|December, 2005 link archive
Thursday, December 1, 2005'Slouching Toward Genocide' Robert Parry argues that identifying "the vast majority of the 'enemy' as Sunnis," as President Bush did in his "complete victory" speech, is tantamount to "targeting a religious minority for defeat."
The Star Tribune cites Fallows and a new study by two U.S. Army analysts, in editorializing that "the impressive progress in Iraq that Bush asserted is a chimera" And Time's Michael Ware aggressively challenges Bush's version of events concerning the assault on Tal Afar.
Bush's speech was described as 'an ill-defined muddle,' "notable for what he left out," with 'Detail but no new substance' as he "sketched nothing less than a new mission for the U.S. military" and "offered an optimistic picture ... that was often at odds with assessments by government agencies and independent groups."
Left I on the News analyzes the "opposition" party's response, and a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, released after Bush's speech, finds that two-thirds had not heard of it, and that a majority do not believe Bush has a plan for victory in Iraq.
The New York Times editorializes that Bush spelled out "the most grandiose set of ambitions for the region since the vision of Nebuchadnezzar's son Belshazzar, who saw the hand writing on the wall," and finds him "less in touch with reality than Richard Nixon.
Two members of Congress describe their ride in an "ice-cream truck," which overturned after Iraqis gave "Ike of Arabia" a "robe and headdress and made him an honorary sheik." Plus: A political comeback for Saddam?
An 'Oil spot' approach is said to be replacing the 'whack-a-mole' strategy in Iraq, although an advocate of the former says that the U.S. military is "having a hard time convincing its best officers to take an assignment with an Iraqi unit."
"I made a mistake when I voted for war," Rep. John Murtha reportedly told a Pennsylvania civic group, while predicting that most U.S. troops will be out of Iraq within a year, because the Army is "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth" -- in contrast to the 'Booming Business for Psy/Ops.'
After Wednesday's report that "the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops," Jonathan Landay reveals that "U.S. Army officers have been secretly paying Iraqi journalists to produce upbeat ... reports," and funneling payments through the Baghdad Press Club.
Landay goes on to write that the "Pentagon's media campaign ... reflects a widespread belief by some Bush administration officials that the news media are merely another interest group to be spun, influenced, bullied or, if necessary, bought or rented."
More on 'pay to plant' from the New York Times and the Washington Post, which reports that in the 'Land of Lincoln,' they're still hiring people "to mount an aggressive ... campaign that will accurately inform the Iraqi people of the coalition's goals and gain their support." Plus: 'The Lincoln Group's partisan staffers.'
Detailing how "for many pundits, the origins of the Iraq War are old news," FAIR suggests that "their real concern may be that a robust discussion of pre-war intelligence could very well leave all sides ... looking culpable for the Iraq War."
'Spreading the Plame' Bob Norman of New Times "comes to the defense" of Judith Miller -- by fingering some of her "accomplices" in the media, who should be "held accountable for the Iraq debacle." Earlier: The 'Mystery of Woodward's Three Sources.'
Newsweek reports that a "senior official at 10 Downing Street ... seemed to give credence to the Al-Jazeera threat," telling the magazine's London bureau chief: "I don't think Tony Blair thought it was a joke."
A White House spokesman says people "cross the border into silly land" by reading too much into a 1985 memorandum by Judge Samuel Alito, in which he discusses an "opportunity to advance the goals of overruling Roe v. Wade and, in the meantime, of mitigating its effects."
Before the California Supreme Court refused to reopen his case, Amy Goodman spoke with Stanley Tookie Williams, beginning the interview by asking: "I know you don't have much time, so I want to ask why you are petitioning the governor for executive clemency?"
The founder of a right wing rock group, whose compulsory attendance public school appearances are sometimes subsidized by federal drug grant funds, assures a reporter that his "American patriotic message" is "Christian all the way, through and through."
Friday, December 2, 2005
'How (Not) to Withdraw from Iraq' Tom Engelhardt finds news coverage of the public debate over "pullout, withdrawal, withdrawals, draw-down" shifting into "full-frontal anonymity mode," and heralds "the return of Vietnamization."
The Black Commentator charges Sen. Barack Obama with providing a "magnificent diversion" for what it calls "the Iraq war-prolongation camp of the Democratic Party," which first "embraced Murtha, and then kissed him off." Plus: Putting out a hit on Lieberman and a hold on Kerry.
The U.S. military says that a roadside bomb killed 10 Marines while they were on a foot patrol near Fallujah.
"Iraqi and American officials in Iraq say the single most important fact about the insurgency is that it consists not of a few groups but of dozens, possibly as many as 100," reports the New York Times. And a new study says the insurgency "remains as robust as ever and could grow a good deal stronger."
With two more U.S. allies leaving Iraq, five people were arrested in Belgium on Thursday and "charged with involvement in a terrorist network that sent volunteers to Iraq," including a Belgian woman who became a suicide bomber, reports the Independent.
Although "Iraq and Israel are still officially at war," the Guardian picks up an Israeli newspaper's report that private firms employing "former members of Israel's elite and covert forces were training Kurdish fighters in anti-terrorism techniques."
The "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" is "an embarrassing piece of work," writes Paul Krugman. "Yet it's also an important test for the news media. The Bush administration has lost none of its confidence that it can get away with fuzzy math and fuzzy facts - that it won't be called to account for obvious efforts to mislead the public."
With prosecutors reportedly probing whether Jack Abramoff "brokered lucrative jobs for Congressional aides at powerful lobbying firms in exchange for legislative favors," the position of director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics has been vacant for two years.
A 73-page Justice Department memo, "kept under tight wraps for two years," argued that a Texas redistricting plan promoted by Rep. Tom DeLay was illegal, "but senior officials overruled them and approved the plan," reports the Washington Post.
As 'oil company executives retool responses on energy task force roles,' a Harris poll finds that 90 percent of Americans feel that big companies have too much influence on government, up from 80 percent in 2003.
"So here we sit," writes Molly Ivins, "watching a great, stinking skein of corruption being fished to the surface of Washington, while the town is simultaneously filled with a great babble about God, prayer and morality." Not to mention 'Alabama's Taliban.'
In a World AIDS Day speech, the founder of POZ magazine said that "Many of our hardest-won victories ... have, with the rise of George Bush and his evangelical constituency, been rolled back. Five years ago, for example it was unthinkable that America's war on AIDS would become a war on condoms."
'Al That Jaz!' Rebecca Dana examines what might appear to be "a curious business decision," while the "real transgression" that provoked 'The War on Al Jazeera,' according to Jeremy Scahill, "is a simple one: being there."
TalkLeft unpacks a New York Times report, that following a conversation in which Time's Viveca Novak told Karl Rove's lawyer that Matt Cooper might have interviewed Rove about Valerie Plame, Rove changed his testimony to the grand jury. It has been noted that Novak and Rove's lawyer are friends.
The doyenne of 'Dawn Patrol,' who told the New Yorker's Ken Auletta that she was "very proud" of her interview with the "runaway bride," is reportedly "being actively wooed by CBS to be its next evening news anchor."
As Eugene Robinson argues that "The state shouldn't execute" Stanley Tookie Williams, "but only because the state shouldn't execute anybody," the U.S. carries out its 1,000th execution since Gary Gilmore said, "Let's do it."
Monday, December 5, 2005
"The U.S. does not permit, tolerate or condone torture," said Secretary of State Rice, before departing for Europe where she 'faces growing anger,' following a Washington Post article on an "erroneous rendition" and Der Speigel's report on CIA planes passing through German airspace. Earlier: 'The Hunt for Hercules N8183J.'
The head of Project Censored says that military autopsy reports released by the ACLU, "provide indisputable proof that detainees are being tortured to death while in US military custody. Yet the US corporate media are covering it with the seriousness of a garage sale for the local Baptist Church."
"Private security contractors have been involved in scores of shootings in Iraq, but none have been prosecuted," reports the Los Angeles Times, following a review of reports released in response to a FOIA request. See how many FOIA requests for Pentagon documents were filed by various media outlets between 2000 and early 2005.
A disputed CIA missile attack is said to have killed "at least the fourth" Al Qaeda No. 3, and a list of "captured or killed Zarqawi lieutenants" has reached 35. Plus: Are reports of Al-Qaeda takedowns timed to coincide with the announcements of U.S. deaths in Iraq?
About Face As the White House ponders a defense spending ceiling, the Wall Street Journal reports on a "Pentagon move to sacrifice manpower in order to protect high-tech weaponry."
As the Washington Post reports on "the difficulty that the Democratic foreign-policy elite has in coming together around a crisp alternative" to Bush's Iraq policy, Alexander Cockburn discloses "the Republicans' only source of comfort" after Rep. Murtha's stance signals "mutiny in the U.S. senior officer corps."
While the FBI is said to have "reopened an inquiry" into the forged Niger documents, the Senate Intelligence Committee's Phase II investigation into pre-war intelligence, is reportedly "still facing opposition from administration officials and has seen little action from the committee's chairman."
