Sunday, December 04, 2005

NYT: "Report Finds Cover-Up in an F.B.I. Terror Case" (Eric Lichtblau)

Officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation mishandled a Florida terror investigation, falsified documents in the case in an effort to cover repeated missteps and retaliated against an agent who first complained about the problems, Justice Department investigators have concluded.
In one instance, someone altered dates on three F.B.I. forms using correction fluid to conceal an apparent violation of federal wiretap law, according to a draft report of an investigation by the Justice Department inspector general's office obtained by The New York Times. But investigators were unable to determine who altered the documents.
The agent who first alerted the F.B.I. to problems in the case, a veteran undercover operative named Mike German, was "retaliated against" by his boss, who was angered by the agent's complaints and stopped using him for prestigious assignments in training new undercover agents, the draft report concluded.

[. . .]
Ann Beeson, associate legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, said that the inspector general's findings, coming just days after the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from an earlier F.B.I. whistle-blower, pointed to the need for tougher measures to protect those who report abuse. "With courts reluctant to protect whistle-blowers, it is crucial that Congress pass additional protections," Ms. Beeson said.

The above is from Eric Lichtblau's "Report Finds Cover-Up in an F.B.I. Terror Case" in this morning's New York Times and Sally picked it as the "must read" article in the paper this morning.

In "Bush's Speech on Iraq War Echoes Voice of an Analyst" Scott Shane runs down the newest poll pushing staffer at the White House and the one behind the latest Operation Happy Talk points by Bully Boy. (Will he be the new Karl Rove? Is he being brought in as a backup if Karl's escorted out in handcuffs?) We'll note that story because the "speech" is the topic of Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts which will go up after this entry.

Lynda notes Monica Davey's "Dead Marines Had Expected Iraq Deployment:"

Like Lance Cpl. Andrew G. Patten, most of the 10 marines who died on Thursday in the worst attack on American troops in months were young, young enough to have joined the military already knowing they might well be sent to Iraq.
Corporal Patten, whose family set out in falling snow here on Saturday to meet with a funeral director, was 19. When he enlisted, after graduating from Byron High School last year, the war was already a year old. He had registered for classes at a nearby college, said his father, Alan, but then he changed his mind and signed up.
"He was very excited to go to Iraq and see some action," said his mother, Gayle Naschansky. "Originally, I didn't want him to go in." She quickly added: "But it's your kid, and when he's made up his mind, you have to support him."
In Byron, a town of about 3,000 people 100 miles west of Chicago, and in nine other towns around the country, Marine families on Saturday mourned their lost sons, many of whom represented a new generation of troops - those who enlisted after the nation went to war in Iraq.

We're on a break from The Third Estate Sunday Review. All pieces are finished but we'd like a polish on the editorial and need one other thing for it. Currently, the highlights and Maria's entry are up. The piece on Woody (noted by Cedric) is done so to the four who e-mailed on that, as soon as this break's over (seven more minutes), it and other pieces will start going up. In addition, Cedric posted yesterday as did Rebecca and Kat.

Book notes. NationMart (division of The Nation) is reminding that books make great gifts and currently if you make a purchase of $35 or more, there's a bonus book. (See website for details.)

Soulforce e-mailed to note their pro BGLT books which include:

What the Bible Says, and Doesn't Say, about Homosexuality
by Rev. Dr. Mel White
Mel White is the founder of Soulforce. In this 24-page booklet, White offers a biblical response to the question people often ask, "How can you consider yourself a Christian when you are also gay?"
Mel puts forward eight premises, including "Most people have not carefully and prayerfully researched the Biblical texts used by some people to condemn God's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender" and "Historically, people's misinterpretation of the Bible has left a trail of suffering, bloodshed, and death."

A False Focus on My Family: Why every person of faith should be deeply troubled by Dr. James Dobson's dangerous and misleading words about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community
by Jeff Lutes, MS, LPC
In this 32-page booklet, Jeff Lutes begins by revealing Dr. Dobson and Focus on the Family's harsh and misleading anti-gay rhetoric. He then constructs a response to shed the light of truth using the latest in scientific, psychological, psychiatric, and medical research.

Christian Youth: An Important Voice in the Present Struggle for Gay Rights in America
by James Deaton, Jamie McDaniel, and Jacob Reitan
This 48-page booklet was prepared especially for the Soulforce action at the Southern Baptist Convention. It contains two Bible studies, an article on the failings of ex-gay ministries, open letters to Southern Baptist youth from young Christian leaders in other denominations, and more!

Lastly, we'll note last week's editorial from The Third Estate Sunday Review, "Editorial: Looks Who's Screaming 'Special Rights:'"

The Gray Lady plays Miss Manners and clucks "Parents are more involved than ever before. So why do children today seem so rude?" in the pull quote to their Week in Review front page story "Kids Gone Wild." Recycling a trend story that's been around longer than The New York Times, the paper's on hot the trail of . . . nothing.

Which is too bad because inside they actually have something worth noting. Page five's "Here's the Problem With Emily Dickinson." The problem with Dickinson, for some, is that she exhibited "a veiled disrespect for authroity in general." Kids today, what you gonna' do?

