April, 2004 link archive

Thursday, April 1, 2004

What happened in Fallujah doesn't appear to fit the U.S. military's theory that "Islamic militants, including foreigners... are increasingly behind terrorist attacks," writes the New York Times' John Burns, citing interviews with Iraqis that suggest the U.S. "might be facing a war in which the common bonds of Iraqi nationalism and Arab sensibility have transcended other differences, fostering a war of national resistance..." Plus: 'Looking through the unfiltered lens of hatred.'

During a "NewsNight" segment on Fallujah, CNN's Walter Rodgers was asked: "To what extent does the violence in the country inhibit or prohibit us from covering the story?" His response: "Substantially. We can never go out at night on the streets...Under management's edict I have to go out with an armed security guard at all times."

Robert Fisk tells "Democracy Now!" that "things are getting worse here. All Iraqis think so. Most of the journalists on the ground fear it is getting worse." He also describes an increasing privatization of military activities in Iraq: "It seems that the intention is to save American lives. And use the hired men and indeed Iraqis as sandbags." Plus: Bill O'Reilly advocates "final solution" for Fallujah.

"Democracy Now!" also interviews Sibel Edmonds, the former FBI translator who claims that the FBI had information that an attack using airplanes was being planned before 9/11. More on Edmonds from The Memory Hole and Salon.

The Washington Post reports that "former U.S. officials who have seen the text" of a speech that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to deliver on September 11, 2001, say it "was designed to promote missile defense as the cornerstone of a new national security strategy, and contained no mention of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or Islamic extremist groups."

The New York Times reports that a passage from the Congressional inquiry into 9/11 -- "It appears that significant slippage in counterterrorism policy may have taken place in late 2000 and early 2001." -- "would seem to contradict Ms. Rice, who has insisted that the Bush administration considered terrorism a high priority throughout 2001."

The Los Angeles Times tells and shows the results of a poll, that finds an equal number of respondents -- about six in 10 -- believe that "President Bush was more focused on attacking Iraq than dealing with terrorism as his top priority," and that "Richard Clarke's book is politically motivated and released at this time to impact the presidential election."

Joint appearance by Bush and Vice President Cheney before 9/11 commission dubbed 'Charlie McCarthy Hearings.'

911 on 9/11? The Washington Post reports that when the commission was gathered in Washington to hear Richard Clarke's testimony, the White House's chief counsel phoned one, and possibly two, of its Republican members.

UPI reports on the 'The Pentagon's Papers' -- briefing notes on how to deal with Clarke, that were found at a Washington D.C. Starbucks and passed along to the Center for American Progress. Plus: Clarke quote sums up his core complaint: "Invading Iraq after 9/11 is like invading Mexico after Pearl Harbor."

"The brutalization of Richard Clarke is a reminder that, whatever weak points Mr. Bush may be faulted for, putting out a hit is not one," writes the New York Observer's Michael Crowley, who draws up a playbook based on "the White House's character-mauling tactics as displayed over the past three years."

Paul Krugman wrote in a column that CNN's "Wolf Blitzer told his viewers that unnamed officials were saying that Mr. Clarke 'wants to make a few bucks, and that [in] his own personal life, they're also suggesting that there are some weird aspects in his life as well."

Scroll down for the The Daily Howler's take on Blitzer's response to Krugman: "If you watched him yesterday, you would have thought that Krugman invented the part about 'unnamed officials.' CNN’s viewers were baldly misled. Sadly, they were misled by Blitzer." Plus: 'CNN Errs on Reporting Bush-Letterman Bit.'

'Grand Old Profiteering' Joe Conason points that Clarke isn't the only one cashing in on 9/11.

Air America Radio hits the airwaves, gets Internet pop. "Meandering and discursive," complains Howard Kurtz, "sounding more like someone shooting the breeze at a dinner party than trying to persuade listeners." Plus: Richard Blow on why it will work.

UPI's Mark Benjamin reports on Congressional testimony about medical care for wounded soldiers, during which the Pentagon's top health official said that there have been 18,000 medical evacuations from Iraq -- nearly two-thirds more than the 11,200 he cited in early February.

Former President George H.W. Bush defends son's presidency and Iraq war, denounces criticism by "elites and intellectuals on the campaign trail" during a speech to the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. Plus: "Blowback" driving hawks to Kerry?

Neal Pollack reinvades and apologizes: "Your government failed you....And I failed you. I tried hard, but that doesn’t matter, because I failed. For that failure I would ask, once I’ve explained to you why I stopped blogging, for your understanding and your forgiveness."

"The Apparat" is back in the USSR, as George Soros' detractors launch attack that sticks.

March 31

Friday, April 2, 2004

As Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr caps a week of protests by calling on his followers to strike back at occupation officials and appointees, al-Hayat reports that the attack in Fallujah was the work of Islamists seeking vengeance for the murder of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

The New York Times reports that the White House is blocking release to the 9/11 commission of three-quarters of nearly 11,000 pages of Clinton administration files. Former Clinton aides say the files contain highly classified documents about the Clinton administration's efforts against al-Qaeda. Update: White House reverses course.

Former Sen. Gary Hart, who co-chaired the U.S. Commission on National Security, says he twice warned the White House of an impending terror attack in 2001, the second time just days before 9/11 in a meeting with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. Pandagon says the Bush administration is 'not even trying' to defend Rice's planned Sept. 11, 2001 speech, and Brad DeLong has some questions for Condi, star of a recent installment of 'Actual Quote Comix.'

After the White House refused to allow two Medicare officials to testify, House Republicans shut down an inquiry into whether the Bush administration acted illegally or inappropriately last year when it withheld from Congress its cost estimates for the Medicare prescription drug bill.

Prosecutors in the Valerie Plame case have reportedly expanded their focus beyond the leaking of the CIA officer's identity, and are now looking into whether White House officials lied to investigators or mishandled classified information related to the case.

A Washington Post article calls the four civilian contractors killed in Fallujah, "among the most elite commandos working in Iraq," and cites suspicions that their deaths were not random but targeted. The four were employed by Blackwater USA, which the Post says pays its armed commandos an average of $1,000 per day.

In March, the Guardian reported on Blackwater's hiring of Chilean mercenaries -- many of whom had trained under the military government of Augusto Pinochet -- to replace U.S. soldiers on security duty in Iraq. The article says they were sent to train at Blackwater's North Carolina facility, which Barry Yeoman wrote about in 'Soldiers of Good Fortune.' Were they also schooled in America?

A Christian Science Monitor article on outsourcing military operations, cites critics' complaints that employing private security workers allows the U.S. government to skirt restrictions by Congress on what U.S. troops can do on the ground. It's also, according to "Corporate Warriors"' author Peter Singer, "a way to dodge political costs... when things go wrong."

The New York Times' David Sanger reports that President Bush "seemed all smiles" at a fund-raiser appearance hours after the killings in Fallujah, the horror of which, rather than being unique, typifies the war in Iraq, says Newsweek's Rod Nordland. E. J. Dionne wonders whether Bush will accept or spurn an offer of help on Iraq from a liberal Democrat, and a Republican Senator apologizes for saying his likely opponent looks like a son of Saddam.

Col. Tom Gross, a former chief of staff for Iraq occupation head Paul Bremer, tells TomPaine.com that he thinks there's "a huge rift between Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld. What I think is Rumsfeld's agenda is military transformation. Iraq is a sideshow. What he has done is turned the Iraq keys over to Wolfowitz... the most dangerous guy in America right now."

Knight Ridder reports that President Bush refuses to personally lobby OPEC leaders not to cut oil production, even though as a candidate in 2000 he urged President Clinton to "get on the phone" and tell OPEC that "We expect you to open your spigots."

A Los Angeles Times poll, conducted in advance of a report that showed strong job growth in March, found that by a wide margin, voters favored Kerry over Bush on a variety of broad economic issues. Also, a Washington Post analysis found that corporate numbers tend to support Kerry's argument that the U.S. tax code encourages companies to move jobs overseas.

A Washington Monthly article headlined 'There Goes the Neighborhood,' interprets a bit of consumer advice from Alan Greenspan as a sign of concern that the housing bubble is about to burst and take the recovery with it.

'Bush To City: Drop Dead' The Nation's Jack Newfield complains that the Bush administration has treated New York City "like a battered wife who still gets displayed for photo-ops and state dinners," and says that even Richard Nixon, who once said, "God damn New York," treated the city better.

Democratic strategist Gary South ponders the hazards Bush faces in being the first sitting president required by law to associate his name with attack ads.

An upcoming appearance on "60 Minutes" by a government whistle-blower who says the Bush administration covered up one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history -- a toxic coal slurry spill in Appalachia -- prompts Berry's World to question the Bush attack machine's readiness to fight a two-front war. (Scroll down)

The Daily Howler wonders if "the nation's store-bought sages" will follow Maureen Dowd's lead and "dare to joke about Dear Leader?" He also revisits a conversation between "CNN’s willing victim, Wolf Blitzer, and dissembling Bush spokesman Jim Wilkinson." Paul Krugman has more on Blitzer's conversation with Wilkinson, in 'Smear Without Fear.'

Krugman also raises the issue of CNN saying that the White House had informed it that a David Letterman clip it was running had been doctored. CNN backed down from that claim, but Letterman insists that the White House made the call.

A Guardian report on Israeli accusations of bias against the BBC states that, by comparison, "Israeli officials boast that they now have only to call a number at CNN's headquarters in Atlanta to pull any story they do not like."

In a round up of media reaction to President Bush's joking about not being able to find WMD in Iraq, FAIR calls the line of defense employed by some Fox News personalities, "at times... arguably more offensive than the remarks themselves." Sidney Blumenthal explains why the White House had the last laugh.

April 1

Monday, April 5, 2004

As radical cleric Moktada al-Sadr unleashes a Shiite insurrection, a Washington Post analysis calls a second front in Iraq America's worst fear realized, and Juan Cole says Phase II of the Anti-Occupation Struggle has now begun. Scroll up for "How did the CPA get to the point where it has turned even Iraqi Shiites... against the U.S.?" Plus: U.S. says Iraqis want to act on arrest warrant for "outlaw" al-Sadr, that was issued months ago.

Concerning Sunday's announcement that a new Ministry of Defense had been created, Baghdad Burning's Riverbend writes: "The irony of the situation wasn't lost on Iraqis -- the head of the occupation announcing a 'Ministry of Defense.' To defend against what? Occupation?"

No Joke!  CPA picks April 1 to announce establishment of Optimists Club chapter in Iraq.

The Washington Post's Al Kamen looks at a six-page memo written by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, advising Cabinet members on how to spread the good news about their visits to Iraq. Kamen notes that after Health & Human Services Sec. Tommy Thompson toured a Baghdad hospital, he said things would improve "if they just washed their hands and cleaned the crap off the walls."

An AP report headlined 'Coalition press office packed with Bush, GOP loyalists intent on putting a positive election-year spin on Iraq,' quotes a former Pentagon contractor as saying, "Iraq is in danger of costing George W. Bush his presidency and the CPA's media staff are determined to see that does not happen."

