July, 2004 link archive

Thursday, July 1, 2004

"In essence, the terrorists are directing a movie for the world to see, yet the media has to cover it, and the world does in fact see it," says cultural commentator Robert Thompson, quoted in a Los Angeles Times article on how the Internet facilitates distribution of terrorists' videos. Plus: Hostage broadcasts said to 'Spark backlash among Iraqis.'

CNN's Christiane Amanpour describes the courtroom scene during the arraignment of Saddam Hussein, as Iraqis warm to dancing doll that ridicules the former dictator.

A Columbia Journalism Review article examines the list of 108 stories advanced by the Iraqi National Congress, that ran between October 2001 and May 2002, "a period when the INC was laboring mightily to make sure that America's burgeoning 'war on terror' reached to the heart of Baghdad." Plus: Ahmed Chalabi sneaks into Iraq as Paul Bremer sneaks out.

"We expect to call some more" said a U.S. Army official, following the announcement of an involuntary recall of 5,674 citizens from the dwindling reserve pool.

As the U.S. military lowers its profile in Iraq while continuing to bomb, a challenge is issued to coin a term that media outlets can use to describe American troops, following the "end of occupation."

Noting that "Fahrenheit 9/11" "totally avoids the question of Israel... I have to conclude that Michael Moore is either blind, or a coward," writes Robert Dreyfuss. "Blind, if he can't see Bush's craven ties to Israel... Or cowardly, because he knows it and decided not to mention it." Plus: 'The Jewish divide on Israel.'

Palestinian farmers express skepticism about ruling by Israel's High Court that a 20-mile section of the West Bank barrier must be rerouted. Earlier: 'The death of facts in the Land of Darkness.'

Describing his breakfast with Mordechai Vanunu, British journalist Peter Cook writes: "I chose caution and avoided speaking directly to Vanunu... but my wife, who is an Israeli citizen and therefore permitted to talk to him, chatted as I ate."

Israeli settlers riled by Ralph Nader's comments at a conference on The Muslim Vote in 2004: "The Israeli puppeteer travels to Washington... meets with the puppet in the White House... meets with the puppets in Congress. And then takes back billions of taxpayer dollars. It is time for the Washington puppet show to be replaced by the Washington peace show."

The Green Party's candidate for vice president says she's so committed to defeating President Bush that she won't commit to voting for herself and her running mate. Plus: The long and short of 'Our feel-good veep.'

An article on the speech in which President Bush assured Muslims that "when I speak about the blessings of liberty, coarse videos and crass commercialism are not what I have in mind," gets nod for headline of the week.

Attorney General Ashcroft says the Supreme Court "accorded to terrorists, in a variety of cases this week, a number of additional rights."

As 'political animals prowl the screen,' a new film by the director of "Uncovered" examines "Rupert Murdoch's war on journalism," and a new blog offers to "watch Fox so you don't have to."

'Dude, Where's That Elite?' Barbara Ehrenreich, having replaced the sabbaticaled Thomas Friedman, invokes Michael Moore to rebut the notion of a "liberal elite," arguing that it's time to retire the label, "which, for the past 25 years, has been deployed to denounce anyone to the left of Colin Powell."

Losing Friedman? In a going away column he wrote that he's looking forward to reading the headline: "Bush administration calls an end to the 'war on terrorism.'"

Matt Taibbi looks at what he calls 'Friedman's master plan for the Middle East,' laid out in a column titled 'Maids vs. Occupiers,' and the Washington Post reports on the 'underclass of workers in Iraq,' employed by Kellogg Brown & Root, but "hired through a maze of recruiters and subcontractors on several continents, making oversight and accountability... difficult."

Adbusters' campaign to "Unbrand America" includes a proposal to swap the Stars and Stripes for a new flag, and TomDispatch offers up a 'King George quiz for July 4th.'

Hundreds of appreciative patrons answer 'Last Call,' as proprietor declares independence.

June 30

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Selling the Steak Slate's William Saletan says the wisdom of John Kerry picking John Edwards is that it combines "the best product along with the best salesman." James Ridgeway argues that the selection represents 'Business as Usual,' and Walter Williams writes that "Edwards' compelling campaign theme of 'Two Americas' should be returned to center stage."

Editor & Publisher reports that the New York Post became an "object of ridicule" with its publication of 'Kerry's Choice,' which led overzelaous auctioneers to create a buyers market for the edition on eBay. Is it time for News Corp. to get a new slogan?

Report on media coverage of pick includes response of "Fox & Friends" anchor Steve Doocy: "A lot of people in this country just don't like attorneys, especially trial attorneys." More on Fox's coverage, including its attempt to paint the pick as a 'flip flop' by Kerry.

Media Matters looks at how the Drudge Report amplified the Republican National Committee's talking points, which ask: "Who Is John Edwards? A disingenuous, unaccomplished liberal and friend to personal injury trial lawyers."

Time's Michael Ware reports on a one-hour video purported to be a production of Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, showing footage of attacks in Iraq and interviews with the suicide bombers who carried them out: "The subtext of this disturbing tape is that for the U.S. this is likely to be a long, drawn out fight in Iraq against a committed, well-organized enemy."

More from Ware on 'The Jihad in Iraq,' as the Pentagon catches flak for its inability to counter the insurgency. Plus: "Alleged" missing from description of bombed "safehouse."

USA Today runs the numbers on suspected foreign fighters in Iraq, and reports that while they account for less than two percent of the 5,700 captives being held, "officials believe that non-Iraqis are playing key roles in organizing or financing attacks on U.S. troops..." They're also being 'singled out for harsh treatment.'

The Telegraph reports that in an interview with a Santa Clarita newspaper, Brig Gen Janis Karpinski, who ran the military police unit at Abu Ghraib, "said that documents yet to be released by the Pentagon would show that Mr Rumsfeld personally approved the introduction of harsher conditions of detention in Iraq." Earlier: 'Rumsfeld in Fantasyland'  

Karpinski also told the BBC that she met an Israeli interrogator in Iraq. A Reuters report quotes her as saying, "My initial reaction was to laugh because I thought maybe he was joking, and I realized he was serious."

Ship To Shore The New York Times reports on a "secret three-way deal" that involved the U.S. returning five Guantanamo prisoners to Saudi Arabia, which in turn released five U.K. citizens and two others who had been convicted of terrorist strikes. The paper calls the mid-2003 releases, "public-relations coups for the Saudi and British governments, which had been facing domestic criticism for their roles in the Iraq war."

While the U.S. government has spent only $366 million of the $18.4 billion aid package for Iraq, "occupation authorities were much quicker to channel Iraq's own money," reports the Washington Post, "expending or earmarking nearly all of $20 billion in a special development fund fed by the country's oil sales, a congressional investigator said."

The U.S. plan for the $18.4 billion is to "Parcel it out over five years so Ambassador John Negroponte can use it as leverage," wrote Naomi Klein. "With $15 billion outstanding, how likely will Iraq's politicians be to refuse U.S. demands for military bases and economic 'reforms?'"

The U.S. military stage-managed the toppling of Saddam's statue, reports the Los Angeles Times, with the decision taken by "a Marine colonel -- not joyous Iraqi civilians, as was widely assumed from the TV images..."

Variety and Robert Fisk report on the censoring of 'a show trial made in the USA,' and staged in 'The new, free Iraq.'

As the take for "Fahrenheit 9/11" reaches an estimated $60 million, Paul Krugman says it's "a hit because the respectable media haven't been doing their job," and Matt Taibbi writes that Michael Moore "wouldn't be necessary if even one percent of the rest of us had any balls at all."

Moore endorses one solution for beating a ban imposed by theater chain owner, R. L. Fridley.

In 'Sex, Lies and No Chalabi,' Frank Rich writes that Bill Clinton's "current comeback, even more dramatically than the weeklong siege of Reagan redux, gives us a snapshot of an America eager to wallow in any past... Better lying under oath about oral sex than dissembling with impunity about gathering 'mushroom clouds' to justify the wholesale shipping of American troops into a shooting gallery."

David Corn responds to a column by Nicholas Kristof, writing that "If Kristof wants to pussyfoot around the topic of 'lies' in order to convince people of the dangers of four more years of Bush, more power to him. Others of us are willing to engage in plain speaking. In this regard, perhaps we have been inspired by the president." Plus: 'Kristof's Choice!'

Launching a campaign to 'Draft Ehrenreich,' Slate's Timothy Noah writes that "On the strength of two columns thus far on the New York Times op-ed page... Barbara Ehrenreich has established herself as the Times's best columnist."

In an article on the Bush administration's "reshaping" of the Endangered Species Act, the Washington Post reports that "Federal officials have added an average of 9.5 species a year to the endangered list under President Bush, compared with 65 a year under President Bill Clinton and 59 a year under President George H.W. Bush." Plus: "No Surprises" policy provides 100-year lock.

A Miami Herald review of the list of 47,000-plus Floridians who may be ineligible to vote because of felony records, found that more than 2,100 "shouldn't be on the list because their rights to vote were formally restored through the state's clemency process."

'Purge list' becomes rallying cry for opponents of Gov. Jeb Bush, as lawmakers ask U.N. to send observers to monitor presidential election.

The AP reports on a "clarification" issued Sunday by a Lexington, Kentucky newspaper: "It has come to the editor's attention that the Herald-Leader neglected to cover the civil rights movement. We regret the omission." The wording was from a speech on journalism ethics by former editor John Carroll, who said that he and his colleagues used to joke about running the above.

The photographs accompanying the story were taken in the 1960s by Calvert McCann, a then-high school student who worked at a photography store. They were originally published in the book, "Lexington, Kentucky."

July 1

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

As Iraq's prime minister signs into law "broad martial powers," the Washington Post reports that although the Shiite Muslim uprising is on hold, the "Sunni-based insurgency, is likely to rage as long as Iraqis' sense of nationalism is bruised by the presence of U.S. military forces on their soil," according to one Islamic scholar. Earlier: Nir Rosen discusses his 'Letter From Falluja.'

In a tape broadcast on Al-Araybia, a group of armed, masked Iraqi men threatened to kill Abu Musab al-Zarqawi if he didn't immediately leave the country. The Chicago Tribune also reports that the group, calling itself the Salvation Movement, "emerged from nowhere, raising questions about its origin and authenticity."

ABC's George Stephanopoulos responds to a column in which Robert Novak questioned his motives for asking National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice about the administration's failure to launch a pre-Iraq war strike on a camp where al-Zarqawi was thought to have been. Earlier: Novak to "Crossfire" co-host: "This is not fun, Paul."

'The Way We Were' "In the wake of every crumbling pseudo-explanation for the war in Iraq," writes Tom Engelhardt, "it's hard to remember just how sweeping their vision actually was, or what they had in mind when, not so long after September 11th, 2001, they loaded some high-tech hummer... with explosives and drove out into the world looking for something to blow up."

After White House spokesman Scott McClellan delivered a boilerplate response to a question from Helen Thomas -- "Does the President feel that he had enough information about weapons to take this nation to war?" -- she asked, "Do you know how vague you sound on that?"

Sadly, No! has the story of a German TV report, also covered by Der Spiegel, alleging abuse and detention of children in Iraqi prisons by U.S. soldiers.

The Los Angeles Times reports allegations that a deputy undersecretary in the Defense Department "conducted unauthorized investigations of Iraq reconstruction efforts," that included disguising himself as a Halliburton employee, "and used their results to push for lucrative contracts for friends and their business clients."