In "All The President's Flacks," Frank Rich refers to an interview in "Feet to the Fire: The Media After 9/11," in which Knight Ridder's Warren Strobel said: "The most surprising thing to us was we had the field to ourselves for so long in terms of writing stuff that was critical or questioning the administration's case for war."
Rich also cites Jonathan Landay's article, "Lack of Hard Evidence of Iraqi Weapons Worries Top U.S. Officials," published on Sept. 6, 2002. Two days later, when Bush administration officials blanketed the airwaves, the article wasn't mentioned on "Meet the Press" or on CNN's "Late Edition."
Landay and Strobel just reported that the State Department "has been using political litmus tests to screen private American citizens before they can be sent overseas to represent the U.S., weeding out critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policy." Earlier: 'Ambassador de Sade.'
After Venezuela's congressional election, "opposition has, for all practical purposes, ceased to exist," reports the New York Times, and President Hugo Chavez is quoted as saying that "Death is natural and necessary, and I think the time for the death of the old parties has come."
'The Leader,' a poetic salute to President Bush that was hidden in an acrostic, is found to have slipped past school textbook censors in Pakistan.
Tuesday, December 6, 2005
As it's said that 'Rice Miscasts Policy on Torture,' offering 'A Weak Defense,' current and former CIA officers tell ABC News that "Two CIA secret prisons were operating in Eastern Europe until last month," and the U.S. "scrambled to get all the suspects off European soil before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived there."
The officers also said "enhanced interrogation techniques" were used on all but one of the "11 top al Qaeda suspects" that "have now been moved to a new CIA facility in the North African desert." The reaction to the story included a pledge that "This is the last time I ever consume anything from ABC."
As two suicide bombers kill at least 43 people at Baghdad's police academy, Baghdad Burning's Riverbend, watching the 'Mother of all Trials,' concludes that the man with the gavel would "make a good divorce judge," and wonders "when Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and the rest will have their day" in court.
Sen. John Kerry called for Rumsfeld to be fired, following a speech in which the defense secretary said that "To be responsible ... one needs to stop defining success in Iraq as the absence of terrorist attacks."
Rumsfeld also blasted the U.S. news media, complaining about "The pessimistic view of the so-called elites," and how the pay to plant story had been "pounded in the media." Asked on ABC if President Bush had "ordered the program shut down?," his National Security Adviser said Bush had "asked Secretary Rumsfeld to look at it."
"Nowhere in Bush's Plan for Victory speech was there mention of undermining the efforts by American troops to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis by using phony news and paycheck journalism," writes a Kansas City Star columnist. "Naturally the White House is shocked -- shocked!" As was Christopher Hitchens.
Iraqi Vice President Ghazi al-Yawer has "disputed contentions by U.S. officials, including President Bush, that the training of security forces was gathering speed, resulting in more professional troops," reports the AP.
Wesley Clark's case against a pullout from Iraq "until the job is done," as set forth in an op-ed for the New York Times, is called "seriously pie-in-the-sky stuff" and "rearranging deck chairs," as well as "incoherent."
As a 'Texas Judge Lets Stand 2 of 3 Charges' against Rep. Tom DeLay, a new USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll of his home district finds DeLay losing to an unnamed Democrat. DeLay was seen rushing away from photographers outside a fundraiser attended by the 'Velcro veep.'
After the former 9/11 Commission handed out low grades in a final report card on the nation's efforts to prevent future terrorist attacks, 9/11 widow Kristen Breitweiser declared the panel's findings to be no surprise.
Among the better grades: an A-minus for "vigorous effort against terrorist financing," although a GAO report recently found that 'Turf wars hinder U.S. attack on terror cash.'
As Iran announces 'plans to build two more reactors,' Raw Story illustrates how a Jerusalem Post article trumpeted by the Drudge Report, "grossly sensationalizes" IAEA head Mohamed El-Baradei's comments about Iran's nuclear capabilities.
'Accidental Activists' AlterNet profiles the parents of Rachel Corrie, who argue that the Caterpillar company "has continued to sell equipment to the Israeli military despite evidence they have been used for illegal activity." Earlier: The Wall Street Journal on Corrie.
After Focus on the Family closed its accounts in protest, a Wells Fargo spokesman confirmed that "We absolutely made a $50,000 grant to GLAAD, and we're absolutely proud of our support for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community."
A Pasadena parishioner wants to 'Get the IRS out of my church,' writing that "The recent revelations of an IRS investigation into its non-profit status as the result of a sermon given a week before the last presidential election ... has outraged and galvanized our congregation."
"Even the most godless among us has to tremble before the biblical scale of the past twelve months' headlines," writes Matt Taibbi, "the tsunami that swallowed south Asia ... Katrina (also known as America Not Immune) and now this."
Wednesday, December 7, 2005
El-Masri v. Tenet As the ACLU files a lawsuit on behalf of a German man, challenging the CIA's practice of "extraordinary rendition," the New York Times reports that "it would be hard to imagine a more sudden and thorough tarnishing of the Bush administration's credibility than the one taking place [in Europe] right now."
"A massive federal prosecution" produces "not a single guilty verdict" against former college professor and White House visitor Sami Al-Arian, who was fired from his teaching job and "press-ganged" after his indictment for "aiding and abetting terrorism" in 2003. More from Eric Boehlert on 'The terror verdict TV networks ignored.'
"The lies haven't stopped," says Sydney Schanberg, suggesting that "Those offended by the jolt of the word 'lies' can substitute a gentler synonym, such as 'fictions' or 'frauds' or 'breaches of the national trust.'" Plus: 'War crimes made easy,' President Bush gets a new Russian 'soul mate,' and Seymour Hersh finally offers up some "good news." (Click on Baltimore Sun link.)
In 'The New Rules of Engagement,' Time's Baghdad bureau chief Michael Ware, who last week challenged assertions made by Bush, reports on the rifts between Iraqi insurgent groups and al-Qaeda in Iraq. And as part of a series on 'Iraqi poster wars,' BAGnewsNotes wonders if the U.S. is 'Behind the Allawi banner?'
As a presidential speech touts progress in rebuilding Iraq, Congress is reportedly showing interest in what the administration did -- and didn't -- do with "prewar analysis that was correct in forecasting the post-Saddam chaos that currently engulfs the country."
In responding to Bush's speech, Rep. John Murtha reportedly said that the Pentagon is "going to ask for another $100 billion next year" for operations in Iraq.
Tuesday's double suicide attack at a Baghdad police academy is said to reveal that "insurgents have infiltrated the deepest levels of the Iraqi forces, a danger that has bedeviled the American enterprise from the start."
Scroll down for Wolf Blitzer's interview with Ramsey Clark, which went downhill after Blitzer asked: "Do you think [Saddam] should be standing before this court as a defendant for the crimes he has committed?" An agitated Clark responded: "Well, wait a minute, you've already concluded he's committed the crime."
'Agent Buzz' Defense Tech sifts evidence suggesting that "insurgents in Iraq could very well have chemical weapons. And they may be using them -- on themselves."
Editor & Publisher questions how "misreporting up the chain of command" led to the U.S. military misleading "the media and the families of ten Marines."
Mark LeVine sees the fate of the hostages as a reminder that "there was a moment after the invasion, before the insurgency took root, when the peace movement could have made a difference in Iraq."
As a British Labour MP characterizes the Gaza withdrawal as "a veil for continued persecution and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians,' Haaretz reports on the culture shock of resettled Gaza settlers who "had been inundated by perks from all directions."
With Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito being sold as "the Christmas candidate," the White House is in the crosshairs of some conservative Christians for committing the same sin as Fox News' parent company.
A public television producer says that Fox News and "many American newspapers" appear to be following the same rules he once observed in writing supermarket tabloid stories, such as "Rabid Nun Infects Entire Convent."
After FAIR found C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" to be 'failing' at its "No. 1 Goal," Media Matters asked: 'Why is C-SPAN hosting Brent Bozell?' And the Wall Street Journal's Paul Gigot signs off from PBS, praising Kenneth Tomlinson for "defending the importance of balance and diversity on public television."
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's 'Compassionate Side Comes Out' for the press covering Iraq, and Slate's John Dickerson feels some holiday sympathy for the "virtual prisoner in the White House" who must host 26 Christmas parties.
Thursday, December 8, 2005
In what reportedly "appears to be a major shift in U.S. policy on detainees," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that U.S. "obligations under the CAT (Convention Against Torture) ... extend to U.S. personnel wherever they are, whether they are in the United States or outside of the United States."
As Der Speigel asks, "Does Anyone Believe Condoleezza Rice?," Robert Parry finds that she has something in common with her predecessor, and the Los Angeles Times reports that "a classified memorandum described in a court case indicates that the Pentagon has considered sending a captured militant abroad to be interrogated under threat of torture."
The U.N.'s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, drew a rebuke from U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, after she said in a statement commemorating Human Rights Day that "The absolute ban on torture ... is becoming a casualty of the so-called 'war on terror.'"
