Friday, February 11, 2005

Digging past this morning's largely useless front page may reveal actual news in the New York Times

There's a suprising number of news articles in this morning's New York Times. To move quickly, we can dispense with the front page by noting Sarah Lyall's "Charles Calls End to the Affiar: He'll Happily Wed His Camilla" isn't front page news and unless the paper's also planning on charting the honeymoon -- which, who knows these days with the Times?

Jason Giambi's isn't front page news, not even with his Hollywood startlet dramatic pose. Barry Meier and Stephanie Saul appear to have a news topic with "Marketing of Vioxx: How Merck Played Game of Catch-Up" but most readers won't want to wade through the seven paragraphs before the article finally starts getting to the point. "Senate Approves Measures to Curb Big Class Actions" is covered by Stephen Labaton but, like Lillian last night, I'd steer you to A Winding Road's "Senate to Corporate America: Happy (early) Valentines Day!"

We have no time for wading through Elite Fluff Patrol member David E. Sanger's (with James Brooke) "North Korean Say They Hold Nuclear Arms" -- so read at your own risk. (NPR's covered this issue at length and far better than the first four paragraphs of this story.)

Which leaves us with Julia Preston's " Lawyer Is Guilty of Aiding Terror" and Lydi Polgreen's "Darfur's Babies of Rape Are on Trial From Birth." Both are news articles.

Preston's story is worth focusing on because she's sketching the basics of the case and the courtroom events. Read Preston along with William Glaberson's "A Legal Thorn in the Right's Side" and his "Lawyers Take Uneasy Look at the Future ."

Pay close to the latter and note the rush to safe ground by many (though not all) lawyers quoted. As one fair weather civil libertarian (maybe he's not a civil libertarian?) notes, he was for Lynne Stewart originally then he heard (or more likely, heard of) the audio tapes. In his rush up the steep hill of respectability and cowardice, he can't weigh in on the legality of the audio taping (which began in the nineties).

This is a very important case and perhaps the moment when we see how clearly "terrorism" becomes the new McCarthyism. Watch closely to see who rushes to stand up for the rights of a defense, the right to counsel, etc. and who rushes to say, "Oh well, in these times we live in now . . ." This is a moment we need to pay attention to which is why I'm citing all three articles.
Read about the case and feel free to weigh in (e-mail address is (with any position) if you'd like.

Stewart was painted as terrorist through inference and inuendo. There are some basic principles here and I hope we'll familiarize ourselves with this case.

Eric Lichtblau's back with a smaller article on the 9-11 committee's reports: "Critics Want Full Report of 9/11 Panel." Critics include former committee members. Readers want it too. Not a report that government released to the National Security Archive that was badly explored yesterday in Lichtblau's front page non-scoop.

Gardiner Harris and Benedict Carey's "Senator Says F.D.A. Asked Canada Not to Suspend Drug"
is an important news topic:

A day after Canadian officials suspended the use of a hyperactivity drug amid reports of deaths associated with its use, Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa contended that United States health officials had asked the Canadian regulators not to do so.
Senator Grassley, a Republican, said on Thursday that the Food and Drug Administration had made the request of Canadian health officials because the F.D.A. could not handle another "drug safety crisis." Mr. Grassley said he was basing his contentions on reports from whistle-blowers within the agency.

David Johnston's "Senator Wants F.B.I. Memo on Detainees" is brief but worth noting. Two opening paragraphs:

A Democratic senator on the committee that considered the nomination of Michael Chertoff to be homeland security secretary has asked the Justice Department for an internal F.B.I. document written in May 2004 about interrogation practices at Guatánamo Bay, Cuba.
The request temporarily held up a full Senate vote on Mr. Chertoff's nomination this week when the senator, Carl Levin of Michigan, would not agree to vote on Monday as Republicans wanted, Congressional aides said. Mr. Levin and other Democrats have agreed to a vote, which is scheduled for Tuesday, two weeks after Mr. Chertoff's confirmation hearing. He is expected to win confirmation easily.