The Chicago Tribune reports that in its poll on freedom of speech, 20 percent of respondents said, "negative reporting on the war should not be allowed," and that "editorials against a war should not be allowed." Plus: Could Iraq go dark?

Josh Marshall has a series of posts on CNN's "cowed" coverage of the Edwards pick, and Media Matters says that by Tuesday afternoon, "CNN reporters had collectively bumped Edwards to perhaps fourth among Kerry's preferences..."

How Low Did He Go? Report on GOP offensive against Edwards includes the Bush-Cheney campaign's chief strategist saying that Kerry was "reduced to picking someone who would help him win the election."

Forward reports that the campaign is refusing to pull its "coalition of the wild-eyed" ad, despite calls to do so from Jewish organizations that object to its use of Nazi imagery. What's next?

In an analysis headlined 'Edwards best to chase Cheney,' UPI's Martin Sieff writes that "of all the prospective running mates Kerry could have chosen, none looks more likely to highlight and get most mileage out of Cheney's many embarrassing vulnerabilities..." Plus: Cheney debunked by 9/11 commission and 'Bush's ball and Cheney.'

Decal spotter credited with breaking news on Kerry's pick of Edwards.

'Onwards and Edwards' In a New Republic roundtable, former Howard Dean campaign manager, Joe Trippi, writes that "picking Edwards... makes two things Karl Rove never expected from the Democrats this year -- a nominee who would opt out of the public funding system and one who would assemble a major-league campaign. Kerry has done both." Plus: Magazines to host convention parties with liquor lobbyists.

The Washington Post reports that while "Business associations in Washington were uniformly hostile" to Kerry's choice, "beyond the Beltway, business reaction... appeared to be determined by whether an executive was more concerned about domestic litigation costs or foreign competition."

The article quotes a press release from Citizens for a Sound Economy, in which Dick Armey says Edwards is right about 'two Americas,' but the one he represents is "the well-connected swarm of trial lawyers who twist our legal system to pillage the productive sector for personal gain." More on CSE, which is working to get Ralph Nader on the ballot in Oregon.

July 6

Thursday, July 8, 2004

'July Surprise?' Pakistani intelligence sources tell the New Republic that they're being pressured to deliver bin Laden or his top deputies before the election, with one saying a White House aide told the head of Pakistan's ISI that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July." Editor Peter Beinart discusses the article on "NewsNight."

A U.S. Senate report that is "highly critical of prewar intelligence on Iraq will sidestep the question of how the Bush administration used that information to make the case for war," reports the New York Times, under a deal in which the committee will address the administration's role when it "completes a further stage of its inquiry, but probably not until after the November election."

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought against the Justice Department by former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, ruling before hearing evidence in the case that her claims might expose government secrets that could damage national security.

Disembedded! Toronto Star reporter Mitch Potter describes his "unceremonious ouster" from the paper's "first attempt at embedding with coalition forces," for what a Brig.-Gen. called "incorrect editorial statements" in his report on 'Living in Iraq, U.S. army-style.' Potter was also an early debunker of the Jessica Lynch story.

A New Standard article marshals the "mounting body of evidence" which "indicates that the presence of Israeli operatives working in Iraq is not at all unusual."

The Washington Post reports on a proposal by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades that calls for a crackdown on corruption in the Palestinian Authority, "the first formal attempt by an armed resistance group to seek a political role in the Palestinian Authority since the current uprising against Israel began nearly four years ago."

A Financial Times article says that charges against Ken Lay 'open a can of worms' for the Bush White House. It makes mention of Lay's correspondence with George W. Bush during his years as governor of Texas. Plus: 'Oh, the stories he could tell!'

Of the 19 ambassadorships awarded by President Bush to Pioneer-level contributors to his 2000 campaign, five went to stakeholders in major league baseball teams. Mother Jones charts their road record.

When Bush was asked how Sen. John Edwards stacked up against the vice president, all he said was "Dick Cheney can be president. Next." Then some reporters put words in his mouth.

With social liberals being given the primetime speaking slots at the Republican Convention, Andrew Sullivan asks: "If it's a sign of weakness that Kerry picked Edwards, why is it not a sign of panic that Republicans are showcasing people who have opposed much of Bush's domestic agenda at their convention?"

'The grass can take it!' Jimmy Breslin goes to ground in Central Park to investigate claims by the New York City Parks Department that the turf couldn't handle a large demonstration during the Republican Convention.

Hard Sell? "Bush Must Go!" lawn sign gets a Long Island man a visit from a code inspector and an anonymous letter that read: "A sign of this nature will most certainly make it difficult for your neighbors to sell their homes."

Two arrested for trespassing at a July 4 speech in West Virginia by President Bush, say their only provocation was wearing "Love America, Hate Bush" t-shirts. One of the two was a FEMA worker who was sent home to Texas following her arrest.

"In noisily forswearing balance for genuine fairness, [Michael] Moore has shamed an American press corps that, for fear of offending conservatives, refused to report what Moore was now reporting," writes Neal Gabler. "The media know that whatever "Fahrenheit 9/11" exposes about Bush, it also has exposed something arguably even more important about them: that balance is itself bias..." Plus: 'Moore 1, Media 0.'

Gabler also writes that when Fox News uses the words "fair and balanced," it doesn't mean that it "takes an objective, evenhanded approach to the news but that the cable channel is redressing the purported liberal bias of the mainstream news media, balancing them." Using everyone else's definition, a FAIR study finds Fox 'Still Failing the "Fair & Balanced" Test.'

Writing about the increasingly partisan divide in news audiences, as indicated by a recent Pew Research poll, Tim Rutten calls Fox "the most blatantly biased major American news organization since the era of yellow journalism."

July 7

Friday, July 9, 2004

A terrorism warning issued by Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge came six weeks after a similar alert from FBI Director Mueller and Attorney General Ashcroft. The Los Angeles Times reports that "An FBI counterterrorism official said the bureau has not received any substantive new intelligence about an attack since then."

CNN reports that U.S. Senators briefed by heads of the CIA and FBI, were told "the current terror threat against the United States is at its highest level since the attacks of September 11, 2001."

Ridge's announcement coincided with a tour of the Homeland Security Operations Center by Vice President Cheney.

The Toronto Star reports on accusations that the White House is using the threat of terrorist attacks for political gain, as it dismisses charges in the New Republic's 'July Surprise?' article, which has received little coverage in the U.S. mainstream media.

The International Court of Justice has ruled that Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank violates international law and called on Israel to tear it down and compensate Palestinian owners of property confiscated for its construction. The American judge was the court's sole opponent of the decision.

Last October, Sen. John Kerry said the barrier was a 'barrier to peace," but in a new policy paper he calls it "a security fence" and says building it is "a legitimate right of self-defense" and "not a matter" to be taken up by the International Court of Justice. The Electronic Intifada said the policy paper was 'seemingly drafted in Tel Aviv' and Ralph Nader said that "Kerry on the wall is now not even up to the Israeli supreme court."

Pegging the number of Iraqi insurgents at up to 20,000, the AP reports that in the opinion of U.S. military officials and analysts, "the guerrillas have enough popular support among nationalist Iraqis angered by the presence of U.S. troops that they cannot be militarily defeated."

The article quotes military analyst Anthony Cordesman as saying the earlier figure of 5,000 insurgents "was never more than a wag and is now clearly ridiculous," and cites a study on the evolving resistance in Iraq by a U.S. Naval War College professor, who said at a mid-June briefing, "If you start with a rosy scenario and work backward, you're in a world of shit. And that’s where we are."

Muhammad al-Zubaidi, an Iraqi exile who ran a Middle East intelligence gathering operation for the Iraqi National Congress before a "bitter split" with the group in 2003, tells the New York Times that defectors he interviewed in 2001 and 2002, later pumped up their stories about Iraqi arms when they met with senior figures in the INC, who prepped them before they met with American intelligence agents and journalists.

One of defectors cited is Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, who the paper says was prepped for his Bangkok interview "with a reporter from The Times and a freelance television journalist who had worked occasionally for the INC but was filming Mr. Saeed for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation."

The article also notes that Muhammad al-Zubaidi was "in the spotlight" in April 2003, when he declared himself the "Mayor of Baghdad."

As the Senate Intelligence Committee issues a report blasting the CIA on pre-Iraq war intelligence, that doesn't address the Bush administration's use of the intelligence, Sen. Carl Levin releases a July 1 letter from CIA Director George Tenet, who wrote that the agency is "increasingly skeptical" that Mohammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in April 2001.

A report on the arrest of three Americans in Afghanistan who "were on a self-appointed counterterrorism mission that included abusing eight inmates in a private jail by hanging them by their feet," prompts the question:  "Who runs their own private jail? And why?"

Democrats chanted "Shame, shame, shame," as Republicans delayed a House vote to roll back the Patriot Act provision that allows the government to investigate people's reading habits. Enough Republicans switched their vote during the 23-minute delay to defeat the amendment by one vote.

One of the vote switchers was Rep. Nick Smith of Michigan, who resisted pressure to switch during the extra three hours that GOP leaders held open the Medicare vote. He said at the time that he had been bribed and threatened, and then recanted the claim.

President Bush responds to a question about the indictment of Ken Lay.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Lay "was a supporter in the past," and "has certainly supported Democrats and Republicans..." But the AP reports that "Lay clearly favored the GOP. He and his wife, Linda, donated $882,580 to federal candidates from 1989-2001... All but $86,470 went to Republicans." More on Enron's corporate and individual contributions from Opensecrets.org.

The Pentagon announces that payroll records of "numerous service members," including former First Lt. Bush, were ruined in 1996 and 1997 by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service during a project to salvage deteriorating microfilm, and that no back-up paper copies could be found.

Rallying the French  A Texas Republican who accepted the Guardian's invitation to screen "Fahrenheit 9/11, said of Michael Moore's visit to Cannes: "I don't think he is approaching sedition but when you go to another country to criticize, that is close to rallying foreign troops."

Helen Thomas told the Indianapolis Star's staff that "This government lies," and that reporters' post-9/11 unwillingness to "ask any question that would appear to be unpatriotic" continued with Iraq. The latter claim was disputed by the conservative Media Research Center, which is running a poll on which presidential-ticket candidate network reporters like the most.

Commenting on an NBC poll that found a higher percentage of respondents saying Edwards would do a better job of running the country than Cheney, Tim Russert said, "It really is striking. We had assumed that an incumbent vice president, with the gravitas of Dick Cheney, would do much better than that against the inexperienced John Edwards."

July 8

Monday, July 12, 2004

In a New York Times preview of ''Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism," director Robert Greenwald says, "I wanted to use Fox's own words and images to show exactly what they do," which includes memos to employees from the network's senior vp for news and editorial, that deliver the documentary's "most stinging blow... to Fox's 'fair and balanced' claim..."

Howard Kurtz says "Greenwald does score points" with the memos, one of which cautions employees that in covering Iraq, "Do not fall into the easy trap of mourning the loss of U.S. lives and asking out loud why are we there?" One on Fallujah reads, "It won't be long before some people start to decry the use of 'excessive force.' We won't be among that group."

The reporter held off contacting Fox until three days before deadline, as part of a deal with Greenwald, whose work premieres Tuesday and will be shown next weekend at house parties sponsored by MoveOn.org.

Newsweek reports that the Department of Homeland Security is seeking legal advice about what "steps would be needed to permit the postponement of the election were an attack to take place." The inquiry is in response to a letter from DeForest B. Soaries, the head of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, seeking "emergency legislation from Congress empowering his agency to make such a call."

