Saturday, August 13, 2005
By Andrew Rice - Posted Saturday, at 5:12 AM CT
The New York Times leads with yesterday's gigantic 9-11 document dump, as New York City's government complied with a court order and released a vast trove of information related to the terrorist attacks and the city's response to the emergency. The Washington Post's lead reveals that the federal agency charged with screening airline passengers is discussing whether to relax some of the tight restrictions it's imposed since 2001 in order to ease waits at airports and to allow screeners to focus their attention on serious risks. The Los Angeles Times goes with a local story that has national implications: The California Supreme Court yesterday gave the go-ahead for a ballot initiative that proposes to change the way the state's congressional districts are drawn.
Two men identified by authorities as suspected hijackers Mohammed Atta, on the right of the picture at left, and Abdulaziz Alomari, center, seen passing through airport security September 11, 2001 at Portland International Jetport in Maine in an image from airport surveillance tape released September 19, 2001. REUTERS/PORTLAND POLICE DEPARTMENT-Handout/Files.
Though some of the information contained in the 9-11 documents has leaked out over the years -- much of it to the NYT itself -- the paper, sounding slightly overwhelmed, emphasizes the sheer amount of material, "a digital avalanche of oral histories, dispatchers' tapes and phone logs so vast that they took up 23 compact discs." The city only released the documents after losing a freedom-of-information case to the Times and a group of victims' families. Most reader-accessible are the voluminous oral histories compiled soon after the attacks on the orders of the city's then-fire department commissioner, which are excerpted in a separate inside piece.
The lead story understandably chooses to focus on one small slice of the material: The stories of the paramedics who responded to the attacks. But everything's posted online. The LAT also fronts a story based on the documents.
The WP's lead, in a curious bit of juxtaposition, says that the new head of the Transportation Safety Administration wants to loosen up airport security checks in order to concentrate on "today's threats." The TSA is already struggling to screen the estimated 2 million passengers who pass through airports each day, even as Congressional budget cuts mean fewer screeners. To ease the burden, the agency is now considering doing fewer pat-downs, ending the rule requiring passengers to remove their shoes, and removing restrictions prohibiting "carry-on items such as scissors, razor blades -- ice picks, throwing stars and bows and arrows on flights." Some terrorism analysts approved, saying that these days, the most serious threats to airlines are posed by suicide bombers with explosives strapped to their chests, not scissors-wielding hijackers, ninjas, or Ted Nugent.
Removing partisanship from the process of drawing congressional, districts is a liberal hobbyhorse, and also a pet issue of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, below right, a Republican. Schwarzenegger is backing an initiative that would take redistricting power out of the hands of elected politicians, entrusting it to nonpartisan judges instead. Opponents of the measure tried to get it thrown off the ballot on technical grounds, but California's Supreme Court rejected their arguments. The ruling sets the stage for a major battle as Democrats try to hold onto district-drawing power in one their stronghold states.
Gas prices, which are rising above $3 in some parts of the country, get big play in both the Times today. In car-crazy Los Angeles, there's a story about commuters who stubbornly refuse to consider carpools or public transportation, even when faced with gas costs not seen since the days of the Iran-Iraq war. One motorist tells the paper that she recently sold one guzzler, but adds, "We still have our Cadillac Escalade." In New York, where driving is a more exotic pastime, the story focuses on people who actually hunt around for cheaper gas stations. Where will this madness end?
The WP off-leads a big-picture analysis of Israel's ongoing withdrawal from Gaza. For those still befuddled about why Ariel Sharon, Israel's PM, below left, has suddenly decided to give Palestinians a big piece of the occupied territories, this is a good primer. The simple answer is: demographics. "According to population projections, the number of Arabs living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea will surpass the number of Jewish residents, who now total roughly 5.2 million, by the end of the decade," the paper writes. Israel's leaders want a nation that's smaller and more homogenous so Arabs don't band together to vote them out of power. Meanwhile, the LAT has a piece on the uproar over the withdrawal within America's Jewish community.
The LAT follows President Bush's sorta-kinda vows to keep American troops in Iraq with an off-lead story examining whether a rift on war strategy has opened up between the White House and the Pentagon. (TP speculated on the same question yesterday.)
The NYT fronts word that Edgar Ray Killen, the former Klansman convicted of involvement in the killing of three civil rights workers in Mississippi in 1964 was released on bail pending an appeal yesterday. The 80-year-old convict served just six weeks for his crimes, and may never return to jail, since his health is failing.
Inside, the NYT has a fascinating investigation of corruption in Russia. It'll surprise no one that graft costs Russians billions a year -- that's why, TP suspects, the story didn't make the front -- but reading the piece, you realize that the everydayness of it is exactly the point. Reporter Steven Lee Myers collects a bevy of priceless anecdotes: to get into a university, prospective students must bribe a dean; even the local branch of Transparency International, an anticorruption advocacy group, was hit up for $300. "It used to be called bribery," a jaded businessman tells the paper. "Now it is just called business."
Back to the 9-11 documents for a moment. While NYT's stories are admirably done under serious time constraints, it's worth going to the source materials themselves, which are chilling. Even years after the fact, listening to the tapes of the confused distress calls from police and rescue workers first on the scene of the World Trade Center, some of whom were presumably soon to die, packs a sort of raw suspense. A moment from one tape, picked at random:
"We're being told, a second plane -- a second plane! -- crashed into the building on the opposite end," shouts a harried rescue worker.
