|September, 2002 link archive
Tuesday, September 3, 2002The editor of Jane's Intelligence Digest says that there is no way that Saddam and bin Laden are linked and that within U.S. intelligence circles there's "an invincible ignorance about what al-Qaeda is and how it functions, and a complete misunderstanding of the internal politics of the Islamic world."
Beware of phony evidence to bolster the case for an attack on Iraq.
The Guardian's Peter Preston examines the "giant souffle of spin" being offered up by anonymous "intelligence officials."
Following up on Norman Solomon's "Wag the Puppy," Chris Floyd argues that the "debate" over Iraq is a ruse to divert attention from the "book-cooking, insider-trading, handjobbing hijinks at Harken and Halliburton," which "were just beginning to nose their way into the mainstream press when the great Iraq 'debate' was suddenly ratcheted up to new levels."
Scott Ritter writes that if a case cannot be made that Iraq represents a real threat to America's national security, "then one must consider the real possibility that the administration's drive for war with Iraq is being pursued in support of a domestic political agenda, something that should concern all Americans, regardless of political affiliation."
Robert Jensen and Rahul Mahajan see the debate in mainstream news as "hawks v. hawks; the question isn't whether or not to wage war, but what form that war should take."
"Washington is avoiding the need to explain its position with the clarity and logic necessary to change minds and win support," writes James Carroll. "Instead of convincing, Washington coerces. And why?"
The new, private life of Operation TIPS.
A group calling itself the "Secret Army of Mujahedeen" is claiming responsibility for attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan, in Arabic-language leaflets that have surfaced in the eastern part of the country.
The New York Times reports that some Special Forces commanders want their troops freed from the hunt in Afghanistan for bin Laden, having concluded that he was killed in the bombing of Tora Bora. Plus: Bin Laden in Utah?
Following last week's UN report stating that money continues to flow to al-Qaeda, the Washington Post reports that financial officers of al-Qaeda and the Taliban have shipped large quantities of gold out of Pakistan to Sudan in recent weeks.
How CNN tried and failed to enlist the White House in a promotional scheme for its al-Qaeda terror tapes.
Mark Steyn cautions against Dianafying the 9/11 anniversary: "It's very, very rare for the media to be caught so off-guard by an event that they lose control of their ability to determine its meaning. But a year has gone by. And there seems to be an effort to do on the anniversary what they were unable to accomplish on the day: to make September 11th 2002 an occasion for 'coping.'"
Many TV advertisers plan to go dark during the entire week of the 9/11 anniversary.
Are right-wing journos having more fun than lefties?
Sam's Flub? Wal-Mart spokesman Jay Allen calls the mailing of a company magazine with Republican Senate candidate Elizabeth Dole on the cover, which went to almost 200,000 North Carolina homes less than two weeks before the GOP primary, "a matter of coincidence and an honest mistake."
Allen is identified as Wal-Mart's senior vice president for corporate affairs, but he's also the treasurer of the company's "Pac for Responsible Government," which has contributed the maximum amount allowed under federal law to Dole's campaign.
In documenting how "The Highway Lobby" successfully stifled mass transit, Ralph Nader notes that in 2000, Americans took 9.4 billion public transit trips, down from 23.4 billion in 1946, when the population was only half of what it is today. Plus: When you ride alone, you ride with bin Laden.
Jeremy Rifkin on the revolutionary promise of a hydrogen-based energy system.
Wednesday, September 4, 2002
He's the Man "Someone has likely deduced that the prospect of war - whether or not we actually end up going to war - is a beautiful backdrop for this president," writes Michael Wolff. "It definitely helps make him out to be a powerful and hugely formidable guy. And it lends him what he does not otherwise naturally possess, which is gravitas."
Secretary of State Powell acknowledges an administration rift over Iraq, but follows the script outlined by Wolff, assuring that President Bush will "pull all these threads together." Plus: Hecklers interrupt Powell speech.
What's really behind Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol's war of words against Powell?
Molly Ivins asks of the $23.8 million in business that Halliburton did with Iraq when Dick Cheney was the company's CEO: "So if Saddam is 'the world's worst leader,' how come Cheney sold him the equipment to get his dilapidated oil fields up and running so he to could afford to build weapons of mass destruction?"
Jon Carroll on "living in a nation governed by an oligarchy of men whose supreme self-confidence seems to be based entirely on self-delusion and, perhaps, morally questionable behavior in their previous jobs."
William Rasperry can't believe that the Bush administration is reckless enough to take unilateral military action against Iraq. He suspects that its sabre-rattling is designed to prompt Saddam's military leaders to depose or kill him, or, to force Saddam to accept weapons inspectors -- including Americans -- with full authority to look wherever they choose.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the U.S. is looking at the use of "coercive inspections," that could include foreign troops shooting their way into suspicious sites.
In his final column, "Hardball" host Chris Matthews pays homage to his favorite newspaper columnists and goes out blasting the Bush administration over its Iraq war plans.
"Iraq Peace Team" hopes to beat U.S. military to Baghdad.
Read how Israeli hackers have been appropriating the e-mail addresses of Palestinian activists in the U.S. and mass-mailing inflammatory messages in their name. Earlier: "Return to Sender -- 55,000 times."
Ha'aretz's Danny Rubenstein calls the Israeli military's latest clampdown on Palestinian cities occupation without responsibility: "The new Israeli policy has accomplished the impossible: having the cake and eating it too. Israel rules over the West Bank but it shirks any responsibility for full control."
The Guardian reports Pakistani intelligence sources' claim that Sheikh Ahmed Salim, one of America's most wanted al-Qaeda fugitives, was captured in Karachi in July and secretly transferred to U.S. custody.
Media world largely returns to fluffy business as usual.
China blocks access to Google in advance of Communist Party congress.
BBC reporter tells of cross-examination by Milosevic.
