June, 2004 link archive

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

After a hostage drama leaves 22 people dead in Saudi Arabia, the New York Times reports on questions being raised about how it was possible that three militants could have escaped from a walled compound surrounded by hundreds of police officers. Plus: Oil prices surge as al-Qaeda targets U.S. supplies.

As a new Iraqi government is announced, Juan Cole connects a report that the CIA will put $3 billion into building up a new Iraqi secret police force with prime minister-designate Iyad Allawi's longstanding "interest in rebuilding the secret police." And Chalmers Johnson's 12 questions for President Bush includes: "If we plan to return Iraq to the Iraqis, why is the U.S. currently building fourteen permanent bases there?"

Newsweek reports on signs of a cover-up in the Abu Ghraib scandal and the Chicago Tribune quotes Globalsecurity.org's John Pike on the limitations of the Army's probe headed by Maj. Gen. George Fay: "Is this guy going to get to the bottom of Gen. Boykin's operation, or is this guy going to unwrap what Steve Cambone knew and when he [knew] it, or who authorized all this over at the White House? Of course not. Or figure out what CIA's role was in all of this? No way."

The Newsweek article mentions attorney Scott Horton, who said on "Now" that "the Pentagon's script" is to "keep the camera on these lurid photographs," to "just talk about six or seven rotten apples" and to "portray the Geneva convention as a web of hopelessly complicated legal technicalities that no one could be expected really to understand and even the lawyers disagree about them."

As the AP reports that "Several U.S. guards say they witnessed military intelligence operatives encouraging the abuse of Iraqi inmates at four prisons other than Abu Ghraib," the Washington Post editorializes that "President Bush's persistence in describing the abuse of foreign prisoners as an isolated problem at one Iraqi prison is blatantly at odds with the facts seeping out from his administration." 

The Post's Fred Hiatt accuses Bush of giving aid and comfort to the enemy by opting to address the Iraq prison scandal with "a Nixonian strategy of damage containment, and a summer of piecemeal disclosure," and Billmon writes that "it's as if in the summer of 1974, Richard Nixon was still trying to blame everything on Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, even as the Ervin Committee was exposing his own taped self incriminations."

The New York Times reports that death certificates for twenty Afghan and Iraqi prisoners who died in U.S. custody were completed during a "10-day rush" in May, including one for an Afghan prisoner killed in December 2002. Plus: Findings of autopsy at odds with death certificate for an Iraqi scientist who died in U.S. custody.

Times' reporters debunked over claim that "To date, there have been no accusations of serious prisoner abuse in connection with interrogations at Guantanamo." Earlier: U.S. Army disputes former Kentucky National Guardsman's claim that he was beaten during training exercises at Guantanamo.

As Time reports that an internal Pentagon e-mail says "action" on a multibillion-dollar Halliburton contract was "coordinated" with Vice-President Cheney's office, the winners are announced in the 'Cheney Spins the Apocalypse!' contest. Could Cheney possibly get any closer to the Oval Office?

Just the Fax  The group that Attorney General Ashcroft was referring to when he said "an al-Qaida spokesman announced that 90 percent of the arrangements for an attack in the United States were complete," has been described by a U.S. intelligence official as having "no known operational capability and may be no more than one man with a fax machine." Plus: 'Government uses Tillman to sell war on terrorism.'

An Office of Management and Budget memo directing federal agencies to prepare for post-election cuts in programs that President Bush has been touting on the campaign trail, offers "direct confirmation that the White House is engaged in bait and switch," writes Paul Krugman, and "that it intends to pursue a not at all compassionate agenda after this year's election."

The Washington Post reports that President Bush's reelection campaign "has aired 49,050 negative ads in the top 100 markets, or 75 percent of his advertising," compared to Kerry's "13,336 negative ads -- or 27 percent of his total." In April, the head of a study on negative advertising said that about 39 percent of the statements in presidential campaign commercials from 1952 to 2000 have been attacks. Hullabaloo's Digby says the Bush team is "never happier than when personal destruction is job one."

An AP report says "Bush is using Air Force One for re-election travel more heavily than any predecessor," surpassing a record set by Bill Clinton, who is gearing up for what his book agent calls the "mother and father of all roll outs." The article gets in a jibe at the book industry by noting that "even literature" will be represented at this year's BookExpo convention.

New York Times' ombudsman Daniel Okrent calls the paper's "coddling" of anonymous sources in last week's editor's note "a license granted to liars," while Alexander Cockburn finds the note similar in tone to the paper's "exceptionally graceless admission in 2000 that it might have done better in the Wen Ho Lee affair ... one of the greatest humiliations of a national newspaper in the history of journalism."

"The Judy Miller problem is complicated," writes Franklin Foer in New York magazine. "That is, the very qualities that endeared Miller to her editors at the New York Times -- her ambition, her aggressiveness, her cultivation of sources by any means necessary, her hunger to be first -- were the same ones that allowed her to get the WMD story so wrong."

Kautilyan says Foer doesn't go far enough in reporting that Miller is "protected at the absolute top," since Miller was "a mainline pipe for the propaganda sewage that swept us off to war, everyone knows it, and yet she still has her job." More from Steve Gilliard in 'Understanding Judy Miller: Learning to read a magazine story.'

Drudging Up the Past In tracing the evolution of the rumor that she had an affair with Sen. John Kerry, "intern" Alexandra Polier writes that her experience was an object lesson in "the pitiful state of political reporting, which is dominated by the unholy alliance of opposition research and its latest tool, the Internet."

Some pundits "decided to clown once again" after Al Gore's speech last week, says The Daily Howler, including "brilliant shrink" Charles Krauthammer who "unwrapped his latest diagnoses."

Item consigned by Reuters to "Oddly Enough" raises questions about service members bringing home weapons and adherence to Washington D.C.'s gun laws.

May 28-31

Wednesday, June 2, 2004

The Boston Globe reports on how the chemical and rail industries have managed to fend off legislation designed to secure more than 100 urban chemical facilities described by Homeland Security watchdogs as "prepositioned weapons of mass destruction."

The Justice Department's report charging Jose Padilla with conspiring to blow up apartment buildings with natural gas, was "designed to have some kind of extra-judicial influence" on an upcoming Supreme Court decision concerning his "enemy combatant" status, according to a law professor who has followed his case. A spokeswoman for the American Gas Association said, "a person bent on mischief or wrongdoing could misuse any form of home energy."

A New York Times analysis says that "To some, the limits that are emerging" on Iraqi sovereignty "are so constraining that they make a mockery of the process," and a USA Today report finds "wide agreement on what Iraqis want next: their country back."

Josh Marshall says that if a Times article "has the Chalabi story right, someone -- and probably someone at the Pentagon -- is in a world of trouble."

Scott Ritter tells "Democracy Now!" that "from the summer of 2002, through the invasion in the spring of 2003," he was "pretty much persona non grata with the New York Times and the Washington Post, and Times' reporter Judith Miller says a New York magazine article about her "speaks for itself in its sleaziness."

'Brits vs. Yanks' The Columbia Journalism Review features a debate on war coverage between the Washington Post's ombudsman and the foreign editor of the Independent, which has just published 'The lying game: An A-Z of the Iraq war and its aftermath, focusing on misrepresentation, manipulation, and mistakes.'

A Post analysis that says President Bush's "belated attention to the brutality at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison has revealed vulnerabilities" in a management style that according to one adviser, dates back to Bush's ownership of the Texas Rangers. The adviser doubts that Bush will change his "strong-CEO's approach of delegation," because "It's impossible to change a successful man."

Dahr Jamail writes that "as the Bush and Blair camps race about trying to paint a picture of stability and structure in Iraq, with June 30 now just a month away -- this place is coming apart at the seams." Plus: Jamail on how and what Iraqis are feeding themselves.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Iraqi reconstruction "Projects have been delayed by insurgent attacks and rampant corruption, committed by Iraqis but blamed on the Americans. Baghdad's boulevards are lined with trash. Geysers of sewage erupt in even the wealthiest neighborhoods of the capital. Unemployment is epidemic nationwide." Plus:  'Iraq costs are $119.4 billion and rising.'

The Times also reports that "For two months, someone has been kidnapping the best doctors in Iraq," and while most "were released after the payment of between $20,000 and $200,000... Ransom, it seems, is not the only motivation for the crimes. In many cases, abductors have ordered the physicians to leave Iraq, sometimes setting a deadline."

Graphic provides eye-popping look at President Bush's Medicare drug card.

A tale of two headlines from the Washington Post and New Hampshire's Union Leader, which edited out the article's finding that 75 percent of the Bush campaign's advertising has been negative, compared to Kerry's 27 percent. Plus: The Boston Globe editorializes on 'Bush's false advertising' and The Daily Howler says that 'Finally, Milbank asked the obvious question...'

Good to Go?  George Soros tells USA Today that "There probably will be some further contributions" to groups working to oust President Bush, "but I don't expect any substantial increase. Large numbers of people are beginning to see the Bush administration in the same light as I do... I now take the defeat of Bush more or less for granted." Plus: Bill 'O'Reilly smeared Soros... again.'

James Ridgeway writes that if "Bush wanted to rescue himself from his current suicide dive, he could dump Cheney—whose negatives are substantial—and select McCain as his veep. If he did that, John Kerry would vanish without a trace." Does Bush now have his own Ralph Nader?

Howard Dean launches weekly column with first installment calling for state governments "to put paperless e-voting machines on the shelf until 2006 or until they are reliable and will allow recounts."

Enron tapes aired by CBS are said to have given only the "barest flavor of how utterly venal these folks were." In mid-May the Los Angeles Times reported that "the 450 pages of recorded conversations provide another vivid look into the organization's exploitive subculture."

June 1

Thursday, June 3, 2004

Bye George! Big news story broke small.

Asked how big a role the U.S. had in forming Iraq's interim government and selecting the prime minister and president, U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said that occupation head Paul "Bremer is the dictator of Iraq. He has the money. He has the signature." Plus: Interim government receives "cautious endorsement" from Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

A Telegraph correspondent in Fallujah quotes a U.S. officer as saying, "All we've succeeded in doing is paying off the mujahideen to stop shooting at us. There's a cauldron of hate out there and it's going to boil over."

A Christian Science Monitor report on what it calls an 'All-out war between Al Qaeda and the House of Saud,' quotes a Middle East security analyst as saying that a broad swath of Saudi public opinion has turned against Al Qaeda, creating the conditions for the kingdom to pursue an "open war" against the group. Plus: Expats weigh money or life question.

Russian TV network sacks top anchorman after he protested the axing of his interview with the widow of a Chechen rebel leader killed in Qatar.

Critical Montages looks at the Department of Homeland Security's awarding of an estimated $15 billion border security contract to Bermuda-incorporated Accenture, for US-Visit, a program for tracking entries and exits of all visitors to the United States.

Richard Cohen says that by not using the word "alleged" when writing about Jose Padilla, "The worst I can do is libel the man. The government, though, has cast him into the contemporary version of a dungeon." Plus: Slate's Dahlia Lithwick on 'The Justice Department's triumphant victory over the Constitution.'

With President Bush finding a lawyer to represent him if necessary in the grand jury investigation into who leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame, Billmon writes that "it's almost like old times - in those dark days before honor and integrity were restored to the White House."

A Financial Times report that France has banned demonstrations in central Paris "to ensure no hostile protests are in evidence to disturb President George W. Bush's brief presence in the French capital," adds that French officials hope Bush "will not seek to link too openly the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany with the U.S.'s removal of the dictatorship in Baghdad and Mr. Bush's broader war against terrorism."

Bush says that he was never angry with the French over that country's refusal to back his plans to invade Iraq.

Meet the New Boss USA Today reports that at least $340,000 has been spent on U.S. lawyers, lobbyists and PR agents on behalf on Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who is said to have "always assumed ... that he didn't need a constituency in Iraq as long as he had one in Washington."

