News Archive #002
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 Jan. 31, 2005 Insider Report from

U.S. to Occupy Iraq Forever?

China, EU Preparing to Challenge the U.S.

Poll Results: Condi Can Win Republican Nod

Johnny Carson Helped 'The Spike'

The CIA and the Defense Department have both issued reports suggesting that the U.S. occupation of Iraq may last another four to five years. But a member of the Pentagon's Defense Advisory Board tells NewsMax that "it may be much longer than that." When asked how long, the member, who advises Donald Rumsfeld, responded, "We're still in Germany." Of course, U.S. troops have remained in Germany to prevent a Russian invasion -- not to maintain the German state as a democracy. But what is clear from our source: The U.S. is looking for a permanent U.S. placement in Iraq using military bases.

You probably didn't see this on the nightly news ... But China is fast becoming the prime mover and shaker in challenging America's superpower status.  The interesting development, we have from sources in Europe, is the new understanding between China and the EU that they must seriously work together to challenge the United States and her sole-superpower status.  The goal of the two giants is to create "a multi-polar" world. "Multi-polar" is the new buzzword of the global elites who fear the U.S. The EU-China development was not lost at the meeting of the global elites this past week at the World Economic Forum, held in Davos, Switzerland. The International Herald Tribune days ago noted the new China dynamic: "High-profile diplomacy with the European Union, trade accords in Latin America, oil deals in Africa and a string of corporate acquisitions all over the world: China is on an offensive to take its economic miracle abroad, suggesting a gradual shift in the economic and political power in the world in the next decade." Unsaid but understood is that the shift in power is away from the United States. China, thanks to American trade, investment and the hundreds of thousands of Chinese students who have trained in the U.S., is fast becoming an economic tiger. Already, China and the European Union are each other's largest trading partners. And recently, China surpassed the U.S. as Japan's largest trading partner. The developments in China would not be so ominous if Beijing were a free country, but communists -- who believe that America remains their mortal enemy -- still dominate.

NewsMax Magazine's recent cover story "Condi vs. Hillary" -- authored by Dick Morris -- has created a stir in Washington's political circles and on the Web.In his article, Morris asserts his belief that Hillary will be the Democratic nominee in 2008. Her White House ambitions can be stopped, he says. But only one candidate can win both the Republican nomination and the general election in 2008. Her name is Condoleezza Rice, Morris writes in his exclusive NewsMax column. NewsMax is still completing its online poll about a Condi vs. Hillary race. Already more than 60,000 respondents have voted and the results suggest that Morris may be on to something. Asked if Hillary will run for president, 91% said "yes."Asked if Condi would be the "best candidate" the Republicans could nominate in 2008, 44% said yes, while 56% said some other candidate would be better. Dick Morris reacted to the poll results. He tells NewsMax that Condi's 44% draw was great news for her because there are many other possible candidates and the race is still wide open. But the question is, will Condi run?Dick Morris tells that us he spoke with Condi about the matter during a Fox News Channel appearance.When Dick broached the subject off the air, Condi tersely replied, "But I am not running."Morris rejoined, with a smile, that he is going to make life difficult for her over the next few years. Morris has said Condi may have to be drafted to run.

The passing of Johnny Carson this week brought fond memories to one journalist who owes his best-seller status to the great comedian.Arnaud de Borchgrave, the noted editor (and NewsMax Board member), tells us that it was primarily Johnny Carson who trumpeted his 1980 novel, co-authored with Robert DeMoss, onto the top of the New York Times best-seller list. Carson had invited de Borchgrave to "The Tonight Show" to talk about his Cold War thriller, which exposed American media complicity with the Soviets.  But de Borchgrave recalls that Johnny enjoyed his jokes so much, he interrupted his guest to say, "Wait a minute, aren't I the one telling the jokes here?"  Carson so enjoyed the program -- and apparently the book - that he brought de Borchgrave on for a second show.


Bin Laden's family link to Bush
by PETER ALLEN, Daily Mail
In summer 1971, Osama and Salem Bin Laden enjoyed a holiday in Sweden with some of their 55 brothers and sisters. Yet within a few years, the two teenagers' lives had taken stunningly different turns.
As the world knows to its cost, Osama embraced Islamic fundamentalism and 30 years later was named the world's most wanted man. He is prime suspect in the murder of nearly 7,000 in the worst ever terrorist atrocities in the U.S. earlier this month. Incredibly, Salem went on to become a business partner of the man who is leading the hunt for his brother. In the 1970s, he and George W Bush were founders of the Arbusto Energy oil company in Mr Bush's home state of Texas. Photos reveal the brothers on family holiday to the Swedish town of Falun, 150 miles north-west of Stockholm, when Osama was 14 and Salem around 19. The brothers had recently inherited a fortune from their construction magnate father, Mohammed. He left millions to each of his 57 children by 12 wives after dying in a plane crash in 1968. Osama and Salem first visited Falun in 1970, arriving in a blue Rolls-Royce flown toCopenhagen by private jet. They liked the town so much they returned with other family members a year later. Learning that the Bin Ladens, originally from Saudi Arabia, were staying at the Astoria Hotel, a local photographer asked the unusual visitors to pose. Astoria owner Christina Akerblad said last night: 'They were beautiful boys, so elegantly dressed. Everybody loved them. 'Osama played with my two boys, Anders and Gerk. 'What's happened since is absolutely terrible. The first time I realised Osama had turned into a terrorist was when I saw his photograph in a magazine article about the bombing. He and his brother were such nice boys.' At that time the brothers both delighted in their enormous wealth. Salem - wearing a polo neck and slacks as he crouches three places from Osama, in jeans and a skinny rib jumper - put a large part of his money into business ventures, including Arbusto Energy. Mr Bush was not long out of Harvard Business School when he started the company in 1978. Salem watched it grow into a hugely successful business until his death in a microlight plane crash in Texas in 1983. As he built his own business empire, Salem Bin Laden had an intriguing relationship with the president-to-be. In 1978, he appointed James Bath, a close friend of Mr Bush who served with him in the Air National Guard, as his representative in Houston, Texas. It was in that year that Mr Bath invested ,000 (about 34,000) in Mr Bush's company, Arbusto. It was never revealed whether he was investing his own money or somebody else's. There was even speculation that the money might have been from Salem. In the same year, Mr Bath bought Houston Gulf Airport on behalf of the Saudi Arabian multimillionaire. Three years ago, Mr Bush said the ,000 investment in Arbusto was the only financial dealing he had with Mr Bath. Last night a White House spokesman was unavailable for comment. Before his death, Salem was married to Briton Caroline Carey, now 35. She has never spoken about her brother-in-law Osama, who was disowned by the rest of his family in 1991 when he was expelled from Saudi Arabia for his anti-government activities. Now living in luxury in a Cairo villa, she has married twice into the Bin Laden family - first to Salem, and now to a younger brother, Khaled. She has a daughter by each brother. Three years ago a family friend said: 'She first met Salem when she was just a child - no more than five years old.
'He was a friend of the family but at that stage no one would have dreamed that they would end up marrying. 'When they met again as adults, Caroline was 20 and Salem twice her age. 'Salem was the head of the Bin Laden family as the oldest of all the brothers and sisters. 'He was a man with a powerful presence.' They married and, after his death, Caroline decided to bring up her daughter in Saudi Arabia. 'Caroline was a widow for nearly ten years before deciding to marry Khaled,' said the friend. 'He is one of the younger brothers and very quiet and loving. 'She can never speak publicly about her marriage, or anything else for that matter, or she would be cut off from the family.' Caroline's father, a retired psychology lecturer from Hampstead, said: 'My daughter is very happy with Khaled. She decided to stay on in Saudi Arabia because she found her family there to be so loving and supportive.' Yesterday FBI agents swooped on a Boston suburb where around 20 of the wealthy relatives of Bin Laden live. They questioned them at a condominium complex in Charlestown. Agents even began visiting nightclubs to collect credit cards of younger members of the family. Bin Laden's younger brother Mohammed, who is said to have moved back to Saudi Arabia with his wife and children several years ago, owns a ten-bedroom mansion in nearby Wayland. Another younger brother, Abdullah, is a 1994 graduate of Harvard Law School. The family has given it 2million in endowments to research Islamic law. Most of Bin Laden's family have in the past strongly denounced the 44-year-old fugitive, now living in Afghanistan. The FBI in Boston has long been aware of his extended family and began monitoring their activities after the 1998 terrorist bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa. The Bin Ladens still run one of the biggest construction companies in the world.


'A Dictatorship would be easier , so long as I'm the dictator' -- George W Bush

Time To Forget About Figureheads

Paul Joseph Watson

This month marks the 49th annual meeting of the Bilderberg Group, a semi-secret organisation that, according to a 2001 Reuters report, groomed both Bill Clinton and Tony Blair before they became world leaders. Leaked reports from last year’s meeting stated that the war in Iraq had been delayed until March 2003 at a time when everyone was expecting the attack to be launched that summer. Count up the amount of independent citizens who have attempted to snoop or protest at a Bilderberg meeting since 1954 and they will be heavily outnumbered by any one of this year’s anti-war protests. A few weeks ago I was talking to a left-winger who had attended several of these anti-war marches. I was trying to explain to her that George Bush was just a figurehead and if we are to make any visible difference then we need to focus on the real powerbrokers. She responded by saying, ‘you’re probably right, but it’s fun to make jokes about George Bush’. From that throwaway dismissal we can understand the failings of the left. They pose no threat to the New World Order because they are largely uninformed, attract little credibility by their own behaviour (public sick protests for example), and are obsessed by trying to bring down paper tigers that the establishment deliberately distract them with. Myopic liberals are better off staying at home because they don’t realize that it takes intelligence and not sheer numbers to activate political power.People in the freedom movement always complain about how little mainstream coverage Bilderberg receives. Fair enough, we know the big news outlets are controlled and will never report on Bilderberg (by order of David Rockefeller). But what about the mid-level and local media? They are largely only interested in stories that sell newspapers or attract viewers. If you make it into a story then they will pick it up. Last year’s conference in Chantilly Virginia represented a great opportunity to organize a substantial protest on U.S. soil but the chance was wasted. Getting information from this month’s Paris conference will again be solely down to Jim Tucker. Tucker isn’t going to be around forever. You need to form small grassroots organizations, put websites up, collect donations and be able to arrange trips at short notice to cover these annual meetings. At the very least, bombard the desk of your local paper’s political editor with E Mails, faxes and phone calls. Hundreds of global leaders in all sectors of society meeting in secret and you have the exclusive story? Sounds like a scoop that a real journalist wouldn’t dare turn down.
In a broader sense it is time to shift our approach to fighting the Globalists. Of course we need to continue educating those who are new to this information and repetition is always necessary. But instead of persevering with morons who will never wake up we need to petition the media more than ever, not with hot air and conspiracy theories but with hard facts and documented evidence. The left represents a sleeping giant. To awaken the giant we need to discourage liberals from their incessant obsession with corporate crime and good old boy corruption  this is not the head of the beast. Groups like Bilderberg represent the head of the beast. Linked below are contact details for a list of mainly left-wing media activist groups. Ask them if they’ll be highlighting the complete lack of mainstream media Bilderberg coverage this year.


Skeleton key to the White House
Both John Kerry and George Bush were members of Yale's secretive Skull and Bones society. Matthew Wells scours the university for future presidents

London Guardian
Tuesday February 24, 2004

The Skull and Bones lodge, also known as the "tomb", houses one of Yale university's estimated 10 secret societies. Photograph: Matthew Wells

"The Hangman equals death, The Devil equals death, Death equals death!"
It's weird to think that the two men who are now contesting the most powerful job in world politics, both apparently went through an occult ritual that involved dressing-up and chanting the words above, prostrate in front of a fellow student wielding a butchers' knife and dressed in animal skin.

John Kerry and George Bushs junior and senior were members of the secretive Skull and Bones society at Yale university. The final words of the initiation ceremony, according to the intrepid New York Observer journalist Ron Rosenbaum, who has secretly recorded the secret incantations, centre around the command, "Run neophyte!"

Well, in maturity, both men are certainly running, and it's impossible to know how much their membership of the exclusive Skull and Bones Society has helped them reach the positions of eminence they now occupy: President of the United States, and senatorial lead-contender for president.

"I think most people here would want to be asked to be a member, though I don't think it has the power it did in Bush and Kerry's day. I mean, there weren't even women admitted then..."

I am talking to a bunch of 19-year-old male sophomores (second-year students), finishing off a mountain of food in the dining hall of one of Yale's prettiest colleges.

They had just been talking amongst themselves about the irony of the near-certainty that a "Bonesman" will end up in the White House again next year, and they're not sure whether it's a good idea, or just plain bad.

"If I was hiring for a job, and I found out they were a Bonesman. I'd definitely want to meet them," says one laconic youth. "Yeah, they're captain of the football team-types. Real assholes," says another. "I would still want to know them, and I probably would join if I could."

Accompanied by my guide for the afternoon, secretary of the Yale College Democrats, Alissa Stollwerk, we walk by the Skull and Bones lodge - home to the bizarre initiation rites outlined earlier - which is known to all on campus as the "tomb". It is an enormous, ugly, triple-locked building that doesn't even have a doorbell.

After a bit of poking about, the only signs of human occupation are two large sacks of washing propped-up against a basement door. Allisa is wary of my investigative urges and walks down the block to avoid being seen with me. She finds the place a bit creepy.