The Agonist has more on the 'Trial Balloon,' and Seeing The Forest responds to White House spokesman Scott McClellan's statement that "I don't think anyone can make guarantees" that the November elections will be held.

Last week Soaries complained that he had been rebuffed by Tom Ridge, and said using paper ballots as a backup needs more study and couldn't be implemented by November. A Bush administration appointee, Soaries is also the senior pastor at a Baptist church in New Jersey, which calls him "A pioneer of faith-based community development." Earlier: 'Baptists angry at Bush campaign tactics.'

"Now that The New Republic has put itself on the line" with its 'July Surprise?' article, writes Corey Pein at the CJR Campaign Desk, "the rest of the press has an opportunity to step up." But only a handful of U.S. mainstream media outlets have even mentioned it, while the story of 'Jerky Jokester Whoopi In Dirty Diss At Dubya,' has 400-plus takers.

A U.S. News review of 5,000 pages of classified files of annexes to the Taguba Report, found that "military intelligence officers -- dispatched to Abu Ghraib by the top commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez -- were intimately involved in some of the interrogation tactics widely viewed as abusive." The article and the annexes.

A U.S. Army counterintelligence agent claims that his commander coerced an Army psychiatrist into diagnosing him as "delusional," after he accused fellow counterintelligence team members of torturing Iraqi detainees that were in their custody in Samarra.

The article mentions Mark Benjamin's UPI report on another whistleblower, Julian Goodrum, who says he was locked in a psychiatric ward as punishment for speaking out against the Army. He was released in early March, when Benjamin reported Goodrum's allegation that Fort Knox refused to treat him last fall after he spoke out about poor care at the base, helping to spark Congressional hearings.

A Los Angeles Times article and graphic detail how key judgements in the classified 2002 National Intelligence Estimate had "changed tone" by the time they appeared in an unclassified white paper, with "carefully qualified conclusions... turned into blunt assertions of fact, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee's report." Plus: NIE likened to "after-the-fact" torture memos.

The Times also reports that "Republicans had previously argued that" the second phase of the investigation -- which includes examining claims by Bush administration officials, and the role of the Office of Special Plans and the Iraqi National Congress -- "was beyond the jurisdiction of the committee but agreed to assess administration statements in a compromise."

"Even without the Senate intelligence committee doing a single stitch of work regarding Bush's use of the intelligence," writes David Corn, "this report demonstrates that Bush hyped the threat to get his war." Plus: 'As rationales for war erode, issue of blame looms large.'

Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican from suburban Chicago, is being assailed by his Democratic opponent for having CIA connections, but he says a Congressional Record entry from a House debate, which has him saying he "is detailed" to the CIA, should be "was detailed."

A U.S.-based company is said to be among the more than 20 firms that are being investigated for supplying the nuclear black market.

Don't Mess With Protest The Waco Tribune-Herald reports on a judge's tossing out of charges against five anti-war activists who were convicted of protesting illegally after being arrested and jailed in May 2003, by police in Crawford, Texas. The town's mayor recently declared, "I have the right to vote for who I want to be President."

Representatives of Project Billboard accuse Clear Channel of rejecting anti-war pitch that was to be displayed in Times Square during the Republican convention.

'Hurricane GOP' A memo warning some residents near Madison Square Garden to "If at all possible, stay inside during the times the convention is in session," apes the language of weather-related safety tips.

July 9-11

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Knight Ridder's Hannah Allam profiles Sheik Hareth al Dhari, "Sunni Islam's loudest voice in Iraq" and "the closest thing U.S. military officials have to a public face for the shadowy insurgency that controls most of Anbar province, including the flashpoint towns of Ramadi and Fallujah."

Resentment against the U.S. also festers in 'Little Falloujas,' as Saddam loyalists turn Samarra into 'no-go area.'

The Washington Post reports that an increasing number of Saudis who fought in Iraq are returning home to carry out attacks, in an article that also examines the kingdom's generation gap. "You have those guys who came from Afghanistan, who are very well trained, very effective, very well brainwashed," says one journalist. "And you have the kids... angry and depressed, angry over what's going on in Palestine and Iraq."

Scotland's Sunday Herald reports on 'Kabul's Colonel Kurtz,' bounty hunter and former Green Beret, Jonathan Keith Idema, who was arrested last week by Afghan authorities for running a private prison in a house. A New York Times article includes an interview with a house arrestee, and the Fayetteville Observer gives Idema the hometown treatment, describing his life as a "long roller-coaster ride of fame and shame."

An Oregonian profile of Lt. Col. Nate Sassaman, who spoke at a local church about his Iraq experiences, sharing "The Christian Warrior Ethos," neglected to mention his reprimand for impeding the investigation of soldiers who since have been charged in the drowning of an Iraqi detainee who was pushed off a bridge.

In a New York Times article from last December about the U.S. wrapping Iraqi villages in barbed wire, Sassaman was quoted as saying, "With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them."

"We have access to people detained by the United States in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq," says a Red Cross spokeswoman, "but in our understanding there are people that are detained outside these places for which we haven't received notification or access." Is the U.S. running a secret shop at Diego Garcia's "Camp Justice?"

Addressing the sexing-up of the unclassified version of the National Intelligence Estimate, Eric Umansky points to a Knight Ridder article from October 2002, that quotes an anonymous intelligence official as saying, "Analysts... are feeling very strong pressure from the Pentagon to cook the intelligence books," and adds, "A dozen other officials echoed his views in interviews. No one who was interviewed disagreed." Plus: There he goes again!

'Corrupted Intelligence' Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern urges National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to call Michael Scheuer, aka Anonymous.

The Daily Howler warns readers to expect "unflattering material about an Established Liberal Icon," and Josh Marshall says that "If there's no legal case and no political problem, why don't the senior administration officials who leaked [Valerie Plame's] identity just come forward?"

Charlie Reina, a former Fox employee who last October leaked a memo similar to those in "Outfoxed," writes that "the sordid picture of Fox News Channel presented in Greenwald’s documentary is, if anything, understated. It's only the tip of the iceberg." Plus:  Ruckus over film about cable plays out in newspapers, and Fox's reporters and anchors take the money and run.

In an interview with I Want Media, Greenwald attributes the interest in documentaries like his and "Fahrenheit 9/11" -- which has now taken in an estimated $80 million -- to a "craving for films that speak to the most important issues of the day, which for the most part are not being dealt with in-depth by our primary media sources."

An op-ed on the top 10 stories that the U.N. feels aren't getting enough media attention, quotes General Secretary Kofi Anan as saying, "Iraq has sucked out all the oxygen and distorted the international agenda."

Paul Krugman credits the Enron collapse with shedding light on the "immensely effective alliance" that House Majority Leader Tom "DeLay and his fellow hard-liners have forged with corporate interests." And says that without the collapse and a Texas' campaign finance law that's "a relic of its populist past, Mr. DeLay would be in no danger at all."

Head of California taxpayer and consumer rights group says Lay's indictment is bittersweet, likens it to "getting Al Capone on tax evasion." In an interview with Larry King, Lay said "California regulators, politicians, et cetera, caused the problem in California," and that "I have intentionally not talked to any of my, what I consider, close political friends in Washington."

Pew study finds "major cultural divide" between Internet users and non-users on issue of online availability of graphic war images. While users are split, only 29 percent of non-users approve. Plus: Time reporter in Iraq becomes go to guy for insurgent and jihadist CDs.

A software salesman and aspiring novelist adds terror suspect to his resume, after scribbling eight word of dialogue during a flight from New Orleans to Dallas.

July 12

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Voice of America staffers are calling for an investigation of their overseers, who they say are "killing VOA" by closing Radio Free Iraq, reducing English-language broadcasting and launching services with "no editorial accountability."  Juan Cole describes it as a "fiasco in American public diplomacy," and Steve Gilliard has more on the controversy in 'Losing our voice.'

'Meet the al-Qaeda Archetype' Brendan O'Neill interviews forensic psychiatrist Marc Sageman about his study of some 380 suspected terrorists with links to bin Laden's network, most of whom, writes O'Neill, "are well-educated, well-off, cosmopolitan and professional, with good jobs, wives and no history of mental illness." Sageman's findings were published in "Understanding Terror Networks."

They Love Our Invasions  "The 9/11 attacks were not aimed at American values," writes Gwynne Dyer, but rather, were "broadly intended to raise the profile of the Islamists in the Muslim world," with "the further quite specific goal of luring the U.S. into invading Muslim countries...a potentially promising stratagem, since an invasion should produce endless images of American soldiers killing and humiliating Muslims."

As Israel's foreign minister says "We're looking at ways to bring the fence closer to the Green Line," in response to a ruling by the country's High Court, PBS' "NewsHour," gets Palestinian and Israeli perspectives on rerouting the barrier.

Neve Gordon argues that it's being used by Israel as an "extremely efficient weapon of dispossession," and Roger Cohen says that for Israelis the price of the barrier is the "defeat of hope," but in the West Bank, the "impression of colonizer and colonized is inescapable."

"Deserter" author Ian Williams accuses President Bush of "abusing the military as movie extras, as well as car bomb-fodder in a PR campaign designed to show the American public that they need him, big tough W, to protect them from terrorists." He adds that "In his posturing, Bush seems to have the media in general as an accomplice."

Slandering Fidel? Williams also writes that "You have to look to Saddam or Fidel for another head of state who spends as much media time before military backdrops."

The Samoans are Coming! Tom Engelhardt says "the Pentagon is scraping the barrel's bottom" to come up with U.S. troops for Iraq, and points out that "In the thirteen days before the surprise early 'transition' non-ceremonies, there were 19 American military deaths in Iraq. In the thirteen days since, there have been 31."

USA Today reports that problems "with military absentee ballots that clouded the 2000 election have not been fixed, jeopardizing the ability of more than 160,000 troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan to have their votes counted," and that one in eight U.S. voters "will be using the same type of punch-card voting machines blamed for many of Florida's problems."

Although British intelligence on Iraq's WMD was "seriously flawed," the head of the Butler Inquiry said, "We found no evidence to question the prime minister's good faith."

The New York Times reports that the White House and the CIA have refused to turn over to the Senate Intelligence Committee a one-page summary of prewar intelligence prepared for President Bush, that is said to contain "few of the qualifiers and none of the dissents spelled out in longer intelligence reviews."

"Democracy Now!" interviews Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose, author of "The Hammer," a forthcoming book about House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Dubose says of allegations against DeLay, that "the law's very clear, you cannot spend corporate money directly in Texas elections and it's very clear that TRMPAC did it. I'm not the judge and jury here, but it sounds like Mr. DeLay is guilty, which we have long suspected."

During debate on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, the Boston Globe reports that "the small group of senators who did talk often spoke to a nearly empty chamber." One was Sen. Rick Santorum, who said that some criticism of the amendment runs along the lines of "Marriage is hate. Marriage is a stain. Marriage is an evil thing. That's what we hear," prompting AMERICAblog to ask, "What is he even talking about?"

Uniter, Not a Divider The Christian Science Monitor reports that unlike many public lands issues, the Bush administration's intention to allow road building in currently roadless national forest areas "unites environmentalists with hunters." The Heritage Forests Campaign says the administration is reneging on a May 2001 promise to uphold the roadless rule.