The AP also blasted the New York Post for an editorial that said: "Clearly, someone at AP has a mutually beneficial relationship with the insurgents in Fallujah." In 'The real lessons of Fallujah,' the WSWS mentions the editorial, as well as a column by the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan and a commentary by the Guardian's Jonathan Steele.

As U.S. and Iraqi troops move to seal off Fallujah, there are conflicting reports about whether the name of the operation is "Vigilant Resolve" or "Valiant Resolve." Plus: Time for a rebranding of "Operation Iraqi Freedom?"

Knight Ridder's Hannah Allam includes a stop at the Uncle Sam restaurant in Amman, Jordan, to gauge Arab reaction to the deaths of the American private security guards in Fallujah.

A Baghdad taxi driver tells a Scotland on Sunday correspondent that "Having soldiers here is one thing... But these guys -- they just drive around with their wraparound shades, sleeveless T-shirts and big guns thinking they're Rambo and acting like they own the place. I don't mind the Americans being here, but I wish they hadn't invited their friends."

In response to the John Kerry for President blog removing its link to Daily Kos, following Kos' intemperate and widely circulated comments about the deaths of the private security guards, Atrios writes that the delinking "shows they're not ready to really have a blog and interact with the rest of the blog world. They should just pull down all their links."

In an article in the May issue of Vanity Fair, the former British ambassador to the U.S. says that at a White House dinner nine days after 9/11, President Bush told Prime Minister Blair that "when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq." According to the ambassador, it was clear "that when we did come back to Iraq it wouldn't be to discuss smarter sanctions."

Finger pointing on WMD intelligence prompts uggabugga to roll out 'The Blame Game.'

A New York Times analysis finds that during the summer of 2001, the government produced a "scattered and inconsistent" response to warnings that were more dire and specific than generally recognized.

The Times also reports that before 9/11, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's attention was focused on 'more traditional fears' than terrorism, and Jason Leopold continues the hunt for any mention that Rice made of al-Qaeda or bin Laden, in interviews between January 2001 and September 11, 2001.

USA Today reports that during an appearance on "Meet the Press," 9/11 commission chairman Thomas Kean said the White House would check its report "line by line to find out if there's anything in there which could harm American interests in the area of intelligence," raising, says the paper, "the prospect of White House censorship and the possibility that the report's release could be delayed beyond the presidential election in November."

Although Kean and vice-chairman Lee Hamilton promised to probe for contradictions between accounts by Rice and Richard Clarke, a Harvard psychology professor says conflicting recollections "need not involve bad faith."

Screen Test The Los Angeles Times reports that Rice will be not only testifying, but auditioning for a second-term Cabinet post -- possibly as Secretary of State or Defense -- when she goes before the 9/11 commission. Plus: Condi gets the picture.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says "It's embarrassing to the president of the United States that they won't let him go" before the 9/11 commission "without holding the hand of the vice president..."  Bad Attitudes suggests bringing Cheney along for debates, and Kurt Nimmo says that Cheney isn't the only one following Bush around.

As FactCheck.org finds that an ad by Sen. John Kerry is deceptive for putting words into President Bush's mouth about sending jobs overseas, the Kerry campaign releases a report that says Bush's economic proposals include $6 trillion in unpaid spending over the next 10 years.

A Newsweek columnist describes a hidden agenda in Bush's tax program: "In the name of preserving family farms and keeping small businesses in the family, Bush would eliminate the estate tax and create a new class of landed aristocrats who could inherit billions tax-free, invest the money, watch it compound tax-free and hand it down tax-free to their heirs."

As AP reports on a study by the General Accounting Office that showed most corporations doing business in the U.S. paid no income tax from 1996 to 2000, "cost-conscious" firms explore ways to delete workers' hours electronically, after the fact.

Don't Believe the Hoop The Washington Post reports on several high-visibility Bush proposals that are now stalled in Congress, due to what lawmakers describe as "a lack of vigorous follow-through by the administration once the initial hoopla died down."

William Saletan identifies a pattern of flip-flopping that is common to both Democrats and Republicans, and represents "the final stage of trusting George W. Bush."

April 2-4

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Sadr's City The New York Times Jeffrey Gettleman reports from Kufa, which he describes as "basically an occupation-free zone" where the Grand Mosque "has now become the grand arsenal."

As Moqtada al-Sadr moves to Najaf, where his supporters have reportedly taken over the city, a Los Angeles Times analysis examines the chances of the 'minor cleric' becoming a martyr, and Juan Cole says U.S. cable news is "doing its best to obscure the real issues" concerning al-Sadr. (Scroll up for more.)

A Sunday attack on the U.S. government's headquarters in Najaf, is said to have been repulsed by eight Blackwater commandos, with support from the firm's own helicopters.

'Gas Hogs' A new Pew Research poll finds that more Americans are paying "very close attention" to gas prices than to recent events in Iraq.

David Kay tells Vanity Fair that shortly after arriving in Baghdad last July, he realized that Saddam hadn't been stockpiling banned weapons. Kay says he wanted to resign last December, but CIA Director Tenet told him: "If you resign now, it will appear that we don't know what we're doing and the wheels are coming off."

Also quoted in Vanity Fair's ''The Path to War," is retired CIA official Richard Kerr, who says Vice President Cheney made at least 10 trips to CIA headquarters, and while analysts weren't asked to change their judgments, "they were being asked again and again to restate their judgments -- do another paper on this, repetitive pressures."

"Democracy Now!" interviews three National Guard soldiers back from Iraq, who tested positive for depleted uranium contamination. "Democracy Now!" co-host and New York Daily News reporter Juan Gonzalez, broke the story.

The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh reports on and discusses "The Other War," and the Boston Globe surveys recent intelligence findings on al-Qaeda, which indicate that it has "morphed into splinter groups" and "grown larger and looser, making it far more difficult to track than when bin Laden sat at the head..."

After the Washington Post's Anthony Shadid found out that he had won a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting, he said from Iraq that "The longer I'm here, the less I understand this story." In early March, Shadid talked about his experience in Iraq during a "NewsHour" interview and a lecture at Harvard.

The Los Angeles Times won five Pulitzers, including national reporting, for "The Wal-Mart Effect." The Toledo Blade won for investigative reporting -- its first-ever Pulitzer-- for its series on "Tiger Force" atrocities in Vietnam, and the New York Times won the public service award for "Dangerous Business" and "When Workers Die."

In a pre-Pulitzer profile, Matt Davies, who won for editorial cartooning, said: "As soon as John Kerry does something stupid, I'll go after him. But I'm so appalled at the complete ramrodding of a right-wing agenda. I feel Bush is president of the Republican Party, not the rest of us." Plus: Anti-Bush story lines go prime time.

As Sen. Edward Kennedy charges Bush with creating the "largest credibility gap since Richard Nixon," a Newhouse News columnist argues that Bush is no Nixon.

The editor of former ambassador Joseph Wilson's forthcoming memoir, tells the Washingtonian that the book will examine "a genre of leakers who leak to create a mendacious effect on a target."

"Who you talkin' to?" That's what President Bush asked an AP reporter who addressed him as "sir" instead of "Mr. President." Have a listen.

Read excerpts from Bill Hillsman's new book, "Run the Other Way: Fixing the Two-Party System, One Campaign at a Time." In an interview, Hillsman, who created advertising for Paul Wellstone, Jesse Ventura and Ralph Nader, talked about why the two parties run the other way from him.

Brian Montopoli calls for eliminating the practice of place-holding for seats at congressional hearings, where companies like Congressional Services charge lawyers and lobbyists $32 to $40 per hour for each spot in line, and then pay the place-holders $10 to $15 an hour. The original -- and longer -- version of Montopoli's article was titled "The Queue Crew."

Marc Cooper finds "The Last Honest Place in America," where a strippers' union organizer incited class warfare and became the talk of the town.

April 5

Wednesday, April 7, 2004

'Chaos Theory' Mark LeVine looks at who stands to gain from the turmoil in Iraq, as an alliance "unthinkable a week ago" suddenly emerges with Shiite and Sunni leaders finding common cause in opposing the U.S.-led occupation. Plus: 'Muslim rivals unite in Baghdad uprising.'

Witnesses say as many as 40 people were killed when rockets fired by U.S. Marines hit a mosque compound in Fallujah filled with worshippers, reports the AP. And according to a Fallujah hospital official, sixteen children and eight women were killed when U.S. warplanes struck four houses on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, President Bush said, "We've got tough work [in Iraq] because, you see, there are terrorists there who would rather kill innocent people... These people hate freedom. And we love freedom." A "NewsNight" report on the day's violence showed an Iraqi fighter in Fallujah saying, "We're not the terrorists as Bush said. The terrorist is the one attacking me in my country, in my home."

Commenting on fighting in Baghdad, Fallujah, Basra, Amarah, Nasiriyah and Najaf, U.S. occupation head Paul Bremer said: "If you just report on those few places, it does look chaotic." But Back-to-Iraq notes that "those few places" are home to about 77 percent of Iraqis.

A Los Angeles Times article predicts that the June 30 handoff will bring to Iraq a "Sovereignty Lite," watched over by the largest CIA station in the world.

Calling Moqtada al-Sadr Iraq's version of Lenin at the Finland Station, the American Prospect's Harold Meyerson writes that "The only unequivocally good policy option before the American people is to dump the president who got us into this mess, who had no trouble sending our young people to Iraq but who cannot steel himself to face the Sept. 11 commission alone."

In 'The New Saddam,' Justin Raimondo argues that "This entire Sadrist episode has been an American provocation from start to finish." Plus: Iraq no longer safe enough for the old Saddam?

'Deeper Into the Abyss' American Conservative contributor Christopher Layne wonders whether any American political leader will have the courage France's Charles de Gaulle showed when he elected to cut his country's losses in Algeria and get out.

Mark Kleiman tracks GOP efforts to spin Sen. Edward Kennedy's remark that "Iraq is George Bush's Viet Nam" into a prediction of American defeat, and Helen Thomas, saying it would be a travesty if the war in Iraq does not become the focus of debate in the presidential campaign, calls on Bush and Kerry to lay out their exit strategies. Plus: Bush administration's case for war no longer has leg to stand on.

As the only person convicted in the 9/11 attacks is freed by a German court, the Washington Post previews national security adviser Condoleezza Rice's likely strategy in testifying before the 9/11 commission, and a Los Angeles Times report says Rice is "solely responsible" for what Bush knew about Richard Clarke's efforts.

Robert Parry finds it hard to imagine that Rice can't think of anything that "she, her boss or his administration could have done better" in the months preceding 9/11. "But Condoleezza Rice seems to have adopted George W. Bush’s lifetime attitude of never having to say 'Sorry.'"

MSNBC reports that the White House is denying the 9/11 commission access to the full text of the speech Rice was to give on September 11, 2001, because the document is a "draft" and "drafts are classified."

ABC's "Nightline" reports that President Bush's decision to fly to Nebraska on 9/11 instead of returning directly to the White House, was part of an elaborate "Armageddon" plan.

A new report by Amnesty International says that 84 percent of the world's 1,146 known executions in 2003 took place in four countries.

Premiere of William Bennett's "Morning in America" radio show, which included an interview with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, narrowly avoids media shutout. Plus: Conservatives court African Americans for battle against same-sex marriage.