Only around 15 new members per year are admitted from each class of 1,300. It is a privilege offered only to final-year students. Howard Dean's daughter is quietly studying here, as well as one of the Bush twins. Who can tell if she has supped from the same old skull as her dad, or brandished the same femur?

The Bush tribe do not take kindly to inquiries about the elite order, and John Kerry has refused to answer questions about his involvement. It is known that those other famous also-ran "Yalies" of the political year - candidates Howard Dean and Joe Lieberman - were not members while they were here. Though with an estimated 10 secret societies at this Ivy League institution, who can be sure who belonged to what?

Away from the cloak-and-dagger world, George W Bush was a big-shot fraternity guy when he was here, while JF Kerry was president of the Political Union, which seems to exist to mirror the debating rowdiness of the British House of Commons.

None of this curious history, which simply goes to underline Yale's extraordinary ability to churn out Presidential-material graduates, was getting in the way of the Yale Democrats weekly meeting last night.

Looking around at the 50 or so young people in the room, you marvel at how professionally and seriously they take their politics here. Two recruiters from the Democrats' national grassroots organisation are offering jobs where they promise 12-hour days:

"We like to win, and we like to work with people who like to win," says one. Alissa is not taking her Howard Dean poster down from her bedroom wall yet, and like many others here, she put in weeks of free time campaigning in New Hampshire.

"Everyone has their passion. There are a lot of us who feel that way about politics here. I will do something political, but I'm not sure what yet. I definitely don't want to be writing the news, I want to be making the news and promoting activism," she says.

The president of the university Democrats, Nirupam Sinha, and the campaigns coordinator, Amia Srinivasan, are also buzzing with purpose and the thought of the hard contest ahead.

"I find it so exciting and energising in places like Washington DC. And when you're here, there is so much political activity. I just think Yale attracts that kind of student, from all walks of life now - not so much the old Ivy League," says Amia.

Yale students certainly do not hang about with forging their political careers. Democrats dominate the campus, as they do the city of Newhaven, where the university has been based since 1701. Ben Healey is only 22, but he is already on the local council, as the alderman effectively representing his fellow students.

Earlier, Alissa's two roommates, Karen and Esther, discussed what it was like living with a political junkie: "I definitely feel under pressure to have a political opinion on things now, when I never used to read papers and stuff like that," says science major Esther.

"There are people looking to just further their resume and network, but it's Yale, and people here do speak their mind and show extraordinary leadership. We should just take advantage of that."

Walking back through the Oxbridge-style quads to the reality of Newhaven's nondescript downtown streets, I wonder what these earnest and driven students do to unwind. I haven't been offered a single drink or seen a single beer bottle. Where are the noisy on-site bars spilling drunken oafs onto the lawn to form human pyramids?

It's only Monday night, and there is an election to win.



William Safire: You are a suspect

Friday, November 15, 2002

By WILLIAM SAFIRE, New York Times News Service WASHINGTON  If the Homeland Security Act is not amended before passage, here is what will happen to you:

Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend  all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as "a virtual, centralized grand database." To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you  passport application, driver's license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the FBI, your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance and you have the supersnoop's dream: a "Total Information Awareness" about every U.S. citizen. This is not some far-out Orwellian scenario. It is what will happen to your personal freedom in the next few weeks if John Poindexter gets the unprecedented power he seeks. Remember Poindexter? Brilliant man, first in his class at the Naval Academy, later earned a doctorate in physics, rose to national security adviser under President Ronald Reagan. He had this brilliant idea of secretly selling missiles to Iran to pay ransom for hostages, and with the illicit proceeds to illegally support Contras in Nicaragua. A jury convicted Poindexter in 1990 on five felony counts of misleading Congress and making false statements, but an appeals court overturned the verdict because Congress had given him immunity for his testimony. He famously asserted, "The buck stops here," arguing that the White House staff, and not the president, was responsible for fateful decisions that might prove embarrassing. This ring-knocking master of deceit is back again with a plan even more scandalous than Iran-Contra. He heads the "Information Awareness Office" in the otherwise excellent Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which spawned the Internet and stealth aircraft technology. Poindexter is now realizing his 20-year dream: getting the "data-mining" power to snoop on every public and private act of every American. Even the hastily passed U.S.A. Patriot Act, which widened the scope of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and weakened 15 privacy laws, raised requirements for the government to report secret eavesdropping to Congress and the courts. But Poindexter's assault on individual privacy rides roughshod over such oversight. He is determined to break down the wall between commercial snooping and secret government intrusion. The disgraced admiral dismisses such necessary differentiation as bureaucratic "stovepiping." And he has been given a million budget to create computer dossiers on 300 million Americans. When George W. Bush was running for president, he stood foursquare in defense of each person's medical, financial and communications privacy. But Poindexter, whose contempt for the restraints of oversight drew the Reagan administration into its most serious blunder, is still operating on the presumption that on such a sweeping theft of privacy rights, the buck ends with him and not with the president. This time, however, he has been seizing power in the open. In the past week John Markoff of The New York Times, followed by Robert O'Harrow of The Washington Post, have revealed the extent of Poindexter's operation, but editorialists have not grasped its undermining of the Freedom of Information Act. Political awareness can overcome "Total Information Awareness," the combined force of commercial and government snooping. In a similar overreach, Attorney General Ashcroft tried his Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS), but public outrage at the use of gossips and postal workers as snoops caused the House to shoot it down. The Senate should now do the same to this other exploitation of fear. The Latin motto over Poindexter's new Pentagon office reads "Scientia Est Potentia "knowledge is power." Exactly: The government's infinite knowledge about you is its power over you. "We're just as concerned as the next person with protecting privacy," this brilliant mind blandly assured The Post. A jury found he spoke falsely before.



Bush Orders an End to Hiring Columnists


 " I  Don't Believe IT "


Another columnist paid to promote Bush policy

Third Columnist paid by Bush Administration

Subverting the press with propaganda on the rise

Commentator Paid By Bush Admin Admits Error

Bush team scolded for disguised TV report

LA Times: Bush administration’s fake ‘news reports’ on Medicare illegal

Mainstream Media is Pentagon's Propaganda Arm

Associated Press | January 26, 2005
Wednesday January 26, 2005 8:16 PM

AP Photo MDMC101 By SIOBHAN McDONOUGH Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush on Wednesday ordered his Cabinet secretaries not to hire columnists to promote their agendas after disclosure that a second writer was paid to tout an administration initiative. The president said he expects his agency heads will ``make sure that that practice doesn't go forward.'' ``All our Cabinet secretaries must realize that we will not be paying commentators to advance our agenda. Our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet,'' Bush said at a news conference. Bush's remarks came a day after syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher apologized to readers for not disclosing a ,500 contract with the Health and Human Services Department to help create materials promoting the agency's million initiative to encourage marriage. Bush also said the White House had been unaware that the Education Department paid commentator and columnist Armstrong Williams ,000 to plug its policies. That contract came to light two weeks ago. Bush said there ``needs to be a nice independent relationship between the White House and the press, the administration and the press.'' And he noted that ``we have new leadership going into the Department of Education.'' Education Secretary Margaret Spellings started this week, replacing first-term Education Secretary Rod Paige. Paige had ordered an investigation into whether Williams should have disclosed the deal to produce television and radio ads promoting the No Child Left Behind Act. Williams has apologized, calling it a mistake in judgment to not disclose that he was being paid by the administration but insisting he broke no laws. Gallagher apologized to readers in her column Tuesday, saying that she was not paid to promote marriage but ``to produce particular research and writing products'' - articles, brochures, presentations. ``My lifelong experience in marriage research, public education and advocacy is the reason HHS hired me,'' she wrote. She said it never occurred to her to tell readers about her work for the government. ``I should have disclosed a government contract when I later wrote about the Bush marriage initiative. I would have, if I had remembered it. My apologies to my readers.'' In 2002, Gallagher contributed to an essay promoting marriage that appeared in Crisis magazine under the byline of Wade Horn, HHS assistant secretary for children and families. Horn said Wednesday Gallagher was never paid to promote the president's marriage initiative in her own columns. ``We hired her because of her expertise in the area of marriage research in order to draw upon that expertise to help us develop materials related to healthy marriage,'' he said, adding that Gallagher drafted brochures and helped draft the article published under his name. ``At no time was she paid to go outside of HHS and promote the president's healthy marriage initiative,'' he said. ``The federal government hires experts all of the time. There's nothing insidious about that.'' Gallagher got another ,000 - part of which was approved while President Clinton was still in office - from a private organization called the National Fatherhood Initiative, using money from a Justice Department grant. For that 2001 grant, she wrote a report on the institution of marriage, entitled ``Can Government Strengthen Marriage?'' On Wednesday a report released by the House Committee on Government Reform looked into the use of taxpayer dollars to fund public relations campaigns. The Bush administration spent a record million on government-funded public relations contracts in 2004 - a 128 percent increase over 2000, according to the report prepared for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other Democrats. Democratic Sens. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey urged the investigative arm of Congress, the General Accountability Office, to expand its investigation of the Education Department's contract with Williams to include Health and Human Services and Gallagher. Gallagher has testified twice before the Judiciary Committee in support of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage without disclosing her contract with the government, the senators said in a letter to the U.S. Comptroller General David Walker.

``This abuse by HHS is just another in a long list of similar incidents of paid policy advocates supporting Bush Administration policies,'' the senators wrote.

Chicago Tribune | January 26, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A syndicated columnist, who has repeatedly supported the Bush administration's push for a million initiative to encourage marriage, also had a ,500 federal contract to help promote the proposal, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Maggie Gallagher had a ,500 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services. It ran from January through October 2002 and included drafting a magazine article for the department official overseeing the initiative, the Post reported.

"Did I violate journalistic ethics by not disclosing it?" Gallagher was quoted as saying Tuesday. "I don't know. You tell me."

Later in the day, Gallagher filed a column in which she said: "I should have disclosed a government contract when I later wrote about the Bush marriage initiative. I would have, if I had remembered it. My apologies to my readers."

The author of three books on marriage, Gallagher is president of the Washington-based Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, a frequent television guest and has written on the subject for such publications as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Weekly Standard.

Gallagher told the Post that her situation was "not really anything near" the recent controversy involving commentator Armstrong Williams. Earlier this month Williams apologized for not disclosing a ,000 contract with the Education Department, awarded through a public relations firm, to promote Bush's No Child Left Behind law through advertising on his cable TV and syndicated radio shows and other efforts.

Raw Story | January 28, 2005

According to a report on , another columnist has been paid to promote Bush administration initiatives. Salon claims that the Department of Health and Human Services paid conservative columnist Mark McManus ,000 to back the Bush marriage agenda. The full registration-restricted article can be found here.

One day after President Bush ordered his Cabinet secretaries to stop hiring commentators to help promote administration initiatives, and one day after the second high-profile conservative pundit was found to be on the federal payroll, a third embarrassing hire has emerged. Salon has confirmed that Michael McManus, a marriage advocate whose syndicated column, “Ethics & Religion,” appears in 50

newspapers, was hired as a subcontractor by the Department of Health and Human Services to foster a Bush-approved marriage initiative. McManus championed the plan in his columns without disclosing to readers he was being paid to help it succeed.

Responding to the latest revelation, Dr. Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at HHS, announced Thursday that HHS would institute a new policy that forbids the agency from hiring any outside expert or consultant who has any working affiliation with the media. “I needed to draw this bright line,” Horn tells Salon. “The policy is being implemented and we’re moving forward.”

LA Times | January 17 2005
By David Shaw

President BUSH has repeatedly attributed the 9/11 terrorist attacks — and, for that matter, virtually all hostility directed toward the United States by the Islamic world — to their envy and resentment of our way of life, our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. "They … hate America because we love freedom," he said in Minneapolis 10 months to the day after 9/11.

This is, of course, self-serving claptrap that ignores the reality that Islamic extremism is, to a great degree, a reaction to "several decades of specific policy disagreements with the U.S.," as James Fallows of the Atlantic Monthly told me last year.

But as appalled as I am by Bush's willful misreading of history, I'm even more upset by his hypocrisy. He seems determined to destroy the very foundations of American democracy that he insists are our bulwark against our enemies and the cause of our enemies' hatred of us. He launched a preemptive war against Iraq by lying to the American public. He helped create an atmosphere in which the torture of enemy prisoners in violation of the Geneva accords was tolerated, if not encouraged. And his administration has consistently tried to subvert our free press by masking government propaganda as legitimate news and opinion.

The most recent example of the Bush administration's attempts to manipulate the media — and the American public — came to light about 10 days ago, when USA Today disclosed that the Education Department, working through a public relations firm, had paid an African American media pundit ,000 to promote the president's No Child Left Behind Act with minority groups.

Armstrong Williams, a conservative commentator, promoted the law on his syndicated television program and in his syndicated newspaper column without disclosing that he was being paid by the Department of Education to do so.

This violates the most basic journalistic ethics, and Tribune Media Services, which syndicated Williams' column (and which is a subsidiary of Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times), announced that it would stop syndicating his column.

Because several federal laws prohibit the use of taxpayers' money to influence congressional action or polices of the U.S. government, prominent members of Congress are now demanding an investigation.