'Happy Talk From Hell' Andrew Hair says watching the "barrage of pirated Fox News footage" in "Outfoxed," is "an overwhelming experience... Uprooted from the happy everyday babble of cable TV, the network looks more and more like a total propaganda system... painting a hostile world constantly in need of good, old-fashioned Republican-style American might."

Director Robert Greenwald describes segments of the film to "On the Media," Daily Kos has the transcript of an off-camera conversation from 2000 between Fox reporter Carl Cameron and candidate Bush, and Media Matters posts Fox's response to "Outfoxed," as well 33 internal editorial memos from Fox.

As Ken Lay reveals that he and President Bush may be using the same lawyer, a Republican senator offers a Nixonian defense of Vice President Cheney, who has inspired a new line of merchandise.

July 13

Thursday, July 15, 2004

The Independent sums up the conclusions of the Butler report: "The intelligence: flawed, The dossier: dodgy, The 45-minute claim: wrong... Iraq's link to al-Qaeda: unproven, The public: misled, The case for war: exaggerated, And who was to blame? No one." More on the 'patchy' intelligence.

Hans Blix describes the presentation of Iraq intelligence to the Parliament and the public, as "a spin that was not acceptable. They put exclamation marks where there had been question marks..." Asked if that's distortion, Blix said, "Yes a spin is a distortion, the public doesn't get the whole truth." Plus: 'True Lies.'

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Joseph Cirincione challenges a New York Times' op-ed claim that the U.N. "had the same incorrect beliefs as our agencies," writing that "The administration and many experts ignored the new intelligence we were getting from the... inspectors during the three months they were allowed to operate." Earlier: CEIP says report on CIA "tells less than half the story."

Responding to President Bush's line that "I had a choice to make: Either take the word of a madman, or defend America," The Progressive’s Matthew Rothschild writes, "Bush didn't have to take the word of a madman. He could have taken the word of the U.N. weapons inspectors, but he chose not to." Maureen Dowd calls Bush's statement, "Nonsense... It's just like the president's other false dichotomies: You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists." More on 'Bush Logic.'

Attorney General Ashcroft launches another public relations offensive to defend the USA Patriot Act, releasing a new report claiming to show that the "Act continues to save lives." The Center for American Progress calls the report 'Unpatriotic Propaganda' and asks if Ashcroft deliberately misled the 9/11 commission. Earlier: FBI officials contradict Ashcroft testimony on terror warnings.

CJR Campaign Desk lauds the Washington Post for breaking from the horse-race coverage of Sen. John Edwards' impact on the Democratic ticket, in an article that took a detailed look at his foreign affairs experience and positions, concluding, says CJR, that he "is not the babe-in-the-woods that you might imagine..."

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said Edwards' strategy to combat proliferation was "the most comprehensive and far-reaching of the three proposals" advanced by Democratic primary candidates.

New York Times' stoking of Cheney rumor quotes Vin Weber as saying, "Nobody thought Dan Quayle was the president's most trusted adviser, with broad responsibilities. But Democrats understand that when you go after this vice president, you really go after the administration.''

As the two major presidential campaigns maneuver around whether or not to accept $75 million in post-convention public funding, Bill Moyers says it's "widely accepted in Washington today that there is nothing wrong with a democracy dominated by the people with money. But of course there is. Money has democracy in a stranglehold and is suffocating it."

John Kenneth Galbraith writes in the Guardian that "Corporate power has shaped the public purpose to its own needs," as evidenced by the movement of "nominally private firms into the defence establishment. From this comes a primary influence on the military budget, on foreign policy, military commitment and, ultimately, military action. War." Plus: Chalmers Johnson on 'Operation Summer Pulse '04.'

A Los Angeles Times article on how Iraq war boosters are cashing in, focuses on former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, calling him "a prominent example of the phenomenon, mixing his business interests with what he contends are the country's strategic interests."

Woolsey recently joined the board of advisors of BioDefense Corporation, which has developed Mail Defender technology to destroy anthrax in the mail. Embracing the theories of Laurie Mylroie, he was among the first to falsely tie Iraq to the 9/11 attacks and blame it for the anthrax attacks.

Steven Hatfill has sued the New York Times and Nicholas Kristof over his column describing, but not naming, Hatfill as the "person of interest" under investigation by the FBI in the anthrax letters case. Kristof said he wrote the column to "light a fire under the FBI," since it had not been vigorously pursuing the case. Legal eagles tell Editor & Publisher that the suit will be tough for Hatfill to win.

A Washington Post article on problems faced by the Bush administration in sustaining its Iraq coalition, notes that while Lithuania renewed its 105-troop commitment last week, the contingent from Moldova has dropped from 42 to 12.

Scroll down for a segment by CNN's Bill Schneider on the channel's latest poll, which found that while 8 percent of Americans said they had seen "Fahrenheit 9/11," an additional 48 percent say they either plan to see it in a theater, or plan to watch it when it comes out on tape or DVD in September.

Jefferson Morley's review of international reaction to Michael Moore, includes a report on his row with Pete Townshend, who turned down Moore's request to use "Won't Get Fooled Again" because he thought his earlier films were "bullying."

Clip Joint A Georgetown University law professor describes the editing tactics he witnessed in Bill O'Reilly's "No-Spin Zone."

The AP obtains a copy of an Israeli contingency plan that lays outs a series of forecasts about what might follow Yasser Arafat's death. Earlier: Arafat stars in 'Guess Who Died.'

July 14

Friday, July 16, 2004

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, "pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad major crimes unit just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim Government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the executions."

The New Standard's Chris Shumway distills recent news reports that dispute White House claims that Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was the direct link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, and that he "gets instructions from al-Qaeda," as President Bush said this week.

Memos from last week's Senate intelligence report detail how "analysts found dozens of factual problems in drafts" of Secretary of State Powell's pre-war presentation to the U.N. And while "many of the claims considered inflated or unsupported were removed," reports the Los Angeles Times, "the speech he ultimately presented contained material that was in dispute among State Department experts."

As an initial U.N. audit sharply criticizes the coalition's management of billions of dollars in Iraqi oil revenue, the head of the auditing board says the Bush administration is withholding information on $1.4 billion in contracts awarded to Halliburton, and has failed to produce a list of other companies that have obtained no-compete contracts. Information on Halliburton is also being withheld from a White House bio page.

The New York Times reports on fundamentalists' attacks on liquor stores in Baghdad, which the police claim is the work of Moktada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. Plus: Reports cover who is taking hostages and the science of getting them released.

The Independent reports that in a speech to the American Civil Liberties Union, Seymour Hersh said that the U.S. government has videotapes of American soldiers sodomizing young male prisoners at Abu Ghraib, "and the worst part is the soundtrack, of the boys shrieking. And this is your government at war."

As a way to show contrition for past mistakes, the mainstream media should "start aggressively telling the truth about Iraq in the present, when it matters," writes Paul Street. "And a good place to start would be... with the laughable nature of the White House’s claim to have given Iraq back its 'sovereignty.'" Plus: Orville Schell on 'A media world of faith-based truth.'

Simon Reeve, who gained access to the Saudi royal family for his documentary, "Saudi: The Family in Crisis," writes that "it came as a surprise to discover the extent to which most Saudis support the royals and want them to retain control, at least for now," while "most people accept the need for change, they want it to happen at their own pace, not one dictated by the West."

Spinsanity takes Harper's editor Lewis Lapham to task for "packing a number of factual errors into a forty page opening chapter on attacks on dissent in the period from Sept. 11, 2001 through the war in Iraq," in his book, "Gag Rule."

A Miami TV reporter confronts South Florida's U.S. Attorney over blackballing of colleague from covering a visit by Attorney General Ashcroft.

Charles Pierce describes some of the "Jacuzzi cases" that CNN's Tucker Carlson repeatedly refers to Sen. John Edwards as having specialized in when he was a personal-injury lawyer. An article asking, 'Will the real Tucker Carlson -- and PBS -- please stand up?,' includes him in "a growing but troubling breed: journalist-turned -pop-star-pundit - turned-media-circus-performer."

President Bush's AIDS initiative, announced over 17 months ago, is "belatedly getting under way," reports the New York Times. A GAO report cites the administration’s refusal to buy generic drugs as complicating its roll-out. And Health GAP says "Bush is selling compassion... but the real agenda of the White House has been to create a slush-fund for U.S. drug companies."

Bush's reelection strategy has placed "unusual emphasis so far on rallying the faithful," reports the Washington Post, quoting James Carville who calls it "a new way to run for president... usually you quietly shore up your base and aggressively court the swing voter, Bush is aggressively shoring up his base and quietly courting the swing voter." Plus: 'Ten reasons to fire George W. Bush' includes "He's making me root for John Kerry."

Trespassing charges have been dropped against two "Love America, Hate Bush" t-shirt wearers, arrested before a July 4 speech by President Bush in Charleston, West Virginia. The article reports that according to the mayor, "Law enforcement officers told the couple to take the shirts off, cover them or get out." Previous articles -- 1, 2 -- only say that they were arrested for trespassing.

Lighting Up Karl The Village Voice reports on designer Milton Glaser's plan to undermine what he says is the real reason that Republicans are convening in New York: "Karl Rove recognized that the disruption in the streets would accrue to their benefit. And that's why I am so concerned about finding an alternative way to express our disaffection." Earlier: Glaser said to be in the dark.

Media Whores? Rush Limbaugh tries to disabuse a caller of the notion that "hundreds of prostitutes are going to be brought in from other states" for the Republican Convention, telling her that the "prostitutes are being brought to New York for the media."

Project Billboard reaches settlement with Clear Channel, agreeing to post an image of a red, white and blue dove instead of a bomb with a burning fuse. Plus: Greeks to gas their own dogs before Olympics?

Shoes & Socks  A reunion of U.S. athletes who competed in and protested at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, coincides with a media availability to unveil the Nike uniforms to be worn by the 2004 Olympic track team. 

As sportswear giants are being urged to live up to the Games' "celebrate humanity" promotional theme, a Cretan pot farm is burned by the torch.

July 15

Monday, July 19, 2004

Sydney Morning Herald correspondent Paul McGeough on why he left Iraq: "If you have a story like this, it's not a good idea to remain in the country."

An article reporting that Iraq's human rights minister says he will investigate allegations raised in McGeough's article, observes that the "story has not traveled far beyond Australia's shores." A Newsweek profile of Prime Minister Allawi, 'Iraq's New S. O. B.,' touches on the allegations, carrying a denial from Allawi that he has "killed anyone since taking office." Plus: Allawi sanctions reopening of pro-Sadr newspaper.

Pointing out that McGeough found his sources "independently, neither knew that the other was interviewed and neither was paid," War In Context says, "If George Tenet could build a 'slam dunk' case for war on intelligence from single sources some of whom the CIA never even interviewed, these allegations about summary executions at least warrant investigation."

The Boston Globe reports that "nearly as many U.S. soldiers lost their lives in Iraq in the first half of July as in all of June," marking "an upsurge in the pace and sophistication of the attacks against U.S. and coalition troops" and dimming hope that the handover "would help stabilize the country." Plus: A Guardian correspondent describes life in Iraq’s 'Catch-22' world.

Newsweek reports on the 9-11 Commission's finding that 'Tehran was closer to Al-Qaeda than Iraq was,' which was first reported by Time.

David Kay says President Bush and Prime Minister Blair ''should have been able to tell before the war that the evidence did not exist for drawing the conclusion that Iraq presented a clear, present and imminent threat on the basis of existing weapons of mass destruction. That was not something that required a war." Plus: 'Bush, Blair won't repent.'