As the 'U.S. rejects new talks on climate change,' Inuit indigenous peoples file a complaint accusing the U.S. government "of violating their human rights by failing to do enough to fight a thaw of Arctic ice undermining their hunting cultures," reports Reuters. Earlier: 'The world's toxic waste dump.'
An Orlando man said to be returning from "a missionary trip in Ecuador" was gunned down by federal air marshals after running off a plane in Miami, in what a Homeland Security spokesman called a "textbook scenario." An ABC News report says that a "missing Egyptian may help explain why air marshals acted as they did."
Although the State Department had "not received," as of Dec. 1, "any indication that the Egyptian government isn't interested in having peaceful, free and fair elections," "police firing tear gas and rubber bullets" reportedly "blocked voters from reaching polling stations" in Wednesday voting.
While Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new party may fall "to the left of Attila the Hun," writes Middle East hand George Bisharat, "no one should imagine that reconciliation with Palestinians nor even negotiations are anytime imminent." And Iran's president 'questions Holocaust,' suggests that "Israel be moved to Europe."
'Acts of defiance against war turn ordinary people into criminals,' reports the Independent, including a conviction for "standing outside Downing Street and reading aloud the names of the 97 British soldiers who have died in the Iraq conflict."
'The Lost John Lennon Interview' finds the former Beatle describing his growing political awareness: "There came a time when George and I said 'Listen, when they ask next time, we're going to say we don't like that war and we think they should get right out.'"
Clarence Page can only "wonder how bad the real news must be," as "Iraqi children could be heard shouting ... 'Support George Bush,'" in what Slate calls another feel-good story from the Baghdad Post.
Referring to Matt Taibbi's "vicious, nasty name-calling" in his article, 'The End of the Party,' the Washington Post's magazine writer says, "there's absolutely no excuse for it -- except, of course, accuracy." Plus: Rep. Tom DeLay, home and away.
All the Resident's Men The Post's executive editor says he has been out of touch with Bob Woodward, "Because he's a rich man, who has an entire floor of his house as his office, and he has a staff of his own working for him. He doesn't come into the office so much."
Previewing 'Life After Lapham,' Kurt Anderson writes that outgoing Harper's editor "Lewis Lapham, Yale '56, stuck around because George W. Bush, Yale '68, was too appalling and thus too appealing a target. 'I felt I knew these people, my family having been in the oil business ... Bush is a figure I can recognize."
Weighing the case of 'The New York Times Versus The Civil Society,' Edward Herman cites the late John Hess as saying that "in all 24 years of his service at the paper he 'never saw a foreign intervention that the Times did not support.'" A book publisher also has a 'Bitch' with the Times.
Friday, December 9, 2005
Extra Extraordinary Rendition "Evidence" used by the White House in 2002 to assert links between Al Qaeda and Iraq was reportedly "fabricated" by a fearful ghost detainee after he had been "secretly handed over to Egypt" by "the Pinochets of the next generation."
The state department's top legal adviser admitted that the U.S. has not given the Red Cross access to all detainees in its custody, and a Human Rights Watch analyst reportedly said that "Poland was the main base for CIA interrogations in Europe, while Romania played more of a role in the transfer of detained prisoners."
Rep. John Murtha strikes again, Tom Engelhardt recalls how President Bush 'Got a Life' in the first place, and an appearance on "Larry King Live" by two former presidents, prompts Arianna Huffington to ask: "What Planet is Bill Clinton Living On?"
As "America's right wing echo chamber" is said to be "having a field day with the CPT kidnappings -- sneering, implicitly or directly, that the peace activists had it coming," Kathy Kelly writes that "since the beginning of the U.S. occupation, CPT members have quietly yet courageously worked on behalf of Iraqi detainees imprisoned by U.S. authorities."
Kelly, whose new book describes both her work in Iraq during the "Shock and Awe" bombardment, and her time in a federal prison for leading a protest against the School of the Americas, says the U.S. occupation is "creating terrorists faster than we can count."
Another large-scale suicide bombing kills at least 30 on a Baghdad bus bound for the Shiite south, and a New York Times report suggests that a possible break-up of the Shiite coalition could create an opening for "Ayad Allawi, or even Ahmad Chalabi."
'Dangerous Assignment' The American Journalism Review finds "little surprise that terrorists and criminal gangs would strike at journalists. But no one expected 15 deaths to come at the hands of American troops."
Paul Street charges the local Ten O'Clock news with 'Normalizing Evil' in its "upbeat" reporting on U.S. combat deaths, while "Soaks up grease better than Bill O'Reilly!" is advanced as a reason for 'keeping the paper around.'
As Halliburton dangles big bucks at a job fair, one hopeful candidate compares "Iraq in 2005 to Alaska in the late 1800s," and another "doesn't think that working in Iraq would be tantamount in any way to supporting" the war. Plus: The Carlyle Group wants to gobble up Dunkin Donuts.
With the acquisition of Georgia Pacific by 'two of the nation's worst environmental criminals,' Bill Berkowitz asks: "Who are these men with deep right-wing ties who own a company that will soon become the nation's largest privately held corporation?"
Criticism of the plan to house Katrina victims in trailers, rather than giving them cash, is said to be "the first rebuke by a top FEMA official of one of the government's biggest recovery initiatives."
The president of Tulane University describes a plan to cut 230 faculty members, seven NCAA Division I sports, and five engineering programs, as a "win-win" for the largest employer in the Crescent City. Plus: 'Goodbye, New Orleans.'
Monday, December 12, 2005
The Washington Post quotes an Iraqi official as describing "severe torture" at a newly-raided Interior Ministry detention center, citing "breaking of bones, torture with electric shock, extraction of fingernails and cigarette burns to the neck and back."
Arthur Silber argues that with the Bush administration's torture policy, "we have now crossed a critical line and begun the descent into a moral abyss that may destroy us in time," with Paul Craig Roberts adding that "the prestige of the Western world is gone forever."
After a Philadelphia speech, in which he said that 30,000 Iraqis have been killed in the war, Bush found Rep. John Murtha hard on his heels, while Frank Rich noted "desperate shifts in White House showmanship."
"We should get out of Iraq the way Gorbachev got out of Afghanistan, the way De Gaulle got out of Algeria, and the way Mendes-France got the French out of Indochina," says Daniel Ellsberg, whose memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers recalls how he once "helped prosecute a war I felt at the outset to be doomed."
Alexander Cockburn salutes "the resourcefulness of those Iraqi editors [who] managed to get paid to print the Pentagon's handouts. Here in the Homeland, editors pride themselves in performing the same service, without remuneration."
With Katrina "off the radar screen" at the White House, and the fate of the poor evoking charges of "ethnic cleansing" in New Orleans, an investigation turns up evidence that following Hurricane Wilma, 'FEMA reimbursements mainly benefit higher income groups.'
U.S. officials reportedly "threatened organizers" in an attempt to prevent an appearance by former president Bill Clinton at last week's U.N. Climate Change Conference, then walked out of the event, blaming Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, who had urged the U.S. to listen to the "global conscience."
Time reporter Viveca Novak says that Karl Rove's attorney "looked surprised and very serious," when she informed him, on a date she can't recall, that his client "had discussed intelligence operative Valerie Plame with another journalist."
The Los Angeles Times investigates what a former U.S. official calls a "state-sponsored counterfeiting" operation, involving "North Korean diplomats... Chinese gangsters ... Irish guerrillas and an alleged ex-KGB agent," allegedly using "equipment from Japan, paper from Hong Kong and ink from France ... to make fake U.S. $100 bills."
'Digital Dumps' The Washington Post follows up on the discovery by a Seattle non-profit, that donations of old computers and other electronic devices are ending up in a landfill in Nigeria, where "many of the hard drives recovered from computers in Lagos contained a great deal of confidential information."
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
After '1,000 Days Of War,' Patrick Cockburn reports that "every month up to a thousand fresh corpses arrive at the mortuary in Baghdad."
Asked by NBC's Brian Williams to defend predictions that "the U.S. would be welcomed as liberators" in Iraq, President Bush replied, "I think we are welcomed. But it was not a peaceful welcome."
On the last day of campaigning in Iraq, as "four U.S. Army soldiers died in a roadside bombing, gunmen killed a Sunni Arab candidate for parliament, and militants tried to blow up a leading Shiite politician," Slate was running a campaign blog by Ahmad Chalabi's daughter, who identifies her dad as "a liberal democratic candidate."
The head of the Badr Organization is quoted as warning that if Baathists regain power as a result of Iraq's electoral process, then "we will take up arms against them," and already "it's like Chicago in the '20s."
Chris Lehmann finds Defense Secretary Rumsfeld "holding forth on-- what else? -- the responsibilities of the media," 'While the Lincoln Group Spins.'
The Chicago Tribune reports on the millions that the 'U.S. Paid For Media Firm Afghans Didn't Want,' and Pacific Views rounds up coverage of the Rendon Group, a key player in the 'Military's Information War.'
