Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Judith Regan, Zeller's writing for the Times; Oleg Kalugin; Georgi I. Markov; Democracy Now!; Daily Howler

A number of you wrote in to say you know that ____ was Bernard Kerik's lover (or one of them). ____ is Judith Regan as an online article (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/15/nyregion/15apartment.html?ex=1104148694&ei=1&en=32d4ef58cffb303c) by Charles V. Bagli points out. (Thanks to Ben and "J" for sending the article.) I assume that "Apartment Said to Have Been Scene of a Kerik Affair" will be in tomorrow's New York Times.

From the article:

After the cleanup had settled into a routine that fall, the executive said, Mr. Kerik, who was still police commissioner, asked to rent the two-bedroom apartment for his own use. During his use of the apartment, Mr. Kerik and Judith Regan engaged in an extramarital affair there, according to someone who spoke to Mr. Kerik about the relationship. Ms. Regan published his best-selling autobiography in 2001.
. . .
That person said that one bedroom faced the pit of ground zero, and that Ms. Regan visited it while Mr. Kerik was police commissioner, meaning between Sept. 11 and Dec. 31, 2001. Mr. Kerik refused to answer any questions yesterday regarding the apartment.
Ms. Regan, like Mr. Bergamo, received an honorary badge on Dec. 31, 2001, this one from Mr. Kerik himself. It was Mr. Kerik's last day as police commissioner.


(That person is unnamed and identified as "the person who spoke to Mr. Kerik about the matter. ")

From New York Daily News (Russ Buettner & Maki Becker's "Book Titan's In a Bind at White House"):

Regan paid an awkward visit to the White House yesterday - just 11 days after her ex-lover Bernard Kerik had been there to announce his nomination to lead the Department of Homeland Security.
. . .
So when she accompanied former Gen. Tommy Franks - whose book Regan published - and his family as he accepted a Presidential Medal of Freedom, she got icy stares.
Regan, dressed in a navy pinstripe suit with white cuffs and a white collar, even posed for a photo with Bush and the First Lady at the East Room ceremony, according to a source who saw the uncomfortable meeting.
Other than her awkward photo op, Regan steered clear of all cameras, the source said.
Kerik, now wed to a third wife, has acknowledged a "close relationship" with Regan, as well as with another woman, city Correction Officer Jeanette Pinero.

(http://www.nydailynews.com/12-15-2004/news/local/story/262235p-224549c.html)

From an AP article by Tom Hays ("Kerik Problems May Have Gone Beyond Nanny") in Newsday:

Citing unidentified sources, the New York Daily News said Kerik had overlapping affairs with Judith Regan, the publisher of his recent memoir, and a city correction officer. He used the same New York City apartment for liaisons with the women during his 18-month tenure as head of the nation's largest police department ending in 2001, the paper said.
. . .
Kerik, 49, who married his current wife in 1998 and has two children with her, apparently became close with Regan while writing his book, "The Lost Son," in which he described being abandoned by his prostitute mother. The relationship first drew scrutiny in 2001 after Kerik reportedly dispatched detectives to question people whom Regan had accused of stealing her cell phone. In 2002, Kerik was ordered to pay a conflict-of-interest fine for using three police officers to do research about his mother for the book.
(http://www.newsday.com/news/politics/wire/sns-ap-kerik-withdraws,0,4451283,print.story)

(And note that AP writers Donna de la Cruz & Devlin Barrett contributed to Hays' report above.)

A number of you wrote in on this morning's blog entry "The Times rediscovers Ohio but Zeller files a head scratcher of an article." [See http://thecommonills.blogspot.com/2004/12/times-rediscovers-ohio-but-zeller.html.]

Brad e-mails that Bert Rapp is a Republican and offers two articles on that. I saw one of those articles before I wrote the piece. Both refer to Rapp's father. As I understand it (which means I may very well be wrong), the father owns the company but the sons run it. Bert Rapp's father does contribute to Republican campaigns and George W. Bush's in particular. But neither article mentions Bert Rapp. Bert Rapp may have supported Bush. He may have supported Nader. Or Kerry. Or someone else. Or he may be apolitical and not even vote. If someone has something to demonstrate that Bert Rapp supported a candidate or party in the 2004 election or in past election cycles, I'll be happy to label Bert Rapp. But until then, this proof is proof about his father.

Is it likely Bert Rapp supports the same causes as his father? Yes, it is. But I'm also aware of all the e-mails regarding uncomfortable Thanksgivings and how you argued with an aunt, parent, child, etc. So I doubt ___ would like to be labeled a Bush supporter because her daughter ___ is one. Bert Rapp may be a Republican. I'm not saying he isn't. I'm only saying that I wasn't able to find anything that stated he was. And I appreciated the links Brad sent but they didn't tell me about Bert Rapp.

