|July, 2003 link archive
Tuesday, July 1, 2003The U.S. Department of Labor says that its proposed changes to overtime regulations would make an additional 1.3 million low-paid workers eligible for overtime pay, while disqualifying 640,000 white-collar workers. But a study by a liberal think tank contends that if the changes are adopted, 8 million workers -- 2.5 million salaried and 5.5 million hourly -- will lose their right to overtime pay.
No Gain, No Pain Bush administration repeals requirement that employers report repetitive stress injuries.
Slammer Not a Spammer The California Supreme Court rules that a barrage of e-mails sent by a fired Intel worker to his former colleagues, disparaging the company, does not constitute trespassing.
An FEC commissioner proposes a $2 fix for repairing a flaw in the public financing of U.S. presidential campaigns.
'Goofus Al and Gallant George' Salon's Eric Boehlert takes the Washington press corps to task for hounding Al Gore in 2000 over minor exaggerations, but giving Bush a pass when he doesn't tell the truth about important matters like Iraq and tax policies. Read Boehlert's classic takedown: 'The Press vs. Al Gore.'
Spinsanity looks at what's at stake in the WMD debate: "Did the president lie? Was the war unjustified? These two questions are both in play right now, but many conservatives are ignoring the first question and many liberals are ignoring the second, leaving the public with a confusing set of mismatched arguments to decipher."
Although the Pentagon defines guerrilla warfare as "Military and paramilitary operations conducted in enemy-held or hostile territory by irregular, predominantly indigenous forces," Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says that U.S. and British forces are not engaged in a guerrilla war in Iraq.
Rumsfeld says that remnants of Saddam's government have coalesced into a "terrorist network," but a Knight Ridder correspondent sees "a pattern of attack and counterattack" that "looks like classic guerrilla warfare." Plus: Michigan moms call it as they see it. (May require minor registration.)
A Christian Science Monitor article headlined 'Iraqis begin warming to U.S. presence,' notes that the first-ever public opinion poll in Iraq found that nearly two-thirds of Baghdad residents want U.S. forces to stay until Iraq is stable and secure, but at one Baghdad police station, they've gotten a chilly reception.
The Washington Post's ombudsman addresses the paper's 'long, and incomplete, correction' of its initial reporting on Pfc. Jessica Lynch.
Living Hysterically Greg Beato says the "Code Orange hysterics" that Hillary Clinton's memoir has inspired amongst conservatives, makes it the most entertaining book of the year.
Record company execs who criticize consumers for getting music for free are hypocrites, charges a former music reviewer: "The bookcases in their offices and their homes were (and are) filled with 'product' that they receive for free as a matter of course... But now that the average consumer can download a ripped file from the Internet, you’d think it was the end of Western Civilization, from the way they talk."
Wednesday, July 2, 2003
Media Whores Online returns from hiatus, explaining why Americans trust George W. Bush so much more than the Brits trust Tony Blair: "Because of our failed national media, there is now a significantly greater proportion of Moron-Americans here than Moron-Brits there."
'Declaration of Energy Independence' Grist magazine reports on how two clean energy coalitions are managing to be heard, by positioning their environmental agenda in terms of national security and new jobs.
'Shooting in the Dark' The Asia Times Syed Saleem Shahzad says that the U.S. and its allies have failed to break the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, where the resistance movement "has fully re-organized itself, even setting up offices... And, efforts to accommodate the Taliban notwithstanding, the U.S. has little idea what is going on."
The New York Times reports that "Without providing new evidence," President Bush reiterated during a White House speech that al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups continue to operate in Iraq: "He pointed in particular to Ansar al-Islam, which he said was 'now active in the Sunni heartland of the country,' and to terrorists associated with Abu Masab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian identified by the U.S. as a lieutenant of Osama bin Laden."
"Bring Them On" Bush invites Iraq attacks.
In a new poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA), 52% of respondents said they believe the U.S. found evidence that Iraq was working closely with al-Qaeda, while 23% believe the U.S. found WMD in Iraq, down from 34% in a previous PIPA poll.
Rep. Jim McDermott says that in addition to building up the U.S. military presence in the Middle East, the Bush administration, "is upping the psychological ante here at home... The deputies of the Bush Terror Posse -- Donald Rumsfeld, Tom Ridge and John Ashcroft -- are conducting a deliberate campaign to frighten us." Plus: 'The Attack Has Been Spectacular.'
'A Hard Line on Bush' The Guardian's Steve Bell travels to a convention of editorial cartoonists in Pittsburgh.
'A Lighter Shade of Orange' USA Today reports that city and state officials, "plagued by tight budgets and fatigued officers, and still frustrated by a lack of specific information from the U.S. government about threats," are cutting back their responses to federal terrorism alerts.
Activists begin fighting to secure NYC protesting rights during the 2004 Republican National Convention, as the city's police department plans for "the highest levels of security this city has ever seen."
Public Citizen's Craig Aaron looks at the revolving door career of 'Embedded Lobbyist' Ed Gillespie, the new head of the Republican National Committee: "Ricocheting between the roles of political strategist, corporate flack and voluble pundit, Gillespie has demonstrated a disregard for the notion of conflict of interest... In fact, capitalizing on those conflicts is what has made Gillespie such a success."
The Philadelphia Weekly profiles Urban Outfitters founder and president Richard Hayne, who tries to dodge the fact that he's a financial contributor to Sen. Rick Santorum.
The Associated Press reports that 10 of the 15 members and directors of the Committee for Justice, a lobbying group headed by former White House counsel C. Boyden Gray, that was formed to garner political support for President Bush's judicial nominees, work for law firms representing corporations with lawsuits before federal judges.
A group of 650 Kenyan women who claim they were raped by British soldiers -- their complaints date back almost 30 years -- have won legal aid to sue the Ministry of Defence in a UK court.
Tuesday, July 8, 2003
Hours before a senior Bush administration official told the Washington Post, "Knowing all that we know now, the reference to Iraq's attempt to acquire uranium from Africa should not have been included in the State of the Union speech," press secretary Ari Fleischer claimed that the reference was accurate. Read Fleischer's exchange with reporters.
The questions to Fleischer were prompted by former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson's coming out in a New York Times op-ed -- "Those news stories about that unnamed former envoy who went to Niger? That's me." -- in which he charged that "some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat." Wilson reiterated his charges in an interview with the Washington Post and an appearance on "Meet the Press."
David Corn writes that in a series of July 3 interviews with journalists, former CIA deputy director Richard Kerr, who is leading a review of the agency's prewar intelligence, revealed that his inquiry had "so far found that the intelligence on Iraq's weapons had been somewhat ambiguous, that analysts at the CIA and other intelligence services had received pressure from the Bush administration, and that the CIA had not found any proof of operational ties between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime. In other words, Bush lied."
Corn notes that interview coverage "emphasized Kerr's endorsement of the CIA's analysts, rather than the fact that his findings revealed that the Bush administration had misrepresented the work of the analysts." His Lexis-Nexis newspaper database search turned up only three stories, but a Google News search returns almost 200 mentions, with only about one in five including a specific reference to President Bush.
The Daily Howler says "Kerr seems to make explicit what had increasingly become clear—the Bush Admin was acting on inference and supposition, not on hard, observed data, when it made its judgments about Iraq."
In an appearance before the House of Commons, Prime Minister Blair attacked a Parliamentary report that said the "jury is still out" on the existence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Earlier: 'Microsoft Word bytes Tony Blair in the butt' on "dodgy dossier."
Two of the first six terrorist suspects chosen to face a secret U.S. military tribunal are British, and their government wants them repatriated. Read excerpts of letters home that one of the two sent from Guantanamo. More from Fair Trials Abroad.
Time reports that both President Bush and former President Clinton may be asked to meet with the independent commission investigating the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In response to the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness program (TIA), two MIT researchers have launched Government Information Awareness (GIA), to let citizens create dossiers on government officials.
"Back in the 1980s, Osama bin Laden preached that the only way to drive the U.S. from the Muslim world was to bleed it in a score of small guerrilla wars," writes Eric Margolis. Now, by sticking the U.S. into the "twin quagmires in both Afghanistan and Iraq...Bush is falling right into bin Laden's strategic trap."
The Observer's Ed Vuillamy goes in search of the stories that embedded reporters missed as they raced to Baghdad.
Iraq rumor mill has U.S. behind power outages and American troops wearing air-conditioned flak jackets and using night-vision goggles to see through women's clothes.
