|September, 2003 link archive
Tuesday, September 2, 2003In a report from Paris, 'The Anti-Anti-Americans,' The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik interviews Bernard-Henri Lévy, author of "Who Killed Daniel Pearl?" Levy argues that Asian Islam poses the greatest terrorist threat and that Pearl was kidnapped and murdered with the knowledge of Pakistan's secret service, because he knew too much about its involvement with al-Qaeda, particularly, what Levy calls "the great taboo": that the Pakistani atomic bomb was built and is controlled by radical Islamists who intend to use it someday.
Time reports that Gerald Posner, in his new book, "Why America Slept," claims Abu Zubaydah, who was captured in Pakistan in March 2002, gave U.S. interrogators details about pre-9/11 financial support for al-Qaeda by Saudi government officials, as well as information about a deal that bin Laden struck with a high-ranking Pakistani air force officer -- closely tied to Pakistan's secret service -- for protection, arms and supplies.
Newsweek speculates that bin Laden may be holed-up in the Afghan province of Konar, where according to Taliban sources, he is continuing to play leadership and planning roles with al-Qaeda. Recent articles in the Guardian and The New Yorker placed him across the border in Pakistan. Plus: 'Pakistan Touts Control of Border.'
Commenting on a Boston Globe preview of the U.S. government's September report on Iraqi WMD programs, Josh Marshall writes that the report by former U.N. weapons inspector David Kay "is clearly going to be as political as it gets. And full of funny business. This is a deadly serious issue. But as long as they're approaching it in this way, it merits ridicule."
Following the Los Angeles Times report that U.S. intelligence agencies are reviewing Iraqi defectors and their pre-war claims about Saddam's WMD capabilities, Slate's Jack Shafer suggests that the New York Times conduct an investigation to determine if reporter Judith Miller was duped by Iraqi disinformation.
Sixty-nine percent of respondents to a CBS poll think the U.N., and not the U.S. should have the lead responsibility for setting up a new government in Iraq, while 17% believe the Bush administration told the "entire truth" about Iraq. Plus: 'Kinds of Quagmires' and 'Who's Losing Iraq?'
The family of Salam Pax meets Pax Americana.
Military analyst William Arkin questions the central role of U.S. Special Operations forces in the war on terrorism, pointing to a divide within the "SOF" community itself, "between 'raids, rescue and Rambo' types, that is, those focused on 'kinetic kill and direct action,' and the 'softer' types, who focus on psychological warfare, civil affairs and building popular support."
Failed State Labor Party member and former speaker of Israel's Knesset, Avraham Burg, writes that "Jewish people did not survive for two millennia in order to pioneer new weaponry, computer security programs or anti-missile missiles. We were supposed to be a light unto the nations. In this we have failed." Plus: 'Give What a Chance?'
The Washington Post amplifies an earlier report in the Salt Lake Tribune, about how CentCom is playing it close to the vest with the number of U.S. soldiers wounded in Iraq -- an average of almost 10 a day in August -- by issuing press releases listing injuries only when an attack kills one or more troops. Plus: 'Wounded, Weary and Disappeared.'
Iraqi political party claims 37,000-plus civilians killed since the beginning of the invasion.
Ralph Nader says that President Bush was right on his election promise to be a uniter, not a divider: "Bush has united both liberals and conservatives in rising opposition to his government of men, not of laws and constitution." Plus: Following domestic flop, Attorney General Ashcroft takes road show to Norway.
In a recent fund-raising letter to Republicans, the head of Diebold Inc., which is vying to sell its voting machines in Ohio, wrote that he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." Plus: "It appears you can't throw a dead cat around the world of voting machines without hitting a conflict of interest."
USA Today reports that the EPA, in a decision that has not been made public, lifted a 25-year-old ban on the sale of land polluted with PCBs.
Fox Hole Michael Wolff returns from the front lines of the war between the BBC and Rupert Murdoch.
Major U.S. TV networks band together to defend FCC's easing of media-ownership rules, with ads carrying the slogan: "America Says: Don't Get Between Me And My TV."
Nathan Newman does the heavy lifting on a Labor Day compilation of articles and opinion pieces.
August 28-September 1
Wednesday, September 3, 2003
Joint Chiefs of Staff said to be pushing Bush administration to seek a new U.N resolution on Iraq, as a Congressional Budget Office report, requested by Sen. Robert Byrd, warns that the Army lacks sufficient active-duty forces to maintain its current level of troops in Iraq beyond next spring.
Read Byrd's remarks previewing the CBO report.
Spate of articles on Taliban resurgence includes a Los Angeles Times report on how the Afghanistan effort is being bolstered by recruits from militant groups in Pakistan, including Al-Qaeda loyalists, and an AP article quoting a former Taliban corps commander, who says that "Now the situation is very good for us. It is improving every day. We can move everywhere... We know they don't like the Taliban, but they hate the looters and killers even more."
Pentagon calls on ammunition maker to get the lead out, design "green" bullet.
A "Separated at Birth" feature in the September issue of Vanity Fair, that attempts to equate Richard Perle with Joseph Goebbels, prompts the return of Slate's "Richard Perle Libel Watch." Earlier: Vanity Fair changes tune on Bush administration.
In disputing the accusation by senior American officials that Arab media coverage of the Iraq occupation incites attacks on U.S. troops, an editor for Lebanon's Daily Star writes: "There is something pitiful about a person of Wolfowitz's stature, experience and power responding to the regular killings of young Americans in Iraq by lashing out against Arab satellite TV channels..."
Death of 17 soldiers in Iraq since May 1 puts Colorado military town on edge.
In a breakdown of fatality statistics since 2000, Ha'aretz 's Amira Hass writes that "Here are the disastrous proportions, in the hope that someone in Israel will take notice: 80 percent of the Palestinians killed were not connected to armed actions." Plus: 'Journalists Find "Calm" When Only Palestinians Die.'
As a North Carolina study finds that presidential campaigns are being inordinately fueled by wealthy white men, old oil and baseball buddies make a Cincinnati ZIP code the number two contributor to President Bush. Plus: LaRouche for president campaign outraises four other Democratic presidential candidates
NFL stakes out new turf with four-day D.C. event called "NFL Kickoff Live 2003 Presented by Pepsi Vanilla," that includes 'a presidential welcome for football' and the presentation of the "official NFL football of the 2003 season." Q: "How old is this tradition of the first game football of the 2003 NFL season?"
Eyeteeth interviews Adbusters' publisher Kalle Lasn.
California Governor Gray Davis goes missing from own commercials.
Sponsors of the only gubernatorial debate that Arnold Schwarzenneger has agreed to appear at, will send questions to participants one week ahead of time. Plus: TV news director bans use of the word "gubernatorial" (scroll down), and 'Conan the Wimp.'
Mike Davis says there's one question that every California candidate should be obliged to answer.
Thursday, September 4, 2003
Federal appeals court blocks new FCC media ownership rules, one day before they were scheduled to take effect.
A broadcast industry official tells the Los Angeles Times that "The Bush administration must be ecstatic about this," because it "could take the issue off the table during the election year."
The petition was brought by the Prometheus Radio Project, a Philadelphia group that supports community radio stations.
In an interview with NBC, The EPA's Inspector General talks about the White House's rewriting of EPA press releases on Ground Zero air quality. A Sept. 16 release that read "Recent samples of dust ... on Water Street show higher levels of asbestos," was changed to "New samples confirm ... ambient air quality meets OSHA standards." The Inspector General report.
Former White House counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke says that top White House officials approved the evacuation of dozens of influential Saudis, including members of Osama bin Laden's family, in the days following the 9/11 attacks. Debunkers debunked?
Bishop imagines how things might have been different if U.S. leaders had seen 9/11 not as a war against the United States, but as a crime against humanity.
"Democracy Now" interviews Sherman Austin on the day he heads to prison to begin serving a one-year term for "distribution of information relating to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction." Although Austin provided only server space and a link to the material from his site, Raisethfist.com, prosecutors and media outlets consistently referred to him as its author.