As the FBI begins polygraphing civilian employees at the Pentagon to find out who may have disclosed classified information to Ahmad Chalabi, a Newsweek article suggests that Chalabi may have been compiling oppo research on U.S. officials. And President Bush describes Chalabi as someone he met "just kind of working through the rope line." Plus: What did Chalabi tell the Iranians?

Matthew Yglesias offers up a grand, unified theory to explain President Bush's policies: "The truth, hard as it is to accept, is that Bush is an Iranian agent."

A PINR analysis says the Army's expansion of the "stop-loss" policy is just the latest sign that the occupation of Iraq is causing an "intense strain" to the U.S. military. Plus: 'For some soldiers the war never ends.'

Wedding Party Line The Washington Post's Jefferson Morley contrasts international and U.S. coverage of the American military's May 19 attack in the western Iraqi desert that killed more than 40 people.

John Nichols writes that in the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, "Too many journalists, under pressure to appear 'patriotic,' practiced stenography to power, and a BuzzFlash editorial says that the New York Times "was to the Iraq war what Matt Drudge was to the Clinton impeachment."

NPR's ombudsman sees a potential chilling effect on independent election-year journalism if reporters are defensive about a recent Pew poll, which cited an inherent liberal bias among the media. More on the poll from Editor & Publisher.

FactCheck.org weighs Sen. John Kerry's "Optimists" TV spot and finds it lighter than air and devoid of factual claims, while a Star Tribune editorial lauds Washington Post reporters Dana Milbank and Jim VandeHei for their fact checking.

President Bush has one big advantage going into the election:  his ponderous, uncharismatic opponent, writes former New York Times editor Howell Raines, who says that Kerry must "find his voice or fade away." The CJR Campaign Desk says that one must first get past "the conceit of Howell Raines giving anyone PR advice."

An AP report that the Bush-Cheney campaign "is trying to recruit supporters from 1,600 religious congregations in Pennsylvania," quotes the Rev. Barry W. Lynn of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State as saying, "I have never in my life seen such a direct campaign to politicize American churches."

Fox News chairman Roger Ailes responds to a lecture by Los Angeles Times editor John S. Carroll, that concluded with Carroll saying, "If Fox News were a factory situated, say, in Minneapolis, it would be trailing a plume of rotting fish all the way to New Orleans." Ailes, who charged Carroll with treating Fox News "worse in his newspaper than he treated the terrorists who recently beheaded an American," was pilloried in letters to Romenesko.

June 2

Friday, June 4, 2004

Get Your War Off  "A society bingeing on fear makes itself vulnerable to far more profound forms of destruction than terror attacks," writes William Greider. "The 'terrorism war,' like a nostalgic echo of the cold war, is using these popular fears to advance a different agenda -- the re-engineering of American life through permanent mobilization." Plus: Terror war held to different standards than war on poverty.

Military Victory The Washington Post's "Reliable Source" reports that "After pressure from troops who wanted recognition for fighting in Iraq and in Afghanistan -- and not just in one all-encompassing 'Global War on Terrorism' -- President Bush quietly signed legislation Friday night establishing separate new medals for their service." Bush awards medal to Pope, but prize is at home.

In an interview with Beliefnet, Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh discusses the Iraqi prison abuse scandal, collective karma and the doctrine of preemption.

"What we know," writes Mark Danner in 'The Logic of Torture,' "is quite enough to show that what happened at Abu Ghraib, whatever it was, did not depend on the sadistic ingenuity of a few bad apples. The real question now, as so often, is not what we know but what we are prepared to do."

Sen. Trent Lott defends "really rough" treatment of Iraqi prisoners, saying, "Hey, nothing wrong with holding a dog up there, unless the dog ate him, scared him with a dog."

Interviewed on "Democracy Now!", former CIA analyst Ray McGovern said George Tenet "was playing a double game.... You don't tell the president what he wants to know. You tell him the truth." McGovern also said he fears that "this administration will resort to extra-legal methods to do something to ensure that there are four more years for George Bush."

"The walls haven't collapsed around George W. Bush," says Slate's Fred Kaplan, but his "risk-rating has just soared." Plus: Tenet resigned before the trifecta hit him.

Robert Dreyfuss offers up a source's take on what happened in the Chalabi case to set the FBI "hot on the trail of some of the neocon ringleaders of Operation Bungle Iraq." Plus: 'A Perle of Wisdom' and Tom Clancy on Paul Wolfowitz: "Is he working for our side?"  

A State Department official confirms that eight DynCorp contractors were involved in the raid on Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress headquarters. The Baltimore Sun article also notes that a Senate report said the number of contract security workers in Iraq, currently estimated at 20,000, "could more than triple over the next several months." The CPA confirms that four from DynCorp were present, calls them "international police advisers."

Adnan Pachachi, the 81-year-old former diplomat who was seen as the U.S.' preferred candidate for the Iraqi presidency, claims he was forced to turn down the job because of a "shabby conspiracy" led by Chalabi. Plus: Iraqi Governing Council is said to have "risen like the phoenix from the ashes of its own disbanding."

An AFP report cites "gloomy experts" who "believe it is only a question of time before terrorists use a 'dirty bomb,'" and the Washington Post editorializes that "on the eve of the Supreme Court's decision in Mr. Padilla's case, which is expected by month's end, the government has delivered a broadside smear against which no defense is possible."

NBC interviews Niaz Kahn, a Pakistani-born British citizen who claims to have tipped off the FBI to a hijacking plot more than a year before 9/11. He says that he was sent to the U.S. after being trained to hijack planes at an al-Qaeda compound in Lahore, but got cold feet and never met his contact, eventually turning himself in -- after blowing al-Qaeda's money in Atlantic City! -- out of fear that his terrorist trainers would track him down.

NBC reports that "Khan said his trainers never told him exactly what his terrorist mission in the United States would be," but the story is sexed up in a Daily Mail profile that quotes him as saying, "We would hijack a plane and fly it into a building."

Danny Schechter says an issue that, in 2003, galvanized more public concern than any other with the exception of the Iraq war -- the FCC's 3-2 decision to loosen rules governing media ownership -- "is being downplayed by a media, in 2004, that tends to investigate every industry but its own." Plus: America's greatest newspaper?

Responding to criticism of "Dateline NBC" for synergizing "The Apprentice," "Friends" and "Frasier," a former NBC executive who is now at the Medill School of Journalism, said: "The line between news and entertainment is so blurred that I don't think people are concerned whether or not 'Dateline' does a serious, tough journalistic story and next week does a little fluffy thing that promotes their own network."

USA! USA! The country leads 14 nations in having the highest rate of mental illness, according to the results of a study by the World Health Organization, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Op-ed argues that Americans may be losing their love for the Hummer.

June 3

Monday, June 7, 2004

As the Washington Post is accused of cartoon-level analysis of Reagan's economic record, Billmon writes that "I'll leave the pluses and minuses of Reaganomics for the historians... Reagan's foreign policies, on the other hand, still make my blood boil, even after all these years."

In an interview with NPR, "Dutch" author Edmund Morris says Reagan's "myriad underestimaters... conveniently forgot the fact that he was a very well-informed man," and an Atrios commenter notes that an NPR report described Reagan, who was 18 years old in 1929, as "Growing up in the little town America of Dixon, Illinois, during the Great Depression."

Steve Gilliard eschews instant hagiography for "what Reagan really did," and Howard Kurtz looks at 'The Remaking of the President.' Plus: Why Greg Palast will not be seen on TV this week.

Last November the Daily Camera editorialized in 'Mount Reagan?' on the "propaganda campaign" that "the guardians of Ronald Reagan's legacy are engaged in," and Nathan Callahan previewed the coverage, writing that the "myth-making machinery had plenty of prehumous prep time."

Speak No Evil (Empire) Report on reaction from Russia notes that President Putin issued no statement on Reagan's death. Earlier: David Corn listed "66 things to think about when flying into Reagan National Airport."

As Reagan news swamps D-Day coverage, Tom Engelhardt writes that President Bush's war "will always lack a landing on Jihadi Beach."

The Media Channel's Tim Karr reports that "Italy's largest electric company pulled the plug on two left-wing radio stations" on the morning of Bush's visit to the Pope. An AP article which quotes Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi as calling the demonstrations "a flop," notes that Bush stayed at the home of U.S. ambassador Melvin Sembler.

Introducing a New York Times article on how the Spanish blew the FBI's cover on the arrest of Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield, City Pages' Elaine Cassell writes that if they had not, Mayfield "would probably be facing multiple life sentences -- or the death penalty -- for a crime he did not commit." Plus: 'All the fear that's fit to print.'

As 'Militants give blow-by-blow account of Saudi massacre,' a dispatch from Pakistan asks: 'Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?'

The New Standard's Chris Shumway reports on "evidence gathered by several human rights groups and Pentagon investigators indicating U.S. military personnel have raped and sexually abused Iraqi women held at Abu Ghraib prison and other detention facilities." He quotes an Iraqi attorney who said the abuse and torture went beyond Abu Ghraib, and was "happening all across Iraq."

The New York Times does a background check on one of the four people covered in "Democracy Now!'s" 'Exporting America's most notorious prison officials to Abu Ghraib.' Plus: C-Span's Brian Lamb interviews the interviewer.

Amid reports that the U.S. and Iraq have reached agreement on the "coordination" of U.S.-led troops and that American combat operations are being kept to a minimum to avoid "alienating" Iraq's new interim leaders, Eric Margolis posits two acid tests of Iraqi sovereignty: "The ability to order all U.S. forces out of Iraq; and reaffirmation of Iraq's active support of the Palestinian cause."

A report that Vice President Cheney was interviewed as part of the investigation into who leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame, is called "the latest suggestion that the grand jury probe is in a highly active phase." And John Dean describes President Bush's lawyering up as "a rather stunning and extraordinary development."

Al Gore calls Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas "the single most treacherous and dishonest person I dealt with" during the 2000 campaign. Penelas who stopped the Miami-Dade recount, was Gore's campaign manager in the county. The article appeared in the Miami Herald, which requires registration.

Time reports that "The chads may hit the fan this week" when Florida's county elections supervisors meet about Secretary of State Glenda Hood's proposed purging of 47,000 names of suspected felons from Florida's voter rolls. Read an interview with Hood and scroll down to find out 'Just how desperate IS Florida?'

In 'Mr. Bush Won't Be at the Tonys,' Frank Rich writes that no matter how hard the right "tries to set itself in opposition to what it calls the 'homosexual agenda,' it cannot escape the reality that gay people have been stirred into the melting pot of America and its culture, not to be expelled again." A drama about an East German transvestite, "I Am My Own Wife," was named best play and "Assassins" won five awards. Plus: 'Plane to See.'

Texas GOP pledges allegiance to God but not platform.

Radio host Neal Boortz, who wrote "The Terrible Truth About Liberals," is caught lying by the author of "Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them."

April 4-6

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Intel Dump's Phil Carter says a memo leaked to the Wall Street Journal goes much further than other memoranda in "justifying the White House's overall Guantanamo Bay plan," in that "it specifically authorizes the use of torture tactics, up to and including those which may result in the death of a detainee." The memo also claims that the authority to set aside laws is "inherent in the president."

The memo appears to be based on a 2002 Justice Department advisory that "international laws against torture 'may be unconstitutional if applied to interrogations' conducted in President Bush's war on terrorism," reports the Washington Post, which quotes a Human Rights Watch spokesman as saying, "It appears that what they were contemplating was the commission of war crimes and looking for ways to avoid accountability."

More on the memo from Jim Lobe, 'New Evidence Prison Torture Was Approved at Top Levels,' the Progress Report, 'Legitimizes Torture, Puts President Above Law,' and Billmon, 'Praise the Lord and Pass the Thumbscrews.'

The New York Times reports that "forced nudity of prisoners was pervasive in the military intelligence unit of Abu Ghraib," with some detainees "ordered to do jumping jacks and sing 'The Star-Spangled Banner' in the nude, according to several witnesses." The article includes a photo that was taken in April 2003.