Ralph Nader laments 'The Widening Wasteland' of "Advertisements, Infomercials and Stacatto News," and Robert Parry locates 'The Meaning of (the War Over) Christmas,' calling it "a testament to the investment conservatives have made in media over three decades."
Newsweek's Howard Fineman tells a university audience that Bob Woodward has become a "court stenographer" for the Bush administration.
After the killing of Stanley Tookie Williams, "most of the news media witnesses ... expressed concern about the slowness of the process," while a legal expert found "nothing in the tone of the governor's decision" denying clemency that "suggests it was a close call or agonized over."
The AP finds 'Europeans Outraged' at what Dave Zirin calls Schwarzenegger's "mission accomplished moment" for his "right wing, pro-death base." And "had not the President too pleaded something quite similar, implying that ... good works ... should somehow nullify the crime."
'It's not about Tookie,' the Los Angeles Times editorializes -- "and, no, I don't think Bill Clinton should have executed Ricky Ray Rector either," adds James Wolcott, as the WSWS notes that 3,415 prisoners remain on death row in the U.S.
A former top aide to one of four lawmakers publicly linked to the Abramoff lobbying probe is reportedly "talking to Justice Department investigators," as the Washington Post charts 'How Abramoff Spread the Wealth.'
With fraud litigation against the company said to be imminent, the CEO of Diebold has resigned, citing "personal reasons," after a whistleblower reportedly "raised grave concerns about the company's electronic voting technology."
The Washington Post reports that the Supreme Court will review the Texas redistricting devised by Rep. Tom DeLay. The article notes that senior Justice officials overruled Department lawyers who objected that the plan would harm minority voters.
The St. Petersburg Times lambastes 'Hillary's Pathetic Ploy' on flag-burning, while Helen Thomas argues that "the Democrats' lack of political courage has left voters with the choice of Republicans who call themselves that -- and Republicans who call themselves Democrats. The result: The GOP gets a free ride."
The Wall Street Journal acknowledges that "many of the articles that appear in scientific journals under the bylines of prominent academics are actually written by ghostwriters in the pay of drug companies," a practice reported three years ago by the New York Times.
With 'Campaigns for and against Alito ... starting to build,' 'What Congress Should Really Be Asking Alito About' is where the Supreme Court nominee stands on the Bush administration's challenge to Oregon's Death With Dignity Law, according to the producer of "Robert's Story."
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
In a move said to indicate that the torture in an Iraqi Interior Ministry bunker had been "worse than the Americans thought," U.S. officers will reportedly "inspect hundreds of detention centers and embed with Iraqi police commando units and other Interior Ministry forces."
The Army's new, classified set of approved interrogation methods is described as "a stick in McCain's eye," in an article which mentions that a State Department official cautioned reporters not to read Secretary of State Rice's recalibration "in a tortured, convoluted and contrived way."
Michael Kinsley tackles the "college dorm what-ifs" posed by Charles Krauthammer and other "supporters of the administration, the war, and the practice of torture."
The Pentagon reportedly prepares a budget request that "would push spending related to the wars toward a staggering half-trillion dollars," while, as Dahr Jamail sees it, "the American media continues to ignore the increasingly devastating air war being waged in Iraq."
'Police Seize Forged Ballots Headed to Iraq From Iran,' reports the New York Times, citing "an official at the Interior Ministry," although the head of Iraq's border guards tells Reuters that "this is all a lie."
NBC's Richard Engel offers up election predictions, and Lebanon's Daily Star asks, 'Will one-time Washington favorite have last laugh at polls?' -- after failing to make the AP's list of 'Major Players.'
A new poll finds that a majority of Americans want Bush to set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, where National Journal's Paul Starobin believes that "an active, if not full-boil, civil war is already a reality."
USA Today reports that before the Pentagon rolled out a $300 million stealth PR project, one potential contractor questioned whether Special Operations Command would "protect them from ... media inquiries into this project."
A Pentagon document obtained by NBC News is said to offer "the first inside look at how the U.S. military has stepped up intelligence collection inside this country since 9/11, which now includes the monitoring of peaceful anti-war and counter-military recruitment groups."
New Standard News reports that right-wing sites are "all over" a Saudi prince's boast that he "called Murdoch" and got a story altered on Fox News-- "but they don't appear interested in the revelation that renowned conservative Murdoch calls Fox producers and tells them to change content."
'A New Arab Media Rises From the Rubble' in a CJR report, which finds that despite the killing of journalists, Arab media outlets "are no longer just pushing the envelope -- they have shredded it."
Remarks by U.S. envoy David Wilkins, interjected into Canada's national election campaign, are said to have "revealed the high level of anger in the U.S. government" over Prime Minister Paul Martin's recent criticism of U.S. policy on greenhouse-gas reductions.
Leaving 'no stone unturned,' the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa recently unveiled an "Environmental Issues Blog," covering such topics as 'Opposition to ANWR: is it really about the caribou?'
'Retreat and Defeat' Although not in the sense that GOP operative may have intended, Stephen Pizzo argues that "for once the Republican attack machine has described the Democratic Party perfectly."
Raw Story reports that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will brief a grand jury today on evidence that "could result in an indictment being handed up against White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove," while luncheon speaker Robert Novak says, "Don't bug me. Don't bug Bob Woodward. Bug the president."
"It's a myth to think I don't know what's going on," President Bush told NBC's Brian Williams, adding that "I read the newspaper. I mean, I can tell you what the headlines are" --although Maureen Dowd notes that "The Bubble Boy can even contradict himself and not notice."
Thursday, December 15, 2005
With high turnout in Iraq's parliamentary election, in which "final returns could take days, if not weeks," the New York Times charts how the major coalitions fared in previous voting, and Baghdad Burning explains why some Iraqis have reluctantly acquired "Allawi fever."
Robert Dreyfuss explores two election outcome scenarios for Iraq, the more likely of which would leave "no good choices for the United States, other than the one suggested by Rep. Jack Murtha: get out, and fast."
In an op-ed for the Guardian, an Association of Muslim Scholars official argues that 'No elections will be credible while occupation continues.'
After the last of four speeches on the war in Iraq, in which President Bush again said that "we removed Saddam Hussein from power because he was a threat to our security," a Washington Post analysis found that "Bush is not the only one trying not to be pinned down" on what constitutes "victory."
Following his speech, Bush told Fox News interviewer Brit Hume that "knowing what I know today, I would have still made that decision," confided that he and Karl Rove are still "as close as we've ever been," proclaimed Rep. Tom DeLay innocent, and said that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is doing "a heck of a good job."
A debate consisting of "10 minutes of statements to a nearly empty House chamber" preceeded a vote in which the House, including 107 Republicans, overwhelmingly sided with Rep. John Murtha and Sen. John McCain on torture, 'Defying Bush.'
"Whatever the press's reasons or rationalizations for not discussing subjects like torture with greater candor and pictorial force," writes Sydney H. Schanberg, "they don't pass the test of being honest with the public."
The Washington Post quotes a "senior official" as conceding that one could "make the argument" that information on peace protesters "should never have been put in" the Pentagon's Talon database "in the first place until they were confirmed as threats."
An essay on 'Karen Hughes's mission impossible' recalls that, before its collapse, the Soviet Union "had been led for several decades by ... propaganda masters who would have made the Hugheses, the Roves, and the Kristols of Washington look like amateurs."
Slate's John Dickerson analyzes Karl Rove's 'Out To Lunch' defense strategy.
Although a charity run by lobbyist Jack Abramoff reported to the IRS that it gave away $300,000 in 2002 to a Jewish nonprofit, "a surprised rabbi" told the Austin America-Statesman that "we've never received a $300,000 gift, not in our 28 years."
A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll is said to show that Bush and the GOP are facing a political insurgency among elderly voters, who "play an outsize role in midterm contests" and are described by one GOP pollster as "a pretty cranked up bunch."
A Village Voice article on 'Hillary's New Haters' quotes FAIR founder Jeff Cohen, a supporter of antiwar Clinton opponent Jonathan Tasini, as saying that "the base is fed up with Democrats who echo Bush rhetoric about staying the course in Iraq."
A New York Times analysis reveals that "well-off neighborhoods ... have received 47 percent" of the post-Katrina home loan approvals from the federal government's main disaster recovery program, while "poverty-stricken ones have gotten 7 percent."
Citing studies which show that "the death penalty is reserved primarily for those who kill white people," Michael Kroll argues that, had Tookie Williams' four victims been black, "the overwhelming likelihood is that he would still be alive today."
Coverage of 'Another No Cost Federal Killing,' in which "two air marshals gunned down an American citizen," is said to reflect "the same media docility that helped ... sell the war in Iraq."
"A famous self-help juggernaut" and his organization have reportedly agreed on a partial refund to a "cash-strapped ... working-class town" whose treasurer, a "platinum member," had "little tolerance for [city] employees who didn't get with the program."