In a week when the big media story has been the report on how CBS and "60 Minutes" screwed up a story on Bush's National Guard service, I've been surprised by the relatively little attention given to the Armstrong Williams story. This is not to minimize in any way the shamefully unprofessional behavior of CBS. But the Bush administration has behaved even more shamefully — consistently — and used our tax dollars to do so.

Continuing illegal activity

The Williams case was not the administration's first effort at covert propaganda.

Shortly after 9/11, reports began to circulate that the administration's Office of Strategic Influence was planning to plant false news stories in the international media. In 2002, amid much controversy, the office was shut down. But as my Times colleague Mark Mazzetti subsequently reported, "much of OSI's mission — using information as a tool of war — has been assumed by other offices throughout the U.S. government."

In fact, Mazzetti wrote last December, "a young Marine spokesman near Fallouja appeared on CNN [on Oct. 14] and made a dramatic announcement" signaling the beginning of "the long-awaited offensive to retake the Iraqi city."

But the Fallouja offensive did not start until three weeks later. The CNN announcement, Mazzetti said, was "an elaborate psychological operation … intended to dupe insurgents in Fallouja and allow U.S. commanders to see how guerrillas would react if they believed U.S. troops were entering the city."

This, Mazzetti wrote, was "part of a broad effort underway within the Bush administration to use information to its advantage in the war on terrorism."

Although using misinformation or disinformation to deceive one's enemies has long been an accepted military tactic, deceiving our own news media and the American public in the process is quite another matter.

The Bush administration has not limited its use of propaganda to the battlefield.

Early last year, several news stations around the country broadcast a story on plans for a White House advertising campaign on the dangers of drug abuse. But the "journalist" who reported this story was not a journalist, and his report was actually produced by the Bush administration.

The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, ruled that this amounted to illegal "covert propaganda."

Last May, the GAO said the Department of Health and Human Services violated two federal laws when it created fake news footage to support the administration's Medicare drug benefit bill.

Last week, the GAO criticized the Bush administration for distributing prepackaged "news" reports, including a "suggested live intro" for local anchors to read, interviews with Washington officials and what the Washington Post called "a closing that mimics a typical broadcast news signoff."

TV stations knew these "stories" were put together by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, but viewers didn't.

"What is objectionable about these," said Susan Poling, managing associate general counsel at the GAO, "is the fact that the viewer has no idea their tax dollars are being used to write and produce this video segment."

Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), calls it "particularly outrageous that the government continues to engage in this sort of illegal activity despite the fact that the GAO has said that it is illegal.

"The question now is how extensively has the administration used propaganda to shore up its controversial policies," Sloan said. "Did it pay any commentators to speak out in support of the Patriot Act? Is it paying anyone now to convince the public that Social Security is in crisis?"

Shaping the news

In an effort to answer these questions, CREW last week filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests with 22 government agencies, asking for copies of every contract they have with public relations firms.

All administrations try to manipulate the news media and shape the nation's news agenda. They do it by controlling access to the president and other top officials, by timing their announcements, by leaking selectively and — like any other institution or agency, public or private — by trying to put the best face on everything they do.

By the sheer force of his personality — and the prevailing mores of the time — President Kennedy was able to keep news of his philandering out of the media during his lifetime and well beyond.

President Reagan used his charisma — and sophisticated Madison Avenue advertising and public relations techniques — to so cow the news media that when Mark Hertsgaard wrote his book on Reagan and the press, he titled it "On Bended Knee."

But few administrations have actually tried to subvert the news media and use taxpayer dollars to mislead the American public as blatantly as has the Bush administration. When you combine those efforts with Bush's record of media avoidance — he had fewer news conferences in his first term than any first-term president since William Howard Taft — it becomes clear that for all his speechifying about American freedoms, he has no in

The State | January 8 2005


WASHINGTON — Conservative commentator Armstrong Williams said Friday he should have disclosed that he was paid by the Bush administration to plug the No Child Left Behind Act.

But the Marion native said he would not give back the ,000 he was paid by the U.S. Department of Education.

USA Today reported the contract Friday, prompting a barrage of protests from Democrats, journalists and government watchdogs, who condemned Williams and the White House for co-opting the media.

“The ethical issue is a failure of disclosure,” USC journalism professor Ernest Wiggins said. “He should have been more forthcoming in telling his readers and viewers that he has been contracted to promote the White House.”

Williams conceded Friday that such criticism was “legitimate.”

“It’s a fine line. Even though I’m not a journalist — I’m a commentator — I feel I should be held to the media ethics standard. My judgment was not the best. I wouldn’t do it again, and I learned from it.”

Williams, 45, said he was caught in a “gray area” between the two parts of his business — being a media pundit and being the CEO of a media company.

Tribune Media Services said Friday it would stop distributing his column to newspapers nationwide, including The State.

“Readers may well ask themselves if the views expressed in his columns are his own, or whether they have been purchased by a third party,” the company said in a statement.

Brad Warthen, editorial page editor of The State, called the development “highly troubling. Our editorial board is going to discuss at its regular meeting Monday whether he has a future role on our op-ed page.”

Williams also hosts his own nationally syndicated radio show, “The Right Side,” and is CEO of RightSide Productions, a public relations firm.

Through Ketchum Communications, another public relations firm, Williams contracted in 2003-04 with the Education Department to produce a “minority outreach campaign.”

The goal was to promote to blacks the federal No Child Left Behind program — the centerpiece of Bush’s education agenda.

But Williams also personally touted No Child Left Behind on radio and television, hosted former education secretary Rod Paige several times on his show, and encouraged other radio hosts to interview Paige.

A former aide to the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., Williams is a controversial figure in the black community.

NAACP state president Lonnie Randolph said Williams’ failure to disclose the contract is consistent with his “one-sided” rhetoric.

“If you listen to him and you’re anything other than a conservative Republican, it’s like you’re a bad person,” Randolph said.

Because Williams is a pundit and not a journalist, Wiggins said, he should not be expected to strive for objectivity.

Still, he said, when he praises the government over the airwaves, he should tell listeners he’s getting money from the government to make it look good.

Criticism Friday focused equally on the Bush administration, for hiring a firm to surreptitiously promote its views. Three Democratic U.S. senators demanded the Bush administration recover the money.

“There is no defense for using taxpayer dollars to pay journalists for fake news and favorable coverage of a federal program,” said Ralph Neas, president of the government watchdog group People for the American Way. “It’s a scandalous waste. It’s unethical, and it’s wrong.

“It reminds me of the old payola scandals in radio. Armstrong Williams received ,000 of our tax money, yours and mine, to create propaganda for a government program. If that’s not illegal, it ought to be.”

The White House deferred comment to the Department of Education, which released this statement: “The contract paid to provide the straightforward distribution of information about the department’s mission and NCLB — a permissible use of taxpayer funds under legal government contracting procedures.”

State Sen. Kent Williams, D-Marion, defended his brother, with whom he disagrees about the merits of the president’s education efforts.

“My brother is of great integrity,” Kent Williams said. “His support of No Child Left Behind has nothing to do with the president.”

Boston Globe | January 7 2005


WASHINGTON -- Shortly before last year's Super Bowl, local news stations across the country aired a story by Mike Morris describing plans for a new White House ad campaign on the dangers of drug abuse.

What viewers did not know was that Morris is not a journalist and his ''report" was produced by the government, actions which constituted illegal ''covert propaganda," according to an investigation by the Government Accountability Office.

In the second ruling of its kind, the investigative arm of Congress this week scolded the Bush administration for distributing phony prepackaged news reports that include a ''suggested live intro" for anchors to read, interviews with Washington officials, and a closing that mimics a typical broadcast news sign-off.

Although television stations knew the materials were produced by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, there was nothing in the two-minute, prepackaged reports that would indicate to viewers that they came from the government or that Morris, a former journalist, was working under contract for the government.

''You think you are getting a news story but what you are getting is a paid announcement," said Susan Poling, managing associate general counsel at the Government Accountability Office. ''What is objectionable about these is the fact the viewer has no idea their tax dollars are being used to write and produce this video segment."

In May, the Government Accountability Office concluded that the Department of Health and Human Services violated two federal laws with similar fake news reports touting the administration's new Medicare drug benefit. When that opinion was released, officials at the drug control office decided to stop the practice, spokesman Thomas Riley said.

''Our lawyers disagree with the GAO interpretation," he said. Nevertheless, if the video releases were going to be ''controversial or create an appearance of a problem," the agency decided it was not worth pursuing, he said.

The prepackaged news pieces represent a fraction of the antidrug messages distributed by the office, Riley said.

Production and distribution of the video news releases cost about ,000.

Riley said broadcast stations were fully aware they were receiving materials akin to printed press releases that producers could ''slice and dice it however they want."

At least 300 news shows used some portion of the prepackaged news reports, though it was impossible to determine how many aired the full story or just portions such as ''sound bites," Riley said.

If the videos had been identified as coming from the federal agency, that would have been legal, Poling said. But the television package looks like an authentic piece of independent journalism.

American Assembler



WASHINGTON — Mock news reports produced and distributed to local television stations by the Bush administration to promote the Medicare prescription drug program violated a provision of federal law that prohibits the use of taxpayer funds for “covert propaganda,” the General Accounting Office determined Wednesday.

The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, noted that the administration had labeled its entire “video news release” package so that the 126 television stations receiving it would know that it came from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and its parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services.

But that fact was not apparent to the 41 million senior and disabled Medicare beneficiaries who were the target audience of the “purported news story,” which included the voices of off-camera production company employees identifying themselves as Washington reporters, the GAO said in a decision signed by General Counsel Anthony H. Gamboa.

“Nothing in the story packages permit the viewer to know that Karen Ryan and Alberto Garcia were paid with federal funds through a contractor to report the message in the story package,” the agency said. “The entire story package was developed with appropriated funds but appears to be an independent news story.”

Ryan was the “reporter” for the English-language stories and Garcia for the Spanish-language version.

The GAO also found that the department had violated a second law, the Antideficiency Act, against using federal money for unauthorized purposes. Since “covert propaganda” is illegal, the GAO said, there were no funds authorized to produce it. The packages cost ,000 to make.

According to the GAO, that law requires agencies that violate it to report their actions to the president and Congress. But Bill Pierce, spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, indicated that although top department officials were still reading the 16-page decision, it was unlikely the administration would comply.

“GAO opinions are not binding on the executive branch,” he said. “This is the opinion of the GAO. We disagree with that opinion.”

He also said it was the responsibility of the television stations’ editors and producers to inform viewers of the source of the material.

“This was in no way covert, as they claim,” Pierce said. “This was overt, in every way…. We provided them with every technological ability to tell the audience who it was from,” he said.

Asked if he could understand that a viewer might be angry about not being informed of the source of the mock news story, Pierce said, “If I’m a viewer, I’d be angry at my television station.”

Forty television stations in 33 media markets, including Santa Barbara and Fresno, aired all or part of the Medicare video package at least 53 times in January and February, said Health and Human Services Department officials.

The GAO decision was awkward for the administration, which has been promoting the new Medicare discount drug card in the face of complaints from seniors and consumer advocates that the program is confusing and offers only limited savings.

Minutes before the GAO released to the media its decision on the Medicare video package, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a report that low-income Medicare beneficiaries could save between 29% and 77% on brand-name prescription drugs. The agency later announced that it had taken action to improve access to its toll-free information line and its website.

The GAO finding also gave Democrats another opening to critique how the administration shaped and promoted the Medicare reform law, which Republicans had believed would help them gain support among older voters in this fall’s elections.

In January, the administration revealed that its final cost estimate for the law was billion over 10 years, one-third more than the -billion maximum it told Congress to provide.

Medicare’s top financial analyst said later that the then-Medicare administrator had threatened to fire him if he shared his cost estimates with Democratic lawmakers. The Congressional Research Service said recently that the administration’s withholding of the cost estimates probably violated federal law. The administration refuses to release its complete cost analysis to Democratic lawmakers, and this week 19 House Democrats filed suit to force the disclosure.

“The new GAO opinion is yet another indictment of the deception and dishonesty that has become business as usual for the Bush administration,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). “It was bad enough to conceal the cost of the Medicare drug bill from the Congress and the American people. It is worse to use Medicare funds for illegal propaganda to try to turn this lemon of a bill into lemonade for the Bush campaign.”

This year, several Democratic senators asked the GAO to investigate whether the administration’s commercials and fliers promoting Medicare constituted illegal propaganda. The GAO concluded that although those materials contained “notable omissions and errors,” they were technically legal. It was in that investigation that GAO officials discovered the administration’s “video news releases,” which had not previously been disclosed.

The head of the GAO, Comptroller General David M. Walker, then made the decision to determine whether the Medicare video packages were legal.

“We evaluated all of the reasons that [administration officials] thought it wasn’t covert, but what we saw was something that was running that the viewer had no idea was put together by [the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services]. That’s the reason it was covert,” said Susan Poling, a managing associate general counsel at the GAO. | December 1, 2004
by Violet Jones


"The first casualty when war comes is Truth"--  U.S. Senator Hiram Johnson, 1917 The Pentagon's use of the mainstream media to perpetuate lies and disinformation to influence not only the enemy we are engaging but the American people as a whole has been ongoing. As recently as July of this year, we ran a flashback report on the Office of Strategic Information (OSI), of which The New York Times reported that the Defense Department had paid the Rendon Group, a Washington-based international consulting firm, ,000 per month to help the OSI with a broad campaign that would include "black" propaganda, or disinformation. The London Telegraph reported in February of 2004 that a "Pentagon source, who asked not to be named, said there were some European nations that "sometimes needed to be helped to see the light." The OSI would be used for such purposes.