The Independent reports that Blair's government withheld information from the Hutton inquiry, which showed that he relied on intelligence discredited by his own intelligence services to claim that Iraq posed a "serious and current" threat, and a Telegraph article says Blair "secured vital changes to the Butler Report before its publication, watering down an explicit criticism" of Blair and how he made a case for war.

'Mass' Deception The Observer reports that the British government has admitted Blair's claim that '400,000 bodies had been found in Iraqi mass graves' is untrue, and that "only about 5,000 corpses have so far been uncovered." U.S. Rep. Chris Cox aped the bogus claim on Sunday, when he said "we've discovered over 400,000 people in mass graves," during a "Meet the Press" appearance with Stephen Flynn, author of "America the Vulnerable."

Blogger Ed Cone corrects reports by Al-Jazeera and UPI about Seymour Hersh's speech to the American Civil Liberties Union. Hersh said that at Abu Ghraib, "boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling," but never implicated U.S. soldiers. Cone has some background on Hersh's allegations, which were also misreported by the Independent

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez authorized the use of dogs for interrogations at Abu Ghraib, according to classified documents obtained by USA Today, which the paper says undercut "claims by the Pentagon and field commanders that the mistreatment was solely the work of guards who abused their authority."

The Agonist posts a Stratfor report that Russia may send up to 40,000 troops to Iraq: "The talks are intense, our contacts close to the U.S. State Department say, and the timing is not insignificant."

Public Affairs Reporting  Competitors cry foul after a reporter for a Tuscon TV station, who doubles as a military public information officer, gets the scoop on the death of a local soldier in Iraq.

In 'Happy Talk News Covers a War,' Frank Rich wonders "if TV news may be even more farcical now than it was" in the 1970s, when local TV news introduced the notion "that the popularity of a news 'personality' with the viewers, not the story, must always come first..."

Nyet!  As the Republican chair of the House Administration Committee tries to run out the clock on a bill that would mandate a voter-verified paper record for electronic voting, a commentator sees the hand of Karl Rove in recent security and election-related goings on. Plus: Is the L-word all played out? 

Barbara Ehrenreich calls on Ralph Nader to abandon his campaign for president: "sit down. Pour yourself a Diet Pepsi and rejoice in the fact that — post-Enron and post-Iraq war — millions have absorbed your message." She throws her "mighty weight behind Dennis Kucinich, who, unnoticed by the media, is still soldiering along on the campaign trail."

A Swans' commentary says "Ms. Ehrenreich seems to have 'unnoticed'" that "John Kerry's campaign headed off a showdown at the Democratic Convention by convincing Kucinich's delegates, in the name of party unity, to give up their demands that the Party's platform include the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq..."

Appearing on CNN, Joseph Wilson charged that there's a "smear campaign" against him. The Los Angeles Times’ Tim Rutten criticizes the excessive media focus on the Wilson story, writing that "given the magnitude of the implications in both the U.S. and Britain's intelligence assessments, the [story] is a bit of a footnote."

Ties That Blind As David Corn points out that "The Washington Post devoted more space to the Wilson affair than to the report's conclusion that there was no intelligence to back up Bush's assertion" about Iraq-al Qaeda ties, the Post’s ombudsman defends his paper’s reporting on Wilson, and Josh Marshall says the ombudsman appears to "agree with at least two of my three points of criticism."

July 16

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Boosting the Troops  A New York Times investigation finds that "several financial services companies or their agents are using questionable tactics on military bases to sell insurance and investments," and "With the death toll rising in Iraq, interest in insurance among the troops has surged, making the war a selling opportunity..."

In an interview about his book "Cronies," Robert Bryce tells Mother Jones that "what we see now in Iraq is... the rise of the military-petroleum complex where Halliburton, the U.S. government, the U.S. military, the oil industry -- all of their interests are combined into one indistinguishable mass." Plus: 'How has the U.S. been spending other people's billions?'

As part of a probe that has been going on since 2001, Halliburton announced that federal prosecutors subpoenaed documents relating to operations in Iran by its Cayman Islands subsidiary. After failing to find an office or employees during a visit to the Cayman Islands, "60 Minutes" discovered that the subsidiary is run out of Dubai.

As President Bush says he's "digging into the facts" to determine if there was a direct connection between Iran and 9/11, an Iran scholar tells "Democracy Now!" that "I think it's partly some truth in it, partly fantasy... Al-Qaeda people and other people cross the border, because there is really no border... But the fantasy part is that there is actually collusion between the Iranian regime and Al-Qaeda." Plus: 'U.S. faces a crossroads on Iran policy.'

'Not-so-Curious George' A Capital Times editorial about Bush's insistence that terrorists are on the run and America and the world are safer, asks: "Is he lying? Probably not. More likely than not, he is sincere, and that's what should really scare Americans."  USA Today weighs in on the 'safer' issue and Paul Krugman casts Bush in the role of "The Arabian Candidate."

The AP reports that the Justice Department is investigating Bill Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, who has admitted to removing classified terrorism documents and handwritten notes from a secure reading room during preparations for the 9/11 commission hearings, by sticking them in his jacket and his pants.

President Bush is pushing Congress to extend middle-class tax cuts in time for the Democratic Convention, reports the Washington Post. "On the nightly news, you could have a situation where you have Democrats all excited in Boston," says one Congressman, "and meanwhile back in the White House, the president just signed a bill giving middle-class tax relief." Plus: 'Bush's agenda on slow track.'

While broadcast networks plan to devote only an hour a day of live prime-time coverage to the conventions, cable news networks will promote them like "blockbuster miniseries," according to Broadcasting & Cable. They’re not just seeking a spike in their ratings, but "a shot at building a permanent following among newshounds that fit in the channels' demographic."

In a profile headlined 'Cheney Family Values,'  Newsweek reports that Lynne Cheney dressed down a C-Span interviewer "for questioning her husband's place on the ticket." When asked about it, Cheney spokesperson Mary Matalin "explained that Mrs. Cheney was irked because the interview had been pitched by C-Span as an 'at-home-with-the-Cheneys thing,' not as a hard-news interview."

Article on Cheney stumping in Minnesota quotes a supporter as saying, "I just want to see Christian men back in the White House for four more years." Plus: 'Billionaires welcome Cheney to Minneapolis.'

Republicans beat back an attempt by House Democrats to have the U.N. monitor U.S. elections, but not before the amendment's author got an earful from a Florida Congresswoman.

An article on the 'deepening divide' between Fox and CNN notes that "In some ways, the two networks aren't even speaking the same language, as they use dueling spellings and phrases when referring to the same people and places." It cites Fox's regular reporting of Iraq news under the heading of "Operation Iraqi Freedom," but the term is no stranger to CNN.

The "groupthink" cited by the Senate Intelligence Committee report, "was not confined to government agencies," writes Danny Schechter. "This apt phrase could as easily be applied to the one institution charged with scrutinizing official failures: the media." Watch the trailer for Schechter's 'Weapons of Mass Deception.'

A Wall Street Journal editorial decries a Canadian broadcasting panel's decision to license Al-Jazeera while rejecting Fox News, and the British government's Office of Communications chastises Fox for violating a regulation that "opinions expressed must not rest upon false evidence."

As "Outfoxed" is screened at more than 3,000 house parties, Las Vegas' Aladdin hotel-casino boots Linda Ronstadt, following a concert in which she dedicated "Desperado" to Michael Moore. She predicted the reaction in a pre-concert profile, saying that when she brings up "Fahrenheit 9/11," "One half of the audience cheers and the other half boos."

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Garry Trudeau talks about e-mail exchanges with soldiers in Iraq and his visit to Walter Reed hospital. He also discusses his political awakening and the party-hosting acumen of a Yale classmate.

The Harvard Crimson reports on a former Harvard Business School professor, Yoshihiro Tsurumi, who "is doing his best to publicize his recollections of what he calls a sarcastic, mediocre student who went on to lead the United States." Plus: Has the ruling class dumped Bush?

July 19

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

"Pakistani operations in the tribal area of South Waziristan have risen in strength," reports the New York Times, citing U.N. estimates that 25,000 refugees have poured back into Afghanistan, some "given as little as two hours' notice to leave before their houses were bulldozed..." Plus: 'Stage set for final showdown.'

Conspiracy Country Citing the New Republic's 'July Surprise?' article as an example of how "Conspiracy theorising is coming out of the internet closet and going mainstream," Jonathan Raban says, "The great fear, shared by people not customarily given to paranoia, is that the Bush administration has taken these tactics for conducting a secret, asymmetric war and applied them wholesale to the day-to-day governance of the U.S."

Asking if the president will 'escape from New York?', Nick Turse writes that "The... security 'bubbles' that empty the globe's central cities as George Bush and Dick Cheney travel through them, are already well known," and "From August 30 through September 2... the GOP wants to see the same -- a Manhattan emptied of life and the entire event 'bubble-ized.'" Plus: Boston police 'Hoping for the best, planning for the worst.''

The 'Special' Olympics The New York Times reports that bowing to "intense pressure" from the U.S., Greece will allow 400 NATO-sponsored U.S. Special Forces to be present at the Olympic Games, and will also permit American, Israeli and possibly British security officers to carry weapons. The article notes that President Bush's father and twin daughters are expected to attend the Games.

A Times' reader says he encountered a key fact "from the middle of an inside article," where "Finally, the Times reported that 'ordinary crimes' are the principal source of Iraqis' 'safety concerns,'" not the insurrection. Plus: Robert Fisk on "the central crisis of information in Iraq just now."

Knight Ridder reports that U.S. troops have stopped patrolling large swaths of Iraq's Anbar province. The article quotes a U.S. Army Major as saying, "The only way to stomp out the insurgency of the mind would be to kill the entire population," and that the insurgency "cannot militarily overwhelm us, but we cannot deliver a knockout blow, either. It creates a form of stalemate." Plus: 'How the occupation continues.'

Citing the Butler report’s conclusion that Prime Minister Blair changed Iraq policy to "regime change" when there was no new intelligence, former Foreign Minister Robin Cook told the House of Commons, "The change that precipitated the movement away from containment to invasion was not a change in Iraq, it was the regime change in Washington..."

In support of George Monbiot's call for newspapers to be "held to account for the decision to invade Iraq," A MediaLens’ editor writes in a letter to the Guardian that "UN inspectors... were perfectly clear in declaring Iraq 'fundamentally disarmed' of '90%-95%' of its WMD by December 1998. This assertion was simply ignored by the media ahead of the war."

U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approves nonbinding resolution demanding that Israel obey a World Court ruling that it abandon and dismantle its West Bank separation barrier. Plus: 'The world is knocking on Israel's door.'

'If It Were the Reverse' A Ha'aretz commentator details how killings of Palestinians are given short shrift in the Israeli media, and an Israeli newspaper publishes military statistics showing that suicide was the leading cause of death among Israeli troops last year.

Sens. Joe Lieberman and Jon Kyl announce the relaunching of the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), drawing members from Washington's neoconservative network. Busy, Busy, Busy says the effort is designed "to prove that the terrorists under your bed are just as scary as communists used to be."

Arguing that President Bush will "suffer a similar fate" as the late Sen. Joe McCarthy, Mark Hertsgaard says that "With help from his advisers, Bush too intimidated critics into silence by challenging their patriotism. And Bush too eventually over-reached, insisting on a war in Iraq that has now blown up in his face." Plus: Wane in support for war among military families facing redeployment leads to 'A Shrinking Base.'