As 'Battles take daily toll in Sadr City,' Back to Iraq's Christopher Allbritton writes from Baghdad that "this environment is killing our ability to give a damn about anything other than staying alive." Plus: Iraqi veto out and U.S. troops in.

The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram's ombudsman sees an "explosive intensity in readers' demands for good news" from Iraq, adding that they're "not inclined to sympathize" with media complaints of limited access and heightened dangers.

Robert Parry says that what's missing from media commentary about Ronald Reagan, which he calls "fawning almost in a Pravda-like way," is "the one fundamental debate that must be held before any reasonable assessment can be made of Ronald Reagan and his Presidency: "How, why and when was the Cold War 'won'?"

Since Reagan's death, only Parry and the Boston Globe have mentioned "Team B," with the latter editorializing that "In the late '70s, Paul Wolfowitz and other neoconservatives distrusted CIA estimates of Soviet strength and participated in a government ''Team B" exercise replacing the CIA's assumptions with more hawkish ones of their own. When the Iron Curtain crumbled, it turned out the CIA was more on target than Team B, but the hawks quickly forgot that fact." More from Eric Alterman on Team B and on Reagan.

In an interview with "Democracy Now!", Parry said the Bush administration is continuing approaches that became prominent during Reagan's Presidency, including manipulating intelligence and exaggerating foreign policy dangers.

"Paying respect is one thing, and well deserved," writes Editor & Publisher's Joe Strupp, "but the way the press is gushing over Reagan is too much to take, sparking renewed talk of putting him on the $10 bill or Mount Rushmore."

Strupp cites a Los Angeles Times editorial as offering "the best assessment" of Reagan's presidency, and a Sacramento Bee editorial claiming that Reagan "took full responsibility" for Iran-contra, as being "among the worst." More on Reagan from Paul Krugman, Christopher Hitchens and Morrissey.

Reagan's name appears in the headline of all but one of 27 CNN segments for Monday, a transcript of a G-8 press conference in which national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said that her boss has been inspired by Reagan's "willingness to tell the truth."

Although a Christian Science Monitor article says this year's G8 Summit "could practically be a love feast," The Scotsman reports that outraged Arab leaders are boycotting it to protest Bush's plans to lay down goals for a Greater Middle East.

Barron's interviews 90-year-old money fund manager Seth Glickenhaus, who says that while Sen. John "Kerry is a mediocrity... Bush has been worse than zero as a president." He predicts that "If Kerry is elected, the doctrinaire Republicans will sell stocks for a day or two, but then the market will go up considerably." Earlier: Glickenhaus questions Gen. Anthony Zinni.

Foreign policy analyst Anthony Cordesman says "there's going to be a hell of a hangover" when the U.S. quits subsidizing gas in Iraq, which sells for 5 cents a gallon.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a Supreme Court decision clearing the way for Mexican trucks to roll onto U.S. highways without an environmental impact statement, was "criticized by environmentalists and by truckers on both sides of the border." A U.S. trucking industry official said: "We don't want them here and they don't want us there. The only ones who are going to benefit are the big boys."

Controversy over airing of 10-year anniversary interview prompts question: "What is this world coming to when you can't trust O.J. Simpson?"

June 7

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

A Reuters article says the U.N. resolution on Iraq is "expected to help patch up deep divisions," but CBS News reports that people at the U.N. say they have "lost all trust in the Bush administration" and are "skeptical, if not downright displeased, with current U.S. efforts to rekindle ties."

A Christian Science Monitor analysis describes the resolution as "ambiguous enough that all sides can claim victory," with the exception of a naysaying strawman set up by President Bush.

In Juan Cole's view, "that the U.S. and the U.K. had to give away so much to get the resolution shows how weak they are in Iraq." He also said the big winner is Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and the losers are the Kurds, who are threatening to bolt the government. Cole also appeared on PBS' "News Hour," where he said "I don't think anybody in their right mind is going to want to send troops to help out" with Iraq's security situation.

"NewsHour" also interviewed the Wall Street Journal reporter who broke the story on the March 2003 torture memo. He said that while he doesn't know of a direct connection between various legal memoranda "and what's going on in the field... certainly there is a fair segment of military and national security people who believe that the rules restraining harsh interrogation techniques are no longer appropriate."

The segment also features highlights of testimony by Attorney General Ashcroft before the Senate Judiciary Committee, during which he declined to release a 2002 policy memo on the degree of pain and suffering legally permitted during enemy interrogations. And the Los Angeles Times reports that the Defense Secretary's office instructed military intelligence to "take the gloves off" in interrogating John Walker Lindh.

The March 2003 memo was scheduled for declassification one year after the next transit of Venus.

The New York Times reports that a power plant capable of supplying nearly 20 percent of Iraq's electricity "plunged nearly to zero" following sabotage attacks on fuel and transmission lines last weekend, "raising new fears that insurgents were targeting major sectors of the Iraqi infrastructure as part of an overall terror plan." Plus: Tigris river also under siege.

Baghdad Burning's Riverbend says that during the last year "a certain sort of special bond has formed between your typical Iraqi and the roof of his or her home," in part because "we sleep on the roof during the endless, powerless nights."

"What we need to do is to help in the cause of, ah, downfall of California," says an Enron employee in new tapes aired by CBS. One employee tells another that "It's called lies. It's all how well you can weave these lies together," drawing the response, "I feel like I'm being corrupted now." "No," says the first employee, "this is marketing." Plus: Can David Mamet's characters compete with Enron's?

A GAO reports says that the Pentagon has wasted at least $100 million on unused airline tickets, and that it wasn't even aware of the problem until the audit.

The Washington Post reviews James Bamford's "A Pretext For War. In addition to arguing that Bush administration officials were "locked in a plan to wage war in Iraq well before" 9/11, he says that on 9/11, the entire U.S. "mainland was protected by just fourteen planes spread out over seven bases," and that "the general in charge of the country's military was completely ignorant of the fact that the United States was under its worst attack in nearly two centuries."

An AP article based on interviews with 9/11 commission panelists, says that draft portions of the final report "offer a stinging rebuke of the FBI and intelligence agencies but refrain from assigning blame to individuals in government to avoid the appearance of partisanship."

A rival presidential candidate has accused Afghan President Karzai of offering cabinet posts to mujahedeen warlords in return for their support in elections scheduled for September. Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid says rising violence threatens the elections that the Bush administration is "desperately keen" to see take place to help hide the fact that coalition troops have failed to end terrorism or find bin Laden. Plus: Children kidnapped in Afghanistan said to have been murdered for body parts.

Chris Floyd describes a recent news cycle in which "the image of Kissinger in 1970, calmly ordering mass death, morphed into the picture of Pentagon chief Don Rumsfeld addressing West Point graduates in 2004, exhorting the Army cadets to a life of moral purpose." Floyd notes that in Rumsfeld's address, the target also morphed, from "terrorism" to "global insurgency."

Pollster Daniel Yankelovich says that to win in November, Sen. John Kerry must reframe the debate over Iraq and terrorism and "displant assumptions that keep Americans seeing the problem only through Bush's frame." More from Yankelovich on "Rethinking Islamist Terrorism."

The New Yorker's Ken Auletta discusses his article about PBS, "Big Bird Flies Right," as CNN also takes a right flight.

A CNN correspondent reportedly threw a tantrum after learning that the network had been scooped by ABC on Ronald Reagan's death, which, interrupted an annual conference of obituary writers.

In an interview with the Washington Times, Ted Rall defends his comment that Reagan is "turning crispy brown right about now," and writes in a new column that President Bush "models his approach to foreign policy on that of the original Teflon President. Reagan elevated unjustifiable military action to an art." Plus: Reagan and FDR to face off on Fox's "American Idol?"

Although CIA Director George Tenet is said to have been a victim of an Albanian jinx, the number of news reports mentioning him dropped significantly following Reagan's death, from 2,900 between last Thursday and Saturday, to fewer than 500 since Sunday.

June 8

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Global military spending rose to $956 billion in 2003, with the U.S. accounting for 47 percent of the total, followed by Japan with 5 percent, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which called the 11 percent increase from 2002, "remarkable." Plus: 'War! War! War!'

The report warned of fears that biotech research could lead to the development of a new class of biological weapons. An Oakland Tribune article that says the Bush administration's bioterrorism research "will press beyond traditional defenses against natural biowarfare germs," quotes the head of the Sunshine Project as saying, "If any other country set forth a program like this, U.S. intelligence undoubtedly would call it an offensive program."

The U.S. State Department is revising its 2003 "Patterns of Global Terrorism" report, which said terrorist attacks were at their lowest level in 34 years. The Los Angeles Times reports that "U.S. officials and terrorism experts familiar with that revision effort said the new report will show that the number of significant terrorist incidents increased last year, perhaps to its highest level in 20 years."

Tampa International Airport officials have confirmed that two days after 9/11, three Saudi men were flown from Tampa to Lexington, KY, as reported by Craig Unger in a Vanity Fair article last October. More background on the 'Evacuation of Saudi Nationals.'

A report from the Center for Economic and Social Rights, "Beyond Torture: U.S. Violations of Occupation Law in Iraq," calls the June 30th "transfer of sovereignty" to Iraqi authorities "a form of political theatre with no legal effect," and the group's head says "the U.S. is violating almost every law intended to protect civilians living under foreign military occupation."

Torture's Bottom Line The Center for Constitutional Rights has filed a racketeering lawsuit against Titan Corp. and CACI International on behalf of eight Iraqis and the estate of an Iraqi man who lawyers said was tortured to death. The AP report says the companies are accused "of conspiring to torture, rape and kill Iraqi prisoners in order to generate more business."

The Washington Post reports that an Army reservist who headed the interrogation center at Abu Ghraib, told Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba in February "that he understood some of the information being collected from prisoners there had been requested by 'White House staff.'"

The Post also reports that medical records of prisoners at Guantanamo were given to military interrogators, and editorializes that recently leaked memos "lay out a shocking and immoral set of justifications for torture."

With 5,000 more Marines scheduled for deployment to Iraq, Army "maverick" Colonel Douglas Macgregor tells the Financial Times that the emphasis on numbers is misplaced, and that U.S. failures in Iraq stem from a "sycophantic" defense culture in which "there are no arguments. Arguments are a sign of dissent. Dissent equates to disloyalty."

The U.S. General in charge of training Iraqi recruits shoots straight: "It hasn't gone well. We've had almost one year of no progress."

The Army announces that all U.S. troops in Iraq are now equipped with body armor -- just in time for summer -- and Patrick Cockburn details the "dangerous anarchy of everyday life" in Iraq, where kidnapping is rampant and highway robbery goes unreported.

As "Kurd Sellout Watch" ramps up, the New York Times reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is promising to adhere to minority protections in Iraq's interim constitution -- which the U.N. resolution failed to include -- until elections are held. The U.S. is now focusing on a second U.N. resolution that would renew its troops' immunity from war crimes prosecution.

Human rights groups tell G8 leaders that Afghan elections could be derailed unless western nations commit more troops, and Reuters reports that insurgents gunned down 11 Chinese nationals near the northern city of Kunduz, "until now deemed a secure area."

A Los Angeles Times poll finds that 56% of respondents think the country "needs to move in a new direction" and shows Sen. John Kerry leading President Bush by 51% to 44%, and by 48% to 42% in a three-way race with Ralph Nader. Plus: A new recruit to the Bush-Cheney campaign does heavy lifting.

As Senate Majority leader Bill Frist proposes renaming the Pentagon to the Ronald Reagan National Defense Building, tribute ideas are deemed "off the money."

'A Uniter, Not a Divider' Slate's David Greenberg lists five "myths about Reagan now being bruited about" in the media, and FAIR says "journalists are redefining the former president's life and accomplishments with a stream of hagiographies that frequently skew the facts and gloss over scandal and criticism."

"I don't have it. Do you?" AMERICAblog unearths transcripts of White House press briefings between 1982 and 1984, in which spokesman Larry Speakes jokes and laughs off reporters' questions about AIDS. Scroll up for Jr. on Jr. interview. Plus: Hip-hop fans owe a debt to Reagan?