"That's not an accident," a deadpan voice replies. "That's on purpose."
Andrew Rice is writing a book about Uganda. Source: Slate Magazine.
I would like to share the description I heard on Air America of Bush's motorcade passing Cindy Sheehan's protest on August 12th:
(my words.....) Her requests are selfless and are for the country.... He can't understand that....and people who say "she's not the only one who's sacrificed".......don't seem to understand the big picture.
There were 15 vehicles....He was in a black gas-guzzling SUV....on his way to a neighbor's ranch for a Republican fundraiser...where they raised 2.5 million dollars for the National Republican Committee.
He waved to her.....and then left her in the dust.
He has time to party with his rich friends...but he can't meet with a woman who has sacrificed her son for the country.
In my mind she is speaking for everyone's sons and daughters. They forget her main question is.... "What's the Noble cause?"
Before everyone gets lost in themselves...find out a little more about Cindy Sheehan and what she's doing.
Letter from Cindy Sheehan, mother of killed Iraq Soldier:
by Cindy Sheehan
August 5th, 2005
Dear Friends and Supporters,
George Bush said speaking about the dreadful loss of life in Iraq in August: (08/03/05): "We have to honor the sacrifices of the fallen by completing the mission." "The families of the fallen can be assured that they died for a noble cause."
In reaction to these two assinine and hurtful statements, members of Gold Star Families for Peace (GSFP) are going to George's vacation home in Crawford, Tx this Saturday, August 6th at 11:00 am to confront him on these two statements.1) We want our loved ones' sacrifices to be honored by bringing our nation's sons and daughters home from the travesty that is Iraq IMMEDIATELY, since this war is based on horrendous lies and deceptions. Just because our children are dead, why would we want any more families to suffer the same pain and devastation that we are?GSFP will be joined by members of Veteran's for Peace (VFP), Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), Code Pink, and Crawford Peace House.
2) We would like for him to explain this "noble cause" to us and ask him why Jenna and Barbara are not in harm's way, if the cause is so noble.
3) If George is not ready to send the twins, then he should bring our troops home immediately. We will demand a speedy withdrawal.
We GSFP members will not leave until we get answers from George Bush. We deserve and expect him to welcome us with answers to as why our loved ones are dead.
Every worker for peace, every worker for justice, every person who wants our country back are welcomed to join us on Saturday. Show George Bush that we mean business. Be there to support us family members who have already been through so much. We are fighting for our country, our world, especially the children.
Crawford is about 2 hours from Dallas where the VFP Convention is being held this weekend. There will be car pools from the convention.
HONOR OUR LOVED ONES' SACRIFICES: BRING OUR TROOPS HOME NOW!!!!
Bring water and hats...we plan on staying until we are arrested or satisfied with the answers. (I am betting on jail).
Please pass this email on to your friends, lists, and media.
This man is a narcissist .......We are a facist state and are losing the "balance of power". We need to do something about it in 2006.
and Shame on us if we let the Repugs stay in total control after 2006.....
Yesterday afternoon, RNC Chair Ken Mehlman, right, (GOP.com) sent out this email to the Republican mailing list entitled "Democrat Attack Strategy Against Judge Roberts":
- Part one of the Democrats' plan was to claim they weren't sufficiently consulted by the President. However, after the President's unprecedented consultation with over 70 senators, including two-thirds of the Democrat caucus, Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on the floor of the Senate, "that dog won't hunt."
- The second part of the Democrats' strategy is to cast Judge Roberts as an extremist. The false and outrageous ad run by NARAL is an indication of how far the left is willing to go to make this second strategy work. The fact that NARAL had to pull their own ads off the air because so many Americans deemed them untruthful and offensive illustrates how the Democrats' strategy to paint Judge Roberts as an extremist has completely collapsed.
- The third prong is the Democrats' latest effort to request endless amounts of documents in an attempt to drag out the confirmation process. In the history of the Supreme Court, no nominee put forward by a Democrat President has ever been asked to produce documents ....
- I know of no Democratic leader who claimed we were not consulted about the Roberts nomination. It would have been typical of Bush to steamroll this nomination and not consult. He or some advisor was smart to consult most senators.
- The NARAL ad is labeled by Mehlman as a Democratic Party position. Doesn't he know these are two separate organizations? It is interesting that both the far left (as illustrated by NARAL) and the far right (as illustrated by Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council) feel Roberts is an extremist and want him fully vetted.
- Democratic Party leaders in the Senate have indeed requested certain documents, some of which have been supplied and some not. These are not "endless." Commentators from across the political spectrum have found the documents released so far interesting in terms of what they display of Judge Roberts' legal philosophy. Again, it is not Democrats alone who want Roberts fully vetted. Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family (far right) has called on his supporters to closely examine Roberts' writings as well.
Taylor County, Texas
An attacker posted on Daily Kos that Cindy Sheehan shown below right (holding up a cross bearing her son's name as the motorcade of President George W. Bush passes by her protest in Crawford, Texas, August 12, 2005), grieving mother of a slain soldier in Iraq, should have gone through "proper channels" to communicate with President Bush, and that her criticism would defeat the effort to establish a Democratic outpost in the Middle East. My response is as follows:
- "Usual channels." They don't work for contrary views. Bush hears only what he wants to hear, from "trusted" sources. He does not read. He listens to Condi, Karl, Rummy & Dick. A protest by Cindy Sheehan sent through the "usual channels" would get nowhere.