Thursday, September 5, 2002
CBS reports that just hours after the 9/11 attacks, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld told aides to draw up plans for striking Iraq. Notes taken "quote Rumsfeld as saying he wanted 'best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H.' – meaning Saddam Hussein – 'at same time. Not only UBL' – the initials used to identify Osama bin Laden. 'Go massive,' the notes quote him as saying. 'Sweep it all up. Things related and not.'"
A lawsuit filed on behalf of 1,400 victims of the 9/11 attacks and their families, naming bin Laden, al-Qaeda and Iraq as defendants, alleges that Iraq knew bin Laden was targeting the Pentagon and New York City prior to Sept. 11 and had sponsored terrorists to avenge its defeat in the Gulf War.
Who will bring closure to a grieving nation?
Los Angeles Times' columnist Steve Lopez wonders "Who are all you people who support a war against Iraq?"
Andrew Sullivan challenges Frank Rich's assertion that the Bush administration has just recently ginned up the conflict with Iraq, "grandfathering" it into the war on terrorism in the hope that "a march on Baghdad will make us forget about al-Qaeda, wherever it may be lying in wait."
Sullivan argues that President Bush has been advocating for war with Iraq since September 2001, but the speech that he cites doesn't even include a mention of Iraq.
A Stratfor analysis raises the possibility that Israel and Iran may be secretly in cahoots against Iraq.
Did a Newsweek report on the suffocation of hundreds of surrendering Taliban prisoners whitewash the role of the U.S.?
Vanity Fair ranks the media moguls.
Friday, September 6, 2002
The Washington Post profiles the feisty federal judge who has grilled government attorneys over the "sparse facts" that they have presented to justify holding Yasser Esam Hamdi incommunicado.
AL Kennedy explains why she loves this time of year: "The climactic anomalies of summer drift imperceptibly into the climactic anomalies of autumn; the kids go back to school; the really important people return from their holidays and, well, it just puts you in the mood to bomb the shit out of somebody."
"For months, we've been wondering why the administration has been so reluctant to make the case for invading Iraq," writes Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman. "Now we have the answer: Because there isn't one."
"So it could be that because the warmongers are failing to win public opinion," argues Mark Steel "they're suddenly cobbling together 'evidence.' And there will be piles of it. Just like the stories of Germans raping nuns in 1914 and Iraqis throwing babies out of incubators in 1990, admitted as lies once those wars were over."
The Guardian interviews retired U.S. Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper, who played Saddam in this summer's Millennium Challenge -- the most expensive ($250 million) war game of all time. He cried foul and quit after his early victory over U.S. forces was annulled.
About 100 U.S. and British aircraft took part in a real attack on Iraq's major western air defense installation -- the biggest single operation over the country in four years.
Secretary of State Powell may be a moderate compared to the likes of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, but Norman Solomon says that's not saying much.
Former President Clinton joins the fray, urging the Bush administration to finish the job with bin Laden before taking on Iraq: "I also believe we might do more good for American security in the short run at far less cost by beefing up our efforts in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere to flush out the entire network."
A Stratfor analysis from last week headlined "Situation Deteriorating Rapidly in Afghanistan," warned that resistance to U.S. forces has spread well beyond the Taliban and al-Qaeda, "threatening a steep increase in fighting over the coming months."
Rogue Statesman Orange County Weekly investigates Congressman Dana Rohrbacher's diplomatic freelancing with the Taliban, a charge that was raised by his Democratic challenger but largely ignored by the mainstream media.
Spinsanity examines how the Washington Times helped create the myth that the NEA called on educators not to blame the 9/11 attacks on al-Qaeda.
The Perks Never End Court documents reveal previously undisclosed details of former G.E. CEO Jack Welch's fat contract.
Arianna Huffington asks: "Are you better off today, after all that tax cutting and deregulating, than you were four years ago?"
The Blackened Trout? A German organization for blind and sight-restricted people has opened a pitch dark restaurant in Berlin, forcing diners to concentrate on senses other than sight.
Monday, September 9, 2002
The Bush administration's "initial sure-footedness" in the war on terrorism "has given way to a stumbling clumsiness," writes the Washington Post's Robert Kaiser. "It isn't easy for the world's leading power to alarm all of its allies in a matter of months, but this is what the U.S. has done, for purposes that remain mysterious."
The Independent reports that U.S. diplomats ignored a July 2001 warning from a secret Taliban emissary that bin Laden was planning a huge attack on American soil.
Al-Qaeda muckety-muck interviewed by Al-Jazeera reporter may have let slip the secret that bin Laden is dead.
David Corn writes that although House and Senate committees investigating pre-9/11 intelligence failures have recently "released little-noticed reports showing that the systemic stuff is pretty awful. They show no signs of exploring all the intelligence and policy errors related to September 11. And so, they are unlikely to fix them."
The Associated Press catalogs the "fundamental changes to Americans' legal rights by the Bush administration and the USA Patriot Act following the terror attacks." Plus: Post-9/11 "death of dissent" a myth?
In an interview with London's Sunday Times, Norman Mailer lashes out at the U.S. for its "compulsive, self-serving patriotism." He also says that "Clinton made a point of surrounding himself with people who might be 90 per cent as intelligent as himself, but never his equal. Bush is smart enough to know that he couldn't possibly do the same, or the country would be run by morons."
Foreign journalists tell ABC what's fueling anti-U.S. sentiment abroad.
"Today we do ourselves few favors by choosing to believe that 'they hate us' and 'hate our freedoms,'" writes Noam Chomsky. "On the contrary, these are attitudes of people who like Americans and admire much about the U.S., including its freedoms. What they hate is official policies that deny them the freedoms to which they too aspire."
Iraq hawk Richard Perle tells an Italian newspaper that "Mohammed Atta met Saddam Hussein in Baghdad prior to September 11. We have proof of that." Plus: Computer disk found containing Perle's secret plan for carving up the Middle East!
The Christian Science Monitor examines the dubious intelligence that was trotted out to justify the Gulf War. "My concern in these situations, always, is that the intelligence that you get is driven by the policy," says former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton. [The current administration] "understands it has not yet carried the burden of persuasion so they will look for any kind of evidence to support their premise."
