplain Capt. James Yee following his 76 days in solitary confinement, writes a San Jose Mercury News columnist, who notes that the announcement came on Friday evening, "a time favored when the news is not flattering to the government."

"On the Media" interviews Knight Ridder's Jonathan Landay about his article on the extent to which media outlets published the claims of Iraqi defectors, who were offered up by Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.

William E. Jackson looks at the "paroxysm of re-examination" that the article set off within many newspapers, and raises questions about the degree to which this "exile intelligence unit penetrated the White House."

The Baltimore Sun reports on how a class at Towson University manages to land interviews from White House spinners and the correspondents who cover them. 

Political Animal Kevin Drum looks at James Wolcott's Vanity Fair article on blogs, which discerns "the shift of influence and punch-power from the right to the left."

March 23

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Dead Or Alive? A Knight Ridder article on how the 9/11 probe has revealed the degree to which the U.S. was ill-equipped to battle al-Qaeda, includes the reaction of Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud to the CIA's carefully worded instructions for capturing bin Laden. According to the staff report on intelligence policy, he "laughed and said: 'You Americans are crazy. You guys never change.'" Plus 'Missed chances in a long hunt.'

Slate's Fred Kaplan says Richard Clarke was dazzling in his testimony before the commission, from his apology for 9/11 to the beating back of attempts to question his credibility, as the commissioners "turned a Senate hearing room into a courtroom."

A Daily Kos poster describes how Bill O'Reilly went after Clarke about his 2002 background briefing to reporters, while ignoring Clarke's testimony about it. The White House gave Fox permission to broadcast Clarke's briefing and to reveal his name. Earlier: 'For 9/11 Investigation, Where Is Fox?'

A Barnes & Noble merchandising VP tells USA Today that Clark's book is "blowing out at our stores," and that White House criticism, such as a "fuming" Condoleezza Rice calling Clarke's charges "scurrilous," has only helped. Fox News has a transcript of Rice's comments. Plus: Journalists and politicians discuss the hearings and Clarke's testimony, following his interview with Larry King.

The CJR Campaign Desk looks at how two "Times" and two "Posts" led their coverage of the 9/11 commission hearings.

Knight Ridder reports, and the Pentagon acknowledges, that "To meet the demand for troops in Iraq, the military has been deploying some National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers who aren't fit for combat." Earlier: 'Army sent mentally ill troops to Iraq.'

'Another Dodgy Dossier' In a Guardian commentary, Brendan O'Neill questions how representative of Iraqi views is a poll that found 57% think life is better now than it was before the war.

Article on 'Iraq's fledgling fourth estate' says total newspaper circulation in the country of 25 million is believed to be less than 300,000.

Casing the Casings The New York Times reports on the claim by an arms-control group, that the Bush administration overstated the number of devices that Libya had for making uranium fuel.

In testimony before a Congressional committee, chief Medicare actuary Richard Foster said that Medicare head Tom Scully told him not to respond to requests by Democrats for cost estimates. Plus: 'Dem complaints pay off with nine probes,' and the perils of empiricism.

Roll Call report says House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has begun discussing with colleagues "the possibility that he will have to step down from his leadership post temporarily if he is indicted by a Texas grand jury investigating alleged campaign finance abuses." Earlier: 'DeLay's funny-money trail.'

Michael Newdow "absolutely won the day" arguing against the constitutionality of the words "under God" in the pledge of allegiance, writes Slate's Dahlia Lithwick. "Never having argued a case at the high court, Newdow should have been a sloppy, overzealous mess. But this reviewer gives him five stars." Plus: Newdow and Kenneth Starr interviewed about the case.

Spinsanity says the campaign to Frenchify Sen. John Kerry is not something "that just spontaneously popped up... it's the culmination of an aggressive, months-long effort to make the line stick." Plus: A TV ad you won't see from Kerry and one you will see from

Geov Parrish interviews Helen Thomas, who, he says, has herself become a celebrity, "ironically, because she’s a visible symbol of what's been lost in celebrity journalism." Plus: 'Ari Fleischer rides again' as invasion of screen journos nears.

March 24

Friday, March 26, 2004

A few hours after Sen. Bill Frist accused Richard Clarke of perjury, "he admits that he has no idea," writes Josh Marshall, "not just no idea whether he perjured himself, which is a fairly technical question, but no idea whether there were any inconsistencies at all. He was just running it up the flag pole."