- "Outpost of Democracy." The Middle East has its own cultures, and US'ism is not one of them. Bush thinks Sunni vs. Shi'ite is a mild expletive. (Say this slowly, with a Texas drawl: "shee-it.") He never understood the cultural hatreds existing in Iraq, Iran & Afghanistan. He never knew that Saddam's minions and al Qaida types hated each other for decades, at least 'til we came along and make them allies.
Friday, August 12, 2005
Haigler & Spier visit Sheehan in Crawford
Crawford, Texas, Aug. 12 - Taylor County Democratic Chair Dave Haigler, attorney, and Taylor County Democratic Club President Roger Spier, M.D., visited Cindy Sheehan, mother of dead Iraq war veteran Casey Sheehan, yesterday at her peace-vigil site on Prairie Chapel Road, about 4 miles southeast of the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas.
Peace House volunteers in Crawford and Sheriff's deputies in McClennan County advised visitors to park their cars around the Peace House in town and take shuttles out the narrow winding Prairie Chapel Road, shown at left, to the vigil, in order to lessen traffic congestion in the area. Apparently for security reasons, there is little on the internet about the ranch's location, other than a site ominously-named http://eyeball.sabotage.org/prez-eyeball.htm. However, to get there, one goes west from Crawford's only blinking traffic light on W. 5th Street, and turns northwest at the Lutheran Church on Prairie Chapel Road. The peace vigil is being held at a 3-way intersection in the road where one branch turns north to the Bush ranch and the other turns south, forming a triangle. The triangle has nothing on it but a sign warning "no trespassing." Instead most vigil attenders are parked on the west side of the north-south road on the west side of the triangle, mercifully shaded by a bank of trees. Sheriff's deputies had two patrol cars sitting at ends of the protesters, and walked through the crowd greeting people and answering questions.
As Spier & Haigler arrived, Texas Attorney General Democratic candidate David Van Os, right, and his wife Rachel were visiting Cindy Sheehan. Haigler, left, joined in the conversation. Van Os thanked Mrs. Sheehan for her family's sacrifice.
Haigler, left, showed Mrs. Sheehan a printout of various stories blogged on her by the DemLog, stories that can be seen here, here, here, here, and here.
Those stories provoked a rare smile from Cindy, right.
Dr. Spier, left, watched in a rare moment of silence as Haigler chatted with Cindy.
Sheehan was resting in a lounge chair under an RV awning in the dry August Texas heat, as she received visitors and gave interviews by phone to media people.
There were perhaps a hundred or more visitors, seen in the distance, right, to the peace vigil on a Thursday afternoon. Rush Limbaugh today pontificated on KSLI-AM 1280 in Abilene that there were only 50 people there, but Limbaugh himself was not there. Most of the attendees were military veterans or relatives of veterans. So much for the radical-right mantra of "supporting our troops."
One display, below right, showed the pictures of the first 1,000 U.S. troops killed in Iraq. Another display, below left, was crosses with the names of some of these dead troops.
One of those crosses, below right, bore the name of Mrs. Sheehan's son Casey, who died in April 2004 in Iraq. Cindy said, "I'm here because of Casey." Indeed the vigil was called "Camp Casey" in honor of Mrs. Sheehan's son.
Cindy seemed tired, but peaceful. She pledged to stay until the president's vacation ends on the ranch or until he visits with her.
There has been no indication he plans to do so. Several visitors commented that if he were smart, he'd visit her and neutralize the entire vigil, but said they didn't think he was that smart.
Spier & Haigler also visited the Peace House in midtown Crawford, which provides food, water and rest rooms for the visitors and administers the vigil. Volunteers were busy there providing t-shirts, buttons, and answering media inquiries.
-By Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
By Eric Umansky
Posted Friday, Aug. 12, 2005, at 5:08 AM CT
The Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and USA Today all lead with President Bush playing down talk of a draw-down next year in Iraq, calling it, interestingly, "speculation based upon progress that some are seeing in Iraq." The president made the comments while responding to an antiwar protester who has been camping outside his ranch demanding a meeting. Her son died fighting in Iraq. The Washington Post stuffs the president's comments -- it led with similar play-down talk yesterday. Instead the paper leads with Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff's indictment for fraud. Abramoff, below right, shown listening to his attorney Abbe Lowell, and some partners bought a Florida casino cruise line with loans backed by an apparently bogus wire transfer. The case isn't connected to Abramoff's work with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, nor to the other federal investigation into the lobbyist's work. But the Post does say that court documents suggest "Abramoff leveraged his connections with members of Congress to advance" the deal. The Wall Street Journal adds that Republican Rep. Bob Ney "twice spoke on the House floor to express support for the sale."
TP has been wondering if the papers are taking the talk of reductions a parse too far. But the LAT in particular makes a fairly strong case that administration players are at least changing their emphasis. As that Times notes, one of the top commanders in Iraq recently told the paper that his recommendation for a draw-down of troops could "conceivably be as much as 20 percent to 25 percent following the elections."
Yesterday President Bush said, "I think [talk of troop reductions] were rumors. I think they're speculation."