"When contemplating war, beware of babies in incubators."
ABC fails to disclose that its interview with a woman who says she was a former mistress of Saddam's, was set up by the opposition Iraqi National Congress. Howard Kurtz reveals the connection. (2nd item) More on 'Shaqraa' - the blonde.
Before their Camp David meeting, both Bush and Blair trumpeted a "new" report by the International Atomic Energy Agency as evidence that Iraq has restarted a nuclear arms program. But an IAEA spokeswoman says there was no new report, just images made available in a July presentation that elicited little media interest then, and wasn't publicized because "we had no idea whether it means anything."
The White House has acknowledged that Bush also misstated the conclusion of a 1998 IAEA report, when he claimed that it said Saddam could be six months away from developing nuclear weapons before the 1991 Gulf War. (scroll down)
U.S. officials tell a Knight Ridder reporter that there in no new intelligence that indicates the Iraqis have made significant advances in their nuclear, biological or chemical weapons programs. "Do I have a smoking gun? No," said one. "Can I tell you we've been looking like crazy? Yes."
Time reports that Senators were expecting new intelligence on Iraq during a briefing by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, but "instead, they got the kind of riff Rumsfeld uses with the Pentagon press corps."
When was the last time the U.S. bombed Iraq?
Why the spread of nuclear weapons across the region is a bigger threat than Saddam.
Sen. Hillary Clinton proposes war tax on wealthiest Americans.
Al-Qaeda and Taliban said to take backseat in Afghanistan to the Muslim group Hezb-i-Islami, led by former Afghan premier and famed mujahideen warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
U.S. report on wedding party bombing blames Afghans.
Oops, I Did It Again How Israel is like Britney Spears.
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
In a New York Times op-ed, Susan Sontag writes that there are better ways to check America's enemies "than continuing to invoke the dangerous, lobotomizing notion of endless war."
Nicholas Lemann airs the foreign policy differences between Bush administration hawks "who believe that anti-Americanism springs from pure irrational hatred and can best be dealt with through shows of force;" and the sidelined realists, "who believe anti-Americanism varies with the extent of visible, bellicose American behavior," and that the U.S. should have declared war on al-Qaeda, not on terrorism.
On July 24, the New York Daily News reported that VP Cheney would be scaling back his public cheerleader role until the SEC investigation of Halliburton had been resolved. But with a war to sell, he appeared within two days on NBC, CNN and PBS.
Cheney defended his tenure at Halliburton, but again deflected to Halliburton's Web site, questions on whether the company should have told the SEC about its accounting changes.
November Surmise James Carville introduces a spirited "Crossfire" segment by asking: "Has the Bush administration timed the debate over war with Iraq to coincide with the November elections?"
Saving Iraq Doug Ireland argues that political considerations could delay war with Iraq: "The tanking of the economy — likely to have accelerated by 2004 — and the nagging Harken and Halliburton scandals' residual potential to tarnish the Bush-Cheney ticket together mean that Bush will need to keep in reserve the option of lighting the counterfire of war fever to ensure his victory."
The Bush administration is no longer angling for a Saddam-al-Qaeda connection. "That is not the angle they're exploring now," the president reportedly told Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien. "The angle they're exploring is the production of weapons of mass destruction."
What have the American media learned from 9/11?
Heather Havrilesky surveys the dizzying array of merchandise available to commemorate the tragedy.
Telemarketers to hang it up for anniversary.
William Saletan cautions against fetishizing Sept. 11, which "threatens to do for terrorism what Mother's Day does for motherhood: liberate us from thinking about it 364 days a year."
"Why did a trauma experienced so deeply and endured so magnificently inspire no commensurate civic vigor?" asks Diane McWhorter. "The emptiness we feel a year later is the absence of redemption, of proof that we have been transformed by the pain."
The 1989 rape and brutal assault of a 28-year-old woman who was jogging in Central Park, resulted in the conviction of five black and hispanic boys who were among thirty arrested following a night of "wilding." Thirteen years later, there's one more detail that needs to be added to the story.
Thursday, September 12, 2002
Why Hollywood has kept its distance from 9/11.
LA Weekly profiles Benedikt Taschen, Germany's king of the coffee table.
Mark Crispin Miller says that post-9/11, the American press has embraced a "demented Caesarism."
For media focused on how and when of the war, the Iraq threat is beyond debate.
The Bush administration's hope that lawmakers would fall into line quickly on Iraq has hit a snag however, as Democrats say that new evidence isn't compelling enough to justify war. The head of the UN weapons-inspection team agrees.
Lazy Man's March to War U.S. officials acknowledge that the government hasn't compiled a cross-agency assessment of Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons capacities since President Bush took office.
Cheney reportedly tired of hearing president ask: "Hey Dick, can we invade yet?"
Simon Schama writes that the 9/11 dead are not owed another war, but "what they are owed is a good, stand-up, bruising row over the fate of America; just who determines it and for what end?"
How much will it cost the U.S. to get Russia on board?
Opponents of UN sanctions against Iraq are accusing the U.S. of a double standard, alleging that Israel has been permitted to defy resolutions ordering it to exit the West Bank and Gaza, while Iraq's non-compliance has been punished by repeated bombings and a rigorously enforced trade embargo.
Iraqifada? Foreign Minister Naji Sabri tells Reuters that "if we are attacked, we will choose our own means by using everything at our disposal, even sticks, kitchen knives, our hands and stones."
Friday, September 13, 2002
After spending the week vilifying former UN weapons' inspector Scott Ritter, CNN airs a debate between Ritter and his one-time boss, Richard Butler. Plus: Fox News' O'Reilly and Asman interview Ritter.
Ritter responds to critics who say he's the new Jane Fonda and joke about what he'll call his exercise video: "If they want to have an exercise video then why don't they come here and say it to my face and I'll give'm an exercise video, which will be called, 'Scott Ritter Kicking Their Ass.'"