Friday, December 16, 2005
Reporting the existence of a 2002 presidential order authorizing the National Security Agency to spy on Americans and others inside the U.S. without court-approved warrants, the New York Times also reveals that it sat on the story for a year after the White House asked that it not be published.
"This is as shocking a revelation as we have ever seen from the Bush administration," said the director of the Center for National Security Studies (CNSS), who also told the Washington Post that the secret order "may amount to the president authorizing criminal activity."
As Howard Zinn tells Raw Story that the "Bush Administration is taking the history of the abuse of civil liberties and just going twenty degrees beyond it," the AP reports that "the math on the Patriot Act suddenly seems to be moving in favor of Sen. Russell Feingold," in advance of Friday's cloture vote.
The ACLU has objected to a Patriot Act provision that according to one interpretation, "makes holding an un-authorized sign" at an event "designated by the Secret Service as a 'national special security event' a felony punishable by a year imprisonment."
Media reports find President Bush having "caved in" after being "humiliated and repudiated" on Sen. John McCain's torture ban amendment, but one "big, fat exception" could still allow 'Torture by the Back Door.'
A report that Bush and top administration officials "have access to a far greater overall volume of intelligence and to more sensitive intelligence information" than members of Congress, is said to be "raising questions about recent assertions by the president." Plus: 'Imagine if they sent a memo like this.'
After Bush told Fox News that he believes Rep. Tom DeLay is innocent, Scott McClellan was asked: "Doesn't it raise questions about his credibility that he's going to weigh in on some matters and not others, and we're just supposed to sit back and wait for him to decide what he wants to comment on and influence?"
"It was a lapse of judgment on my part, and I take full responsibility for it," said Cato Institute fellow and Copley News Service columnist Doug Bandow, admitting he secretly got paid by Jack Abramoff to write up to 24 favorable columns.
As Iraqi officials estimate that voter turnout could have been as high as 70 percent, the Washington Post, following an interview with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, reports that the Democratic Party's 2006 election issue agenda "will not include a position on Iraq."
American, Canadian and European peacekeepers were reportedly ordered out of an original member country of the "coalition of the willing," after the government refused to meet with the head of a U.N. mission to discuss the matter.
Bush League After the U.S. Treasury Department denied a request for a permit to allow Cuba to send a team to the World Baseball Classic, an International Olympic Committee member said that if the move wasn't reversed, it "would completely scupper any bid" by the U.S. for the Summer or Winter Games.
Snake-oil standard In an excerpt adapted from his recent book, "A Man Without a Country," Kurt Vonnegut writes that "some of the loudest, most proudly ignorant guessing in the world is going on in Washington today."
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin welcomed "the commitment and the funding" for building "the best levee system known in the world," as White House point man Donald Powell pledged. But a Louisiana engineer was quoted as saying, "That's not going to come close to protecting New Orleans."
Among the recommended items on Nick Turse's 'All American Christmas' shopping list this year are suggestions for 'Gitmo Gear,' keeping "the 'X' in Xmas" and "giving the gift of Guckert, er, Gannon."
'Remember Gay Marriage?' Columnist Jay Bookman marvels at how, "since the election ... this supposedly all-important issue" has become "last year's inventory. It has been rotated off the shelves, at least for now, to make way for a holiday-themed product."
In an online chat, the Washington Post's John Harris dismisses what he calls the "narrow" and "relatively minor" issue of the labeling of Dan Froomkin's column, which has been "boiling" in the "on-line crankosphere."
"It is not exactly admirable for us to be connected with the death penalty," said the deputy mayor of Graz, Austria, where the city council voted to remove Arnold Schwarzenegger's name from the local football stadium.
Monday, December 19, 2005
President Bush used a live radio address on Saturday to confirm that he authorized domestic wiretaps without warrants, and in a Monday morning press conference he called the disclosure of the ongoing program "a shameful act" and provoked Reuters to ask, 'What's in a name?'
In response to Bush "hotly insisting that he was working within the Constitution and the law" the New York Times editorializes that "Mr. Bush's team cannot be trusted to find the boundaries of the law, much less respect them."
The Christian Science Monitor reports that 'Congress pushes back, hard, against Bush,' after being "blindsided by news of domestic spying," while the attorney general claims that Congress authorized it.
A Sunday night address from the Oval Office is said to have reflected a "new strategy," in which Bush is reaching out to critics on Iraq, while "shoving back -- hard" at those who "conclude that the war is lost."
"We don't engage in torture," said Cheney in a "Nightline" interview to be aired tonight, despite a report that the U.S. ran an 'Afghan Torture Prison' in which detainees were "held in complete darkness for weeks on end, shackled to rings bolted into the walls of their cells, with loud music or other sounds played continuously."
Although torture is "back in the news in a big way," Lila Rajiva warns that "the new revelations might end up going the same way as what surfaced earlier." Read an excerpt from her study of "The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the American Media."
The Los Angeles Times reports that a $20-million two-month contract paid to a "cutout" to plant PR stories in Iraq was 'Not News To Military.'
A "still growing" Pentagon counterterrorism agency is said to represent "the increasing militarization of our American streets," and to offer training in how to "use psychological research to create public policy."
'Tanks on the Take' Following Business Week's revelations of 'Op-Eds for Sale,' Paul Krugman asks: "Who else is on the take? Or has the culture of corruption spread so far that the question is, Who isn't?"
A UCLA press release touting a study of media bias, said to have found that "the Drudge Report ... leans left," is called "one of the slickest pieces of right-wing propaganda to come down the pike in years" by Sid's Fishbowl, which looks at the study's authors and their right-wing funding.
Greenpeace accuses the French government of invoking "national security" to hide details of shipments of nuclear waste to Russia, although there are "more than a thousand sites in France being used for temporary nuclear waste storage, and some lack any type of protection."
After apparent president-elect Evo Morales, an Indian activist who vowed to become "the United States' worst nightmare," declared victory in Bolivia, the New York Times cited Bush administration fears of a "destabilizing alliance" involving Morales, Castro and Chavez.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Another New York Times 'shocker' finds Greenpeace, PETA, Catholic Workers and a "Vegan Community Project" among the activist groups monitored by the FBI, according to documents obtained by the ACLU. But an FBI spokesman offers assurances that "Everything we do is carefully promulgated ..."
The Los Angeles Times cites two unnamed journalists as saying that editors at the New York Times "were actively considering running the story about the wiretaps" before last November's presidential election.
The article also cites charges by conservatives that "the Times had timed the story to persuade members of Congress to oppose reauthorization of the Patriot Act."
President Bush summoned the Times' publisher and executive editor to the Oval Office on December 6, reports Jonathan Alter, concluding that "Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important story ... because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker." Plus: 'Spooks React,' and "a chronology of technically true but misleading statements..."
Arguing that now is 'A Time to Impeach,' Doug Ireland accuses the Times of being "part of the coverup ... by not telling its readers it knew of criminal spying on them for an entire year, until the election cycle was long past." But the Times report was too late to qualify for a 2005 P.U.-litzer Prize nomination.
Kevin Drum reasons that "there's something involved here that goes far beyond ordinary wiretaps, regardless of the technology used. Perhaps some kind of massive data mining, which makes it impossible to get individual warrants? Stay tuned." Plus: 'The Echelon Myth'
Probing what he calls 'The New Madness of King George,' Robert Parry questions whether some of Bush's eavesdropping is "aimed at political opponents or journalists, rather than terrorists."
Although one poll shows Bush's approval rating climbing, another finds that "his standing seems to have plateaued," and that "a record 55 percent say the war in Iraq is entirely separate from the war on terrorism ... the first time a majority has held that opinion."
Citing figures released by U.S. Central Command, Al Jazeera reports "a dramatic rise in the number of air raids carried out in Iraq" before last week's election, including "attacks using unmanned Predator aircraft armed with Hellfire missiles."
A New York Times investigation of a June 23 ambush in Fallujah finds that "one of the worst days in the history of women in the American military" came about after "the military sent the women off that day with substandard armor, inadequate security and faulty tactics" -- contrary to Pentagon assurances.
After a visit to Iraq which The Nation's John Nichols termed "a public-relations disaster," Vice President Cheney defended secret domestic spying and warned that "if there's a backlash pending," it will be "against those who are suggesting somehow that we shouldn't take these steps to defend the country."
Helen Thomas reports that World Bank President Paul 'Wolfowitz has moved on,' and that the war in Iraq "is no longer on his radar scope," although he did tell the National Press Club that "I think the whole world, frankly, should be enormously grateful."
Recalling 'The Forgotten Anthrax Attacks of 2001,' Tom Engelhardt asks, "when was the last time you read an article on whether the Homeland Security Department or the Pentagon is attending to the potential dangers of the American WMD arsenal?"
The Hill reports that a "targeted version of the so-called 'nuclear option'" may be employed to bypass a Senate rule and allow an ANWR drilling provision to stand in a defense spending bill -- "an audacious power play, even for Sen. Ted Stevens."