June 9

Friday, June 11, 2004

The Washington Post reports that statements by military dog handlers at Abu Ghraib, that they were ordered to use unmuzzled dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees during interrogations, "provide the clearest indication yet that military intelligence personnel were deeply involved in tactics later deemed by a U.S. Army general to be 'sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses.'" Plus: 'Missing Iraqis believed to be lost in Abu Ghraib.'

On Thursday the Wall Street Journal reported that a list of interrogation techniques approved for Guantanamo in December 2002, included "fear of dogs." The article says it isn't clear whether rules on an April 2003 list that replaced it "were applied to military prisons in Iraq or elsewhere. But some of the practices disclosed this year at Abu Ghraib... resemble methods" on the 2002 list.

The Abu Ghraib photos are now "obscuring the story far more than they once illustrated it," writes Josh Marshall. "In fact, the prison abuse and torture story itself has become a perfect example of how two separate media storylines -- ones that clearly contradict each other -- can coexist and yet seemingly never cross paths." Are they about to cross paths?

In what TalkLeft calls "a resounding rejection of the government's ambitious use of the Patriot Act," an Idaho jury acquitted a Saudi graduate student who set up and ran Web sites that prosecutors said were used to recruit terrorists. Plus: A British expat describes her life inside the Kingdom.

CorpWatch reports on the awarding of a $293 million "cost-plus" contract to London-based Aegis Defense Services Ltd., to coordinate security for all Iraqi reconstruction projects, calling the contract "a license to over-bill" that will effectively create "the world's largest private army."

The article is accompanied by a profile of the controversial head of Aegis, former SAS commando and "freelance adventurer," Col. Tim Spicer. "I am doubtful that the folks awarding the contract had any sense of Spicer's spicier history," said "Corporate Warriors" author, Peter Singer.

Singer is also quoted in 'Contracting Justice,' a Mother Jones report on how private contractors are "getting away with -- not to say cashing in on -- criminal behavior" in Iraq, where not a single civilian contractor, including those said to be responsible for abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, has been charged with any crime by the U.S. Justice Department.

'Corporations on the Couch' Ted Nace reviews the companion book to the film, "The Corporation," in which Joel Bakan "finds a trait-by-trait match between the standard actions of corporations and the diagnostic criteria of a psychopath." Read an excerpt and an interview with Bakan.

The WSWS reviews Paola di Florio's "Home of the Brave," a documentary about Viola Liuzzo, the only white woman killed during the civil rights struggles of the 50s and 60s -- "gunned down by a carload of Ku Klux Klan members, one of whom was an FBI informer."

"Democracy Now!" interviews "Ghost Wars" author Steve Coll, on 'How Reagan armed the mujahadeen in Afghanistan,' and Slate's Fred Kaplan uses Coll's "magisterial" book, along with recently declassified documents, in arguing that Reagan 'turned a jihadist into a terrorist kingpin.'

'Pennies From Heaven' "I've been watching the coverage of my funeral and, Peg, seriously, I don't recognize the guy you're all talking about." Plus: One of the U.S. media's "more depraved moments?"

In 'Reagan worship,' Eric Boehlert writes that "this week's uncritical treatment of the 40th president is a natural culmination of what has been going on for the past quarter of a century... this week has been the 1980s redux...It's morning again in America -- on a feedback loop." The article was initially titled 'Reagan porn.' Plus: 'Epitaph and Epigone.'

Writer who penned the Boston Globe's obituary on Reagan says, "I wrote it so long ago that the bit about the Alzheimer's had to be inserted into it."

A tale of two cemeteries: one organic, the other refined.

Act Three  A research firm commissioned by the Bush administration to analyze the Clear Skies Act, its plan to lower emissions from coal-fired power plants, has issued a study finding that the administration's plan is weaker than two competing legislative proposals.

Sen. John Edwards' recently-formed One America Committee "has an unstated mission," reports the Boston Globe, "to help Edwards emerge as the most attractive choice for vice president... More than any other potential number two, Edwards is waging a passive-aggressive bid for the vice presidency."

Interviewed by Pat Buchanan in American Conservative, Ralph Nader vows he won't drop out, and asks conservatives to send a "message" against corporatism by voting for him, but a Salon article says Nader's Republican backers exist only in his mind. The Hill characterizes Rep. Dennis Kucinich's continuing role in the presidential campaign as "protecting Kerry's left flank" from Nader.

June 10

Monday, June 14, 2004

The Washington Post calls Defense Department memos documenting Red Cross concerns about the treatment of Guantanamo prisoners, "one of the most complete pictures to date of life behind the 'wire' at Guantanamo."

The New York Times profiles a military lawyer who is aggressively defending a Yemeni man being held at Guantanamo: ''I had expected that if we were going to use these tribunals, we were going to start with some very hard-core Al Qaeda members," says Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift. "Yes, he had driven for bin Laden, but how did that make him a criminal?''

"Red Cross documents implicating senior Pentagon civilians in the Abu Ghraib scandal have been passed to an American television network, which is preparing to make them public shortly," reports the Telegraph. The article quotes attorney Scott Horton as saying, "The biggest bombs in this case have yet to be dropped."

Newsweek reports that a battle between the CIA and the FBI over post-9/11 interrogation techniques extended into the White House, which is "one reason the prison abuse scandal won't go away... a long paper trail of memos and directives from inside the administration has emerged, often leaked by those who disagreed with rougher means of questioning."

The Washington Post has posted the August 2002 Department of Justice memo that suggests torture of terrorist detainees abroad "may be justified." It has also made the March 2003 memo that was leaked to the Wall Street Journal, available in html.

A list of 100 potential witnesses drawn up by defense attorneys preparing for Pfc. Lynndie England's upcoming hearing, includes both Vice President Cheney and the inmate in the iconic photo of the abuse scandal. And the New York Times reports that interrogators at Abu Ghraib claim that they began reporting allegations of abuse last November.

The Times also reports on the U.S. military's "zero for 50 record in strikes on high-value targets" during the early days of the Iraq war. A report issued last December by Human Rights Watch said the failed "decapitation strategy" killed dozens of civilians.

Faith-based argument doesn't fly, as a Muslim U.S. Army Sergeant with 18 years of service is reportedly sentenced to 14 months confinement and given a bad conduct discharge for refusing to deploy to Iraq.

The Red Cross says Saddam and other POWs must be released or charged by June 30 when the U.S. occupation of Iraq officially ends.

The Washington Post reports that "Iraq's new government has been resisting a U.S. demand that thousands of foreign contractors here be granted immunity from Iraqi law..." Plus: 'Come to hell with Halliburton - the pay's good.'

The U.S. Army hired private interrogators to work in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite a policy spelled out in a 2000 memo that said letting private workers gather military intelligence would jeopardize national security.

"NOW" interviews the director of the group that filed a racketeering suit against two U.S. companies involved in interrogations at Abu Ghraib. The transcript also includes a report on House Majority Leader Tom Delay's fundraising efforts and an interview with AP CEO Tom Curley, about his plan to fight government secrecy.

Curley refers to a Washington Post article about federal agencies contracting out the handling of Freedom of Information Act requests, prompting Bill Moyers to ask: "So they're privatizing public access to the government?" Earlier: 'Public Information, Private Profit?'

Secretary of State Powell blames "a numbers error" for a 2003 State Department report incorrectly showing a decline in terrorism. "It's not a political judgment that said, 'Let's see if we can cook the books.' We can't get away with that now. Nobody was out to cook the books. Errors crept in."

Reports that the Pakistani military killed more than 70 al-Qaeda-linked militants in five days of fighting, and that U.S. Marines killed more than 80 Taliban insurgents over a three-week period, coincide with Afghan President Karzai's appearance on "Meet the Press," where he said that elections scheduled for September will go ahead as planned. Earlier: Karzai 'The Negotiator.'

President Bush lobbied the Vatican to encourage U.S. bishops to be more outspoken on cultural issues, particularly gay marriage, according to a column in the National Catholic Reporter. "It is just unprecedented for a president to ask for help from the Vatican to get re-elected, and that is exactly what this is," said Rev. Barry Lynn, of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. Plus: Schoolchildren remain free to pledge "one nation, under God."

In eulogies delivered at Ronald Reagan's funeral, George H. W. Bush "described Reagan in almost exclusively secular terms," writes Dana Milbank, while President Bush "spoke at length of Reagan as a religious figure."

Jimmy Breslin offers a modest proposal for memorializing Reagan, Bush's reelection campaign says it has no plans to use Reagan in campaign ads, and a 'Mourning in America' commemoration includes the promise of something for everyone.

Although President Bush is said to have told aides that he wants to spend his next four years being "a peace President," a group of 26 former senior diplomats and military officials, that includes several appointed by Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, says it plans to issue a statement this week arguing that Bush has "damaged America's national security and should be defeated in November."

June 11-13

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

'Torture, Incorporated' John Stanton and Wayne Madsen investigate the "odd assortment of telecommunications companies and executive placement firms" offering "staffing solutions" to meet the U.S. military's need for interrogation services, and the Observer's Jason Burke reports on the 'Secret world of U.S. jails.'

'Moral Clarity vs. Legal Niceties' Road to Surfdom juxtaposes statements made by President Bush on the 2003 U.N. Day in Support of Victims of Torture, with the August 2002 Justice Department memo prepared for White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales.

Surfdom also links to law professor Michael Froomkin's read on the memo, which David Ignatius says is, "in its dry lawyerly way... as shocking as the Abu Ghraib photographs." Plus: Alternet excerpts the new book, "Guantanamo: What the World Should Know."

Calling John Ashcroft " the worst attorney general in history," Paul Krugman notes that he announced the indictment against a Somali man accused of plotting to blow up a shopping mall in Ohio, less that 24 hours after the August 2002 memo was posted. Krugman also cites the case of Buffalo art professor Steve Kurtz, who appears Tuesday before a federal grand jury that will consider bioterrorism charges brought against him by the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The Washington Post reports that among the topics expected to be discussed during Wednesday's 9/11 commission hearing on the origins and execution of the plot, is evidence that the panel has found suggesting the attacks were intended to be carried out in May or June of 2001.

Israel goes deep with barrier around Ariel that involves appropriating Palestinian-owned land, and goes wide with Israeli-only highway. Plus: Israeli soldiers document life in Hebron for photo and video exhibit, "Breaking the Silence."

Truthout reprints Salon's interview with author Thomas Powers, about the war between the White House and U.S. intelligence agencies, in which he says the Bush administration "correctly read how the various institutions of our government could be used to stage a kind of temporary coup on a single issue: Whether or not to go to war with Iraq."

Brendan O'Neill argues that the recent U.N. resolution on Iraq is no big turnaround, but rather, proof that the Bush/Blair team is "desperate to disavow political responsibility for Iraq, and to distance itself from the postwar mess it created. Indeed, the coalition withdrew in spirit long ago - now it wants out in body, too."

Knight Ridder reports that "Halliburton paid high-priced bills for common items, such as soda, laundry and hotels, in Iraq and Kuwait and then passed the inflated costs along to taxpayers," according to a Pentagon audit and statements by former Halliburton employees that are posted here.

Trifecta hits Halliburton, as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission joins the Justice Department and a French magistrate in investigating $180 million worth of potentially illegal payments the company made to Nigerian officials when Vice President Cheney was its CEO.

Washington state utility officials say accounting records show that Enron manipulated prices nearly every day of the year-long West Coast electricity crisis of 2000-2001, gouging Western customers for at least $1.1 billion.

As the League of Women Voters rescinds its support of paperless voting machines, Florida's elections chief abruptly resigns amid accusations that state officials certified a paperless system they knew to be flawed.

In "The Tangled Web of American Voting," Elaine Kitchel writes that "an entire book would not be enough" to convey a sense of "how messed up Florida is," and wonders why Sen. John Kerry hasn't been heard from on the issue.