Political connections said to be as important as professional credentials in the appointment of senior U.S. advisers to the major Iraqi ministries.
General Tommy Franks joins President Bush in inviting attacks on U.S. soldiers in Iraq: "Absolutely. Bring 'em on." A former U.S. special forces soldier responds to Bush's invitation and a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial asks: "Mr. President, do you live in a play house or the White House?"
New Zealand's Star Times reports that the U.S. Embassy there has lodged a complaint against The White House, an Auckland brothel that began advertising for prostitutes after the country's parliament voted 60 to 59 to legalize brothels, as part of a bill decriminalizing prostitution.
GLAAD applauds MSNBC's firing of talk show host Michael Savage for telling a "sodomite" caller that "You should only get AIDS and die, you pig." After sacking Savage, MSNBC's president was unavailable for comment.
In 'Scars and Stripes Divide a Nation,' Frank Rich writes that "As patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels, so the coercive patriotism of this historical moment is the last refuge of cynics."
Read how Web sites for CBS TV stations scrubbed the line "Many held signs protesting the Bush administration's foreign policy" from an AP report about a July 4th event in Philadelphia honoring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Michael Wolff calls the Guardian's plan to launch a weekly magazine in the U.S. next winter, "either radically wrongheaded, or so forcefully and stylishly counterintuitive—and unexpected—that I found myself thinking, light-headedly, that it might define a turnaround in American publishing." Can small circulation magazines and Web sites make a difference?
A Washington Post article on anti-affirmative action campaigner Ward Connerly, who has gathered enough signatures to put a question on the California ballot mandating that the state not collect racial, ethnic, color or national origin information on residents, fails to mention who's footing the bill for the ballot initiative.
Beat the Press Slate's Jack Shafer offers advice to politicians on outmaneuvering Tim Russert.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the West Bank is gaining rather than losing settlement outposts, and Joe Sacco graphically illustrates the situation in Rafah, a Gazan town and refugee camp that borders Egypt and serves as a point of entry for weapons moving into the Gaza Strip via a system of tunnels.
Wednesday, July 9, 2003
Following a Wall Street Journal article in which members of the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks complained that they had received only a small portion of the documents they are seeking, the commission issued a status report saying that the Defense and Justice departments were not fully cooperating, and that the presence of government "minders" at interviews was intimidating witnesses.
The New York Times reports that just one week after President Bush's State of the Union Address, the State Department wrote to the U.N. that "We cannot confirm these reports and have questions regarding some specific claims." Yellowcakegate?
In summarizing the charges made by former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson, Robert Scheer asks: "What could be more cynical and impeachable than fabricating a threat of rogue nations or terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons and using that to sell a war?"
President Bush sidesteps uranium question during press conference in South Africa. When asked "Do you still believe they were trying to buy nuclear materials in Africa?", Bush said: "Right now? One thing is for certain, he's not trying to buy anything right now."
U.S. Senators scold the head of Cumulus Media over his company's decision to ban the Dixie Chicks from its country music stations. He denied that corporate executives gave their blessing to a promotion by one station in which the group's CDs were smashed by a 33,000-pound tractor.
A former co-host of a radio program on a Clear Channel-owned station in South Carolina has filed suit alleging that she was fired for opposing the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The lawsuit also alleges that some of the Clear Channel officers and directors have financial ties and are loyal to President Bush and his policies.
Last week the New York Times reported that "The total number of attacks on military vehicles [in Iraq] is considerably higher than the number of incidents announced by American officials." The Washington Post follows up with an estimate from military officials of more than a dozen atttacks daily in Baghdad.
Hearts and Minds The Rational Enquirer contrasts the idealistic responses of twentysomething soldiers and their spouses interviewed about resistance to the U.S. presence in Iraq, with that of 48-year-old Spec. James McNeely, who told the Post: "They're getting tired of us. Wouldn't you be mad if they invaded your country?"
Columnist identifies 'new sound bite for Iraq.': "From the same folks who gave us 'coalition forces,' we now have 'Saddam loyalists.'
Iraq newspaper claims U.S. occupation administrator Paul Bremer has been the target of four assassination attempts since May.
A reader writes: "Looks like the U.S. Military is still getting a lot of mileage out of the re-shuffle of that '55 most wanted' list. If you check out this story, it mentions the capture of Mizban Khadr Hadi, #23, and Mahmud Diab al-Ahmed, #29. Sounds good, but those guys used to be #41 and #46, respectively."
In 'Nose Loops: A Media Accessory,' Susan Douglas asks: "Why aren’t the networks and other news organizations outraged about how they’ve been misled about virtually everything in Iraq?"
Gen. Wesley Clark profiled in Esquire and interviewed by Newsweek: "The world expects something more of an American president than to prance around on a flight deck dressed up like [a] pilot. He’s expected to be a leader. That’s my fundamental issue with it. It doesn’t reflect the gravitas of the office. Furthermore, it’s a little phony."
Should Democrats pursue defeat in 2004?
Bust Without Boom The UN's annual human development report lists 50 countries that suffered falling living standards during the 1990s.
The editor of MuslimWakeUp.com explains the thinking behind his Web site's "Hug-a-Jew" feature.
Thursday, July 10, 2003
Afnarcostan The Washington Post reports that as Afghan farmers prepare to bring in another bumper poppy crop, the drug trade is "growing more pervasive, powerful and organized, its corrupting reach extending to all aspects of society."
Cuban government targets cigars and rum as tobacco and sugar crops fade.
Jeffrey St. Clair on America's bombing and looting of Iraqi agriculture.
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld puts Iraq cost at $3.9 billion per month, up from the $2 billion estimate issued by Bush administration officials in April. Plus: Slate's Fred Kaplan on how to fix Rumsfeld's post-war mess.
The 800-page congressional report on the 9/11 attacks is slated to be released in the next two weeks, according to a Miami Herald article that says "it will show that top Bush administration officials were warned in the summer of 2001 that the al-Qaeda terrorist network had plans to hijack aircraft and launch a 'spectacular' attack.''
Testifying before the independent commission investigating the attacks, "Inside Al-Qaeda" author Rohan Gunaratna said the U.S. invasion of Iraq may have worsened the threat of terrorism and that failures of intelligence and policy had turned Afghanistan into a "terrorist Disneyland."
As Prime Minister Blair stands by intelligence that Iraq attempted to import uranium from Africa, the BBC reports that senior British government officials no longer believe that the actual weapons will turn up in Iraq.
White House officials say the uranium claim was included in President Bush's State of the Union address only after the wording had been approved by the CIA, Pentagon and State Department. According to communications director Dan Bartlett, the passage was included in drafts of the speech for at least 10 days before it was delivered and he said he knew of no objections to including the charge or debate over the wording.
With Saddam off the hook, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer now says that "I think the burden is on those people who think he didn't have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they are."
Josh Marshall says "Fleischer is lying" when he tries to downplay the significance of former ambassador Joseph Wilson's Niger report in the above article: "The White House's story is that it never heard about his findings. So why the need to discredit his report? The answer is obvious. They're trying to set up multiple lines of defense."
Gregory Thielmann, a former U.S. State Department intelligence head who retired in September, says "the Bush administration did not provide an accurate picture to the American people of the military threat posed by Iraq."
In early June, Thielmann told Newsweek that when he read that President Bush had relied on the Niger documents for his SOTU address, he thought: "Not that stupid piece of garbage... how did that get into the speech?"
In a mid-June interview with Bill Moyers, Thielmann said that almost a year ago, his office "advised the senior leadership at the State Department" that the Niger documents were bogus.
What does it take to make Fox News' Sean Hannity uncomfortable?
Commenting on the new logo for Altria, the company formerly known as Philip Morris, the executive director of the American Institute of Graphic Arts said: "I fear we're entering a period when the logo will be the quintessential piece of obfuscation. Here is a multinational attempting to hide behind a blur."
Friday, July 11, 2003
E.J. Dionne on President Bush's bad week, in which "an administration rarely on the defensive since 9/11 found itself forced to explain and explain."
How long will TV pundits' summer fling with real journalism last?
As Democratic presidential candidates try to exploit what they see as a Bush credibility gap, Howard Dean says that any official who failed to tell the president that claims about Iraq buying uranium from Africa were false should resign: "The only other possibility, which is unthinkable, is that the president of the United States knew himself that this was a false fact and he put it in the State of the Union anyhow."