The St. Louis Cardinals deny piping in fake applause to mask potential boos when President Bush threw out the first pitch at the team's home opener. (Scroll down)

April 6

Thursday, April 8, 2004

Contradicting statements by the Bush administration and American officials in Iraq, U.S. intelligence officials tell the New York Times that there is evidence of a "broad-based Shiite uprising."

As the Christian Science Monitor reports that "Neither Iraqis nor the U.S. appear prepared to take on Sadr's militia," the Pentagon says it will increase the number of troops in Iraq and the Washington Post reports that the U.S. is seeking a new global force to protect the U.N. there.

"Marine engineers patrolling near Ramadi on Wednesday reported coming across a mass grave containing up to 350 bodies of Iraqis who appeared to have been killed in the fighting," reports Knight Ridder. "It wasn't clear whether the bodies belonged to combatants, civilians or both." Plus: Director of Fallujah's hospital says more than 280 Iraqis killed and 400 wounded.

Brendan O'Neill sees the outbreak of violence in Iraq as "less like a coherent uprising against occupying forces or the early days of a civil war, than an angry lashing out against the coalition," which, "created a dangerous vacuum...In removing a regime that dominated every aspect of Iraqi society, with little sense of what might take its place."

A Seattle radio talker, currently broadcasting from Baghdad, is quoted in a New York Times article as saying his callers have recently included "more military families expressing reservations about the mission," and that in his opinion the invasion seems to have "delivered 130,000 Americans to the front door of a bunch of terrorists who now have a much shorter commute."

Naomi Klein reports from Baghdad, where she finds no room at the inn for anyone presumed to be an American, and a city "blanketed with inept psy-ops organs like Baghdad Now." Plus: 'The Iraqi Inversion.'

Rock the Vote?  In a link-rich essay, Maureen Farrell examines public pronouncements that a terrorist attack in the U.S. could result in the cancellation of the 2004 elections.

Reuters reports on the hip hop community's election-year activism, including the first "National Hip-Hop Political Convention," which is being modeled on 1972's "National Black Political Convention" where attendees strategized about how to defeat Richard M. Nixon.

"Democracy Now!" interviews John Dean about his bestselling new book, "Worse than Watergate," in which he outlines "something like 11 inchoate scandals that are available right now to really become a serious part of this administration." Earlier: Carl Bernstein laments 'idiot culture.'

Cynthia McKinney is running to regain her seat in the U.S. House, telling the Los Angeles Times that the 9/11 commission hearings have validated the criticisms she raised before her defeat.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters that when Rice met privately in February with the 9/11 commission, "only five members showed up." But McClellan didn't tell reporters the whole story.

Defense PAC A political action committee geared to raising money for "first-rate minority GOP candidates," finds few takers and comes under fire for diverting money to other causes, such as House Majority leader Tom DeLay's legal defense fund.

Daschle's Nader In South Dakota, home to about 60,000 Native Americans, the editor/publisher of the Lakota Journal is running as an independent candidate against Sen. Tom Daschle. Mother Jones covers that race and other 'Senate-Show Downs.'

An analysis of employment trends in the nation's 100 largest labor markets, dating back to the Reagan administration, shows that nearly 2/3rds have lost jobs since President Bush took office. Plus: Rising gas prices spark urge to fuel and flee, and Wal-mart hits a wall.

Pulitzer, Schmulitzer Slate's Jack Shafer traces the history of Pulitzer boasting, and suggests setting up parallel awards for the year's worst reporting. Plus: 'Winners not best-kept secret.'

Head of Traditional Values Coalition accuses Jimmy Breslin of making up quotes in column. Earlier: 'Sticking With Tradition.'

"On the Media" examines the controversial practice of TV stations setting up ratings-boosting stings of online sexual predators, who are recruited from chatrooms by the volunteer vigilantes at Perverted-Justice.com.

A Baltimore Sun article on a U.S. Justice Department "operation to rid the world of porn," notes that "The Bush administration is eager to shore up its conservative base with this issue. Ashcroft held private meetings with conservative groups a year and a half ago to assure them that anti-porn efforts are a priority." Plus: Greg Beato convenes with Ashcroft's antagonists in Las Vegas.

April 7

Friday, April 9, 2004

A Christian Science Monitor article details the 'perfect storm' that began with the move to close the Al Hawza newspaper and has led to the building of bridges "between the US-led coalition's enemies inside Iraq and drawn more people to the insurgency."

AFP reports that thousands of Iraqis chanting "No Sunnis, no Shiites, yes for Islamic unity," forced their way through U.S. checkpoints to deliver aid to Fallujah, which is also said to be attracting Shiite fighters. More signs of a Sunni/Shiite alliance.

An AP article on mounting concern over the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, cites 30-year CIA veteran Milt Bearden, who "notes that in the last 100 years any insurgency that has taken on a nationalist character -- for instance, a shared goal of getting rid of Americans -- has succeeded." Bearden had warned the U.S. against underestimating its adversaries in Iraq.

Robert Novak says U.S. generals are privately "outraged" by inadequate troop levels in Iraq and that Gen. John Abizaid is determined not to be the fall guy if things continue to deteriorate. The Washington Post reports that Abizaid may have to retake positions seized by Shiite militia that were supposed to be under control of other members of a coalition that is showing signs of fracture.

In a letter from Iraq, a U.S. civilian contractor offers this assessment of private security forces: "Instead of a professional military outfit here we have a bunch of cowboys and vigilantes running wild in the streets." Plus: 'Under fire, security firms form an alliance' and a Blackwater VP says of Fallujah attack: "We were set up."

Reporting from 'Bitter Baghdad,' the New York Observer's Tish Durkin hears "the sound of wheels coming off" as the U.S. labors to "keep the grateful Iraqi people at a safe distance from their liberators." Plus: Iraqi blogger predicts bloody weekend.

The Independent has a one year on assessment of the situation in Iraq from Patrick Cockburn, and an anniversary then and now on pro-war commentators, including a Daily Mirror columnist who went from writing "Being against this war when British soldiers are fighting and dying seems cheap, grubby and inappropriate," to "The whole sorry mess looks like a bloody disaster."

A Washington Post article on Sec. of State Colin Powell's "sober assessment" of rising U.S. casualties, also reports that President Bush, who toured his ranch Thursday with the head of the NRA and various hunting groups, has spent "more than 40 percent of his presidency" either at his ranch, at Camp David or in Kennebunkport. Plus: Fishing for votes.

Questioning Condi The Center for American Progress fact checks and provides additional commentary on National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 commission.

Slate's William Saletan decodes Rice's 'self-serving' testimony and a New York Times op-ed contrasts the two worlds that CNN viewers saw during the hearing. Plus: "Jersey Girls" say what they saw.

He Says She Said Richard Clarke told ABC's Peter Jennings that Rice "corroborated" his testimony when "She said that the president received 40 warnings face to face from the director of central intelligence that a major al Qaeda attack was going to take place and she admitted that the president did not have a meeting on the subject, did not convene the Cabinet."

The Star Tribune editorializes that Rice's testimony shows the Bush administration to have been "outrageously derelict in its duty to protect the American people" and describes her performance leading up to 9/11 as "unconscionable."

The Daily Howler notes how the 9/11 panel changed its rules to accommodate Rice. Plus: Did Al Franken get to Newsweek's Howard Fineman?

Bill Clinton goes it alone in a closed-door session before the 9/11 commission, after which chairman Thomas Kean said the former president was "totally frank, totally honest, and forthcoming," adding that Clinton offered to "stay just as long as you all want me to."

Reuters reports on a steady exodus of White House counterterrorism staffers since 9/11, many citing frustration with Bush administration policies.

"Troubling" FactCheck.org finds a new Bush campaign ad appropriately-named because it recycles bogus claims and accuses Sen. John Kerry of planning "the exact opposite of what Kerry says he'd do."

The Los Angeles Times reports on First Amendment fallout after a deputy U.S. marshall, apparently on orders from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, seized and erased recordings made by two reporters at a Scalia speech.

The Washington Post's Jefferson Morley says "The sensational story of Sibel Edmonds," the former FBI translator who claims to have read 2001 intelligence reports that al-Qaeda operatives planned to fly hijacked U.S. airplanes into skyscrapers, "illuminates the world of difference between the international online media and the U.S. press."

uggabugga distills William Safire's (neo) chemistry of the Middle East, and Web questioners ask Ayatollah Sistani about alcohol usage, the lottery, oral sex, sea animals and more.

April 8

Saturday, April 10, 2004

The New York Times reports the acknowledgement by White House officials that two examples in the now declassified PDB -- the surveillance of federal buildings in New York City and a May 2001 warning call to an American embassy -- do not match National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's description of the memo as containing "historical information based on old reporting."

'Darling Condi' The Daily Howler says journalists should have researched this before Rice’s Thursday session. "Instead, they wandered aimlessly onto the air, marveling at the PDB’s long-public title," without "examining what The Icon has said."

Monday, April 12, 2004

Spun Out An Editor & Publisher article says White House officials must be "sadly disappointed" with coverage of the Presidential Daily Brief release, since "Nearly every major outlet chose to focus on the aspects of the brief that were not merely 'historical,' as the administration had portrayed the document before its release."

"What should have made Condi hysterical, she deemed 'historical,'" writes Maureen Dowd. "On Iraq, they ran roughshod over the system. On Al Qaeda, Condi blamed the system..." Plus: uggabugga compares Rice's testimony with the text of the PDB, and the Washington Post revisits August 2001, when 'Bush gave no sign of worry.'

The PDB spotlight has shifted to a pair of new questions, reports the Los Angeles Times: "How did the president respond? And what did the FBI do?" Plus: David Corn on "the pre-9/11 blunder you’ve probably never heard of."

The Editor & Publisher article refers to an op-ed by former Senator and 9/11 commission member Bob Kerrey that praised Rice. Kerrey also said the time is now, for "something completely different" in Iraq.

Richard Reeves' exit strategy is to 'Fire Them All,' including Vice President Cheney, "a huckster with contempt for the rights and consent of the governed, a man who feels he has no responsibility to facts." Plus: 'I'm Fired!'

The Independent's diplomatic editor considers four scenarios for what happens next in Iraq and Time solicits the opinion of a diplomat, a Senator and a former general, as to 'What Should Bush Do?'

Knight Ridder's Warren Strobel checks in with several Middle East analysts about progress in 'the quest to bring democracy to Iraq.' A former U.S. ambassador says, "It was going to transform the Middle East, remember? Now all we want to do is save our butts."

A BBC survey of world editorial opinion on U.S. policy in Iraq, includes a Ha'aretz commentator's call to bring back Saddam, who, as Patrick Cockburn pointed out in an article on the one-year anniversary of the toppling of Saddam's statue, "should not have been a hard act to follow."

American setbacks in Iraq are making Israel anxious about its own security, according to an article in the Jerusalem Post, which refers to an Israeli military oficer's prediction that it will be a "hot summer" in Iraq.

A column by Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria and a Washington Post article review U.S. mistakes in advance of the uprising in Iraq. Zakaria cites a 2003 RAND Corp report, which estimated that 20 security personnel were needed per 1,000 inhabitants, for a total of about 500,000 soldiers and police.