As the New York Times reports that U.S. officials "believe they have found a legal basis for American troops to continue their military control over the security situation in Iraq" once the occupation ends, Nick Turse looks at how the U.S. is using Iraq as a weapons lab.

The U.S. Army engineer heading up an effort to construct 14 "enduring bases" in Iraq, tells the Chicago Tribune that "When we talk about enduring bases here, we're talking about the present operation, not in terms of America's global strategic base." Plus: 'Expansion of military bases overseas fuels suspicions of U.S. motives.'

A just-released survey by the U.S. Army, which was conducted last August to October, reached what the Washington Post calls "grim conclusions" about morale among soldiers in Iraq, 75 percent of whom feel they are being poorly led.

The New York Daily News reports that discrediting Richard Clarke is now Job 1 at a White House that "never expected 9/11 to be politicized," and Norman Solomon says Clarke is ruining "a public-relations scam that the White House has been running for two and a half years."

"Fresh Air" and Salon interview Clarke, the New York Times excerpts his book and Slate capsulizes it.

The Washington Post describes the all-out war launched by the White House against Clarke, with officials seeming to contradict each other in their eagerness to head off damage. The Post also reports that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, in addition to contradicting other administration officials, "contradicted her own previous statements."

The Progress Report says it can't find a single instance where Rice, Vice President Cheney or President Bush said "al Qaeda" or "bin Laden" in public between Bush's inauguration and 9/11. Readers are invited to send in a verifiable example and win a prize.

In June, 2002, the AP reported that while Bush's national security leadership met formally between 90 and 100 times prior to 9/11, terrorism was the topic during only two of the sessions.

Salon's Eric Boehlert reports that a former FBI wiretap translator recently testified to the 9/11 commission "that the FBI had detailed information prior to Sept. 11, 2001, that a terrorist attack involving airplanes was being plotted."

Asked in an interview on PBS' "NewsHour" if he shared the sense of failure expressed by Clarke, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld repeated the point he made before the 9/11 panel, that the attacks were a "law enforcement issue" and that "we don't do borders."

Knight Ridder cites current and former insiders as saying that decision-making in the Bush White House is a closed-loop process with "a near-complete disregard for alternative opinions." Plus: 'The White House Philosophers.'

David Ignatius says Bush flunked the test of a "wartime president" this week: "Rather than working to bring the country together, the Bush team added to its nasty political divisions -- and allowed them to contaminate the terrorism commission's work." Billmon tells Karl Rove to "keep on truckin'."

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan and Democratic Senator Zell Miller, both argue that this week's 9/11 hearings should not have been held. [Scroll down for Miller's comments.]

Mark Kleiman says what was really astonishing about Fox News breaking its promise to keep Clarke's 2002 briefing "on background" is that no one was astonished by it. Plus: Robert Novak suggests racist motives in Richard Clarke's criticism of Condoleezza Rice.

David Corn describes his "you're-all-alone moment" at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Dinner, when President Bush yucked it up about not being able to find WMDs in Iraq, "apparently having a laugh at his own expense, but actually doing so on the graves of thousands." Corn discusses the event, where 'Bush and the media shared an inside joke.'

A Daily Kos poster says that Sen. John "Kerry should call Bush's bluff... by playing along with the assumption that there were WMD in Iraq a year ago, and we've lost the WMD."

Calling Sean Penn A Boston Globe report contrasts Kerry's speeches, "encrusted with ... formalism," with Bush's "scrambled syntax." Among suggestions from experts: Kerry should try method acting.

Kerry voted against the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act," that passed the Senate by a 61-38 margin, favoring an alternative introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who said that "Anyone who is pro-choice cannot vote for this bill without the expectation that they are creating the first legal bridge to do in Roe vs. Wade."

Synergy trumps substance, as NBC News shills for its entertainment division. And, MSNBC's Deborah Norville cites an Onion spoof as news.

March 25

Monday, March 29, 2004

Game Over The Washington Post reports that amid widening political fallout, the Pakistani government has declared victory and ended a 12-day campaign without capturing any "high-value targets." The article cites a Pakistani columnist who calls the operation an effort to pull off a "dazzling achievement" and help re-elect President Bush "irrespective of the price our citizens have to pay."

Mark Danner in The New Yorker ponders the lessons of Iraq, as "the war's end recedes into an indefinite future while its beginning grows daily more contentious and obscure."