In an article now headlined 'Bush Knew Iraq Info Was Dubious,' -- it originally said "False" -- CBS News reports that before the State of the Union address was delivered, CIA officials warned members of Bush's National Security Council staff the intelligence was not good enough to make the flat statement Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa.
CBS reported that "As long as the statement was attributed to British Intelligence, the White House officials argued, it would be factually accurate. The CIA officials dropped their objections and that's how it was delivered." But the Washington Post reports that "A senior [Bush administration] official denied that Britain was inserted in the final draft because the CIA and others in the U.S. intelligence community were concerned that the charge could not be supported."
Josh Marshall says that CBS is pushing the envelope with its 'Bush Knew' headline, "but not by much," and that Condoleezza Rice's comments, during a briefing "in which she explicitly sought to pin the blame for the entire matter on CIA Director George Tenet," are "flatly contradicted" by the above news stories.
Is the bogus uranium report just the tip of the iceberg?
A CBS News poll taken on July 8 and 9, finds that 36% of respondents think the Bush administration was telling most or all of what it knew about Iraq’s weapons, while 45% think it was hiding important elements and 11% think that it was mostly lying. The poll also found that 45% believe the U.S. is in control of the situation in Iraq, down from 71% in late April.
Peace activist Medea Benjamin, who was recently in Baghdad to set up the International Occupation Watch Center, occupationwatch.org, reports that while Iraqis are for the most part delighted that Saddam is gone, 'the clock is ticking,' as their patience wears thin over the lack of security, electricity and jobs.
The Baghdad Bulletin, an English-language newsmagazine launched by a 22-year-old Michigan man and some fellow students from the American University in Beirut, has found an audience among U.S. and British soldiers and English-speaking Iraqis.
A former adviser to efforts by U.S. and Britain to set up a post-war media network in Iraq, says that the U.S. government has ditched objectivity for control.
Mystery surrounds the jamming of U.S. satellite feeds to Iran, which is originating not in Iran, but somewhere in the Western hemisphere.
Debate heats up over the use of RFID tags -- microchips embedded in consumer items -- after a PR plan to shift the public policy debate away from consumers' privacy concerns is found on a trade group's Web site. Earlier: Japanese bookstores hit with rash of 'digital shoplifting.'
During Florida's presidential recount, a newly created political group spent $150,000 attacking three pro-Democratic state Supreme Court justices. Now the Florida Elections Commission is weighing a possible $450,000 fine against the chairwoman of the "Committee to Take Back Our Judiciary," which it says was a front group for unidentified donors trying to ensure Bush's election. More on the 'Supreme Plot.'
Monday, July 14, 2003
Knight Ridder correspondents Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel report on the flawed postwar planning process for Iraq: "The Pentagon civilians ignored CIA and State Department experts who disputed them, resisted White House pressure to back off from their favored exile leader and when their scenario collapsed amid increasing violence and disorder, they had no backup plan."
Should Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and deputy Paul Wolfowitz be given the boot?
The New York Times' James Risen reports that Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice have "adjusted their defense" of President Bush's uranium claim, now "insisting that the phrasing was accurate even if some of the underlying evidence was unsubstantiated."
In testimony last week before the Senate, Rumsfeld said that he had only learned that the Niger documents were bogus within the last few days. Questioned about that by "This Week's" George Stephanopoulos, the Secretary of Defense spun out of control.
Maureen Dowd asks why President Bush, who built his political identity on the idea that he was not Bill Clinton, is "now presiding over a completely Clintonian environment, turning the White House into a Waffle House, where truth is camouflaged by word games and responsibility is obscured by shell games?"
Time follows the 'Yellowcake Road' and asks: "Just how aware was Bush of the accuracy of what he was about to say" in his State of the Union speech?
Sen. Jay Rockefeller tells NPR that Rice "had to have known" a year before Bush's State of the Union address that the uranium intelligence was bogus: "She has her own director of intelligence, she has her own Iraq and Africa specialists, and it's just beyond me that she didn't know about this, and that she has decided to make George Tenet the fall person. I think it's dishonorable."
Out of Africa The AP reports on challenges to another State of the Union speech claim: Bush's assertion that "Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaida."
A former senior Iraqi intelligence officer tells the Independent that Saddam is hiding near Baghdad and that his death or capture will not end attacks on U.S. forces: "Saddam plays a very small role in this. Most of the attacks are by Islamic groups, former military men who are no longer being paid and members of the Baath party."
A previously unheard of group calling itself the "Armed Islamic Movement for al-Qaeda, the Falluja Branch," claims that it, and not Saddam loyalists, are behind attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq.
Noel Holston previews "Hollywood and the Muslim World," an American Movie Channel documentary airing Monday evening, in which an Al-Jazeera correspondent and various Arabic college students explain how sitcoms like "Will and Grace" and "Friends" are polluting the Middle East.
Clinical psychologist Renana Brooks argues that while President Bush "is generally regarded as a mangler of the English language. What is overlooked is his mastery of emotional language -- especially negatively charged emotional language -- as a political tool."
In Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech, Brooks counted 39 examples of "empty language...broad statements that are so abstract and mean so little that they are virtually impossible to oppose."
Brooks references a commentary by Joan Didion, who wrote: "'I made up my mind,' he had said in April, 'that Saddam needs to go.' This was one of many curious, almost petulant statements offered in lieu of actually presenting a case. I've made up my mind, I've said in speech after speech, I've made myself clear. The repeated statements became their own reason." It sounds like Bush made up his mind even earlier.
Russ Baker says Americans should be every bit as skeptical of what the president says about GDP as about WMD: "In economic policy even more than in war policy, the Bushies have successfully suppressed, manipulated, and withheld evidence to serve their policy purposes."
The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller continues chronicling the Bush White House's unprecedented efforts to manipulate and control images: "Photographers, picture editors and even administration officials say that no other administration has moved as forcefully... to limit the access of outside news photographers to the president." Earlier: 'Keepers of Bush Image Lift Stagecraft to New Heights.'
Helen Thomas loses her sparring partner and the reader who implored, "Could you please please at some point delete that revolting picture of Ari Fleisher," will get her wish. Plus: It's the end of the road for "Ari & I."
My Four Sons Was new White House press secretary Scott McClellan raised by the "most successful single parent in America?" His mom, the former mayor of Austin, is currently the Texas State Comptroller and she may be eyeing George W. Bush's old job.
Tuesday, July 15, 2003
Arianna vs. Arnold? Calling the California recall election a foregone conclusion, Alternet's Don Hazen writes that there's "a huge opening for an independent candidate who has resources, visibility and populist credentials... That progressive candidate is Arianna Huffington."
Black Thursday "If President Bush is not reelected," writes David Broder, "we may look back on last Thursday, July 10, 2003, as the day the shadow of defeat first crossed his political horizon."
With the White House expected to project off the chart deficits of $400-plus billion for this year and next, the non-partisan deficit watchdog group, Concord Coalition, issues a report calling the first six months of the 108th Congress "the most fiscally irresponsible in recent memory," with the crux of the problem being a "schizophrenic pursuit of small government tax policies and big government spending initiatives."
The Bush administration doled out $1.44 million to 470 political appointees in 2002, after lifting a 1994 Clinton administration ban that was imposed following "questionable payments" to some outgoing aides in the final days of George H.W. Bush's presidency.
Paul Krugman describes the bogus uranium claims as part of a broad pattern of politicized, corrupted intelligence," and Nicholas Kristof writes that "What troubles me is not that single episode, but the broader pattern of dishonesty and delusion."
Kristof refers to a memorandum to President Bush from Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), that fingers VP Dick Cheney in the Niger forgery flap and calls on the president to ask for his resignation.
In late June, VIPS member and former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who regularly briefed VP George H.W. Bush and other senior policy-makers during the 80s, said that Cheney's visits to the CIA were unprecedented: "During my 27-year career at the Central Intelligence Agency, no vice president ever came to us for a working visit."
Bush Didn't Know! On Monday, the president said the decision to go to war was made after he gave Saddam "a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in." An assertion that the Washington Post says, "appeared to contradict the events leading up to war this spring: Hussein had, in fact, admitted the inspectors and Bush had opposed extending their work because he did not believe them effective."
Dana Milbank documents five evasive maneuvers on display during Fleischer's "prickly" final briefing, "that he has used to great effect during his tenure."
"It's fitting that Fleischer asks us to move on from the uranium story as he prepares to move on to a new career in the private sector," writes William Saletan. "We'd like to move on, too, Ari. It's just that when it comes to presidential responsibility, we seem to be moving in circles."