EarthLink co-founder Reed Slatkin was sentenced to 14 years in prison for bilking investors out of $593 million in one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in history, but none of the coverage mentions Slatkin's insider role in forming Boots & Coots, an oilfield firefighting company tied Halliburton. That's a job for Arms & The Man.
The Washington Times reports on a report prepared for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that it says "lays the blame for setbacks in Iraq on a flawed and rushed war-planning process," and "also shows that President Bush approved the overall war strategy for Iraq in August last year."
Commentary on the above article here, under the headline 'A Choice for Bush's Defenders: Incompetent Fool or Mendacious Manipulator.'
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz uses the troops to argue that Iraq isn't a distraction from the war on terror.
Troop L'Oeil NFL kickoff event called "mega-marketing scheme disguised as a USO show."
The Washington Post's Anthony Shadid reports on a fatal bomb misfire at a Baghdad housing project, and says that the alleged detonator's demise offers "a glimpse into the obscure world of the campaign against U.S. troops occupying Iraq." Robert Fisk says Iraq on brink of civil war.
U.S. State Department spokesman's smear of Belgium, France, Germany and Luxembourg, prompts new map with derisive names for all European countries. Plus: Leaders of "chocolate-makers" France and Germany, not sweet on U.S.' proposed U.N. resolution on Iraq.
Interviewer gets the book on Woodward and Bernstein.
"All Things Considered" samples international covers of Bob Dylan songs from "Masked and Anonymous," and talks to Larry Charles, who directed Dylan in the movie and selected the soundtrack cuts. Plus: The $10 CD?
Friday, September 5, 2003
Sunday Funnies 'If some tinhorn terrorist wants me, tell 'em to come and get me! I'll be home, waiting for the bastard!' "It is precisely at this point," writes Tim Goodman, "when 'DC 9/11: Time of Crisis' becomes a full-blown comedy."
Doctrine of Preemption President Bush to address nation during airing of movie.
Naomi Klein says the legacy of 9/11 is 'War as Franchise,' and that what President Bush has created in the war on terrorism "Is less a 'doctrine' for world domination than an easy to assemble tool kit for any mini-empire looking to get rid of the opposition and expand its power."
Pentagon adviser Richard Perle in March, 2003: 'Thank God for the death of the UN.'
The Fall of Iraq On May 3, the New York Times reported that the Bush administration was planning "to reduce the number of American troops in Iraq from over 130,000 soldiers and marines at present to 30,000 troops or fewer by the fall."
In a speech to Marine and Navy officers, retired Marine Gen. Anthony C. Zinni said: "My contemporaries, our feelings and sensitivities were forged on the battlefields of Vietnam, where we heard the garbage and the lies, and we saw the sacrifice. I ask you, is it happening again?"
Gapping the Bridge Baghdad blogger Riverbend says that in late May, her cousin's engineering company gave the Coalition Provisional Authority an estimate of $300,000 to rebuild a bridge destroyed during the war, but a week later, the contract was given to an American company that estimated the cost of rebuilding the bridge would be around $50 million.
A new video being used by the Republican National Committee to recruit "Team Leaders," highlights the "pessimism and protest" of the Democratic presidential candidates. Plus: Who else is dogging Howard Dean's campaign? See their pictures here.
Slate's Chris Suellentrop reports from the Democratic presidential debate in Albuquerque, where he says Dean made a wrong turn.
Richard Reeves gives 10 reasons why he thinks President Bush looks like a lame duck.
Eric Alterman looks at a study of media coverage of Secretary of State Powell's February presentation to the U.N. that "discovered a nearly perfect storm of wide-eyed credulity," even though Powell employed "all kinds of weasel words in his address that should have set off alarm bells in any first-year journalism student." Plus: 'A look back at a "thick" file.'
In less than a week, Arnold Schwarzenneger went from dismissing what he said in the Oui interview, to claiming that he didn't remember giving it, to saying that some of his quotes were made up. Plus: More revealing than Oui and 'Sex, Lies and a Complicit Media.'
Paul Newman: Actor or Salad Dressing? Beloit College's annual Mindset List highlights cultural reference rifts between professors and incoming students.
Monday, September 8, 2003
A CNN report on reaction to President Bush's speech includes Howard Dean's response that "In 15 minutes, he attempted to make up for 15 months of misleading the American people and 15 weeks of mismanaging the reconstruction," and Sen. Joseph Biden's suggestion that tax cuts be deferred to pay for the funding.
Reporters appearing on "Larry King Live" slam the speech, with a Newsweek correspondent leading off by noting the lack of WMD talk -- "essentially the casus belli for this war. The administration now has switched to new rhetoric of saying... this is actually all part of the war on terror," but "there wasn't actually a terrorism problem in Iraq before the Americans got here."
Juan Cole says that "If all the Bush administration can do is go on invoking al-Qaeda to justify the Iraq war, it will lose public opinion. The American people want a short to medium term end-game. Bush isn't giving them one... The $87 billion he asked for Iraq is going to stick in their craws. Mark my words."
Josh Marshall says "The president has turned 9/11 into a sort of foreign policy perpetual motion machine in which the problems ginned up by policy failures become the rationale for intensifying those policies." Scroll up for nuggets of spin from Condoleezza Rice.
A British Parliamentarian argues that "The 9/11 attacks allowed the U.S. to press the 'go' button" for a strategy in accordance with the Project for the New American Century's (PNAC) Pax Americana agenda, spelled out in a 2000 report.
When Dan Rather confronted Defense Secretary Rumsfeld with criticism from PNAC report contributor William Kristol, that "Rumsfeld lost credibility with the White House because he screwed up post-war planning," Rumsfeld said: "Hey you're really reaching in the duffle bag Dan." To which Rather replied: "Well, it's not in the duffle bag it's in the newspapers."
Rumsfeld unloaded on one reporter for questioning the multinational nature of the Iraq force: "What do you mean? I just said there are 29 countries there now.... and yet I keep hearing questions like that come to my head and I can't believe people are saying it." Plus: Old times and new spin.
Oh Lordy In response to a Washington Post poll, in which 69% of respondents said it was "very or somewhat likely" that Saddam Hussein was "personally involved" in 9/11, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile said: "Every member of the administration did the drumbeat. My mother said if you repeat a lie long enough, it becomes a gospel truth. This one became a gospel hit."
A new Zogby poll finds President Bush's approval rating at 45%, the lowest point since he took office, and new polls from Time/CNN and Ipsos-Reid/Cook Political Report put Bush's approval rating at 52%.
Follow the shifting timeline of former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik's postwar security stint in Iraq.
Spinsanity looks at how pundits on both the left and right spun a phone call that retired Gen. Wesley Clark said he received on September 11, asking him to connect Iraq and the terrorist attacks.
Let's Play Hardball Russian law bans punditry in run up to elections.
Los Angeles Times columnist Patt Morrison explains her problem with "the Dodginator's" past, and the Wall Street Journal's John Fund says that Schwarzenneger is looking more like Nixon than he is like Reagan. The 'Recall Madness' column asks: 'Conspiracy or a lone eggman?'
Hamas' founder and spiritual leader describes how he dodged death from an Israeli laser-guided bomb. Plus: Arafat taps speaker of Palestinian parliament, Ahmed Qurei, aka Abu Ala, to replace Mahmoud Abbas, aka Abu Mazen.
An Amnesty International report says Israel's security barrier is exacerbating Palestinian unemployment -- now more than 50 percent -- and further impoverishing the population, half of which lives below the poverty line. An Amnesty researcher tells Reuters that Israeli restrictions on the movement of Palestinian people and goods in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have reached an "unprecedented level."
Strange Dreadfellows Brendan O'Neill looks at the connection between the New York Times' Judith Miller, "one of the most arch pro-war journalists," and British defense scientist David Kelly, who in death "has been adopted as some kind of peacenik by anti-war activists."
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton says that she plans to block President Bush 's nominee to head the EPA, over the agency's internal report saying that New Yorkers were misled about health risks after the WTC attack. Earlier: Top EPA officials go through revolving door to companies that benefited from previous week's easing of air-pollution rules.