Although the White House makes no claim that Iraq has nukes -- its report cites a British think tank's finding that Iraq could build a nuclear weapon within a few months if it managed to acquire enriched uranium -- a new poll done for Fox News finds that 69 percent of Americans believe Iraq already has nukes.
The Washington Times reports administration officials' claim that Bush planned all along to seek UN support, "despite talk as recently as this week about pre-emptive U.S. military strikes." Plus: The speech Bush gave and the one he should have given.
A former Time reporter who has been to Iraq three times since the Gulf War asks "Why aren't more American journalists reporting from Baghdad?" She says they'd soon discover that talk of an al-Qaeda connection is absurd: "As much as they hate their dictator, Iraqis hate the Islamists even more. As a Sunni Muslim, so does Saddam. As in the 1980s, this creepy strongman is standing between Iraqis and the jihad."
"A mere two months ago inquiries about Bush's past business practices, corporate scandals, the sagging economy and stock markets dominated the front page," writes Matt Miller. "A little Iraq invasion talk and -- presto! -- they're all gone."
In "Marketing Iraq: Why now?", CNN's Bill Schneider cites a column by Dick Morris: "Polls show that only one issue works in Bush's favor: terrorism. He doesn't need to wag the dog. He just needs to talk about wagging it to make the impact to keep control of Congress."
Did Attorney General Ashcroft overplay his hand? In the three months before he branded Jose Padilla a dangerous terrorist, Ashcroft held 17 news conferences. In the three months afterward, he held one.
Bin Laden aide Ayman al-Zawahri is said to have married two widows of a senior al-Qaeda leader who died in a U.S. air strike on Afghanistan. The New Yorker's Lawrence Wright discusses al-Zawahiri, whom he profiled in this week's issue.
Is it possible to make art of any kind out of 9/11?
Monday, September 16, 2002
Survivors commemorate 20th anniversary of massacre at Beirut's Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.
U.S. media mostly takes a pass on reporting the anniversary.
"The unofficial motto of the 9/11 anniversary may have been 'Never forget,'" writes Frank Rich, "but by 9/12, if not before, the war on al-Qaeda was already fading from memory as the world was invited to test-drive the war on Iraq." Plus: "In Afghanistan, a job half done."
In a Los Angeles Times article about how al-Qaedaites who fled Afghanistan have regrouped in Iran, Syria and Lebanon, an Arab intelligence source says that "It broadened their sphere of operation and increased the danger. It gave al-Qaeda members the opportunity to give their expertise to other people in other countries."
Al-Jazeera reporter fears reprisal from allies of captured al-Qaeda suspect, Ramzi Binalshibh.
Comrade says bin Laden was killed during the bombing of Tora Bora.
A Democratic strategist tells Newsweek that Iraq war talk "could all be a striptease debate to frame the election on their terms. We’ve been hearing from the pollsters that if the election is a plebiscite on national security, the Republicans win. He who controls the debate controls the election. It’s hard not to be skeptical.”
White House denies "Wag the Dog" charges as the director of the Democrats' Senate campaign committee says that "It's absolutely clear that the administration has timed the Iraq public relations campaign to influence the midterm elections ... and to distract the voting public from a failing economy and an unpopular Republican domestic agenda."
Wag Time The head of UN' weapons inspection says it would take four or five months of preparations before inspections could begin and that it may take a year to conclude whether Iraq is adequately disarmed.
Sen. John McCain says a "top secret" White House briefing on Iraq "was a joke."
First rough draft of history explains Bush administration for future generations.
A Philadelphia Daily News investigation finds a three-minute gap between the time the cockpit voice recorder tape on hijacked United Flight 93 went silent and the time that scientists have pinpointed for the crash.
Lawyers for the three men held for 17 hours in Friday's "terror scare" say that "bring it down" referred to a car, not a building. The hospital where the men were to begin an internship has asked them to transfer after it received "threatening, ethnic, racial e-mails directed at Muslim-Americans." Plus: They said, she said.
In an interview that he happened to be giving during the Florida incident, Hunter S. Thompson said that coverage of the Alligator Alley pullover was an example of the media taking its devotion to sensationalism "past all limits of absurdity."
TV coverage of event "dots airwaves with inaccuracies."
Fox News finds four former vegetarians -- one celebrity and three "ordinary folks" -- who have re-introduced meat into their diets and calls it a trend.
Are Bill O'Reilly's spats with conservative groups about politics or positioning?
Tuesday, September 17, 2002
Alternet's Michael Niman asks: "Is the Buffalo, NY terrorist cell for real?"
"The recent 'gains and successes' in the war on terror seem to have been blown out of proportion," argues Brendan O'Neill. "And they seem to be more the result of 'anniversary symbolism' in the USA and a case of getting lucky in Pakistan, rather than representing a significant breakthrough in America's war on terror."
Although Pakistan's government has consistently denied that Arab members of al-Qaeda are in Karachi, last week's shootout and arrests suggest otherwise. Plus: Security tight for Musharraf's visit to Karachi arms expo.
Welcome to Assassin-istan, where killing off leaders is a way of life.
A petition signed by more than 1,200 historians calls on Congress to abide by the Constitution: "A congressional resolution authorizing military action falls short. We believe the Constitution is clear: Congress must debate and vote on whether to declare war on Iraq."
Iraq says allowing inspectors to return robs U.S. of reason to wage war.
Why Saddam's kitchen cabinet is bare.
"Dick Cheney vehemently denies that talk of war, just weeks before the midterm elections, is designed to divert attention from other matters," writes Paul Krugman. "But in that case he won't object if I point out that the tide of corporate scandal is still rising, and lapping ever closer to his feet." Earlier: Pension woes at Halliburton spinoff.
The Washington Post reports that kidnapping has become so common in Mexico that no one is immune: "Maids are held for $500 in ransom; a 12-year-old Tijuana girl was kidnapped this year by college students trying to raise money for school; people fake their own kidnappings to collect from their own families or businesses."