There's a new row in Britain over an interview that Foreign Secretary Jack Straw gave to the BBC, in which he touted the discovery of technical documentation and centrifugal parts buried at the home of Iraqi nuclear scientist, Mahdi Obeidi, but failed to mention that they were buried as long ago as 1991.
Scott Ritter, who led a 1998 investigation into Obeidi, repeatedly corrected Wolf Blitzer during an interview last Friday. Blitzer fared much better moderating Sunday's lively debate between Zbigniew Brzezinski and Henry Kissinger.
As the U.S. Army extends the deployment of thousands of soldiers in Iraq, India declines a U.S. request for Iraq troops, joining Germany and France in saying that it would not send troops without a UN mandate.
Unknown Soldier TomPaine.com reports on the life and death of a young Marine who expressed his misgivings about war in Iraq in an anonymous interview with Pacifica Radio's "Peacewatch," on the night before he was deployed.
Los Angeles Times media critic David Shaw argues against the use of anonymous sources by journalists, claiming that "polls consistently show that people object to - and are skeptical of - these 'sources said' stories. Almost invariably, they say, they assume that any quote without a name attached to it was made up by the reporter." Which polls? Shaw doesn't say.
TAPPED points out that Bill Keller, newly appointed executive editor of the New York Times, was a favorite of Times-bashers Andrew Sullivan and Mickey Kaus during Howell Raines' tenure -- but now that Raines is gone, will their love for Keller remain? One thing's for sure: angry conservatives aren't going to give Sullivan $79K to write about how great the Times is.
"They can criticize and voice their requests, but must bear in mind that people can distinguish between treason and doing a service." Ann Coulter? Nope. It's former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, on recent protests, including last week's pro-democracy gathering at Tehran University, that attracted tens of thousands of car horn-honking, pro-democracy protesters, but went unreported by the country's reformist papers.
Read what happens when Jesus sets the price for auto repairs.
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
Jim Lobe reconstructs the campaign that began on September 11, 2001, by Pentagon hawks, the neocons, and their allies in the media, to link Iraq to Al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks. Plus: Blame it on Baghdad.
An ad hoc group calling itself the "Committee for the Republic," is circulating a manifesto among prominent Washingtonians, warning of the dangers associated with empire.
The Washington Post's Walter Pincus writes that by the time President Bush gave his State of the Union speech, "the intelligence report concerning Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa was the only publicly unchallenged element of the administration's case that Iraq had restarted its nuclear program. That may explain why the administration strived to keep the information in the speech..."
How does Niger feel about all of this?
At his first briefing as White House Press Secretary, Scott McClellan was asked why Bush said on Monday that the CIA's doubts that Iraq sought to buy uranium were "subsequent" to Jan. 28: "that's not accurate. Why did he say that?" McClellan was also asked why Bush said that Saddam hadn't allowed inspectors back in, a quote that went unreported by the New York Times."
The Daily Howler says "many journalists are bungling the facts" on the uranium story, "in a way which harms President Bush." But Bush isn't helping himself with public statements, that according to Josh Marshall, "show not so much a pattern of lies as evidence that when he's not doing press availabilities he's living on some other planet."
Fool Me Once Planned Congressional testimony on Syria by Undersecretary of State John Bolton was delayed until September, after his scripted remarks caused a "revolt" among intelligence experts who said he was exaggerating the WMD threat posed by Syria.
In a June hearing with the Senate Intelligence Committee, a State Department analyst reportedly testified that he had been pressured by Bolton over intelligence about Cuba. Last year Bolton claimed that Cuba had a biological weapons program.
As former defense secretary William Perry warns of the "imminent danger" of North Korean nukes being detonated in American cities, U.S. intelligence confronts a mirror image of the Iraq problem. "We spent years looking for evidence Iraq was lying when it said it didn't have a nuclear program," said one official. "Now North Korea says it's about to go nuclear, and everyone is trying to figure out whether they've finally done it, or if it's the big lie."
Hesiod at Counterspin Central offers this advice: "I guess if North Korea wants to be taken seriously, they should 'leak' the information to the Italian intelligence service on forged documents from Ukraine."
Following the ruling by Guatemala's highest court that former dictator Efrain Rios Montt can compete in November's presidential election, Human Rights Watch said that "he should be on trial, not running for president."
Human Rights Watch has released a new report that says fear of sexual violence is driving Baghdad women indoors, with many afraid to leave their homes to attend school, go to work or look for jobs.
The report faults Iraqi and U.S.-led occupation authorities for failing to provide public security. One of the demands of Iraq's U.S.-appointed governing council was that it have oversight of security. It's also seeking to prosecute Saddam's former henchmen for the crimes they committed under his reign.
As the U.S. reopens Iraq's most feared prison, Abu Ghraib, the Times of London reports that "children as young as 11 are claimed to be among those locked up for 24 hours a day in rooms with no light, or held in overcrowded tents."
Rocky Road "All you do is try to help them and they just throw rocks at you and spit at you and shout at you," said one American soldier. "We would rather eat rocks than eat chickens from Americans," said an imam in Fallouja, when soldiers tried to present him a truckload of frozen chickens, as part of a plan to win over hearts and minds.
Pat Robertson wants God to make a ruling on three Supreme Court justices for the alleged crime of decriminalizing sodomy: "One justice is 83 years old, another has cancer, and another has a heart condition. Would it not be possible for God to put it in the minds of these three judges that the time has come to retire?"
'Gay in the USA' Rep. Barney Frank tells the Guardian's Suzanne Goldenberg: "I am now convinced that the average American has discovered over time that he isn't homophobic - just that he was supposed to be."
Thursday, July 17, 2003
Asia Times commentator Ramtanu Maitra says that two major incidents -- the July 4 suicide bombing at a Shi'ite mosque in Quetta that killed 53 people and the July 7 storming of Pakistan's embassy in Kabul -- "have laid bare the new complexities in the area. And a large part of the blame for these two incidents lies with the United States' duplicitous role in both Afghanistan and Pakistan."
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Pentagon could start a call-up of as many as 10,000 U.S. National Guard soldiers by this winter, to bolster forces in Iraq and offset a lack of troops from allies.
While Prime Minister Blair and President Bush have stood shoulder to shoulder, Brendan O'Neill writes that "their forces in Iraq have barely been able to see eye to eye. Instead, British and American troops have bickered over everything from friendly fire to war crimes."
An Arab media analyst says that heavy coverage of attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq is being driven by Arab governments that fear democracy and are using state-run newspapers to "agitate public opinion against the U.S." But a Lebanese observer says that it's simply an attempt to appeal to an Arab public that was stunned by the speed of the U.S. military victory.
A new Pew Research Center study finds that 70% of Americans see it as a good thing when news organizations take a "strong pro-American point of view. " But when asked if it is better for coverage of the war on terrorism to be neutral or pro-American, 64% said they preferred neutral coverage.
The study also found a sharp increase in opposition to the FCC's decision to loosen media ownership rules. A bipartisan group of senators is pushing to rescind the new rules by invoking an obscure procedural mechanism known as a "resolution of disapproval," that requires only 30 signatures to limit debate and allow a vote on the measure. Plus: William Safire on 'Localism's Last Stand."
Roll-Your-Own Wired reports on the Internet TV boom.
When an Iranian-born Canadian journalist died in police hands in Tehran on July 11, after being arrested for taking photos of Evin prison, Iranian officials first said it was from a stroke. Then, that she died from a "brain hemorrhage resulting from blows inflicted on her." Now, the story has changed again.
More on her death from Reporters Without Borders, which says that with 26 jailed, Iran is currently the world's second biggest prison for journalists.
In 'Sidestepping Sanctions,' an article in the new issue of Mother Jones, Michael Scherer describes how Halliburton and General Electric are continuing to do business in Iran -- one of the seven nations listed by the State Department as a state sponsor of terror -- by using foreign subsidiaries that are staffed with foreign nationals.
Scherer tells "Democracy Now!" that while the companies are "clearly going against congressional intent...they're able to get around the law because they claim that these companies working in Italy, in the Cayman islands, working in other countries in Europe are not American companies and therefore not beholden to U.S. law." See a map of 'The World According to Halliburton.'
In March 2003, after pressure from the New York City Police and Fire Pension Funds, Halliburton agreed to review its Iranian operations. "For now, though," writes Scherer, "public pensions are still being invested in companies that do business with sanctioned countries."