New York Times' ombudsman calls on paper to "let readers know how official Washington plays its cynical game" with unnamed sources. "The paper may have to play by the rules, but that doesn't mean these rules can't be explained to readers." Plus: The Times enables Bush administration's TV show-like orchestration of transfer in Iraq. Scroll to "Make It a Dissolve"

It's All Good Dana Milbank uses excerpts of briefings given by anonymous Bush administration officials at last week's G-8 summit, to illustrate what unfiltered news looks like. Earlier Milbank: 'Making Hay Out of Straw Men.'

Truth Be Told? Political cross-section of writers and pundits weigh in on what they want out of Bill Clinton's memoir, and a psychiatrist puts President "Bush on the Couch."

Eric Alterman sics attorney on Bill O'Reilly for calling him "another Fidel Castro confidant," as O'Reilly compares Michael Moore and Al Franken to Joseph Goebbels. Plus: Who's trying to snuff out "Fahrenheit 9/11?"

The New York Times profiles Christopher Ricks and reviews his book, "Dylan's Visions of Sin," which elevates "a member of the Traveling Wilburys to a place among the greatest poets in the English language." A New Criterion review of the book says Ricks, who was just named Oxford's Professor of Poetry is "incapable of writing a dull page."

June 14

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

A "Democracy Now!" segment on 'Spying in America' includes an interview with Newsweek's Michael Isikoff, who reported that a provision in a bill before Congress could "vastly expand the Pentagon's ability to gather intelligence inside the United States, including recruiting citizens as informants."

The New York Times reports the 9/11 commission's finding that "the Pentagon's domestic air-defense command was disastrously unprepared for a major terrorist strike on American soil," and that "hearings this week would depict widespread chaos within the federal government on the day of the attacks."

The article says that one of the things commission members are expected to question witnesses about, is "why President Bush was allowed to remain in a meeting with Florida schoolchildren for several minutes after it became clear that a terrorist attack was under way..."

A Fox News columnist calls that meeting the "most indelible" moment in "a really brilliant piece of work" -- "Fahrenheit 9/11": "As much as some might try to marginalize this film as a screed against President George Bush, 'F9/11'... is a tribute to patriotism, to the American sense of duty -- and at the same time a indictment of stupidity and avarice."

The owner of a Baghdad art gallery said in an interview last November that "I meet daily with my friends and ask them to bring new works to the exhibitions. But they joke that nobody can create anything." Now he's exhibiting the Abu Ghraib-inspired work of twenty-five Iraqi artists.

A U.S. interfaith group is running ads on Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, apologizing to Arab viewers for Abu Ghraib.

Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski told the BBC that Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller visited her in Baghdad and said: "At Guantanamo Bay we learned that the prisoners have to earn every single thing that they have. He said they are like dogs and if you allow them to believe at any point that they are more than a dog then you've lost control of them."

The AP gets a look at a CPA-commissioned poll that was conducted last month, but not released to the American public. It found that 55 percent of Iraqis said they would feel safer if U.S. troops immediately left, and 54 percent said they believed all Americans behave like the guards in the Abu Ghraib photos. Plus: Issues raised by Abu Ghraib are nothing new to Israelis and Palestinians

(News) Cycle of Terror Secretary of State Powell said the State Department's report on global terrorism wasn't based on a "political judgment," but Left I on the News points out that the report didn't include Iraqis and Americans whose "deaths, when reported by the U.S. government and the military on the day they occurred, were described as 'acts of terrorism' or having been committed by 'terrorists.'"

An Economist article calling Afghanistan a country where "little is ventured, precious little is gained," notes that security is provided by 6,500 NATO peacekeepers, while the 20,000-strong U.S. contingent is off "pursuing remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda," and says efforts to disarm warlord militias are "coming to a spluttering end."

A Newsweek reporter catches President Bush drifting 'Off Message' during a "conversation" about Medicare and prescription drug cards, in which he "riffed on the importance of a strong military... in front of a giant sign emblazoned with the acronym 'Rx.'" Plus: Reagan family protects Ronald's mantle from Bush.

David Sirota takes the AP to task for an article legitimizing Vice President Cheney's assertion that Saddam Hussein had "long-established ties" with al Qaeda. The 9/11 panel says that 'Iraq rebuffed Bin Laden.'

New York City officials have yet to issue a single permit to protest during the Republican National Convention, even though some groups applied more than a year ago.

Organizers of the first National Hip-Hop Political Convention, which begins Wednesday, hope that it will bridge the gap between the hip-hop generation and its predecessors, who convened 1972's National Black Political Convention, where attendees strategized about how to defeat Richard Nixon. Plus: 'Hip hop as a political tool.'

'Where Are the Jocks for Justice?' asks a Nation article, in which baseball maverick Jim Bouton contrasts today's politically silent sports stars with Muhammad Ali, who was "willing to go to jail and relinquish his boxing title for what he believed in." The authors suggest that what today's "scared generation" fears most is losing product endorsements.

Baffler editor Thomas Frank is interviewed about his new book, "What's the Matter With Kansas?" Plus: Frank vs. David Brooks and 'why liberals are turning on their favorite conservative.'

Venezuela is said to be preparing for its recall election by purchasing electronic voting machines from... Florida!

We Hardly Knew Ye Readers bid fond farewell to Counterspin Central's "Hesiod," following his final blog posting.

June 15

Thursday, June 17, 2004

The Washington Post's Walter Pincus and Dana Milbank report on the 9/11 commission's finding that there was no "collaborative relationship" between Iraq and al-Qaeda, noting that in January of this year, Vice President Cheney said "there's overwhelming evidence" of a connection. Plus: 'The Anatomy of a Myth.'

The Post article refers to a April 2004 Harris poll, in which 49 percent of Americans said they believe "clear evidence that Iraq was supporting al-Qaeda has been found." And according to a March 2004 PIPA poll, 57 percent believe that before the war Iraq was providing substantial support to al-Qaeda.

"Hell no!" said a Bush administration official when asked if Cheney would retract his statements about links between Iraq and al-Qaeda. The Reuters article quotes another administration official as saying, "The record of links between Iraq and al-Qaeda is clear to anyone who has open eyes and an open mind." Plus: 'With 9/11 report, Bush's political thorn grows more stubborn.'

Judith Miller "has gotten ripped for her role as the War Witch who sold America on the existence of weapons of mass destruction," writes Nicholas Von Hoffman, but "A lot of other people were in on this one..." And Slate's Jack Shafer asks: "Why can't reporters wean themselves from their overreliance on anonymous sources?"

The U.S. military admits it has been hiding a prisoner believed to be a high-ranking member of Ansar al-Islam, who was transferred from CIA custody last October with the request, approved by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, that he not be given a prisoner number or disclosed to the Red Cross. Plus: Videotape of U.S. soldier being beaten during a training exercise at Guantanamo, is said to have likely been taped over.

Knight Ridder's Hannah Allam reports on the possibility of the Fallujah model going national, and PINR examines the 'clashing interests' between Iraq's Shi'a Arabs and Sunni Kurds.

"Anti-government guerrillas now have the skill and the organisation to cripple permanently Iraq's oil exports" writes Patrick Cockburn, after the country's one remaining pipeline to the Gulf was blown up. And Juan Cole introduces a report that the CPA will use $2 billion in Iraqi oil revenues to award reconstruction contracts before June 30, writing that "This move is obscene." Plus: Insurgency takes bite out of dinar.

A Democrat running against Rep. Darrell Issa has brought Abu Ghraib and Ahmed Chalabi into the campaign.

Eric Boehlert interviews former U.S. ambassador William Harrop, a 39-year veteran of the Foreign Service who served under Presidents Carter and Reagan, and a primary organizer of the bipartisan group, Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change, which is calling for President Bush's defeat in November. Plus: 'Angst and Anti-Americanism.'

Walk Before You Run  Doris "Granny D" Haddock will announce Thursday that she's challenging the Republican U.S. Senator from New Hampshire, Judd Gregg. The 94-year-old Haddock tells The Nation's John Nichols that "we're setting things up in the yard so that the young people who want to work on the campaign can pitch tents."

Philadelphia Daily News becomes first major newspaper to endorse Sen. John Kerry, who is said to have been transformed into "a smash-and-slash, take-no-prisoners stump speaker."  

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson talks about the lawsuit that he has joined with CNN, which seeks to gain access to the list of 48,000 felons that are to be stricken from the state's voter rolls.

Bill Clinton tells Dan Rather that the impeachment "battle was a badge of honor. I don't see it as a stain, because it was illegitimate." Plus: Clinton to reach across the aisle with book reading.

Conflicting reports paint Ronald Reagan's family as being angered by and okay with a Club for Growth ad comparing President Bush's war on terror with Reagan's battle against communism. And flags that flew over the U.S. Capitol building as Reagan lay in state, are now among the 9,000-plus Reagan items for sale on e-Bay.

The day after calling Bill Moyers "about as objective as Mao Zedong," and describing the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as "left-wing loonies," Bill O'Reilly walked out of a screening of "Fahrenheit 9/11," leaving behind another empty chair.

Echoing comments by O'Reilly, "Hollywood agent and Kerry supporter Tom Baer" is quoted in a Tina Brown column as saying, "Kerry should flee Moore's movie. It's Goebbels all over again."

June 16

Friday, June 18, 2004

Iraq's interior minister says the interim government would consider imposing martial law, but, reports the Los Angeles Times, he didn't give details on how it "would be implemented in a country that has been occupied for more than 14 months, after a regime with a harsh security apparatus was deposed. It remains unclear whether Iraq has enough forces to use such a strategy."

Juan Cole provides details on how it could be implemented, and writes that "This talk of 'martial law' is pretty scary. You have to wonder whether those elections scheduled for January will actually happen."

In an interview with Asia Times, Cole discusses "the so-called handover of sovereignty," and says its "real significance" is "that the Bush administration and its political advisers are hoping that the American press will take this moment as a cue to turn to reporting about Laci Peterson and other nonsense stories..." Plus: 'Who's Sovereign Now?'

President Bush maintains that "there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda," and his vice president says "There clearly was a relationship. It's been testified to. The evidence is overwhelming." Cheney also said "We don't know" if Iraq was involved in 9/11, "We had one report, which is a famous report on the Czech intelligence service, and we've never been able to confirm or to knock it down."

Cheney's comments came in an interview with CNBC in which he also blasted the media for suggesting, as the New York Times did in a front page headline, that the 9/11 "Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie." Cheney said "What the New York Times did today was outrageous."

A USA Today article points out that in a letter to Congress on March 19, 2003, President Bush said the Iraq war was permitted under legislation authorizing force against those who "planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001." Plus: 'White House caught in web of deceptions.'

As Senate Republicans vote down a proposal to subpoena Justice Department documents on policies regarding prisoner treatment, a Pentagon lawyer says "we'll just have to examine as to whether there was a breakdown in the quickness with which we registered" the "ghost detainee" dubbed "Triple X."

Reuters reports that Human Rights First has revealed the existence of some two dozen secret detention centers operated by the U.S. in various countries and possibly on U.S. warships. The group's report says such secrecy makes "inappropriate detention and abuse not only likely, but inevitable."

The Los Angeles Times reports that U.S. intelligence analysts "erred in their analysis of high-altitude satellite photos" of Iraq, "repeatedly confusing Scud missile storage places with... sheds typically used to house poultry," and that they have yet to determine the meaning of three secretly taped conversations played by Secretary of State Powell at the U.N.

The only Anglican bishop to have publicly endorsed the Australian Government's case for war, now says the invasion of Iraq was clearly "neither just nor necessary."

A CounterPunch article documents how the Reagan administration not only "turned a blind eye" to Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons on Kurds and Iranians, but actively helped Iraq develop its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.

In an interview with the Guardian, Shell's new chairman says he sees "very little hope for the world" unless carbon monoxide emissions can be captured and "sequestered" underground, and an accompanying article quotes a Greenpeace spokesperson as saying that a gulf is opening between so-called "progressive" oil companies and ExxonMobil, which claims that a link between fossil fuels and climate change is unproven.