During a speech in Florida last week, Bush said of Fidel Castro: "The dictator welcomes sex tourism. Here's how he bragged about the industry. This is his quote: 'Cuba has the cleanest and most educated prostitutes in the world.'" The source for the quote was a paper written by a college student, who said he paraphrased it and that Bush took it out of context.

Cubans blasted Bush, with writer Marta Rojas telling the Dallas Morning News, "I've never heard anything as pig-filthy as that. The nose of Pinocchio" - as some Cubans call Bush - "is so long, it can't get any longer." Plus: George W. Tolstoy?

In an interview with the Denver Post, Bill Clinton questioned the timing of the leak that led his National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger, to resign from the Kerry campaign. A 9/11 commissioner told the Boston Globe that the missing document had no affect on the panel's work: "We have many copies of it. He did not have access to anything that wasn't in duplicate."

As Senate Democrats successfully filibuster one of President Bush's nominees to the federal judiciary, who had served as a longtime lobbyist for large ranchers and mining interests, Majority Leader Bill Frist moves forward with a plan to change Senate rules to prohibit lawmakers from filibustering judicial nominees.

The Wall Street Journal reports on a complaint filed with the FTC by MoveOn.org and Common Cause, claiming that Fox News Channel's slogan "fair and balanced" violates the commission's prohibition against deceptive advertising.

Television Critics Association says winner of award for outstanding news and information programming, embodies "a core of truth."

July 20

Thursday, July 22, 2004

A Pentagon report found a total of 94 cases of confirmed or alleged abuse of prisoners by U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, a number "significantly higher than all other previous estimates given by Pentagon officials," according to the AP, which also says the report "concluded that there were no systemic problems that contributed to the abuse."

The article says the report was "made public at a hastily called Senate hearing" that coincided with the release of the 9/11 commission report, which called for "a common coalition approach toward the detention and humane treatment of captured terrorists."

The Washington Post reports that a GAO study "appears to contradict White House assurances that the services have enough money to get through the calendar year," having spent most of the $65 billion approved by Congress, and now in need of an additional $12-plus billion.

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, who has been 'relegated to a less visible role,' held a now monthly press briefing where he was asked about the U.S. death toll in Iraq reaching 900. A spokesman said the only reason for Rumsfeld becoming less visible was that "the Defense Department was no longer in charge of Iraq."  Earlier: Midwest reporters refuse to deal with "senior Defense Department official."

The U.S. bounty hunter on trial for running a private "war on terror" in Afghanistan, claims that he and his associates "were in contact directly by fax, and e-mail and phone with Donald Rumsfeld's office [and] with the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Intelligence," who is Stephen Cambone. Plus: 'U.S. admits bounty hunter contact.'

As the U.S. military wrestles with how to keep elite personnel from taking higher paying jobs in the government or with outside contractors, the New Yorker reports that many soldiers are taking advantage of free cosmetic surgery, including breast enlargements, for which "patients must supply their own implants."

In a Guardian analysis, Brendan O'Neill asks: "With no evidence by way of officially exhumed [Iraqi] bodies, how did the coalition arrive at the estimate of 300,000 buried in mass graves?" President Bush told David Frost, "Remember we discovered mass graves with hundreds of thousands of men and women and children..."

A Baghdad University study finds Iraq unemployment at 70%, Australia makes it an intelligence trifecta, and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan puts himself at odds with President Bush.

As the Wall Street Journal gives "Two Americas" front-page coverage, Billmon notices that "over the past week or so, inequality suddenly has emerged as the economic story de jour in the mainstream press." During an appearance on "Larry King Live," Sen. John Edwards said U.S. allies "believe that in order for them to have a fresh start with America, we're going to need a new president."

Citing a National Wildlife Federation poll of hunters and anglers, the Albuquerque Tribune editorializes that 'Outdoorsmen are now seeing through Bush, too.' Plus: EPA chief under Nixon and Ford calls Bush's record a "polluter protection" policy.

The Bush and Kerry campaigns have placed two-thirds of their resources on roughly the same 10 programs in 20 states, whose audiences are primarily women or people over 55, according to a study of local TV buys. The Guardian also covers the study, 'US election spend breaks record,' and the Chicago Tribune reports on why 'TV can't lose.'

"So we have now heard from the courts, the Congress and the American people that the FCC got it wrong," writes FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who calls on his agency "to start over and come up with a set of rules to encourage localism, diversity and competition in the broadcast media instead of always waving the green flag for more big-media consolidation." Plus: FCC head Michael Powell 'repudiated,' goes missing from localism hearing.

Group plans suit to retain ownership of ClearChannelSucks.net, after an arbitration panel ruled that it be transferred to Clear Channel.

As papers editorialize -- 'Let freedom ring on stage' and 'Desperadoes' -- in support of Linda Ronstadt, comedian Margaret Cho is uninvited from a GLBT fundraiser to be held during the Democratic Convention. A spokesman for the group Human Rights Campaign reportedly cited "a potential media firestorm," and referenced the recent criticism of Whoopi Goldberg's routine at a Kerry fundraiser. Earlier: Dennis Miller does gay.

Watch HRC's "The Cheneys," and then see what a copy of "Lady Lynne's 'Lost' Lesbian Lyricisms" is fetching.

Reuters profiles the only woman filmmaker in a country with no cinemas and no film industry. 

Nobody here but us chickens, some abusive workers and a PETA camera.

July 21

Friday, July 23, 2004

An Army Inspector General's report, which revealed that the U.S. has detained 50,000 prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, found no evidence that systemic problems caused alleged abuses, putting it at odds with both the Taguba Report and a Red Cross report. "Moreover," reports the New York Times, "it appeared to contradict its central conclusion at various points."

A Knight Ridder article looks at how the report faulted interrogators for embracing Guantanamo techniques.

'Missed Signals' "For two years, global monitors such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch repeatedly warned of mistreatment of detainees" in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo, reports the American Journalism Review, which asks: "why did it take so long for the news media to uncover the scandal?" Columbia Journalism Review investigates CBS' 'Tortured Logic.'

The Sydney Morning Herald's Paul McGeough, who broke the story alleging that Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad prison, reports -- from Amman, Jordan -- that the Red Cross had urged an investigation into the treatment of prisoners there six months before the killings were said to have taken place. Plus: 'Tough-guy rumors make Iraqis' day.'

As a Christian Science Monitor report finds 'Fallujah parallels in Ramadi,' Robert Fisk finds that, like the Karzai government in Afghanistan, the new Allawi government only controls the capital. And Robert Dreyfuss says "cities all over Iraq are totally outside the control of either the U.S. forces or the government of Iraqistan."

Both the release of the Army report and testimony by Halliburton executives and whistleblowers, occurred on the same day the 9/11 commission released its final report. With Halliburton now being investigated by a grand jury for possibly violating federal sanctions for doing business in Iran, Jason Leopold looks at how Vice President Cheney blasted the sanctions when he ran the company. Pus: Paul Krugman on Iraq 'Accounting and Accountability.'

The 9/11 commission report questions the idea of a "war on terrorism," arguing, writes the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler, "that the notion of fighting an enemy called 'terrorism' is too diffuse and vague to be effective." It also makes no reference to the invasion of Iraq as being part of the war on terrorism, and sidesteps whether the invasion affected U.S. actions in Afghanistan. Plus: "Anonymous" takes on the report, which is excerpted here. And don't miss Chapter 8.

Feeding a Myth A voice recorder from United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania, captured a passenger yelling "Roll it!" A New York Times article says that "While earlier accounts reported the phrase as "Let's roll"... some aviation experts have speculated that this was actually a reference to a food cart, being used as a battering ram."

James Ridgeway on what's covered and what's covered up in the report. About the latter, he refers to a British MP's Guardian commentary, which makes the case that the U.S. is covering up foreign intelligence backing for the 9/11 hijackers.

Frederick Sweet explains how the U.S. government is protecting America, keeping it 'safe from foreign writers.'

An online chatter asks a Washington Post editor: "Since we know President Bush does not like to read should we expect him to read the entire report?" Berry's World sets odds on that.

Editor & Publisher looks at the report's criticism of the media, which includes, "Between May 2001 and September 11, there was very little in newspapers or on television to heighten anyone's concern about terrorism."

In June 2001, Reuters and UPI distributed articles warning that bin Laden was planning a major attack on the U.S., but during the summer of Chandra, hardly any media outlets considered the story newsworthy. Scroll down for the first article.

A reporter describes the "crushing boredom" of the Scott Peterson trial, reveals how commentators can make it "seem so exciting when they talk about it on TV."

As a federal judge upholds Boston's "free speech zone," while deploring it as an internment camp for convention protesters, antiwar organizers accept New York City's ultimatum for a marginalized march route. A Times’ reporter wonders if City Hall will move New Year's Eve celebrations "from Times Square to the West Side Highway?"

The NYPD considered turning the Staten Island Ferry into a prison barge during the Republican Convention, reports the New York Observer: "That the ferry plan was even considered attests to the sheer volume of arrests anticipated during the four days of the convention..." Plus: Food for the hungry, sound bites for the media.

As President Bush rejects a deal to extend middle class tax cuts for two years, Americans for Tax Reform's Grover Norquist tells The Hill, "I think every day the press reports that President Bush wants tax cuts and some jerks in the Senate don't is a good day for Bush..." Grist reports on the 'Base Brawl' over an anti-environmental judicial candidate.

Tiger In Their Tank(s)  The Center for Public Integrity examines the political power wielded by "the biggest oil company you have never heard of," which has annual revenues greater than Microsoft, Merrill Lynch and AT&T, and funds a web of interconnected, right-wing think tanks and advocacy groups through foundations that it controls and supports.

'Blackwashing' A Gadflyer contributor describes "an awkward Wizard of Oz moment as C-SPAN's Robb Harlston -- himself black -- turned to Project 21's Caucasian director, David Almasi, and said, 'Um... Project 21... a program for conservative African Americans... you're not African American.'" Watch the segment and read more about 'Sponsoring Conservative Minorities.'  

July 22

Monday, July 26, 2004

'An Army Whitewash' and 'Abu Ghraib, Whitewashed' are how editorials in the Washington Post and New York Times characterize the Army inspector general's report on prisoner abuses.

Under the Same Sun says the report's conclusion that abuses resulted from "unauthorized actions taken by a few individuals" means "a few bad apples. Nothing systemic. Senior Commanders not at fault. Did I say a few bad apples?" Plus: 'A secret deportation of terror suspects.'

Asking 'Who's in Charge Here?,' Gail Sheehy writes that "families of some 9/11 victims, who pushed hard for the commission's creation... were disappointed in its failure to provide a timeline of the actions of the nation’s top leaders that morning," which they believe "would have shown conclusively that blame for failing to defend against the attacks goes all the way to the top."

Richard Clarke says the report "documented but unarticulated" that the Bush administration "did little on terrorism before 9/11, and that by invading Iraq the administration has left us less safe as a nation."

Iraq'd says it 'Pretty Much Closed' the case on Iraq's relationship to al-Qaeda, David Corn calls it 'Bad News for Bush' and Maureen Dowd says it confirms that the Bush administration is 'Spinning Our Safety.' Plus: Former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds complains that her testimony received footnote treatment.