The Washington Post reports that CIA Director George Tenet told the Senate intelligence committee that his staff did not bring to his attention the line about Iraq seeking uranium, before President Bush delivered his State of the Union address.
Sen. Dick Durbin says that Tenet also named a White House official who insisted that the uranium reference be included in Bush's speech. According to Durbin, "there was this negotiation between the White House and the CIA about just how far you could go and be close to the truth..."
TomPaine.com interviews Ray McGovern of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.
A photo leaked to Matt Drudge, purporting to show Sen. Bob Graham arriving at a Virginia fundraiser in a Jaguar, has been traced back to a Web site registered with the Republican National Committee.
Friday, July 18, 2003
The U.S. State Department received copies of what would turn out to be forged Niger documents in October 2002, reports the Washington Post, contradicting earlier Bush administration claims that it did not have them before the State of the Union speech. The documents were distributed to the CIA and other agencies within days, but the U.S. government waited four months to turn them over to U.N. weapons inspectors.
When Bush was asked on Thursday if he would take personal responsibilty for his uranium claim, he ducked the question. Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Scott McClellan ducked it nine times.
A weapons expert who this week denied being the main source for the BBC story claiming that the British government "sexed-up" intelligence on Iraq, has reportedly been found dead.
In a recent column about former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson, Robert Novak wrote: "Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction." David Corn says if that's true and Novak can be trusted about his source, senior Bush administration officials blew the cover of a U.S. intelligence officer, destroying her career and possibly breaking the law in the process.
Tea 'Em Up! As part of an attempt to discredit Wilson's trip to Niger, G. Gordon Liddy said three times during a five-minute interview on "Hardball," that all Wilson did was go there and "drink green tea" with people he knew.
Following ABC News correspondent Jeffrey Kofman's Tuesday report on flagging morale among U.S. soldiers in Iraq, in which one called on Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to resign, the White House informed Matt Drudge that Kofman is gay and Canadian. Drudge tells the Washington Post that "someone from the White House communications shop tipped me" to the story along with an Advocate profile of Kofman. More tooling with Drudge.
Would Rumsfeld have been fragged in Vietnam?
Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell says most media reports underplay the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq since early May, by only reporting combat deaths: "Even if killed in a non-hostile action, these soldiers are no less dead... And it's safe to say that nearly all of these people would still be alive if they were still back in the States."
Are Bush administration' policies bad for American brands? The Independent reports on a survey of 30,000 consumers in 30 countries, designed to assess the power of global brands. In 2003, for the first time since the survey launched in 1998, American companies have seen their "brand-power" starting to sink.
Newsweek first reported on the survey results in 'U.S. Brands on the Run.' In an April interview, Harvard Business School professor John Quelch said: "We have reached the tipping point where Pax Americana now threatens Brand America."
Air Laden Interpol's Secretary-General tells the U.S. Congress that Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah are trafficking in fake Nikes, fake Sony stereos, and fake Calvin Klein jeans, part of what law enforcement officials say is an estimated $500 billion global black market trade in counterfeiting and pirating.
An Iranian blogger says that many of that country's most popular brands are knock-offs: "There may be no Crest, but there is Crend with a similar logo. There are bad copies of the Coca Cola logo on bottles of homegrown soda that tastes pretty damn good. The Nike swoosh is a little too fat here."
Cuba fingered as jammer of satellite feeds to Iran.
In words and pictures, the New York Times reports on Los Angeles' Skid Row, an area with the largest concentration of homelessness in America, that is also getting in the way of the city's redevelopment plans.
Last week the Los Angeles City Council voted to pay $170,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by homeless people who claim they were improperly arrested during Skid Row sweeps.
Gentrification brings the stars to downtown L.A.
(No) Shelter From the Storm As Minnesota cuts aid to the homeless, state and city officials are spending money to install "transient barriers" underneath freeway overpasses and other bridges.
Monday, July 21, 2003
The New York Times reports that under the guise of patrolling "no-fly" zones in Iraq, the U.S. carried out a comprehensive plan -- from mid-2002 into early 2003 -- to disrupt Iraq's military command and control system.
The Times notes that during the declared war, commanders were required to get Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's approval if a planned airstrike was thought likely to result in deaths of more than 30 civilians: "More than 50 such strikes were proposed, and all of them were approved." During an appearance on Fox News, civil administrator Paul Bremer called the war "a model in terms of low casualties... Very few collateral damage on the civilian side, on their side."
A Washington Post article on the collapse of the Iraqi military -- in which former officers say that no unit was issued chemical or biological weapons -- makes no mention of bribes that U.S. officials said were paid to Iraqi generals.
In a Los Angeles Times report headlined 'Preparing for War, Stumbling to Peace,' Lawrence Di Rita, an assistant to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, says that "We'll get better as we do it more often." Earlier: 'Lack of planning contributed to chaos in Iraq.'
A U.S. military officer says that after soldiers aired their complaints on "Good Morning America" last week, "It was the end of the world. It went all the way up to President Bush and back down again on top of us. At least six of us here will lose our careers."
A former Canadian military officer-turned-analyst who says the U.S. had no grounds to base the invasion of Iraq on disarmament, tells of a January 2001 conference, at which current and former weapons inspectors and senior members of U.S. government agencies, said that Iraq has dismantled its nuclear weapons program and that any chemical and biological weapons there were "negligible in quantity and militarily meaningless."
The New York Times reports that the CIA and the White House were "essentially blinded" after weapons inspectors left Iraq in 1998 -- "left grasping for whatever slivers they could obtain, like unconfirmed reports of attempts to buy uranium, or fragmentary reports about the movements of suspected terrorists." Earlier: Weapons inspectors complain about 'garbage' tips from U.S.
Newsday looks at how the CIA, in its annual report to Congress, changed its tune on Iraq once Bush became president, going from not mentioning a nuclear weapons program in its 1997 report, to last year's warning that "all intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons" and that the country could produce a bomb "within a year" if it got its hands on weapons-grade material.
Jason Leopold reports that CIA Director George Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the Office of Special Plans rewrote the CIA's intelligence information on Iraq gave it to White House officials to help Bush build a case for war. Plus: 'The spies who pushed for war.'
(Tele)Phony Intelligence A BBC reporter says the claim that Iraq could launch WMD in 45 minutes, came from a senior Iraqi officer who said that 45 minutes was how long the Iraqis would need to communicate with each other about WMD, not to the time it would take to deploy them.
The White House used the 45-minute claim three times last September. President Bush attributed it to the British government during a Rose Garden appearance and in his weekly radio address, but a White House "Global Message" issued on Sept. 26, made the claim without attribution.
As the debate rages in Britain over an attack-dog media and a political culture of spin, a journalism professor tells Reuters that "the public is well-served by an aggressive media. It compares favorably to what is happening in the United States for example where politicians do not feel accountable and where the White House stonewalls journalists.''
A new Zogby poll of likely U.S. voters finds that 47% of respondents think it's time for someone new in the White House, compared to 46% who say that President Bush deserves to be re-elected.
Both Singham and Richard Blow say it's time for much closer press scrutiny of Vice-President Dick Cheney, with Blow suggesting that Cheney "avoids the spotlight because he likes to wield power without being held accountable for his actions."
The attorney for Brett Bursey, the South Carolina man charged with getting too close to President Bush, is out to prove that the Bush administration is trying to make criticizing the president a crime.
Anti-war demonstrators protest possible restitution payments to Lockheed Martin.
Playboy says it will create an animated TV series called "Hef's Superbunnies," that will feature Hugh Hefner and a team of Playmates battling "enemies of democracy."
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Analysts say U.S. squandered opportunity to deploy peacekeepers to Liberia during ceasefire. "Was it a stall strategy? No," says one. "It was a missed opportunity, although playing this one through is going to be ugly and complicated any way it's played." Plus: Humble Refuge in Monrovia.
Former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson goes on the offensive, telling NBC, Time and Newsday that he's getting smeared by the White House, which he says deliberately leaked his wife’s identity as a covert CIA operative. David Corn first raised the issue -- and implored the mainstream press to follow up -- after Robert Novak outed Wilson's wife.
'Who's Unpatriotic Now?' Paul Krugman writes that "We've just seen how politicized, cooked intelligence can damage our national interest. Yet the Wilson affair suggests that the administration intends to continue pressuring analysts to tell it what it wants to hear."
