Tuesday, March 08, 2005

McCain, Ireland, China, Friendly fire claims Bulgarian soldier?, Gonzales -- ugh

Kyle sends this from The Boston Globe "McCain hit on cable donations
Backed company pricing policies
." And asks if I can explain this AP article.

I can't. It appears something's edited out. I don't know what. The top of the piece (first twelve paragraphs) is not about McCain (I'm not even seeing a mention of him). It's about Sinn Fien at the top:

Sinn Fein is allied with the Irish Republican Army, which has come under criticism for recent crimes blamed on the group.
Representative James Walsh, Republican of New York and chairman of the Friends of Ireland congressional group, said the decision shows US officials agree on the need to push both sides back to the bargaining table.

[. . .]
[Representative James} Walsh blamed the deteriorating relations on recent developments in Ireland, particularly a December bank heist and the January killing of a Belfast man in a bar fight. The IRA has expelled three members over the bar killing and has denied any role in the bank robbery.

Then it goes into cable donations to "McCain." (I'm not even seeing a mention of "John.")

In fact, it is a splice. Look at this section:

Walsh cited those incidents, and what he said were earlier in- flammatory comments by unionist leader Ian Paisley, as reasons for stalled negotiations.
"Hopefully, this will give people there a sense of how seriously it's being taken by the United
States," Walsh said. concluded it could make cable more expensive.
McCain's assistance in 2003 and 2004 was sandwiched around two donations of $100,000 each from Cablevision to The Reform Institute, the tax-exempt group that touts McCain's views and has showcased him at events since his 2000 presidential campaign.
The group also pays $110,000 a year to McCain's chief political adviser, Rick Davis, who ran the senator's 2000 presidential campaign. Cablevision's money accounted for 15 percent of the institute's fund-raising in 2003, according to its most recent tax filing.

McCain, Republican of Arizona, said he saw nothing wrong with the group receiving money from a company whose issue he championed, because the donations didn't go to his reelection campaign.
[. . .]
Specialists on political ethics, who usually applaud McCain's efforts to overhaul the campaign fi- nance system, said they didn't see any distinction.

Note the bold print. That's where, presumably, the transistion was but is gone.

Something worth reading in the L.A. Times today is "Spy Agencies Fear Some Applicants Are Terrorists" by Bob Drogin.

U.S. counterintelligence officials are increasingly concerned that Al Qaeda sympathizers or operatives may have tried to get jobs at the CIA and other U.S. agencies in an effort to spy on American counterterrorist efforts.
So far, about 40 Americans who sought positions at U.S. intelligence agencies have been red-flagged and turned away for possible ties to terrorist groups, the officials said. Several such applicants have been detected at the CIA.

If indeed the suspected or rightly suspected, don't they know how easy it is (or was) to get hired in the translating department at the FBI? Haven't they been following that?

Back to the article, which Ben sent in. It closes with this:

Former President George H.W. Bush, whose presidential library is at Texas A&M, opened the weekend conference with a fervent defense of the CIA. He headed the agency from November 1975 to January 1977. Bush said it "burns me up to see the agency under fire" for flawed intelligence on prewar Iraq. He compared recent criticism to the Watergate-era congressional probes of domestic spying, assassination plots and other illegal CIA operations. Congress "unleashed a bunch of untutored little jerks out there" to investigate the CIA then, Bush said. The inquiries, led by Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) and Rep. Otis G. Pike (D-N.Y.), led Congress to create the first intelligence oversight committees and to pass numerous laws to prevent further abuses.

Ben wonders, "Has Poppy been reading The Common Ills?" Oh, I hope not. Then again, he might learn something. (Long shot, I know.)

NPR's talking about the New York Times getting an advance peak at a report "that's released today." Again, not a scoop.

China unveiled a law Tuesday authorizing an attack if Taiwan moves toward formal independence, increasing pressure on the self-ruled island while warning other countries not to interfere. Taiwan denounced the legislation as a "blank check to invade" and announced war games aimed at repelling an attack. The proposed anti-secession law, read out for the first time before the ceremonial National People's Congress, doesn't say what specific actions might invite a Chinese attack.