News that a battallion of the Iraqi army refused to go to Fallujah follows reports that security forces abandoned their posts.

In interviews with the Los Angeles Times, refugees from Fallujah describe a city increasingly sympathetic to the uprising, which, according to an article in Scotland's Sunday Herald, was plotted at a secret meeting last month in London, where senior Islamic activists decided to "stir the Iraqi Shiite resistance."

"They seemed like they were well-funded," said a wounded Marine of the Fallujah fighters. "We captured one of their vehicles. They had a couple hundred dollars in American money. Then they had a lot more money hidden in other places in their car. And they were driving BMWs." Earlier: Message board poster claims to have noticed "significant increase in inbound air traffic to Dover AFB."

As a New York Post columnist says it's time to "fight like Americans" in Iraq, a senior British Army officer tells the Telegraph that the British high command is increasingly uneasy with U.S. military tactics and that American troops view Iraqis as "untermenschen." Plus: 'How GI bullies are making enemies of their Iraqi friends.'

A New York Times article airs the concern of U.S. military officials, who see "an increasing mismatch between what American troops are being asked to do in Iraq and what is being accomplished in the political field there."

The article quotes Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt as saying that Iraqis watching images of civilians being killed should "change the channel." Islam Online, which reports that the U.S. wants Al-Jazeera out of Fallujah, recounts an on-air dispute that one of the station's anchors had with Kimmitt over events in Fallujah.

PINR looks at how the upsurge in violence, which has "brought the brutality of the conflict directly into the living rooms of America," threatens Bush's reelection prospects, and New Yorker editor David Remnick contrasts Bush's "simplicities" with Kerry's "complex views," calling Kerry a "sterling biography in search of a coherent language." Plus: Kerry's campaign releases middle-class misery index.

As the U.S. military backs off its prediction that Osama bin Laden will be captured this year, Pakistan's Daily Times reports that he left Pakistan in mid-2003. An Asia Times article on the hunt cites estimates that Pakistan lost up to 800 soldiers in its recent search for "high-value targets," not 50 as the government officially admitted.

April 9-11

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Empire Notes Rahul Mahajan reports from Fallujah, Slate correspondent Wendell Steavenson describes how she survived the drive there, and the Sydney Morning Herald's Paul McGeough interviews refugees from 'a town where sports fields are graveyards.'

The Washington Post reports that the U.S. siege of Fallujah has created a "powerful backlash" in Baghdad, where "Intense, sympathetic and often startlingly graphic coverage on Arab channels has deepened a vein of nationalism..." Post reporter Anthony Shadid goes live from Baghdad.

As Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya continue to be accused of fueling violence in Iraq, Reuters reports that recent weeks have seen a widening gap between official U.S. statements and information coming from the ground. Plus: Battle for Iraqi hearts and minds becomes casualty of resistance.

'Blind In Baghdad' Richard Cohen writes that "In almost every way but one, Iraq is not Vietnam. Here's the one: We don't know what the hell we're doing." Earlier: 'Blind Into Baghdad.'

"Isn't it amazing?" asks Paul Krugman. "A year after the occupation of Iraq began, Mr. Bush and his inner circle seem more divorced from reality than ever." He also makes reference to a commentary by Arnaud de Borchgrave, 'Chalabi's road to victory?'

As the Coalition Provisional Authority announces plans to tighten controls on the estimated 20,000 armed contractors on the ground in Iraq, Intel Dump's Phil Carter writes in Slate that "Short of convening a new Geneva Convention... there is no way to fix the ambiguous status of these hired guns."

The security situation in Iraq has forced Halliburton to suspend some supply convoys. The article quotes Peter Singer, who says "There is no legal jurisdiction over these personnel to order them the way the military does a soldier. That's why these gaps in service are quite dangerous."

Union report prompts question: "Why are we spending hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq, yet hiring a low-rent outfit like Wackenhut to provide security at our nuclear facilities?"

"The question of what did the President know and when did he know it is of interest," writes Justin Raimondo, "but the real issue is what didn't he know – and who kept it from him?" Plus: 9/11 commission fails to ask fundamental question.

'Condi's Cover-up Caves In' David Corn reviews the White House's efforts to stymie congressional, media and 9/11 commission scrutiny of the PDB, dating back to May 2002, when its existence was first reported.

Following her 9/11 testimony, Rupert Murdoch's New York Post championed Rice, who last month addressed executives of Murdoch's News Corp.

Checking in on the 'Eastern Front,' Billmon explains the dearth of coverage about how events in Iraq may be hampering U.S. efforts in Afghanistan: "The media understands that the Iraq fiasco has not been a deadly distraction from the war against Al Qaeda. They understand that Iraq is now the 'central front in the war on terrorism.' After all, that’s what Dear Leader says."

TalkLeft says that what's unique about the case of a Saudi graduate student whose Idaho terrorism trial begins Tuesday, "is that it will be the first time the Government tries to convict someone for providing material support to a terrorist organization chiefly for promoting militant Islam online."

Inter Press Service reports on the targeting of "jihad sites" by groups like Internet Haganah, whose founder claims to have facilitated the closure of more than 400 such enterprises.

The New Yorker's James Surowiecki gathers examples of how the Bush Administration has politicized economic data, such as tapping Treasury Department civil servants to evaluate a tax proposal identical to Sen. John Kerry’s. Democrats have also denounced an anti-tax message in the department's press releases.

Conventional Wisdom Political operatives question whether the GOP in NYC is a good idea, and Democrats fret that Bill Clinton will steal the spotlight from Kerry when his forthcoming memoir is released. Plus: Does Al-Qaeda have a dog in election hunt?

April 12

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Prior to the August 6 brief, President Bush and his national security team had already seen what the Washington Post describes as "a stream of alarming reports" on al-Qaeda's intentions, two of which were headlined "Bin Laden planning multiple operations" and "Bin Laden threats are real." In CIA Director George Tenet's words, "The system was blinking red."

Testifying on Wednesday before the 9/11 commission, Tenet said the U.S. lacks the tools to combat al-Qaeda. In Tuesday testimony, Attorney General Ashcroft denied taking little interest in terrorism. Slate's Fred Kaplan says the commissioners gave Ashcroft a free pass.

The Project On Government Oversight says that five months before 9/11, the Joint Chiefs of Staff rejected an "airplanes as missiles" scenario being advanced by NORAD, as "too unrealistic."

Appearing at his third prime-time press conference, President Bush said he would stake his re-election on success in Iraq, but declined reporters' invitations to apologize on behalf of the U.S. government to the 9/11 victims, or to name a mistake he's made. Critical Viewer provides a condensed version.

Bad to Worse "8:55 —A specific question about mistaken prewar assumptions: we'd be greeted as liberators, we knew where the WMD was, Iraqi oil would pay for the occupation. Absolutely no response at all. Just a rote speech about how dangerous Saddam was. 9:17 — Bush sounds really hesitant and unsure of his words. Marian just got home and said he sounds even worse on radio."

The New York Observer's Joe Hagan describes a "grim, defensive" Bush, aided by Fox's interpretive ticker, and Salon's Tim Grieve says Bush came off as a 'schoolboy who hadn't done his homework.' Plus: Bush works his "must-call" list.

Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson finds Bush creeping closer to Kerry's position on Iraq, and The Weekly Standard's William Kristol tells Ron Brownstein that "I was depressed" by Bush's performance. "He didn't explain how we are going to win."

Brownstein also reports that the Bush-Cheney campaign will scale back its TV advertising by about a third and increase the percentage of anti-Kerry ads. A Media Fund exec tells Brownstein that they intended "to put this thing away early, and it didn't happen," and a campaign media analyst says Iraq and the 9/11 hearings got in the way: "It's awful hard to cut through events of that magnitude."

Home Cooked In an editorial urging Bush to reconsider the June 30 deadline for transferring power to the Iraqis, Crawford's Lone Star Iconoclast says that by running the war with an eye on election strategy, Bush "threatens the stability of the entire world."

A university administrator in Baghdad, where an estimated 60,000 Fallujahns have taken refuge, tells the Christian Science Monitor that "the problem is no longer between the Americans and Moqtada al-Sadr's army. Now, the problem is between America and Iraq." Plus: 'A nervous Baghdad battens down the hatches' and Jo Wilding and Dahr Jamail report on the situation in Fallujah, where the U.S. has reportedly launched heavy fire.

Appearing on PBS's "News Hour," Juan Cole and Reuel Gerecht expressed doubts about the wisdom of a U.S. attack on Najaf, "the Shiite Vatican," with Gerecht saying, "I can't think of a worse move for the United States."

As military analysts tell USA Today that more troops in Iraq may not be enough to stem the insurgency, the Washington Post reports that the U.S. is facing increasingly sophisticated opposition there, as evidenced by the demolition of key bridges on convoy routes.

Foreigners are being urged to leave Iraq, and U.N. Secretary General Annan says lack of security will prevent him from sending a large team back to the country "for the foreseeable future." Despite mounting dangers for foreign contractors, Halliburton says it will continue to dispatch hundreds of employees to Iraq and Kuwait this week.

Naomi Klein discovers what freedom sounds like in Baghdad, Pat Buchanan says that whatever the U.S. thought it was fighting for when it invaded Iraq, the question is what are we fighting for now?, and Karen Kwiatkowski argues that the real reason the U.S. is in Iraq is not to democratize Islam, which she calls "delusional window dressing," but rather, for geo-strategic military positioning.

The White House has announced that it plans to appoint Iran-Contra figure John Negroponte as U.S. ambassador to Iraq. When Negroponte was nominated for his current position as U.S. ambassador to the U.N., allegations resurfaced that he protected death squads during his tenure as U.S. ambassador to Honduras, and Sen. Christopher Dodd asked, "I wonder who he thinks he works for?"

Bush To Earth A Guardian article summarizes the view expressed in a report by British Prime Minister Blair's senior advisor on sustainable development, namely that "it is hard to exaggerate the damage done to the planet" by George W. Bush, who has "set the world back more than ten years."

April 13

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Ali Abunimah asks: "what is all the fuss about? Sharon and Bush did not say anything new... Sharon's position indicates a significant shift towards Israel's traditional Labor-led 'peace camp,' while Bush simply rephrased formulas already used by former president Bill Clinton."

'The End of the Road' Billmon says "the worst thing about this neocon smash-and-grab job is that it's probably irreversible. In the loopy world of the 'special relationship,' a presidential statement like this is regarded as the equivalent of a treaty with Israel."

Alaskan composer takes heat from Anchorage's Jewish community over "The Skies are Weeping," a cantata about the late Rachel Corrie.

Testifying before the 9/11 commission, CIA Director Tenet said he didn't mention the mid-August arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui to President Bush or other senior administration officials prior to 9/11. Details of the arrest were given to the CIA in a briefing paper labeled "Islamic Extremist Learns to Fly."

Tenet's office said he erred in testifying that he hadn't met with Bush during August 2001. "I'm not sure whether Mr. Tenet has a faulty memory...Or if he's fuzzing things up because he told the president more specifics than he wants to admit," writes Maureen Dowd. "But in a town where careers are made on face time with the president, it's fishy that the head spook can't remember a six-hour trip to Crawford for some." Plus: 'While Bush vacationed, 9/11 warnings went unheard.'