The above commander seems to have been dealing in something more than rumors. A front-page analysis in the Post mentions that "Pentagon plans call for increasing the 17-brigade U.S. troop presence this fall by a brigade or two, or about 10,000 troops, before bringing it down to about 15 brigades next spring and possibly to about 12 brigades by the end of 2006."
One possible explanation for the seeming White House-Pentagon tension: The military is so stretched it feels it has to draw down forces. "By the end of this coming summer we can no longer sustain the presence we have now," one retired general told the Post. (Slate contributor Philip Carter, who has returned to active duty and is heading to Iraq himself, also recently asserted the logistical inevitability of a draw-down.)
Everybody mentions but nobody fronts a top Shiite leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, shown in a poster, below left, the cleric who heads the Shiite coalition in Iraq's National Assembly, saying that the Shiite, oil-rich south should be granted autonomy. Such a move wouldn't thrill Sunnis -- who live mostly in oil-poor central Iraq. As the Post notes, the call was followed by rallies of a few thousand of the leader's supporters. Iraq's current prime minister, a Shiite, rejected the call. One Marine was killed in fighting as were a half-dozen Iraqis.
Knight Ridder comes across an Iraqi internal audit concluding that as much as $1 billion appears to have been skimmed off the top from the Iraqi Defense Ministry. Of the ministry's $1.3 billion budget, the audit found suspicious contracts adding up to $1.27 billion. Apparently half went to just one guy, a currency trader. "There's no rebuilding, no weapons, nothing," said one general who worked in the ministry. "There are no real contracts, even."
KR's piece says some "U.S. military officials" blamed the former CPA for forcing the Iraqi government to hire unknowns, particularly exiles. The NYT recently had a piece on the defense ministry's general ineffectiveness but didn't get into corruption. TP will be curious to see if the top papers follow up on KR's scoop.
Speaking of follow-up, TP hasn't seen much on the purported sacking of the former mayor of Baghdad. Why? Do the papers not think a mini-putsch is newsworthy? Or was the situation more complex the Times originally suggested?
A stuffed Post piece says the U.S. is likely to give Iran's new president a visa to visit the U.N. But the paper buries the lead: The reason he's getting the visa is that, as one "U.S. official" put it, "there is relative certainty" he was not one of the captors in the U.S. embassy hostage taking.
The LAT fronts word that just days after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, below right, announced his candidacy for California's top office, Schwarzenegger's tabloid publisher buddy and business partner agreed to pay a woman $20,000 in return for her not talking to anybody else about her apparent affair with Schwarzenegger. One of the tabloids the publisher owned, the National Enquirer, ran a story back in 2001 alleging a seven-year affair with the woman. After Schwarzenegger entered the race and the deal was signed, the publisher never ran any stories about her. In other words, some skeptical types might conclude that the $20k effectively operated as hush money.
[For those who really want to know, you can click on the link to the full article below and find out what the woman claims was the extent of their physical touching. I decided to spare you and delete that paragraph. -D.H.]
Thursday, August 11, 2005
For anyone who is wondering what is going on in places like Falluja Iraq, I would suggest a trip to the video rental shop and the renting of the video "Hamburger Hill." Though the story of "Hamburger Hill" takes place in Vietnam, the sequencing of action is exactly that of the Falluja campaigns. Hamburger Hill is captured at the cost of Marine lives. A General declares it liberated and a victory. Then the Marines withdraw. Months later Hamburger Hill is again captured at the cost of Marine lives--In Falluja, over 100, so far.
I think a reasonable person could now label Iraq, and its repetative battles, booby-traps, and IEDs, Vietnam west.
Terry D. Barhorst
Op-Eds by Dave Haigler.
Click on the latest Abi-Demian, Democratic Party News: Abi-Demian.
MMfA: Drudge & Fox News malign protesting mom
NYT: FactCheck, Pro-choicers oppose NARAL's ad against Roberts - Aug. 11
WASHINGTON - An advertisement that a leading abortion-rights organization began running on national television on Wednesday, opposing the Supreme Court nomination of John G. Roberts Jr. as one "whose ideology leads him to excuse violence against other Americans," quickly became the first flashpoint in the three-week-old confirmation process.
Several prominent abortion rights supporters as well as a neutral media watchdog group said the advertisement was misleading and unfair, and a conservative group quickly took to the airwaves with an opposing advertisement.
The focus of the 30-second spot, which Naral Pro-Choice America (whose president is Nancy Keenan, below right) is spending $500,000 to place on the Fox and CNN cable networks, as well as on broadcast stations in Maine and Rhode Island over the next two weeks, is on an argument in an abortion-related case that Judge Roberts made to the Supreme Court in the early 1990's, when he was working in the first Bush administration as the principal deputy solicitor general.
The question before the court was whether a Reconstruction-era civil rights law intended to protect freed slaves from the Ku Klux Klan could provide a basis for federal courts to issue injunctions against the increasingly frequent and violent demonstrations that were intended to block access to abortion clinics.
The court heard arguments in the case, Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, in October 1991 and then again the next October before finally ruling in January 1993, by a vote of 6 to 3, that the law did not apply. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, whom Mr. Roberts has been nominated to succeed, voted in dissent. The decision prompted Congressional passage of a new federal law to protect the clinics.