Members of a House subcommittee release a letter asking ten questions of Vice President Dick Cheney.
Richard Cohen asks: "Is George Bush the Iraq war's 'useful idiot'?": "The real mystery is whether Bush himself realized how weak the evidence for a preemptive war was or was being manipulated by a cadre of disciplined administration aides who long had sought a war with Iraq."
As Bush accuses Syria and Iran of harboring terrorists, the New York Times reports that the U.S. is working with the Iraqi National Congress to resurrect parts of Iraq's intelligence service to spy on Iran.
In 'The Syrian Bet,' The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh writes that "By early 2002, Syria had emerged as one of the CIA's most effective intelligence allies in the fight against al-Qaeda, providing an outpouring of information that came to an end only with the invasion of Iraq."
Pentagon strategists profile new Iraq enemy, which they say is "probably several thousand strong and well armed."
U.S. says Saddam's sons killed in raid.
In an article on Pentagon procurement for Iraq, Reuters reports that "suppliers are still cranking out chemical-warfare suits to replace those that were sent originally." Ceradyne, Inc., which just received a $7.1 million expedited order for body armor, has seen its stock price shoot up from $4.60 a share last October to a current price of almost $18 a share.
Antiwar groups tell the Washington Post that the issue of Iraq intelligence claims is revitalizing the movement and drawing an increasing number of war supporters.
A U.N. labor agency has ruled that the former head of the world's chemical weapons regulatory body was wrongly dismissed last year at the insistence of the U.S. government.
Brendan O'Neill takes the British media to task for blaming David Kelly's death on politics: "These journalists scrabbling about for the most degrading terms with which to describe Kelly's death no doubt think they are being radical. In fact, their responses represent the height of cynicism." Plus: Where "sexed-up" came from.
The Los Angeles Times turned away a Secret Service agent who wanted to interview the paper's editorial cartoonist, Michael Ramirez, over a cartoon that Ramirez says is pro-Bush, but that the Secret Service considers a possible threat.
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Not Born To Run "As Baghdad fell Saddam Hussein decided to hide separately from his two sons telling them that it was safer to do so," writes Patrick Cockburn. "Qusay collapsed in tears at the news. Uday's reaction is not known, But nothing in their upbringing had fitted them for life on the run."
Cockburn says that "Both were entirely dependent on their father," who in turn was entirely dependent on them, according to one Iraqi who told the Guardian that "Without his sons, Saddam cannot function. He does not trust anyone more than them and if they're out of the equation, he's out of the equation."
An Atrios poster explains why he thinks "killing Saddam's sons was hog stupid."
Sen. Richard Durbin says he wants the Intelligence Committee that he sits on to investigate who revealed the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame, who is married to former ambassador Joseph Wilson.
Durbin also says the White House is trying to smear him. After he publicly commented last week on secret CIA testimony, he said the “White House press operation started floating the story that there were senators … who were asking for my removal from the Senate Intelligence Committee because [of] the statements that I made.” Plus: BuzzFlash editorializes on 'Betrayals and Gutter Smears.'
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan was asked about "accusations that the administration deliberately blew the cover of an undercover CIA operative, and in so doing, violated a federal law that prohibits revealing the identity of undercover CIA operatives. Can you respond to that?"
In 'Faith-Based Intelligence,' The New Yorker's David Remnick says that if the administration had been playing it straight in the State of the Union speech, a follow-up line to the 16 words might have read: "The C.I.A., however, believes that this so-called fact is almost certainly untrue."
The Washington Post says that Tuesday's disclosure by the White House that it had received two memos from the CIA in October, expressing doubts about Iraq's attempts to buy uranium, "punctured claims made by Rice and others in the last two weeks... that nobody in the White House knew of CIA objections, and that the CIA supported the Africa accusation generally, making only technical objections about location and quantity."
Top national security aide Stephen Hadley, who took the blame for allowing the uranium charge in the State of the Union speech, told reporters that "As I sit here, I do not remember" details of the CIA reservations. In addition to the two memos, Hadley received a phone call from CIA Director Tenet before the president's Oct. 7 speech asking that the Africa allegation be removed.
"This buck may eventually stop at the president's desk," writes Josh Marshall, "but it's amazing how many stops it makes along the way, isn't it?"
White House deploys 'Weapons of Mass Redaction.'
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz says on return from Iraq: "I'm not concerned about weapons of mass destruction." Earlier: "I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq."
Iran says holding "big and small members" of al-Qaeda.
Hawk Fight Sweeping "buy American" proposals contained in the House version of the U.S. military budget has led to a fight between a Congressional hawk -- Rep. Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee -- and the Pentagon.
Sen. Mark Dayton said "I've never had so many dirty looks in my life," in describing the reaction from senate colleagues after he added an "a taste of our own medicine" amendment to the Medicare prescription drug bill, that requires senators to receive prescription drug benefits no greater than those being proposed for senior citizens.
Ha'aretz reports that the International Criminal Court, called a 'Threat to USA,' by Stephen Hadley, will not be prosecuting crimes committed by Israeli soldiers in the occupied territories, because "permission is required from either the accused's country or the country where the crimes allegedly took place. Since Israel will not grant permission and the territories are not considered a state... it is not possible to try an Israeli for crimes committed in the territories."
The Scotsman reports that according to files captured from East Germany's Stasi, tons of live WW II munitions, including entire Nazi fighter planes, "all fueled and fully bombed-up," were buried in concrete bunkers beneath the runways of Schoenefeld airport in East Berlin, which serves nearly two million passengers a year.
Thursday, July 24, 2003
In what the Los Angeles Times calls "a stinging rebuke for expansion-minded conglomerates and for FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell," the House of Representatives votes 400-21 to pass a spending bill that contains an amendment restoring the ownership cap on TV stations.
William Safire says of the White House's threat to veto a spending bill that includes the amendment: "President Bush is backing into a buzz saw. The sleeper issue is media giantism."
Two new reports, from the Alliance for Better Campaigns and the Lear Center Local News Archive, criticize local TV stations for their inadequate coverage of campaign politics -- airing nearly four campaign ads for each campaign news story -- and for gouging political campaigns for that advertising time.
David Corn follows up on the story he launched last week: "Here's the accusation: to punish Wilson and frighten others, administration officials outed Wilson's wife at the risk of damaging government efforts to track and block the spread of WMDs. Here's the White House reply: well, we don't know anything about it, and we're not looking into it."
First question: "Scott, has there ever been an attempt or effort on the part of anyone here at the White House to discredit the reputations or reporting of former Ambassador Joe Wilson, his wife, or ABC correspondent Jeffrey Kofman?"
Where are the major media players?
An AP news analysis says that the White House's effort at damage control on prewar intelligence is being hampered by an ever-changing story -- "from first blaming the CIA and then the British to new revelations by Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley that contradict earlier statements by his boss," Condoleezza Rice. Is she or isn't she?
Bill Clinton defends President Bush and says it's time to move on, but according to the Nelson Report newsletter, "The Iraq/Niger debacle is but one of 'a whole series of stories which are ready to break', a source told us today, adding, "I've never seen such hostility and disdain as now being expressed between the White House and the CIA. Never…"
Arrival of visitors from hell signaled payback time for Hussein hanger-on, who reportedly said: "I answered the doorbell and there they were, right in front of my face. They asked to stay in my house and I could not refuse them. This is a disaster for me."
Robert Fisk argues that if Saddam meets the same fate as his sons, "the chances are that the opposition to the American-led occupation will grow rather than diminish -- on the grounds that with Saddam gone, Iraqis will have nothing to lose by fighting the Americans." More Fisk: 'Guerrilla war in Iraq is out of control.'
CBS News report also contradicts claim that demise of Saddam and sons will end guerrilla war.
UPI quotes a government source who says the Congressional report on 9/11 shows "no link between Iraq and al-Qaeda."
But terrorism analyst Peter Bergen said on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" that now there's a link: "Iraq has become a real magnet for al-Qaeda...It's common sense, if you're interested in killing Americans in a place that's right in the middle of the Middle East, Iraq is that place."
A reviewer calls "Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror," a new book by the Observer's Jason Burke, "possibly the most reliable and perceptive guide yet published to the rise of militant Islam, the threat it poses and the best way to tackle it." Read an excerpt.
Friday, July 25, 2003
"Two intriguing -- and politically volatile -- questions surrounding the Sept. 11 plot have been how personally engaged Bush and his predecessor were in counterterrorism before the attacks, and what role some Saudi officials may have played in sustaining the 19 terrorists," writes the Washington Post's Dana Priest. "To varying degrees, the answers remain a mystery."