California's governor launches a preemptive strike on Graz, telling city officials in a "Dear Mister Mayor" letter that "I withdraw from them as of this day the right to use my name in association with the Liebenauer Stadium," and that he would no longer permit the use of his name "to advertise or promote the city of Graz in any way."
Feministing notes that a member of Congress was "hoping that the president would be able to answer whether or not he supports birth control in less than 165 days. Since we received no response, we have to ask again."
The London Times reports that British researchers have found Barbie torture pervasive among 7 to 11 year old children, with methods ranging from "scalping to decapitation, burning, breaking and even microwaving."
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
A federal 'Spy Court Judge' who reportedly resigned in protest is said to have "expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court's work."
In 2002, the secret federal court issued what was seen as a "public rebuke" to the administration, in an opinion reportedly charging that "the government had misused the law and misled the court dozens of times."
Inside Job The New York Times reports that Bush's surveillance program spied on "purely domestic communications," despite the White House's own requirement "that one end of the intercepted conversations take place on foreign soil." Plus: 'Why Times ran wiretap story, defying Bush.'
A case cited by Bush as offering justification for his recently disclosed domestic spying program, is said by counter-terror experts to actually "undermine the president's rationale."
William Arkin goes 'Inside NSA's World' to dispute Bush's claim that "the fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy," and ChangeLog rounds up information on 'The Tech Behind The Tap.'
Calling Bush 'The anti-American president,' and rejecting the "Three Monkey argument," a Southern Baptist commentator argues that "Richard Nixon merely spied on his political opponents, while George Bush is spying on the American people."
The Village Voice's Sydney Schanberg takes "a reporter's walk" through the 'Wretch-Stained Ink' of "Bush's propaganda machine," wondering whether "a populace bone-tired of bad news is even interested in separating the honest journalism from the fake."
Given the apparent results of Iraq's elections, Niall Ferguson argues that "if the history of 20th century Europe is anything to go by, all the ingredients are now in place for the biggest conflagration in Middle Eastern history. The only good news is that the first thing to go up in smoke will be the theory of a democratic peace."
Vice President Cheney casts the deciding vote in a spending bill that "imposes the first restraints in nearly a decade in federal benefit programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and student loans," reports the AP, as legislation to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge fails to overcome a Democratic filibuster.
As Ohio Congressman Bob Ney 'Fights Taint of Abramoff,' the GOP lobbyist is reportedly discussing a plea bargain for a "reduced sentence in exchange for testimony against former political and business associates."
An argument is advanced that "You cannot do business with George W. Bush and his ilk, and talking him up undercuts the goal that all of us, including Senator Obama, seek."
A GOP senator who says he "misspoke" when he charged that "the people who first hit us in 9/11 entered this country through Canada," is not the first U.S. conservative to apologize for "perpetuating ... a widespread inaccuracy."
The foreign policy foray by 'one of Washington's "most corrupt" politicians,' followed a Fox News segment introduced by asking, "Could our neighbors to the north soon be our enemies?" and a Washington Times op-ed warning that "our once great friend is turning against us."
Mike Marqusee reviews the latest developments in 'The Global War on Civil Liberties' in Britain, where proposed legislation would criminalize "glorification" of terrorism, "whether in the past, in the future or generally, and whether or not the 'glorification' was intentional or inadvertent."
Facing South notes that a GOP member of the House Select Committee told Gov. Kathleen Blanco last week that "the 1,086 Louisiana residents known to have died in the storm are about half the number of American lives lost in Iraq," adding, "You lost that many in one day."
According to "internal meeting notes" released by the head of the union that represents headquarters workers at FEMA, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told employees that "The [FEMA] re-tooling is partially a perception ploy to make outsiders feel like we've actually made changes for the better.''
After a federal judge ruled the teaching of intelligent design unconstitutional in the Dover evolution trial, a Washington Post analysis suggested that "When evolution's defenders find themselves tongue-tied and seemingly bested by neo-creationists ... this 139-page document may be the thing they turn to."
Thursday, December 22, 2005
As the 'Wiretap Furor Widens Republican Divide,' a conservative scholar tells the Wall Street Journal that "from the beginning, the folks who thought it was a good idea to go into Iraq have found good reason to think that all other Bush policies, from torture to domestic surveillance, are justified."
The Washington Post reports that FISA court judges arranged a classified briefing to find out why the administration bypassed them, quoting a government official who offers a reason: "For FISA, they had to put down a written justification for the wiretap. They couldn't dream one up."
Peter Daou foretells 'How the Spying Story Will Unfold (and Fade),' aided by "a well-oiled rightwing message machine," while, as Robert Parry writes, "the mainstream press continues to choke on calling Bush a liar even when the facts are obvious."
What the president said about bin Laden's phone "isn't a huge lie" like some others cited by firedoglake, and Slate's Jack Shafer adds, don't blame the newspaper "controlled by convicted felon Rev. Sun Myung Moon."
Media Matters discovers that none of the major news outlets that reported on a recent study finding a "strong liberal bias" in the media, "mentioned that the authors have previously received funding from ... conservative think tanks."
'Unanswer Man' A profile of White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan suggests that his "voice can become robotic, as if he's a hostage reading a statement."
In a "sharp rebuke to the Bush administration," a federal appeals court blocked the Justice Department's attempt to move Jose Padilla from military to civilian custody, saying it "gave the appearance that the government was trying to manipulate the court system to prevent the Supreme Court from reviewing the case." More on 'Trivializing Terror.'
A Los Angeles Times report describes a six-month extension of the Patriot Act as "a major setback for the White House," quoting Sen. Russell Feingold as saying, "It was only the president, the White House and Atty. Gen. Gonzales who wanted to play that game of chicken -- and they lost that game."
The Washington Post chronicles continuing problems in a federal bureaucracy that has "struggled to execute even seemingly basic tasks" after being "repeatedly undermined by the White House that initially opposed its creation."
Catholic high school students in the Yukon found themselves on the U.S. Homeland Security threat list, "lumped in with other organizations such as the Florida Quakers and student unions from major American universities." Plus: 'The squires of surveillance.'
In an op-ed for Australia's The Age, Howell Raines reviews the rise of 'The Miscreat Dynasty' and its trade-off between fundamentalist and Wall Street values, writing that "what we don't know yet is whether a GOP without a Bush at the top is seedy enough to keep it going."
As plea bargain negotiations settle in on what crimes lobbyist Jack Abramoff "feels comfortable pleading guilty to," the noose appears to be tightening on "at least a dozen lawmakers and their former staff members."
Distinguishing between"upstream" and "downstream" giving, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop recently declared that "it's not enough to pull the drowning victims out of the river, you need to walk back upstream and find out who's throwing them in."
An Iraqi television correspondent who asked why U.S. forces demolished the College of Education building at an Iraqi university, was reportedly told, "because it was located in the vicinity of a U.S. military base." Plus: 'A Short History of Radio Free Iraq,' also known as "the Iraqi PBS."
Before the NYC transit strike ended, a poll found New Yorkers siding with the strikers, "Democracy Now!" hosted a debate on the strike, and Fox News' coverage included a segment asking: "Does the transit strike leave NYC a sitting duck for terrorists?"
Although a spokesman for the NYC police department claims that new surveillance powers obtained after 9/11 have been used exclusively "to investigate and thwart terrorists," the New York Times reports on how police officers 'Covertly join in at protest rallies,' based on tapes shot by I-Witness video.
An op-ed by a British lecturer in Intelligent Autonomous Systems asks whether "global civilization might collapse within our lifetime," given that "globalization means that when one part of the world gets into trouble, the trouble can quickly be exported."
A Fox News affiliate in South Carolina reportedly plugged a white supremacy Web site -- "everything from dating advice and homemaking threads" -- that boasts Fox News staff among its members, who, "really are just white folks that deeply care about preserving a future for our progeny."
A local reporter visits Linda Tripp's "miniature holiday house" in Virginia, where her "lederhosen-wearing" husband serves bratwurst while "she gobbles down 'weisswurst.'"
Friday, December 23, 2005
Quoting experts who cite the National Security Agency's capacity to 'sift all overseas contacts,' the Boston Globe reports that secret monitoring of international phone calls and e-mails is not limited to Americans suspected of links to terrorism.
In mid-80s memos released by the National Archives, Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito urged that Roe v. Wade should be overturned and that the attorney general should have immunity from lawsuits when authorizing wiretaps.
"The Bush administration requested, and Congress rejected, war-making authority 'in the United States' in negotiations over the joint resolution" passed days after the 9/11 attacks, reports the Washington Post, according to an op-ed by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.
As the U.S. Congress approves a 5-week extension of the Patriot Act, in a move said to allow for "no more negotiations," Ohio governor Bob Taft is expected to sign what one blogger calls the state's 'Mini-Me Patriot Act.'
An anonymous "hold" placed by a GOP senator reportedly blocked "unanimous consent" passage of an intelligence authorization bill -- and an amendment mandating that senators be briefed on secret CIA prisons. Plus: Italian judge 'issues warrants for CIA operatives.'