From the glossy coverage of Bush's obvious media stunts to the staged rescue of Jessica Lynch, it's obvious we are all targets of the media-industrial complex's propaganda war

PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror
The use of misleading information as a military tool sparks debate in the Pentagon. Critics say the practice puts credibility at stake.

LA Times / Mark Mazzetti | December 1, 2004

WASHINGTON — On the evening of Oct. 14, a young Marine spokesman near Fallouja appeared on CNN and made a dramatic announcement."Troops crossed the line of departure," 1st Lt. Lyle Gilbert declared, using a common military expression signaling the start of a major campaign. "It's going to be a long night." CNN, which had been alerted to expect a major news development, reported that the long-awaited offensive to retake the Iraqi city of Fallouja had begun.

In fact, the Fallouja offensive would not kick off for another three weeks. Gilbert's carefully worded announcement was an elaborate psychological operation — or "psy-op" — intended to dupe insurgents in Fallouja and allow U.S. commanders to see how guerrillas would react if they believed U.S. troops were entering the city, according to several Pentagon officials.

In the hours after the initial report, CNN's Pentagon reporters were able to determine that the Fallouja operation had not, in fact, begun.

"As the story developed, we quickly made it clear to our viewers exactly what was going on in and around Fallouja," CNN spokesman Matthew Furman said.

In the hours after the initial report, CNN's Pentagon reporters were able to determine that the Fallouja operation had not, in fact, begun.

"As the story developed, we quickly made it clear to our viewers exactly what was going on in and around Fallouja," CNN spokesman Matthew Furman said.

Officials at the Pentagon and other U.S. national security agencies said the CNN incident was not an isolated feint — the type used throughout history by armies to deceive their enemies — but part of a broad effort underway within the Bush administration to use information to its advantage in the war on terrorism.

The Pentagon in 2002 was forced to shutter its controversial Office of Strategic Influence (OSI), which was opened shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, after reports that the office intended to plant false news stories in the international media. But officials say that much of OSI's mission — using information as a tool of war — has been assumed by other offices throughout the U.S. government.

Although most of the work remains classified, officials say that some of the ongoing efforts include having U.S. military spokesmen play a greater role in psychological operations in Iraq, as well as planting information with sources used by Arabic TV channels such as Al Jazeera to help influence the portrayal of the United States.

Other specific examples were not known, although U.S. national security officials said an emphasis had been placed on influencing how foreign media depict the United States.

These efforts have set off a fight inside the Pentagon over the proper use of information in wartime. Several top officials see a danger of blurring what are supposed to be well-defined lines between the stated mission of military public affairs — disseminating truthful, accurate information to the media and the American public — and psychological and information operations, the use of often-misleading information and propaganda to influence the outcome of a campaign or battle.

Several of those officials who oppose the use of misleading information spoke out against the practice on the condition of anonymity.

"The movement of information has gone from the public affairs world to the psychological operations world," one senior defense official said. "What's at stake is the credibility of people in uniform."

Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said he recognized the concern of many inside the Defense Department, but that "everybody understands that there's a very important distinction between information operations and public affairs. Nobody has offered serious proposals that would blur the distinction between these two functions."

Di Rita said he had asked his staff for more information about how the Oct. 14 incident on CNN came about.

One recent development critics point to is the decision by commanders in Iraq in mid-September to combine public affairs, psychological operations and information operations into a "strategic communications" office. An organizational chart of the newly created office was obtained by The Times. The strategic communications office, which began operations Sept. 15, is run by Air Force Brig. Gen. Erv Lessel, who answers directly to Gen. George W. Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

Partly out of concern about this new office, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, distributed a letter Sept. 27 to the Joint Chiefs and U.S. combat commanders in the field warning of the dangers of having military public affairs (PA) too closely aligned with information operations (IO).

"Although both PA and IO conduct planning, message development and media analysis, the efforts differ with respect to audience, scope and intent, and must remain separate," Myers wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Times.

Pentagon officials say Myers is worried that U.S. efforts in Iraq and in the broader campaign against terrorism could suffer if world audiences begin to question the honesty of statements from U.S. commanders and spokespeople.

"While organizations may be inclined to create physically integrated PA/IO offices, such organizational constructs have the potential to compromise the commander's credibility with the media and the public," Myers wrote.

Myers' letter is not being heeded in Iraq, officials say, in part because many top civilians at the Pentagon and National Security Council support an effort that blends public affairs with psy-ops to win Iraqi support — and Arab support in general — for the U.S. fight against the insurgency.

Advocates of these programs said that the advent of a 24-hour news cycle and the powerful influence of Arabic satellite television made it essential that U.S. military commanders and civilian officials made the control of information a key part of their battle plans.

"Information is part of the battlefield in a way that it's never been before," one senior Bush administration official said. "We'd be foolish not to try to use it to our advantage."

And, supporters argue, it is necessary to fill a vacuum left when the budgets for the State Department's public diplomacy programs were slashed and the U.S. Information Agency — a bulwark of the nation's anticommunist efforts during the Cold War — was gutted in the 1990s.

"The worst outcome would be to lose this war by default. If the smart folks in the psy-op and civil affairs tents can cast a truthful, persuasive message that resonates with the average Iraqi, why not use the public affairs vehicles to transmit it?" asked Charles A. Krohn, a professor at the University of Michigan and former deputy chief of public affairs for the Army. "What harm is done, compared to what is gained? For the first year of the war, we did virtually nothing to tell the Iraqis why we invaded their country and ejected their government. It's about time we got our act together."

Advocates also cite a September report by the Defense Science Board, a panel of outside experts that advises Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, which concluded that a "crisis" in U.S. "strategic communications" had undermined American efforts to fight Islamic extremism worldwide.

The study cited polling in the Arab world that revealed widespread hatred of the United States throughout the Middle East. A poll taken in June by Zogby International revealed that 94% of Saudi Arabians had an "unfavorable" view of the United States, compared with 87% in April 2002. In Egypt, the second largest recipient of U.S. aid, 98% of respondents held an unfavorable view of the United States.

The Defense Science Board recommended a presidential directive to "coordinate all components of strategic communication including public diplomacy, public affairs, international broadcasting and military information operations."

Di Rita said there was general agreement inside the Bush administration that the U.S. government was ill-equipped to communicate its policies and messages abroad in the current media climate.

"As a government, we're not very well organized to do that," he said.

Yet some in the military argue that the efforts at better "strategic communication" sometimes cross the line into propaganda, citing some recent media briefings held in Iraq. During a Nov. 10 briefing by Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, reporters were shown a video of Iraqi troops saluting their flag and singing the Iraqi national anthem.

"Pretty soon, we're going to have the 5 o'clock follies all over again, and it will take us another 30 years to restore our credibility," said a second senior Defense official, referring to the much-ridiculed daily media briefings in Saigon during the Vietnam War.

According to several Pentagon officials, the strategic communications programs at the Defense Department are being coordinated by the office of the undersecretary of Defense for policy, Douglas J. Feith.



Pentagon chiefs condemned for launching propaganda war

London Telegraph | February 20, 2004

AMERICA'S western allies reacted with concern yesterday to the creation of a Pentagon department of propaganda aimed at planting disinformation in the media of America's friends as well as its enemies.

The Office of Strategic Influence has been set up to disseminate truthful information openly, but also to spread what one senior Pentagon official called "the blackest of black programmes".

The organisation, which is headed by a brigadier and has about 15 staff reporting directly to the under secretary of defence for policy, is already working on ways to influence and mislead the media in a number of countries, mostly in the Islamic world, but also in Western Europe.

A Pentagon source, who asked not to be named, said there were some European nations that "sometimes needed to be helped to see the light". The existence of the OSI was revealed in the New York Times.

It was reportedly established to spread positive messages about the war on terrorism, but it would also use disinformation and misinformation to mislead friend and foe alike.

Reaction among America's allies was universally negative. One Western official said: "This sort of thing might work in countries with no sophisticated media network, but not in Europe or any other mature democracy."

A European diplomat said: "Everyone uses disinformation for military reasons, but I have never heard of using official sources to spread false information to the media of an ally."

Another diplomat said: "The Pentagon is not exactly regarded as the fount of truth and justice now, so I don't know what sort of damage to its reputation this might do if it leaked out.

"All I can see this sort of thing doing is giving a mighty good excuse to our enemies for dismissing all coalition claims as black propaganda."



Media accused of aiding U.S. propaganda

Reuters | January 1, 2004

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - It is one of the most famous images of the war in Iraq -- a U.S. soldier scaling a statue of Saddam Hussein in
Baghdad and draping the Stars and Stripes over the black metal visage of the ousted despot.

But for Harper's magazine publisher John MacArthur, that same image of U.S. military victory is also indicative of a propaganda campaign
being waged by the Bush administration.

"It was absolutely a photo-op created for (U.S. President George W.) Bush's re-election campaign commercials," MacArthur said in an
interview. "CNN, MSNBC and Fox swallowed it whole."

In 1992, MacArthur wrote "Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War," a withering critique of government and media
actions that he says misled the public after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

In MacArthur's opinion, little has changed during the latest Iraq war, prompting him to begin work on an updated edition of "Second Front".
U.S. government public relations specialists are still concocting bogus stories to serve government interests, he says, and credulous
journalists stand ready to swallow it up.

"The concept of a self-governing American republic has been crippled by this propaganda," MacArthur said. "The whole idea that we can
govern ourselves and have an intelligent debate, free of cant, free of disinformation, I think it's dead."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan denied the existence of any administration propaganda campaign and predicted the American
public would reject such notions as ridiculous.

A Pentagon spokesman also denied high-level planning in the appearance of the American flag in Baghdad. "It sure looked spontaneous to
me," said Marine Lieutenant Colonel Mike Humm.

In fact, a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that Americans were happy with Iraq war coverage,
though many wanted less news coverage of anti-war activism and fewer television appearances by former military officers.

But MacArthur insists that both Gulf wars have been marked by phoney tales calculated to deceive public opinion at crucial junctures.


On the eve of the 1991 Gulf War, Americans were asked to believe that Iraqi soldiers tossed Kuwaiti infants from hospital incubators,
leaving them to die. Not true, he says.

This time, MacArthur says the Bush administration made false claims about Iraqi nuclear weapons, charging Baghdad was trying to import
aluminium tubes to make enriched uranium and that the country was six months from building a warhead.

The International Atomic Energy Agency found those tubes were for artillery rockets, not nuclear weapons. And MacArthur says a supposed
IAEA report, on which the White House based claims about Iraqi weapons-making ability, did not exist.

"What's changed is that there's no shame anymore in doing it directly," MacArthur, 46, said of what he views as blatant White House and
Pentagon propaganda campaigns.

Cynthia Kennard, assistant professor at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism, said the Bush administration has mastered the art of
building favourable public images and shaping messages to suit its own interests.

"It's put the journalism profession in somewhat of a paralysis," said Kennard, a former CBS correspondent who covered the 1991 Gulf War.
"This is not a particularly glowing moment for tough questions and enterprise reporting."

As Harper's publisher, MacArthur oversees a 153-year-old political and literary magazine he helped save from financial ruin 20 years ago
with money from the foundation named after his billionaire grandparents, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur.

While MacArthur accuses news outlets generally of avoiding opposition stands, his own magazine has been vitriolic towards Bush,
describing the president in its May issue as a leader who "counts his ignorance as a virtue and regards his lack of curiosity as a sign of moral


But MacArthur is not troubled by the thumping patriotism displayed by cable television news outlets like Rupert Murdoch's Fox News
Channel, which leads CNN and MSNBC in viewer ratings.

"All that means is that Murdoch knows how to run a circus better than anyone else. War and jingoism always sell. But the real damage was
done by the high-brow press," MacArthur said.

"On the propaganda side, the New York Times is more responsible for making the case for war than any other newspaper or any other
news organisation."

He blames the Times for giving credence to Bush administration claims about the aluminium tubes. And when Bush cited a nonexistent
IAEA report on Iraqi nukes, he says, it was the conservative Washington Times -- not the New York Times or Washington Post -- that wound
up disproving the assertion.

The New York Times also reported that an Iraqi scientist told U.S. officials Saddam had destroyed chemical and biological equipment and
sent weapons to Syria just before the war.

The only trouble, MacArthur says, is that the Times did not speak to or name the scientist but agreed to delay the story, submit the text to
government scrutiny and withhold details -- facts the Times acknowledged in its article. "You might as well just run a press release. Let the
government write it. That's Pravda," he said.

New York Times spokesman Toby Usnik dismissed MacArthur's claims regarding the newspaper's war coverage as a whole: "We believe
we have covered the story from all sides and all angles."

Fox had no comment on his remarks.

Editors across the nation also worked hard to avoid the grisly images of war, especially scenes of dead Iraqi civilians and Americans, while
Europeans saw uncensored horrific images.

The Pentagon's decision to embed journalists with U.S. forces produced war footage that the 1991 war sorely lacked. But the coverage
rarely rose to the standard MacArthur wanted.

"Ninety percent of what we got was junk...I think probably five or 10 percent of it was pretty good," he said.

