|June, 2003 link archive
Monday, June 2, 2003The Los Angeles Times David Shaw says "If you think local TV news is bad now... wait till you see what happens when Rupert Murdoch and Mickey Mouse rule the world." Plus: TV news that looks local, but really isn't, by way of "NewsCentral."
Former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt calls the FCC's vote "the culmination of the attack by the right on the media" and warns that massive deregulation will bring government and the media conglomerates even closer together: "If Dwight Eisenhower were alive today, he'd be warning us about the dangers of the military - industry - media complex."
FCC D-Day Ruminate This does the heavy lifting on mobilizing opposition to further media deregulation.
"America in the 21st century faces dozens of socioeconomic problems requiring prompt government attention," writes Tom Shales, "but would anyone argue that expanding the power and profits of omnivorous conglomerates is among them? Maybe [Michael] Powell would, because he has made relaxing the ownership restrictions an obsessive crusade, pushing the changes through with little debate, great haste and even considerable secrecy."
For the second time in a week, the New York Times reports on a study finding that millions of tax-paying households will not receive any benefit from the new tax law. The latest study says that 8 million mostly low-income single people will be excluded. Earlier, 11.9 million kids were found to be ineligible for the $400 increase in the child tax credit. Plus: Working poor get worked.
Michael Kinsley calls the bill an "intellectual as well as political victory" for President Bush, reflecting "an extraordinary, even radical shift of the tax burden from the rich to the middle class." On the stump, "Bush made a remarkably detailed and sophisticated case for it... Detailed, sophisticated and wrong — which makes his victory all the more impressive."
E. J. Dionne says that Bush has "succeeded brilliantly" in his promise to change the tone, "but not by creating the 'new tone of respect and bipartisanship' he promised in 2000. The new tone in Washington is not bipartisan but hyperpartisan."
Dionne references last week's quote by anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, who told the Denver Post that "Bipartisanship is another name for date rape." Norquist also said that "We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals -- and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship." Who's paying him to say such things?
An AP analysis looks at how rancor in Washington could impact the timing of resignations by Supreme Court Justices William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O'Connor.
"Democracy Now!" broadcasts the recording of Oliverio Martinez being interrogated for 45 minutes by an Oxnard police sergeant after being shot five times by police. The Supreme Court last week ruled that the sergeant didn't violate Martinez's Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, because his confession wasn't used.
No Joke! In remarks to Polish television, President Bush, citing the two trailers allegedly used as mobile biological weapons labs, said U.S. forces in Iraq have "found the weapons of mass destruction."
The newsweeklies all cover the intelligence wars. U.S. News zeroes in on the vetting that occurred in the days before Secretary of State Powell's U.N. presentation. It also reports that in September 2002, the Defense Intelligence Agency issued a classified assessment of Iraq's chemical weapons that concluded: "There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons . . . "
A former State Department employee, who tracked Iraq's WMD program, tells Newsweek that when he read Bush's State of the Union claim that Saddam was trying to buy “significant quantities of uranium from Africa,” he thought: “Not that stupid piece of garbage...how did that get into the speech?”
Time quotes former weapons inspector David Albright, who says that a major intelligence problem was the Pentagon's consistent portrayal of "the worst-case scenario as fact." Former Reagan Defense Department official Lawrence Korb says Bush administration hardliners "came in with a world view, and they looked for things to fit into it. If you hadn't had 9/11, they would be doing the same things to China."
CIA officials tell Time that they will produce fresh evidence as early as next week and British Prime Minister Blair says that he too has some new evidence coming down the pike.
Glen Rangwala, a persistent critic of the intelligence, writes in the Independent that "There is no UN report after 1994 that claims that Iraq continued to possess weapons of mass destruction. This was well known in intelligence circles. That such a claim could appear in a purported intelligence document is a clear sign that the information was 'pumped up' for political purposes..."
Gabriel Demombynes does a background check on Stephen Cambone, a protegee of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld who was recently appointed the first under secretary of defense for intelligence, and who will oversee the "significant expansion" of weapons' hunters in Iraq.
The National Catholic Reporter's Sister Joan Chister asks: "If wars that the public says are wrong yesterday — as over 70% of U.S. citizens did before the attack on Iraq — suddenly become 'right' the minute the first bombs drop, what kind of national morality is that?"
May 30 - June 1
Tuesday, June 3, 2003
A Guardian report of a meeting between Jack Straw and Colin Powell at the Waldorf hotel before Powell's U.N. presentation on Iraq, is getting almost no play in the U.S. media. It cites leaked transcripts of the meeting -- "being circulated in Nato diplomatic circles" -- in which Powell tells Straw that he was "apprehensive" about the intelligence and hoped the facts, when they came out, would not "explode in their faces."
Although Powell sees no point in getting "trapped in the long-winded debate about what was known and not known" before the war, he would likely be called to testify during televised U.S. Senate hearings on Iraq intel, that are being pushed for by Republican Senator John Warner.
Hear, Hear! U.S. intelligence officials tell the San Jose Mercury News that the Iraqi National Congress "bypassed skeptics in the CIA and DIA and fed the same information about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and links to Al-Qaida to the [New York] Times and the Pentagon, so Pentagon officials would confirm what the nation's most influential newspaper was hearing and the newspaper would confirm what the Pentagon was hearing."
"Misleading the public has been a consistent strategy for the Bush team on issues ranging from tax policy and Social Security reform to energy and the environment," charges Paul Krugman. "So why should we give the administration the benefit of the doubt on foreign policy?" Plus: Returning dignity to the White House.
'America's Matrix' The Consortium's Robert Parry asks: "So how did the American people reach this point where a majority doesn't mind being manipulated no matter how obvious or absurd the trickery?"
Psychiatrist says that President Bush is a man for his time.
Steve Perry looks at the politics of terror alerts. He writes that currently, their main virtue "is the ability to dictate the news cycle -- and thus bury other, less opportune stories at will -- and to change the tenor of the day's political dialogue, also at will."
Russell Mokhiber talks to "On the Media" about annoying Ari Fleischer: "When I first started covering the White House he called me and he said that he felt that my questions portrayed the president as being affiliated with criminals and white collar crooks, and I told him well - I'm the editor of a publication called Corporate Crime Reporter - this is my beat."
FCC vote prompts revisiting of proposal for government to take back the airwaves and sell them to the highest bidder.
Police are investigating a skirmish between Jesse Ventura and the author of a muckraking book about him, who alleges that Ventura threatened him as he protested the use of public TV facilities to produce Ventura's upcoming MSNBC show. He says that Ventura destroyed a sign displaying the cover of his book, and told him that "I'm not the governor any more, I'm a Navy SEAL, let's get it on and see what you're going to do about it."
More Than a Job Former Army Secretary Thomas White, who reportedly infuriated Defense Secretary Rumsfeld by agreeing with the Army chief of staff's assessment that the occupation of Iraq could require "several hundred thousand troops," says that senior Defense officials "are unwilling to come to grips" with the scale of the postwar U.S. obligation in Iraq.
U.S. intelligence officials tell UPI that Saddam is alive and hiding in greater Baghdad, with a lot of loot and the protection of an underground resistance network of tribesmen and former Baath officials. They reportedly move into private homes, taking the entire family hostage so that no one will inform on Saddam's whereabouts. When they're ready to move on, the hostages are returned and the family is paid as much as $50,000 for the use of their home.
Asking 'Where is Bush Leading Us?', Gary Hart writes that when "Saddam replaced bin Laden as our white whale, we started on our own crusade and left the rest of the world behind. You can either believe much of the rest of the world became, almost overnight, obtuse and anti-American, or you can more plausibly believe we unilaterally launched ourselves on a mission that made little sense to much of the rest of the world."
The director of a new Pew Research poll, that found a growing rift between the U.S. and the Muslim world, says that "Anti-Americanism has deepened, but it has also widened. You now find it in the far reaches of Africa - in Nigeria, among Muslims - and in Indonesia. People see America as a real threat. They think we're going to invade them."
Arab street doesn't share leaders' hope for 'road map' to Middle East peace.
Wednesday, June 4, 2003
U.S. Surgeon General stuns tobacco interests by voicing support for banning all tobacco products.