Apprarently take it to court.

"On Dec. 12, the Federal District Court in Los Angeles will hear a lawsuit filed by a consortium of Christian high schools against the University of California system for refusing to credit some of their courses when their students apply to admission."

Well boo hoo. They want, to use a term 'vangicals are so fond of, "SPECIAL RIGHTS."

Now maybe we're dealing with parents who never made it through a college system that didn't have a televangist attached, but this editorial is written by enrolled college students and college graduates. Rebecca switched universities. When she did, her short story English course? She didn't get credit for it at her new university. We can list stories like that for a month and a half.

Colleges have the right to determine what they will recognize as an accredited course (from high school or another college or a junior college). If someone's planning to attend a univeristy, it's incumbent upon them to know which courses are accepted and which aren't.

Five of us have heard a recent transfer whine for an entire semester, in every class, that some of his courses wouldn't "transfer." No one forced him to transfer. He always intended to transfer. It was his choice to fly blind.

Academic admission standards are decided based on what core knowledge all incoming students should have. There's nothing that prevents the Calvary Chapel Christian School of Murrieta, CA from offering whatever electives they want. However, if the core courses don't receive credit, that's something the private high schools need to address within their own systems.

The article in the paper (by Thomas Vinciguerra) offers excerpts from texts for these non-credited courses. The information imparted in those texts may be useful to someone's spirituality or not. They're not helping to educating the students on the basics that one needs to enter college.

No one's forcing the schools to drop those courses. They can offer them. They just shouldn't whine when colleges refuse to accredit them. We're sure the parents are outraged. They've spent good money sending their children to private schools. That's a problem between the parents and the schools they selected for their children.

Nothing prevents the schools from offering the same information in elective courses. But the courses aren't covering the core information that a student entering college needs.

That's not the fault of university standards.

Text books containing (as fact) statements such as "Second, physics as taught in the schools of the world contradicts the processes that shaped the world we see today" aren't teaching core academic requirements. They're teaching opinion and they can continue to do that. No one's stopping them.

They just shouldn't demand that academic standards be lowered to give them "Special Rights."Want to attend secular universities? Learn the basics. You can learn anything else you want, but cover the basics. Elaine and C.I. saw a ridiculous "film" about the "haters" this week. "Haters" try to deny rights, the film argued, they want everyone to believe as they do. Do you know who the haters were? Everyone living in a secular world. (Regardless of their own personal beliefs.) The whole world, according to the film, was out to get evangicals. Talk about a persecution complex.

No one's insisting that private, religious schools teach anything. If their students wish to attend secular universities, they need to be prepared at the same level as other students. There's no Special-Ed U that we're aware of (jokes aside). Classes don't need to come to a repeated halt because someone's not up to the same level as their peers.

The texts excerpted by the paper do not cover one course. They are the science texts, the literature texts, the historical texts.

The students have been taught a lot of faith, they haven't been taught a lot of facts. Maybe they've managed to pick that up on their own, maybe they haven't. But colleges determine whether or not a course receives credit based upon the content taught in the class.

Though those with persecution complexes may want to scream that this is a religious issue, it's not. There's nothing preventing the religious schools from teaching these non-credited courses.

They can teach only those courses and continue enrolling any student whose parents are willing to spend money on an education that won't transfer. Or they can teach those courses as electives and offer core classes that meet the academic requirements.

They shouldn't, however, think they can teach substandard courses and then scream "religious bigotry" when a university refuses to credit those courses.

As electives, the courses could help shape a new generation of op-ed writers and thinkers. We wouldn't care to read their writing but their opinions could be shaped by elective courses. However, these aren't core classes. They do not meet the basic requirements.

The only "haters" are the people who want to reject accepted academic standards for high schools and then receive a waiver allowing them to enter a secular university. There's a variety of religions to be found in the authors of this editorial. This includes people who attended parochial schools. They learned their basics there, not just faith.

That 'vangical schools want to pop up and play by their own academic guidelines is fine. They just can't ignore core comptency and then whine about the fact that the substandard academic education they've provided won't transfer. The only "haters" ares the ones insisting upon "Special Rights." When gays and lesbians ask for equal protection under the law, 'vangicals scream (falsely) special rights. This legal challenge is another example of their refusal to recognize the need for equality, in this case equal standards for admission.

[This editorial was written by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz and Wally of The Daily Jot.]
posted by Third Estate Sunday Review @
Sunday, November 27, 2005

Note on the film mentioned in the editorial above. I have no comment on it other than a friend brought it over as a laugh (it's seeking distribution but finding no takers at present) on the Thanksgiving holiday. That's why Elaine and I ended up watching it. There were a few e-mails wondering about it. I'll pass the interest on Elaine and she can write about it at her site (Like Maria Said Paz) if she wants. Isaiah's latest about to go up (after indexing and reindexing so Technorati will read the tags).

The e-mail address for this site is

What the Bible Says, and Doesn't Say, about Homosexuality
A False Focus on My Family
Christian Youth: An Important Voice in the Present Struggle for Gay Rights in America