Bush exaggerated the mustard gas find in Libya and misled about Iraqi oil expectations during his press conference. The Progressive's Matthew Rothschild says he also sent "a signal for slaughter." Earlier, Rothschild called Bush on the bogusness of his oft-repeated claim that before 9/11 "we assumed oceans would protect us."

"Imagine it is April, 1943 and FDR is meeting with the press," writes Peggy Noonan. "Our press corps in those days was more like Americans than our press corps is today. They were both less self-hating and more appropriately anxious: Don't be killing our leaders in the middle of a war, don't be disheartening the people. Win and do the commentary later."

Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts says Richard Clarke’s testimony before a congressional panel did not contradict his testimony before the 9/11 commission, as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has claimed.

Rep. Tom Delay's comment that "I'm just glad President Carter wasn't in charge after Valley Forge, Bull Run or Pearl Harbor," prompts a comparison of the pair's military service.

Scroll down for the long list of U.S. military operations in Iraq, that now includes "Resolute Sword." Plus: A call for installing a strongman in Iraq.

The New York Times reports that U.S. forces killed more than 100 insurgents during a 14-hour battle in the village of Karma, which it describes as "one of the heaviest engagements since the invasion of Iraq last year." The article quotes a Marine commander who said, "A lot of these guys were souped up on jihad. They might as well been suicide fighters."

Newsweek's Rod Nordland told USA Today that the security situation in Iraq is "getting worse day by day" and that resistance to the U.S. occupation ''is so widespread that it shows there either is a wellspring of discontent or an awful lot of Iraqis have changed their view. It's astonishing.'' Earlier: Nordland on 'The Iraqi Intifada.'

Interviewed on "NewsNight," Nordland said things have quieted down somewhat. He spoke before a segment about U.S. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt mixing it up with an Al-Jazeera anchor. Baghdad Burning's Riverbend joins the fray, writing that "We don't need news networks to make us angry or frustrated. All you need to do is talk to one of the Falloojeh refugees making their way tentatively into Baghdad."

Reporters Without Borders, which also criticized the criticism of the Arab satellite channels, voices "shock and outrage" over the sentencing of eight Tunisian Internet users to prison terms ranging from 19 to 26 years, after being convicted of promoting terrorist attacks "on no other evidence than files downloaded from the Internet."

Marine Corps Times reports on the Council on American-Islamic Relations' call for a Pentagon investigation into the apparent gag photo of a smiling Marine and two Iraqi boys, all giving the thumbs up as one of the boys holds a cardboard sign that reads, "Lcpl Boudreaux killed my Dad, th[en] he knocked up my sister!"

It's time to stop avoiding "killing" says Left I on the News: "American soldiers, and American bombs are not 'cleansing the poison,' or even 'taking people out.' They are killing people." Scroll down for 'Spinning themselves dizzy.' More on words of war from Michael Moore.

The new Miss USA tells Reuters that she will use her position to help explain America's involvement in Iraq, that "What needed to be done had to be done." Earlier: Contestants dream TV dreams.

April 14

Friday, April 16, 2004

'The Cost of Doing Business' Sierra magazine's Marilyn Berlin Snell breaks the story of how Denver-based Echo Bay Mines secretly paid upwards of $2 million in protection money to al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in the Philippines, according to a former project manager at the company's Kingking gold and copper mine on the island of Mindanao.

As ABC News was preparing to air 'Blood Money,' its report on Echo Bay Mines, the U.S. Justice Department, which along with the Department of Homeland Security had rebuffed the whistleblower, reversed course and said that it would reopen its investigation into the company's operations.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says that some Iraqi nuclear facilities appear to be unguarded and that radioactive materials are being taken out of the country. A letter sent to U.S. officials cites a review of satellite imagery that found "extensive removal of equipment and in some instances, removal of entire buildings" in Iraq.

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says the recent death toll for U.S. troops in Iraq has been higher than he expected, while Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, calls the insurgency "a symptom of the success that we're having here in Iraq."

Sidney Blumenthal writes that "A revolt within the military against Bush is brewing. Many in the military's strategic echelon share the same feelings of being ignored and ill-treated by the administration that senior intelligence officers voice in private." Plus: U.S. commanders are asking: 'How far can these troops be pushed?'

A Swans commentary by Edward Herman asks whether the U.S. will have to destroy Iraq in order to save it, and Matt Taibbi finds "a hint as to why the rest of the world hates us" in the fact that 30 years after an estimated one to three million Vietnamese and one-sixth of all Laotians died, the U.S. still refers to Vietnam as "our national tragedy."

Also exploring 'The Vietnam Analogy,' Paul Krugman says some Iraq war supporters have already "reached the stage of quagmire logic: they no longer have high hopes for what we may accomplish, but they fear the consequences if we leave." Plus: 'Deeper into the quagmire.'

The New York Times reports that while the Bush administration accepted the outlines of a plan by U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi for a caretaker government in Iraq, administration officials asserted that "American influence on the process would be considerable." Juan Cole examines the Brahimi plan, a "compromise" that he says "would interfere with the Pentagon shoe-horning [Ahmad] Chalabi into power..."

Writing in Salon, Cole argues that by embracing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's position, Bush has "succeeded in making America, in Arab eyes, virtually indistinguishable from Israel."

The Los Angeles Times surveys reaction of Arab leaders to the U.S. shift in Middle east strategy and finds them agreeing that the U.S. can no longer be seen as an honest broker in the peace process. David Ignatius also agrees, writing that "President Bush is on a roll in the Middle East... backward."

Writing about Sen. John Kerry's quick endorsement of Bush's new stance on Israel, Billmon cites a friend who "likes to call the Israeli-Palestinian issue the Death Valley of American progressives -- a hellish, blasted wasteland that sucks the life out of anyone who tries to cross it." A WSWS analysis says that "for the Democratic challenger, as for the Republican incumbent, the Palestinian people do not exist."

In 'The Kerry Tribes,' Slate's Michael Crowley identifies seven factions that he says are fighting for control of Kerry's campaign and his presidency. MSNBC's David Shuster says the Bush-Cheney campaign may have spent too much, too soon on a knockout strategy against Kerry, and that its huge financial advantage has all but disappeared.

A Blogging of the President post offers evidence that the Bush administration's media management strategy has unraveled, and looks at the potential impact of more aggressive mainstream war coverage on the election.

The New York Times reports that the White House may be planning a pre-emptive strike on the 9/11 commission's final report by creating a director of national intelligence, and the Los Angeles Times says the commission is collecting evidence on a decade of Pentagon failures in confronting al-Qaeda.

Bin Laden's Turn A Washington Post analysis says that Osama bin Laden's PsyOps campaign against the U.S. took a "surprising turn" with the release of a tape that is "modern, tactical and nearly diplomatic in tone." Plus: 'Where in the world is Ayman al-Zawahiri?'

The CIA counters criticism in a 9/11 commission report by disclosing information that shows it warned of attacks by Islamic extremists in 1995, and David Corn poses some questions that CIA Director Tenet didn't get asked by the commission.

The NRA has decided to give news a shot, with the debut of "Freedom's last channel of communication."

April 15

Monday, April 19, 2004

A St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter who was with U.S. Marines when they were ambushed near Husaybah, an Iraqi city of 100,000 on the Syrian border, covered the daylong battle that left five Marines and dozens of Iraqi insurgents dead, and the day after, when "a meaner, more solemn, more serious force" returned to patrol the city. Plus: Iraqis reluctant to help Marines.

As the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq reaches 700, the New York Times estimates that so far in April about 1000 Iraqis, including insurgents and civilians, have been killed. Iraq Body Count's minimum estimate of the total number of Iraqi civilian deaths stands at more more than 8,800.

FAIR responds to a CNN anchor's questioning of Al-Jazeera's emphasis on civilian deaths in Fallujah, and "NewsHour" anchor Jim Lehrer's claim that the reason the U.S. shut down the Al Hawza newspaper was "because it was calling for violence."

Juan Cole attributes the sudden announcement by Prime Minister Zapatero that Spanish troops will be withdrawn from Iraq, to the fact that the troops are around Najaf, which "at the moment has a Coalition bull's eye painted on it in all the satellite photos." Daily Kos looks at other countries that may withdraw troops and a British commander says his troops will be forced to leave Basra if Shia leaders ask them to go.

Iran says its efforts to end a stand-off between American troops and Iraqi rebels were doomed by the U.S.' "iron fist policy" in Iraq and a lack of security, which is also a major obstacle for U.N. envoys now being urged to go back into Iraq. Plus: Brendan O'Neill examines the scope of, and rational for, 'A new kind of private war' in Iraq.

The Independent's Patrick Cockburn reports that the U.S. has quietly sacked Dr. Khidir Hamza, a.k.a. "Saddam's Bombmaker." Ether Zone detailed how the U.S. mainstream media ignored charges made in a series of articles by Dr. Imad Khaddur, that Hamza was peddling bogus intelligence. Plus: The woman who hawked Hamza to the media.

A New York Times article on the growing division in conservative ranks over Iraq, quotes a National Review editorial that calls for the U.S. to downplay expectations after the recent uprising provided "a glimpse at the abyss in Iraq."

Pat Buchanan says that Iraq is "a classic case not only of mission creep, but of bait-and-switch," since the American people "signed on to a war to disarm and destroy a tyrant, not to decide what kind of government Iraq has."

'Blinking Red' The New York Times reports on the ways in which the findings of the 9/11 commission have "fundamentally reshaped the story of the Sept. 11 attacks," and the Christian Science Monitor chronicles 'Four moments when 9/11 might have been stopped.'

In a Washington Post op-ed, 9/11 commissioner Jamie Gorelick defends herself against assertions made by Attorney General Ashcroft in his testimony to the effect that a "cause" of 9/11 was a 1995 memo written by Gorelick, who also says that she has received death threats.

Sisyphus Shrugged says there's a "certain poetic rightness" in the Washington Post's treatment of Bob Woodward's "Plan of Attack," where "a reluctant Bush is forced, finally, by circumstance and on page one... into a war he's been planning feverishly for a year on page A15."

He's Right Then? National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice says Woodward's assertion that President Bush made the decision to invade Iraq in January 2003, is "simply not, not right." Earlier: How 'Condi made a joke of her oath.'

Pedal to the Meddle In his "60 Minutes" interview, Woodward said Saudi ambassador Prince Bandar pledged to Bush that Saudi Arabia will lower oil prices in the months before the election -- to ensure the U.S. economy is strong on election day. Plus: 'Secrets Exposed, Lies Revealed.'

Salon's Michelle Goldberg examines whether President Bush's endorsement of Prime Minister Sharon's proposal may have "killed the last chance for peace."

As world leaders condemn Israel's assassination of Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi, the Los Angeles Times reports that Hamas may now be too weak to follow through on threats of revenge.

Sen. John Kerry accused the Bush administration of a "stunningly ineffective" foreign policy, during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," in which he also defended his argument that the war against terrorism isn't primarily a military struggle. A WSWS analysis says the interview was proof that Kerry, like Bush, "is committed to maintaining U.S. control of Iraq."