"The issue of settlements will tell us what we need to know about Sharon's real intentions," writes Henry Siegman. "The settlement enterprise has been nothing less than the theft of Palestinian land in broad daylight, a theft made possible only by Israel's vastly superior military force. The notion that Abbas can confront and subdue terrorist groups while this theft continues is absurd."
Settlement slated for dismantling digs in.
ACLU considering legal action on behalf of immigrants targeted in post-9/11 round up.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Rep. Dennis Kucinich calls on the Pentagon to release the unedited video of Pfc. Jessica Lynch's April rescue from an Iraqi hospital. Kucinich also says that he will push a resolution demanding the release of intelligence on Iraq's alleged weapons. Plus: CIA begins review of key intelligence document.
Jim Lobe on the mushrooming of the WMD controversy.
Lobe says that "matters took a turn for the worse" when the Guardian published the "Waldorf transcripts" article last Saturday. But of the 60 or so Google News entries on the report, the only two appearing on U.S. mainstream media Web sites, as of Wednesday, were a cut and paste of the article on a Baltimore Sun message board, and a Reuters pick up by MSNBC, that is now MIA.
The Columbia Journalism Review looks at a recently completed deal involving MSNBC.
Brendan O'Neill says that many war critics are 'Hiding behind the weapons' issue, which "has become a way of avoiding responsibility for failing to challenge the war in the first place."
Eating Their Lunch The estimated cost of blowing up Saddam's (non-existent) bunker was between $1.6 million and $2.2 million. Small change by Pentagon standards, but James Rigeway says that's at least 1 million school lunches for kids from poor families.
The Guardian's Gary Younge looks at how the U.S. media's post-9/11 marginalization of dissent has created an environment in which a "Nightline" appearance by Arundhati Roy is introduced with a viewer beware warning and Sean Penn is willing to spend $125,000 to take his message mainstream.
Is there a limit to country music's patriotic chorus?
Fox News said to benefit from big media's lack of passion.
Thursday, June 5, 2003
Illustrating the high risk-reward ratio in prosecuting celebrities, New York Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald writes: "If yesterday's indictment had been against Martha Jones rather than Martha Stewart, no one would be reading this article — primarily because it would not have been written."
"This American Life" devoted an entire show to "The Informant," Kurt Eichenwald's book about an Archer Daniels Midland VP who became a confidential government witness in a price-fixing investigation, at the same time he was running his own scam inside the company. FBI tapes also captured ADM execs' attitudes towards female co-workers and campaign finance laws.
New Yorker editor David Remnick talks Wall Street crime with Eliot Spitzer, the Attorney General of New York.
Sen. Byron Dorgan, says he is considering using what The Hill calls "a controversial and rarely used procedure," to try and fast-track an overturn of the new FCC rules.
USA Today reports that during a "contentious hearing," in which most Senate Commerce Committee members blasted FCC commissioners, Dorgan asked Chairman Powell if "big business" was celebrating the rule change. When Powell said, "I have no idea who's celebrating," Dorgan shot back: "Are you kidding me?"
In The Hill article above, Sen. Trent Lott dismissed notions that some Republicans favored the new rules because they would allow Fox to increase market share, but he did say, -- and made some history doing so -- “Thank God for Murdoch."
In the wake of the FCC decision, the AP checks in with Jerry Mander, author of "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television," published in 1977: "If you have never heard of this book or its author, the reason could be that Mander has dealt himself out of TV's high-profile punditocracy: He refuses to appear on television."
BuzzFlash interviews James Moore, co-author of "Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential." Moore says that Rove's image-driven method of governance is based on the "idea that we are all too busy to pay attention to the details of what's going on...that we don't read deeply into the story."
"The trend, in journalism as in politics," writes Timothy Garton Ash, "and probably now in the political use of intelligence, is away from the facts and towards a neo-Orwellian world of manufactured reality. This is something slightly different from (though close to) straight lies."
Ash also wrote that "Across the world, there are quality papers - including, one hopes, the Guardian..." But in the last day, the Guardian published a twisted translation of comments by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and retracted its "Waldorf Transcripts" article.
The Los Angeles Times interviews Iraqi Brig. Gen. Alaa Saeed, a former chemical weapons muckety muck who claims that bombing and U.N. inspections in the 1990s effectively destroyed Iraq's WMD programs and U.N. sanctions stopped Saddam from reconstituting them, even after inspectors left in 1998.
Neocons strike back at those who suggest that the Bush administration may have misled the country by claiming that Iraq's WMD arsenal posed a distinct threat to U.S. security.
Hunt for an advance copy of Hillary Clinton's memoir leads to fortified New Jersey warehouse. (scroll down)
Iraq's most popular SUV brand nicknamed "Monica."
Friday, June 6, 2003
Private Paul Naomi Klein says that the U.S.-appointed governor of Iraq has gone far beyond purging Baath party loyalists and "moved into a full-scale assault on the state itself... hacking away at Iraq's public sector like former Sunbeam exec 'Chainsaw' Al Dunlap in a flak jacket."
Sen. Robert Byrd delivers another stemwinder, blasting the White House for "circling the wagons and scoffing" at questions on the whereabouts of Iraq's WMD and whether U.S. intelligence was flawed or manipulated. Plus: 'Coming clean on dirty weapons.'
Democratic presidential hopefuls find issue in missing weapons.
Nicholas Kristof's column has become a sounding board for disgruntled spooks, who accuse senior Bush administration officials, particularly those in the Pentagon, of cooking intelligence. Last week there was 'Save Our Spooks,' and this week, -- "Day 78 of the Search for Iraqi WMD" -- 'Cloaks and Daggers.'
A FAIR study that looks at three weeks worth of network and cable newscasts, starting the day after the bombing of Baghdad began, reveals a competitive race for most anti-war guests, with NBC's 4 percent edging out newscasts on CNN, ABC, PBS and FOX, each of which devoted 3 percent of their guest slots to anti-war voices.
Question of the Day: "Would you have left Saddam in power?"
A Times article, reassuringly -- and misleadingly -- headlined 'Advertisers and Wall Street Welcome Moves to Change,' quotes just one person from either group who actually says that the changes are a good thing. Other interviewees never seemed too concerned in the first place, including a Bear Sterns analyst who said "I get hundreds of calls every month, and I am yet to get one call over the situation in the New York Times newsroom."
Farai Chideya offers her nominations for the top media scandals of the year, and the Times incident is not among them: "The biggest challenge facing the news industry today is not any single fraud, but whether journalism itself is relevant to the lives of Americans. That's one town hall meeting I'm still waiting for."
Russ Baker says that while Jayson Blair may have seriously damaged the New York Times image, Judith Miller "risks playing with the kind of fire that starts or justifies wars, gets people killed and plays into the hands of government officials with partisan axes to grind." More discussion of the Times' other scandal on Friday's "Democracy Now!"
The Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post both have front page stories on how difficult it will be to dismantle Israeli settlement outposts. One settler -- not the one who told reporters to "Get back in your car and get the hell out of here" -- tells the Post that "Jews don't kill other Jews. If the army forces us to leave, we'll just come back the next day."
A Guardian profile of Saudi Arabia's state executioner, says that he "beheads up to seven people a day," but those must be unusually busy days, since this history of beheading calls Saudi Arabia, "the beheading capital of the modern world" on the basis of 47 beheadings in 2002. Plus: 'Verifiable' executions worldwide for May 2003 and who's using what in the U.S.
Guns For Butter In a speech at the G-8 summit in France, Brazilian President Lula da Silva proposed an international tax on weapons sales as a means of generating resources for a fund to combat world hunger.
In 'Duped and Betrayed,' Paul Krugman asks: "Will 'moderates' -- the people formerly known as 'conservatives' -- ever learn? Today's 'conservatives' -- the people formerly known as the 'radical right' -- don't think of a deal as a deal; they think of it as an opportunity to pull yet another bait and switch." Plus: 'Tyranny of the Rich.'
Monday, June 9, 2003
'Scorched-Earth Campaign' Neal Gabler argues that President Bush is "dramatically reversing the traditional relationship between politics and policy. In his administration, politics seem less a means to policy than policy is a means to politics. Its goal is not to further the conservative revolution as advertised. The real goal is to disable the Democratic opposition, once and for all."