The Washington Post reports on how the U.S. is 'using cash as a defensive weapon' in Iraq, and Scott Ritter predicts that "victory will go to the side most in tune with the reality of the Iraqi society of today: the leaders of the anti-U.S. resistance."

Dilip Hiro argues that "it is safe to say that if the country slides into a civil war, it would not be between Sunnis and Shias, but between Arabs and Kurds." Reporting from Kurdistan, Jen Banbury echoes Hiro, writing that "I had no idea just how pissed off [the Kurds] really are at the United States. They are really, really pissed."

The Los Angeles Times reports that "in the streets of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a long-taboo question is being whispered, and at times even boldly asked aloud: Could the old man be finished?" Plus: A democratic, not demographic, threat.

Acknowledging a "change in governmental policy," the Bush administration is attempting to block lawsuits by consumers who say they have been injured by products approved by the FDA, arguing that the move actually benefits consumers. Plus: "Jacuzzi Case" or "Disembowelment?"

The "NewsHour's" Jim Lehrer criticizes the big three anchors for their networks' limited convention coverage: "We're about to elect a president… at a time when we have young people dying in our name overseas... The fact that you three networks decided it was not important enough to run in prime time, the message that gives the American people is huge.'' Watch the panel discussion.

Survivoring the Conventions Decision by networks to limit coverage prompts suggestion that "reality shows might light the path toward how to transform the conventions into a ready-for-primetime player."

As the Democratic Convention provides a handy aggregator of bloggers' coverage, a media studies professor continues slamming them, telling the New York Times that bloggers "have put the issue of professionalism under attack." He was earlier quoted in USA Today as saying that they ''should be put in a different category, like 'pretend' journalists."

Protestors boycott the officially designated "Free Speech Zone," and the Telegraph reports that "Uniformed soldiers and heavily-armed police turned the site of the Democratic convention into an armed camp in scenes more reminiscent of Baghdad than Boston."

The "domestic group" whose statements triggered the FBI's warning that "media vehicles" may be attacked in Boston, "is made up of college-age members based in the Midwest," said ABC. An Indymedia report and articles in the Lawrence Journal-World and Rocky Mountain News, detailed how FBI agents have been going door-to-door, questioning anarchists and other activists.

Call to tone down Democratic Convention speeches makes it unlikely that Al Gore will be accused of having gone "off his meds." Previewing the speakers, Bill O'Reilly said he "Will pay attention" to Gore, but not House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: "don't care. She's a nut."

In releasing President Bush's military payroll records, the Pentagon called its earlier declaration that they were "inadvertently destroyed" an "inadvertent oversight." Reuters says the records "offered no new evidence to dispel charges… that he was absent without leave." Plus: Eric Boehlert describes how Fox News is 'Rewriting history' to support its claim that it broke the Bush DUI story in 2000.

As "Fahrenheit 9/11" tops $100 million, Michael Moore now says he's unsure if it will be released on DVD before the election. A Gallup poll conducted in early July found that while 8 percent of American adults had seen the film and 18 percent still planned to see it at a theater, another 30 percent planned to see it on video.

The Washington Times gets the "official" story:  "However, officials said the disclosure that Mrs. Plame's cover was blown before the news column undermines the prosecution of the government official who might have revealed the name, officials said."

July 23

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The Guardian reports that the Israeli government is grabbing more West Bank land, having approved the construction of thousands of homes in the three main settlements blocs. "The purpose is to expand as fast as possible," says the head of Settlement Watch, "because of negotiations with the U.S. to limit future construction to areas already under construction."

A Ha'aretz commentator attributes Yasser Arafat's unwillingness to give it up to the fact that his "Family, home, social life, earning a living, entertainment, culture -- all are connected to his political work... giving up his authority does not merely mean giving up political power; it means giving up his life."

"Anonymous" tells the American Conservative that "as long as Al-Jazeera is broadcasting from Gaza and the West Bank live, 24 hours a day, no one is going to listen to the Americans." He also says of Bin Laden, that he's "not against Budweiser or democracy," and that he wouldn't deal with Iraqis because they "were a third-rate service." Plus: 'It's the Policy, Stupid.'

Former UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi tells an Austrian newspaper that "the war in Iraq was useless, it caused more problems than it solved, and it brought in terrorism." The Republican reports on an Iraq war forum in Massachusetts where a returning soldier told the audience: "We shot a man with his hands up. We even shot women and children."

Reports from an Iraqi medical worker are at odds with the U.S. military's well-traveled claim that U.S. and Iraqi forces killed 15 insurgents on Sunday. Plus: Fundamentalists expand Baghdad attacks to music stores and beauty salons.

As the GOP launches an 'extreme makeover' Web site as part of its "war room" effort at the Democratic Convention, the Boston Herald joins the battle with 'Teresa's Ted K tirade,' dredging up Heinz-Kerry's comments from a 1975 book, "The Power Lovers: An Intimate Look at Politicians and Their Marriages.'' Plus: Context goes missing as push comes to "Shove It."

USA Today says it dropped Ann Coulter's column on the Democratic Convention because it had "basic weaknesses in clarity and readability that we found unacceptable." In the column, she calls it the "Spawn of Satan convention," and describes Democratic women as "corn-fed, no make-up, natural fiber, no-bra needing, sandal-wearing, hirsute, somewhat fragrant hippie chick pie wagons."

Editor & Publisher reports that Coulter said, "USA Today doesn't like my 'tone,' humor, sarcasm, etc., which raises the intriguing question of why they hired me to write for them."

Code Talkers Democrats' "rejection of this president is so total, exists on so many different levels... that it doesn't even need to be explicitly evoked," writes Josh Marshall, adding that "these Democrats could hear the most scathing attacks on President Bush rattling through the speeches they heard tonight."

William Saletan writes that when Bill Clinton said "Strength and wisdom are not opposing values," "I thought the dig was too subtle—and the lesson too profound—to come across. But in this building, everyone gets it. We'll find out three months from now whether the folks at home agree." Former Clinton adviser Dick Morris called the speech a 'Masterpiece.'

Sen. John Kerry's Uzbek supporters hold Tashkent fundraiser.

The Nation solicits "planks" for a 'People's Democratic Platform,' from Howard Dean to "Granny D," and Walter Cronkite to Margaret Cho.

In a Nation article and on "NOW," Kevin Phillips says Kerry can win by peeling away some of the Republican "unbase" -- the 20-25 percent of the party electorate that has been won at various points by Ross Perot in 1992, Sen. John McCain in 2000 and to a lesser degree, Pat Buchanan in 1992.

Asked by Bill Moyers what he made of the findings of an Economist survey in which respondents picked which presidential-ticket candidates they would prefer to hang out with for a beer or coffee, Phillips said, "How many people would really rather have the beer without any of them? That's what I'd pick."

'Leave It to Cleaver' "Lately the phrase 'wedge issue' has become synonymous with only the kind of divides that Republicans exploit," writes Rick Perlstein, arguing that "It is past time for Democrats to begin aggressively exploiting that." Plus: Perlstein on 'The Church of Bush.'

With Michigan Democrats challenging signatures filed by Republicans on behalf of Ralph Nader, -- eight times as many as by his own campaign -- an ABC report suggests that "Pro-Nader Republicans and anti-Nader Democrats may now be waging more aggressive Nader campaigns than even Nader's own effort."

Nader aggressed President Bush on Fox News, and Bill O'Reilly was said to have been "oddly reluctant to interrupt."

Fox News president Roger Ailes tells Broadcasting & Cable that you "could do a documentary 'Why does CNN hate America?' You wouldn't even have to do the hatchet job 'Outfoxed' was." Read how Fox anchor Greg Jarrett "picked up the slack" and repeated a Republican talking point when his guest failed to take the bait.

Reviewing "The Manchurian Candidate," Frank Rich wrote that he "cannot recall when Hollywood last released a big-budget mainstream feature film as partisan as this one at the height of a presidential campaign." Peggy Noonan said "People think the evil woman Meryl Streep plays....is Hillary," while Streep said she based her character on Noonan among others.

As Fidel Castro answers President Bush's charge that "The dictator welcomes sex tourism," Tom Miller, in response to Bush's decision to limit visits home by Cuban Americans to once every three years, and only to immediate family members, offers a proposal for finally 'Wrapping up the Cuba thing.'

July 26

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Bill Berkowitz says "the U.S. occupation of Iraq has officially gone underground... Although the chaos, killings, kidnappings and destruction continue, the administration's spin-doctors are no longer on the front lines managing the news in Iraq." Plus: Patrick Cockburn on why 'The struggle for Iraq is just beginning.'

The Financial Times reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi "has established a media committee to impose restrictions on print and broadcast media," which would include "unwarranted criticism of the prime minister."

The Christian Science Monitor reports on Iraq's first reality TV show, where "Over six weeks, houses blasted by U.S. bombs regenerate in a home-improvement show for a war-torn country." The show airs on Al Sharqiya, Iraq's first privately owned satellite channel, which is said to focus "much of its news coverage on problems facing Iraqis under the occupation."

In a video deposition for a lawsuit filed against two Abu Ghraib contractors, an Iraqi man says that Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski witnessed him being tortured.

During a speech to Marines at Camp Pendleton, Vice President Cheney said "President Bush is determined to remove threats before they arrive… so America acted to end the regime of Saddam Hussein." Juan Cole says Cheney is "simply lying," because he "knows that Baathist Iraq posed no threat to the U.S."

With counties making up more than half of Florida's electorate set to use touch-screen machines in November, the New York Times reports that electronic records from touch-screen voting in Miami-Dade County, for the 2002 gubernatorial primary, disappeared following computer system crashes.

The Palm Beach Post reported on last week's announcement by Florida's secretary of state, of a second investigation into how elections officials could have produced a felon purge list that "included 22,000 blacks, who tend to vote Democratic, but only 61 Hispanics, who typically lean Republican."

In 'Fear of Fraud,' Paul Krugman refers to Andrew Gumbel's "hair-raising" account of a recent election in California, and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's refusal to mandate an independent audit of voting machines. Plus: 'The Rise Of The Machines.'

Announcing his intention to seek credentials for the Democratic Convention, Ralph Nader said, "I would like to see the bazaar. I'd like to see the alcoholic-musical-political payoff bazaar of accounts receivable." A McCain-Feingold loophole has resulted in Democrats and Republicans raising more than $100 million from private sources for their conventions.

Following up on the Alliance for Better Campaigns' statement that the networks' decision to air only three hours of convention coverage is "wrong for America," the Center for Digital Democracy’s Jeff Chester writes, "Let’s be clear. It's greed on the part of the Big Three that is keeping convention coverage off the air."

"We're talking about flip-flops back and forth on a regular basis here," said Sen. Norm Coleman, a former Democrat who is in Boston as part of the GOP's "truth squad." David Corn looks at how "the Democrats are engaging in Bush-bashing without the Bush."

As the publisher of "The 9/11 Commission Report" estimates sales of 350,000 copies through Sunday, Robert Scheer says the report "busted" President Bush, by exposing "his bragging about his 'war on terror' credentials… as nothing more than empty posturing."

After an aide said Bush wants to "fast track" executive branch action on 9/11 commission recommendations, Richard Cohen wrote that "it takes a New York kind of chutzpah for Bush to suddenly announce he will do what he has put off doing for these past three years."

In part two of his 'Five Things That The 9/11 Commission Got Wrong,' Robert Dreyfuss says the "What To Do? A Global Strategy" chapter, "isn't a road map on fighting 'Islamist terrorism.' It is a veritable Bartlett’s of quotable (and meaningless) platitudes." Plus: 'Report omits key player -- foreign policy.'