Executives at Detroit's big three automakers have contributed more than 15 times as much money to the Bush-Cheney campaign than to Sen. John Kerry's campaign.

In a column on the political mythmaking that accompanies presidential campaigns fixated mostly on the media, Norman Solomon refers to a new documentary, "Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of American Empire."

Ralph Nader cries foul as the Commission on Presidential Debates announces dates, locations and formats for the 2004 debates.

The Hill reports that House Democrats are lobbying Sen. John Kerry to select Sen. John Edwards as his running mate, and a Washington Post article that describes Kerry's approach as "slow, deliberative and very hands-on," says that "Edwards stock has shot up in recent weeks..."

94 in the Shade The national media ignore Doris "Granny D" Haddock's announcement that she's running for U.S. Senate from New Hampshire.

The New York Daily News reports that White House aides ordered the Pentagon to erect a $100,000 platform for President Bush's entry into a U.S. military cemetery at Normandy, and demanded the removal of bleachers for thousands of guests. "Some 25-year-old White House kid thought they weren't esthetically pleasing," said an administration official.

Bleeping Rush Seattle radio station uses seven-second delay to edit out President Bush's mention of competitor Limbaugh, and the Boston Phoenix's Dan Kennedy profiles "the most toxic right-wing pundit you've never heard of."

Freeway To Hell? A Los Angeles native argues that "The media has never been the same" since "the event of our generation," which aired 10 years ago Thursday.

June 17

Monday, June 21, 2004

A New York Times report on Guantanamo finds "that government and military officials have repeatedly exaggerated both the danger the detainees posed and the intelligence they have provided," and that "contrary to the repeated assertions of senior administration officials, none of the detainees... rank as leaders or senior operatives of Al Qaeda." Plus: 'Gitmo: home of the innocent?'

In a 2002 appearance on Fox News, Vice President Cheney said: "These are the worst of a very bad lot. They are very dangerous. They are devoted to killing millions of Americans..." The Times article also notes that "One morning last week, a reporter was allowed to observe -- but not listen to -- two interrogations at Guantanamo from behind one-way glass." So, who was picked to be the first journalist to observe an interrogation at Guantanamo?

The Guardian introduces Seymour Hersh's 'Plan B,' in which he reports that Israel has been training Kurdish commando units and "running covert operations inside Kurdish areas of Iran and Syria," and that former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak told Cheney last fall that the occupation was unwinnable and that the only issue was "choosing the size of your humiliation."

Hersh, who quotes various U.S. intelligence sources as saying that new Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is a man whose "strongest virtue is that he's a thug," said in an interview on CNN that Allawi was "one of Saddam's closest allies" and was involved with people whose role was to "murder the opposition anywhere in Europe."

The Telegraph reports that Allawi "cemented his credentials as a 'strong man'... by warning that he could impose martial law," and that he "also welcomed U.S. air strikes in Fallujah that killed up to 26 people." A Christian Science Monitor article quotes a senior officer in the Fallujah Brigade as saying, "The inhabitants of the houses were ordinary families."

The New York Times profiles the head of the Fallujah Brigade, and also reports that thousands of Kurds are ignoring American orders and pouring across the "Green Line" in a migration which has displaced 100,000 Iraqi Arabs.

In "The battered French fry and other lies of our times," Tom Engelhardt writes that "You would think... that a close relationship with the head of an organization which once set off car bombs in downtown Baghdad, a man whom we just elevated to prime minister of Iraq, might affect the reputation of a war-on-terror administration; but this revelation...seems to have had no impact whatsoever." Plus: Billmon does the math.

Noting that attacks on foreigners in Iraq are now averaging 40 per day, a Washington Post article headlined 'Mistakes loom large as handover nears,' quotes a senior CPA official as saying, "Did we really do what we needed to do? What we promised to do? Nobody here believes that." And the Chicago Tribune reports that Iraq's "uncertain prospects for stable self-rule can be traced at least in part to a leadership team that valued political credentials over foreign policy expertise."

A Los Angeles Times report on Russian President Putin's claim that he gave the U.S. intelligence about Iraqi terrorist plots, quotes Liliya Shevtsova of the Carnegie Moscow Center as saying, "It's apparent that Russians and President Putin are interested in a second term for Bush. We've always had good relations with Republicans. We dislike Democrats, because Democrats always care about democracy in Russia."

In an interview with the Guardian, a U.S. intelligence official who anonymously wrote the forthcoming book, "Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror," says that al-Qaeda is "very sure they can't have a better administration for them than the one they have now. One way to keep the Republicans in power is to mount an attack that would rally the country around the president."

"Anonymous," whose previous book was "Through our Enemies' Eyes," also says in the interview that "I don't think we've laid a glove on" bin Laden, and "For my money, the game was over at Tora Bora."

Sen. John Kerry criticized the Tora Bora operation in June 2002: "We turned to Afghans, who a week earlier had been fighting for the other side, and said 'Hey, you guys, go up there in the mountains and go after the world's number one terrorist and criminal who just killed 3,000-plus Americans.' I think that was an enormous mistake....a failed military operation."

Calling Kerry "a lighter shade of Bush," William Arkin writes that "The United States would be safer with a Democratic political platform that demonstrated fundamental disagreement about our current course," and the Independent's Simon Henderson argues that "Osama backs Bush" because Kerry's world vision "as much as it can be discerned, does not involve the apocalypse."

New York Times' reporter Philip Shenon, who spent the last year covering the 9/11 commission, fact-checks "Fahrenheit 9/11." He writes that "after separating out what is clearly presented as Mr. Moore's opinion from what is stated as fact, it seems safe to say that central assertions of fact... are supported by the public record." Plus: Doc gets "action-flick distribution," draws heat from Ray Bradbury.

As pundits get aroused talking about Bill Clinton, he gets hot during a BBC interview, and two reviews suggest that his memoir might be a less interesting read than recently released government documents.

The Washington Post reports that Thomas B. Griffith, the lead counsel for the Senate during Clinton's impeachment trial, and President Bush's nominee for the federal appeals court in Washington, has been practicing law without a license in Utah for four years, after practicing for three years in D.C. with a lapsed license.

As federal prosecutors seek to indict Kenneth Lay, the AP reports on how a small public utility took the lead in the Enron fight, spending $100,000 to transcribe hundreds of hours of traders' conversations. Said the utility's lawyer: "We just happened to turn over the right rock that had this amazing trove of evidence that was not only legally explosive, but something that ordinary people could listen to and say, 'Wow, these guys are really crooked bastards.'"

June 18-20

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

At a press briefing last week, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld criticized newspaper editorials for implying "that the United States government has, in one way or another, ordered, authorized, permitted, tolerated torture." He referred to an editorial in the Washington Post, which issues a response to Rumsfeld.

PBS' "NewsHour" features a debate between John Yoo, who authored a January 2002 memo on what constitutes torture, and Kenneth Roth, the head of Human Rights Watch, which recently issued a report on "The Road to Abu Ghraib."

A U.S. military judge in Baghdad agrees to call the two most senior American commanders for Iraq to testify at the court martial of three soldiers charged with prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, which he designated a "crime scene." Plus: Jim Lobe says the U.S. has "picked a hell of a moment to ask for special treatment on war crimes."

President Bush has lost his advantage in the war on terrorism, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll that finds him even with Sen. John Kerry on the question of who voters trust to best deal with the threat, after leading him by 21-points in April. The poll also finds that Kerry's four-point lead over Bush swells to eight points with Ralph Nader out of the race.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that by selecting Peter Camejo as his running mate, Ralph Nader could get on the presidential ballot representing the Green Party in at least 23 and possibly as many as 35 states, if he's endorsed by the party at this week's convention in Milwaukee.

MyDD analyzes current delegate totals and concludes that "Nader must be desperate for ballot access if he is making a move like this." Plus: Could Kerry mitigate the Nader factor by calling for open debates?

Greg Palast reports that more than half of the 1.9 million "spoiled votes" in the 2000 presidential election were cast by African Americans, who make up only 12 percent of the electorate.

If John Kerry reached out to the 20 million unmarried American women who didn't vote in 2000, "as aerobically as George W. Bush has to evangelicals," writes Anna Quindlen, "Kerry could be working on his Inaugural speech right now."

A "long-time admirer" goes public in an open letter to Vice President Cheney, amid questions about "What exactly qualifies as a relationship in the early 21st century?"

Writing about her CNBC interview with Cheney, U.S News' Gloria Borger neglects to mention that he lied to her. Plus: 'Final nails in Prague connection?'

Former Navy Secretary John Lehman, a Republican member of the 9/11 commission, may have had his names mixed up when he said that documents found in Iraq, "indicate that there is at least one officer of Saddam's Fedayeen, a lieutenant colonel, who was a very prominent member of al-Qaeda."

Following the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling that people who refuse to give their names to police can be arrested, even if they've done nothing wrong, Eugene Volokh says that since "only those who think they might be incriminated" now have the right to refuse to give their names, the police would be understandably suspicious of anyone who did so. A Slate preview of the decision called the case a "constitutional watershed."

USA Today editorializes that in another Supreme Court decision, 'HMOs win, patients lose and Congress stays in coma.'

The U.S. Senate has voted to uphold the ban on photographing coffins at Dover Air Force Base.

Boston Globe correspondents discuss reporting from Iraq, and a Voice of America reporter, who arrived in Riyadh last Friday, the day U.S. contractor Paul Johnson was beheaded, writes that "Never before have I been in a city, including Baghdad, where Americans were too afraid to be seen in public and local residents were equally afraid to be seen with them." Plus: 'The Saudi Civil War.'

An article on American TV networks coordinating security in Iraq, notes a Pew Research poll which found that as Americans have paid markedly less attention to Iraq the last two months, "their opinions about the war have become more positive."

"Democracy Now!" celebrates the release of Bill Clinton's memoir by rebroadcasting an interview Amy Goodman conducted with him on Election Day 2000, in which he accused her of being "hostile and combative." Plus: 'Memoir contradicts testimony on Lewinsky.'

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on the surfacing of allegations by actress Jeri Ryan, Star Trek's Seven-of-Nine, that ex-husband and Illinois Senate candidate, Republican Jack Ryan, tricked her into going to sex clubs and tried to get her to have sex in public. See 'Jack in Action.'

You're Right!  P.J. O'Rourke asks: "When was the last time a conservative talk show host changed a mind?"

June 21

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Knight Ridder reports that the "unusual release" of memos on using torture from the White House, the Defense Department and the Justice Department, "didn't quell growing partisan rancor," as Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats pointed out that 21 of the 23 documents they had tried to subpoena were missing from the more than 250 pages released. Plus: 'Showing their drawers (of memos) to the public.'

As Defense Secretary Rumsfeld makes a stand, the Washington Post reports that U.S. liability was at the heart of a "furious debate" over detainees' rights that erupted in 2002 between the State Department and the Justice Department.

NBC News reports that the 9/11 commission has interviewed two FBI officials who contradict sworn testimony by Attorney General Ashcroft about whether he brushed off terrorism warnings by acting FBI Director Tom Pickard during a July 2001 meeting.

Paul Krugman asks: "is Mr. Ashcroft neglecting real threats to the public because of his ideological biases?" He refers to last year's discovery of a weapons cache in Texas that resulted in the arrest of William Krar. A March UPI commentary pointed out that not one of the 2,295 press releases that Ashcroft's Washington office has issued since he became Attorney General, mentioned Krar's name.

War and Piece's Laura Rozen says the State Department's "radically revised numbers in its re-released Patterns of Global Terrorism report for the year 2003 make it impossible to show how much terrorism increased in Iraq itself in the year the U.S. invaded and conducted a disatrous post-war turned-back-into-a-war."

The Boston Globe reports that the shooting death of an Iraqi man "raises questions about the control and supervision" of U.S. soldiers on "the kind of routine night raid that is the military's bread-and-butter counterinsurgency tactic," and the New Standard appeals for help in finding out what happened to an Iraqi man who was abducted by U.S. troops from his home in Kirkuk and dropped off a month later at a Tikrit hospital in a "persistent vegetative state."