As Robert Dreyfus declares 'Game Over' in Iraq and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis demonstrate across the country to protest "cheating and forgery" in last week's parliamentary elections, Ahmad 'Chalabi's defeat puts U.S. friends in quandary.'
Announcing U.S. troop reductions that by the spring of 2006 could amount to "as much as 7,000" out of 138,000, or about five percent, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said in Fallujah that the action would be taken "in recognition of the improved capabilities of the new, U.S.-trained Iraqi forces."
Norman Solomon foresees "a new salvo of bright spinning lies about the Iraq war," in which "the Bush administration will strive to put any real or imagined reduction of U.S. occupation troop levels in the media spotlight. Meanwhile, the Pentagon will use massive air power in Iraq."
After a member of Congress said on CNN that "if a nuclear weapon goes off in Washington, D.C., or New York or Los Angeles, it'll burn the Constitution as it does," Robert Koehler wrote that "the Bush administration's belief in Absolute Evil ... has been one hell of a governing tool."
The last of three nuns to be released from federal prison, after serving more than two years for "obstructing national defense and damaging government property" at a Colorado missile silo, reportedly has no plans to stop protesting.
As the U.S. suspends publication of Hi magazine, a State Department spokesman is asked: "Are you aware of the criticisms that it sort of was mostly puff pieces and didn't address at all political concerns of Arab youth...?" Earlier: "On the Media" interviewed a co-author of 'Never too soon to say goodbye to Hi.'
A GOP senator was reportedly "troubled" by his discovery that some school board members were motivated by religion in a Pennsylvania case involving 2005's 'Top Breakthrough,' as determined by Science.
South Carolina's 2005 Reporter of the Year told Think Progress that in preparing her "factual and unbiased" piece on a white supremacist group, "she did the story exactly as she was told to and ... officials at the network were very pleased with her coverage."
After Rude Pundit puts out a contract, only a gun-bearing Santa, fresh from his 'Sleigh of Tears,' can save Baby Jesus from being blown up by a masked terrorist, on a Christmas card said to convey a "definitive holiday message."
Monday, December 26, 2005
FBI officials confirmed and defended the existence of a secret program -- first reported by U.S. News & World Report -- to monitor radiation levels at over a hundred Muslim sites in Washington, D.C., and other U.S. cities, "although no search warrants or court orders were ever obtained."
The revelation has reportedly "sent a shockwave across the Muslim community," where "many ... in the Washington area, as elsewhere, believe that they are under watch."
Following a New York Times report that U.S. telecoms cooperated with the NSA to glean data on suspected terrorists, Sen. Patrick Leahy spoke of "the growing list of questions and concerns about the warrantless surveillance of Americans," and William Arkin's "guess is the government decided after 9/11 to monitor everyone."
A report that President Bush 'Pressed Papers to Kill Scoops,' reduces the whole matter of illegal wiretaps to "a partisan squabble," says firedoglake, as a Barron's editor calls on members of the House Judiciary Committee to "report either a bill that would change the wiretap laws to suit the president or a bill of impeachment."
"But who would do the impeaching?" asks Alexander Cockburn, arguing that the Democrats, who "fled" Rep. John Murtha "like a poisoned thing," have "lost as much credibility as the President and the Republicans."
The New York Times editorializes that "there are finally signs that the democratic system is trying to rein in the imperial presidency," but Steve Chapman contends that "to call this an imperial presidency is unfair to emperors."
The Miami Herald's Robert Steinback "wonders if Osama bin Laden didn't win after all. He ruined the America that existed on 9/11. But he had help."
As post-election 'Violence Flares Up Across Iraq,' the Washington Post reports on U.S. forces' third attempt in three years to hand over the Sunni city of Samarra -- six months after surrounding it with a wall of dirt.
Eliot Weinberger updates his Iraq classic, hearing that "in veterans hospitals, the only television news that is permitted is the Pentagon Channel," where "we obviously don't air speculation out in the civilian media that questions what the department is doing or its motives."
The consistent message of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's latest tour of Iraq, according to the AP's Robert Burns, is that "the U.S. military is getting out," but the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Fox News Sunday that "you could see troop level go up a little bit," because "the enemy has a vote in this."
As it's reported that immigration judges are scolded "time and time again" for their "intemperate and humiliating remarks -- and for "misconduct" in asylum cases -- the Los Angeles Times airs "an open secret along the border: romance between illegal immigrants and those responsible for deporting them."
Columnist Robert Novak warns that a potential decision to retire by Sen. Trent Lott "could signal that Southern political realignment has peaked and now is receding."
A study for the Transportation Department is said to "outline a public relations strategy ... to persuade the American public" that putting tamper-proof GPS Bugs in cars is "in their best interest," although "no restrictions prevent police from continually monitoring, without a court order, the whereabouts of every vehicle on the road."
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Media coverage of Bush's domestic spying scandal, says Norman Solomon, "has made virtually no mention of the fact that the Bush administration used the NSA to spy on U.N. diplomats in New York before the invasion of Iraq."
Citing "Two former NSA officials familiar with the agency's campaign to spy on U.N. members," Raw Story reports that "then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice authorized the plan at the request of President Bush, who wanted to know how delegates were going to vote."
Eugene Robinson asks readers to "assume for the moment that the president's only desperate motivation is to prevent another day like Sept. 11," and NewsHounds recounts a Fox News segment titled "Nuclear Holocaust," in which the host asked: "Did US News & World Report just make it easier for terrorists to hit America with a nuclear bomb?"
With the Pentagon set to release its Quadrennial Defense Review, the New York Times reports that "Military contractors brace for 'flattening' of budget," as "the Pentagon has weapons programs worth $1.3 trillion in its current portfolio, with $800 billion of that total still to be paid."
As the Rational Enquirer decides to hold its powder, "at least until the next war," Editor & Publisher tracks down 16 original "embeds" from the current one, finding that "the vast majority expected a quick resolution to the war," including one who says that "It surprises me that every time I have gone back, it has gotten worse."
Preliminary vote totals are said to have left Ahmad Chalabi "facing a shutout" in Iraq's parliamentary election, and a surge in Sunni Arab participation evidently does not extend to representation in the new Iraqi military. Plus: 'A Syrian Chalabi?'
Juan Cole's analysis of the 'Top Ten Myths about Iraq in 2005' includes a restatement of his argument that "the US has a responsibility to get out of Iraq responsibly" rather than "precipitately," a view previously challenged by Left I on the News and said by Alexander Cockburn to include a call for "bombing a la Cole."
After experts warned of a "tsunami of woe" from post-traumatic stress problems among returning Iraq and Afghanistan war vets, the Washington Post reports that PTSD has become a diagnosis under debate at a cost-conscious VA.
As Army recruiters in Minnesota object to a veteran's call to "Remember the Fallen Heroes," and spurn his offer of cookies, the Army National Guard goes outside the pizza box, while new recruits in the war on terror are all the buzz in Georgia.
A Pentagon survey finds that half or more of the women attending U.S. service academies in 2004-2005 reported being sexually harassed, and the Christian Science Monitor describes a "booming" phenomenon that is turning thousands of white European women into terror suspects.
The 'Must-See Politics' of the Alabama governor's race are said to include, on the GOP side, a tax-hiking conservative vs. "a rock star of the Christian right," while the Democrats feature a former governor under indictment, taking on an "I Love Lucy" campaign.
Reporting that 'Republicans May Lose Grip on Statehouses,' the Wall Street Journal notes that among GOP incumbents, "several reneged on pledges not to raise taxes." And read how Minnesota's governor may have cost the state $400 million by insisting on calling a sales tax on tobacco products a "user fee."
E. J. Dionne calls the recent budget bill "a road map of insider dealing," which "shows that when choices have to be made, the interests of the poor and the middle class fall before the wishes of interest groups with powerful lobbies and awesome piles of campaign money to distribute."
Geov Parrish's revisits the year's most overhyped and underreported stories, including among the latter the degree to which "George Bush is already a lame-duck president." Plus: 'Pop Goes the Bubble.'
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Defense lawyers in terrorism cases are reportedly "preparing letters and legal briefs to challenge the NSA program on behalf of their clients," as a Bush administration spokesman claims that monitorees "have a history of blowing up commuter trains, weddings, and churches."
"With Bush's defense of his wiretapping," writes Jonathan Schell, "the hidden state has stepped into the open."
"[T]he Times' decision-making is not the central story here," says the Village Voice's Sydney Schanberg. "The president's secret directive is... We've been lied to before. But this presidency has lifted these arts to new and scary heights." Earlier: 'Paranoia on the left and the right.'
A "regular guest on CNN" denounces "a lavishly funded and monolithic media effort to misreport the Iraq war for the purpose of bringing down the Bush administration."
The Wall Street Journal reports on TV commercials being run by Move America Forward, which claim: "Newly found Iraqi documents show that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, including anthrax and mustard gas, and had 'extensive ties' to al Qaeda." Earlier: 'At Russo Marsh & Rogers the "truth" is always on tour.'
