Saturday, October 01, 2005

NYT: "Buying of News by Bush's Aides Is Ruled Illegal" (Robert Pear)

Federal auditors said on Friday that the Bush administration violated the law by buying favorable news coverage of President Bush's education policies, by making payments to the conservative commentator Armstrong Williams and by hiring a public relations company to analyze media perceptions of the Republican Party.
In a blistering report, the investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, said the administration had disseminated "covert propaganda" in the United States, in violation of a statutory ban.
The contract with Mr. Williams and the general contours of the public relations campaign had been known for months. The report Friday provided the first definitive ruling on the legality of the activities.
Lawyers from the accountability office, an independent nonpartisan arm of Congress, found that the administration systematically analyzed news articles to see if they carried the message, "The Bush administration/the G.O.P. is committed to education."

The above is from Robert Pear's "Buying of News by Bush's Aides Is Ruled Illegal" in this morning's New York Times. It notes Armstrong Williams and it notes Karen Ryan; however, as reported by FAIR's CounterSpin a week or two ago, others were involved. Whether the report mentions them or not isn't addressed in Pear's article.

Brenda e-mails to note Douglas Jehl's "2nd Lawmaker Credits Secret Intelligence Program:"

A second Republican member of Congress has said that Stephen Hadley, who was then the deputy national security adviser, was given a chart shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks that showed information collected about Al Qaeda before the attacks by a secret military intelligence program called Able Danger.
The account was provided by Representative Dan Burton of Indiana, who said in an interview that on Sept. 25, 2001, he attended a meeting with Mr. Hadley in the White House along with Representative Curt Weldon, Republican of Pennsylvania. Mr. Weldon has said that he gave Mr. Hadley such a chart at the meeting, but the White House had refused to comment on Mr. Weldon's account.

E-mails from Rove, charts from Burton, it's hard work for Hadley . . . burying everything.

Joe e-mails to note Robert Parry's latest "Can Bush Be Ousted?" (Consortium News):

Can American voters impose any meaningful accountability on George W. Bush, including possibly removing him and his team from office?
That’s a question -- implicit in our recent stories about his administration's failures -- that has attracted skepticism from some readers. Several have sent e-mails expressing strong doubts that anything at all can be achieved through the electoral process, given the cowardice of the Democratic Party and the complicity of the mainstream news media.
There is much to be said for those arguments. A sub-theme of my book,
Secrecy & Privilege, is that the massive conservative investment in media, think tanks and attack groups over the past three decades has led to a systemic change in U.S. politics, the creation of a right-wing machine that can crush almost anyone who gets in the way.
While there have been some cracks in that machine -- with the bad news from Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, pocketbook issues like gasoline prices and corruption probes of leading Republicans -- the conservatives retain a huge advantage when it comes to putting out and repeating a message that will resonate with their followers and average voters.

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