Gabler references 'The Controller,' Nicholas Lemann's New Yorker profile of strategist Karl Rove, which noted Rove's early embrace of "tort reform," an effective means of enhancing Republican coffers while diminishing the flow of trial lawyer money to Democrats. Or, is Rove 'The Enforcer'? Elizabeth Drew reviews "Bush's Brain" and "Boy Genius."
In "Bush's Brain," Rove said he talked Bush into the subject of "tort reform" as an issue when he was packaging him for the 1994 Texas gubernatorial race -- a claim that's somewhat at odds with a 1996 deposition that Rove, a former consultant to Philip Morris, gave in a tobacco lawsuit.
With interest groups beginning "full-scale political campaigns" in preparation for a possible Supreme Court vacancy, the Los Angeles Times reviews the 50-year judicial career of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who, from the start, "defended the 19th century 'separate but equal' doctrine," saw civil rights laws as "unneeded" and said that on the issue of church and state separation, "Thomas Jefferson was wrong."
A British judge who was unable to decipher the lyrics of a rap song presented as evidence in a copyright case, said the words were, "for all practical purposes, a foreign language."
Three Palestinian militant groups combine for rare joint attack on Israeli army.
Bush on Sharon: "I saved his ass in Iraq, He owes me, and I intend to collect the debt." Bush to Sharon: "I said you were a man of peace. I want you to know I took immense crap for that." Plus: How the neocons sized up Bush.
The New York Times reports that Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, have both denied that al-Qaeda worked with Saddam's regime, according to U.S. intelligence officials, who questioned the Bush administration's decision to ignore Zubaydah's statements in public discussions about the evidence concerning Iraq-al-Qaeda ties.
Alleged “mobile germ labs” in Iraq may have been used to produce hydrogen for artillery balloons.
A former Iraqi intelligence officer tells the Los Angeles Times that Saddam's intelligence services set up a network of clandestine cells and small laboratories after 1996 with the goal of someday rebuilding illicit chemical and biological weapons. But he insists that they didn't produce any illegal arms and that none now exist in Iraq, adding that U.S. weapons hunters "will never find anything here. Only oil."
The U.S.' chief oil adviser to Iraq, says that the country's oil facilities are being targeted by well-organized saboteurs whose "techniques appear to be very professional and aim at causing harm to significant and important installations."
The Observer's Euan Ferguson reports on daily life in Baghdad, which he says "has turned into Afghanistan faster than Afghanistan...you can't help but wonder how, when we managed to get the surgical excision of Saddam so right, we have apparently managed to get everything else so wrong..." Well, not quite everything.
While U.S.-backed fumigation efforts have significantly reduced Colombia's coca crop, the success has forced many farmers to shift to poppy growing, and helped Colombia and Mexico to supplant Asia as the primary supplier of heroin to the U.S.
The Cairo Times profiles an "eccentric" legal rights activist who is using administrative courts to gradually chip away at some of the Egypt's authoritarian security laws.
The Telegraph reports on how the U.S. is attempting to control space for military purposes.
Contest participants photoshop the perfect cell for Martha Stewart.
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Skimble grabs the good stuff from a Barron's interview with 89-year old money manager Seth Glickenhaus, who says "Bush has no fiscal sense whatsoever" and that "Democrats have no leaders or leadership and are barely conscious of the major issues of the day." His plan? "Spend money for the infrastructure, reduce government, cut military spending by $200 billion, repair and build housing for the poor and middle class."
Arthur Miller at 87: 'What I've Learned.'
Dana Milbank says that in using the past tense three times in three consecutive sentences to describe Iraq's weapons program, "Bush appeared to redefine the accusations being made about his administration's use of intelligence in rallying support for an attack on Iraq." Plus: Weapons hunt slows to a crawl.
AL Kennedy believes that "Only a pod person would stand up in public and claim that, because something can't be found, it must be there."
Paul Krugman asks 'Who's Accountable?' and Joe Conason writes that "What protects the White House now, as the media begin to ask questions that would have been more timely six months ago, is the timidity of the Democratic opposition."
But William Saletan says the WMD issue "is catching fire on the Democratic campaign trail..." At a picnic in Iowa, Howard Dean asked: "What did the president know, and when did he know it?" Sen. Bob Graham wove the WMD controversy into a larger "pattern of deception" and Rep. Dennis Kucinich demanded a Congressional inquiry in "a tirade worthy of William Jennings Bryan."
"Despite all the upbeat talk about getting things back on track" in Iraq, writes the San Jose Mercury News' Dion Nissenbaum, "there are few signs that America's reconstruction team has any idea where it is headed or how to get there... Such pronouncements might play well on Fox, but they leave many Iraqis shaking their heads in amazement."
UNICEF says that the number of Iraqi children suffering from cholera, dysentery, and typhoid has more than doubled in the last year, as a result of increased health hazards caused by the war and the collapse of Iraq’s infrastructure.
U.S. forced to print more banknotes bearing Saddam's image.
British scientist predicts that by 2020, an instance of bioterror or bioerror will have killed a million people, puts odds for apocalypse at 50/50.
An analysis of a U.S. Marine expeditionary force in Iraq, found that members were overwhelmed by all the communications equipment they were expected to use, that often included "a helmet headset, four radios and two laptops at once to communicate with their comrades and commanders."
Deadlocked Supreme Court allows Vietnam vets with recently diagnosed illnesses caused by Agent Orange to sue, despite a 1985 settlement. The 4-4 vote, which let stand a lower court ruling, came after Justice Stevens recused himself. Stevens' son, a Vietnam veteran, died of cancer in 1996 at 47.
Internet patent watchdog spots U.S. Army filing that claims a new rifle-launched gas grenade, ostensibly to be used for nonlethal crowd control, can deliver chemical and biological agents, two payloads forbidden by international treaty and U.S. law.
Guardian retraction on "Waldorf transcripts" article raises more questions than it answers.
A call to organize as Senate action on FCC legislation nears.
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
An AP investigation finds that at least 3,240 Iraqi civilians were killed in one month, between March 20 and April 20. It calls the count, based on records from Iraqi hospitals, "still fragmentary," and says "the complete toll -- if it is ever tallied -- is sure to be significantly higher."
On May 18 it was reported that 3,240 Israelis and Palestinians -- civilians and soldiers -- had been killed since the outbreak of the second intifida in September 2000.
Amira Hass clarifies 'the occupation lexicon.' About "illegal outposts," she writes that "Using the term 'illegal' makes people forget the fact that international law prohibits all the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza because international law prohibits the occupying power from moving its population into the occupied territory."
"Now" producer Bob Abeshouse travels to the West Bank to investigate the funding sources for settlements, and finds that fungibility and the Israeli government's lack of a paper trail, make it difficult to determine to what extent U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill. Earlier: 'The Bingo Connection.'
Abeshouse also interviewed American-born settlers, who account for an estimated 10 percent of the 200,000 settlers living in the West Bank.
Ha'aretz reports that according to a participant in the Aqaba summit, President Bush told Condoleezza Rice that "I see that we have a problem with Sharon," while saying of the Palestinians, "We can work with them." When Israel's Defense Minister said the Palestinians "won't be getting any help from us; they have their own security service." Bush said: "Their own security service? But you have destroyed their security service."
See what's playing at the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, which opens today.
Brendan O'Neill says the British military has no one to blame but itself for a rash of war crimes accusations: "In the run-up to the war, coalition forces promised to 'tread lightly' in Iraq, to respect and liberate rather than degrade and conquer. Having failed to live up to such exacting -- some might argue, impossible -- standards, British forces now find themselves lambasted for doing what armies do -- bad things."
Triumph of the Shill Ira Chernus says that the Bush administration's warning on Iraqi WMD were "merely images, an ad campaign clever enough to sell us a war we did not need. But no one ever bought the reality, because there was no reality to buy. The public bought the commercials...Then, when the truth hits the front pages of the New York Times and Washington Post, it’s only another bunch of new images."
Night Brigade The New York Times Michael Gordon reports from Falluja, where "a small but determined foe" is battling U.S. troops: "The risk does not come from random potshots. The American forces are facing organized resistance that comes alive at night." Plus: 'Toll grows as attacks on troops get smarter.'
Iraqi National Congress head Ahmed Chalabi claims that Saddam has "put a price on American soldiers. He will pay bounty for every American soldier killed in Iraq."