Saudis 'respond angrily' to report allegations.
David Corn calls it "unusual--if not absurd--for an administration to claim that the state of presidential knowledge is top-secret when the material in question has been made public. But that's what Bush officials have done. Consequently, the public does not know whether these warnings made it to Bush and whether he responded."
9/11 widow says "Two years out and there still seems to be a shroud of secrecy."
The Memory Hole has various links to the 9/11 report as well as an html version of the Phoenix Memo.
"Democracy Now!" has posted a transcript of Thursday's interview with Seymour Hersh. He discusses his latest article, comments on the 9/11 report, and says that "probably the most honest document we've had made public about Iraq was the much maligned 12,000-page statement by none other than Saddam Hussein... It's probably more accurate than anything this government put out."
A former bodyguard for Uday Hussein offers 'The Inside Story' of how Saddam and sons dealt with the war and its aftermath.
The Guardian reports that the U.S. military's top brass was reluctant to approve release of the photographs of Saddam's sons. "We have a tradition of respecting the dead," says a retired military intelligence officer. "We objected to the showing of bodies of American servicemen. It's kind of ironic that we turn around and display dead folks now."
Tom Shales reports on the debate at TV outlets over how to handle the photos. The director at one of two Washington D.C. stations that decided not to air the photos said that "I can see with cable operators there may be some duty to disseminate this information for propaganda purposes to help the government objective. I don't feel obligated to do that."
Liberation By Snapshot? Brendan O'Neill says "the idea that Uday and Qusay's deaths represent the liberation of Iraq and the vindication of the war indicates that this is still very much a campaign of style over substance."
Slate's Timothy Noah speculates on one possible goal of Vice President Cheney's speech Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI): "By portraying curiosity about Yellowcakegate as unpatriotic, Cheney probably hoped to shake the inquiry off his tail."
Jason Leopold previews the CIA's internal investigation into prewar intelligence. His sources are four agents who accuse the Office of Special Plans of manipulating the agency's intel on the Iraqi threat and then delivering it to top White House officials who used it to win support for the war.
In a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller, Sen. Charles Schumer calls for "an immediate criminal investigation into reports that two senior members of the Bush Administration made the identity of an undercover CIA operative [Valerie Plame] public." Plus: Call for probe advances story.
Schumer calls the outing of Plame, "one of the most reckless and nasty things I’ve seen in all my years of government. Leaking the name of a CIA agent is tantamount to putting a gun to that agent’s head." Plus: 'George W. Nixon'
"Reckoning Gulf War I casualties at the low-end consensus figure of 30,000 (12,500 military plus 17,500 civilian)," writes Jack Miles, "it would then seem conservative to estimate that 60,000 Iraqis may die as a result of the current conflict."
Monday, July 28, 2003
Slate's Jack Shafer catalogs Judith Miller's 'wretched' WMD reporting, and calls on the New York Times to conduct a review that will "explain her astonishing credulity and lack of accountability, and parse the false from the fact...the Times' incoming executive editor, Bill Keller, could do no better than to launch such an investigation."
When asked about Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz's "Meet the Press," statement that "The nature of terrorism intelligence is intrinsically murky," Sen. Carl Levin said: "Boy, it sure didn't sound murky before the war. There were clear connections we were told between al-Qaeda and Iraq. There was no murkiness, no nuance, no uncertainty about it at all."
President Bush and Saudis shake on 9/11 report success.
'Terms of Engagement' Eric Margolis translates "Orwellian newspeak coming from Washington" into plain English.
Prime Minister of Niger challenges Tony Blair to produce the evidence.
At least three Iraqi civilians were killed when U.S. soldiers shot up a passenger car in Baghdad, while hunting for Saddam.
"Democracy Now!" interviews Robert Fisk, who wrote that publishing photos of Saddam's sons "will prove to be either a stroke of genius or a historic mistake of catastrophic consequences." Plus: 'See How They Ran.'
A former CIA analyst tells "Democracy Now!" that a speech given by Vice President Cheney last week, was the "longest statement of disinformation that I think the American government has distributed to the American people."
A Washington Post article headlined 'Iraq Flap Shakes Rice's Image,' says National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice either "missed or overlooked numerous warnings from intelligence agencies seeking to put caveats on claims about Iraq's nuclear weapons program, or she made public claims that she knew to be false."
Philanthropist George Soros co-bankrolled a full-page ad -- 'When the Nation Goes to War, the People Deserve the Truth' -- containing a dozen questionable statements made by Bush administration officials.
A group of House Democrats plan to submit "a resolution of inquiry," requesting that Bush turn over within 14 days "documents or other materials in the President's possession that provide specific evidence" in ten instances where administration officials claimed that Iraq possessed WMD.
A Borders bookstore in Virginia banned singer-songwriter Julia Rose, after a few audience members complained that she was making "political" comments when she joked that "George Bush has chicken legs. He needs to pump some iron." The local paper editorialized that "Borders has a very scrawny leg to stand on itself..."
Bumper stickers tell supporters of late Sen. Paul Wellstone "It's time to park the bus" and "He's dead, get over it."
Time reports on the invasion of America's national parks and forests by meth cooks and pot growers, particularly Mexican drug rings that have adopted a homegrown strategy to skirt U.S. border patrols. Scroll down here for earlier articles.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
Terrorizing the Markets Noah Shachtman tracks the coverage of the Pentagon's plan to set up a commodity-market style trading system, in which investors would be able to bet on political and economic events in the Middle East, including the likelihood of assassinations and terrorist attacks. Update: Pentagon cancels program.
Hussein Agha and Robert Malley scrutinize the thoughts of 'Three Men in a Boat': "Sharon sees the roadmap as a nuisance, Arafat as a diversion; Abu Mazen alone views it as worthwhile...None of the three sees it for what it purports to be: a plan designed to reach a final settlement within three years."
Arguing that the Iraq 'insurgency is no monolith,' a Middle East analyst says the "American administration must rid itself of [its] pervasive cultural ignorance and arrogance," two factors that "promote the tendency to simplistic approaches, such as the single-explanation theory for the attacks against the U.S." (Link may be temporarily unavailable.)
CNN's Lou Dobbs gives the theory a workout: "In Baghdad, an American soldier was killed today when a supporter of the former regime dropped a grenade onto a Humvee that was in a military convoy. Also today, Saddam Hussein loyalists blew up a pontoon bridge on the river Tigris. It was the first time supporters of the former regime have targeted a bridge."
The Guardian reports on Task Force 20's Sunday shoot 'em up in Baghdad, that left at least five civilians dead. A Japanese reporter says her colleague was roughed up by U.S. troops who stopped the two from filming the action, and one neighborhood resident tells Reuters that after the operation, the troops "just left. Then the Iraqi firemen came to put out the fires."
U.S. authorities in Iraq ask a Bahraini firm to stop running Baghdad's first mobile phone service, over concerns that it could muck up the bidding for spectrum licenses.
A Washington Post editorial implores President Bush to 'Meet the Press' before heading to his ranch for the month of August: "During his more than two years in office, Mr. Bush has held just eight solo news conferences. The last one before his March appearance took place four months earlier. By contrast, President Clinton had held 33 such events at this point in his term, and the first President Bush had held 61."
The AP reports that Congress' 9/11 report calls into question statements made by Condoleezza Rice during a May 2002 press conference, in which she said an August 2001 presidential briefing contained only a general warning of al-Qaeda threats and historical information, not specific plots.
Atrios notes that in a January 23, 2003 New York Times op-ed, headlined "Why We Know Iraq is Lying," Rice wrote that "Iraq has filed a false declaration to the United Nations that amounts to a 12,200-page lie. For example, the declaration fails to account for or explain Iraq's efforts to get uranium from abroad..."
"For President Bush and the press corps that covers him, the month of July has been one long cat-and-mouse game," writes Dana Milbank. "Five times, questioners have invited the president to take responsibility for the Iraq-uranium allegation that found its way into his State of the Union address. Five times, Bush has deflected the question."
Salon reports that Arianna Huffington has decided to run for governor of California, unless Sen. Dianne Feinstein enters the race. During a weekend meeting with political activists and advisors, "She vowed to 'nationalize' the campaign, turning it into a referendum not just on Davis' governorship but on the Bush presidency and the corporate looting of the state and nation." Huffington told CNN that she also won't run if her ex-husband enters the race.