Scott Shane's got news that should be on the front page with "C.I.A. Interrogator's Defense to Cite Bush at Brutality Trial:"

A contract interrogator for the Central Intelligence Agency, charged with beating an Afghan prisoner who died the next day, is basing his defense in part on statements by President Bush and other officials that called for tough action to prevent terrorist attacks and protect American lives.
Documents unsealed this week in federal court in Raleigh, N.C., show that the interrogator, David A. Passaro, 38, may cite top officials' written legal justifications for harsh interrogation techniques and a Congressional resolution passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon calling on the president "to use all necessary and appropriate force" to thwart further terrorism.
. . .
In court papers filed in December, Mr. McNamara, a federal public defender, objected to the use of the USA Patriot Act of 2001 in prosecuting his client. Among its provisions was an expansion of the government's power to prosecute crimes committed at United States facilities overseas.
"To subject Mr. Passaro to prosecution for actions taken in battle and in furtherance of this wartime mission under a criminal statute not intended for battlefield application violates the United State Constitution, contravenes Congressional intent, and turns the Patriot Act on its head," Mr. McNamara wrote.

"Democrats Want Investigation of Reporter Using Fake Name" by Katharine Q. Seelye is another brief article that should be longer and given more play -- especially since the Times is playing catch up on this story. From Seelye's article:

Two Democrats in Congress are pressing for investigations into how a Washington reporter who used a pseudonym managed to gain access to the White House and had access to classified documents that named Valerie Plame as a C.I.A. operative.
The Democrats, Representatives John Conyers Jr. of Michigan and Louise M. Slaughter from Rochester, wrote yesterday to Patrick Fitzgerald, the independent prosecutor appointed in the Plame case, seeking an investigation into how the reporter, James D. Guckert, who used the name Jeff Gannon, had access to classified documents that revealed the identity of Ms. Plame.

With Dean the last man standing (as Rebecca noted this week on Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) in the DNC chair race, the Times weighs in with "A New Dean for a New Job. But the Old One Lingers." From the article by Anne E. Kornblut:

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts praised Dr. Dean for having "an energy and an affection" but rejected suggestions that the Democratic Party needs to be become more liberal - as some in Mr. Dean's camp have urged - to win.
"This great party of ours doesn't need a makeover," said Mr. Kerry, who was defeated by President Bush in the November election. "This party of ours doesn't need a massive shift."

. . .
On Thursday, Dr. Dean spent about 20 minutes with Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid, the House and Senate Democratic leaders. The meeting was characterized by one Democratic Senate aide afterward as an improvement over the last few weeks of open discord, civil but also subdued.
"The challenge for him is really merging the new and the traditional parts of the party," said Donnie Fowler, a 37-year-old consultant from South Carolina who ran against Dr Dean for the party chairmanship, and who attended the party Thursday night.
Bob Kerrey, the former Democratic senator from Nebraska who is now president of New School University in New York, put a finer point on Mr. Kerry's comments about Dr. Dean.
"He has to give people confidence there isn't a 'Democratic wing' of the Democratic party," Mr. Kerrey said, a reference to a trademark campaign phrase that Dr. Dean used to distinguish himself from moderates during the primaries. "The biggest challenge for Howard is going to be overcoming his own words and his own previous statements."

Bob Kerrey. We'll just a period after his name and leave it at that for now.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg's " Democrats Getting Lessons in Speaking Their Values" weighs in on the framing craze:

Beyond the search for a unifying theme or a clear message - the absence of which many Democrats believe cost them the November election - Democrats have another goal: to turn the values debate away from what Representative David R. Obey, Democrat of Wisconsin, calls "below the waist" morality issues like abortion and same-sex marriage and toward the programs and policies that Democrats support.
. . .
The effort is playing out against the backdrop of a much deeper struggle, one that goes beyond language to the more fundamental question of what the Democratic Party should stand for. As Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor, prepares to take the helm of the Democratic National Committee after a formal vote on Saturday, Democrats have been engaged in a bruising internal battle over whether to shift toward less absolute positions on issues like abortion, as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the New York Democrat, appeared to do in a recent speech urging tolerance of abortion opponents' beliefs.

There is news in this morning's Times, you just have to dig past the fluff. Speaking of which, why does the Bully Boy insist upon repeating spin on his privatization plans? Because he knows reporters like Elite Fluff Patrol member David E. Sanger will print it just because the words fumble out of the Bully Boy's mouth. ("Fumble" is not a typo.) We see that again in Sanger's
"Bush Takes Social Security to 2 'Town Halls'."

[Note: Jason Giambi's name has been corrected in this post. Thank Ben for catching that. "Jason," not "James."]