Mr. Roberts participated in both arguments, presenting the administration's view that the law in question, the Ku Klux Klan Act, did not apply to the clinic protests. In earlier cases, the Supreme Court had parsed the law, which prohibits conspiracies to deprive "any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws," as requiring proof that a conspiracy was motivated by a "class-based, invidiously discriminatory animus."
Mr. Roberts's image appears in the ad, superimposed on a faint copy of the brief he signed in the 1991 case. "Supreme Court nominee John Roberts filed court briefs supporting violent fringe groups and a convicted clinic bomber," the narrator's voice says. The spot concludes by urging viewers to: "Call your senators. Tell them to oppose John Roberts. America can't afford a justice whose ideology leads him to excuse violence against other Americans."
According to Factcheck.org, a nonpartisan project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania that monitors political advertisements and speeches for accuracy, "the ad is false" and "uses the classic tactic of guilt by association." The imagery is "especially misleading" in linking the 1998 clinic bombing to the brief Mr. Roberts signed seven years earlier, Factcheck said in an analysis it posted on its Web site, www.factcheck.org, under the heading: "Naral Falsely Accuses Supreme Court Nominee Roberts."
Within the larger liberal coalition of which Naral is a part, there was considerable uneasiness about the advertisement, although leaders of other groups generally refused to speak on the record. One who did, Frances Kissling, below left, the longtime president of Catholics for a Free Choice, said she was "deeply upset and offended" by the advertisement, which she called "far too intemperate and far too personal."
Ms. Kissling, who initiated the conversation with a reporter, said the ad "does step over the line into the kind of personal character attack we shouldn't be engaging in."
She added: "As a pro-choice person, I don't like being placed on the defensive by my leaders. Naral should pull it and move on."
Walter Dellinger, a former acting solicitor general in the Clinton administration and longtime Naral supporter, sent a letter on Wednesday to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and its ranking Democrat, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, respectively. Mr. Dellinger said he had disagreed with Mr. Roberts's argument in the Bray case but considered it unfair to give "the impression that Roberts is somehow associated with clinic bombers." He added that "it would be regrettable if the only refutation of these assertions about Roberts came from groups opposed to abortion rights."
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Fox News host Sean Hannity, Focus on the Family founder and chairman James C. Dobson, and Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins have been vocal in their criticism of Democrats' efforts to gather information on Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr.'s (right) background and philosophy.
But now that media outlets have reported that Roberts provided pro bono assistance to gay-rights activists in the case of Romer v. Evans, Hannity, Dobson, and Perkins are calling for a thorough vetting of Roberts to ensure that he is sufficiently conservative.
AP: Dean Says Democrats Will Reach Out To Smaller Donors - Aug. 10
CONCORD, N.H. -- The best kind of campaign finance reform is to do it yourself, Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean, below left, said Wednesday.
After many millions of Earth's circles around the Sun, and, the attendant evolutions and failures of the cell instilled with the power of evolution and its descendents, God--or whatever label you want to use--picked a pair of hominoids in which to instill Free will, Intelligence, and Self-Awareness in God's--or whatever label you want to use--Image.
The Cephlepods and Cetacea have been have been moaning and changing colors about it ever since.
Terry D. Barhorst
Op-Eds by Dave Haigler.
Click on the latest Abi-Demian, Democratic Party News: Abi-Demian.
God--or whatever label you want to use--created a cell and gave it the ability to evolve. Then stood back to enjoy the results.
Terry D. Barhorst Sr.
Op-Eds by Dave Haigler.
Click on the latest Abi-Demian, Democratic Party News: Abi-Demian.
NYT-Dowd: Why No Tea and Sympathy?
By Eric Umansky
Posted Wednesday, at 3:52 AM CT
The Washington Post leads with the Army relieving one of its top generals - Kevin P. Byrnes, below left - over what appears to have been some extramarital hanky-panky. The four-star general -- one of only 11 in the Army -- oversaw training for the Army and had been pushing for retooled training to better prepare GIs for Iraq. The Los Angeles Times and New York Times lead with the Discovery's early morning landing at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert. USA Today leads with an interview with Homeland Security czar Michael Chertoff, who defended a coming TSA program that will encourage, but not require, passengers to offer some extra info -- such as birthdates -- when buying a plane ticket. "The average American gives information up to get a CVS [drugstore discount] card that is far more in-depth than TSA's going to be looking at," said Chertoff.
The Post says it's rare for an officer, especially a top general, to get the boot because of an affair. [The article says he had been separated from his wife since May 2004 and his divorce became final yesterday. The woman involved was not associated with the military.] The paper speculates that the Army felt compelled to act for, possibly, consistencies sake. A few other officers have recently been reprimanded for unauthorized overnight activities. Riffing off an Army spokesman's quote, the Post also says that in the wake of the detainee abuse scandal the firing was meant to show the Army "takes issues of integrity seriously."
There was lots of celebration at the space agency but analysts weren't impressed. "They are all on happy pills," sniffed one critic. Apart from fixing the foam problem, NASA now needs to decide whether the keep putting duct tape on the shuttle or cut bait and move quickly to a replacement.
The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox (at least online) with a casualty count from Iraq: A blast in Baghdad killed one GI and between seven (WSJ) and 12 Iraqis (WP). A Marine was also killed in Ramadi and nine Iraqi security officials were killed in assorted attacks.