As a Los Angeles Times poll shows Bush's support slipping among rural voters, Vice-President Cheney portrays Kerry as a threat to gun owners in a speech delivered at the annual NRA convention. Plus: The CJR Campaign Desk fact checks an AP story on a game called "Bush Shoot Out."

As both the Reform Party and the Green Party warm to Ralph Nader, "female non-voters" become a sought after bloc.

April 16-18

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Crowned Prince After the Saudi ambassador claimed during a phone call to "Larry King Live," that Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld told him before the January 2003 briefing that "the president has not made a decision yet" about invading Iraq, guest Bob Woodward said: "... years going back to Nixon. I've heard all of them... that goes in the hall of fame of dodges and fishy explanations." Plus: Gaggling Bandar.

Asked if he thought the Bush administration "expected a more favorable book," Woodward told King, "I think they expected a more favorable war." David Corn on Woodward on Bush, notes that according to the book, Bush and his aides didn't "seem particularly interested in planning for the post-invasion period."

'Fables of the Reconstruction' Alternative weeklies roll out Jason Vest's report on a memo by a Coalition Provisional Authority official, that describes corruption within the Iraqi Governing Council, resentments about the centralization of power in Baghdad, insufficient security in the Green Zone, and black-market sales of U.S.-supplied weapons by Iraqi police.

As the U.S. government offers a new contract worth up to $100 million to guard the Green Zone, the New York Times looks at the shadow soldiers in Iraq, and former "60 Minutes" producer Barry Lando asks: since mercenaries are the major U.S. ally in Iraq, to whom are they accountable?

Referring to himself as "the muscular peace candidate," Ralph Nader calls for the U.S. to withdraw its troops from Iraq in six months, saying that the only way to separate mainstream Iraqis from insurgents is to "declare you are getting out."

Honduras announces that it will follow Spain's lead on Iraq, and a British commander says his country's troops may have to stay there for up to 10 years.

As Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak tells Le Monde that "Today there is hatred of the Americans like never before" in the Arab world, recent U.S. statements on Israel prompt Jordan's King Abdullah to abruptly cancel a White House visit. Earlier: Bush-Cheney campaign's fund-raising letter lauded president for "leading a global crusade against terrorism."

In an essay titled "The Pentagon as Global Slumlord," Mike Davis analyzes the military's plans to conquer the urban poor in what it calls the "key battlespace of the future" -- Third World cities.

A University of Michigan study suggesting that thousands of innocents are being held in U.S. prisons, says that "if we reviewed prison sentences with the same level of care that we devote to death sentences, there would have been over 28,500 non-death-row exonerations in the past 15 years rather than the 255 that have in fact occurred."

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities plots actual vs. projected job growth under the Bush administration, and charts the deficit with and without the Bush tax cuts. Plus: A call to "Show Me The Jobs."

Former EPA official Bruce Buckheit tells Dateline NBC that the Bush administration "just doesn't care" about air pollution, and that he ought to know because "I was the head of the air enforcement division up until a couple weeks ago." Plus: President's 'interest in history' includes picking a new chief archivist without consulting archivists and historians.

Read the story behind a photo of flag-draped coffins being loaded into a cargo plane in Kuwait, which an Editor & Publisher article says "no major news organization would touch" when it first surfaced last week. The Memory Hole has more photos. Earlier: 'Humanity is first casualty of war.'

As U.S. officials step up their monitoring and criticism of Al-Jazeera, claiming that its reporting is endangering American lives, a Fox News report asks, 'Al Jazeera: Friend or Foe in War on Terror?'

Dock the Vote Tapped's Nick Confessore finds national security adviser Condoleezza Rice's warnings about possible terrorist attacks at election time, "a little too close to trying to talk down voter turnout." Plus: 'Ridge forms new terrorism task force.'

Kevin Drum sees bad news for Kerry in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, which shows him trailing Bush by 47% to 42%. They trade leads in recent Gallup and Zogby polls, and a new Web site that tracks polling data by state, has Bush leading Kerry by 278 to 260 electoral votes.

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, in an online chat about covering the White House, says President Bush's "resolve or stubborness, depending on how you look at it, has become perhaps the central characteristic of his presidency and the presidential campaign."

A Post review finds that since early March, Bush has drawn more than three times as much live cable coverage as Sen. John Kerry, while on NBC, no one trumps The Donald.

April 19

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

A Reuters article headlined 'Jordan's Snub to Bush is Tip of Iceberg,' says that "Coupled with the U.S. occupation of Iraq, which Arabs increasingly associate with Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories," President Bush's concessions last week to Prime Minister Sharon were "political dynamite."

Broadening the Street UPI's Martin Walker tells "On the Media" that "even the government-owned Arab press, which normally tries to give at least a nod to the American point of view is now very firmly and overwhelmingly against what Bush is doing." Plus: Are U.S. Christian fundamentalists driving President Bush's Middle East policy?

Israel announces that it will pump up investment in West Bank settlements, and Ha'aretz explains why Sharon's plan will live on -- even without him.

As the mayor of Basra accuses al-Qaeda of being behind suicide bombings that killed 68 people, the Swedes apprehend four suspected "terrorists" who were reportedly accused of "assisting the Iraqi resistance in carrying out terror attacks against U.S. troops."

The Los Angeles Times reports that "Of all the sudden changes in Iraq during the last month, control of the roads is among the most striking."

Two more names were added to the list of media workers who have died in Iraq, after two employees of the U.S.-funded TV station, Al-Iraqiya, were shot to death by U.S. troops on Monday. The killings are said to fit a pattern.

Marketplace's "Spoils of War" series finds that "lack of spending oversight spurred corruption to new levels in Iraq," with the problem "as deeply embedded in Washington as it is in Baghdad." Plus: 'War may require more money soon.'

As Sen. Chuck Hagel says the U.S. may need a draft to boost forces in Iraq, "Democracy Now!" interviews a member of the group Veterans for Peace, who is challenging a Bush administration policy that requires high schools to disclose student records to military recruiters or risk losing federal aid.

The Pentagon deleted a key exchange from the public transcript of Bob Woodward's interview with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, that quotes Rumsfeld as telling Saudi Prince Bandar in January 2003 that he could "take that to the bank" that the invasion of Iraq would happen. At a press briefing, Rumsfeld described the scrubbed passages as "some banter."

Reading Rumsfeld The New Republic's Spencer Ackerman says Rumsfeld's interviews with Woodward "surely raise the bar for CYA." Plus: 'Listen up, Rumsfeld: troops aren't "fungible."'

The Progress Report examines the $700 million question raised in Woodward's book.

Arguing that President Bush's reelection chances would be enhanced by throwing Cheney overboard, Slate's Timothy Noah writes that while "Rumsfeld can frequently play the bull in a china shop... Cheney's out-of-controlness is more alarming."

April 29 set as date for "Charlie McCarthy Hearings."

As Sen. John Kerry accuses the Bush administration of "playing dirty" on the environment, people are being encouraged to give it up for Earth Day. Earlier: EPA said to be acquiescing to demands of rat poison industry.

Anybody but Bush team draws Hall of Fame lefties.

The Public Relations Society of America has weighed in on the Medicare video news release narrated by Karen Ryan, issuing a statement recommending "that organizations that prepare VNRs should not use the word 'reporting' if the narrator is not a reporter."

Aborigines put a silent curse on Australian Prime Minister John Howard to protest his scrapping of an aboriginal body.

April 20

Thursday, April 22, 2004

A Christian Science Monitor article quotes a Saudi attorney who says that Wednesday's bombing in Riyadh represents "a strategic change in Al-Qaeda's tactics. This is their first direct attack on both a Saudi and a security target."

A group calling itself Al Haramain Brigades claimed responsibility for the Riyadh bombing, as a self-proclaimed "anti-American" group called the Yello-Red Overseas Organization threatened attacks against eight U.S. allies.

In a "Democracy Now!" segment on the increasing violence in the Middle East, author and blogger As'ad AbuKhalil says, "I don't understand why there is no debate in the American media and congress about what this administration has done to compound the problem of terrorism."

Philip Smucker samples pre 9/11 reporting on Al-Qaeda and bin Laden, and looks at how in the run up to war in Iraq, the mainstream media discounted the "idea that a pre-emptive U.S.-led invasion of Iraq without broad allied support would stir up a 'hornet's nest' in the Middle East."

Smucker was one of the first to report on how bin Laden slipped the noose from Tora Bora, which he also chronicles in his new book, "Al Qaeda's Great Escape: The Military and the Media on Terror's Trail."

In a Newsday op-ed, the author of a study released last month on media coverage of WMD, writes that pre-Iraq war coverage "not only disseminated the administration's logic, but because it didn't offer equally prominent alternative perspectives, it also validated it."

The U.S. Air Force releases 361 photographs of flag-draped coffins and services welcoming deceased soldiers at Dover Air Force Base, following a Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Memory Hole's Russ Kick.

The woman who toook the photo of flag-draped coffins being loaded onto a plane in Kuwait has been fired. The president of Maytag Aircraft claimed it was the company's decision, but he also said the U.S. military had identified "very specific concerns" about the actions of her and her husband, who was also sacked.

Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu walks free after 18 years in prison, and is greeted by dozens of mostly foreign supporters, and several hundred Israeli protesters chanting "Shut up, atomic spy!" and "Death to traitors!"

Vanunu said of Mossad and Shin Bet, which he accused of "cruel, barbaric treatment...You didn't succeed to break me, you didn't succeed to make me crazy. I am a symbol of the will of freedom, that you cannot break the human spirit." Read what his adoptive mom had to say.

As General Electric and Siemens curb their work in Iraq, the director of the Coalition Provisional Authority's program management office tells the New York Times that last week attendance on CPA projects was back up to about 50% -- an average of 3,517 workers -- after falling to 25% in early April.

A U.S. commander says that 40% of Iraq's security forces walked off the job when violence flared up, and an additional 10% "actually worked against" U.S. troops.

We Are Chalabi Iraq's war crimes tribunal is a family affair, with the spokesman for Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress acting as spokesman for the tribunal, which is being headed by Chalabi's nephew.

As Iraqi insurgents take their first American soldier prisoner, the U.S. military is said to have more than 20,000 Iraqis behind bars, with an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 at Abu Ghraib, dubbed "Guantanamo on steroids."

Tom Engelhardt introduces an essay by Jonathan Schell, who says that Sen. John Kerry's position on Iraq leaves him "stuck between politics and truth."

A Las Vegas man arrested April 13, "did knowingly and willfully threaten to kill, kidnap and inflict bodily harm upon Senator John Kerry," according to the federal indictment. Plus: Saudi Prince Bandar describes U.S. presidential campaign as "seasonal tribal warfare."

U.S. Treasury Department caught aping Republican National Committee talking points.

Rich Liberals? Editor & Publisher reports that a speech by President Bush to newspaper editors, publishers and executives, "was broken by applause only once, when Bush called for the end to the so-called 'death tax,' which he said unfairly taxed individual's assets twice."

Bob Woodward's "Plan of Attack" leads to speculation on the role of body language in Bush's decision to go to war.