Environmental groups applaud Boise Cascade for its promise to halt logging in old-growth forests in the U.S. in 2004.
'Who killed the boom?' The New Yorker reviews Paul Krugman's "The Great Unraveling" and Joseph Stiglitz's "The Roaring Nineties."
The New Yorker also looks back at The Roaring Twenties' economy, with the reprint of an anonymously- written bootlegger's memoir from 1926.
Blogcritics pays tribute to Warren Zevon, who died on Sunday.
Tuesday, September 9, 2003
The Los Angeles Times reports that the White House acknowledged Monday that it substantially underestimated the cost of rebuilding Iraq and that the additional $87 billion it was seeking still left a reconstruction funding gap of as much as $55 billion.
Bush administration officials tell the Times that they plan to pressure other countries to come up with the additional funds, but the AP reports that U.S. allies aren't rushing to answer the call.
In his debut as a New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks writes about how top Bush administration officials rarely admit serious mistakes and never admit they are shifting course, even as the president is sketching out a series of policy shifts that "amount to a virtual relaunching of the efforts to rebuild Iraq."
Dana Milbank explains the flaw in the 'Bush never changes' strategy.
Under fire from both the left and the right, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld tries to shift the blame to critics of the Bush administration's policies, resulting in more criticism, including another call for his resignation.
A Washington Post report on a new deployment policy requiring 12-month tours for National Guard and Army Reserve troops now in Iraq, notes that "Many of the specialties most required in postwar Iraq are almost entirely provided by Guard and Army Reserve units," even though they account for only 8,000 of the 122,000 Army personnel in Iraq. Plus: 'What about the 90-day occupation?'
An ABC poll finds that 48% of respondents think the Iraq war will increase the long-term risk of terrorism to the U.S., up from 29% in a mid-April ABC/Washington Post poll.
In an article headlined 'Spy Agencies Warned of Iraq Resistance,' Walter Pincus writes that "CIA analysts last summer... expressed concerns that the 'chaos after war would turn [Iraq] into a laboratory for terrorists,'" dryly adding that "President Bush picked up on this theme in his nationally televised speech Sunday night, saying Iraq is attracting international terrorists and is now the 'central front' in the war on terrorism."
Reaction to President Bush's speech from David Corn, who says that Bush is "stuck in his Iraqmire," David Lindorff who likens it to Jimmy Carter's "malaise" speech, Paul Krugman who says it followed a pattern of calling only for "Other People's Sacrifice," and William Saletan, who saw it as another example of Bush's ongoing "perversion" of the "war on terror."
The Memory Hole posts a map showing that hijacked 9/11 planes flew through some of the most heavily militarized parts on the country.
'No Where There' A Stanford watchdog group reports on an NBC affiliate's use of canned segments, produced by a company that makes "a science of intentionally homogenized news." See the company's long list of clients and read about a national chain of TV stations that employs a similar concept called "NewsCentral."
The Richard Scaife-owned Pittsburgh Tribune-Review runs a doctored article, with the race of a Vermont professor who admitted to having an affair on school grounds, changed from white to black.
The Daily Howler asked: "How does our modern world really work? Sweethearts like Scaife funnel money to 'think tanks,' and soon public crackpots like Peggy Noonan are reporting on dolphins sent by God."
"Hybrid vs. Hummer" campaign spot pits Arianna against Arnold.
The New York Times reports on the "utter chaos" that ensued when Maria Shriver, in her first solo campaign appearance on behalf of her husband, attended a voter registration drive at a Sacramento area Wal-Mart.
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Star-Spangled Blunder Slate's Fred Kaplan on how President Bush blew the historic opportunity handed to him by 9/11.
Sen. Joseph Biden works the same theme in a speech (transcript/audio) to the National Press Club, in which he also said that he will propose a plan to pay for Iraq by rolling back the tenth year of the tax cut for the top one percent, which would save an estimated $85 billion.
White House dismisses Biden plan, says rollback would cost jobs.
"Mr. Rumsfeld, you're fired." Defense secretary's National Press Club speech interrupted by protestors.
Harold Meyerson makes the case that President Bush is 'Stuck Like Lyndon,' but without the Great Society.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the U.S. is trying to isolate France at the U.N. and convince other countries to pony up troops and funds by offering them a chance to take charge of reconstruction segments. "France was the ringleader of the opposition last time," said one U.S. official. "Our goal is to ensure it doesn't happen again."
Print reporter spurned by Ashcroft tour writes: "Dear John: My pen is not a weapon of mass destruction."
Privacy Act Top Justice Department spokesperson to go through revolving door.
Tom Hayden reports from the WTO summit in Cancun, where he says the flashpoint is the disintegration of rural economies, and where local "alternmundistas," who only recently learned of the WTO, are now connecting the dots between their resources and who controls them. Earlier: 'Free Trade Proves Devastating for Mexican Farmers.'
The pros and cons of free trade and globalization are debated in an online symposium, co-sponsored by the Cato Institute, The Nation, The American Prospect and A World Connected.
On the Media looks at how Infinity Broadcasting and Clear Channel are playing the recall game in California, by rejecting candidate's advertising, or, forcing them to make a network radio buy.
Viacom's Infinity prevails on the FCC to rule that Howard Stern's show is a "bona fide news interview" program, exempting it from equal time requirements for political candidates and clearing the way for an interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Plus: "I'll be back..."
William Saletan says that the big winner in a Baltimore debate was Howard Dean, who faced-off with Sen. Joseph Lieberman over Dean's recent comments that the U.S. must be an honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians. Plus: Heckler interrupts with "Where's Larouche?"
Howard Kurtz's article on Dean, 'Bush's Worst Nightmare?', is followed by The Note 's chiding of Fox News for hosting the debate: "We're sure y'all are thrilled to be able to cite the Congressional Black Caucus's sponsorship as proof that your news network is fair and balanced."
Thursday, September 11, 2003
AP photographer Richard Drew writes about his controversial "Falling Man" photo, rejected by most editors and described by colleagues as "the most famous picture nobody's ever seen." Plus: '9/11's Unknown Soldier.'
'The Height of Myth-Making' "If you were carefully controlling your own mythology, this is precisely the kind of tape that would be inspiring right now," writes Philip Kennicott. "Osama in the clouds. Osama among the cedars."
Spanish judge formally charges Al-Jazeera reporter with being a member of al-Qaeda.
"September 11 was the day that is said to have 'changed everything,'" writes Danny Schechter. "But did it change the media that played a central part in the drama of that day?"
The New York Times reports on the change in foreign attitudes toward the U.S. since 9/11.
In a Salon review of "DC 9/11: Time of Crisis," Kristin Breitweiser writes: "It is understandable that so little time is actually devoted to the president's true actions on the morning of 9/11. Because to show the entire 23 minutes from 9:03 to 9:25 a.m., when President Bush, in reality, remained seated and listening to "second grade story-hour" while people like my husband were burning alive inside the World Trade Center towers, would run counter to Karl Rove's art direction and grand vision."
Robert Parry uses Bush's Sunday speech and a recent White House report to show how the administration continues to blend 9/11 with Iraq, as it switches "from exaggerating the danger posed by Saddam Hussein’s government to exaggerating the gains attributable to the invasion."
Newsweek blurs the distinction between 9/11 and Iraq, running a cover line that reads "433 Americans Have Died in the War on Terror," a number that includes those who were killed in Iraq.
Emergency classification of military spending bills for Iraq and Afghanistan allows Pentagon to conceal nature of expenditures.
Fall of Saddam ushers in golden age for blue movies in Iraq.
U.S. House passes amendment that would effectively end travel ban to Cuba.
In an interview with Bill O'Reilly, Arnold Schwarzenegger charged that the Los Angeles Times is biased against him, asking "Have you seen how many times they've put Davis on the cover and Bustamante on the cover and I'm on page 12 or page 20 or something like that?"
Chimney Shtick Was Schwarzenegger running a home repair scam in the 70s or just telling Johnny Carson a tall tale?