MacArthur says the character of the news media, and the government's attitude toward it, was best summed up by Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld at a Pentagon "town hall" meeting.

Asked by an audience member what could be done to reverse the media's "overwhelmingly negative" war coverage, Rumsfeld said: "You
know, penalise the papers and the television...that don't give good advice and reward those people that do give good advice."

MacArthur said that translated as: "You punish the critics and you reward your friends. That's what he means. That's the standard currency
of Washington journalism...To show reality becomes unpatriotic, in effect."

The Pentagon's Humm said Rumsfeld had not been talking about unfavourable reporting but about inaccurate reporting.



Senators to Introduce 'Stop Government Propaganda Act'

Media Info | January 27, 2005
By Brian Orloff

NEW YORK In response to continued revelations of government-funded "journalism" -- ranging from the purported video news releases put out by the drug czar's office and the Department of Health and Human Services to the recently uncovered payments to columnists Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher,who flacked administration programs -- Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) will introduce a bill, The Stop Government Propaganda Act, in the Senate next week.

"It's just not enough to say, 'Please don't do it anymore,'" Alex Formuzis, Lautenberg's spokesman, told E&P. "Legislation sometimes is required and we believe it is in this case."

The Stop Government Propaganda Act states, "Funds appropriated to an Executive branch agency may not be used for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States unless authorized by law."

"It's time for Congress to shut down the Administration's propaganda mill," Lautenberg said in a statement. "It has no place in the United States Government." The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Jon Corzine (D-N.J.).

Formuzis told E&P that while the bill is being introduced by Democrats, its message and intent is something endorsed by Republicans and Democrats alike.

"We only have a few senators on the bill so far, but we hope and expect that we'll get a number of others to sign on to the legislation once we introduce it," he said. "This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. This is an issue about an independent press, and I think that's something that will cross party lines."

The act would allow citizens to bring qui tam lawsuits on behalf of the United States government when the Department of Justice does not respond.

If the matter is taken to court, the bill proposes that the senior official responsible would be fined three times the amount of the "misspent taxpayer funds" plus an additional fine ranging from ,000 to ,000. And if a citizen's qui tam suit is accepted, the bill proposes that the plaintiff receives between 25 and 30% of the proceeds of the fine.

"The President said that his cabinet agencies made a mistake when they paid commentators to promote his agenda," Kennedy said in a statement. "It's more than just a mistake, it's an abuse of taxpayer funds and an abuse of the First Amendment and freedom of the press. ... If the President is serious about stopping these abuses, he will support this legislation."

According to a release, publicity or propaganda is defined in the bill as: news releases or publications that do not clearly identify the government agency responsible for the content; audio/visual or Internet presentations that do not identify the responsible government agency; any attempt to manipulate journalists or news organizations; messages created to aid a political party or candidate; messages with a "self-aggrandizing" purpose or "puffery of the Administration, agency, executive branch programs or policies or pending legislation"; and, finally, messages that are "so misleading or inaccurate that they constitute propaganda."
Brian Orloff ( borloff@editoran )


Report: PR spending doubled under Bush


USA TODAY | January 28, 2005
By Jim Drinkard
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration has more than doubled its spending on outside contracts with public relations firms during the past four years, according to an analysis of federal procurement data by congressional Democrats.

The administration spent at least million in fiscal 2004 on contracts with major public relations firms, the analysis found, compared with million in 2001, Bush's first year in office. In all, the administration spent million on public relations contracts during its first term, compared with million spent for President Clinton between 1997 and 2000. The analysis did not examine what the Clinton administration spent during its first term.

The top-spending agency during the past four years, at million, was the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The biggest federal public relations contractor in that period was Ketchum, with million.

"While not all public relations spending is illegal or inappropriate, this rapid rise in public relations contracts at a time of growing budget deficits raises questions about the priorities of the administration," said the report by the Democratic staff of the House Government Reform Committee.

The administration's public relations efforts have been under scrutiny since USA TODAY reported that the Education Department, through a Ketchum contract, paid ,000 to conservative commentator Armstrong Williams for helping to promote Bush's No Child Left Behind program.

Bush said Wednesday that he does not think taxpayer money should be used to promote administration policies in that way. "I expect my Cabinet secretaries to make sure that that practice doesn't go forward," he said at a White House news conference.

Of the arrangement with Williams, Bush said: "We didn't know about this in the White House" and he noted that there is "new leadership" at the Education Department, where Secretary Rod Paige has been replaced by Margaret Spellings, a former policy aide to Bush at the White House. "We will not be paying commentators to advance our agenda. Our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet," he said.

On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher, an authority on marriage and family issues, had received two federal contracts totaling ,500 for writing brochures, a magazine article and a report and briefing government employees in support of the president's marriage initiative. That program called for redirecting welfare funds to pay for premarital counseling and abstinence education.

While doing the work for the departments of Health and Human Services and Justice in 2002 and 2003, Gallagher also wrote several columns supporting Bush's plan. One called the proposal "a no-brainer" because it could help reduce the divorce rate and cut domestic violence. In a statement, Gallagher said her work for the government had no influence on what she wrote in her columns, which reflected her long-held beliefs about marriage. "It was a mistake on my part not to have disclosed any government contract," she wrote. "It will not happen again."




British officials propose new anti-terrorism powers

The Seattle Times

Thursday, January 27, 2005, 12:00 A.M. Pacific

World Digest

British officials proposed sweeping new powers yesterday to control and monitor suspected terrorists without charge or trial, including house arrests, electronic tagging and curfews.

The measures were designed to address legal challenges to a post-Sept. 11, 2001, law under which the government has kept 11 foreign nationals imprisoned without charges for up to three years for allegedly posing a threat to national security. Home Secretary Charles Clarke, the Cabinet minister in charge of internal security, told the House of Commons that the 11 detainees, all of them Arab Muslims, would either be deported to their home countries or subjected to the new measures once a new bill passes Parliament.

The Law Lords, a panel of judges that acts as Britain's highest court of appeals, ruled the detention law violated the European Convention on Human Rights and was discriminatory because it applied only to foreign nationals, not to British citizens, and because it was not proportional to the potential security threat posed by the men.

Members of the two main opposition political parties cautiously welcomed the proposals. But David Davis, Conservative Party spokesman for internal security affairs, said he was concerned that the new measures would apply to British citizens and foreigners.

"Millions of British subjects have sacrificed their lives in defense of the nation's liberties, and it would be a sad paradox if we were to sacrifice the nation's liberty in defense of our own lives today," he told the Commons.


"Italian Unabomber" may have struck again

A mysterious bomber who has injured 20 people in a decade may have planted a small device that exploded yesterday in Italy's northern city of Treviso, police said.

There were no injuries from the explosion of a plastic candy container which went off as a group of middle-school students walked by, raising fears that the "Italian Unabomber" had struck again, police said.

Whoever is behind a dozen similar explosions in northeastern Italy since at least 1994 has been likened in the Italian media to the U.S. Unabomber who sent dozens of bombs through the U.S. mail for nearly 20 years.

Other blasts believed linked to the same man were a 2003 explosion of a booby-trapped pen that injured a child's hand and eye during a family picnic in the Treviso area; an exploding soap-bubble jar that injured a 5-year-old boy in 2002; and a jar of a popular brand of hazelnut sandwich spread that went off when a woman opened it, though she escaped injury.


Russia may seek arrest of Ukraine PM

Ukraine's acting Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko faces criminal charges in Russia, but it is up to a court to decide whether to press forward with an arrest warrant, Russia's chief prosecutor said yesterday.

A Russian military court issued an arrest warrant for Tymoshenko last September while she was involved in helping President Viktor Yushchenko prepare for an election battle against Moscow-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich.

Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov said Russian courts would decide whether to arrest her if she visits, referring to charges of bribery involving Russian military officials. Tymoshenko has denied charges of bribing Russian military officials when she headed the Ukrainian electric power system. She says the charges were politically motivated by enemies.


Court spares life of Tibetan monk

A Chinese court yesterday spared the life of a Tibetan monk convicted in a series of fatal bombings, commuting his death sentence to life in prison, the government said.

Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, 54, was convicted in December 2002 and given a death sentence with a two-year reprieve, which expired yesterday. The monk and an aide, Lobsang Dhondup, 28, were convicted in 2003 of seeking independence for Tibet. They were charged in connection with a series of bombings in 2001-02 that killed one person in Sichuan, which abuts Tibet and has a large ethnic Tibetan population.

The monk's conviction prompted protests by activists who said he was targeted because of his status as a community leader



Drug-sniffing dogs can be used at traffic stops, high court rules

Decision expands police search powers

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court gave police broader search powers Monday during traffic stops, ruling that drug-sniffing dogs can be used to check out motorists even if officers have no reason to suspect they may be carrying narcotics.

In a 6-2 decision, the court sided with Illinois police who stopped Roy Caballes in 1998 along Interstate 80 for driving 6 miles over the speed limit. Although Caballes lawfully produced his driver's license, troopers brought over a drug dog after Caballes seemed nervous.

Caballes argued the Fourth Amendment protects motorists from searches such as dog sniffing, but Justice John Paul Stevens disagreed, reasoning that the privacy intrusion was minimal.

"The dog sniff was performed on the exterior of respondent's car while he was lawfully seized for a traffic violation. Any intrusion on respondent's privacy expectations does not rise to the level of a constitutionally cognizable infringement," Stevens wrote.

In a dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg bemoaned what she called the broadening of police search powers, saying the use of drug dogs will make routine traffic stops more "adversarial." She was joined in her dissent in part by Justice David H. Souter.

"Injecting such animal into a routine traffic stop changes the character of the encounter between the police and the motorist. The stop becomes broader, more adversarial and (in at least some cases) longer," she wrote.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist did not participate in consideration of the case.

The case is Illinois v. Caballes, 03-923.


Findings may help protect humans in bioattacks
Scientists determine why only some mice catch mousepox

Updated: 12:32 p.m. ET July 1, 2004

SYDNEY - Australian scientists have identified the immune response that determines why some mice are infected with mousepox and others are not, a discovery that could lead to better protection for humans in a bioterror attack.

Mice that are resistant to mousepox, a close relative of the smallpox virus, produce three regulatory proteins called cytokines that are absent in mice that become infected.

The findings raise the possibility of identifying humans vulnerable to smallpox and targeting vaccination and treatment in the event of an outbreak, said Australian National University immunologist Gunasegaran Karupiah, who headed the discovery team.

“This is an important step towards better protection from the threat of smallpox for health workers and the general community,” Karupiah told Reuters on Thursday.

Threat of bioterrorism
Scientists know relatively little about the immune response to smallpox because the virus was eradicated decades ago after a successful worldwide vaccination program. Smallpox was highly contagious and killed around 30 percent of those infected.

After the Sept. 11, 2001 airliner attacks on New York and Washington there have been fears that terror groups may develop smallpox as a biological weapon.

“Smallpox was one of the biggest human scourges ... yet because it was successfully eradicated no one was interested in understanding how individuals recovered, but now the interest is back because of the threat of bioterrorism,” said Karupiah.

Smallpox produces flu-like symptoms and a distinctive and disfiguring rash. It has an incubation period of around 12 days. Symptoms include tiredness, chills, fatigue and fever followed by pustules that erupt mainly on the face and limbs.

Copyright 2004 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.



Vaccine researchers exposed to anthrax
Workers at California hospital being treated with antibiotics

Updated: 8:56 a.m. ET June 11, 2004

SAN FRANCISCO - Anthrax vaccine researchers at a hospital near San Francisco have been exposed to the potentially lethal bacterium and are being treated with antibiotics, a hospital spokeswoman said Thursday.

The five researchers have not shown signs of infection, said Bev Mikalonis, a spokeswoman for Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California.

The hospital believes they were exposed because of a shipping error at the laboratory that supplied the anthrax, but is unclear how they acquired a live version of the bacterium instead of the dead version they ordered, said Mikalonis.

The researchers had assumed they were handling a dead version in liquid form during experiments on mice. After mice injected with the anthrax began to die on Monday, California officials were contacted to investigate and they confirmed the mice had been injected with a live version.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s bioterrorism unit has removed the anthrax from the hospital’s vaccine research institute, and the Centers for Disease Control is investigating the incident, Mikalonis said. 

Copyright 2004 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.




Could biotech be harnessed for bioterror?
Report warns of future genetic targeting for weapons

By Matt Moore
The Associated Press
Updated: 1:17 p.m. ET June 10, 2004

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Biotechnology research used to find new cures for disease could instead be harnessed for use as a weapon of terror, a prominent European think tank warned.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in its annual yearbook, said that biotechnology, including advancements in mapping the human genome, could result in new biological weapons that could cause harm to a specific ethnic group or a large swath of a country’s population.

“The free access to genetic sequence data for the human genome and a large number of other genomes, including for pathogenic microorganisms, is a great scientific resource, but it could pose a significant threat if misused,” said the report, which was unveiled in Stockholm Tuesday.

Terrorist applications
Researcher Richard Guthrie said developments in mapping the human genome, which could lead to improved medicines and vaccines for heart and neurological problems, also could be used by terrorists.

“There have been numerous claims that al-Qaida and the Taliban have demonstrated an interest in acquiring and using biological weapons, but such reports are ambiguous,” the report’s author, Roger Roffey, wrote.

Experts said the risk is there.