With the men either dead or in prison, women are said to be in charge of two of Mexico's biggest drug cartels.
An economics professor and "obscure peddler of dissent," describes how he crossed the line by advocating an academic boycott of Israel.
Federal appeals court says government can ban the sale of porn on military bases.
As book publishers increasingly invest their publicity dollars in big names, lesser-known authors are resorting to desperate measures to get their work noticed. Plus: The cloning of successful titles makes a bookstore a mighty confusing place these days.
Rebecca Mead reports on what New York was like on the 9/11 anniversary -- the New York-New York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Wednesday, September 18, 2002
"If they want to keep their invasion on schedule, Bush and his fellow war buffs will now have to scramble for a way to reject as insufficient what appears to be a full capitulation by Saddam," writes the Toronto Star's Thomas Walkom. "They'll have to refuse to take yes for an answer."
The Guardian's Simon Tisdall argues that Saddam's concessions will never be enough for the U.S.
Arguing that no new UN resolution on inspectors is needed, Russia's Foreign Minister says that the UN could wait about six months for the first report from a revived inspection team.
But VP Dick Cheney told a Republican Party fund-raiser that Saddam has "begun to reconstitute his nuclear programs. We've seen a growing level of threat, He's back at it again."
Robert Fisk suspects that the U.S. may be eyeing a war crimes indictment: "Mr Bush's crocodile tears for the victims of Saddam's secret police torturers suggest that somebody in the administration is playing with the idea of a war crimes trial."
Thomas Friedman argues for regime change, "Because what the Arab world desperately needs is a model that works — a progressive Arab regime that by its sheer existence would create pressure and inspiration for gradual democratization and modernization around the region."
A new congressional report "raise serious questions" about whether the U.S. government shared enough information with the public concerning the bin Laden threat, and says that prior to 9/11, some intelligence analysts had focused on the possibility that terrorists might use "airplanes as weapons."
Art Attack Eric Fischl is pilloried by the New York Post's Andrea Peyser for his sculpture depicting a naked woman at the moment her head smacks the pavement, following her leap from the World Trade Center. Plus: 11'09''01 and official Fischl.
"On the Media" looks at how big news organizations downplay or ignore stories broken elsewhere.
Finalists' list for Online Journalism Awards includes links to each of the nominees.
Slaves of Celebrity Eric Olsen reports on how "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson and her fellow finalists had to sign virtually their entire careers away to the show's producers.
Cookie-cutter campaign ads featuring paid "talent," test the limits of what can be gotten away with.
Disabled Vets Take Late Hit Congress has voted to change an obscure 19th century law that reduces the retirement pay of disabled veterans by the amount they get in disability, but the Bush administration is threatening to veto the legislation, arguing that changing the law would be too costly.
Thursday, September 19, 2002
American soldiers say that Afghan forces, supposedly under the control of the central government in Kabul, are ransoming al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners, instead of turning them over to the U.S.
Cultural gap contributes to cooling of relations between U.S. forces and Afghans.
The report from the congressional intelligence committee investigating 9/11 cited a dozen examples of intelligence information on the possible use of airliners as weapons, including a 1998 warning that a "group of unidentified Arabs planned to fly an explosive-laden plane from a foreign country into the WTC."
Last May, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice said "I don't think anybody could have predicted ... that they would try to use an airplane as a missile. Had this president known a plane would be used as a missile, he would have acted on it."
The Bush administration has denied lawmakers permission to reveal whether the president or other White House staff received warning of potential terrorist attacks, including plans by al-Qaeda to use hijacked planes as weapons.
As lawmakers protest the administration's lack of cooperation in the 9/11 inquiry, momentum is building for an independent commission.
Alt-weekly writer calls on major news organizations to "snap out of 9/11 emotionalism and ask impolite financial questions about Saudi elites and President Bush."
UN timetable for weapons inspections could give Saddam a year's worth of breathing room.
A report authored by a physicist who investigated Iraq's nuclear weapons program following the Gulf War, questions the Bush administration's claim that thousands of aluminum tubes recently sought by Iraq were intended for a secret nuclear weapons program.
In an interview on PBS' "NewsHour," Defense Secretary Rumsfeld repeats the myths that Iraq "threw the inspectors out" and that it was "ready to" invade Saudi Arabia. Rumsfeld also refers to chemical and biological weapons as "weapons of mass destruction," but according to arms control experts, they are not.
VP Dick Cheney was also at odds with the experts when he told a Republican fund-raiser on Wednesday that "The entire world knows, beyond dispute, that Saddam Hussein holds weapons of mass destruction in large quantities and that he is seeking to acquire more."
CBS News apparently hasn't been listening to Cheney and Rumsfeld. The text describing the results of a recent poll reads: "Although administration officials have said that Iraq is developing weapons of mass destruction, most Americans believe Iraq has already developed them." Earlier: 69% of respondents to a Fox News poll think that Iraq has nuclear weapons.
Sierra's Club Court TV recounts the saga of Katie Sierra, who sued her West Virginia high school principal for the right to start an anarchy club and express her political views at school.
Cable press corps continues to distort the Shoney's incident.
Florida police have dismissed a traffic citation against one of the men after a toll plaza videotape showed him paying the toll.
Friday, September 20, 2002
Joshua Micah Marshall recommends a "sobering" Atlantic Monthly article that digs into the details of what the 'day after' of regime change in Iraq would look like. Marshall also writes that what he finds most difficult about the Iraq debate is that "the more ardent supporters of regime change have a marked propensity to assert as fact, points for which there is virtually or absolutely no evidence."
Calling President Bush's "rout of congressional Democrats virtually complete," Dana Milbank writes that the hallmark of his style "is an ability to shift justifications for a set policy" and a preference for handling one issue at a time. Plus: In the press presence of the president.