Friday, September 12, 2003
Ha'aretz looks at how international contributions to the Palestinian Authority have absolved Israel of its financial obligations as an occupying power, enabling it "to impose a deluxe occupation in the West Bank -- total military domination with no responsibility for running the life of the occupied population, and no price tag attached."
Road Warriors Brendan O'Neill says that for all the reporting on al-Qaeda, "one phenomenon is consistently overlooked -- the role of the Bosnian war in transforming the mujahedin of the 1980s into the roving Islamic terrorists of today."
Ellen Goodman on how the White House has taken 9/11 out for a spin: "Nearly every battle, every action, every foreign policy, every call to follow the leader, is justified -- no, sanctified -- in the name of September 11."
The Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt has six questions for President Bush, including one from a reader who took issue with this op-ed by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Plus: Robert Novak on Bush's 'perfect storm.'
Harper's editor Lewis Lapham tells the Toronto Star that "Pretty well all the Bush administration has got going for it now is this foreign war. Fear is something this administration has been selling for two years."
"It may be harder for the administration to wrap itself in the flag," writes Paul Krugman, "but it has more incentive to do so now than ever before. Where once the administration was motivated by greed, now it's driven by fear."
Matthew Yglesias laments that "with President Bush in office and the vast bulk of the congressional GOP uninterested in breaking with him, there's no real policy debates going on between the policymakers."
A report clearing the British government of "sexing up" Iraq intelligence, also reveals that Prime Minister Blair was warned by intelligence officials that an invasion of Iraq would increase the danger of terrorist attacks. Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that CIA analysts had expressed concerns that post-war chaos would "turn [Iraq] into a laboratory for terrorists."
A new CNN/USAToday/Gallup poll that puts President Bush's approval rating at 52%, down 7% in two weeks, also finds that 51% of respondents do not think Congress should authorize his funding request for Iraq. What else can $87 billion buy?
U.S. says other nations won't be ponying up money or troops for Iraq at any time soon.
Al-Jazeera is under attack on all fronts.
A new Los Angeles Times poll shows a recall tossup, but LA Weekly's Nikki Finke says that "radio's talk cabal" has already called the recall, promoting Governor Gray Davis' ouster while ignoring negative stories about Arnold Schwarzenegger.
A U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals may postpone the recall election.
Monday, September 15, 2003
Scroll down to read Sen. Joseph Biden's response to the White House's argument that his proposal to pay for the occupation of Iraq, by rolling back the tenth year of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 1%, would slow the economic recovery: "The idea that $87 billion out of over a trillion-dollar tax cut is going to set back the economy over 10 years, that is absolute malarkey. There's not a single serious economist in the United States who would say that."
Sixty-one percent of respondents to a Washington Post/ABC poll said that they opposed President Bush's $87 billion request. But if it's approved, the most popular option for funding it -- 41% -- is through a roll back of the tax cuts.
Sen. Bob Graham tries to take no blank check theme to the bank.
An Observer update on U.S. casualty figures in Iraq, puts the number of soldiers wounded since the beginning of the war at more than 1,500.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz retracts a claim made on "Good Morning America," that "we know a great many of Bin Laden’s key lieutenants are now trying to organize in cooperation with old loyalists from the Saddam regime." Plus: Wolfowitz's numbers game and how a "fact" is born.
Juan Cole introduces Knight Ridder's interview with Iraqi guerrillas, which he says "supports my conviction that most of the violence in Iraq is coming from Arab nationalists, not from foreign al-Qaeda terrorists."
In a column on the rebranding of the invasion of Iraq as the central element in the war against terrorism, Eric Margolis writes that "Bush and his handlers are not protecting Americans by pursuing the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, they are protecting their own political skins."
Newsweek reports that the Bush administration has "quietly installed" Jean L. Lewis, a controversial Whitewater investigator, as chief of staff in the Defense Department’s inspector general office, which investigates fraud and audits Pentagon contracts.
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus report that while Cheney "seemed to broaden the intelligence on... alleged al-Qaeda connections with Hussein," he "was less forthcoming when asked about Saudi Arabia's ties to al-Qaeda and the Sept. 11 hijackers. 'I don't want to speculate,' he said, adding that Sept. 11 is "over with now, it's done, it's history and we can put it behind us.'"
How much is the media to blame for misinformation on 9/11-Saddam Link?
CNN's Christiane Amanpour says the press was "muzzled" and "self-muzzled" during the Iraq war, and that "perhaps, to a certain extent, my station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News. A spokeswoman for Fox News responded by conflating 9/11 and Iraq: "Given the choice, it's better to be viewed as a foot soldier for Bush than a spokeswoman for al-Qaeda."
In an interview with Salon, CNN's Tucker Carlson recounts a conversation that he had with Bush's communication director, Karen Hughes, following a campaign trail article that he wrote for Talk magazine: "The striking thing about the way she lied was she knew I knew she was lying, and she did it anyway."
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough accepts his own "Rat of the Week" award for failing to disclose that a guest was his law partner and that their firm has filed a lawsuit against a company that was being bashed on "Scarborough Country." Earlier: Greg Beato on 'MSNBC's Great White Hope.'
The Memory Hole has published a list of thousands of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed by defunct crime news site APBnews.com.
Pentagon invokes "national security" to block FOIA request by Judicial Watch for documents pertaining to Halliburton subsidiary Kellog, Brown & Root's Iraq oil contracts.
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
The Christian Science Monitor pulls together reporting on the latest twists in the WMD hunt, including a "September surprise," surprise, and the opinion of senior U.N. weapons inspectors that maybe Saddam had nothing to hide.
A Los Angeles Times reporter visits Baghdad's morgue, which he says investigated an average of 20 deaths a month caused by firearms before the war. In June, the number rose to 389 and in August it reached 518.
The Washington Post reports on Secretary of State Powell's visit to Halabja, where a 1988 poison-gas attack killed an estimated 5,000 Kurds. The article, which notes that Powell was Ronald Reagan's national security adviser, says that Powell asserted during his visit that the 1988 gassing "was ample evidence that former president Saddam Hussein's government possessed weapons of mass destruction and justified the U.S. decision to go to war."
An editorial in Lebanon's Daily Star praises Powell for attempting to rein in Israel, and Ha'aretz reports that the U.S. is threatening to veto a U.N. resolution demanding that Israel not harm or deport Yasser Arafat, because it doesn't explicitly condemn terrorism by Palestinian militant groups.
Attorney General John Ashcroft accuses the American Library Association and other critics of fueling "baseless hysteria" about the government's ability to pry into the public's reading habits, during a speech delivered to a National Restaurant Association gathering.
New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau, who wrote the above article, tells Ashcroft, "Here I am, your stalker." Plus: Lichtblau's coverage of Ashcroft's tour is included in this comprehensive tour archive.
In a CNN "NewsNight" discussion of the ruling to postpone California's recall election, the editor of the Los Angeles Times' editorial page, which editorialized against the ruling, said that the longer Gov. Gray Davis is in office, "the more time there is for his opponents to stumble. Does Arnold Schwarzenegger really want to face another six months of questions that he doesn't answer?"
Frank Rich says that Schwarzenegger is being pilloried for using the same kind of showbiz antics that President Bush and many other politicians employ.
Adult-film actress and gubernatorial candidate Mary Carey, slams the California Broadcasters Assn. for playing fast and loose with its rules regarding the number of candidates participating in the Sept. 24 debate. Plus: 'Marketers relish a good recall.'
BuzzFlash revisits Florida, raising questions about the source of a $150,000 loan that was used to fund a direct-mail campaign, launched during the 2000 recount, to oust three Florida Supreme Court justices.
Administration 2, Press 0 The Washington Post's ombudsman writes that "the administration was more skillful in switching focus from Osama bin Laden to Saddam Hussein than the press was in detecting it early, and more skillful in linking Hussein to 9/11 in the public mind than the press was in challenging that, although it tried hard."
"Did the president and his chief advisors lie? I think this is the wrong question to be asking," argues George Lakoff. "The real issue is betrayal of trust."