Left I on the News parses an AP report that the CIA's inspector general is "investigating fewer than 10 cases where terror suspects may have been mistakenly swept away to foreign countries."
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton "has the left in her back pocket," and "doesn't have to worry about catering to them," a political analyst tells the New York Times, while Ted Koppel and Tom Brokaw agree that "the only difference between the Clinton administration and the Bush administration was 9/11."
A U.N. official declares Iraq's parliamentary election "credible and transparent," while Knight Ridder finds that 'Many Iraqi soldiers see a civil war on the horizon,' as insurgents get 'back to business' and Chalabi takes over the oil ministry.
A WSWS report details the recruiting practices that result in Latin American mercenaries being paid as little as $5.75 an hour to guard Baghdad's Green Zone. Earlier: 'Asia's poor build U.S. bases in Iraq.'
'Telling it like it isn't' Robert Fisk offers examples of "the semantic iceberg that has crashed into American journalism in the Middle East," while"the mutilated bodies of the victims of aerial bombing, torn apart in the desert by wild dogs -- are kept off the screen." Plus: 'Terrorist attack in Louisiana?'
The editor of Lebanon's Daily Star "would like to bet Donald Rumsfeld ... and Karen Hughes ... that the overall coverage of Iraq on the mainstream Arab satellite services has been more comprehensive, balanced and accurate than the coverage of any mainstream American cable or broadcast television service."
A key Enron figure cops a plea, three weeks before the scheduled trial of Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, and finds himself portrayed in the Washington Post as "a likable family man who remained humble despite his corporate rank and salary."
A former federal prosecutor sees the plea agreement as "a tacit acknowledgement by the government that their case is far from overwhelming."
A Bloomberg columnist describes the recent scene on the Senate floor, in which a self-described "mean, miserable SOB," stymied on ANWR on the worst day of his life, sounded like "The Godfather" pleading, "When have I ever refused an accommodation?"
As the Chronicles of Narnia rap gets "the Paper of Record treatment," Carpetbagger asks: "when was the last time Saturday Night Live was this successful in creating a cultural sensation."
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Citing NSA sources, Wayne Madsen reports that the agency has "spied on its own employees" and "other U.S. intelligence personnel ... without any warrants," in addition to monitoring "their journalist and congressional contacts."
The placing of persistent cookies on visitors' computers by the agency's Web site, in violation of federal rules, was said to be "strictly to improve the surfing experience 'and not to collect personal user data.'"
Molly Ivins recalls that 35 years ago, like 'Big Brother Bush,' the Nixon administration "set our government to spying on its own citizens," and "the creepy part is the overlap."
"In a little-noticed holiday week executive order from President Bush," reports the AP, "three military service chiefs have been dropped in the Bush administration's doomsday line of Pentagon succession, pushed beneath three civilian undersecretaries ... who are Rumsfeld loyalists and who previously worked for ... Cheney when he was defense secretary."
Urging the Supreme Court to "order the prompt transfer of terrorism suspect Jose Padilla out of military custody and into a regular federal prison," the Justice Department charged that the 4th Circuit Court's refusal to go along "second guesses and usurps ... the President's Commander-in-Chief authority."
A Washington Post article on the Justice Department's move notes that the 4th Circuit, which "questioned the government's changing rationale" for detaining Padilla, "has been the administration's venue of choice for high-profile terrorism cases" since 9/11.
The CIA began "rendering" prisoners under President Clinton to "circumvent the cumbersome U.S. legal system," according to former counterterror agent Michael Scheuer, who told Die Welt that he personally developed and led the program.
A Los Angeles Times analysis, calling Iraq's election results "a bracing splash of ice water for U.S. officials," says that "the myth of a unified Iraqi identity may have finally been laid to rest."
'Ten killed in U.S. air strike on Iraqi village,' '14 Shiites machine-gunned to death in minibus,' 'Family of 11 Iraqi Shi'ites murdered' by "slitting their throats," as Iraq's election chief warns that "accusations of fraud in last week's vote were endangering the lives of the commission's members."
Roughly a quarter of Americans continue to believe that Iraq had WMDs when the U.S. invaded, and that some of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqis, according to a new Harris poll, which also found that 22 percent of U.S. adults still think that Saddam Hussein "helped plan 9/11."
Saddam's chief lawyer is reportedly offering President Bush advice on how the U.S. could end its problems in Iraq.
Amid conflicting reports about the hunt for Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic, Chilean police booked Gen. Augusto Pinochet following his indictment for the killing and disappearance of nine dissidents during his dictatorship, reports the AP, "the first time he has had to submit to a police booking."
The Pentagon's inspector general has reportedly concluded that two U.S. military Web sites that pay journalists to write articles and commentary supporting military activities in northern Africa and in the Balkans, are not in violation of U.S. law or Pentagon policies. They're maintained by the Anteon Corp., which is being acquired by General Dynamics.
A Small Business Administration report, said to confirm that 9/11 recovery loans went to "a South Dakota radio station, a Virgin Islands perfume shop, a Utah dog boutique," while small businesses near Ground Zero couldn't get assistance, was titled "SBA Inspector General Does Not Find That STAR Loan Recipients Were Unqualified For Program."
Although a Washington Post article says that lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Rep. Tom DeLay "never became personally close," firedoglake notes that Newsweek previously reported that "for years, nobody on Washington's K Street corridor was closer to DeLay than Abramoff."
Describing his new Vice President of Policy, the president of Citizen Outreach -- "Political Action with an Attitude!" -- said that "I wish we had more public officials who think like Doug in elective office."
The Chicago Transit Authority has reportedly turned down Venezuela's offer of low-cost diesel fuel to power city buses, which came with a stipulation that the savings be passed along to poor residents in the form of free or discounted fare cards.
A New York Times style section article explained that wealthy Manhattanites were quoted anonymously because "the families did not want to expose themselves to envy, or even ridicule, because of the sumptuousness of their lives." Plus: PR firm names "10 Worst Spins of 2005."
Friday, December 30, 2005
Reporting that "The effort President Bush authorized ... to fight al Qaeda has grown into the largest CIA covert action program since the height of the Cold War," the Washington Post quotes a former CIA attorney as saying that unlike past presidents who "set up buffers to distance themselves from covert action," Bush "seems to relish the secret findings and the dirty details of operations."
"No one even knew it was happening," the White House Internet director is quoted as saying, regarding the apparent use of banned Internet tracking technology on the White House Web site, but "Is no one at the White House responsible for oversight of contractors?" And which is worse?
A 94-page U.S. plan to invade Canada, reportedly "sits in a little gray box ...available to anybody, even Canadian spies. They can photocopy it for 15 cents a page."
The BBC reports that the number of detainees on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay has more than doubled since Christmas Day, with 84 prisoners now participating.
As election observers head back to Iraq to review voting results, the shut down of Iraq's largest oil refinery on December 18, reportedly because tanker truck drivers are "too afraid to go there," has brought 'Long Gas Lines in Baghdad' and a 30-day solution.
After Knight Ridder's Tom Lasseter reported that 'Kurds in Iraqi army proclaim loyalty to militia,' an Iraqi army office said quotes in the story "are false and created by followers of the ex-regime." Lasseter writes that "It wasn't clear whether the ministry was accusing Kurdish soldiers - almost all staunch opponents of the former regime of Saddam Hussein - or the Knight Ridder reporter of ties to the former regime."
An NBC News report which says that "the U.S. always wanted an aggressive police force in Iraq," includes an interview with a Sunni journalist who says police "hung him upside down and clubbed him with a metal pipe." But 'Iraqi police commandos say they use tea not torture.'
A recently-passed House bill, introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner and praised by President Bush, would subject priests, nurses and social workers who render aid to illegal immigrants to five years in prison and seizure of assets.
In 'The freest press money can buy?', William Fisher writes that the state department's announcement of a new journalism program "was strangely juxtaposed with the furor surrounding recent disclosures that the Pentagon hired ... the Lincoln Group to pay Iraqi journalists to publish articles written by the U.S. military ..." He also refers to a Washington Post article, 'Bloggers, money now weapons in information war.'
The Los Angeles Times marks the passing of a pioneer media analyst whose research convinced him that "heavy television viewers (more than four hours daily) came to consider the world as rightly belonging to 'the power and money elite' depicted on the small screen."
'Stem Cell Advance' is described as 'fully refuted,' despite alleged efforts by government officials to "bribe scientists who were considered potential whistle-blowers," with the "Korean spy agency ... delivering funds to Korean researchers at Pitt."
As part of a high school class on "immersion journalism," a Florida teen whose parents were born in Iraq said that "I thought I'd go the extra mile for that, or rather, a few thousand miles."
Now that "reporters are ... paid by whose stories get the most clicks," a Seattle Times columnist ponders "the most widely read material this paper has published in its 109-year history" -- 'But Here's Why.'
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