Martialing the Law The Financial Times reports that the U.S. "has warned Iraq's interim government not to carry out its threat of declaring martial law, insisting that only the US-led coalition has the right to adopt emergency powers after the June 30 handover of sovereignty." Plus: 'We have always spent Iraqi money on that.'

Iraqis voice suspicion that recent attacks on strategic oil pipelines may have been an inside job.

The Independent's Patrick Cockburn argues that while the White House must pretend that an independent Iraq is being created because of election year concerns, "this picture simply is not true." Plus: CPA touts major success of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Collaborative Relationship FAIR details how the Fox News Channel "eagerly defended the Bush administration and criticized the rest of the media for mishandling the story" about links between Iraq and Al-Qaeda.

Commentary asking 'What qualifies as TV News?', suggests that "If there's anything better than TV news that generates an audience for itself, it’s news that boosts viewership elsewhere on the schedule."

The commentary mentions Dan Rather's teasing of his interview with Bill Clinton, during which Rather said: "Hussein kicked U.N. weapons inspectors out of Iraq in 1998." And the attorney who showed Newsweek 'Saddam's Prison Letter,' claims that his client is the victim of Abu Ghraib-like treatment.

In a critique of The New Republic's "Iraq: Were We Wrong?" issue, David Corn writes that "the TNRers who favored an elective war... were also in favor of handing the keys to a rather expensive, dangerous and difficult-to-drive car to a man whom many of them had already pronounced untrustworthy on other fronts... This may have been the non-conservative hawks' most profound miscalculation." Plus: Who's the boss?

The AP has sued the Pentagon and the Air Force for access to all of President Bush's military service records, which the lawsuit says "are being unlawfully withheld from the public."

A lawsuit claiming that Wal-Mart discriminated against female employees, became the largest private civil rights case in U.S. history when a federal judge granted it class-action status. The New York Times profiles the lead plaintiff, who still works as a Wal-Mart greeter, and a chart shows the discrepancies in pay and position between men and women. Earlier: Always 'The Wal-Mart Effect,' always.

John Gorenfeld gets front-page treatment in the Washington Post for his reporting on lawmakers' attendance at an event honoring Sun Myung Moon.

As Sens. Kerry and Edwards meet in the "President's Room," a laugh line used by President Bush is said to be so overworked that "even Uncle Miltie would have 86'ed this lame routine years ago."

June 22

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Interviewed on NBC, "Imperial Hubris" author Anonymous said that "Bin Laden saw the invasion of Iraq as a Christmas gift he never thought he'd get," and he told CNN that "In many ways, the primary goal of bin Laden is neither to destroy the United States or destroy our liberties or our freedoms. It's simply to get us out of the Muslim world."

The CNN interview is preceded by a segment with Steve Coll, who wrote about Anonymous, aka "Mike," in his book "Ghost Wars."

Brendan O'Neill says that a London-based think tank is "blowing up the numbers" with its claim that there are 18,000 potential al-Qaeda terrorists on the loose.

A Reuters report on a wave of attacks in five cities across Iraq that killed about 100 people, says that some of the "black-clad gunmen" that launched strikes in Baquba, proclaimed loyalty to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in what "appeared to be the first time members of Zarqawi's underground network had surfaced in street combat."

As the U.S. drops its effort to gain immunity for its troops from prosecution by the International Criminal Court, the Washington Post's Robin Wright reports that the Bush administration will take what she calls the "unusual step" of bestowing immunity on its own troops and personnel from prosecution by Iraqi courts after the occupation ends. Plus: John Judis on Reaganomics in Iraq.

Back to Iraq reports on a 'Looming Credibility Crisis' facing the Iraqi Interim Government, which "is looking to take its property back under a Governing Council decision made back in January... This applies to all squatters, from poor families who live in the old Air Force building to the INC, which has taken over some of Baghdad’s prime real estate outside the Green Zone."

Introducing an essay by Jonathan Schell, Tom Engelhardt writes: "Who knew that what we had was an administration of ...lexicographers, grammarians, and philologists, intent on parsing sentences, slicing meanings, arguing over the exact definitions of words, the exact point, for instance, where torture becomes torture..."

Schell calls for a new discussion, "It's subject... neither the justifications for the war in Iraq nor the President's credibility -- for both are obviously in tatters -- but the response to all this by the country. The spotlight now shifts from the liars to the lied-to. How do we -- in the news media, in the country at large -- like it?"

CNBC's Gloria Borger says she didn't challenge Vice President Cheney's untruth because "we were at a remote location so there was no opportunity to put up the quotes," adding, "There was no point in getting in an argument with the Vice President of the United States."

Editor & Publisher notes that few papers picked up on Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz's media bashing during testimony on Tuesday before the House Armed Services Committee, when he said that "Frankly, part of our problem is a lot of the press are afraid to travel very much, so they sit in Baghdad and they publish rumors." Plus: 'Attack of the Wolfman.'

As the U.S. Senate votes to repeal the FCC's rules on media ownership, and raise the maximum fines for indecency from $27,500 to $275,000, a TVTechnology commentator argues that the real indecency is "infoganda."

Before a segment in which he falsely denied having compared Al Franken to Josef Goebbels, Bill O'Reilly renewed his threat to launch a boycott against Canada unless it hands over two U.S. military deserters, Jeremeny Hinzman.net and Brandon Hughey.org. Earlier: 'Soldiers choose Canada.'

A review of "Fahrenheit 9/11" reviews doesn't mention Christopher Hitchens' 4,300 word thrashing, in which he challenges Michael Moore to a debate: "Any show. Any place. Any platform. Let's see what you're made of." Plus: "Le Monde Selon Bush" opens in France. Watch the trailer here.

The Hill reports that a draft advisory opinion by the FEC's general counsel, generated under a McCain-Feingold prohibition on corporate-funded ads that identify a federal candidate before a primary or general election, could stop the advertising of "Fahrenheit 9/11" and other political documentaries and films, as of July 30th, 30 days before the Republican Convention.

The article says the opinion was in response to a request for guidance from David Hardy, a documentary film producer with an organization called the Bill of Rights Educational Foundation, but it doesn't say if he's also an author.

Other films that could be affected by the ruling are "Uncovered," "The Corporation," "The Hunting of the President" and John Sayles' forthcoming "Silver City," which features Colorado gubernatorial candidate, "Dickie" Pillager.

A new report from a worker justice group, "Airing Dirty Laundry," focuses on industrial laundry company Cintas. In May, the Washington Post reported on how Cintas helped convince the EPA to reclassify industrial towels contaminated with chemical solvents as "laundry" rather than "hazardous waste," calling it "but one example of a policy change by the Bush administration that favors a company controlled by a Bush Pioneer or Ranger."

The New York Times reports that a debate is raging in Florida about whether President Bush went too far with new rules restricting travel to Cuba, "and whether the crackdown could in fact hurt his re-election prospects." Plus: Can Bush lasso the "Rodeo Grannies?"

June 23

Friday, June 25, 2004

In an Asia Times interview, three former officers in Saddam's army, who are now part of the Iraqi resistance movement, claim that "The great battle is still to begin. The liberation of Baghdad is not far away." And Iraqi interim Prime Minister Allawi tells the Telegraph that he wants to move up elections: "We are working on a framework of six months. Personally, I would bring the election date sooner."

'Security a Shambles Ahead of Handover,' headlines the Guardian, with 30,000 Iraqi police officers set to be sacked by June 30 and "serious shortfalls of properly trained police and soldiers and vital equipment." Plus:  'Government to have little control over oil money.'

American lawmakers tell U.S. Army generals that Israeli-made bullets bought to plug a shortfall should be used for training only.

Jim Lobe reports on an assessment by the Institute for Policy Studies on "The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War," which says that each U.S. household will owe upwards of $3,100 by year's end and be "less secure at home and in the world."

For the first time, a majority of respondents to a USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll say that sending troops to Iraq was a mistake and that the war there has made the U.S. less safe from terrorism. More on the poll from Gallup.

In a decision that blocked the FCC's 2003 media ownership rules, a U.S. appeals court said the "Commission falls short of its obligation to justify its decisions to retain, repeal or modify its... regulations with reasoned analysis." Free Press aggregates the coverage of a 'Big blow to big media,' while the Media Channel's Danny Schechter points out that "these rules do not extend to cable. There consolidation continues - and globally."

In sending Vice President Cheney's energy task force case back to a lower court, the Supreme Court decision cited a "paramount necessity of protecting the executive branch from vexatious litigation." And saved Cheney from an "adverse public relations dance of having to assert executive privilege," according to a Justice Department attorney in the Clinton administration.

Judicial Watch called the ruling "no victory" for the White House and the Sierra Club said it was a "rejection" of the argument that the administration has a constitutional right to keep the workings of the task force secret. Plus: Sen. John Kerry's campaign lauded for working "Bush, Cheney, Nixon and Enron all together in four short declarative sentences."

Reprint This!  The Washington Post stands alone among major U.S. media outlets in not glossing over Vice President Cheney's "big time obscenity," but uses wire service coverage of Al Gore's 6,000-word speech at Georgetown University, in which he called the contention that "Hussein was in partnership with bin Laden," a "big flamboyant lie."

White House's Iraq act doesn't play in Peoria Journal Star.

Andrea & "Anonymous"  Under the Same Sun asks, "What happens if a high-level official tells a prominent member of the media elite that the widespread Muslim discontent stems mainly from our policies and what we do and not from an irrational hatred of who we are?"  Plus: William Greider on 'Embedded Patriots.'

About 'The interrogation of George W. Bush,' Justin Raimondo writes that "what fascinates is the interconnectedness of the various scandals that threaten to engulf this administration... All share a common narrative thread, the theme of some foreign or outside force manipulating the White House to achieve its own ends."

In a column headlined 'Reality is unraveling for Bush,' Sidney Blumenthal writes that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was reportedly less upset by what he called "serial requests" from Congress for information about Abu Ghraib, than by subpoenas of defense officials in the Valerie Plame case, saying the Pentagon was nearly "at a stop" because of them.

Wonkette translates Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz's apology to journalists covering Iraq. Will he take incoming during Friday's "Ask the White House" chat?

AP attorney says of suit seeking access to records of President Bush's military service: "It seems a little curious because the president made a pretty forceful presentation that he had nothing to hide."

The victims of a convicted embezzler say Bush was off the mark in calling her a "good soul" and an "inspirational person," during a "Conversation on Compassion" in Cincinnati.  

Knight Ridder reports that the 1999 assassination of Paraguay's Vice President may have been faked, as "credible allegations" surface that he "died in the manner of U.S. Vice President Nelson Rockefeller: in bed with a lover."

The Smoking Gun posts documents alleging extreme judicial activism in Oklahoma.

June 24

Monday, June 28, 2004

Ruling that both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seized as potential terrorists can challenge their treatment in U.S. courts, the Supreme Court said that "a state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens."

The U.S. and Iraq pull a fast one on insurgents, transferring authority two days earlier than expected. The AP report notes that before leaving the country, Paul Bremer "signed an edict that gave U.S. and other Western civilian contractors immunity from Iraqi law while performing their jobs in Iraq. The idea outrages many Iraqis who said the law allows foreigners to act with impunity even after the occupation."

The Washington Post reported on 97 other legal orders that Bremer left behind, which "are defined by the U.S. occupation authority as 'binding instructions or directives to the Iraqi people' that will remain in force even after the transfer of political authority." Plus: Reports charge CPA with 'Failure to account' for Iraq cash.

Introducing Adam Hochschild's 'A Pseudostate is Born,' Tom Engelhardt writes that the Bush administration "has also given birth to another pseudocreation: a pseudo-opposition."

Engelhardt refers to a Los Angeles Times article that quotes "experts and some commanders" who "fear it may be too late to turn back the militant tide." The same day, the Washington Post reported that anti-U.S. Shiite and Sunni Muslim leaders had spoken out against attacks on Iraqis by foreign fighters, in what the article said "could be an important moment in the U.S. struggle to win acceptance" for the occupation and for Iraq's interim government.