"Are Republicans nasty? Do they refuse to accept election defeats? Do they subvert respect for democracy? If so," writes William Saletan, "they have no monopoly on these vices."
On Monday, a charter flight run by Pyonghwa Travel Agency, which is largely owned by members of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, became the first commercial flight in more than half a century to fly from South Korea to Pyongyang.
A South Korean automaker, that is also part of the Pyonghwa group, will begin marketing a car to North Koreans this month. A company official tells the Washington Post that Kim Jong Il's government "kept on rejecting ads... because they looked too much like we were trying to sell something.'" The car's $14,000 price tag is about 15 times what the average North Korean makes in a year.
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Among those interviewed are former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson, and Craig Unger, who reported for Vanity Fair on the post-9/11 evacuation of Bin Laden family members and other Saudis from the U.S. Spinsanity looks at how Unger's article is being distorted and Slate upates the outing of Wilson's wife as a CIA agent, asking: 'Did Rove Blow a Spook's Cover?'
Spinsanity also weighs in on Cheney's 'dissembling' and former CIA counterterrorism specialist, Vincent Cannistraro, tells the Boston Globe that Cheney's "willingness to use speculation and conjecture as facts in public presentations is appalling. It's astounding." Plus: 'Cheney in Wonderland' and 'Truth/Too little of it on Iraq.'
As a Democratic hawk, Rep. John Murtha, calls on President Bush to fire his defense leadership team, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Rice respond to questions about Saddam and 9/11.
Defense Department officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of concerns "about retribution for straying from the official line," tell the New York Times that according to new intelligence assessments, resentment of ordinary Iraqis may be a greater threat to the U.S. in Iraq than the terror threat being highlighted by senior Bush administration officials.
U.S. Justice Department lawyers say they intend to appeal to the Supreme Court a ruling requiring Cheney to divulge information about his energy task force.
Bono says that he had "a good old row" with President Bush, after confronting him about the gap between actual HIV-AIDS funding and what Bush promised in his State of the Union address.
Sydney Schanberg looks at how President Bush's "Texas Miracle," the basis for "No Child Left Behind," has been exposed as a scam, "getting headlines in Texas but only modest coverage elsewhere." Schanberg lauds the New York Times' Michael Winerip for his reporting on the issue.
The Most Busted Name in News Writing about Christiane Amanpour's outing of CNN as being "intimidated" during the Iraq war, Toronto Star media columnist Antonia Zerbisias notes that Amanpour was the only American TV reporter to call out CentCom -- during an interview with "desk jockey" Wolf Blitzer -- when a U.S. tank fired on Baghdad's Palestine Hotel, killing two journalists and wounding three.
Zerbisias reminds that the Baghdad bureaus of Al-Jazeera and Abu Dhabi TV were bombed on the same day that the Palestine Hotel was hit. In an April 8 report, NPR's Anne Garrels said that while there was no sniper fire coming from the hotel, the TV stations put themselves in harms way by staying near an area where there was fierce fighting. Read a Q & A with Garrels about her book, "Naked in Baghdad."
In an excerpt from the book "Embedded: The Media at War in Iraq, an Oral History," New York Times correspondent John Burns says that "Senior members of the information ministry took hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes from television correspondents who then behaved as if they were in Belgium. They never mentioned the function of minders. Never mentioned terror."
A Ha'aretz commentary argues that the Israeli public is being fed three big lies about the "separation fence.": That it will separate the Israelis and Palestinians, that it will be a border and that it will provide security. Plus: 'Why is Israel threatening to murder Arafat?'
U.S. Congress urged to put the 'French" back in fries and toast.
Thursday, September 18, 2003
The Guardian reports that Saudi Arabia, "in response to the current upheaval in the Middle East," has embarked on a strategic review that includes the option of acquiring nuclear weapons.
At a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, 15 Arab League nations have proposed a resolution condemning Israel for not signing the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which went into effect in 1970.
On the 25th anniversary of the Camp David peace accords, PBS' "NewsHour" interviews Jimmy Carter.
Read viewer reaction to Friedman's recent appearance on the "Charlie Rose Show."
In a transcribed interview on "Democracy Now!", ex-CIA analysts Ray McGovern and David MacMichael discuss the outing of former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife: "not even Richard Nixon stooped to that," offer an insider's analysis of pre-war intelligence claims and give the reaction of intelligence professionals to the return of the neocons to Washington with the Bush administration -- "The crazies are back."
The Los Angeles Times provides extensive background coverage in its report on remarks by President Bush that "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th," and "there's no question that Saddam Hussein had Al Qaeda ties."
Former State Department intelligence official Greg Thielmann, who retired last year, tells the Times that "It was the close association in the same thought, the same sentence, that led to that incorrect conclusion" that there was a link between Saddam and 9/11. "And I think it was done with great skill and deliberation."
President Bush's "no evidence" statement raises questions about the Congressional resolution authorizing war against Iraq.
The Justice Department promised to declassify data on how often the FBI sought records from libraries, bookstores and other businesses under a controversial provision of the Patriot Act. And according to a confidential memo from Attorney General Ashcroft to FBI Director Robert Mueller, that was obtained by the Washington Post, the provision has never been used.
Patriot Schmatriot Ha'aretz publishes excerpts from an address to law enforcement officials by the head of eBay's "law enforcement and compliance" department, in which "he tells the audience that eBay is willing to hand over everything it knows about visitors to its Web site that might be of interest to an investigator. All they have to do is ask."
Privacy watchdog declares code red over JetBlue Airways having given the U.S. Transportation Security Administration full travel records for 5 million of its customers.
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) says Seattle defied White House Drug Czar John Walters by voting to make marijuana arrests and prosecutions the lowest priority for police and prosecutors. The MPP also responded to Walters' call for "a national debate" on marijuana policy, by offering to debate the drug czar on national TV, ASAP.
Friday, September 19, 2003
In an excerpt from "Chasing the Sea: Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia," Tom Bissell writes of returning to Uzbekistan, five years after his first trip there as a Peace Corps volunteer. This time he was trying to smuggle money into the country to assist the wife of a Uzbek journalist, who was in prison "for publishing a parody of the nutritionless prose style" of Uzbekistan's president, Islam Karimov.
In a 2002 report, the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote that Uzbekistan "feels an awful lot like being back in the U.S.S.R... Sure, there's a slight thaw in the air, but old, repressive habits die hard."
Matt Taibbi looks at the career of Yegor Gaidar, a Prime Minister under Boris Yeltsin who has been invited by the U.S. to assist in the development of Iraq's postwar economy. Taibbi says that Gaidar, one of the chief architects of the Russian privatization effort, was part of a group whose legacy "was the wholesale theft of Russia's riches from the population, and their delivery into mafia and foreign control."
During an interview with reporters, Clark debated himselfover his position on the Iraq war resolution, concluding that "on balance, I probably would have voted for it." He also said that he was open to some cuts in the Pentagon's budget: "The armed forces are a want machine. They are structured to develop want."
Clark flip-flops: "I would never have voted for this war."
Steeling for Defeat? The Washington Post reports on the fallout from President Bush's decision -- "largely driven by his political advisers" -- to impose heavy tariffs on imported steel: "Eighteen months later, key administration officials have concluded that Bush's order has turned into a debacle."
In an AP interview, Sen. Edward Kennedy said the case for going to war against Iraq was a "fraud" that "was made up in Texas" to give Republians a political boost. Referring to a CBO report showing that only about $2.5 billion of the $4 billion being spent monthly on the war can be accounted for, he said ''My belief is this money is being shuffled all around to these political leaders in all parts of the world, bribing them to send in troops."
The AP reports that American scientists assigned to the weapons hunt in Iraq, as part of "Team Pox," have found no evidence that Iraq stockpiled smallpox. The article notes that "Bush administration officials often cited smallpox when describing Saddam's intentions -- and continue to do so despite the lack of evidence."
No Lie! Iraq's former information minister accuses Saddam of mishandling the war.
Baghdad blogger Riverbend writes that "Everyone is worried about raids lately. We hear about them from friends and relatives, we watch them on tv, outraged, and try to guess where the next set of raids are going to occur." Plus: Salam Pax gets promoted.