Boffo Oppo It's boom times for political dirt-diggers, as the Republican National Committee builds files on each of President Bush's nine potential opponents and they all keep tabs on each other.
Read My Lips, No New Services Thomas Friedman suggests that Democrats ask voters to substitute the word "services" for the word "taxes" every time they hear President Bush speak.
The New York Observer asks American novelists, including John Updike, Erica Jong and David Gates, to assess Hillary Clinton's fictional technique. And The Daily Howler looks at the spin techniques that pundits are using to attack her character.
Thursday, June 12, 2003
The chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence committees reject calls for a public inquiry into whether the Bush administration distorted or mishandled Iraq intelligence.
"The president is now actively engaged in low-balling the WMD rationale for the war," writes Jules Witcover, but "Understating the importance of the existence or absence of WMD at the time of the invasion won't settle the critical question of whether administration officials hyped government intelligence about the threat to win congressional support for launching pre-emptive war. Without WMD, what was being pre-empted?"
In a June 10 letter to Condoleezza Rice, Rep. Henry Waxman writes: "Since March 17, 2003, I have been trying without success to get a direct answer to one simple question: Why did President Bush cite forged evidence [documents alleging that Iraq attempted to buy uranium in Niger] in his State of the Union address?"
The Washington Post cites "senior administration officials and a former government official," who claim that the reason the forged evidence made it into the president's address, was because the CIA did not share information that it had obtained in early 2002, that the documents were forged.
But last month, Nicholas Kristof reported claims that the information had been shared with the State Department, quoting a source who said that "It's disingenuous for the State Department people to say they were bamboozled because they knew about this for a year."
The Guardian reports that the U.S. is threatening to pull aid from countries that won't strike a side deal to give American forces immunity from potential war crimes charges before the International Criminal Court. Human Rights Watch calls it "blatant hypocrisy" for the U.S. to pressure Croatia and Slovenia for an immunity deal, while insisting they cooperate with the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal.
Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle says the U.S. can't rule out a military strike against North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear facility.
The Son Also Sets A new Quinnipiac University poll finds that President Bush’s approval rating has dropped to 57 percent -- from 73 percent in mid-April -- over concerns about the economy, which two-thirds of respondents rated as "not so good" or "poor."
A memo obtained by Detroit's Metro Times details how newscasters at radio station WWJ -- one of six in the Detroit market owned by CBS' parent, Infinity Broadcasting -- were required to promote an Infinity advertiser, AOL Broadband, as though they were providing editorial endorsements.
Editor & Publisher interviews journalism heavyweights about the "current epidemic of ethical errors." Jimmy Breslin says that reporters "don't understand the shoe-leather... I would take half of the phones out of the city room, put out a bunch of bus passes and get reporters out on the street." Plus: Why do so many writers resort to stealing others' words?
CNN's Dumbest Hour? Chicago Sun-Times TV critic Phil Rosenthal says it's "Larry King Live.": "More a courtier than an interviewer even under the best of circumstances, the oft-married King is at present squandering his prime-time hour on CNN by obsessing over a woman. A dead woman. Laci Peterson."
"On the Media's" Bob Garfield asked MSNBC's Laci-obsessed Dan Abrams: "You went to law school. You're a lawyer. You now have a -- your own show on a national cable network, and -- you're doing wall to wall coverage of the Laci Peterson case. Dan, is this really how you want to make a living? "
As the FDA debates whether Paxil should be prescribed to children, British drug regulators warn that it causes kids to become more depressed, according to studies finding that patients taking Paxil were up to three times as likely to have "suicidal thoughts or episodes of self-harm," as those taking a placebo. Earlier: 'Paxil is Forever.'
Friday, June 13, 2003
Concerning the claim by Bush administration officials that the CIA didn't inform the White House that documents alleging Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Niger may have been forged, Nicholas Kristof says, "I hear something different."
A senior CIA official tells Knight Ridder's Jonathan Landay that the agency warned the White House on March 9, 2002 that the Niger documents may have been bogus. Landay calls that revelation "the strongest evidence to date that pro-war administration officials manipulated, exaggerated or ignored intelligence information in their eagerness to make the case for invading Iraq."
"Senior intelligence officials said that on several occasions after March 2002, the CIA told administration policymakers about its doubts about claims Iraq was seeking uranium," reports the Washington Post. And that "When the State Department on Dec. 19, 2002, [more than one month before the State of the Union address] posted a reference to Iraq not supplying details on its uranium purchases, the CIA raised an objection..."
Spinsanity identifies what it calls "two disturbing trends in rhetoric from the White House." In addition to a "record of factual misstatements and distortions," there's "the administration's -- and especially President Bush's -- history of strategically ambiguous statements that, while technically or arguably true, imply connections between two things which he cannot directly demonstrate."
Editor & Publisher looks at pre-war coverage of the WMD issue.
Who was pumping harder on the Jessica Lynch story: The Pentagon or the U.S. media?
A just-released report by Iraq Body Count compares its figures with 14 other counts. One of the authors of the report tells the Guardian that "The totality is now producing an unassailable sense that there were a hell of a lot of civilian deaths in Iraq."
A California Web designer has reportedly agreed to plead guilty to felony charges of redirecting traffic from Al-Jazeera's Web site to a site showing an American flag and the words "Let Freedom Ring."
Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball continue their ongoing coverage of the 9/11 investigations. This week they report that FBI director Mueller ran into a "buzz saw of criticism" at a closed-door meeting with family members of the victims. Especially vocal were "the Jersey Girls," one of whom was chosen "Guerilla of the Week" for her feisty appearance on Donahue last August.
Snoop From Home! Bill Berkowitz looks at US HomeGuard, the latest idea from the founder of Priceline.com. It's a nationwide network of up to a million people watching webcams mounted at every possible terrorist target in the country, 24/7.
HomeGuard's Web site is currently set up to get more than it gives, soliciting the name and address of visitors, while offering virtually no information about the company or what it plans to do.
Atlanta's Creative Loafing reports on a "60 Minutes" segment that has resulted in a spate of lawsuits, from several Virginia-based Muslim groups that were alleged to have terror ties, and from a Georgia poultry farm, whose investors include some individuals connected to the groups.
Belgium's foreign minister said that he doesn't understand Rumsfeld's beef, since the law was recently revised and a suit brought against General Tommy Franks was referred to the U.S, last month. (second item) Plus: What's next for the retiring Franks?
The U.N. approves another one-year exemption from war crimes prosecution for U.S peacekeepers, with France, Germany and Syria abstaining and Secretary General Kofi Annan questioning the legality of the measure.
U.S. State Department warns Americans against traveling to Indonesia, citing hostilities in Aceh province and the presence of Jemaah Islamiyah, the terrorist group believed to be behind the Bali bombing. Plus: 'Southeast Asia's 'mini-Al Qaeda' nests in Thailand.'
Monday, June 16, 2003
Bunker Buster A former top White House counterrorism adviser, Rand Beers, who quit five days before the start of the Iraq war and has recently become a volunteer national security adviser for Sen. John Kerry, blasts the Bush administration's war on terror: "Counterterrorism is like a team sport. The game is deadly. There has to be offense and defense. The Bush administration is primarily offense, and not into teamwork."
Google News has Beers flagged just once before June 16, when he was mentioned in Wayne Madsen's, "WeaponsGate: The Coming Downfall of Lying Regimes?" Madsen includes him in a list of people who he says have recently "jumped off what appears to be a rapidly sinking ship of state."
A St. Louis Post-Dispatch correspondent talks to Iranian reformers who say that U.S. intervention there -- in any form -- could make things worse. "Every expression of support for reform by America would just postpone the reforms," says one of the 14 women in Iran's 270-member parliament. "If Mr. Bush wants to do something for the people of Iran, let him solve his own problems, not ours."
In early 2002, Michael Lewis profiled National Iranian Television (NITV) and its founder Zia Atabay. Broadcast from a "little hell hole of a TV station" in North Hollywood, on-air personalities include the son of the former Shah, as well as the "Dan Rather of Iran" and the "Frank Sinatra of Iran."
CBS blurs the line between news and entertainment with its synergy pitch to Jessica Lynch: "From the distinguished reporting of CBS News to the youthful reach of MTV, we believe this is a unique combination of projects that will do justice to Jessica's inspiring story."