Whether he's a Republican or a Democrat or a third party member or apolitical, that's not the main issue of the blog entry today. Rapp is qualified to speak of what was done to the tabulator, to explain the process and why such a thing needs to be done before a recount. But that wasn't in the article by Tom Zeller. Someone was saying that ___ happened on the machine. Zeller went to Rapp to find out whether anything happened. Zeller doesn't tell the reader why something was required or if this is standard procedure for all machines (or just Triad machines) before a recount.

Rapp should not be the last word on the issue since it was an employee of Triad that's accused of potential misdeeds. Zeller should have then gone on to speak to someone familiar with electronic voting who could verify whether that was a standard practice and whether or not anyone would need to be present for that other than an employee of Triad and county employees. Zeller didn't do that.

But with an accusation against one of Triad's employees, I do think Zeller was required to speak to that employee or someone from Triad. Where I faulted Zeller regarding the section on Rapp was that he had someone who presumably knows a great deal about the Triad machines but Zeller either didn't ask Bert Rapp or didn't include Rapp's answer as to why it was necessary to work on the tabulator.

Was Zeller required to note that Bert Rapp was a Republican? If Rapp told him that, then yes. But I don't know that Bert Rapp is a Republican. That's why it wasn't an issue raised in the blog entry. I will note that his father is a Republican and will allow that it might have been better to note that in the original blog entry. But I honestly still do not know that the fact that his father is a donator to Bush establishes that Bert Rapp also supported George W. Bush.

Another issue raised regarding the blog entry on Zeller's piece was by Josie who sent this link
http://www.indybay.org/news/2004/11/1704907.php to IndyBay Media's critique of Zeller's article "NY Times Attempts to Smash Vote Fraud Allegations - more Judith Miller, anyone?" by repost.

Josie also notes that on this page is a link to another critique of an earlier electronic voting story Zeller had written:

Reporter Tom Zeller of the New York Times erected straw men and then knocked them down. "...electronic voting represents a corporate conspiracy is probably overblown," he writes, in his article about our press conference demonstrating the flaws.
No mention of "corporate conspiracy" was any part of the press conference. Zeller makes sure to publicize Avi Rubin, who was not there and has never examined the GEMS central tabulator, which was the subject of the news conference. Yet Zeller neglects to mention the names of anyone who conducted the press conference, does not bother to interview Dr. Herbert Thompson, a world-renowned security expert who participated in the press conference.

(http://scoop.agonist.org/story/2004/9/27/213242/102)

That article is entitled "Floridians, beware: monkey can actually hack Diebold voting machines" and is written by Phillip Torrone.

Brad points out that Zeller was able to speak to an informed voice on electronic voting in a September 19,2004 story: "Doug Chapin, the director of Electionline.org." [The article was entitled "Ready or Not (and Maybe Not), Electronic Voting Goes National."] Brad wonders why Chapin or someone else wasn't asked to comment regarding Triad. That's a good question.

Bernardo sent in a Zeller article from July 16, 2000 entitled "Cloak, Dagger, Echelon" that was on Echelon. He wanted us to note the opening of the article:

What else but the shadow of Big Brother could provoke equal anger from the American Civil Liberties Union, thousands of Internet enthusiasts and the French government? And what else but the elusive magic of digital communications could make that shadow so mysterious?

Bernardo notes that the sneering attitude in Zeller's first piece on the Ohio vote was present in this article as well. And he asked that this paragraph (from the story) be posted as well:

''I would be very skeptical that the N.S.A. could or even would try to process every bit of data out there,'' said Dr. Jeffery Richelson, a senior fellow at the National Security Archives. ''It makes sense to question how information they do gather is used, but the hysterical idea that the N.S.A. really cares about the e-mail conversations of everyday citizens is bottom-line nonsense. What everyone is worried about doesn't really exist.''

I'm not familiar with the program and won't pretend I am by noting what I found after
reading Bernardo's e-mail. But I will provide a link to the page the ACLU has on Echelon
http://www.echelonwatch.org/.

This is how the ACLU defines the program:

Echelon is perhaps the most powerful intelligence gathering organization in the world. Several credible reports suggest that this global electronic communications surveillance system presents an extreme threat to the privacy of people all over the world. According to these reports, ECHELON attempts to capture staggering volumes of satellite, microwave, cellular and fiber-optic traffic, including communications to and from North America. This vast quantity of voice and data communications are then processed through sophisticated filtering technologies.

If you go to the page, click on "highlights" for further information.

I'll also link to a "Buzzflash Reader Contribution" on the Tom Zeller article from November 12th and the issues of electronic voting http://www.buzzflash.com/contributors/04/11/con04516.html.

Francisco also spent time researching Tom Zeller's writing. He found that Zeller praised the book The Age of Sacred Terror but upon finding that he found something he wanted to share with us even more:

“These authors know ļ¬rsthand how decisions are made within the White House’s National Security Council, irrespective of the political party in power.... [A] meticulously researched, well-written book.”—Judith Miller, The New York Times
(http://www.randomhouse.com/acmart/catalog/display.pperl?0812969847)

Francisco feels that Miller speaking of "meticulously researched makes for the laugh of the day."