According to early morning reports caught by the LAT, four GIs were killed and six wounded when their patrol was hit by a mine in the north. Two Humvees and what police told Reuters was a "larger armored vehicle" were destroyed. The LAT also counts of a total of 22 Iraqis killed by insurgents yesterday.
The NYT teases what appears to have been a group of Shiite gunmen who "ousted" the technocrat mayor of Baghdad. "This is the new Iraq," said the mayor, an engineer who has no party affiliation. "They use force to achieve their goal." The gunmen were members of the Badr Brigade, the militia of one of the largest Shiite groups, SCIRI. The now-unemployed mayor had been installed by former Iraq boss Paul Bremer.
Reuters also covers the mayor's troubles but offers a murkier picture emphasizing what seems to be a power struggle between the mayor's office and the (elected) provincial council. "It's absurd to think that I could force my way in," said the Shiite politician who replaced the mayor. "I only came with five Land Cruisers! [The former mayor] has 100 personal guards."
A frontpage NYT piece looks at one of Baghdad's more curious, and challenging, businesses: a Chinese food restaurant, complete with takeout.
A fascinating "Cover Story" in USAT says GIs are often now handing over suspected insurgents to Iraqi courts. As a result, the GIs increasingly have to operate like cops. According to one officer in the division overseeing Baghdad, nearly every Humvee in the unit now has an "evidence kit." One beef: It's not until deep down that USAT gives a sense of the percentage of suspects actually heading to Iraqi courts. About 650 defendants have been tried and another 3,300 are awaiting trial. The U.S. is holding nearly 11,000 detainees.
The Post off-leads the White House delaying the release more of Judge John Roberts early papers while apparently belatedly poring over the documents themselves. The piece also has conservative activists grumbling that the White House has been needlessly apologetic about some of Robert's early conservative work-related writings. "They should be embracing those memos," said one conservative observer.
Everybody but USAT fronts a judge's ruling that, at least legally speaking, Disney's board didn't screw stockholders when it handed exec Michael Ovitz a $140 million severance package. Ovitz lasted all of 14 months at Disney. CEO Michael Eisner didn't come out looking great either. The judge said Eisner "stretched outer boundaries of his authority" and "enthroned himself as the omnipotent and infallible monarch of his personal Magic Kingdom."
Remember the Egyptian chemist who lived in Leeds and was detained in connection with the London bombings? The LAT and USAT both fronted speculation about him -- while the Post suggested there was nothing solid against him. Well, he was just released by British police who said he wasn't connected to the bombings. The NYT runs a solid story on his vindication. The LAT and USAT don't -- they have short wire stories inside.
A NYT op-ed flags a revelation from the hearings for now-Ambassador John Bolton that was lost in the focus on the man himself: U.S. intel agencies have been listening in on conversations between foreigners and Americans and have often been handing over details of those chats, complete with names, to policymakers:
The big lesson of the Bolton hearings is that there are very few legal protections or policies separating the kind of snooping the United States does on its citizens today from what it did in the bad old pre-Church Committee days. The significance of this revelation will outlive its partisan utility.
Rather than drop the matter, Congress should look more deeply into how the intelligence services deal with information they glean about American citizens, and it should ensure that Gen. Keith B. Alexander, who took over as director of the National Security Agency last week, makes it a priority to clarify for the public precisely who can snoop on whom, and when.
WashPost: Roberts Papers Being Delayed, Conservatives Complain on Bush's Weak Defense of Roberts
Bush Aides Screen Pages for Surprises
Before Roberts's July 19 selection by President Bush, there was no comprehensive effort to examine the voluminous paper trail from his previous tours as an important legal and political hand under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, administration officials said. Three weeks later, these officials say they recognize that Roberts's record is going to be central to Senate confirmation hearings scheduled to begin Sept. 6, and lawyers and political aides are urgently reviewing more than 50,000 pages -- at the same time denying requests from Democrats for an immediate release.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005; Page A01
Before Roberts's July 19 selection by President Bush, there was no comprehensive effort to examine the voluminous paper trail from his previous tours as an important legal and political hand under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, administration officials said.
Three weeks later, these officials say they recognize that Roberts's record is going to be central to Senate confirmation hearings scheduled to begin Sept. 6, and lawyers and political aides are urgently reviewing more than 50,000 pages -- at the same time denying requests from Democrats for an immediate release.
August 9, 2005 10:00 p.m. EST
Douglas Maher - All Headline News Staff Reporter
Aruba (AHN) - The mother of missing teenager Natalee Holloway, Beth Holloway-Twitty, confronts released suspect, Deepak Kalpoe, shown below left with a police officer, about the disapearance of her daughter at his place of employment.
Mrs. Holloway-Twitty tracked down Kalpoe at a local Internet cafe where he currently is employed and had a face to face confrontation about the night her daughter went missing.
Deepak along with his brother, Satish, were last seen with Natale, along with jailed suspect teen Joran van der Sloot.
Twitty-Holloway says, "There were customers on the computer and he was seated behind the cash register, and I guess he thought he was going to have a normal day at work. I wanted to ask him, Joran had admitted sexual assaults that he had committed against Natalee, and I wanted to ask Deepak: Did he participate, or did he try to help her?"
She adds, "He couldn't answer me. He could only look down at the ground. I told him you've got an opportunity. I'm Natalee's mother. I'm standing right here before you. You need to tell me. I saw his eyelids pretty much the whole time that I was there, and I would have to tell him to hold your head up and look at me when I'm speaking with you."