Leading California gubernatorial candidates are threatening to boycott next week's debate -- the only one Arnold Schwarzenegger has agreed to attend -- unless the format is changed so that candidates don't get the questions in advance.
The Los Angeles Times reports that in the last four days, when Schwarzenegger was doing Oprah, Larry and Howard Stern, he "has held a single eight-minute question-and-answer session with the reporters following his campaign."
Slinging in the Rain Howard Kurtz looks at the overhyped TV coverage of Hurricane Isabel.
Monday, September 22, 2003
Editor & Publisher reports that President Bush's admission that there's "no evidence that Hussein was involved with the September 11th," received front-page play in only three of America's 12 highest-circulation daily papers, with the New York Post and Wall Street Journal not even mentioning it. Plus: 'A puppet show in three acts' and 'pay no attention to the curtain behind the man.'
In an interview to air Monday evening on Fox, Bush responds to Sen. Edward Kennedy's charge that the case for going to war against Iraq was a "fraud" and that the U.S. is bribing foreign leaders to send troops: "I don't think we're serving our nation well by allowing the discourse to become so uncivil that people say -- use words that they shouldn't be using." Kennedy defended his comments in an interview with CNN.
Jay Bookman examines the context of Vice President Cheney's "Meet the Press" claim that Saddam was linked to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. It originated with Laurie Mylroie, an adjunct fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and was spelled out in a book she wrote in 2000 -- reissued after 9/11 as "The War Against America" -- that served as a rallying call for Iraq hard-liners attempting to link Saddam to 9/11.
More on the rejection of Mylroie's theory by U.S.' intelligence agencies and her connection to New York Times reporter Judith Miller, with whom she co-authored the 1990 book, "Saddam Hussein and the Crisis in the Gulf."
Bookman also raises the issue of Cheney's pre-war trips to CIA headquarters. In an interview on "Democracy Now!", former CIA analysts Ray McGovern and David MacMichael said that not only were Cheney's visits "unprecedented," but also that "the Secretary of State and Condeleezza Rice... coming out to the agency and saying OK, where are we at now, five days before his major speech to the UN, is bizarre in the extreme." The final installment of the interview was broadcast last Friday.
Necon "Plan for Global Dominance" tops Project Censored's list of the 25 most un-reported or under-reported news stories of 2002-2003.
Hammer Time During an April 22nd American Enterprise Institute briefing on the war in Iraq, Charles Krauthammer said: "Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing. We've had five weeks. Come back to me in five months. If we haven't found any, we will have a credibility problem."
The Independent reports that most of the 1,400 British and American members of the Iraq Survey Group are not currently in Iraq and that only a small fraction of the group is assigned to looking for weapons of mass destruction.
The Observer reports on documents obtained in early September by Greenpeace -- without crediting Greenpeace -- that included an e-mail from a director at the Exxon/Mobil-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute to the chief of staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. It begins "Thanks for calling and asking for our help," and goes on to describe CEI's plan to discredit an EPA study on climate change by filing a lawsuit to suppress it.
Newhouse New Service profiles another major funder of both the Competitive and American Enterprise Institutes: "Name a conservative idea -- whether it's school vouchers, faith-based initiatives or the premise that there's a worldwide clash of civilizations -- and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation is apt to have its fingerprints on it."
TalkLeft peviews the reported release of a memo from Attorney General Ashcroft to every federal prosecutor, demanding that they file the most serious charges possible -- those bringing the heaviest sentence under the sentencing guidelines -- in every case, beginning immediately.
Following a letter from the Society of Professional Journalists, calling on Ashcroft to make his appearances more accessible to the public and all forms of media, he gave print reporters in Louisville about five minutes to ask questions -- apparently the first time in his nationwide tour in support of the Patriot Act that he has done so.
Ashcroft also spoke to reporters following a Friday appearance in Minneapolis, and denied that calling the event on 24-hours notice was designed to limit protest. While 20 people protested Ashcroft in Minneapolis, he met with 150 protesters during an earlier visit to Louisville, which was announced further in advance.
Minnesota Sen. Mark Dayton said the authority Ashcroft wants would result in "enormous unrestrained power that we haven't given anyone in this country since J. Edgar Hoover..." After serving in the shadow of Paul Wellstone, Dayton was eclipsed by incoming Sen. Norm Coleman. Now Dayton is fighting back by taking a page from Coleman's PR playbook. He also has a novel health care proposal.
The U.S. is denying a claim made by the governor of Afghanistan's Zabul province, that at least eight nomadic tribespeople and two Taliban fighters were killed by a U.S. air strike, when a bomb landed on the nomads' tent. Plus: 'GI Slays Tiger in Bengal Bungle'
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
A new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll has Gen. Wesley Clark and Sen. John Kerry both leading President Bush, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Rep. Richard Gephardt and Howard Dean all trailing by three points or less among registered voters. The numbers.
Down With Iraq The poll also found that 50% of Americans now believe that Iraq was worth going to war over, the same percentage that approve of Bush's job performance. And 43% say Saddam was personally involved in 9/11, significantly lower than the Washington Post poll's 69%, but down only 8 points since the question was last asked by Gallup in March.
The AP obtains a detailed breakdown of how the Bush administration proposes to spend the $20.3 billion that it has requested for Iraqi reconstruction. According to Reuters, "Sabotage, looting and a more fragile infrastructure than anticipated are driving up costs."
Following an article on the proliferation of multipoint plans from the Bush administration -- "a pair of 10-point plans... four six-point plans, two five-point plans and a three-point plan, not to mention plans with 16, 22, 23 and 30 points apiece" -- Dana Milbank mainstreams an issue first raised by bloggers, who questioned the validity of Bush's war resolution following his admission that there was no evidence linking Saddam to 9/11.
Creative Fiction Sam Smith uses verbatim text from senior Bush administration officials and advisers for an article in the October issue of Harper's, titled "The Revision Thing: A history of the Iraq war, told entirely in lies."
Can't Deny It "That's life" quotes from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Democratic Congressman Jim Marshall says that the "falsely bleak" picture that the media is painting of the situation in Iraq, is hurting U.S. chances there, and that "We may need a few credible Baghdad Bobs to undo the harm done by our media. I'm afraid it is killing our troops."
"Would that this were true," argues the Philadelphia Inquirer's Trudy Rubin: "Islamists aren't inspired to kill by stories in the New York Times or the Inquirer, nor would a good-news blitz stop them. As for implying that news negativity undercuts home support for Bush's Iraq policy... Public support is being eroded not by the media but by prevarications of the Bush team."
Reporters in Iraq on all sides of the picture.
Iraq's Governing Council has reportedly decided to ban Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya from Iraq for a month, for allegedly inciting violence with their reporting. The ban must be approved by U.S. occupation administrator Paul Bremer.
"I felt for Amanpour," writes Eric Margolis, "having myself been slandered by the U.S. neo-conservative media as 'a friend of Saddam' for disputing White House claims about Iraq." Plus: Dixie Chicks decide to leave country.
Wired's Noah Shachtman reports that the FBI plans to demand reporters' notes in its attempts to nail the so-called "Homeless Hacker," Adrian Lamo, who has been charged with multiple crimes, including breaking into the New York Times Intranet.
Walter Cronkite has been sued by a Florida company for breaking a contract to host health-related promotional videos. Cronkite backed out after a New York Times article questioned whether he was being paid to help produce informercials, but the company is still touting the "Most Trusted Man in America" as the host of its "American Review" series.
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Slate's Fred Kaplan asks: "Has an American president ever delivered such a bafflingly impertinent speech before the General Assembly as the one George W. Bush gave?" Plus: 'A Vague Pitch Leaves Mostly Puzzlement.'
David Corn fact-checks the speech, and says that for the second year running, Bush "assaulted the truth" in front of the U.N., with his "rosy descriptions of present-day Iraq" and a "fuzzed-up depiction of the threat from Hussein."