Knight Ridder reports on the poll in which one-third of respondents said they believed that U.S. forces had found WMD in Iraq and 22 percent said Iraq used chemical or biological weapons in the war. Earlier: How allegations became fact in pre-war reporting on WMD.
A British investigation reportedly concludes that the Iraqi trailers are not mobile germ warfare labs, but were for the production of hydrogen to fill artillery balloons.
In response to the White House's claim that the Niger forgeries were part of a "larger body of evidence" that Iraq sought uranium in Africa, The New Republic's blogger writes: "Are we expected to believe that the administration has been sitting on a mountain of evidence... but that the only piece of evidence it actually ended up citing in public was the one that happened to be bogus?"
The Financial Times raises the possibility that when U.S. forces raided the Iraqi town of Thuluiya last week, in the largest anti-terrorist sweep since the end of the war, they may have been duped into believing that it was a guerrilla base, by longtime Shia adversaries from a neighboring town.
An Iraqi shepherd is seeking $200 million from the U.S. military in a suit -- the first filed through the courts of the U.S.-led occupation administration -- alleging that American troops used excessive force against Iraqis who co-operated in the overthrow of Saddam's regime. The shepherd claims that 17 of his family members and 200 sheep died when a U.S. missile struck their tent in April.
Chris Hedges discusses his latest book and "the range of emotions -- at once exhilaration and also complete disgust -- that come in the enterprise of war." Plus: Hedges barraged with questions from reading group.
Sen. Patrick Leahy calls on Bush to consult with him and other leading Democrats before choosing any Supreme Court nominee.
'The Fabulous Fabulists' Slate's Jack Shafer asks why H.L. Mencken, A.J. Liebling and Joseph Mitchell, all managed to escape any serious damage to their reputations after it was discovered that they had "marbled their journalism with fiction."
A June 13 article in the New York Times print edition, headlined "Goal Is To Lay Cornerstone at Ground Zero During GOP Convention," was changed in the Web edition to 'Officials Plan Speedy Ground Zero Environmental Review.' The last line in the lead paragraph was also changed, from "This would allow them to lay the cornerstone of a 1,776-foot tower in August 2004, during the Republican Convention," to "This would allow them to start construction by the summer of 2004."
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
As the U.S. distances itself from Herat warlord Ismael Khan, to show support for Afghanistan's central government, Iran draws closer to Herat and Khan, strengthening economic ties as it pledges to spend $560 million over five years to help rebuild Afghanistan. Plus: U.S. reportedly dealing with Taliban.
The Guardian reports on how four years of television has rocked Bhutan. In 1999 it became the last nation on earth to introduce TV, offering citizens 46 cable channels, many of them from Rupert Murdoch's Star TV network.
Inspired by the novel "Lost Horizon," FDR gave what would later become Camp David its original name of Shangri-La. More on Bhutan from the country's national newspaper, a PBS documentary and Lonely Planet.
An international survey taken for the BBC program, "What The World Thinks of America," finds widespread post-Iraq hostility towards the U.S., seconding the findings of a recent Pew survey on global attitudes.
Ha'aretz's Yoel Marcus argues that while Israel has every right to target Hamas' leaders, it "was wrong to wreak such havoc on the infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority. Now it is so weak, it couldn't confront Hamas if it wanted to."
The New York Times says Hamas "has gained currency as a serious alternative" to the Palestinian Authority, because it is better organized, less corrupt and more effective against what is seen as Israeli aggression.
Jennifer Lowenstein sees a parallel universe running alongside the "road map" one conjured up in the press: "Far away from critical commentary, a fifty-five-year-old process of human displacement and destruction continues uninterrupted by the tempest raging in the news headlines."
Sunday's bombing of a Beirut TV and radio station owned by Lebanon's prime minister, gets fingers pointing every which way.
The Memory Hole curates a photo exhibit of senior U.S. officials cozying up to a 'dictator who boils people alive.'
In accusing the Bush administration with 'Dereliction of Duty' in its war on terror, Paul Krugman refers to Monday's Washington Post interview with Rand Beers, the former top White House counterrorism adviser who quit days before the start of the Iraq war and has recently become a volunteer national security adviser to Sen. John Kerry. While only a handful of U.S. news outlets have picked up the story, it has been linked to by more than 100 blogs.
Beers' charges are aired in Reuters coverage of a speech that President Bush gave Monday, in which he followed the lead of Condoleezza Rice, dismissing those questioning his justification for the invasion of Iraq as "revisionist historians."
Last fall Beers rescinded a statement he made under oath, that "It is believed that FARC terrorists have received training at Al Qaida terrorist camps in Afghanistan." Beers defender explains why. (Note: Earlier Cursor post inaccurately stated: "Beers admitted he lied.")
Sen. Carl Levin wants the CIA to declassify intelligence that he says will show the agency exaggerated the number of "high and medium priority" weapons sites that it claimed to have briefed UN inspectors on. He says if Americans had known "there could have been greater public demand that the inspection process continue." Plus: 'What Was Known.'
CBS News plays Jayson Blair card in responding to a New York Times article about its synergistic pitch to Pfc. Jessica Lynch: "Unlike the New York Times' own ethical problems, there is no question about the accuracy or integrity of CBS News' reporting."
The Washington Post revisits and revises its earlier reporting on the Pfc. Jessica Lynch story
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Weapons of Mass Dispersion? Saudi officials and a former Iraqi army officer say that an al-Qaeda arms cache discovered in Riyadh in early May, appears to have contained weapons and explosives smuggled out of Iraq. Plus: GAO warns over missing radioactive units.
As Britain presses the U.S. to make an immunity for information deal with Iraqi captures, Saddam loyalists are reportedly allying with Islamist militants -- said to be linked to al-Qaeda -- for a mid-summer uprising against the occupation.
The Village Voice's Cynthia Cotts suggests that if media companies want to boost ratings and credibility at the same time, they should make WMD the top story of the summer: "The war on Iraq is a Byzantine puzzle that begins and ends with a lie. The media have an obligation to expose it."
Iraq polls show rock not so dumb after all.
Two former British cabinet members say they were told by British intelligence in the run-up to war that Saddam's WMD did not pose a "current and serious" threat.
A Human Rights Watch report says that evidence on the ground does not support the explanation given by U.S. occupation authorities on the killings of 20 Iraqis in Fallujah, and calls for a full investigation of two incidents there in late April.
New Yorker staffer Philip Gourevitch, author of "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda," -- review & excerpt -- talks to "On the Media" about what drives conflict coverage.
In an interview with Australian radio, American freelancer William Nessen describes the danger he faces as the only journalist traveling with separatist rebels in Aceh. He claims that the Indonesian military is both bombing and attempting to starve civilians, the majority of whom side with the rebels.
Sen. Richard Lugar has asked Indonesia's president to secure Nessen's safe passage out of Aceh and Indonesia. The commander of Indonesia's military operation in Aceh assured Nessen that he wouldn't be shot if he left the rebels, but said that he couldn't comply with his request that, as a journalist, he not be detained or questioned. Read the Committee to Protect Journalists' letter.
Italy's Missionary Service News Agency reports that more than 500 schools in Aceh have been set on fire since the start of the military offensive on May 19.
The Los Angeles Times interviews West Bank settlers who are less interested in the politics of territorial expansion and Zionism, than in low mortgage rates and relatively inexpensive homes. It quotes one who said: "If leaving this place was the price of peace, I would move."
The article references a study by Peace Now, in which 77% of settlers cited quality of life as the main reason for living in disputed territories and 68% said they would obey the government if it ordered them to withdraw.
Ha'aretz's Amira Hass says the prevailing Israeli view is that "Israeli soldiers are always involved in 'combat,' even when they bomb a refugee camp and kill children. Palestinians are always terrorists, even when they face a tank, even when their targets are Israeli soldiers in an Israeli army base, even when one of the missions of that base is to make sure that Jews are allowed to settle without obstruction in areas conquered by Israel in 1967."
The Boston Globe reports that Sen. John Kerry was targeted by the Nixon White House in the early 70s over his leadership of Vietnam protests. In a secret memo, aide Charles Colson wrote: "Destroy the young demagogue before he becomes another Ralph Nader." Plus: Kerry does standup during Iowa sitdown.