Secretary of State Powell recently said that "No sensible person wants to go to war if war can be avoided." David Corn suggests that the next time Powell "is at the White House, he should take a good look around."
Powell says that the U.S. will find ways to block weapons inspectors from going back to Iraq unless there is a new UN Security Council resolution on the issue.
Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura tells "Hardball's" Chris Matthews that "it’s easy to fight a war if you’re not the one fighting it. I have a name for them. They’re called chickenhawks." Watch the "Flight of the Chickenhawks"
The U.S. has moved to the center of political debate in Germany, where Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's justice minister reportedly said "Bush wants to divert attention from his domestic problems. It's a classic tactic. It's one that Hitler also used."
How Bush's war plans have more to do with elections than global security.
Company Men Paul Krugman writes that "it looks as if the economy is stalling, and also as if the people in charge have no idea what to do ... we have an administration whose key figures are fundamentally uninterested in and uncomfortable with economic policy."
Read an interview with William Greider, who talks about how big money has broken the American political machine and how lawyers and lobbyists undermine the process of lawmaking.
Variety reports that Rupert Murdoch's FX cable channel is planning to launch a political reality show called "American Candidate." The two-year-long series will culminate in viewers choosing a "people's candidate" to run for president in 2004.
The booking agent for Dr. Khidhir Hamza, the dissident Iraqi nuclear scientist who said this week that Iraq could have a nuclear bomb within months, is the same person who has been so successful in helping "experts" from a network of right-wing think tanks dominate the debate on Middle Eastern issues.
Israeli troops have once again stormed Yasser Arafat's Ramallah compound, blowing up three buildings following the second suicide bombing in as many days. Arafat has been confined to the compound since June 24.
Haaretz's Yoel Marcus says that Ariel Sharon has "established an autocracy, a government of one. The leader of the only democracy in the Middle East is like Henry Ford senior, who told his managers they could paint the cars any color they wanted as long as it was black."
After Rush Limbaugh gleefully reported that five members of the alleged Buffalo-based al-Qaeda cell were registered Democrats, The Smoking Gun turned up a Republican outlaw who was actually convicted of something.
Monday, September 23, 2002
"The administration isn't targeting Iraq because of 9/11. It's exploiting 9/11 to target Iraq," writes Maureen Dowd. "This new fight isn't logical — it's cultural. It is the latest chapter in the culture wars, the conservative dream of restoring America's sense of Manifest Destiny."
Selling war on Iraq follows rules for new product launch.
Salman Rushdie thinks that "The entire Arab world would be radicalised and destabilised" by U.S. action against Iraq. "What a disastrous twist of fate it would be if the feared Islamic jihad were brought into being not by the al-Qaeda gang but by the President of the U.S. and his close advisers."
Many Gulf War veterans are casting a wary eye on the administration's plans and reasons for another war against Iraq.
The Washington Post reports that constituent communications to a dozen House and Senate members are "running overwhelmingly against war, especially if the U.S. has to fight without strong allied support."
In advance of next Saturday's anti-war demonstration in London, filmmaker Ken Loach says that there's a discussion going on about the planned war against Iraq, but that we've glimpsed only a small fraction of it on television and in the press. Plus: "Forget the evidence."
Our SOB Scotland's Sunday Herald surveys the "rogues gallery" of heirs to Saddam.
Eric Alterman offers up a few questions that the media should be asking related to the 9/11 attacks, the war against al-Qaeda and the proposed war against Iraq.
When "news stories" are more story than news.
Israeli military kills five Palestinians as thousands defy curfew and march to protest the siege of Yasser Arafat's headquarters.
Haaretz's Amira Hass reports that "everyone was shocked by this collective audaciousness."
John Pilger charges the pro-Israel lobby with attempting to undermine his documentary, "Palestine is Still the Issue."
The Los Angeles Times reports on how entrepreneur Earnest James Ujaama's hopes for making big money running a "jihad training camp" in Oregon "disintegrated into a kind of moujahedeen comic-opera."
Bong maker gets 14-month prison stint and $500,000 fine for selling his wares in Iowa.
Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Read the transcript of Al Gore's "fiery speech," in which he accused the Bush administration of weakening the war on terrorism by going after Saddam and said that the international goodwill sparked by the 9/11 attacks "has been squandered in a year's time and replaced with fear, anxiety and uncertainty all around the world -- not about what the terrorist networks are going to do, but about what we're going to do." Listen to the speech here.
Salon offers international reaction to the Bush administration's new doctrine of preemptive strikes. Slate's William Saletan says that it amounts to shoot first, ask questions later and former CIA Director James Woolsey appears on "Hardball" and defends the policy against critics who call it "scary," "insane" and "Napoleonic."
The American Prospect's John Prados says that the Bush administration is playing politics with the investigation into 9/11 intelligence failures and that "the real significance of what did and did not happen in the investigation threatens to become lost in the cacophony of the Iraq debate." Plus: Will we ever know what Bush and Clinton knew?
Three retired four-star American generals warn against attacking Iraq without a UN resolution.
The Guardian publishes a condensed version of James Fallows' Atlantic Monthly article on what it would take to clean up the mess after a regime change in Iraq. Plus: Nicholas Kristof reports from Iraq on "The Day After."
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has "printed several packages of letters recently on the possibility of war with Iraq. After the second one, I asked the man in charge of letters if there truly were no letters in support of attacking Iraq. Not one. At least not then."
Britain and U.S. in row over regime change.
James Pinkerton expands on comments made by Sen. Robert Byrd and writes that "The Bush administration dominates the news every time it says anything about its prospective war with Iraq. And maybe that's the real brilliance of the Bushies -- changing the subject away from the economy, stupid."
It's the War, Stupid In a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll conducted in early September, 57% of respondents said economic conditions would be the most important consideration in their vote for Congress and 34% said the possibility of war with Iraq was most important. Two weeks later, 49% said war with Iraq would be the main consideration, with 42% citing economic conditions as most important.