A new USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll finds that in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision striking down Texas' anti-sodomy law, Americans have become less accepting of homosexuality. USA Today reports that "Asked whether same-sex relations between consenting adults should be legal, 48% said yes and 46% said no. Before this month, support hadn't been that low since 1996. In early May, support for legal relations reached a high of 60%-35%."
Newsweek reports on a post-9/11 surge in domestic violence against Muslim-American women.
A new Human Rights Watch report documents abuses in Afghanistan that are being "committed by gunmen and warlords who were propelled into power by the United States and its coalition partners after the Taliban fell in 2001. These men and others have essentially hijacked the country outside of Kabul. With less than a year to go before national elections, Afghanistan's human rights situation appears to be worsening."
ABC correspondent James Wooten says he thinks it's "reasonable to assume" that the specific details for the Army's report on the Iraqi ambush of Pfc. Jessica Lynch's convoy, "came from Private Lynch," considering that she was the only one of five people riding in her Humvee that survived.
"If Lynch says something the Pentagon doesn't want to hear," writes Richard Blow, "well, the military has already suggested that her memory is unreliable." Plus: Was an ignored ambush victim the real hero?
NBC shifts focus of Lynch movie after cutting a deal with Iraqi lawyer said to have assisted in her rescue.
In a new song, Merle Haggard rips the media for focusing on celebrity news while fighting continues in Iraq. And in an essay on his Web site, Haggard calls the "verbal witch-hunt and lynching" of the Dixie Chicks, an "insult for all men and women who fought and died in past wars."
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
Jeffrey St. Clair reports on last week's rioting in Guatemala City by supporters of former dictator General Efrain Rios Montt, that followed a court's halting of Rios Montt's presidential campaign.
St. Clair says that journalists appear to have been a main target of the rioters. He quotes a Guatemalan newspaper exec who calls the press "the only functioning institution in this country. That is why they either have to control it or scare it into silence."
All bets are off as Pentagon scraps plan for terror futures market. A Washington Post business columnist calls the plan, which had its proponents, "the latest and loopiest manifestation of a near-religious belief within the Bush administration in the power of markets to solve all problems -- or at least those that can't be cured by tax cuts."
Slate's Daniel Gross says the market would have forced pundits to disclose positions and conflicts of interest, just as brokerage analysts do on CNBC: "William Kristol is long on Saudi Arabian monarchy calls dated 2006 and owns Hosni Mubarak 2004 puts. His magazine has a significant stake in the outcome of the war on Iraq."
U.S. government now fighting Gulf War POWs who were awarded $653 million in compensatory damages in suit against Iraq.
Maureen Dowd watches senators "jump ugly on Wolfie," and notes how Bush administration officials have increasingly taken to describing Iraq as ground zero in the war on terror. Sen. Russ Feingold accused the administration of "constantly trying to pretend that Sept. 11 and Iraq are the same issue."
Wolfowitz sparks row between Al-Jazeera and the U.S. government with claim that the channel's "very biased reporting" had the effect of "inciting violence against our troops" in Iraq.
Is the U.S. trying to trap terrorists in Iraq? Matthew Yglesias provides a rundown on the "flypaper" theory, of which he writes, "if this is not madness then nothing is."
Xmphora chronicles recent U.S. violence against Iraqis, arguing that it has escalated to the point where it's "starting to take on the qualities of a frenzy."
Charles Tiefer, a former special counsel on the House Iran-Contra Committee, tells The Hill that "By the White House apparently ‘outing’ the identity of a CIA operative just to savage Ambassador Wilson, that war [with Congress] has gotten nastier and hotter and much closer to the core of legally violative revelations."
A Ha'aretz analysis says the clear impression from yesterday's press conference was that Bush accepted Sharon's argument that the primary issue is the dismantling of armed groups by the Palestinian Authority, and rejected Abu Mazen's argument that moving against those groups would precipitate a civil war.
Double Plus Bad Israel warns U.S. of growing Iranian threat, says new intelligence suggests Iran was offering $50,000 to families of suicide bombers, compared to Saddam's $25,000.
Date With Saddam The Los Angeles Times reports on the souring of a once-sweet industry.
Father of Australian imprisoned at Guantanamo cages himself in New York protest.
"On the Media" interviews Marc Schultz, the Atlanta man who wrote about being questioned by FBI agents, after a coffee-shop patron phoned in a tip that Schultz was seen reading something suspicious -- "Weapons of Mass Stupidity," an article critical of Rupert Murdoch and Fox News.
'Exercise in Ideology' Health club stand-off pits "Today" show against Fox News.
Flash mobber calls practice "a way to tweak the nose of those responsible for security, since things have gotten so tense since Sept. 11."
Thursday, July 31, 2003
In a press conference that the Washington Post reports was called on 90 minutes' notice, President Bush followed many others in taking responsibility ("Absolutely.") for the Iraq uranium claim, but blamed TV coverage of the run up to war for contributing to economic uncertainty: "Remember on our TV screens... it said, 'March to War,' every day from last summer until the spring -- 'March to War', 'March to War.' That's not a very conducive environment for people to take risk, when they hear, 'March to War' all the time."
The New York Times editorializes that "Mr. Bush's vague and sometimes nearly incoherent answers suggested that he was either bedazzled by his administration's own mythmaking or had decided that doubts about his foreign and domestic policies could best be parried by ignoring them."
Slate's Timothy Noah writes that Bush "seemed jangled. His strategy for answering questions about why we went to war was to repeat, mantralike, that Saddam was a threat and that the intelligence on which he based that judgment was good, sound intelligence and that the United Nations had passed 12 resolutions against Saddam."
In an interview on PBS' "NewsHour," National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice also took personal responsibility for the uranium claim for the first time, adding, "But what I feel, really, most responsible for is that this has detracted from the very strong case that the president has been making." Plus: 'Iraq dispute gives Rice a taste of criticism.'
Britain's Foreign Office says CIA objected to claims that Iraqi forces could deploy chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes of an order to do so, and that Iraq was attempting to purchase uranium in Africa, before they were published in the British government's September dossier.
The Washington Post reports that Iraqi scientists interviewed by the U.S. -- four senior and more than a dozen at lower levels -- continue to deny that Saddam had reconstituted his nuclear weapons program or developed and hidden chemical or biological weapons since UN inspectors left in 1998.
The article notes that Saddam's science adviser, Amir Saadi, has been held incommunicado since coming forward in April, according to his wife. In a July 18 column, the Post's David Ignatius wrote that "Saadi's silence, I suspect, is evidence that the Pentagon and the White House have concluded that any public release of his testimony would undercut their position... If Saadi's testimony could help the president, surely we would have heard it by now."
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Powell called Saddam "a piece of trash waiting to be collected," but according to an article in Al Hayat, there may be a lot of pieces to collect. Quoting "various Iraqi sources," the Arabic language newspaper reported that Saddam has been wearing an explosive belt since the killing of his sons, and plans to activate it when he feels U.S. forces are closing in on him.
Daily Kos on U.S. priorities in Iraq: 'Water, power, lights camera, action.'
An article reporting that backers of Al Gore are pressuring him to enter the 2004 presidential race, breathes new life into algore04.com. Cousin Gore Vidal is the subject of this week's episode of PBS' "American Masters" series. Read about the Gore & Vidal family business at Vidal valhalla, 'The Gore Vidal Index.'
Uggabugga has a table based on a Los Angeles Times article that parsed claims made by Rep. Darrell Issa and his campaign. Recall financial backer Issa, is one of 123 Californians that have taken out papers to run for governor.
In the run up to war in Iraq, the Pentagon crunched data from Tradesports.com, an Irish Web site that offers futures contracts on current events, including the "conclusion" of Saddam and bin Laden and finding WMD in Iraq. After the Pentagon canceled its terror futures market, the site added a DARPA contract on how long Adm. John Poindexter will keep his job. Update: Bet on not long.
The Guardian reports that the Bush administration has quietly disbanded a Department of Energy panel of experts which provided independent oversight of the development of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
GLAAD calls on media to scrutinize Bush's press conference comments against same-sex marriage.
As Bride's magazine publishes its first feature on same-sex nuptials, a Family Research Council spokesperson accuses the mainstream media of "pushing the homosexual agenda" and Bill O'Reilly says "most Americans are simply fed up with" media coverage of gay issues in entertainment. (Scroll down.)
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