Last year, the National Research Council called for more oversight over biotechnology, in part to permit the continued study cutting-edge medicine and to keep developments in the academic and medical realm.

The issue isn’t farfetched, said Barbara Rosenberg, chair of the Scientists Working Group on Biological and Chemical Weapons at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation.

Genetic ethnic cleansing
She said research of the human genome, and mapping it extensively, could result in one group being able to develop a pathogen that would target a specific ethnic group.

“Even though no populations are pure, there are groups that share a relative number of certain genes that are missing in other people,” she told The Associated Press by telephone.

“There could be some selective use. It wouldn’t be perfect, but even if it only attacked a fairly small percentage of the population it could still cause major disruption in a society.”

While the process may seem like something out of a science fiction story, Rosenberg said that’s not the case anymore.

“We’re learning so much about the genetic differences between people and understanding what that those differences mean at a molecular level,” she said. “And that’s what you need to know if you’re going to try and change pathogens.”





January 25, 2005

On Civil Liberties Myopia

Bush Didn't Start the War on the Bill of Rights


So when did the assault on Americans' civil liberties get jumpstarted? The current liberal establishment seems to deem 9/11 the chief catalyst. Many of the most loathsome specimens within the haughty club imply that drastic incursions on Americans' civil liberties only began after 9/11, while the Clinton Administration represented a civil liberties paradise.

Take John Kerry partisan drone and stand-up comedian Margaret Cho, who at a benefit, railed: "I mean, I'm afraid of terrorism, but I'm more afraid of the Patriot Act," even though her candidate of choice not only voted for the legislation but authored many of its components.

Or how about Albert Gore, who in 2003 exclaimed: "They have taken us much farther down the road toward an intrusive, Big Brother-style government -- toward the dangers prophesied by George Orwell in his book '1984' -- than anyone ever thought would be possible in the United States of America."

With such a sour musk in the air, it is unsurprising that hysteria reigned supreme over how much George W. Bush's administration was to blame for the police conduct at the Republican National Convention last summer, where more than a thousand protestors were detained for up to 50 hours prior to being released. This infringement was indeed awful -- but hardly unique to the Bush years alone.

In early 2002, more than 20 FBI agents raided the home of Southern California African-American anarchist Sherman Austin's mother and seized her son's computers, which he used to run a political website. Austin was later charged and sentenced to a year in prison for "distribution" of information about making or using explosives with the "intent" that the information "be used for, or in furtherance of, an activity that constitutes a Federal crime of violence."

Austin did not author the information, which was housed on a section of the site he allocated to a teenager who then proceeded to upload the instructions. The obscure federal statute used against Austin, and which carried many implications for free speech, hit the books long before Bush in the late 1990s with the legislative shepherding of Dianne Feinstein, Democrat. Liberal sleeping pills like the American Prospect and The Nation said absolutely nothing about Austin's case.

During the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, police arrested Ruckus Society founder John Sellers for walking down the street. At the 2000 Democratic National Convention in LA, police brutality easily exceeded anything seen at the New York City Republican National Convention, where an outdoor Rage Against the Machine concert came to an abrupt end when riot police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at protestors and many non-participating bystanders.

Going back a bit further to 1999, during the WTO protests in Seattle, riot police beat up marchers and sprayed tear gas and shot rubber bullets indiscriminately. Several downtown areas were locked out to protesters, as well as public parks, where individuals could not even wear anti-WTO paraphernalia.

As Jeffrey St. Clair wrote in Five Days That Shook the World: "Tear gas canisters were unloaded and then five or six of them were fired into the crowd. One of the protesters nearest the cops was a young, petite woman. She rose up, obviously disoriented from the gas, and a Seattle policeman, crouched less than 10 feet away, shot her in the knee with a rubber bullet. She fell to the pavement, grabbing her leg and screaming in pain. Then, moments later, one of her comrades, maddened by the unprovoked attack, charged the police line, Kamikaze-style. Two cops beat him to the ground with their batons, hitting him at least 20 times."

At the regional level, a May Day 2001 march in Long Beach, California ended similarly, with many activists having to enter the emergency room because of wounds inflicted by police officers, some of which left rubber bullets lodged under skins. May Day protesters amassing in Portland, Oregon in 2000 experienced similar acts when police violently corralled activists, forcing them to retreat for fear of being stampeded by mounted police horses.

Then there's the racist and institutionalized police state that existed throughout the 1980s but really took new hold during the 1990s with the Clinton-era spike in so-called War on Drugs activity, which has led to record incarceration of African-Americans, Latinos, and women. Fraternities have long existed in major metropolitan police departments, wherein members ascend the ranks for beatings, flouting guidelines, and planting evidence. When one individual instance of this was exposed, as happened when police officers in LA's Ramparts district were found to have planted drug evidence, commentators preferred to describe it as a slight blight on an otherwise functioning system, whereas it actually represented an extremity of the norm.

Racist profiling, harassment of black and Latino youth under the guise of "anti-gang" activity, and no-knock SWAT raids on the homes of non-whites supposedly in possession of drugs or illegal weapons, increased dramatically under Bill Clinton.

In fact, what we are seeing today is a logical continuation of a foundation laid during the Clinton era. The anti-Bushites forget that the Patriot Act amended a series of existing laws, most notably the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which increased the number of capital crimes and severely curtailed right of appeal such that death penalty defendants only have six months to a year for preparing an appeal. Because of lax enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act and comparable state statutes, many defendants do not even receive necessary documents in time and are consequentially in danger of execution without a fair and thorough appeal.

Michael Moore, hero of the liberal establishment and uninformed "activists" who view Bush bashing as social glue, claims to have read the Patriot Act in his film Fahrenheit 9/11. However, the two cases he cites in the film's segment on the Patriot Act have absolutely nothing to do with the legislation. Local law enforcement's infiltration of activist groups (Moore's first case) and law enforcement's questioning of the politically outspoken (case two) occurred during the 1990s, particularly after the WTO protests.

For foreigners and immigrants on American soil as well as the Guantanomo prisoners, both egregiously skipped over in Moore's movie, post-9/11 legal changes have resulted in sweeping rights to detain, torture and harass. But this is not something that entirely rests with Bush Jr.

In actuality the Democrats ushered in the legislation that made this possible, with Russ Feingold the only Senator to oppose the Patriot Act (but just happened to cross over and confirm John Ashcroft as Attorney General).

The Democrats hardly have made it an issue since, and instead have gone ahead and condoned the appointment of Bush's "torture memos" guru Alberto Gonzales to replace John Ashcroft as Attorney General. Democrat Patrick Leahy opined: "I like him." Were the Democrats actually to wage a fight beyond the current rhetorical ruses holding up Gonzales's "expected" confirmation for an extra week, they might actually force the Republicans to propose someone other than this monster.

In short, ascribing all the civil liberties problems of this country to one date, September 11, 2001, and one administration, George W. Bush's, the liberal establishment has avoided any unpleasant analysis of our systemic civil liberties problems that might point back in its members' direction.

Sorry, Al Gore, you faux defender of civil liberties, but your former Administration in fact left us balancing on a tightrope -- a tightrope the Bushites have now cut to send certain civil liberties plummeting to their deaths.

Joshua Frank is the author of the forthcoming book, Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, to be released in early 2005 by Common Courage Press. He can be reached at:

Merlin Chowkwanyun is a student at Columbia University. He hosts a radio show on WBAR 87.9 FM ( He can be reached at


Attorney General Approved Despite Abuse Concerns
Wed Jan 26, 2005 12:47 PM ET

By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A divided Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved Alberto Gonzales as U.S. attorney general, rejecting 

Democratic complaints about his role in formulating administration policies blamed for contributing to the torture of detainees.

On a party-line vote of 10-8, the Republican-led panel sent President Bush's nomination of Gonzales to become the nation's highest ranking lawman to the full Senate for anticipated confirmation, possibly as early as next week. Gonzales, Bush's White House counsel the past four years, would replace John Ashcroft, who submitted his resignation after Bush was elected to a second term in November. The partisan battle over the Gonzales nomination has focused largely on an Aug. 1, 2002 memo he approved that stated only the most severe types of torture were not permissible under U.S. and international agreements. The memo was withdrawn after a public outcry. Gonzales has also drawn fire for writing in January 2002 that parts of the half-century-old Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war were "obsolete" and "quaint." At a Jan. 6 confirmation hearing, Gonzales denounced torture and vowed if confirmed as attorney general to abide by international treaties on treatment of prisoners. Yet Gonzales prompted further criticism with responses to a follow-up written questions, including his belief that the United States may technically have the right to indefinitely hold foreigners in secret locations overseas and subject them to abusive treatment. TORTURE IS "UNLAWFUL" Gonzales also wrote, however, that any torture by American personnel would be unlawful. "As the president has made clear, the United States will not engage in torture and U.S. personnel are prohibited from doing so," Gonzales declared. At the White House on Wednesday, Bush made another pitch for his embattled nominee, calling on the Senate "to promptly act and confirm Judge Al Gonzales." Republicans on the Judiciary Committee argued that Bush deserves to have who he wants as attorney general. Gonzales would be the first Hispanic-American to hold the post. Senate Republicans described Gonzales, a former Texas Supreme Court justice, as a skilled lawyer and American success story, one who rose from a humble beginning. "He is a man of decency, integrity and honor who answered the questions before the committee as well as he could," Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican. "He deserves to be confirmed." Yet Democrats ripped into Gonzales for administration detention policies drafted after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. These policies have been blamed for contributing to abuse of detainees captured in the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. "When President Bush announced this nomination he said that he chose Judge Gonzales because of his 'sound judgment' and role in shaping the administration's policies in the war on terrorism," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat. Yet, Leahy charged, "Judge Gonzales has championed policies that are in fundamental conflict with decades of our laws, sound military practice, international law and human rights." Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, complained that Gonzales was less than forthcoming to the committee. "We have a torture problem. The FBI says so. The Red Cross says so. The Defense Intelligence Agency says so," Kennedy said.

"Additional allegations of abuse are being reported on a daily basis. Yet Mr. Gonzales can't remember any details of how it happened," Kennedy said.




Deadliest day in Iraq  37 U.S. troops killed
31 die in helicopter crash, six others in separate attacks

By NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski and news services
Updated: 10:20 p.m. ET Jan. 26, 2005

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Thirty U.S. Marines and a sailor were killed in a helicopter crash and six more troops died in insurgent attacks Wednesday in the deadliest day for U.S. forces in 15 years.

Militants waging a campaign to derail Sunday’s election set off at least eight car bombings that killed 13 people and injured 40 others, including 11 Americans. The guerrillas also carried out a string of attacks nationwide against schools that will serve as polling centers.

While al-Qaida warned Iraqis to stay away from the polls, saying they would have only themselves to blame if they were hurt in attacks, President Bush called on people to “defy the terrorists” and cast ballots in the crucial election.

Crash kills all on board
There were no survivors among the 30 Marines and one Navy corpsman in the CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter that crashed near Ar Rutbah, about 220 miles west of Baghdad.

A search and rescue team was at the site. All but three of the Marines had been based in Hawaii, according to Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii.

In three other incidents, four U.S. Marines were killed in action in western Iraq, a soldier was killed and two others were wounded when insurgents attacked an Army patrol near the northern town of Duluiyah, and a roadside bomb in the Baghdad area killed a soldier and wounded two others, the U.S. command said.

The U.S. military has not experienced such a high loss of life in one day in 15 years, since an explosion ripped through a gun turret on the USS Iowa during a training exercise in the Caribbean in April 1989, killing 47 sailors.

The helicopter crash occurred during severe weather, but its cause was still under investigation, said Army Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command. An Accuweather satellite photograph of the region taken Wednesday showed a sandstorm in the area where the Sea Stallion went down, two days after more widespread sandstorms grounded all air traffic in Iraq.

Bush called the crash “very discouraging” in a news conference at the White House.

The military gave no further details of the other incidents. Jim Dolan, a reporter for WABC-TV in New York who was embedded with the Marines in western Iraq, said the four Marines killed in the west died when insurgents ambushed a convoy leaving the town of Haditha, hitting a vehicle with a rocket-propelled grenade.

Bombings, fighting continue
News of the U.S. casualties came as Iraq was engulfed in a new wave of violence aimed at destabilizing the nation ahead of the election:

  • A suicide bomber detonated a fuel tanker at the offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Sinjar, southwest of Mosul, killing five people and injuring at least 20 others, KDP officials said.
  • Gunmen opened fire with machine guns on the local headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Communist Party in Baqouba, north of Baghdad, killing a traffic policeman. The KDP and the PUK, the two largest Kurdish groups in Iraq, have formed a coalition along with other Kurdish groups to run in the election.
  • Three car bombs exploded Wednesday in Riyadh, a tense town north of Baghdad, killing at least five people, three of them policemen. One of the car bombs targeted a U.S. convoy, but there was no report of casualties, police said.
  • Four U.S. troops were injured in a car bombing Wednesday in Saddam Hussein’s hometown, Tikrit, the U.S. command said.
  • Another car bomb targeted a multinational forces convoy on the road to Baghdad’s international airport, injuring four troops, the command said.
  • In Baghdad’s Sadr City district, Iraqi forces backed by U.S. troops raided a Shiite mosque, detaining up to 25 followers of a radical cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, police and the cleric’s supporters said.
  • Al-Arabiya television broadcast a videotape showing three men identified by insurgents as election workers who were kidnapped in Mosul. The satellite station said the three were abducted by the Nineveh Mujahedeen, which threatened to attack polling stations on election day.