Ben wanted this noted from today's Democracy Now!:

Islamic Scholar Blocked Entry to U.S. Forced to Resign
Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan has announced his resignation at the University of Notre Dame after failing to obtain a visa to enter the United State. The State Department has yet to tell Ramadan or Notre Dame why Ramadan's visa was rejected claiming the decision is classified. But the government has admitted his visa was denied under a section of US law that bars terrorists and their associates. Ramadan is well-regarded in intellectual circles as a scholar who seeks to bridge the Western and Muslim worlds. The Washington Post reports he has drawn criticism from some Muslims that he is not Muslim enough and from some Westerners that he is insufficiently Western.
(http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/12/15/1458240)

As Ben pointed out, the blog entry "Questions while reading today's New York Times"
mentions Tariq Ramadan but many people may not be familiar with him. [See http://thecommonills.blogspot.com/2004/12/questions-while-reading-todays-new.html.]

On that blog entry, a number of you wrote in about the assassination of Georgi I. Markov.
I want to note a CNN web page http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/europe/01/07/terror.poison.bulgarian/:

Markov's assassination was detected only because the pellet carrying the poison had not dissolved as expected.
His assassin has never been captured despite close cooperation between British and Bulgarian authorities, including Interpol.
Markov, a playwright and satirist who had broadcast scathing accounts of Communist high life to Bulgaria, was the subject of two failed assassination attempts before he was killed.
And in the years following his death efforts were made to reveal the chain of command which led to the order for his assassination being given.

. . .
It is believed that the operation was supported by the technical staff of the Soviet KGB and seems to have involved many senior members of the Bulgarian secret police.
. . .
Scotland Yard says the case remains open.

The piece is dated October 23, 2003. A number of you wondered whether Oleg D. Kalugin's comments to the Times were just expanding on what was already common knowledge? I don't know. However, I don't see any story (other than the Times' report today) in which Kalugin has admitted to being a participant in the events. I will note that as of Oct. 23rd, Scotland Yard was saying the case was still open.

A number of you e-mailed that you are using public computers in libraries and are unable to watch video feed or listen to audio feed on them. The Democracy Now! segments that had transcripts were things Sarah, Toby, Julia and Gore Vidal Is God enjoyed reading.

You can always read "Headlines" (though on holidays the episode may not have a "Headlines" section). Most segments usually have transcripts. Today all three segments had transcripts:

Justice in Baghdad? A Debate Between Saddam's UK Lawyer and a US Attorney Who Helped Create Legal System in Occupied Iraq

Rep. John Conyers Seeks Inquiry Into Ohio Vote

Privatizing Social Security: A Debate on Bush's Social Security Plan

For those following the Ohio vote, I'd especially recommend the segment with US House Representative John Conyers:

JOHN CONYERS: Well, we have received, of course, thousands of complaints of irregularities, failure of process, suppression of voting rights, and so we have come now -- have came up in the hearings we went to Columbus on Monday, and to really be there and to attempt to have the electoral disposition of the presidential vote in Ohio delayed until we have investigated some of these complaints. Sure enough, we had staff interview a person who was supposed to have had direct evidence about misconduct, and we have a sworn affidavit, a courageous person. We're hoping that others will come forward, and we are asking that the Ohio F.B.I. and the county prosecutor all get into this case, and if necessary, we may be required to go back in ourselves.

I know from e-mails that a number of you are following the social security issue as well and in addition to the Democracy Now! debate, you can also continue to check Bob Somerby's The Daily Howler at www.dailyhowler.com.

Today he mentions the New York Times article from Tuesday's paper (http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh121504.shtml) and notes that he will address it tomorrow so please check the site tomorrow as well.

And note, he intends to address it tomorrow. Something else might come up and he might focus on that instead. Rob has been waiting forever for me to address the Times' public editor regarding a column. Every weekend I intend to do that and, every weekend, I fail. Sorry Rob.
(It will be done by Christmas weekend at the latest but hopefully it will be this weekend.)

Even should something come up, and Somerby focus on that, The Daily Howler is doing a great job of debunking the myths surrounding the social security discussion so I'd recommend checking it and checking the archives (The Daily Howler has a feature that allows you to search the archives).

Trina e-mailed that she attempted to listen to Randi Rhodes today to get the latest information regarding Ohio's vote but instead repeatedly got "This event is not on the air. Please tune back . . ." That usually means the Air America site has heavy streaming traffic.

When that happens during The Randi Rhodes Show, you can go to her homepage http://www.therandirhodesshow.com/main.html and on the left side, if you scroll down, you'll see the option to listen live. Clicking on that option takes you to http://www.therandirhodesshow.com/streaming.html where you have the option of listening via Air America or via 1290 WJNO.

If the Air America stream is down, you can listen via WJNO. If you prefer not to hear commercials, you can listen to WJNO all the time. Where the commericals would be, you'll hear silence. So if you hear silence when you first click on to listen to WJNO, wait a bit to make sure that you haven't happened to tune in during a commercial.
(I've never had any streaming problems using her link to WJNO.)