FAIR calls PBS's Jim Lehrer on failing to challenge factually inaccurate assertions made by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld in a September 18 interview. Plus: "Does it matter if my Defense Secretary lies to me?"
Rumsfeld snubs German counterpart, says the election "had the effect of poisoning the relationship" between Germany and the U.S.
U.S. and Israeli computer hackers bring Web warfare to America.
CNN is in a dispute with two American Jewish organizations over its policy of "not airing advocacy advertising regarding international issues from regions in conflict."
ABCNN? The Los Angeles Times reports that AOL Time Warner and Disney have been negotiating a plan to spin off their CNN and ABC News divisions into a stand-alone venture.
The New Republic's Michelle Cottle asks: "Is it just me, or does anyone else think Jack Welch is being a sanctimonious horse's ass about this recent decision to downgrade his retirement package?"
USA Today reports that business execs are re-reading Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged," to remind themselves that "self-interest is not only the right thing to do from an economic standpoint but is moral, as well."
Starry Eyes Us magazine moves to the forefront of "anthropological celebritology."
Wednesday, September 25, 2002
Thomas Friedman believes that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "is going to lead Israel into a dead end — if he sticks to his present course — and will take America along for the ride." Plus: "Sharon's real purpose is to create foreigners."
Security Card Dana Milbank reports that as President Bush seeks to boost Republican candidates, he's increasingly emphasizing "terrorism and national security, shedding his previous determination to demonstrate his concern about the flagging economy. Four times in the past two days, Bush has suggested that Democrats do not care about national security."
Milbank notes that a 4,200-word speech that Bush delivered in New Jersey on Monday, included 3,100 words devoted to war and security and 700 devoted to domestic matters, with the balance devoted to introductions.
Senate Majority Leader Daschle accuses VP Cheney of politicizing the Iraq debate by urging an audience in Kansas to vote for a GOP congressional candidate because he supports President Bush on the issue.
House and Senate Democrats criticize party leaders for rushing to back a unilateral strike against Iraq and say that opposition to the president's resolution is spreading quickly.
William Saletan on Bush v. Gore: "The party of fear vs. the party of good will."
In his latest Slate column, Michael Kinsley wrote that "wrapping yourself in the flag and burying your head in the sand -- please take a moment to imagine Bill Bennett in this condition -- is not an appropriate way to deal with an unwelcome philosophical challenge." Tapped notes that when the same column ran in the Washington Post, the reference to Bennett was removed.
Harper's editor Lewis Lapham laughs at the news that Bennet's Americans for Victory Over Terrorism (AVOT) has labeled him an "internal threat" to the U.S.: "Bennett is to me an intolerant scold and a character straight out of Dickens. I often have occasion to make a joke at Bennett's expense, so I guess that's why I got put on the enemies list." More on the Bennett brand.
Terror TIPSter A New York woman describes how a July 2001 cab ride -- in which the Egyptian driver told her something terrible was going to happen in New York, and that bin Laden would be responsible -- led her to become an FBI informant.
Uncle oSAMa says make my day: "I Want YOU To Invade Iraq."
If the details on Saddam's building of weapons of mass destruction in Prime Minister Blair's dossier are correct, Robert Fisk says that "means that our massive, obstructive, brutal policy of UN sanctions has totally failed. In other words, half a million Iraqi children were killed by us – for nothing."
Maureen Dowd asks: "Do we really want to punish the Germans for being pacifists?"
Chicago magazine profiles David Schippers, a Democrat who was hired by the Republicans to prosecute Bill Clinton and who is now trying to connect the dots between the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 attacks. Earlier: LA Weekly on the FBI agent, the reporter and the terrorist motel.
Management at pro-labor LA Weekly fights union drive.
Two men allegedly involved in producing the "Bumfights" video -- which shows homeless people engaging in fistfights and acts of self-abuse -- have been arrested and charged with conspiracy, solicitation of a felony crime and illegally paying people to fight.
Thursday, September 26, 2002
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, in an interview on PBS' "NewsHour," said "there have been contacts between senior Iraqi officials and members of al-Qaeda going back for actually quite a long time. We're learning more because we have a lot of detainees who are able to fill in pieces of the puzzle. And when the picture is clear, we'll make full disclosure about it." Article.
Iraq casts a strange spell on the members of the Bush family when they occupy the White House, says Charley Reese. "It seems to corrupt them so that they resort to lies and elaborate deceptions as their frenzy for war grows feverish." Plus: Saddam resists a push into exile.
"The Democrats' problem is that, for the most part, they are unable or unwilling to politicize Bush's rush to war," writes David Corn, "for that would entail fiercely challenging Bush's demand for the authority to use force against Iraq -- which is not the Democratic position. So instead of worrying about the war, many Democrats fret about the politics."
Ralph Nader calls Bush's steps toward military action in Iraq a "cheap election ploy" and says Saddam's "a weakened dictator not in control of two-thirds of his own country ... in possession of obsolete military equipment with few spare parts."
As the U.S. press is charged with enlisting for war on Iraq, FAIR reminds that in 1999, major papers ran front-page investigations revealing that the CIA had covertly used U.N. weapons inspectors to spy on Iraq. But now, facts that their own correspondents confirmed three years ago are being recycled as mere allegations coming from Saddam's regime.
A C-SPAN segment turns ugly as one Congressman accuses another of anti-Americanism over his claim that in the 1980s, Saddam obtained biological and chemical weapons technology from the U.S.
The Buffalo News reports that according to 1994 testimony to a U.S. Senate committee, American research companies, with the approval of the Reagan and first Bush administrations, provided Iraq biological cultures that could be used for biological weapons.
Hip Hoprisy One day after Bill O'Reilly blasted Pepsi for using rapper Ludacris as a pitchman, the company announced that it was pulling the ads. G. Beato compares the literary output of both men and concludes that "in America, we expect far more moral accountability from our soft drink manufacturers than we do from the news media."