Michael Moore writes that he's "deeply honored" by the announcement that his "Fahrenheit 911" will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, "considering it comes from our mortal enemy, the French." Recent profiles of Moore include 'The Populist' and 'American Bigmouth.'

April 21

Friday, April 23, 2004

A New York Times article says Japanese citizens taken hostage in Iraq are being "treated like criminals" in Japan. Their "transgression was to ignore a government advisory against traveling to Iraq. But their sin, in a vertical society that likes to think of itself as classless, was to defy what people call here 'okami,' or, literally, 'what is higher.'"

Knight Ridder reports on a new PIPA poll showing that 57% of Americans believe Saddam Hussein gave "substantial support" to al-Qaeda terrorists before the war with Iraq, 45% have the impression that "clear evidence" was found that Iraq worked closely with al-Qaeda, and 60% believe that before the war Iraq either had WMDs (38%) or a major program for developing them (22%).

Why Ask Why? Slate's Fred Kaplan says that in "Plan of Attack," Bob Woodward gives short shrift to the role played by the Office of Special Plans, Paul Wolfowitz and Ahmed Chalabi, and that he doesn't explain why President Bush decided to go to war, or why Vice President Cheney advocated for it.

On "Hardball" Woodward was asked, "Did the president ever get wise to the fact that the people who wanted this war were giving him the best news about the costs and the likely speed of success?" He said, "That's a good question, and I should have asked it. And I didn't." 

In response to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice giving what one Republican lawmaker described as a "very upbeat report" on Iraq, Paul Krugman writes: "That's very bad news. The mess in Iraq was created by officials who believed what they wanted to believe, and ignored awkward facts. It seems they have learned nothing." Plus: 'Sponsored Chaos?'

Matt Taibbi offers a sneak peek from "They Kicked Our Asses: An Iraq Diary," which begins in "the summer of 2004 straight through to the last bloody days of the U.S. withdrawal in November 2005."

A New York Times article on the U.S. easing its policy barring ex-Baath party members from key government posts, notes occupation spokesman Dan Senor's briefing claim that leaders in Fallujah have told U.S. officials that many of the fighters there "are on various drugs" and that "it is part of what they're using to keep them up to engage in this violence at all hours." What might they be souped up on?

Pentagon angered by The Memory Hole's posting of photos showing American war dead arriving at Dover Air Force Base, bars further release of the photographs to media outlets. Media execs say they had no idea the photos were being taken. Earlier: 'Traveling down the memory hole.'

Splashing the Dover photos, Matt Drudge celebrated the idea that "in the Internet Era, information and images flow without respect to government decree," but to make sure the traffic flowed to his site, he made no mention of who or what made the images flow -- saying only that the "unleashed" images "hit the Internet" -- and provided no clue as to where they first "hit."

Pat Boone, now the national spokesman for the 60-Plus Association, a conservative senior citizen lobby, tells the Washington Times that "Censorship is healthy for any society, and that goes for arts, entertainment, anything." Earlier: 60-Plus on drugs?

GolbalSecurity.org's John Pike says part of the reason the outside world learned of the North Korean train crash, after Pyongyang cut international phone lines, is that it happened close to the Chinese border where people have cell phones. News outlets lacked photos to use in illustrating the story.

Making the Call Defending a 2002 attempt by the Bush administration to discourage South Korean companies from building a cell phone network in the north, a U.S. diplomat said: "We don't want to keep North Korea in the stone age but do we really want their soldiers equipped with high-tech cell phones?" (scroll down)

A state advisory panel unanimously recommends that California ban 15,000 Diebold touch-screen voting machines from the Nov. 2 general election, with one panel member saying that he was "disgusted" by the company, which has "been jerking us around."

"Democracy Now!'s" Amy Goodman interviews Ferial Masry, who is attempting to become the first Saudi native to hold elective office in the U.S. She's an anti-war Democrat who's running for a seat in the California Assembly. Masry told the New York Times that "I'm the hottest thing in Saudi Arabia. All the newspapers have my pictures." Her son is serving in, and was blogging from, Iraq.

"The Saudis aren't talking about a drop in prices to Joe Six Pack, the prince's term for the American public," writes James Ridgeway. "It means a drop in price to the American oil men in an effort to inflate their profits, because, after all, they are major supporters of Bush and have been pumping money into his campaign."

In advance of next week's Supreme Court arguments in the Cheney enegry task force suit, Sen. John Kerry released a list of lobbyists that he met with since 1989. Kerry's disclosure of military records prompted a comparison with Bush's records.

Republican Congressmen assail Kerry on House floor, with one saying "He's called Hanoi John" and another saying "We do not need a Jane Fonda as commander in chief."

With the Bush-Cheney campaign enlisting the services of John O'Neill, who was used by Richard Nixon to attack Kerry's anti-war activities, is it also comeback time for Country Joe McDonald?

April 22

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The Washington Post's Karl Vick visits the U.S. military's "busiest hospital in Iraq," and reports that the more than 900 soldiers and Marines wounded in April account for about a quarter of those listed as wounded in action since the March 2003 invasion. A surgeon tells him that "We've done more [craniotomies] in eight weeks than the previous neurosurgery team did in eight months." Plus: Backlog for Purple Hearts.

The Post's Anthony Shadid tells a gathering of newspaper editors that "You are starting to see a little bit of a siege mentality" among reporters in Baghdad, who he says are "too secluded from the country they are covering."

Following a speech by Vice President Cheney at Westminster College in Missouri, that helped launch the "Winning the War on Terror Tour," the school's president said he was "surprised and disappointed that Mr. Cheney chose to step off the high ground and resort to Kerry-bashing for a large portion of his speech." Plus: 'No defense for Cheney.'

As 'Democrats hope to make Cheney a political liability for Bush,' the Choose to Recuse Web site is featuring Cheney and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in 'Quid Pro Quack!'

Paul Krugman on what Cheney's defending by blocking release of his energy task force's records.

Factcheck.org looks at new TV spots that it says "recycle some distortions of Kerry's voting record on military hardware. We've de-bunked these half-truths before but the Bush campaign persists." Left I on the News wonders what role stealth bombers play in thwarting terrorists, and the campaign introduces a mechanism for tracking John Kerry.

As Kerry calls on Bush to prove that he showed up for duty in the National Guard, Boston Globe columnist Thomas Oliphant defends Kerry on the medals flap: "I just happened to be there that long-ago day. I saw what happened and heard what Kerry said and know what he meant. The truth happens to be with him." Plus: Joe Conason on 'Karen Hughes' high-octane gall.'

"House of Bush, House of Saud" author Craig Unger examines the career of Bush-Saudi go-between James Bath, and calls the deleting of Bath's name from the president's military records an indication of "Bush's extreme sensitivity about his family's extensive connections with the Saudis." The Saudi foreign minister says books like Unger's get it wrong about Saudi Arabia, and Robert Dreyfuss says the foreign minister gets it right on Iraq.

A Los Angeles Times commentary reaches back to the 80s to argue that California is in presidential play, and an AP article details how Gov. Schwarzenegger is following the Bush administration's media relations playbook.  "They've instituted presidential-level media rules at the state level," says a Republican media strategist. "Schwarzenegger knows that the media is going to cover him whether he talks to them or not."

Blowing Smoke  Candidate Schwarzenegger promised to retrofit a Hummer to run on hydrogen power, but a company spokesman said the hydrogen Hummer is "not something that exists currently. It's not something you would expect to see in the near future."

During a Q&A session with newspaper editors, Sen. John Kerry vowed to hold a full press conference once a month if elected president, calling it "a wonderful opportunity to market."

The Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into how Republicans got access to Democrats' computer memos in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Memory Hole's Russ Kick writes of being "told by a reporter that NASA released the astronaut casket photos at the time and has never objected to their use. Quite a marked difference from the battlefield dead, who are swept under the rug by the Pentagon." The Los Angeles Times profiles "unlikely provocateur" Kick, who says his site had nearly 5 million hits on Saturday. A Seattle Times editor says that at one point, his paper was receiving an e-mail a second about the photo by Tami Silicio that it published.

As newspaper editorials back release of the soldier coffin photos and a Pentagon spokesman debates Dana Milbank, Jonathan Alter says that "privacy" and "respect for the families" are just "fig leaves." Plus: Photos set to words and music.

The Gadflyer's Paul Waldman writes that "it has been not the government that has worked the hardest to keep images of American deaths -- and just as importantly, of Iraqi deaths -- out of public view. That task has fallen to the news media, and they have carried it out with vigor."

Hans Blix likens events leading up to the invasion of Iraq to the "witch-hunts of past centuries," and contrasts the cost of inspections -- estimated at $80 million per year and about 200 inspectors -- with that of invasion. Saudi officials are said to have recommended that the U.S. buy off the Iraqi army for $200 million. The issue was raised by Bob Woodward and addressed by Saudi Prince Bandar during Sunday's installment of "Meet the Press."

Book releases prompt Bush administration to declare "War on Tourerism."

Aaron McGruder tells the Los Angeles Times that after 9/11, "Journalists stopped being journalists," and "All this cheerleading started. All of a sudden this lame president was being hailed as a bold national leader... It was then I became a political cartoonist." Earlier: McGruder heckled at Nation gathering.

"I've always found interviews embarrassing," says Patti Smith. "People say, 'How does it feel to be a rock icon?' I’ve probably just walked to the interview after doing the laundry. The cat has thrown up on the carpet and I’ve had to clear that up." Read a review of Smith's first post-9/11 album, which features "Radio Baghdad."

Mary McGrory has her final say.

April 23-26

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

'I've Got a Secret' Slate's Dahlia Lithwick reports on Vice President Cheney's day in court, a case which she calls "a study in the evils of premature litigation."

Commenting on the White House's announcement that there will be no recording or formal transcription of Thursday's joint appearance by Cheney and President Bush before the 9/11 commission, a presidential adviser tells the New York Times that Bush "is not testifying, he is talking to them. A transcript implies testimony."

The Times also reports on how a "small intelligence cell" shaped the rationale for invading Iraq from a windowless room on the third floor of the Pentagon, under a motto described by an intelligence analyst as "leave no dot unconnected." Earlier: 'The Lie Factory' and 'Selective Intelligence.'

"Democracy Now!" interviews Knight Ridder's Warren Strobel, who wrote about an upcoming GAO probe into allegations that the Iraqi National Congress violated restrictions against using taxpayer money to lobby when it campaigned for the U.S. to oust Saddam Hussein.

Responding to the White House's failure to consult with Congress as required by statute before spending funds intended for Emergency Response on the war in Iraq, Rep. David Obey and Sen. Robert Byrd tell President Bush to 'Show Us the Money.'

History will judge the Bush administration harshly for the death and suffering caused by its "chronic rejection of good advice," says Karen Kwiatkowski, who also chides the administration for violating a fundamental rule of wartime communication.

A survey of images from earlier wars prompts a Los Angeles Times columnist to ask: "So why is it that some aspects of this war in Iraq are still being conducted as furtively as a mugging?" Sacked contractor Tami Silicio tells Editor & Publisher that "I didn't realize how censored the United States has been on what's going on in Iraq, " and Brendan O'Neill says the debate should be about the war, not pictures from it.