Low and Away A Los Angeles Times investigation identifies a chief source of pre-war claims that Iraq had mobile germ factories, as an Iraqi defector code-named "Curveball," who turned out to be the brother of one of Ahmad Chalabi's top aides and, in the words of David Kay, "an out-and-out fabricator."

A Boston Globe report on the PR fallout from the U.S. detention of 8,000 Iraqis, quotes a man who was arrested, held for six months and released without explanation as saying: "Nothing has changed since Saddam ... Before, the Mukhabarat would take us away, and at least they wouldn't blow down the door."

As thousands of Iraqis protest the U.S. closure of a newspaper published by followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, which was accused of inciting violence against coalition forces, an Iraqi freelance journalist said: "I guess this is the Bush edition of democracy."

Frank Rich chronicles the ascendance of fake news, in "Operation Iraqi Infoganda."

Reviewing Richard Clarke's "Against All Enemies," Kevin Drum says it depicts "an administration ... so stubbornly ignorant of al-Qaeda's aims that they played directly into its hands," and Justin Raimondo says of the book: 'Read it and weep.'

Mugging For the Cameras A Time reviewer makes the case that Clarke is much more disparaging towards President Bush and his aides on TV than in his book.

An AP profile describes Clarke as "the last person friends and colleagues expected to go public," but the Washington Post's Steve Coll tells the Washingtonian that Clarke "revels in public theater. A hearing, in the middle of a presidential campaign -- he loved it." Read an adaptation of, and an excerpt from, Coll's "Ghost Wars."

The Center for American Progress fact checks claims made by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice during her "60 Minutes" interview, in which she deflected Ed Bradley's invitation to apologize to the families of 9/11 victims, referring instead to "how deeply sorry everyone is for the loss that they endured."

As "I want Condi" debuts, Republican 9/11 commissioner John Lehman calls Rice's refusal to testify publicly a "political blunder of the first order," and Democratic panelist Richard Ben-Veniste complains that Rice has now appeared "everywhere except my local Starbucks."

During appearances on "Meet the Press" and CNN's "Late Edition," Richard Clarke responded to charges by Sen. William Frist that he had perjured himself in Senate testimony, by saying "Let's declassify all of it," including his memos containing policy suggestions. Clarke insisted that "the issue is not about me. The issue is about the president's performance in the war on terrorism." Plus: 'Discrediting Clarke won't stop the debate he helped start.' customer reviews of Sen. Bill Frist's book are monkeywrenched to include his quote that he is "troubled that someone would sell a book, trading on their service as a government insider ... in order to profit from ... September 11, 2001."

Terrorism analyst Peter Neumann says that prior to 9/11, Bush administration officials were stuck in the old paradigm of state-sponsored terrorism, when by the end of the 90s, "it seemed as if the model... had effectively been reversed: Al Qaeda was now in charge of a state -- Afghanistan under the Taliban -- rather than vice versa."

Neumann refers to a 2000 Foreign Affairs article by Condoleezza Rice, about which Josh Marshall writes, "Not only does she not mention al Qaida or Osama bin Laden, she scarcely even mentions terrorism in the sense we now generally understand it." Plus: Fareed Zakaria on the rise of "society-sponsored" terrorism.

Pat Buchanan argues that by aligning itself too closely with Israel, the U.S. could lose the war on terrorism.

Ha'aretz's Gideon Levy says of the Israeli public's show of concern over the Palestinian teen caught wearing an explosive belt, that "Israelis have no moral right to criticize the Palestinians for their cruelty toward children; we are no less cruel." Plus: First-time visitor to Israel and the Palestinian territories tells 'tale of two miseries.'

French socialists won about half the votes in regional elections, delivering what Agence France-Presse calls a stunning defeat to President Jacques Chirac's conservative government.

Jacques Verges, the French lawyer who defended Klaus Barbie and Carlos the Jackal, will defend Saddam. He suggests in an interview with Reuters that his strategy will focus on the role played by the U.S. and other countries in supporting Saddam in the 80s, and that if a trial takes place, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld will have to "take a seat next to the leader."           

Rebuttable Presumption welcomes the newest judicial activist to the U.S. federal appeals bench.

"Look who's talking," said Counterspin Central, after President Bush's campaign accused Sen. John Kerry of "exploitation of Scripture." Earlier: 'Bush's Religious Language.'

As Ralph Nader announces that he will meet with Kerry to discuss how to defeat President Bush, the Washington Post reports on the growing list of physical ailments that have bedeviled Kerry during his run for president.