The mother also says, "He couldn't do that. He would either not respond or he would just tell me that his lawyer had advised him not to speak with me. I expected him, if he had no involvement, if he was not a participant in the sexual acts committed against my daughter, that yes, he could have come forward and said, 'No,' and looked me in the eye. He couldn't do that."
She says, "I let him know, under no circumstances, that there is nothing that I'm going to refrain from asking, and I'm going to ask every question, and I'm going to stop at nothing, and I will continue to. And he said, 'The media hasn't seen this side of you.' And I said, I've been saving it for you, Deepak."
Source: All Headline News. D.H.: I think the authorities need to get a court order to stop this mother from harassing people involved in the case. We don't have vigilante justice here, why should we think we can export it to a foreign country? The Associated Press reports in the following story that Kalpoe has filed harassment charges against Twitty-Holloway:
Man released in Aruba says Holloway's mother harassed him
The Associated Press - August 09. 2005 10:17 PM
Deepak Kalpoe, a 21-year-old Suriname national, asked that Beth Holloway Twitty, shown below right with her husband Jug Twitty, stay away from him, said police Inspector Carlos Sarge.
Sarge said police would ask her to stay away from Kalpoe.
Holloway Twitty declined to comment on the complaint. "I'm just going to try to continue getting answers about my daughter," she said.
Kalpoe, his 18-year-old brother Satish, and 18-year-old Joran van der Sloot were the last ones seen with Natalee on May 30 - the night the 18-year-old Alabama student disappeared.
The young men were arrested on June 9, but the Kalpoe brothers were later released after a judge ruled there was not enough evidence to hold them. Van der Sloot is the only person in custody in the case and no one has been charged.
Holloway Twitty has repeatedly said she believes the three young men were involved in Natalee's disappearance - allegations that they have denied.
The complaint came after Holloway Twitty confronted Kalpoe Monday and asked him about her daughter's disappearance. The scene was filmed by television.
Kalpoe repeatedly told her he had nothing to say and that she should speak to his lawyer. Calls to Kalpoe's lawyer seeking comment Tuesday were not returned.
Source: AP-Tuscaloosa News.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
"The court "held that the president has the power to decide how a detainee is classified, ... how he is treated, what criminal process he will face, what rights he will have, who will judge him, how he will be judged, upon what crimes he will be sentenced, and how the sentence will be carried out,"
Do you think the above is Sudan, Iran, N. Korea, or China?
The opening quote is from a yahoo news article. "The court," is a three judge panel, one of whom is John Roberts the administration nominee for the Supreme Court. The finding was made just before Roberts was nominated for the Supreme Court judgeship. Roberts concurred with the finding.
By implication, John Roberts wouldn't mind if this country became a tyranny rather than a country that follows the rule of law and a lawful court system.
By implication, John Roberts believes George Bush should be able to have taken into custody and held incommunicado anyone he claim as a terrorist and the term "terrorist" has been one of the favorites of tyrants sending opponents into oblivion.
By implication, there are those in this country including George Bush and John Roberts who believe Guantánamo's prison camp should have the status and mechanisms of such as the Lubianka prison of Soviet Russia.
Terry D. Barhorst
Moderator - Lone_Star_Democrats
Op-Eds by Dave Haigler.
Click on the latest Abi-Demian, Democratic Party News: Abi-Demian.
CBS-AP: Claim: Iran Hid Huge Nuke Ability
The 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty recognizes Nuclear Weapons States as countries which have created and detonated a "nuclear weapon or other explosive device" prior to Jan. 1, 1967. There are five NWS nations: U.S., Russia, China, United Kingdom and France (the darkest on the map at left). The next darkest are those with suspected nuclear weapons, then those with nuclear weapons concerns. The clear colored ones are those with dismantled programs.
Three countries - Israel, India and Pakistan - are not part of the NPT, but are considered holders of nuclear weapons technology.
(CBS-AP) Iran has manufactured about 4,000 centrifuges capable of enriching uranium to weapons grade, an exiled Iranian dissident (who helped uncover nearly two decades of covert nuclear activity in 2002) said Tuesday.
Alireza Jafarzadeh told The Associated Press the centrifuges which he said are unknown to the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency are ready to be installed at Iran's nuclear facility in Natanz.
None of Jafarzadeh's claims could be independently verified immediately.
Meanwhile, diplomats gathered Tuesday in VIENNA, Austria, for an emergency meeting of the U.N. nuclear agency to assess Iran's resumption of uranium conversion, but the agency appeared unlikely to report Tehran to the U.N. Security Council.
Iran on Monday restarted some uranium conversion activities at its nuclear plant at Isfahan after suspending them in November following an agreement with Britain, France and Germany and appeals by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency.
The three European Union countries have been negotiating with Iran in an attempt to persuade the country to drop its uranium enrichment program and related activities in return for incentives. Their latest offer was rejected last weekend by Tehran.
The three EU countries called Tuesday's emergency meeting of the IAEA's board of governors after Tehran announced plans to resume conversion, the process preceding enrichment. Highly enriched uranium can be used to make weapons; uranium enriched to lower levels is used to produce electricity.
Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful, but Washington accuses Tehran of covertly trying to build an atomic weapon.