Democrats said to be blowing opportunity to capitalize on President Bush's economic record.
Greg Beato shows how a "man on the street" found a home at the New York Times.
High school classmate remembers Michael Weiner and asks: 'Who's listening to this All-American jerk?'
Thursday, June 19, 2003
Reuters reports that many Iraqis believe that the U.S. is using Saddam's Baath party as a scapegoat: "They argue it is heavy-handed American raids, along with the failure to restore basic services, that are fueling the violence and insecurity, not Saddam loyalists."
U.S. captures "the Condoleezza Rice of the Baath Party."
A U.S. edict prohibiting Iraqi media from inciting attacks on other Iraqis -- and on occupation forces -- prompted a front-page editorial in the widely read As-Saah newspaper, that ran under the headline: "Bremer is a Baathist."
Meme Madness Spinsanity finds an "absurd political myth" -- that Sen. Robert Byrd criticized the cost of President Bush's speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln -- "now being widely repeated as fact."
"Democracy Now!" previews the Senate Commerce Committee's vote on rolling back the national ownership limit on TV stations, and talks to a Wall Street Journal reporter who detailed the cozy relationship between a Bear Stearns analyst and the FCC. Today's the day.
An AP article on the ownership limit vote finds few takers among TV station Web sites.
As U.S. House and Senate committees begin closed-door hearings on Iraq intelligence, Sen. John Kerry says that President Bush "misled every one of us" and former CIA director Stansfield Turner accuses the Bush administration of "overstretching the facts."
'The Psychology Of Fanaticism' Arianna Huffington turns to the DSM for help in explaining why the WMD are MIA.
Iraq war claims second head of state.
The payoff for watching one Salon commercial: Jake Tapper documenting the Bush administration's rhetorical ramp-up to war, Michelle Goldberg on why most Americans don't care about the WMD issue and Eric Boehlert on the stonewalling of the 9/11 investigation.
According to documents leaked to the New York Times, the White House heavily edited the climate section of an EPA report on the state of the environment, whittling "a long section describing the risks from rising global temperatures... to a few noncommittal paragraphs." Plus: 'Of Polar Bears and Pollution.'
The leading candidate to head the EPA, Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne received a near-zero rating from the League of Conservation Voters, during his one term as a senator.
The Atlantic Monthly's introduction to 'The Texas Clemency Memos' reads: "As the legal counsel to Texas Governor George W. Bush, Alberto R. Gonzales -- now the White House counsel, and widely regarded as a likely future Supreme Court nominee -- prepared fifty-seven confidential death-penalty memoranda for Bush's review. Never before discussed publicly, the memoranda suggest that Gonzales repeatedly failed to apprise Bush of some of the most salient issues in the cases at hand."
White House rejects suggestion by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle that Bush meet with Democrats before filling any Supreme Court vacancies.
The Los Angles Times reports on the capture of fugitive rapist and Max Factor heir Andrew Luster, who was grabbed in Puerto Vallarta by bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman. Chapman, along with his son, brother, agent and a cameraman, were all thrown in jail and may face kidnapping charges.
Reuters reports on scopolamine, a Colombian version of a date-rape drug that is used by both thieves and rapists. Hospital workers say that it temporarily turns victims into zombies, and unlike most date-rape drugs used in the U.S. and elsewhere, it is usually impossible for victims to ever identify their aggressors.
Friday, June 20, 2003
After the Senate Commerce Committee approved legislation that would reverse the FCC's decision to loosen media ownership rules, a spokesman for Rep. Billy Tauzin, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said: "We have no intentions of taking up that bill. This has become a political soap opera and given the chance Chairman Tauzin intends to cancel its run."
But "gloat -- while the gloating's good," says Tom Shales, who thinks that "even Tauzin may be forced to consider what activists are calling a tremendous expression of outrage from the American public -- even though the issue got very little coverage on the national networks."
BBC exec warns Brits over media consolidation: "The lesson from America is that, if news and public affairs are left purely to the market, it will most likely give the government what it wants."
'Fibbing It Up At Fox' Dale Steinreich gets the goods, with his March to June "chronicle of lies, propagation of lies, exaggerations, distortions, spin, and conjecture presented as fact."
With TV shows and radio hosts seamlessly weaving product pitches into editorial content, newspaper columnist Brian Lowry realized that it was time to join the cutting edge.
The Washington Post reports on how cash-strapped schools are teaming up with marketers of products such as Oscar Mayer Lunchables, SweeTarts and Dunkin' Donuts, to help fill funding gaps.
The New York Times reports that the hunt for Saddam is now being led by Task Force 20, which saved Pfc. Jessica Lynch, but failed to find WMD. According to the Washington Post, they started looking before the war began, sending to Washington, "a stream of initially promising reports that helped feed the optimism expressed by President Bush and his senior national security advisers that proscribed weapons would be found."
In an article that revisits the initial reporting on Lynch's rescue, a British journalist is quoted as saying the U.S. media could have framed the story "in a way which distanced the source. Which is what they did with all Iraqi sources. Why should we assume that what Donald Rumsfeld is saying is more reliable than what Iraqi sources are saying?"
In a Milwaukee magazine report on how American taxpayers footed much of the bill for embedding journalists with the U.S. military in Iraq, a journalism professor says reporters "seem to be failing to practice what they preach. They're outraged when government officials accept travel and gifts from private interests. Clearly, the news media have some explaining to do."
Talk Left boils down a plan by Republicans to beat the filibuster of judicial nominee Priscilla Owen, and Joe Conason suggests a Democratic presidential ticket that could counter Karl Rove's "patriotic" strategy.
A graphic that appeared on screen for a matter of seconds during New Zealand's TV3 news program, indentified President Bush as a "professional" adherent of an extreme right-wing ideology. Was it too long to be considered "subliminable?"
Monday, June 23, 2003
Shortly after Brett Bursey was arrested last October for trespassing at the Columbia, SC airport, during a protest against President Bush, charges against him were dropped. But this week he's back in court to face federal charges brought by U.S. attorney, Strom Thurmond Jr., under an obscure law that allows the Secret Service to restrict access to areas the president is visiting.
Arrest was flashback to the 60s for Bursey.
Conservative commentator John Leo wrote that "Serious discussion about the rights of protesters is out of fashion right now, partly because the media prefers to focus on the low-level complaints of anti-war celebrities. But there are several troubling trends..."
FAIR finds Wesley Clark's June 15 appearance on "Meet the Press," "unusual for the buzz that it didn't generate," considering his claim that Bush administration officials launched a campaign to implicate Saddam in the 9/11 attacks on September 11, when he was called at home and urged -- as a CNN analyst -- to link Baghdad to the terror attacks. Earlier: CBS reported 'Plans For Iraq Attack Began On 9/11.'
David Corn finds it odd that the work of the 9/11 commission hasn't received much media attention, "since the panel is seeking to explain the most traumatic moment in recent U.S. history."
Sources who have read the U.S. intelligence community's still-classified consensus report on Iraq, tell the Washington Post that President Bush overstated the link between Iraq and al-Qaeda during an October 7 speech in Cincinnati.
Glengarry Glen Bush Historian defends president against charges of lying, calls rhetoric on Iraq and taxes "typical of somebody trying to sell somebody something." But, there's more to life than just selling.
Monkey Media Report credits Secretary of State Powell with telling the biggest whopper.
In his weekly radio address, President Bush backtracked on his WMD claims, promising only to discover the "true extent" of Saddam's programs, while introducing the notion that "in the regime's final days, documents and suspected weapons sites were looted and burned."
''They came to my office and told me I would write a Koran for our great president,'' says calligrapher Abbas Baghdadi. "They didn't tell me I would write it in Saddam's blood.''
'Successful' missile test misses the point.
BuzzFlash interviews Dan Briody, author of "The Iron Triangle: Inside the Secret World of the Carlyle Group." He cites United Defense, a public company that is 50% owned by privately-held Carlyle, as an example of the seamless relationship between military contractors and government.
Briody says that President Bush's visit to a United Defense plant, where he spoke the day after landing on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, was "brazen," "shameless" and "an amazing achievement... He was doing it all. He was pitching a tax cut for the very wealthy while doing an advertisement for his father’s company, and professing the war to be over, and kicking off his reelection campaign, all in one fell swoop."