The Independent reports that the "opium harvest in Afghanistan this year will be one of the biggest on record," according to the British Foreign Office, and that members of a Parliamentary fact-finding mission believe large areas of Afghanistan are "back under the rule of warlords, controlling militias of up to 10,000 men, which are paid for by the profits of the illegal heroin trade."

Afghan President Karzai's dumping of his running mate is seen as a move against warlords, and is said to signal an apparent change in U.S. policy.

As the U.S. releases four French nationals from Guantanamo, the Independent reports that four British detainees will now have windows and be allowed to take daily exercise. A father of one of them said the British government "hadn't bothered mentioning" that his son "was being locked away in the dark." Plus: Human Rights Watch slams Pentagon's Guantanamo tribunals as "seriously flawed."

Calling the U.S. economic situation 'Just As Scary As Terror,' David J. Rothkopf says "the message we have conveyed in recent years is that there is no economic problem we confront today -- from gigantic deficits to huge under-funded liabilities -- that we wouldn't prefer to have our children solve tomorrow."

He refers to a report finding that in 2003, China overtook the U.S. as the biggest recipient of foreign direct investment. The Wall Street Journal reports that foreign interest in U.S. stocks and bonds may also be fading.

With the White House set to project a record federal budget deficit, the Washington Post reports that "71 percent [of Americans] are convinced they have received no tax cuts at all." An American Prospect article argues that the administration's tax cuts have had very little to do with economic growth.

July 27

Thursday, July 29, 2004

'Johnny Was Good' says William Saletan, while Tom Shales sees both Sen. Edwards and the Democrats as being 'Too Nice For Their Own -- and Our -- Good.'

Democratic Convention organizers have "even less desire to showcase" certain speakers than the TV networks, writes Media Channel's Rory O'Connor, referring readers to a New York Times' analysis, 'Shaping convention for its separate audiences.' Plus: Networks missed a historic speech.

The Gadflyer’s Zoë VanderWolk says "one fascinating thing about the convention so far has been the utter lack of mentions of the war in Iraq," while Under the Same Sun lists the major speakers who have not used the words "torture," "abuse," or "Abu Ghraib." "In fact, they didn't even say the word 'Iraqi at any point."

As Teresa Heinz-Kerry spoke at the convention, saying "true patriots are those who dare speak truth to power," Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin was dragged off the convention floor for unfurling an "End the Occupation of Iraq" banner. More from "Democracy Now!", which has been flooding the zone in Boston.

Sen. John Kerry's national security adviser opens a briefing by stating that "the goals of the two administrations are in fact not all that different," and Matt Taibbi says the Kerry campaign "has a few features that have been commented on very little in public. For one, it's crawling with narcs."

Star Tribune editorial page and readers slam Sen. Norm Coleman over his attack-dog role in Boston. During his debate with Walter Mondale for Sen. Paul Wellstone's seat, Coleman said, "We've got to change the tone in Washington." Mondale countered that "What you're doing is sticking with the right wing and pretending to change the tone."

The FBI arrested five former leaders of the Holy Land Foundation one day after it had filed a complaint with the inspector general claiming that the FBI had "fabricated a case" against it. Their attorney claimed the arrests were timed for the Democratic Convention, so the administration has "a sound bite… in its war on terrorism." Plus: 'Ashcroft cries wolf, again.'

In 2001, the Justice Department declared the Muslim charity a "specially designated terrorist" organization and seized its assets for allegedly funding Hamas in 1993. Georgetown law professor David Cole said of the case, "If the government were to label Amnesty International a 'specially designated terrorist,' there would be no basis for a court to challenge that finding," since no substantive definition of the term exists.

According to a classified letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, obtained by the New York Times, an investigation by the Justice Department's inspector general into the termination of translator Sibel Edmonds, concluded that whistle-blowing was "at least a contributing factor."

As Médecins Sans Frontières exits Afghanistan, relief agencies complain that the U.S. has blurred the line between humanitarian and military roles. Read MSF's statement.

An Asia Times report says that while 'Now Karzai has a fight on his hands,' for many Afghans "casting a ballot seems irrelevant. They believe that the result of the election has been decided already in Washington."

The Independent reports that "Britain and America's preoccupation with Iraq has blocked international efforts to end genocide in the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan," according to an analysis by a British think tank closely aligned with Prime Minister Tony Blair. Brendan O'Neill questions the "cheerleading" that has greeted Blair's proposed intervention in Sudan.

As Congressional committees investigating alleged corruption in the U.N. oil-for-food program begin issuing subpoenas before the U.N. completes its internal investigation, Joy Gordon argues that the "real goal of the program's vociferous new critics is to damage the credibility of the entire international body."

Ten days after saying France is host to "the wildest anti-Semitism," Israeli Prime Minister Sharon softened his stance at a welcoming ceremony for 200 French Jewish immigrants.

Ha'aretz's Amira Haas reports that despite the Israeli military's policy of shooting armed men on sight, Al Aqsa gunmen are allowed to roam the streets of cities in the occupied territories. While in the neighborhoods, the IDF has granted itself a license to kill, hoping "to make the civilians turn their populist anger on the gunmen." Plus: Haas on 'The rooftop youth of Nablus.'

A study of media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict found that seven out of ten American college students -- studying journalism and media -- didn't know the correct answer to the question, "Who is occupying the occupied territories, and what nationality are the settlers?"

As the U.S. air-drops leaflets warning Fallujans that "If the security situation does not improve, you will lose $102 million" in reconstruction funds, an English-language Web site promotes the Iraqi resistance, and a potential obstacle emerges to putting Saddam on trial.

A Syrian political satirist takes aim at both the U.S. and Arab countries in "The Night Baghdad Fell."

July 28

Friday, July 30, 2004

Next update, August 3rd.

'Planting a Flag on Bush's Turf' Ron Brownstein writes that "in a confident and combative address, Kerry signaled his determination to fight the fall campaign on terrain that the White House has long assumed would belong to President Bush: strength, integrity, values and the prosecution of the war on terror." The WSWS points to 'The great unmentionable at the Democratic convention: Kerry's antiwar past.'

Tom Shales covers the coverage of Kerry's "stunningly passionate acceptance speech" that "ended a fairly humdrum affair on a note of spine-tingling inspiration." Eric Boehlert on 'The pundits on Kerry: He nailed it.' Plus: Who wrote Kerry's speech?

"Somewhere along the line," writes Paul Krugman, "TV news stopped reporting on candidates' policies, and turned instead to trivia that supposedly reveal their personalities. We hear about Mr. Kerry's haircuts, not his health care proposals. We hear about George Bush's brush-cutting, not his environmental policies."

He mentions the CJR Campaign Desk's "Rich Men, Poor Coverage,' which "reveals a press prone to needlessly introduce Senators Kerry and Edwards and Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, as millionaires or billionaires, without similar labels for President Bush or Vice President Cheney."

Analyzing a day's worth of CNN's convention coverage, Campaign Desk says that "CNN, badly bruised in the ratings war, has stooped to slavish imitation of Fox's most dubious ploys and policies," such as repeating "every possible Republican-generated criticism [of the Kerry campaign] without making any attempt to sort through which are valid and which aren't."

Democratic Talk Radio challenges a widely-circulated AP article claiming that "John Kerry narrowly trails President Bush in the battle for the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House." See Electoral Vote Predictor's calculation.

Pakistan delivers the 'July Surprise,' with the arrest of a top al-Qaeda operative. Only a small number of the news outlets reporting the story made the connection. Howard Kurtz asks: "If you nabbed Ghailani on Sunday, why on earth would you wait until hours before Kerry's speech to tell the world -- and open yourself up to charges of politicizing the war on terror?"

"It looks like the FBI's Boston field office faked a threat of domestic terrorism just before the start of the Democratic National Convention," writes James Ridgeway, "by leaking 'unconfirmed' reports of white supremacist groups readying an attack against media vehicles in Boston."

In making 'The Case Against George W. Bush,' Ron Reagan writes that "Bush and his administration have taken 'normal' mendacity to a startling new level... On top of the usual massaging of public perception, they traffic in big lies, indulge in any number of symptomatic small lies, and, ultimately, have come to embody dishonesty itself. They are a lie."

The editor of DefenseWatch takes Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to task for "engaging in self-deceptive and evasive rhetoric about how well everything is going" with the U.S. military.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports on the "greatest shake-up in America's overseas military deployments since the end of the second World War... a global network of what Pentagon planners call 'lily pads' -- small forward bases in remote, dangerous corners of the world that can act as jumping-off points when crises arise."

Having stationed troops in nine of the fifteen post-Soviet states in the last three years, using 9/11 as a pretext, "Washington has drawn a big chalk circle around the largest nation on the earth, says a Sobaka magazine analysis, "but it hasn't made a whisper in the headlines."

With its $200 million advertising account in review, the U.S. Army is being urged to scrap its "Army of One" campaign because it's "out of touch with the reality of war." The Ad Age article notes that the Army is now selling a video game called "America's Army," which the author of "Generation Kill" says "is perfect, since video games are all about killing, it is basically saying, 'Play the ultimate video game, join the Army.'"

Editor & Publisher previews a Parade magazine interview with Gen. Tommy Franks, in which he says, "five years is a realistic timeline for the U.S. to be involved in Iraq," and that the invasion's biggest surprise was not finding WMD, "the reason we went to war."

Parade says Franks has given 100 speeches since retiring last July, with fees topping out at $100,000. During an appearance last February, he said that when asked if the number of American lives lost in Iraq has been too high, he responds: "If it costs 500, that's OK, or 5000, OK, or 50,000, that's OK with me."

"Iraq under its new, American-appointed Prime Minister, has grown more dangerous and violent," writes Robert Fisk, providing examples from U.S. military reports that "clearly show much of the violence in Iraq is not revealed to journalists, and thus goes largely unreported."

A Guardian commentary argues that "There were only two credible reasons for invading Iraq: control over oil and preservation of the dollar as the world's reserve currency." Inter Press Service interviews the project director on the Center for Public Integrity's, 'The Politics of Oil.'

With oil prices near record highs, a member of the Council of Energy Advisors says '2004 will be remembered as the year world oil production peaked.' Public Citizen explains how oil companies keep gasoline prices high and rake in record-setting profits.

Mark Weisbrot writes that "the worst part of the 'job-loss' recovery for most people has been that real wages -- adjusted for inflation -- have actually fallen over the last year," while the New York TimesDavid Cay Johnston reports on "unprecedented back-to-back declines in reported incomes," for the first time "since the modern tax system was introduced during World War II."

A reporter making a phone inquiry to the Bush campaign about job quality in America, is said to have overheard an assistant to spokesman Terry Holt remark, apparently to a colleague, "Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy -- or go on Prozac?"

Comedian Jackie Mason is getting heat from the Council on American-Islamic Relations for saying "the whole Muslim religion" is a "murderous organization" that teaches "hate, terrorism and murder."

The FBI steps up a campaign to interrogate Arab Americans "about their travels and whom they might know," and the New York Times reports that the Department of Homeland Security obtained detailed population data by zip code about Arab Americans from the Census Bureau.

As Malaysia's National Fatwa Council bans Muslims from using text messaging to take part in contests offering prizes, calling it a form of gambling, an Inter-Korean gambling Web site attracts South Koreans, not to gamble, but to chat with North Koreans on its bulletin board.

July 29

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