    Copter losses
    The U.S. military has lost at least 33 helicopters since the start of the Iraq conflict in March 2003, according to a study by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. At least 20 were brought down by hostile fire, the institution said.

    Before Wednesday, the deadliest single incident involving U.S. troops in Iraq took place Nov. 15, 2003, when two Black Hawk helicopters crashed in Mosul after colliding while trying to avoid ground fire, killing 17 U.S. soldiers and wounding five.

    Earlier that same month, on Nov. 2, 2003, a Chinook transport helicopter was shot down by shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile near Fallujah, killing 16 U.S. soldiers and wounding 26 others.

    Last month, a suicide bomb exploded at a mess tent in a base near Mosul, killing 22 people, including 14 U.S. soldiers and three U.S. contractors.

    Bombs in Baghdad
    Baghdad continued to be a hot spot of insurgent activity.

    U.S. troops found at least six bombs at different locations around Baghdad early Wednesday, the military said. Iraqi police discovered two more bombs in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, where turnout in the elections Sunday is expected to be high.

    “We’ve been very successful finding and destroying improvised explosive devices in Baghdad, limiting the insurgents’ ability to kill or injure innocent Iraqis,” said Maj. Philip Smith, a spokesman for the 1st Cavalry Division and Task Force Baghdad.

    Elsewhere, up to four mortar shells exploded Wednesday near a police station in the northern Baghdad suburb of Sabaa al-Bor, injuring at least one Iraqi.

    Residents of the insurgent-filled city of Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, reported clashes Wednesday between U.S. troops and rebels. The fighting erupted when militants attacked a U.S. patrol with rocket-propelled grenades, the residents said. One Iraqi was killed and two others were wounded, doctors said.

  • NBC's Jim Miklaszewski and producer Scott Foster, based at the Pentagon, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.




    Prepare for life in a police state: Court allows drug dogs in all traffic stops 
    | The South End Newspaper |
    By Sarah Ryley
    Voice Editor

    The U. S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that narcotics-detecting dogs can be used for all routine traffic stops  and you can bet that we, as students with varying degrees of other “incriminating” visual factors, are going to be the targets.

    The case involved John Caballes, an Illinois man who was stopped for doing only six miles over the speed limit, but narcotics-detecting dogs ended up finding 250,000 worth of marijuana while sniffing around his trunk. The fact that he was stopped for doing only six over is a sign that this ruling is going to open the door for more frivolous traffic stops with the officers hoping to find drugs.

    In a 6-2 ruling, Justice John Paul Stevens issued a statement saying that Caballes had no legal right to privacy concerning illegal narcotics, and since narcotics dogs are only trained to detect illegal drugs  not money or any other lawful possessions  constitutional search and seizure protections were not violated.

    Not only do narcotics-detecting dogs often make mistakes resulting in the unlawful rummaging through one’s personal possessions, but it’s commonly because they detect money with drug residue on it  between 70 and 96 percent of bills are estimated to have residue from some illegal narcotic.

    According to the NPR report, another man was stopped by police using narcotics dogs and sent to jail because he had a large sum of money on him that dogs detected because of drug residue  but they found no actual drugs. The man still had to post bail and pay for a lawyer in his court case.

    In the Supreme Court’s dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Ginsburg said that allowing narcotics-detecting dogs for routine traffic stops opens the door for using the dogs to survey parked cars, much like some schools do for students’ lockers, and having the dogs on street corners. She also made the point that the dogs are intimidating and will fundamentally change the police-driver encounter while also elongating it.

    Police are well known to profile drivers who they think might possess drugs based on visual factors such as race, age, piercings, dreadlocks, tattoos, the type of car being driven and the bumper stickers on it.

    Students on college campuses and low-income minorities are especially harassed because the officer figures that he or she can find other reasons to issue tickets if the apparent infraction is too minor, such as lack of registration, insurance or a license; drunk driving; or the jackpot infractions  possession and drug trafficking. The Supreme Court decision is only giving the officers further incentive to make these harassing and predatory stops.

    Even if the victim doesn’t have any actual drugs on him, he can still be forced to go through the process of going to jail, posting bail and paying crippling lawyer fees if he has a large amount of money containing drug residue on him, or if a friend left trace marijuana in his car. Imagine driving home from work and being stopped for going only six miles over the speed limit, and then being carted off to jail because the in tips you made bartending happened to have some cocaine on it. This can very easily start being commonplace around inner cities and college campuses.

    “Innocent” bystanders aside, police applaud this ruling as a major step toward combating the war on drugs, and one can only imagine the zeal with which they will put it into practice. But this ruling really targets the recreational pot smoker since they are the most common, and we need to stop clogging up the courts and jails with small-time drug users.

    This is a waste of our tax dollars and a waste of our youth. Sending young people to jail and then forcing them to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees for possessing a small amount of marijuana  a “mistake” many successful adults, such as our last two presidents, will have to admit to is really just unfair and unproductive.

    It’s not likely that the ruling will be overturned, at least in the next four years, so prepare yourself for life in a police state.

    Send all comments to this story to



    In Middle East

    Iraq seizes Zarqawi's 'most lethal bomb ally'
    Threat of election violence empties streets of Baghdad
    Allawi fights to mobilise a terrified electorate
    US and UK 'ignore torture by Iraqi police'
    Palestinian militants to suspend attacks on Israeli targets




    More Bogus Terrorist Reports / News / Local / Mass. / FBI alerts Boston law enforcement about four suspects

          FBI alerts Boston law enforcement about four suspects
          By Denise Lavoie, Associated Press  |  January 19, 2005
          BOSTON --The FBI notified Boston area law enforcement Wednesday to be on
          the lookout for four Chinese nationals described as possible terror
          suspects who may be headed to the area.
          Federal law enforcement officials in Boston said they had received a tip
          earlier in the day about an unspecified threat against Boston, and
          released photographs of the four people they were seeking.
          In a joint statement issued by Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Michael
          Sullivan and Kenneth Kaiser, special agent in charge of the Boston FBI
          office, they were identified as: Zengrong Lin, Wen Quin Zheng, Xiujin
          Chen, Guozhi Lin.
          Authorities said none of the names had been on previous watch lists of
          terror suspects, and their whereabouts aren't immediately known.
          The investigation stirred a frenzy of media reports and prompted Gov. Mitt
          Romney, who had gone to Washington to attend Thursday's presidential
          inauguration, to decide to return to Massachusetts later Wednesday.
          Romney told reporters in Washington that he planned to be on a 9 p.m.
          flight back to Boston, and cautioned that the threats were unsubstantiated
          and uncorroborated.
          "We have had threats in the past. We take them seriously, even when
          they're not corroborated," he said.
          Romney said that the state's threat level would not be raised, but more
          people would be on duty in the state's emergency management bunker in
          Framingham, about 20 miles west of Boston.
          Asked why he didn't come back immediately after hearing of the threat in
          the morning, Romney said that as the information became more public, he
          wanted "to assure the people of Boston that it is safe to be at home."
          A federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity
          because the matter remains under investigation, told The Associated Press
          that the FBI's joint terrorism task force has not yet corroborated a tip
          that the suspects entered the United States through Mexico in recent days,
          possibly bound for Boston.
          The official stressed the tip is one of many from around the country that
          routinely are forwarded to local task forces for further investigation. No
          credible, specific terror threat has been identified in connection with
          the tip about suspects possibly entering the country from Mexico.
          FBI spokeswoman Gail Marcinkiewicz said the terror alert had not been
          raised for Boston.
          "Basically, what you have here is information that we often get," she
          said. "It's uncorroborated at this time."
          "It's been passed on to our law enforcement partners and we're working it
          aggressively," she said.

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company




    Quit Smoking or Quit Your Job, U.S. Company Says

    Reuters | January 27, 2005

    CHICAGO (Reuters) - The owner of a Michigan company who forced his employees to either quit smoking or quit their jobs said on Wednesday he also wants to tell fat workers to lose weight or else.

    A ban on tobacco use -- whether at home or at the workplace -- led four employees to quit their jobs last week at Okemos, Michigan-based Weyco Inc., which handles insurance claims.

    The workers refused to take a mandatory urine test demanded of Weyco's 200 employees by founder and sole owner Howard Weyers, a demand that he said was perfectly legal.

    "If you don't want to take the test, you can leave," Weyers told Reuters. "I'm not controlling their lives; they have a choice whether they want to work here."

    Next on the firing line: overweight workers.

    "We have to work on eating habits and getting people to exercise. But if you're obese, you're (legally) protected," Weyers said.

    He has brought in an eating disorder therapist to speak to workers, provided eating coaches, created a point system for employees to earn health-related bonuses and plans to offer vouchers for health club memberships.

    The 71-year-old Weyers, who said he has never smoked and pronounced himself in good shape thanks to daily runs, said employees' health as well as saving money on the company's own insurance claims led him to first bar smokers from being hired in 2003.

    Last year, he banned smoking during office hours, then demanded smokers pay a monthly "assessment," and finally instituted mandatory testing.

    Twenty workers quit the habit.

    Weyers tells clients to quit whining about health care costs and to "set some expectations; demand some things."

    Job placement specialist John Challenger said Weyco's moves could set a precedent for larger companies -- if it survives potential legal challenges.

    "Certainly it raises an interesting boundary issue: rising health care costs and society's aversion to smoking versus privacy and freedom rights of an individual," Challenger said.

    So far no legal challenges have been made to Weyco's policies.



    Rice to be sworn in as secretary of state

    Cox News Service
    Thursday, January 27, 2005

    WASHINGTON Condoleezza Rice begins her new job Thursday as secretary of state, after critics of her role in the Iraq war mounted the strongest Senate opposition to a nominee for the job in 180 years.

    Rice was sworn in Wednesday night, hours after the Senate voted 85-13 to confirm her as the first African American woman ever to serve in the position first held by Thomas Jefferson.

    Her confirmation came over the objections of Democrats who assailed her role as an architect of the war in Iraq and the global anti-terrorism campaign during the four years she served as national security adviser to President Bush.

    Rice received more "no" votes in the Senate than any secretary of state nominee since Henry Clay drew 14 opponents in 1825, according to the office of the Senate Historian.

    The 12 Democrats and 1 independent who voted against Rice were the first senators of any party to vote against a secretary of state nominee since 1981, when 6 voted against President Ronald Reagan's choice, Alexander Haig.

    In a White House news conference, Bush defended Rice, an academic who has served as his foreign policy tutor and one of his most trusted confidantes since Bush first ran for the presidency in 1999.

    "Condi Rice is a fine, fine public servant, greatly admired here in America, and greatly admired around the world," said Bush.

    Rice takes office days before a critical moment for the administration's foreign policy: Sunday's national elections in Iraq, where 120,000U.S. soldiers are posted and more than 1,400 have died.

    Democrats used Senate hearings last week and floor debate on Tuesday to launch a critique of the war and the administration's handling of it, accusing Rice of misleading Americans over the threat Iraq posed in the run-up to war two years ago.

    Republicans countered that their opponents used the proceedings to wage a political proxy battle centered on Iraq, with Rice caught in the crossfire.

    "There was a certain amount of therapy going on," said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar, R-Ind. "It was a forum, once again, to vent the Iraq situation."

    Rice and others on the president's national security team joined Bush in making the case to the country that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction that posed a threat to the United States and its allies. No such weapons have been found.

    Rice, 50, takes over as the nation's top diplomat amid war in Iraq, fresh hopes for Middle East peace and a daunting array of challenges to American security and influence abroad.

    Among her first tasks: shoring up ties strained by the war with U.S. allies in Europe, in advance of Bush's February trip to Belgium, Germany and Slovakia.

    Rice is also expected to press to jump-start long-stalled Mideast peace talks.

    Senior Israeli and Palestinian officials met publicly Wednesday, ending a two-week suspension of high-level contacts.

    A senior U.S. envoy, Assistant Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, was in the region meeting with Palestinian and Israeli leaders. Burns told reporters in Jerusalem this is "a very promising moment" for re-starting peace talks between the long-warring parties.

    After her contentious battle for Senate confirmation, though, Rice may well find that diplomacy begins at home, where she struggles to build her own relationships on Capitol Hill.

    As national security adviser, a slot that doesn't require Senate confirmation and has no budget for Congress to control, Rice reported only to Bush. As a cabinet member, Lugar told reporters, she's directly accountable to Congress and the public it serves. During Bush's first term, Rice played a behind-the-scenes role, while cabinet members like Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld answered to Congress.

    "But now," said Lugar, "it is her."

    Bob Deans' e-mail address is bdeans(at)


    Cable news dismissed and ridiculed inauguration protesters

    During January 20 inauguration coverage, hosts and commentators on CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News ridiculed inauguration protesters; downplayed their numbers and significance; and implied that they posed a security threat.

    CNN host Wolf Blitzer seemed to ignore fellow host Judy Woodruff's point that parade watchers generally had to pay for seats (and therefore likely supported President Bush), asserting that in contrast with the protesters -- whom he called "angry, angry people" -- "there are a lot more people who have gathered along Pennsylvania Avenue who love this president."