"Meet the Press" solicited tax-cut repeal research from the White House, giving Bush the opportunity to inject himself in the debate and attempt to position repeal as a tax increase.
'Sharon's Man?' Dean criticized for Middle East positions.
Government shutters Russia's last critical TV channel.
Al Gore enlists heavyweight media investor to help develop cable TV plan.
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
A French consultant to a UN report to be issued next week, says it will show that before 9/11, bin Laden "anticipated the American attack and sent out about 800 fighters from Afghanistan, all top officers of al-Qaeda." Plus: 'Report says UN embargo does little to halt al-Qaeda.'
Defense Department officials say that during an attack last week on a convoy suspected of carrying fugitive Iraqi officials, U. S. soldiers engaged in a firefight with Syrian guards, wounding five of them, and that at least one of the Iraqi vehicles destroyed in the attack was hit by U.S. helicopters on the Syrian side of the border. Next stop Belarus?
A U.S. Army Sgt. goes public with his story of how two Army doctors refused to help three Iraqi children who were burned when they set fire to a bag containing explosive powder left over from the war. The doctors said the kids were denied aid because their injuries were not life-threatening and had not been inflicted by U.S. troops.
Orange County Weekly reports on the Defense Department's effort to urge city officials to structure Fourth of July celebrations around the war in Iraq. One local official tells the paper that "I got the impression that they had a list of every city in the nation that had applied for a pyrotechnics permit, and were calling them to persuade them to be part of the program."
Noting the irony of President Bush's October 7 speech in Cincinnati being presented on the White House Web site under the heading of 'Denial and Deception,' Paul Krugman writes: "There is no longer any serious doubt that Bush administration officials deceived us into war. The key question now is why so many influential people are in denial, unwilling to admit the obvious."
The Daily Howler says 'Bush's critics are asking real questions,' but the New York Times' David Rosenbaum 'wants them to stop.' Rosenbaum's article prompted Slate's Timothy Noah to ask this one. Plus: Howler's 'Weapons of Misdirection (Part 2)!'
Michael Wolff makes a link between WMD and the FCC.
In a 'Luring Private Lynch' segment on "Reliable Sources," Philadelphia Inquirer TV critic Gail Shister said: "I'm surprised that CBS didn't offer her to be host of 'Survivor.' I mean, it's the logical conclusion." Plus: From 'go girl' to 'get girl.'
A new Washington Post/ABC poll finds that 56% of respondents would support military action against Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons, 63% think the Iraq war can be justified without finding WMD and 24% believe Iraq used chemical or biological weapons against U.S. forces during the conflict, while 14% weren't sure. Complete poll data.
ABC provides some cover for the 24% who think Iraq used chemical or biological weapons against U.S. forces: "That could reflect any number of factors -- erroneous information, bad guesses, an inclination to expect the worst from Iraq, and others. But probably more than anything, it underscores the limitations of opinion polls as a tool to measure knowledge."
But the director of the mid-May poll in which 22% of respondents said Iraq used chemical or biological weapons against U.S. troops, was less forgiving, calling the 22% "a striking finding. Given the intensive news coverage and high levels of public attention, this level of misinformation suggests some Americans may be avoiding having an experience of cognitive dissonance."
With Ari Fleisher set to leave his post as White House press secretary, Richard Blow suggests that the presidential press corps follow him out the door and start covering real administration news.
Alternet's Don Hazen says that after MoveOn.org's first primary ends, it should stage a first debate with the Democratic candidates, that for once would involve independent journalists and allow for the testing of some new models of media distribution.
Affirmative Before the Supreme Court's rulings on affirmative action, former University of Michigan President Lee Bollinger, who was named as the defendant in the suits, told Bill Moyers that the fundamental issue at stake was not a particular program, using points or not using points, but rather, "Can you consider race and ethnicity as factors in admissions in order to get an integrated student body?"
After the decision, Bollinger said the experience had taught him that "when the world looks bleak from the standpoint of values you believe in... that sustained devoted effort to your principles can really bring about a change of attitude and opinion."
Officials of conservative groups say they plan to demand that President Bush choose someone whose opposition to affirmative action is beyond doubt for any vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reports charges by unnamed U.S. military officials, who say that New York Times reporter Judith Miller exercised undue influence over MET Alpha, the weapons hunting unit that she was embedded with in Iraq.
The New York Observer's Sridhar Pappu writes that "The Times and the Post have been engaged in a kind of shadowy, below-the-fold duel over the Weapons That Weren't -- and the credibility of President Bush's assertions on the road to war."
Micah Sifry, editor of "The Iraq War Reader," explains how a New York Post reporter is dueling with himself, one week criticizing the media for focusing on bad news from Baghdad, in a Weekly Standard article, and the next, reporting on how badly Paul Bremer's first days were going, in a Post piece headlined "Disaster in Waiting."
Jim Lobe asks: "So why are we in this handbasket? Is it the result of grave errors of judgment or part of a neoconservative master plan?"
Droning On The AP reports that when President Bush took office, the White House was told that unarmed Predator drones had recently spotted bin Laden as many as three times and that officials were urged to arm the planes, but a "paralyzing internal debate" kept them grounded until after 9/11.
An independent broadcast producer and reporter, who approached AP reporter John Solomon (see above) in May 2002 with a scoop -- an Arizona flight school manager had warned the FAA in early 2001 about a student who turned out to be one of the 9/11 hijackers -- says the AP failed to credit him for his work.
Witnesses tell Reuters that the shooting that led to the death of six British soldiers in Iraq erupted after British forces fired plastic bullets at a crowd of thousands of Iraqis protesting arms searches of residents' homes: "The witnesses said the Iraqis, believing the British were firing live bullets, fired AK-47 assault rifles..."
U.S. forced to change name of postwar Iraq force from "New Iraqi Corps" to "New Iraqi Army," after learning that the original created an acronym whose initials in Arabic produce a synonym for fornication.
Iraqi teen reportedly arrested for insulting U.S. troops.
The Mirror reported that he "had been hiding out at a relative's house since April watching satellite TV," a new experience for Iraqis.
Air force commander says Israel knew that the wife of a Hamas military leader was with her husband when it decided to drop a one-ton bomb on their house, that killed them and 16 bystanders.
American journalist covering Aceh rebels gives himself up to Indonesian troops.
Thursday, June 26, 2003
Elephants at the Trough The Washington Post reports on the overwhelming success of the "K Street Project," a Republican campaign launched almost a decade ago to oust Democrats from top lobbying jobs in Washington.
According to new IRS data, the average income of the 400 wealthiest U.S. taxpayers increased from $46.8 million in 1992 to almost $174 million in 2000, when it accounted for 1.1% of all U.S. income, up from 0.5% in 1992. But the group's taxes grew at a much slower rate, reports the New York Times, going from 1 percent of all taxes in 1992 to 1.6 percent in 2000.
Shortly after Times tax reporter David Cay Johnston won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for beat reporting, for exposing loopholes and inequities in the U.S. tax code, he spoke with Terry Gross about how repeal of the estate tax was being disingenously sold as a way to save the family farm.
CalPundit debunks the argument -- "practically a mantra on the Wall Street Journal editorial page" -- that what really matters is not income inequality but income mobility. He blogs an article and charts from the Boston Federal Reserve, that show fewer people moving up, fewer moving down, and more staying put.
Micah Sifry says it's payback time, as the beneficiaries of Bush administration policies are being asked to help build a reelection war chest that is expected to total $170 million -- more than the combined amount of private money raised for primaries by Reagan in 1980 and 1984, Bush Sr. in 1988 and 1992 and Bob Dole in 1996.
'The Perils of Overkill' Jules Witcover revisits a presidential reelection campaign that also had money to burn.
Atrios say's it's no surprise that "Meet the Press" would use administration prepared talking points to go after Howard Dean: "We've known for years that Russert and NBC would just put RNC oppo research on the air unchecked during the '00 election." He links to an article about the BBC documentary, "Digging the Dirt."
With more questions being raised about the White House's candidness on WMD, tax cuts and the environment, Christian Science Monitor columnist Dante Chinni writes that "Slowly and quietly, a credibility gap is opening."
Where do President Bush and Prime Minister Blair want to take you now?
