Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Other Items

Most embarrasing article in the New York Times today? Always a tough call but let's go with Steven Weisman's "Chalabi, as Iraqi Deputy, Gets a Cautious Welcome in Washington:"

The visit and the high-level meetings are serving notice that once again, the Bush administration is willing to deal with Mr. Chalabi, despite misgivings by some officials about his history of shifting allegiances, and allegations that he passed intelligence to Iran.
An administration official, declining to be identified because of the delicate nature of the visit, described Mr. Chalabi as "an avid fisher in troubled waters, sometimes to our advantage and sometimes not."
"People may despise him but admire his ability to maneuver and survive," the official said. "That said, there is an acute understanding in the government that his visit needs to be handled very, very carefully."

What makes it so embarrassing? The Times' lack of honesty. They want to cover Chalabi today? They need to note, everytime they cover him, their own relationship (which included hiring his niece to work for them). An AEI "scholar" shows up to vouch for Chalabi. The Times still doesn't want to delve into reports from outside the US on AEI's Michael Leeden's trip to Italy.

What's going on here? The administration wants to use him again. The Times reflects whatever the State Dept. says. Therefore, the Times won't tell you anything of value. You don't get to add "of record" after paper without cutting the facts to fit the current hemline repeatedly. Today, so many facts are cut that the skirt Steven Weisman's left wearing is honestly obscene.

Will Scooter Libby do any time? Right now, he's not even wanting to use his money (and he has it) on his own defense. Richard W. Stevenson and Eric Lichtblau inform "Libby Establishes a Fund to Help Pay Legal Bills." Here's a problem with the article. While Stevenson and Lichtblau note that:

But in establishing the fund, Mr. Libby is opening himself to questions. Legal and campaign finance specialists said he could face scrutiny about whether any financial assistance he might receive from allies of President Bush and Mr. Cheney was going to finance a defense strategy intended in part to minimize harm to the administration.

Okay. Interesting point. But in their own article, they have an "interesting way" of noting "Barbara Comstock, a Republican communications strategist who has been hired to work with Mr. Libby's defense team . . ." Oh, is that what she is?

Funny because leaving aside her rants in print and on TV, she was also part of the administration. She was, in fact, with the Justice Department. Until? September 8, 2003 she announced she was stepping down as Director of Public Affairs for the Justice Dept. Gee, September 8th . . . 2003 . . . Novak's column outing Valerie Plame came out when? July 14, 2003. So while they're off musing, Stevenson and Licthblau, they fail to tell readers that Comstock might just fit the description they're so busy musing over. Having decided to quote Comstock, might they not have needed to note she worked for Justice? After the outing occurred? When J-Ass had to recuse himself (and his personal staff as well)?

Eddie found an article at Mother Jones that he wanted to highlight and we'll note it's from the January/February 2004 issue (and still worth noting), Robert Dreyfuss and Jason Vest's "The Lie Factory:"

It's a crisp fall day in western Virginia, a hundred miles from Washington, D.C., and a breeze is rustling the red and gold leaves of the Shenandoah hills. On the weather-beaten wood porch of a ramshackle 90-year-old farmhouse, at the end of a winding dirt-and-gravel road, Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski is perched on a plastic chair, wearing shorts, a purple sweatshirt, and muddy sneakers. Two scrawny dogs and a lone cat are on the prowl, and the air is filled with swarms of ladybugs.
So far, she says, no investigators have come knocking. Not from the Central Intelligence Agency, which conducted an internal inquiry into intelligence on Iraq, not from the congressional intelligence committees, not from the president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. All of those bodies are ostensibly looking into the Bush administration's prewar Iraq intelligence, amid charges that the White House and the Pentagon exaggerated, distorted, or just plain lied about Iraq's links to Al Qaeda terrorists and its possession of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. In her hands, Kwiatkowski holds several pieces of the puzzle. Yet she, along with a score of other career officers recently retired or shuffled off to other jobs, has not been approached by anyone.
Kwiatkowski, 43, a now-retired Air Force officer who served in the Pentagon's Near East and South Asia (NESA) unit in the year before the invasion of Iraq, observed how the Pentagon's Iraq war-planning unit manufactured scare stories about Iraq's weapons and ties to terrorists. "It wasn't intelligence‚ -- it was propaganda," she says. "They'd take a little bit of intelligence, cherry-pick it, make it sound much more exciting, usually by taking it out of context, often by juxtaposition of two pieces of information that don't belong together." It was by turning such bogus intelligence into talking points for U.S. officials‚ -- including ominous lines in speeches by President Bush and Vice President Cheney, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell's testimony at the U.N. Security Council last February‚ -- that the administration pushed American public opinion into supporting an unnecessary war.
Until now, the story of how the Bush administration produced its wildly exaggerated estimates of the threat posed by Iraq has never been revealed in full. But, for the first time, a detailed investigation by Mother Jones, based on dozens of interviews‚ -- some on the record, some with officials who insisted on anonymity‚ -- exposes the workings of a secret Pentagon intelligence unit and of the Defense Department's war-planning task force, the Office of Special Plans. It's the story of a close-knit team of ideologues who spent a decade or more hammering out plans for an attack on Iraq and who used the events of September 11, 2001, to set it into motion.