This Friday's "Nightline" will consist entirely of Ted Koppel reading the names and showing the photographs of American servicemen and women killed in combat in Iraq. The show's executive producer discusses the decision to feature the fallen.

A New York Times analysis highlights rivalry issues between the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps in reviewing the chain of decisions that helped make Fallujah "a possible harbinger for all of Iraq." Also: The Christian Science Monitor tells why some troops are getting new gear, and TomDispatch looks at the military-academic complex.

The Independent reports on the angry reaction of Iraqis to their new flag, designed in London in the image of Israel's, and Baghdad Burning offers suggestions for a new pledge of allegiance and national anthem. Plus: U.S. plans to limit Iraqi sovereignty likened to Manchukuo under Japan.

Accepting an invitation from the president of Westminister College in Fulton, Missouri, Sen. John Kerry will speak about Iraq at the college on Friday. David Corn says that if Kerry wants to win, he had better start speaking from his gut, and Robert Scheer asks, where's the voice of that young Navy hero?

James Ridgeway predicts that "Dem biggies" will sit down with Kerry and "try to persuade him to take a hike. Then they can return to business as usual—resurrecting John Edwards, who is still hanging around, or staging an open convention in Boston, or both." Plus: 'Kerry and the Hawks' and 'Prince Hal vs. King Henry.'

James Moore pokes through President Bush's service record dump and finds it still significantly incomplete, despite White House claims to the contrary. And the AP cuts to the chase on the war experience of Bush, Cheney and Kerry.

The Daily Howler salutes E. J. Dionne for using plain language in describing White house attacks on Kerry as a smear, and blasts David Ignatius for excusing media failure to raise questions about the Iraq mission by saying that reporters were "victims of their own professionalism."

Presidential adviser Karen Hughes is being assailed over remarks linking abortion to terrorism. Read Planned Parenthood's letter demanding an apology and listen to Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" lampooning of what she said. Plus: President Bush caught padding his resume for Hughes' book, as bio reveals shocker about Hughes.

In a piece called "Making women's issues go away," Salon's Rebecca Traister flags a report from the National Council for Research on Women on information removed from government Web sites and offices that have been disbanded during the Bush administration. Elsewhere: the Hill Republican's scorecard on women's issues.

The New York Times reports on protesters' plans to disrupt the GOP convention by volunteering and "then not showing up, or showing up and using anti-Republican language..." More from RNCWatch on the brewing culture war and Republican's plans to use NYC neighborhoods "to stage events that will present a picture of GOP racial and ethnic diversity to a national audience."

April 27

Thursday, April 29, 2004

A Pentagon intelligence report fingers Saddam's M-14 secret service for many Iraq bombings, including those involving suicide bombers. It says the intelligence officers put "The Challenge Project" into place last spring, scattering to key cities even before Baghdad fell. A U.S. official tells the New York Times that "They carefully laid plans to occupy the occupiers."

The article comes with this caveat: "While the report cites specific evidence, other important assessments of American intelligence on Iraq have been challenged and even proven wrong." Returning to the Judith Miller beat, Slate's Jack Shafer writes that "Miller and the Times got taken by her sources on the subject of Iraq's WMD, a swindle the paper has never acknowledged with even a side glance."

Juan Cole spells out the challenges facing U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi in "attempting to move things in a different direction" in Iraq. Scroll up for a post on the Pentagon being excluded from the nomination process for caretaker government candidates, and how Ahmed Chalibi seems to be increasingly out of favor.

An NBC report on the arrest of four members of Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, for crimes including abduction and robbery, includes David Kay's response to the fact that the group is still on the U.S. payroll: "You know, once taken, excused. Twice taken you're an idiot.  And I think we're now at the point of we’re really an idiot." Plus: Josh Marshall on how neoconservatives are increasingly labeling charges of cronyism in Iraq, 'conspiracy theories.'

Hard Cell The Los Angeles Times reports that the Pentagon inspector general is investigating allegations that a U.S. Defense Department official "attempted to alter a contract proposal in Iraq to benefit a mobile phone consortium that includes friends and colleagues."

A CBS/New York Times poll finds new lows in support for Iraq war and for President Bush, whose approval rating is at 46 percent. Thirty-two percent of respondents say Iraq was a threat requiring immediate action, down from 58 percent in April 2003, and 45 percent now say war in Iraq is not part of the war on terror, compared to 30 percent last April.

Forty-eight percent said getting involved in Iraq was a mistake, double what it was last April. That matches the finding of an Ipsos-AP poll from last week, about which Ruy Teixeira wrote: You know when more people than not start thinking a war was a mistake (remember Vietnam!), the incumbent administration is in real trouble."

According to a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll of Iraqis that was taken before the current showdowns in Fallujah and Najaf, 53 percent of respondents said they would feel less secure without the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, but 57 percent said the foreign troops should leave anyway. Plus: Shiite cleric who returned to Iraq after exile in U.S. goes 'From Allied to Alienated.'

A Washington Post article headlined 'Warplanes pound sections of Fallujah,' notes that on Wednesday President Bush said, "Most of Fallujah is returning to normal."

Stern Competition The Los Angeles Times reports that "Suddenly, in the thick of an election year, a left-leaning equivalent has emerged, riling a mass audience with scathing, eloquent attacks on the Bush administration."

TalkLeft distills arguments heard by the Supreme Court in the cases of "enemy combatants" Yaser Esam Hamdi and Jose Padilla. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor asked: "But have we ever had a situation like this where presumably this warlike status could last for 25 years, 50 years, whatever it is?"

The father of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq, who believes his son was in one of the caskets shown in the Seattle Times photo taken by Tami Silicio, thanked the paper for publishing it and offered to help the unemployed Silicio. Plus: "Nightline" accused of ratings grab for timing of "The Fallen," as ten more names are added to the list.

Sinclair Broadcast Group has reportedly ordered its eight ABC-affiliated stations not to carry Friday's "Nightline." Earlier: Sinclair's "NewsCentral" spells bad news for local news, features VP of Corporate Relations as political commentator.

U.S. Secretary of State Powell meets with Qatar's foreign minister as the Bush administration escalates its campaign to curb Al-Jazeera.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg plays "chickenhawk" card in defending Sen. John Kerry against smears, cites Vice President Cheney as "lead chickenhawk" and criticizes president's "bring 'em on" taunt." Read the text of Lautenberg's remarks. Plus: Did Bush stumble, or swagger into a Holy War?

As the Center for American Progress launches Claims vs. Facts database, the Independent previews Joseph Wilson's "The Politics of Truth," which will be published Friday.

Big Brother finds work in Florida town where police department mission statement expresses "desire to protect and respect the freedoms and rights of those we encounter..."

April 28

Friday, April 30, 2004

Calling Iraq 'The No-Win War,' the latest issue of The American Conservative includes a cover story arguing that the Bush administration should "stop digging," admit that its Iraq policy is "in shambles" and bring the troops home, and a column by Pat Buchanan asking if Fallujah is the 'High Tide of Empire?'

A Knight Ridder article on the "increased skepticism" that the Bush administration is facing about its Iraq policy, reports that on NBC's "Today" show, Lt. Gen. William E. Odom, a former director of the National Security Agency, said, "We have already failed. Staying in longer makes us fail worse... And now we are in the situation where we have to limit the damage."

Odom, who previously called the decision to invade Iraq "one of the great strategic errors of the post-Cold War era," was asked by CNN's Lou Dobbs what impact his stance might have on U.S. troops in Iraq. "The word I've heard from what was written about me in the Wall Street Journal, is that the troops seem to like it," said Odom. "You know, the troops are not dumb about this business." Plus: 'Looking for the exit.'

Sidney Blumenthal probes the public misperceptions that he calls the "pillars of Bush's support," as demonstrated by the University of Maryland study finding that 57 percent of Americans believed Iraq was either ''directly involved'' in carrying out the 9/11 attacks or had provided ''substantial support'' to al-Qaeda.

Mother Jones looks at how Ahmed Chalabi became "Yesterday's Man," and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is revealed to be using yesterday's math, coming up short on U.S. troop deaths in Iraq by estimating the number to be "approximately 500."

Ted Koppel defends "The Fallen" against charges that it's politically motivated or a ratings grab: "I've been doing 'Nightline' for over 24 years... if that's really the impression I've left with people then I have failed in such a colossal way that I can't even begin to consider the consequences of it."

The Media Channel's Tim Karr reports that Sinclair Broadcasting gave 98 percent of its 2004 political contributions to GOP candidates and Berry's World looks at who gave what. The Progress Report has much more on 'Sinclair's Cynical Agenda.'

The Memory Hole supplements "60 Minutes ll's" report on the Army's probe into abuse of Iraqi POWs, with the photos that prompted the investigation.

The Guardian reports that "According to lawyers for some of the soldiers, they claimed to be acting in part under the instruction of mercenary interrogators hired by the Pentagon," with one telling the paper, "We know that CACI and Titan corporations have provided interrogators and that they have in fact conducted interrogations on behalf of the U.S."

A Christian Science Monitor article says that regular assassinations of intellectuals and professionals have made people in Iraq more fearful of speaking out under the U.S.-led occupation than under Saddam Hussein.

The Washington Post reports that less than 5 percent of the $18.4 billion earmarked for Iraqi reconstruction has been spent, and that hundred of millions of dollars have been shifted to pay for administrative and security expenses.

The AP reports that a U.S. Treasury Department office has assigned five times as many agents to investigate Cuban embargo violations as it has to track bin Laden's and Saddam's money.

October Surmise A TomDispatch contributor argues that the person most likely to be unpleasantly surprised by any October move by the Saudis on oil prices may well be President Bush.

After a session reportedly characterized by "frequent laughter," in which Bush and Vice President Cheney met with the 9/11 commission at the White House, James Ridgeway scolds the panel for allowing themselves to become "props in Bush's re-election campaign," while Reuters recounts the commission's struggle for access to key information.

Iraq occupation head Paul Bremer criticized the Bush White House for "paying no attention" to terrorism, in a speech he gave six months before 9/11: "What they will do is stagger along until there's a major incident and then suddenly say, 'Oh my God, shouldn't we be organized to deal with this.'"

The Washington Post reports that Vice President Cheney, during a conference call "with tens of thousands of Republicans who were gathered across the country to celebrate a National Party for the President Day," endorsed the Fox News Channel, calling it "more accurate in my experience, in those events that I'm personally involved in, than many of the other outlets." Plus: New York Post joins the party.

A University of Missouri study debunks Sen. John Kerry's claim that he hasn't run negative ads against President Bush, but also finds that half the statements in Bush's TV ads criticized Kerry, while about a third of the statements in Kerry's ads criticized Bush. The study found that to be unusual by historic standards, since TV ads by challengers typically include more attacks than ads by incumbent presidents.

As Kerry invites Rev. Al Sharpton to address the Democratic Convention, New York City denies United for Peace and Justice a permit for a Central Park demonstration to kick off the Republican Convention.

Jockeying for Positioning Prior to a U.S. District judge's ruling that jockeys can begin sporting advertising and logos during races in Kentucky, the head of Commercial Alert, in an Ad Age commentary decrying ad creep, cataloged the "myriad signs of a growing revolt against the advertising industry." Plus: 'This national park brought to you by...'

April 29

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