Josh Marshall says the discovery of nuclear program materials and documents buried in an Iraqi scientist's back yard, "seems to present some positive evidence that no effort to reconstitute the program was ever made." Soundbitten discovers a little-discussed missile find that the Bush administration has been reluctant to promote. (2nd item)
Trailers Trashed The State Department's intelligence division is reportedly disputing the CIA's conclusion that the mobile trailers found in Iraq were for making biological weapons.
Speaking at a Guardian conference on Iraq war coverage, Michael Wolff said that "Ass kissing" at American TV networks "has gone on to a profound degree. It's pervasive throughout all these news organisations. They need the FCC to behave in certain ways. In order to do this we have got to go along to get along." More conference coverage here.
William Safire looks at 'Big Media's Silence' on the FCC debate and explains why the moguls may still have something to worry about.
Where is the Beef? Burundi meat marketing board finds more success in creating demand than in filling it.
Friday, June 27, 2003
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that following the Supreme Court's decision striking down Texas' sodomy law, a huge rainbow flag that had graced the corner of Market and Castro streets was replaced with the Stars and Stripes.
Constitutional law professor Jamin B. Raskin says that liberals have won the culture war: "The gay and lesbian movement that has persistently faced down the religious right in the courts is now like the little boy chess master in 'Searching for Bobby Fisher' who assures his opponent in the finals: 'You've already lost. You just don't know it yet.'" Plus: 'After the Fall of Sodomy.'
El Nuevo Mexico? Paul Krugman introduces "Welcome to the Machine," a Washington Monthly article that documents "the emergence of an unprecedented national political machine, one that is well on track to establishing one-party rule in America."
Bleeding the Red States "Militarism and empire are the enemies of small-town America," writes Bill Kauffman. "We are the America that suffers in wartime: we do the dying, the paying of taxes, we supply the million unfortunate sons (and now daughters) who are sent hither and yon in what amounts to a vast government uprooting of the populace."
The Pentagon dispatches a team of outside policy experts to conduct an independent review of postwar operations in Iraq, as risk consulting firm Kroll, releases a report warning of an "even" chance of the country descending into open revolt.
Risky Business Kroll's stock price, which was at $7.22 a share on Sept. 10, 2001, jumped to $9.30 when the markets reopened one week later, and is now at around $27 per share.
As military analysts question the depth of the U.S. victory in Iraq, an AP article notes that on Thursday, "reports of attacks on U.S. troops appeared almost hourly -- too frequent for military press officers to keep up with."
A politics professor at the American University of Beirut, tells Lebanon's Daily Star that "The resistance is limited at the moment to Saddam loyalists and Sunni militants who may be sympathetic to Al-Qaeda. But once the resistance becomes more influential and strengthens, I expect it to gather support among Arabs and draw manpower from around the Arab world."
'The Man With No Ear' "Hawks need to wrestle with the reckless exaggerations of intelligence that were used to mislead the American public," writes Nicholas Kristof. "Yet at the same time that we doves hold Mr. Rumsfeld's talons to the fire, we need to grapple with the giddy new freedom that -- in spite of us -- pulsates from Baghdad to Basra." Earlier this week, Kristof talked about Iraq on "Fresh Air."
Spin Doctor After Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told the "Today Show" that WMD wasn't the main justification for invading Iraq, blogger Billmon discovered that the doctor is also a patient, who is suffering from a case of historical revisionism.
U.S. House defeats amendments to expand pre-war intelligence inquiry, including one offered by Rep. Dennis Kucinich to authorize the CIA inspector general to audit communications between the CIA and Vice President Cheney's office relating to WMD.
Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who regularly briefed VP George H.W. Bush and other senior policy-makers during the 80s, says that VP Cheney's visits to the CIA were unprecedented: "During my 27-year career at the Central Intelligence Agency, no vice president ever came to us for a working visit."
Josh Marshall wonders why National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice still has a job.
In a May commencement speech at Barnard College, Judith 'General Judy' Miller said: "Journalists need to draw conclusions about whether objectivity was compromised during the war."
As a consortium of mercenaries offers to end the war in the Congo for $200 million, Jeanne d'Arc, in her own tour de force, looks at the many angles -- and ironies -- of the conflict, and outlines the options for dealing with it.
Just Dismiss It The Supreme Court refuses to decide whether Nike's claim that its ads and statements defending overseas labor practices are constitutionally protected free speech, not false advertising as a California lawsuit alleged.
A Washington Post reporter tries to get to the bottom of a story first reported by Ha'aretz, that President Bush had said he struck al-Qaeda and Saddam on instructions from God.
Ad exec picks best presidential campaign songs, says Rev. Al Sharpton "trumped everyone" with "Get Up, Stand Up," and suggests a certain Pink Floyd song as the theme for President's Bush's reelection campaign.
Sen. Joe Lieberman bests Sharpton to take 8th place in MoveOn.org primary.
Monday, June 30, 2003
Ted Conovor reports on his visit to 'the Land of Guantanamo,' where he found both prisoners and guards feeling marooned, and an operation that falls far short of offering the prisoner of war protections guaranteed by the Geneva Conventions.
'Do Unto Others' Matt Taibbi took New York Times reporter Neil Lewis to task for his kid gloves treatment of Guantanamo's chief medical officer, who said in an April interview that detainees who tried to kill themselves were already suicidal when they arrived at Camp X-Ray.
In a June article by Lewis and Carlotta Gall, headlined 'Freed Guantanamo captives tell of suicidal despair,' the staff psychiatrist at the prison's medical facility also dismissed the notion that confinement and uncertainty about the future were specifically to blame for the suicide attempts: "I would not particularly say these circumstances are a factor."
Nat Hentoff says that revelations contained in Steven Brill's book "After," about post 9/11 strategy sessions at the Justice Department, "add further critical weight to the June 3 report by the Justice Department's inspector general, which, in my view, raises powerful questions about Ashcroft's fitness for office."
A new study by the Council on Foreign Relations says that the U.S. is drastically underfunding local emergency responders and remains dangerously unprepared to handle a catastrophic attack on American soil. The study recommends spending $98 billion beyond the $27 billion it says the federal government planned to spend on first responders over the next five years.
Former Sen. Warren Rudman discussed the study on "Meet the Press," where he preceded political odd couple Mary Maitlin and James Carville.
"Wealth, clearly, can buy political power, but what is different is that the rich now attempt to remove people from office once they have won," writes William O'Rourke. He says that if Congressman Darrel Issa is successful in his million-dollar bid to recall California Gov. Gray Davis, "it will be a testament to the takeover of single-pocket politics."
Could Rep. Issa be the 'perfect target' for Davis' strategy of making voters dislike his opponents even more than they dislike him? Plus: Issa dogged by multiple allegations of car theft and noise pollution.
California Greens are at odds over the decision by Peter Camejo -- who received 5% of the vote as the party's 2002 gubernatorial candidate -- to become the second candidate, along with Issa, to declare that he will run for governor in a recall election. (First link may be broken.)
Ralph Nader says he has moved closer to a repeat run as the Green Party presidential nominee.
The Bush reelection campaign has a new voice. On the same day that comedian Dennis Miller's commentary segment debuted on Fox News, he flew with the president from San Francisco to Los Angeles, where he performed stand-up at a Bush fund-raiser, joking that Sen. Robert Byrd "must be burning the cross at both ends" and likening Howard Dean to Neville Chamberlain
A San Francisco Chronicle account of Bush's California fund-raisers, notes that Miller said in an interview last year that Bush "is smart enough to know that he's not particularly smart so he surrounds himself with smart people in much the same way a hole surrounds itself with a doughnut."
Jason Leopold reports on Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz's early 2002 order to the CIA to investigate Hans Blix, and CIA Director George Tenet's early 2001 testimony to Congress that Iraq posed no immediate threat to the U.S. or to other countries in the Middle East.
A Time report prompts Daily Kos to ask: "How can anyone claim Bush knows what he's doing, when he doesn't even know who's in charge of finding WMD in Iraq?"
The Israeli government declared that it's cutting off ties with the BBC, following the worldwide broadcast of "Israel's Secret Weapon," a documentary charging Israel with secretly stockpiling nuclear and chemical weapons. An Israeli government official called the accusations in the documentary "very reminiscent of Der Stuermer," the anti-Semitic newspaper from Nazi-era Germany.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist endorses a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
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