    Later, Blitzer again downplayed the protesters' significance: "And we don't want to make too much of the protesters, because we don't know how many there were. Certainly, the nature of this business, the nature of television, we could over-exaggerate based on the images, and they might just be a tiny, tiny overall number." A January 21 New York Times article rebutted Blitzer's assessment, noting that the number of protesters in the protest-designated space alone was in the "thousands," and that there were also protesters interspersed with Bush supporters throughout the parade route: "The numbers of protesters along Pennsylvania Avenue might have been greater, but the swarm of people trying to pass through security checkpoints made it hard to reach the parade route quickly."

    As the Bushes' limousine passed the designated protester area, CNN guest and Harvard University historian Barbara Kellerman remarked: "I doubt very much they [the Bushes] are taking the protesters very seriously at this point. I think they are celebrating the moment. And I must say, who can blame them?"

    On FOX News, homeland defense correspondent Catherine Herridge also downplayed the number of protesters, stating that of those associated with the protest coalition Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) "only a few dozen people have shown up." But The New York Times reported that the ANSWER-led coalition "filled [the protest-designated space] with thousands of people who were as close to Mr. Bush as those who came to cheer him."

    HERRIDGE: This is the designated site for an anti-war group that's called ANSWER. That's an acronym for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. This has been billed as the largest demonstration. It's sort of early days, but you can see with your own eyes that only a few dozen people have shown up. ANSWER had told the park police they were expecting somewhere in the area of 10,000. While they're demonstrating against the administration's policies -- both domestic and foreign -- there are groups today that will be demonstrating in support of the president. The D.C. chapter of [conservative online forum] Free Republic will be here supporting the president and also our troops overseas, and they told the park police they were expecting somewhere around 1,000 people.

    Later, FOX News host, managing editor, and chief Washington correspondent Brit Hume, observing the presidential motorcade leaving the White House on its way to the Capitol, called the protesters not "very important":

    HUME: We'll keep an eye out as well for protesters along the way. They've been granted more access in some cases than is usual to the spots along Pennsylvania Avenue. So we'll keep an eye out for any of that. It isn't very important, but it's kind of interesting, and it's sort of typical of this country that you'd have this grand celebration of the second term of a new president, and dissenting voices have a spot in all of it.

    On CNN, national correspondent Bob Franken linked increased security to the protesters:

    Of course, the inauguration brings with it pageantry. But since September 11, 2001, it has met intense, unbelievable security and an angry nation. The protesters are set up in various spots. One of the authorized ones is right in back of me. ... The police forces are probably going to outnumber the demonstrators. They are part of a security effort -- most of which we're seeing, highly visible, some of which we're not -- which is designed to allow this to be a national security event that becomes a celebration, as opposed to something that would be unthinkable.

    On MSNBC, Washington Times editorial page editor Tony Blankley ridiculed animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), calling them, "People Eating Tasty Animals." Blankley's comment came as he, MSNBC host Chris Matthews, and MSNBC contributor and analyst Monica Crowley discussed the fur coats some wore to inaugural events:

    MATTHEWS: I guess there's no -- what do they call it, PETA? -- they're not around.

    CROWLEY: And I like all the fur-lined Stetsons.

    BLANKLEY: PETA, isn't that People Eating Tasty Animals?

    MATTHEWS: I don't think so at all. I'd be very careful, Tony.


    Posted to the web on Friday January 21, 2005 at 4:01 PM EST



    Bush's 2nd Corronation



    Merck in hot seat over latest Vioxx report
    Scientists say company tried to distance itself from own study

    The Associated Press
    Updated: 8:14 p.m. ET Jan. 24, 2005

    Merck & Co. forced one of its researchers to remove her name from a study linking Vioxx to heart attacks, then criticized the findings before ultimately pulling the arthritis drug from the market last fall, two of the scientist’s colleagues said.

    “Even after funding and agreeing with the design of the study, Merck publicly discredited our findings,” Drs. Daniel Solomon and Jerry Avorn of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital wrote in this week’s Archives of Internal Medicine.

    Merck spokeswoman Anita Larsen confirmed the company’s action, saying Merck believed the study’s conclusions “were not supported by the data.” The incident came about six months before another study prompted the drugmaker to withdraw Vioxx.

    The journal contains several studies about Vioxx and Celebrex, the once popular and heavily promoted painkillers advertised as stomach-friendly alternatives to aspirin. They are under congressional and regulatory scrutiny.

    One new report echoes previous data suggesting that in some older patients the drugs might not offer as much protection as thought against gastrointestinal problems. A separate study suggests they have been over-prescribed, frequently to patients at low risk for GI problems. And other research supports evidence that Vioxx increases some patients’ blood pressure.

    Vioxx was withdrawn Sept. 30 because of a study suggesting it doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke. Celebrex maker Pfizer Inc. halted its ads last month after a study linked high doses with increased heart and stroke risks.

    Both drugs are in a class called Cox-2 inhibitors. The Archives reports, published Monday, come just weeks before a Feb. 16-18 Food and Drug Administration meeting on the safety of all Cox-2 drugs. Also Monday, the watchdog group Public Citizen petitioned the FDA to immediately remove from the market Celebrex and a related drug, Bextra, because of the potential heart risks.

    Merck suppressed risks, critics say
    Critics contend Merck attempted for years to suppress Vioxx risks found in numerous studies. The company maintains it has acted responsibly.

    The author-removal incident, mentioned in previous news reports, involved a Merck study of more than 50,000 patients age 65 and older taking Vioxx, Celebrex, traditional painkillers or none of the drugs. The results, published last year in the journal Circulation, showed Vioxx patients faced a higher heart attack risk than the other groups.

    When the results came in, “Merck required a co-author who was an employee of the company to remove her name from the article immediately prior to publication,” Solomon and Avorn said in an Archives editorial.

    Solomon identified the co-author as Merck epidemiologist Carolyn Cannuscio. She did not respond to e-mail and telephone requests for comment.

    Larsen said publication policies at Circulation and Merck allowed the drugmaker to remove the employee’s name “if the authors draw conclusions that are not supported by the data.” She said Cannuscio agreed with Merck’s decision.

    New study links drug to heart dangers
    Meanwhile, the British medical journal is releasing a study on the heart dangers of Vioxx after withholding the report because the researcher said he had been threatened by his superiors at the FDA.

    The study links Vioxx to between 88,000 and 140,000 excess cases of heart disease in the United States  a conclusion that has previously been disclosed.

    Dr. David Graham, who works in the FDA’s office of drug safety, claimed he was threatened with dismissal and said he asked the Lancet to withdraw the paper from publication in November. Earlier this month, the FDA agreed the study could be published.





    P&G will buy Gillette

    In a billion stock deal that will marry two consumer-product global giants, Procter & Gamble (PG) announced late Thursday that it will buy Gillette (G) in its largest-ever acquisition.

    The merger, which must still be approved by regulators and shareholders, would create a company with revenue of more than billion that would have even greater clout against mass-market retailers like Wal-Mart Stores, which have been pressuring consumer product suppliers to keep costs low.

    Both companies' boards unanimously approved the deal.

    P&G Chairman and CEO A.G. Lafley flew to New York to discuss the deal with Wall Street analysts Friday, along with Gillette CEO Jim Kilts.

    They said the combination would bring together the marketing and distribution strengths of P&G, whose products are marketed largely to women, with Gillette's high-profit brands like razors, which are marketed to mainly men.

    As part of the cost-cutting that would follow the deal, executives said the merger would result in the elimination of about 6,000 jobs, or 4% of the combined work force of about 140,000.

    "We believe we can bring txese companies together and create a juggernaut," Gillette's Kilts said at the presentation. Kilts will become vice chairman of P&G and join its board.

    The combined company will be headed by Lafley and stay in Cincinnati, where P&G employs more than 10,000 people.

    Kilts, who has agreed to stay on for at least a year to lead the integration of the two companies, said the combination would give Gillette opportunities to sell its products in developing markets including China and East Europe.

    "I'm a great believer in scale," Kilts said. He said he would rather lead a consolidation in consumer products makers than "get stuck with the leftovers."

    The deal will add Gillette razors, Duracell batteries, Oral-B toothbrushes and Right Guard deodorant to P&G's current roster, which includes such consumer icons as Tide detergent, Crest toothpaste and Pampers diapers.


    Note from Webmaster;

    Gillette snaps your photo!?! Hidden cameras in GILLETTE spy shelves take mug shots of people who pick up their products! Consumers have asked Gillette to stop putting RFID "spy chips" in their products, but Gillette has ignored our concerns. Don't let Gillette spy on YOU next!



    Jan 2005

    AG-nominee Backs Semi-auto Ban
    -- Gonzales tells Senate he supports gun control

    Gun Owners of America
    8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102
    Springfield, VA 22151

    January 25, 2005 Testifying before the U.S. Senate last week, Alberto Gonzales announced he supports President Bush's position on the semi-auto ban. "The president has made it clear that he stands ready to sign a reauthorization of the federal assault weapons ban if it is sent to him by Congress," Gonzales said. "I, of course, support the president on this issue." While some might be tempted to give Gonzales a "pass" since he was parroting his boss' position, Gonzales went even further, indicating that gun control was a heart-felt position of his own. He spoke of his brother, who is a Houston SWAT officer, and said, "I worry about his safety and the types of weapons he will confront on the street." Hence, he supports a prohibition on semi-automatics that, in truth, only amounts to a ban on ugly guns. GOA activists are certainly aware of the fact that President Bush has repeatedly trumpeted his support for the Clinton semi-auto ban which expired last September. But every time Bush has opened his mouth on this issue, GOA activists have led the way in bombarding the White House. And that is why it is VERY important that gun rights supporters take the President to the "political woodshed" once again. No, we probably won't change his mind on this issue. But if we barrage his office with phone calls, faxes and e-mails, it is very possible that we will increase his reluctance to push the ban. Most likely, our stiff opposition in the past has already accomplished this. A frequent complaint during the campaign last year was that Bush was doing very little to press Congressional Republicans to send him gun ban legislation. Remember the third presidential debate last year? Bush was asked, "You said if Congress would vote to extend the ban on assault weapons, that you'd sign the legislation, but you did nothing to encourage Congress to extend it." Yes, maybe Bush was trying to have it both ways. But your outspoken opposition to the ban has certainly not hurt our efforts to restrain the President from pushing it. So please make sure you contact President Bush. While some might think that an anti-gun Attorney General is limited in the amount of damage he can inflict upon the Second Amendment, we can be sure that his position on critical court cases could affect our gun rights for generations to come. Remember that it was former Attorney General, John Ashcroft, who opposed us on the important Emerson case that came before the Supreme Court not too long ago. A Fifth Circuit District Court had initially ruled in favor of Second Amendment rights, arguing that a federal gun statute was unconstitutional -- the law disarmed citizens who were not guilty of any crime or had not been convicted by any jury. After the Appeals Court reversed the decision, Dr. Emerson appealed to the Supreme Court. While the Supremes refused to hear the case, gun owners did not fail notice that General Ashcroft was in full support of how the Emerson case was ultimately decided -- thus, putting him in total support of the federal gun restrictions. Not only that, but the Ashcroft-led Justice Department also opposed gun owners in the Silveira semi-auto ban case and the Lamar Bean case. All of this to say, it is imperative that we speak out once again -- if for no other reason than to remind President Bush there are millions of gun owners that he, and his party, cannot afford to take for granted. ACTION: Please contact President Bush and express your outrage that he would nominate an Attorney General who supports a federal ban on semi-automatic firearms. You can visit the Gun Owners Legislative Action Center at to send a pre-written e-mail message to President Bush. To call or snail mail the President regarding the semi-auto ban, you can use the following contact info: President George Bush
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20500
    Fax: 202-456-2461 or 202-456-1907
    Phone: 202-456-1414

    ----- Pre-written letter -----

    Dear President Bush: I am very disappointed that you would nominate an anti-gun Attorney General such as Alberto Gonzales. He supports the Clinton ban on semi-automatic firearms, and I think that's a travesty. Please realize that you were reelected President, in large part, because gun owners opposed the cockeyed positions of your opponent. I would expect to see a bigger difference between the two of you when it comes to Second Amendment issues. In the future, I hope you will use the Second Amendment as a litmus test in nominating candidates who oppose gun control when filling important administrative and judicial positions. Thank you. Sincerely,


    Help Defend the Second Amendment Every Time You Place a Long Distance Call Gun Owners of America is in Washington fighting for the Bill of Rights and your Second Amendment freedoms every day. And you can help GOA every day as well -- or at least as often as you make a long distance phone call. GOA has partnered with LifeLine -- a conservative, pro-gun long distance provider that gives 10% of your monthly long distance bill to GOA. LifeLine is NOT affiliated with any anti-gun telephone companies such as MCI, Sprint or AT&T -- all companies which support anti-gun candidates. LifeLine's newest 2.9 cent Savings Plan offers you the lowest long-distance rate available that directly supports the organization of your choice. For only .95 per month, you can get up to 500 minutes of long-distance at one of the lowest rates available today. And for as little as .95 per month, LifeLine Unlimited gives you the freedom to call virtually anyone in the USA, at any time, without ever watching the clock! Plus, get local phone service and all of your favorite calling features; all on one bill, and all for one low price per month.

    You can help yourself and help GOA by using LifeLine. Call their toll free number and find out which plan will work best for you. That number is 1-800-800-7550. Or, go to to sign up via the web.



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