Sally e-mails to note Salim Muwakkil's "Give Me Cognitive Liberty" (In These Times):

"The so-called war on drugs is not a war on pills, powder, plants and potions," argues Richard Glen Boire, founder and executive director of the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics (CCLE) in the Summer 2000 edition of the group's Journal of Cognitive Liberties, in what amounted to a manifesto for the group. Instead, he writes, "it is a war on mental states--a war on consciousness itself--how much, what sort we are permitted to experience, and who gets to control it."
Established in early 2000 as a "nonprofit law, policy and public education center," the CCLE was formed to advance the argument that true intellectual freedom includes control of one's own awareness. The group defines cognitive liberty as "the right of each individual to think independently and autonomously, to use the full spectrum of his or her mind, and to engage in multiple modes of thought."
By labeling this civil rights battle a "war on drugs," Boire argues, the government is trying "to redirect attention away from what lies at ground zero of the war--each individual’s fundamental right to control his or her own consciousness."
One of the most significant aspects of this war, he suggests, is the demonization of "entheogenic" (which means generating the divine within) substances thought to facilitate sacred experiences.

Annie e-mails to note Ivan Eland's "Surveillance Society" (Consortium News):

The PATRIOT Act gives the FBI the power to collect information on people who are not suspected of committing a crime. For example, the FBI can issue a "national security letter" to obtain a person’s financial, library, telephone, Internet, and e-mail records, as well as an individual's customer and employment history with businesses, by merely certifying that the information is "sought for" or "relevant to" an investigation "to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities."
Thus, the FBI can nose into the affairs of anyone who comes into contact with a suspected terrorist and will now retain, in its database even after the investigation is closed, the information gathered on innocent people. Visions spring to mind of FBI agents poring over computer-generated lists of anyone who has ever attended a Cat Stevens concert.
Even worse, such national security letters can be issued by FBI supervisors in the field and need no approval by a prosecutor, grand jury, or judge. National security letters would appear to run directly afoul of the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment, which states that "no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause [that the person has committed a crime], supported by Oath or affirmation…"
In guaranteeing this vital civil liberty in the Bill of Rights, the founders made no exception even for alleged "national security" considerations. Furthermore, those businesses or libraries served by the letters cannot tell the targets of the searches about them, which some courts have ruled violates the First Amendment rights of free speech.
The FBI has also stiff-armed congressional inquiries into how the secret letters are being used. Finally, according the Washington Post, the FBI has yet to offer any example of a terrorist plot being disrupted by a national security letter.

Rod e-mails to note the scheduled topics for today's Democracy Now!:

* Robert Fisk, veteran Middle East journalist for the London Independent joins us in our firehouse studio to discuss Iraq, the media and his new book "The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East."
* We take a look at the latest in the ongoing uprising in France being led by immigrant and Muslim youths. The French government has now put in place curfews and emergency measures in an effort to stop the unrest.

Rod notes that Democracy Now! sends out a daily digest of the program Monday through Friday and that when he e-mails a heads up to scheduled topics, he's getting them from that. "Anyone can sign up for them."

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