In a Newsweek cover story on U.S. Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, tasked with rebuilding Iraq's security forces, the country's incoming defense minister says of the fight against insurgents: "Americans and allied forces have certain restrictions we won't have.... We will cut off their hands and behead them." The Jerusalem Post quotes Israeli sources that say the country is 'ready to help in NATO security.'

Newsweek also reports that a captured al-Qaeda commander who "was a crucial source for one of the more dramatic assertions made by President George W. Bush and his top aides: that Iraq had provided training in 'poisons and deadly gases' for Al Qaeda," has changed his story. Plus: 'Saddam's phone call to Osama.'

The U.S. military denies a report on a U.S.-funded Iraqi radio station that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been captured in Iraq, and Eric Umansky looks at how CNN unskeptically reported an earlier claim by the U.S. military that it had almost killed al-Zarqawi.

Revisiting the case of former most wanted, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, You Will Anyway flags a new report that "senior officials are telling Fox News that al Douri -- whom they describe as an avowed and 'fanatic' Islamist whose two sons have sworn 'fealty' to Usama bin Laden -- is in league with Zarqawi and Al-Qaeda elements." Plus: 'The 'Prop-Agenda' at War.'

At a Rolling Stone roundtable on 'What Next?' for Iraq, Sen. Joseph Biden said: "I was in the Oval Office the other day, and the president asked me what I would do about resignations. I said, 'Look, Mr. President, would I keep Rumsfeld? Absolutely not.' And I turned to Vice President Cheney, who was there, and I said, 'Mr. Vice President, I wouldn't keep you if it weren't constitutionally required.'"

Cheney says he "probably" used an obscenity attributed to him, after Sen. Patrick Leahy had "challenged my integrity" by making charges of cronyism between Cheney and Halliburton. Plus: The photo before the photo and 'Are they losing it?'

The Christian Science Monitor reports that "military maneuvering in and around Congo" is raising concern that "the region is slipping into a second African 'world war.'"

'Death and Denial' In a Washington Post report on refugee camps in Darfur, including one "where for six months 75,000 people have lived on less than half the food they need to survive," Sudan's foreign minister is quoted as saying, "In Darfur, there is no hunger," it is "imagined" by the media.

The U.S. government is prohibiting scientists from participating in World Health Organization meetings without the approval of Health & Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, and a new EPA ad touts home energy conservation by mocking the notion that automobile-related conservation can significantly reduce air pollution or greenhouse emissions.

As "Fahrenheit 9/11" does boffo box office, Michael Moore is calling it "a red-state movie. Republican states are embracing the movie, and it's sold out in Republican strongholds all over the country." An Editor & Publisher survey finds positive reviews in 56 of 63 daily papers.

An article in a red state newspaper asking 'Fahrenheit' too hot here?, quotes an aide to a U.S. congresswoman calling Moore a "sleazebag, far-out left-winger" and "a despicable, well-known liar."

A writer for the John Birch Society's magazine predicts that the movie "will have a huge impact because Moore – his facile leftist economics notwithstanding – has nailed his case against the Bush regime flush to the plank."

What Really Happened has some 9/11-related questions for Moore that it suggests should be raised during Monday evening's more than 2000 house parties for the movie, that are being organized by MoveOn.org.

An AP report on the 527 group, Americans Coming Together, hiring felons to conduct door-to-door voter registration drives in swing states, prompts the New York Post to ask: "Crackheads for Kerry?"

Gore More Years! Steve Gilliard says the media has treated Al Gore's speeches "as the ravings of a sore loser, which he is not.. I am tired of seeing Gore's accurate portrayal of Bush policy treated like mental illness." Plus: Gore does star turn in 'Coalition of the Wild-eyed.'

A Tallahassee Democrat article on Florida's felon purge list, includes an interview with a man on the list who was granted clemency in 1986 that gave him his right to vote. Plus: Group shines 'Spotlight on the Florida Purge.'

Greens reject Nader-Camejo ticket, in what a WSWS report calls "a definite political decision by the Green Party to make an accommodation with the Democratic Party in the current presidential race."

June 25-27

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

'Shameless in Iraq' Citing the decision to parcel out $18.4 billion in reconstruction aid over five years, so Ambassador John Negroponte "can use it as leverage," Naomi Klein writes that even though U.S. officials are "Unwilling to let go of their own money," they've "had no qualms about dipping into funds belonging to Iraqis." More questions about the CPA and its own private Iraq.

Juan Cole says that with Negroponte controlling the money and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld running the troops, "There isn't much space left for real Iraqi sovereignty." But Fred Kaplan thinks some may have been created with the early handover. Plus: The long haul to sovereignty.

Following a 15-month occupation, Bush administration officials try to portray 48 hours as something more than just "a shock move aimed at thwarting terrorist attacks."

'Calculated Confusion' Washington Post columnist Al Kamen addresses an issue previously raised by Left I on the News, in pointing out how President Bush is at odds with the CIA and the State Department when he speaks of "terrorist attacks" on U.S. forces in Iraq.

Reuters quotes a U.S. Marine at the scene of a blast that killed three U.S. troops as saying, "I don't know why the terrorists want to kill us. We just want to help Iraqis."

In an interview with USA Today, the author of a report on 'How Modern Terrorism Uses the Internet' says, "The guy who's posting the messages for the terrorists, or doing the downloading, is like the smallest of actors in the theater. You won't find the scriptwriters."

Howard Kurtz reports that the FBI attempted to freeze out the New York Times' Eric Lichtbau, following his article last November on the bureau's scrutiny of antiwar demonstrators. Lichtbau also got a cold shoulder from Attorney General Ashcroft after writing about his tour to defend the Patriot Act.  

Was Vice President Cheney's outburst last week the leading edge of a summer storm? Plus: 'Drip, Drip, Drip.'

To protest the Pentagon's policy banning media coverage of war dead, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq summoned news outlets to the Sacramento airport to photograph her son's flag-draped casket.

As Google is accused of rigging searches to undermine "Fahrenheit 9/11," and the tactics employed against it by the "hardcore right" are likened to those that led to the popularity of "Deep Throat," a fan of Moore's earlier work is "left wondering... Is he for peace, or is Moore just against Dubya?"

Mein Camp "The vileness of 'Kerry's Coalition of the Wild-eyed' must not be allowed to obscure its essential hilarity," writes Slate's Jacob Weisberg. "What moron came up with this idea?"

Sen. John Kerry loses ground to President Bush in a CBS /New York Times poll that finds Bush's approval rating at a new low of 42 percent. Plus: Hoping to avoid a rerun of 2000, election officials issue stern warning about ballot tampering in advance of 2004 vote.

James Fallows discusses his Atlantic Monthly article on the "dissimilar strengths and vulnerabilities" in the debating styles of Bush and Kerry, neither of whom "has 'lost' a contest in the only way that matters: a serious post-debate decline in the polls or an electoral defeat." Earlier: Linguist George Lakoff on how conservatives use language to dominate politics.

A New York Daily News columnist comes out from under his desk to lay down a truth-telling challenge to Bill O'Reilly. Plus: How both men and women avoid O'Reilly.

An AP commentary takes celebrity journalists to task for crossing a line in hawking their books: "As one bemused observer noted, it's as if the Donald Trump model of unabashed self-marketing has become the gold standard." Earlier: "You're the best! "No, YOU'RE the best!!"

As part of its repositioning as an activist magazine, High Times is publishing a guide to the Republican National Convention, which promises to a boon for at least one sector of the service industry.

June 28

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

'Abu Ghraib, Stonewalled' The New York Times editorializes that the Bush administration, "While piously declaring its determination to unearth the truth... has spent nearly two months obstructing investigations by the Army and members of Congress." Plus: Times article called "a backhanded defense of torture given by officials within the Bush administration."

Dana Milbank reports on "what has become an administration ritual: disavowing the conclusions of official documents."

Off Base? The Los Angeles Times reports that one option the Bush administration is considering in response to Monday's Supreme Court ruling that grants enemy combatants access to U.S. courts, is to move hundreds of Guantanamo detainees to prisons within the U.S.

Elaine Cassel argues that President Bush "won far more than he lost" in the Supreme Court rulings, which, when "taken together... are more important for what they did not do.  Their significance for the future, particularly if Bush is reelected, cannot be underestimated."

Commenting on a First Amendment Center survey that found Americans' support for First Amendment freedoms back at pre-9/11 levels, the group's director said: "Still, having about one in three Americans say they have too much freedom is a disturbing figure."

'Now the Games Really Begin' An Asia Times analysis looks at five actors -- the U.S., Iran, Turkey, Israel and the Iraqi insurgents -- whose activities "will not only play a major role in determining the stability of Iraq, but also in formulating the prospects for the legitimacy of the interim government."

Get Your War On character asks if early handover means "we'll be bringing the troops home two days ahead of schedule?"

Eric Umansky introduces a New Yorker article on who's behind the insurgency in Fallujah, and reports on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, writing that while he "remains something of a mystery... officials are growing certain of this much: that Zarqawi is his own man, with his own group, distinct from Osama Bin Laden." The article includes a link to Time's in-depth report on 'The New Jihad.'

A GAO report released Tuesday finds that in the areas of electricity, the judicial system and overall security, Iraq is worse off than before the war. The report also says the number of insurgent attacks deemed by the CPA to be "significant," rose from 411 in February to 1,169 in May. Plus: 'Reality intrudes on promises in rebuilding of Iraq.'

A Post Too Far The Telegraph reports that the U.S. commander in Iraq, Lt Gen Ricardo Sanchez, ordered British troops to prepare to send in several thousand soldiers to attack Iran's Revolutionary Guard, after Iran repositioned border and observation posts about a kilometer into Iraq, in an incident last July that the British resolved through diplomatic channels.

In an interview with "Democracy Now!," a Swedish-Iraqi photojournalist who shot some of the Iraq footage in "Fahrenheit 9/11," shows and tells what he saw on raids while embedded with U.S. troops.

Variety reports that Disney held a special screening of a "patriotic documentary" called "America's Heart and Soul," for the group Move America Forward, which is trying to discourage theater owners from showing "Fahrenheit 9/11."

"Everyone expected George Bush's media shills to go after Moore," writes the Village Voice's Richard Goldstein, "but who would have thought Fox News would keep its attack dogs relatively muzzled while ABC and NBC launched remarkably unbalanced attacks."

Goldstein offers up what he calls an "exceedingly odd" editorial in the New York Post, defending Moore from a possible FEC ban on "Fahrenheit 9/11" ads, as evidence that "Rupert Murdoch is covering his ass in case John Kerry wins."

Coming out "against the 'liar' label," Nicholas Kristof writes that "Mr. Bush did stretch the truth. The run-up to Iraq was all about exaggerations, but not flat-out lies. Indeed, there's some evidence that Mr. Bush carefully avoids the most blatant lies -- witness his meticulous descriptions of the periods in which he did not use illegal drugs."

The Washington Post reports on "Checkpoint," a forthcoming novela by Nicholson Baker, in which "a man sits in a Washington hotel room with a friend and talks about assassinating President Bush." It's scheduled to be released on the eve of the Republican National Convention.

The book's title comes from a Sydney Morning Herald article read by the would-be assassin, about the killing of 10 members of a Shiite family of 17, who died when U.S. forces fired on their vehicle at a checkpoint south of Karbala. The Post's report on the incident was headlined 'A Gruesome Scene on Highway 9.'

Critical Montages says that by failing to seize a "Walter Cronkite Moment," the Green Party "essentially elected to divorce itself from Americans who wish to vote against the pro-war candidates of the Democratic and Republican Parties."

While attending a game against the Red Sox, Vice President Cheney was booed by Yankee fans when his image appeared on a video screen during the singing of "God Bless America."

June 29

Dana Milbank reports on "what has become an administration ritual: disavowing the conclusions of official documents."

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