A New York Times multimedia presentation includes sound clips from speeches by Bush, French President Chirac and U.N. Secretary General Annan, accompanied by analysis from correspondents. Plus: "The day clearly belonged to Kofi Annan."
CBS reports on an ACLU lawsuit filed on behalf of four advocacy organizations, claiming that the Secret Service forced them into protest zones or other areas where they couldn't be seen by President Bush or Vice President Cheney, or, be noticed by the media. The complaint lists several incidents where protesters were forced to assemble blocks away, while administration' supporters were allowed to maintain a more visible presence.
Iraq's Governing Council bans Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya from government offices and news conferences for two weeks, in what the Guardian calls a watered-down version of a decision reached by the council on Monday, to expel journalists working for the networks from Iraq for a month.
An AP photographer and his driver say that U.S. troops looking for explosives near Abu Ghraib prison, detained and handcuffed them. The driver quoted one soldier as saying: "You know about the explosives here, you are part of the people who put them here." Human Rights Watch: 'Responses Imperil Journalists.'
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times ran correspondent Mark Fineman's article on Iraq's new foreign investment policy. Later in the day, Fineman died in Baghdad, from an apparent heart attack. Read a Times' appreciation of his life and work.
Has the U.S. given up the ghost on WMD in Iraq?
John Pilger introduces his documentary "Breaking The Silence," that includes footage of remarks made about Saddam by Secretary of State Colin Powell, in Cairo, on February 24, 2001: "He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours."
In a lively "Talk of the Nation" segment, in which Thomas Friedman fielded one critical call after another, he said that "we did Iraq for one simple reason: because we could." (Audio only)
"Democracy Now!" has a transcribed debate on the roots of 9/11 and the failure of the last three presidential administrations to stop bin Laden. It's between the authors of "1000 Years For Revenge: International Terrorism and the FBI," and "Losing bin Laden: How Bill Clinton's Failures Unleashed Global Terror."
Reuters reports that according to a new book, "The CIA at War," following the 9/11 attacks, the CIA "paid mullahs and created fake Islamic religious leaders to preach a moderate message and counter anti-American sentiment in the Arab world."
Unresistance Is Futile The New York Times reports on a "highly unusual" air strike in which two U.S. fighter jets bombed a house near Fallujah, killing three people -- "the second time in two weeks, a unit of the 82nd Airborne appeared to have attacked an unresisting group of Iraqis."
Iraq Body Count calculates that the 2,846 violent deaths recorded by the Baghdad city morgue between mid-April and the end of August, is 1,500 more than pre-war death rates, with the mostly Iraqi on Iraqi violence resulting in an average daily death rate of 28 during August, triple what it was in April.
"On the Media" interviews the Washington Post's Walter Pincus on the media's attitude adjustment toward covering the Bush administration.
Ari Berman says Pincus and the Post's other national security reporters "had the goods" before the war, but that the paper's "editors chose not to display them."
Republicans lash out at Sen. Edward Kennedy over his remarks that the Iraq war was a "fraud" launched for political reasons. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison even complained about Kennedy's claim that the plan was hatched in Texas, calling it "a slur on my home state." Plus: Thomas Oliphant on Kennedy's "uncivil" truths.
IrreleVentura? A flat appearance by Jesse Ventura on Bill Maher's "Real Time," -- in which he made the mistake of debating economics with Paul Krugman -- continuing delays in his yet-to-be-aired MSNBC show, and an outdated political shtick, lead to speculation that Ventura's "politainer" career is on the ropes.
Thursday, September 25, 2003
An Editor & Publisher opinion piece asks if New York Times reporter Judith Miller broke "credible hard news" with her recent article -- 'Senior U.S. Official to Level Weapons Charges Against Syria.' Or, did she "only flack for hawks in the government, an all-too-familiar role for her over the last two years as she wrote a batch of stories supporting allegations that Iraq was developing and producing chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons?"
In a bit of WMD irony, Miller's byline appears above an article reporting that "an early draft of an interim report" by chief U.S. weapons hunter David Kay, says his Iraq Survey Group "has not found any of the unconventional weapons cited by the Bush administration as a principal reason for going to war." Plus: 'Waiting for Mr. Kay.'
A leaked copy of an internal EPA "Issue Paper" outlines options for responding to the White House, after it had made "major edits" to the climate change section of an EPA report and indicated that "no further changes may be made."
As the Bush administration enacts new rules to help faith-based groups get funds, John Gorenfeld looks at how the Rev. Sun Myung Moon has cemented his ties with the administration and obtained government funding for an after-school celibacy club called Free Teens USA.
Leading Indicator For the past 15 years the U.S. Census Bureau's annual report on poverty and household income has been released on a Tuesday or Thursday, but this year, it will be released on a Friday.
In a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that put President Bush's approval rating at 49 percent, 56 percent of respondents said that they would support paying for Iraq by repealing the portion of last May's tax cut that benefits upper-income taxpayers.
No shows and a walk-out carried the day at a New Hampshire fundraiser featuring Vice President Cheney, that is said to have raised $220,000, but attracted fewer than 90 people, half the number that protested outside.
California gubernatorial debate turns into the 'Arnold and Arianna Show.'
The ISP for blackboxvoting.org has yanked the site, after Diebold Election Systems claimed that links from the Black Box site to Diebold e-mails, constituted copyright infringement.
In a book to be published next month, Gen. Wesley Clark says that in November 2001, a senior U.S. military officer told him that the Bush administration's plan for invading Iraq had been part of a broader five-year military campaign in seven countries.
Spinsanity looks at how a number of conservative pundits are continuing to spin a Clark phone call.
The proliferation of blue movies in post-Saddam Iraq is meeting with resistance. A grenade attack that killed two people at a Mosul cinema that was showing a porn film, follows Sunday's attack at a store that sold pornographic videos.
"It might be argued that under the previous regime, the government committed the crimes," writes Robert Fisk in Baghdad. "Now, the people commit them. How can the Americans be held to account for honour killings? But they are accountable...The mandate of the CPA requires it to care for the people of Iraq. And they don't care."
Fisk says that by "even the most conservative estimates," 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been "gunned down" since mid-April, but he doesn't provide a source for the nationwide figure. Iraq Body Count reported this week that 2,846 violent deaths were recorded by the Baghdad city morgue between mid-April and the end of August.
The U.S. is still leading the way in worldwide arms sales. According to a Congressional report, it sold about $13.3 billion worth of conventional weapons in 2002, capturing 45.5 percent of the global market. Of that, $8.6 billion was to developing nations.
Following recent reports on Irsaeli plans for separation barrier security, such as installing remote-controlled machine guns, Ha'aretz's Amira Hass writes that "our military creativity is so well-developed because Israel does not intend to achieve the reasonable political solution, the essence of which is the evacuation of all the settlements and a return to the June 1967 borders."
The AP reports that the 27 Israeli pilots who are refusing to carry out air strikes in Palestinian areas, are being lambasted in Israel's media, with critics accusing the pilots "of being immature, naive or having a secret political agenda."
Friday, September 26, 2003
In a Los Angeles Times op-ed decrying Attorney General Ashcroft's tour practice of speaking almost exclusively to local TV reporters, Todd Gitlin and Jay Rosen write that "Ashcroft is betting that the press corps has no core, that reporters are more committed to seeking advantage over rivals than protecting the public's right to know."
Ashcroft's latest gambit is to offer the public little or no advance notice of where he'll be speaking.
The Washington Post reports that aides to Republican lawmakers say the numbers in President Bush's $20.3 billion request for rebuilding Iraq, "may be more defensible than they sound because the budget is not quite real. They suggest the administration has inflated costs, in part to avoid having to come back next year...and in part so they can skim some of the money for classified military efforts."
Bill Berkowitz details the marketing push launched by the White House and Congressional Republicans following Bush's September 7 address on Iraq, designed to -- as PR Week put it -- "shine light on progress made in Iraq."
Op-ed pieces prompt CNN interviews with Rep. Jim Marshall, who wrote that media coverage of post-war Iraq is so negative that it's costing American soldiers their lives, and former Senator Max Cleland, who said the U.S. is repeating the mistakes of Vietnam.