Behind the Mic(rowave) "Fresh Air" host Terry Gross confesses that not all of her interviews are riveting: "I'd be lying if I didn't tell you there were some interviews where I was thinking, 'Chicken or fish tonight?'"
Jerry Stahl ponders the future of God in John Ashcroft's America.
As the Israeli military opens a new front in the Gaza Strip, analysts predict high casualties on both sides from any fighting in Gaza City or the refugee camps that house much of the Strip's population.
Off-Base Behavior The Los Angeles Times reports on a controversy involving the U.S. military, which is being criticized for condoning prostitution and trafficking in South Korea, by allowing GIs to visit nightclubs with Russian or Philippine hostesses.
Alexander Cockburn on Hitchens ditchin' the Nation: "I think it was becoming increasingly bizarre for the Nation to publish his column. But people only very slowly take in these changes, much like Dorian Gray changes slowly in front of you. Hitch is no longer the beautiful slender young man of the Left. Now he's just another middle-aged porker of the Right."
How would the Bush family fare under a Noam Chomsky presidency?
Friday, September 27, 2002
Calling the Bush administration's campaign for war "an extravaganza of disingenuousness," Michael Kinsley writes that "George W.'s war on Iraq will be the reductio ad absurdum of America's long, slow abandonment of any pretense that the people have any say in the question of whether their government will send some of them far away to kill and die."
Read the transcript of Wednesday's White House press briefing, during which AP correspondent Ron Fournier asked the same question six times, in an attempt to get a straight answer from spokesman Ari Fleischer.
Lawyers for "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla argue that his continued detention in the absence of criminal charges is an "unprecedented expansion of executive authority."
A former U.S. attorney has a tip for Attorney General Ashcroft: "TIPS will self-destruct in 30 seconds, and the administration will disavow any knowledge of its (and probably your) existence." Plus: Ashcroft's Baghdad connection.
Tiger in Their (Think) Tank Read how so-called experts -- heavily-funded by the oil, coal and auto industries -- are twisting the environmental debate.
A wild week in Iowa's U.S. Senate race takes yet another turn and Cornfield Commentary mixes it up with Media Whores Online. (scroll down) Earlier: Cookie-cutter campaign ads featuring paid "talent," test the limits of what can be gotten away with.
Joe Klein asks: "Can Al Gore rouse the Democrats?"
Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Ellen Tauscher are trying to delay a war vote until after the elections, arguing that "The Congress that will face the consequences of war in Iraq should be the one to make this decision and take this vote."
Joe Conason says that a four-to-six month wait for the U.N. weapons' inspectors to do their job "will try the patience of that battalion of columnists and cable loudmouths — the 'windbags of war' — who demand bloody combat from the safety of their Aeron chairs."
So, it's a wrap?
A Washington Post article and a Nicholas Kristof column both warn of Iraq's plans to counter a U.S. invasion by attempting to lure American troops into urban warfare. Plus: Hunt for Saddam could be trickier than previously thought.
U.S. documents said to implicate Kissinger in Argentine atrocities.
Monday, September 30, 2002
U.S. Special Forces tell Newsweek that August's "Operation Mountain Sweep" was a disaster, with U.S. Army soldiers terrorizing innocent Afghan villagers and ruining the rapport that Special Forces had built up with local communities. Army public-affairs officers call the Special Forces "prima donnas," who are damaging the war effort by complaining to the press.
Plotting a War "One needn't be overly cynical to say that President Bush realizes that, after 9/11, the country and his presidency need a script," writes Neal Gabler. "Even though, by most accounts, Saddam Hussein does not constitute an imminent threat to us, a war against Iraq provides a plot that will shape and direct the nation."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jay Bookman argues that war against Iraq is not really about Iraq: "It is not about weapons of mass destruction, or terrorism, or Saddam, or U.N. resolutions. Invasion would mark the next step toward an American empire."
Maureen Dowd imagines a Q & A session with the "Boy Emperor" and his imperial war tutor, "Wise Rummy."
Sen. Robert Byrd catalogs the "Betty Crocker cookbook of ingredients that the U.S. allowed Iraq to obtain and that may well have been used to concoct biological weapons," and asks: "In the event of a war with Iraq, might the United States be facing the possibility of reaping what it has sown?"
Frank Rich says that the Bush administration is cooking the books across the board: "What Mr. Daschle and the rest of his incoherent party have failed to articulate (along with so much else) is that this presidency is all of one consistent piece, whether it is managing our money or managing a war." Earlier: "Bush's Buddy Economy."
Analyst says "overdose of uncertainty" with Iraq situation extending longest bear market in 60 years.
After Rep. Jim McDermott, who is visiting Iraq, told ABC's "This Week" that "I think the president would mislead the American people," Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott said that McDermott "needs to come home and keep his mouth shut."
Democratic Congressional candidates open up seven point lead according to latest Newsweek poll. A Washington Post/ABC poll finds that respondents -- by a 56 to 34 percent margin -- prefer to see Democrats in charge of the next Congress.
Latest Florida newspaper poll puts Gov. Jeb Bush six points ahead of rival Bill McBride, with only six percent of respondents "undecided." Another poll calls the race a dead heat. Read coverage and transcript of their first debate
Blacklisted Like Me About 100 professors have asked to have their names put on Campus Watch's Mideast blacklist.
Ariel Sharon comes under wall-to-wall criticism for siege of Yasser Arafat's headquarters. Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that rather than besieging Arafat's compound, the Israeli government should have expelled him.
Since 1989, fighting in Kashmir has claimed as many as 60,000 lives. "Post-mortem boy,'' Mohammed Maqbool Sheikh, is responsible for cleaning up the mess.
Czech intelligence officials say there is no credible evidence of a meeting between 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer. Plus: Bush administration "sowing a dangerous confusion" about ties between Saddam and al-Qaeda.
Poppycock? The New Yorker has posted a 1993 article by Seymour Hersh, in which he claimed that the evidence implicating Iraq in an assassination attempt against George H. W. Bush "was, and remains, circumstantial."
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