The 35-nation IAEA board could report Iran to the Security Council, which in turn could impose economic or political sanctions. However, a Western diplomat close to the agency said it did not appear that the board was ready to take that step.
Jafarzadeh, the source of the new claims who runs Strategic Policy Consulting, a Washington-based think tank focusing on Iran and Iraq, said the information which he described as "very recent" came from sources within the Tehran regime who have proven accurate in the past.
The IAEA did not immediately comment on the centrifuge allegations. The agency previously had said it was aware of the existence of 164 centrifuges at Natanz, 300 miles south of Tehran.
Iran also did not immediately comment on the Jafarzadeh's claims.
Under an agreement with the IAEA, Iran had pledged to stop building centrifuges, which can be used to enrich uranium to levels high enough to fuel a nuclear weapon.
Centrifuges also can be used for the peaceful generation of nuclear energy, which Iran insists is its only intention. The United States contends the country is running a covert effort to produce nuclear weapons.
"These 4,000 centrifuge machines have not been declared to the IAEA, and the regime has kept the production of these machines hidden from the inspectors while the negotiations with the European Union have been going on over the past 21 months," Jafarzadeh said in a telephone interview.
Full CBS-AP News story.
By Eric Umansky - Posted Tuesday, at 3:06 AM CT
The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and USA Today all lead with Iran finally following through on its threats and taking the first steps toward firing up its nuclear program again. That violates a deal Teheran had with European countries who earlier warned that such a move would cause what in the diplomatic world qualifies as swift and harsh retribution: a referral to the Security Council. The Washington Post leads with a former procurement officer for the Iraq oil-for-food program, Benon Sevan, right, pleading guilty to fraud. Though his extracurricular activities weren't limited to the oil-for-food program, he is the first official to face criminal charges related to that scandal. The official's misdeeds were detailed in a report issued yesterday by the independent panel investigating the oil-for-food program. The panel also concluded that the program's former head did indeed accept kickbacks, worth 150Gs. The U.N. will likely revoke that official's diplomatic immunity, and the Manhattan District Attorney's office is already gearing up, or least investigating the case.
The WP surprisingly stuffs the Iran development. But it's not a nutty decision. For one thing, unnamed European diplomats told the WP -- and the other papers -- that despite their previous tough talk, they aren't actually planning to head to the Security Council soon and are hoping to coax Iran back to negotiations. Moreover Iran, which can legally go forward with development, is still a step away from actually enriching uranium -- the key for weapons development.
As one U.S. non-proliferation expert told USAT, Iran was engaging in "salami slicing." He explained, "They're testing the international community "If they get a strong reaction, they can stop; if not, they can continue salami slicing." It's not just the deli reference that's good -- USAT's piece does a nice job of clearly and quickly laying out the stakes. The LAT also gives a sense of the wedge Iran is trying to drive between the U.S. and Europe.
The Post stuffs a federal judge nailing the administration for having overturned a Clinton-era rule that required the addition of a bittering agent to rat poison so children won't ingest it. "In short," the judge wrote, "the EPA lacked even the proverbial 'scintilla of evidence' justifying its reversal of the requirement it had imposed."
Relying on Representative Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) and a "former defense intelligence official," the NYT says above-the-fold on Page One that a secret Pentagon program actually pegged four of the 9/11 hijackers -- including Mohamed Atta -- as al-Qaida men back in 2000. The secret program, which used data-mining, was called "Able Danger." Again, according to Weldon and the other source, program officials wanted to pass along the tips to the FBI but were overruled by Pentagon lawyers concerned that the military would be overstepping its authority. "We knew these were bad guys, and we wanted to do something about them," the former unnamed DoD official said. That source also charged that the 9/11 commission was told about the scoop but never followed up.
Now to the wrinkles in the NYT's piece: This is the first time the story has hit the big-time, but it's been around for at least a few months. As the Times mentions Weldon actually spoke about the whole deal publicly back in June in a "speech on the House floor." The allegations were only picked up in Weldon's local paper and then recently in more depth by an industry magazine. Presumably, there are only two explanations for this: 1) Other reporters just blew it and didn't notice. 2) They did notice but didn't buy it.
Which brings us to the next wrinkle: As Times mentions in passing, Weldon has a reputation for relying on iffy sources. He recently wrote a much-panned book alleging all sorts of Iranian plots, including that Teheran is hosting Bin Laden. The book relied on one source -- a source one CIA official told the Times "was a waste of my time and resources." A "fabricator" recalled another former spook. (The American Prospect has more on Weldon's source troubles.)
As for the former unnamed defense official, he talked to the NYT while "in Mr. Weldon's office." And given the allegations being made, the Times offers a loopy explanation for why the former official isn't named: "He did not want to jeopardize political support and the possible financing for future data-mining operations by speaking publicly." (If his accusations are true, how would his being named undercut future data-mining efforts?)
So what we have in the NYT are allegations by a congressman known to make wildly dubious claims, and one former defense official who backs up the congressman but for some reason declines to put his good name to the...facts. On the other side, you have -- as the Times mentions up high but only details in, oh, the 29th paragraph -- the 9/11 commission insisting that they did look into the program and found nothing.
Papers should give articles prominence commensurate with the level of confidence they have in the story's sources -- obviously. TP has no idea whether the major allegations in the above piece are accurate. Does the NYT?
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