In a column on the perils of presidential daddy obsession, Maureen Dowd describes Kerry's late father, Richard, as "the anti-Wolfie" for his 1990 book, "The Star-Spangled Mirror." And Atrios takes issue with Thomas Friedman's hoped-for dream ticket.

As the New York Times' ombudsman unveils the paper's new policy on columnist's corrections, a Philadelphia magazine writer challenges the accuracy of two articles written by David Brooks before he became a Times' columnist, "One Nation, Slightly Divisible" and "Patio Man and the Sprawl People," parts 1 and 2.

March 26-28

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

More than 40 people have reportedly been killed in Uzbekistan, during three days of violence that began with a series of blasts and police shoot outs, and included the country's first-ever suicide bombings. More news and analysis on the situation from EurasiaNet and Muslim Uzbekistan.

Human Rights Watch joins the story with a report on religious persecution in Uzbekistan, and the AP updates the status of U.S. military bases there, including Camp Stronghold Freedom. The Memory Hole documented efforts by U.S. officials to cozy up to Uzbek President Islam Karimov, the 'dictator who boils people alive.'

The New York Times reports on the super-sizing of Okinawans, who,"ruled directly by the United States from the end of World War II to 1972, have, of all Japanese, most closely adopted the American lifestyle of cars, suburban malls and fast food." An expat living in Tokyo blogs about 'American bases in Japan.'

A Guardian report that the U.S. will transfer power in Iraq to a hand-picked prime minister, leads Robert Dreyfuss to predict a PM Chalabi. He also reports the rumor that the first U.S. ambassador to Iraq will be James Woolsey, who last week was seen on TV asserting a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq.

Dale Steinreich says it has been a "pretty bad couple of weeks on TV for the neocons," with even Fred Barnes expressing "some less than optimistic thoughts about the prospects for democracy in Iraq." Plus: 'The Fox of War.'

Iraqi National Congress' PR firm 'Deals Losing Hand' in Colombia, as deck of playing cards featuring "narco-terrorists" falls flat.

CBS teases an upcoming interview with Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, who says that what got him thinking about going AWOL, was "When you look at the war and you look at the reasons that took us to war and you don't find that any of the things that we were told that we're going to war for turned out to be true."

Saddam said to be saying little to interrogators "and may even be having fun," according to an AP report.

First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams slams U.S. for shutting down Iraqi newspaper, writing that "There is probably no way to make speech seem more important than to ban it." Plus: 'Hearts, Minds and Padlocks.'

As a USA Today article asks: "Did opening a second front hurt the main effort to defeat terrorism?," Danny Schechter looks at why the mainstream media generally avoided the question prior to Richard Clarke's allegations. Geov Parrish has some unasked questions, and Philip Trounstine says it's time for political reporters "to bore in on Bush regarding 9/11 and the war in Iraq..."

Editor & Publisher interviews editors on Knight Ridder's Iraq investigate team, which is described as having "produced one damning report after another, from the summer of 2002 to mid-March 2004."

Reporter apologizes for Iraq war coverage, expresses hope that "Maybe we'll do a better job next war."

'Connecting the Dots' New York Times national security correspondent, James Risen, reviews Clarke's "Against All Enemies" along with Steve Coll's "Ghost Wars." Plus: They wanted Condi and they got her!

Inter Press Service reports that in a 2002 address, Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 commission, cast the attack on Iraq as one launched to protect Israel, saying, "Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I'll tell you what I think the real threat (is) and actually has been since 1990 -- it's the threat against Israel... the threat that dare not speak its name."

Appearing on CBS' "Face the Nation," Secretary of State Powell was asked: "a group called the Center for American Progress has posed this question: If, as the administration claims, the White House did make terrorism a priority, why did Vice President Cheney wait five months to establish a terrorism task force, which then never met?"

Powell responded that "With respect to the task force, I can't answer the specific question. I'm not familiar with the document." CAP has more on the exchange, including a video link.

Take Note! Hans Blix says that when he met with President Bush, "somewhat to my surprise, we were taken in to see Cheney first. We had no note takers. It was not offered to us." He then met with "Colin Powell, Cheney and Bush and others -- and a note taker! They had one on their side, and we had none on ours!"

The WSWS argues that Richard Clarke's testimony provides "further evidence that something far more sinister and ominous than incompetence or a failure to 'connect the dots' was behind the government's failure to prevent" 9/11, and Kurt Nimmo endorses the claim that Clarke’s "defection is a hoax."