Bad news on Iraq being spun as spin!
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Reuters Group's CEO Tom Glocer responds to a question about the killing of two Reuters' journalists in Iraq: "I certainly don't believe that my government intentionally targets Reuters or anyone else's journalists, but let's just say protecting journalists isn't high enough on the Pentagon's priority list."
Glocer sent a letter to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld that was released Thursday, in which he criticized the Pentagon for not informing Reuters or the family of cameraman Mazen Dana, that an internal report clearing U.S. soldiers of any responsibility for the killing of Dana had been completed. He also called on the U.S. military to hand over the report.
The International Federation of Journalists called the report "the latest example of the military's 'casual disregard' for the killing of journalists by U.S. soldiers in Iraq."
Knight Ridder military correspondent Joseph Galloway asks: 'How to ruin a great army? See Donald Rumsfeld.'
Sen. John Kerry calls on Rumsfeld to resign over Iraq.
U.S. CentCom commander Gen. John P. Abizaid says that he's no longer counting on foreign troops to relieve American soldiers in Iraq early next year.
President Bush and Secretary of State Powell both defend Powell's February 2001 remark that Saddam didn't have "any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction." Powell said that "The extent of his holdings were yet to be determined" and Bush said that 9/11 changed his calculation: "You know, for a long period of time, we thought oceans could protect us from danger, and we learned a tough lesson on September the 11th."
Framing Saddam A building that served as Iraq's embassy in East Germany before being abandoned in 1990, has become a hot spot for plundering.
Before correcting its mistake, the White House blew the cover of a "Senior Administration Official," by leaving a reporter's background briefing mention of "Dr. Rice" in the transcript that was posted online. Earlier: U.S. soldier "unidentified" no more.
Screen capture illustrates Matt Drudge's stalker-like obsession with Wesley Clark.
A Hummer sales rep writes in a promotion letter: "Allow me to introduce you to a fabulous opportunity. A tax 'loophole' so big you could drive a Hummer H2 through it! Imagine being able to purchase the #1 large luxury SUV in America today... and receive a deduction for the entire purchase amount from your taxes this year!"
In an investment pitch to U.S. businesses, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi touts Italy's "beautiful secretaries" and the fact that the country has "fewer communists" than before.
The Bucks Start Here Joe M. Allbaugh, President Bush's longtime right-hand-man, who resigned in March as the director of FEMA, is now heading up a company that "was created specifically with the aim of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq."
Ahmed Chalabi's nephew hops on the gravy train too.
Read appreciations of the life and work of Edward Said, by Alexander Cockburn, 'A Mighty and Passionate Heart,' and John Nichols, 'Against Blind Imperial Arrogance,' Also, an interview with Atlantic Monthly.
Monday, September 29, 2003
Body & Soul points the way to coverage of, and commentary on, reports that the Justice Department is looking into an allegation that Bush administration officials blew the cover of CIA officer Valerie Plame, and, the bombshell dropped by a "senior administration official," who told the Washington Post that two top White House officials called at least six journalists and disclosed Plame's identity and occupation.
Speaking at the 1999 dedication of the George Bush Center for Intelligence, George H.W. Bush said: "I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors." Plus: The current President Bush weighed in on leaking in 2001.
'Time for Reporters to Name Names?' A letter to Media News asks: "is it not the responsibility of these contacted journalists to divulge the names of those who broke the law? Is it not time for a reassessment of the anonymous source when the media is being used as a tool of intimidation?" Scroll down for a call to ID whoever is responsible for cable news crawl content.
Josh Marshall suggests putting the Weekly Standard on the case, since last week it reported that at its request, "White House staffers went through the logs to check whether [Wesley] Clark had ever called White House political adviser Karl Rove." Scroll up for more, including allegations that Rove was fired from the 1992 Bush presidential campaign after he planted a negative story with columnist Robert Novak.
On Sunday, the Washington Post also reported that in a letter to CIA Director George Tenet, the leaders of the House intelligence committee criticized U.S.' intelligence agencies for using largely outdated, "circumstantial" and "fragmentary" information with "too many uncertainties" to conclude that Iraq had WMD and links to al-Qaeda.
The New York Times plays catch up on both of the Post's major stories, but doesn't mention the allegation that two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and revealed Plame's identity and occupation.
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
David Corn takes his due credit and calls the CIA leak 'Big Trouble For Bush,' but Jack Shafer writes that "unless some startling news surfaces about the leakers, their identities, and their motives, I doubt this summer scandal will ripen into delectable fall fruit."
The Houston Chronicle reports that "In 1992, Rove was fired as a consultant for the Bush-Quayle Texas campaign, after officials suspected that he was the source for a column by Novak and Roland Evans that portrayed the Texas presidential operation as in disarray."
During Monday's White House Press Briefing, spokesman Scott McClellan defended Rove as "someone that is committed to the highest standards of conduct," prompting Jerome Doolittle to counsel McClellan that it's "absolutely fatal to lie to a roomful of reporters when every last one of them not only knows you are lying to them, but knows you know it." Plus: The co-author of "Bush's Brain" weighs in on Rove.
At one point McClellan was asked how President Bush knew that Karl Rove was not a leaker: "What, is he clairvoyant? How does he know?"
TalkLeft connects the dots between two New York Times' articles to reveal the 'Latest Spin in the Terror War.'
As part of its 'Mission Not Accomplished' cover package, Time reports that Saddam Hussein may have been on the short end of a long con, perpetuated by underlings who "appear to have invented weapons programs and fabricated experiments to keep the funding coming." Plus: Iraq defector data said to have been of little or no value.
In Newsweek's "The Unbuilding of Iraq," a "dissident Pentagon official" characterizes the situation at the Coalition Provisional Authority: "So there they are, sitting in their palace: 800 people, 17 of whom speak Arabic, one is an expert on Iraq. Living in this cocoon. Writing papers. It's absurd." Plus: Marshall Plan vs. Iraq plan and 'Who's Sordid Now?'
The Army and Air Force failed to obey a law requiring the creation of baseline medical records for soldiers sent to Iraq, according to a new GAO report. The 1997 law was passed after the Pentagon was slow to acknowledge and deal with what became known as Gulf War Syndrome.
The Memory Hole has the documents on the more than 22,000 people who have deserted the U.S. Army since 1997.
The Comeback Khid In an article about Vice President Cheney continuing to push an unconfirmed meeting in Prague between hijacker Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence agent, a U.S. official tells the Washington Post that after reading a proposal from Cheney's office to include Atta in Secretary of State Powell's U.N. address, "some of us said, 'Wow! Here we go again.' You write it. You take it out, and then it comes back again."
In 'Cheney as Extremist,' Jim Lobe writes that "There had long been hints that Cheney was not quite the reasonable and deliberate presence that he so effectively conveyed throughout his long career."
Scroll down for the The Daily Howler's explanation of why there was no room on the front page for a Washington Post article showing that Bush administration officials misrepresented what Iraqis said in two polls.
GOP strategists are urging Miller to run against California Sen. Barbara Boxer. "There's a lot of us who'd like to see him campaign," said Rob Stutzman, a Republican consultant and spokesman for Arnold Schwarzenegger, adding that "Dennis Miller is at the cutting edge of biting political commentary."
In a Los Angeles Times op-ed on the smear campaign against Wesley Clark, Josh Marshall writes that "If a question is asked often enough, the truth becomes a secondary matter. That's what the White House is hoping will happen with Clark. That's how the game is played. And the race is on." Earlier: Matt Drudge stalks Clark.
Responding to a U.S. Census Bureau report that the number of people without health insurance grew by 2.4 million in 2002, the head of a consumer advocacy group said that the 43.6 million Americans estimated to be uninsured, exceeds the cumulative population of 24 states plus the District of Columbia. Plus: 'Boiling Brew.'
'Planet On a Hot Tin Roof' TomDispatch rounds up recent writing on the state of the environment, and advances in energy technology that could help to turn down the heat.
"Fresh Air's" Terry Gross interviewed on the art of interviewing.
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