The above is from "China Steps Up Pressure on Taiwan" by Elaine Kurtenbach (AP) and appears in today's Chicago Tribune. Sonia e-mailed that. (Oh, e-mail address is common_ills@yahoo.com.)

The LA Times carries an AP story worth noting, "Soldier Shot in Error, Bulgaria Believes
'Friendly fire' probably killed the private in Iraq, the government says. It complains to U.S
From the article:

A Bulgarian soldier killed last week in Iraq was probably shot by coalition forces, the defense minister said Monday, and the president complained to the U.S. ambassador. Defense Minister Nikolai Svinarov told reporters that officials had "enough grounds to believe the death of Pvt. Gardi Gardev was caused by friendly fire."
Svinarov said the incident involving Gardev began Friday when a Bulgarian patrol was approached by a civilian Iraqi car. The vehicle did not stop after the patrol gave a signal, and the servicemen fired warning shots into the air.

R. Jeffrey Smith's "Gonzales Defends Transfer of Detainees" (Washington Post) and Richard B. Schmitt's "U.S. May Still Charge 'Enemy Combatant,' Gonzales Says" (L.A. Times) are both covering Alberto Gonzales.

Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales indicated Monday that the Justice Department might still file criminal charges against U.S.-born "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla, even if the courts ordered his release.The Justice Department is appealing last week's decision by a federal judge that the Bush administration's nearly three-year detention of Padilla without charges or regular access to a lawyer violated the law.
Padilla has been in a military brig almost continuously since his May 2002 arrest by federal authorities in Chicago in connection with a suspected plot to launch a radioactive "dirty bomb" attack on the U.S.
The administration has argued in court that it has the right to detain Padilla indefinitely based on the inherent power of the president as commander in chief. But the court ordered the government to charge him, name him as a material witness or release him within 45 days.

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales yesterday defended the practice of "extraordinary rendition," the process under which the United States sometimes transfers detainees in the war on terrorism to other nations where they may undergo harsh interrogation, trial or imprisonment.
The government has not said how many detainees have been transferred and has not articulated the precise legal basis for the practice, but the persistence of such transfers has been demonstrated by frequent flights of a plane the intelligence community uses to transport the prisoners.

U.S. officials have privately described the threat of rendition as a powerful tool in prying loose information from suspects who fear torture by foreign countries. But Gonzales, speaking to reporters at the Justice Department yesterday, said that U.S. policy is not to send detainees "to countries where we believe or we know that they're going to be tortured."

Gonzales . . . doing the Bully Boy proud?

Tom Regan has a piece in The Christian Science Monitor entitled "Is US losing moral authority on human rights?" (Yeah, I thought it was an appropriate transition as well.) From the article:

Normally when the US State Department issues its annual report on human rights abuses around the world, those nations named in the report can be counted on to dismiss any claims made in the report. But the chorus of those damning the State Department's effort this year have been much louder and more aggressive because of one country these critics claim the report excluded - the United States itself.
The Washington Post reported last week that countries like China, Russia, Mexico and others
accused the US of a double-standard in talking about human rights abuses, after a year that saw the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, as well as questions raised about the level of force used by US troops in Iraq in dealing with journalists and Iraqi civilians.
[. . .]
The Sunday Mirror of South Africa, a country criticized by the US State Department, reported Sunday that South African government officials also claimed a better human rights record than the US.

Worst quote in print today? From Schmitt's article in the LA Times, by Alberto Gonzales:

"I want everyone to understand that I think the Patriot Act has served its purpose in protecting America in a way that has been consistent with our values," Gonzales said, adding that although he favored a debate about the law, he did not believe it had caused any abuses."I have yet to hear strong arguments as to why the Patriot Act should not be reauthorized," Gonzales said. He said critics of the law had spread "a lot of misinformation and disinformation" about its effect.

As Brenda noted in her e-mail, "He should talk about misinformation!"