In his introduction to Nimmo's book, "Another Day in the Empire," Jeffrey St. Clair discusses President Bush as a character out of Suetonius, "the droll muckraker of the Roman Empire."

Propping It Up A new Web site focuses on the "spackle behind the superpower."

March 29

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

The Guardian reports that according to newly declassified documents, the Clinton administration, "and almost certainly the president," knew that genocide was engulfing Rwanda in April 1994 but buried the information to justify its unwillingness to take action.

As Pakistan revises yet another "high-value target" report, one day after claiming that its army had killed an al-Qaeda spy chief, Uzbekistan's Interior Ministry says that 20 terrorists "blew themselves up" while "in the process of being detained."

Brendan O'Neill examines how an Internet message board posting came to be seen as proof of an al-Qaeda plot to bring down the Spanish government, since "there is no clear evidence that this is an al-Qaeda document and nowhere does the document suggest launching terror attacks in Spain."

Nine Americans were killed in and around Fallujah, including five soldiers who died in a roadside bombing, and four contractors whose corpses were pulled from their vehicles and dragged through the streets, as residents chanted "Fallujah is the graveyard of Americans."

In a speech described by a Knight Ridder reporter as an "uncommonly downbeat assessment" of Iraq's security challenges, occupation head Paul Bremer said it will be at least a year before Iraq's police force is able to meet the country's needs. checks in with three U.S. diplomats who resigned to protest the invasion of Iraq, all of whom say they have no second thoughts a year later.

Readers respond to Editor & Publisher's article about a reporter apologizing for the media's performance leading up to the war in Iraq, with one suggesting that journalists might wish to enlist and replace some of the troops, "because this really is a media war -- and the President's, of course."

The Independent reports that British journalists are polarized over the government's offer to decorate reporters who covered the Iraq war.

The U.S. has "little credibility in arguing for media independence in Iraq," writes Ben Leslie, given "the Bush Administration's struggle to understand the most basic principles of media independence" at home.

A San Francisco Chronicle analysis describes the collapse of the Arab Summit in Tunisia as a major setback for the Bush administration, which has "made things worse by appearing to shove democracy down the throats of reluctant Arab leaders." The Daily Star's Rami Khouri discussed the collapse on NPR's "Talk of the Nation."

Defense News reports that U.S. troops are increasingly being equipped with "gear invented for Israel's anti-terror wars" in Gaza and the West Bank, and in an article headlined "The Military Industrial Porn Complex," John Feffer looks at the "soft-core vibe" being given off by popular science magazines.

'Outsourcing Torture' The Village Voice reports on a Canadian inquiry that may shed light on the CIA practice of "extraordinary rendition," and the Washington Post examines charges that the Bush administration is practicing selective declassification of sensitive documents for political reasons.

The New York Times David Sanger calls the decision to back down and allow National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to testify under oath and in public, "part of a distinct pattern that has emerged inside this highly secretive White House." The AP lists previous Bush reversals.

"What took him so long?" was the reaction among many Republicans, according to a Los Angeles Times report which notes that "less than 24 hours before announcing the decision to let Rice testify, the White House was still asking GOP leaders to go to bat for the president." Tapped reviews the role of Kristen Breitwiser in the reversal, and suggests that the 9/11 widow may be the "most important person in American politics today."

The New Republic says the arrangement amounts to "trading a Rice appearance for a guarantee that the administration's two leading men won't be dragged down with her," and Josh Marshall speculates that the White House insisted Bush and Cheney meet jointly because it "does not trust the president to be alone with the Commission members...And Cheney's there to make sure nothing goes wrong." Billmon sets the scene.

Karen Kwiatkowski calls Richard Clarke's allegations a "grave and growing danger" to the Bush administration, James Ridgeway says that civil servants with stories to tell may "hold Bush's future in their hands," and Nasi Lemak, plotting a 10-poll average of Bush's approval ratings, concludes that "the boy emperor is in trouble."

In debunking a Bush/Cheney campaign spot that ridicules Sen. John Kerry for his "wacky ideas" such as "taxing gasoline more so people drive less," points out that while Kerry "never voted for, or sponsored, legislation to impose such a tax," Bush's chief economist called for "a 50-cent-per-gallon hike in the gasoline tax" in a 1999 column headlined 'Gas Tax Now! '

As "Ten Minutes From Normal," by presidential adviser Karen Hughes, gets a book club nod, Air America Radio goes live.

March 30

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