Saturday, April 22, 2006

Tony Blair in a "Telegraph" interview

Said: " I keep saying to people: one of the greatest failures of progressive politics in my lifetime has been that, in the anti-American parts of the progressive Left, we have ended up on the wrong side with someone as evil as Saddam. Even now, when we have been there with a UN resolution, we are on the wrong side of the battle between terrorism and democracy. I can't understand how progressive people can be on the wrong side of that argument.

"It's not, unfortunately, as simple as saying, 'Deal with Afghanistan and leave Iraq for a bit.' You've got to deal with the whole element. That's why, when I spoke to the American Congress [July 2003], I tried to outline an agenda that would encompass Afghanistan, Iraq, the spread of democracy across the Middle East, the resolution of the Israeli-Palestine problem. All of these things are major factors. But the one thing I know for sure is, we are never going to get anywhere by showing weakness. You can see this in respect of Iran now, where I think it is very important that the world gives a strong signal. This is why, in respect of Afghanistan, it was never going to be over in two or three years. But what is the alternative? To let al-Qaeda be and continue to inflict misery on the people. I have never found it very difficult to justify removing the Taliban."

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

NYT front page
Protests Mount as Nepal Parties Reject King's Bid
Protests Mount as Nepal Parties Reject King's Bid

Neither curfew, tear gas, nor King Gyanendra's offer to give up control of the country could stem the fury of his subjects on Saturday.

Young Officers Join the Debate Over Rumsfeld
Young Officers Join the Debate Over Rumsfeld

The revolt by retired generals who publicly criticized Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has opened a debate among younger officers.

Katrina's Tide Carries Many to Hopeful Shores

The exodus of residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina has brought low-income families to areas richer in opportunity.

Colleagues Say C.I.A. Analyst Played by the Rules

Mary O. McCarthy had an independent streak, but her colleagues said they cannot imagine her as a leaker.

How a Billionaire Friend of Bill Helps Him Do Good, and Well

Bill Clinton champions a private equity firm run by Ronald W. Burkle that invests in poor areas.

Big Race
Senate Campaign Tests Democrats' Abortion Tack

Democrats in Pennsylvania are trying to find a common ground between supporters and opponents of abortion.

WaPo Front Page
U.S. Outlines New Plans For Fighting Terrorism
Considered Pentagon's top priority, 3 documents envision expanded Special Operations role outside war zones, according to defense officals.
Ann Scott Tyson
Iraqis Choose Premier | Rice Lauds Progress
Mortar Rounds Kill 6 Near Green Zone

Job Made Leaks More Delicate
Fired CIA officer Mary McCarthy's disclosures "were more serious than other leaks," agency says.
R. Jeffrey Smith and Dafna Linzer

Devices May Free Diabetics
Researchers hope that glucose monitors will replace hated finger lances as more comfortable and convenient means of testing blood sugar levels. –Justin Gillis

China, Vatican Near Accord
Catholic Church shows signs of breaking with Taiwan, entering diplomatic relations with Beijing.
Edward Cody

Democrats Focus on November
Despite strong sentiment for change, many party leaders see it as only one part of winning strategy.

Oil Econ 101

With people blaming Bush for high gas prices, now is a good time to review Arnold Kling's essay:

"My instinct is to oppose any policy initiative that is touted to fight child pornography or the drug menace. It's not that I'm in favor of child porn or drug abuse. However, I am conditioned by experience to expect proposals supposedly aimed at those problems to turn out to be ineffectual while threatening damage to the Internet and/or the Constitution. But the worst refuge of scoundrels, in my opinion, is the line that "we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil in order to fight terrorism." When I hear that, my baloney-sandwich detector really starts vibrating. I am ready to reject whatever is on offer, whether it be oil drilling in Alaska, regulations on SUV's, or some new synthetic fuels program. Oil Is Oil I teach economics in high school. Here is a good question for an introductory course:

If the United States currently satisfies 10 percent of its demand for oil with imports from Saudi Arabia, by what percentage must the U.S. reduce its consumption in order to be 100 percent independent of Saudi oil?

If you answer "10 percent," you get an F. If we reduce oil consumption by 10 percent, then we will not cut 100 percent of our imports from Saudi Arabia. We cannot arrange to consume only American oil and no Saudi oil. Oil is oil. If we reduce demand by 10 percent, we probably will reduce our demand for Saudi oil by 10 percent, not by 100 percent." Read it all

The Secret War against President Bush

John Gibson on the CIA firing:

What is really going on here is the secret war by CIA-types against President Bush and his policies. This is the group inside the CIA — think Valerie Plame — who think their opinions and analysis of the world should trump whatever it is the president thinks. If the president goes against their opinion, they call The New York Times and start leaking embarrassing stuff.

It's a war against Bush, waged by Americans.

It's wrong, it's illegal and people are going to start going to jail. That's good.

Next up? Whoever was leaking to James Risen of The New York Times.

His story about the secret NSA wiretapping program probably did damage to national security, because it may have tipped off Al Qaeda that we could listen to their cell phone conversations to people inside this country.

Now that the secret prisons leaker is out of the way, the counter-leaking team over at the CIA can concentrate on Risen's leaker. With any luck, we will soon hear the sound of the jail house door slamming... again.
The Leaker

"In From the Cold" blog tells us:

Ms. McCarthy had been an agency employee for 22 years at the time of her dismissal. She had strong ties to the Clinton Administration; disgraced former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger (of "Secrets Down My Pants" fame) engineered her appointment as Special Assistant to the President for Intelligence Programs in 1998. Before that, she held a similar post at the National Intelligence Council (NIC), and previously served as National Intelligence Officer (NIO) for Warning (1994-1996), and the Deputy NIO for Warning (1991-1994).

Equally interesting is her meteoric rise within the intelligence community. According to her bio, she joined the CIA as an analyst in 1984. Within seven years, she had rise to a Deputy NIO position, and reached full NIO status by 1994. To reach that level, she literally catapulted over dozens of more senior officers--and I'm guessing that her political connections didn't hurt. By comparison, I know a current NIO, with a resume and academic credentials more impressive than Ms. McCarthy's, who reached the position after more than 20 years of extraordinarily distinguished service. McCarthy's rapid advancement speaks volumes about how the Clinton Administration did business, and sheds new light on the intelligence failures that set the stage for 9-11. We can only wonder how many other political hacks climbed the intel food chain under Clinton--and remain in place to this day.

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

NYT front page
Shiites Settle on Pick for Iraqi Premier

The decision to nominate Jawad al-Maliki, a hard-line Shiite leader, could resolve Iraq's political deadlock.

C.I.A. Fires Senior Officer Over Leaks

Several officials said Mary O. McCarthy disclosed classified information on secret prisons to the Washington Post.

In Old Mining Town, New Charges Over Asbestos
In Old Mining Town, New Charges Over Asbestos

A clinic for asbestos victims says a company tied to the cases is trying to close them down before a major trial.

Gas Guzzlers Find Price of Forgiveness
Gas Guzzlers Find Price of Forgiveness

Groups on the Internet offer pain-free ways to assuage their guilt while promoting clean energy.

Mystery and Unease as New Orleans Is Set to Vote

Uptown, downtown, in black and white neighborhoods, residents say they will never cast a more significant vote.

For $2.4 Million, 7 Racing Yachts Get Parking Spot

A marina in Battery Park City is being quickly dredged to create a pitstop in a race around the world.

Embattled King of Nepal Offers Gesture to Protesters
Embattled King of Nepal Offers Gesture to Protesters

Nepal's King Gyanendra said that he would turn over the reins of government to a prime minister chosen by the country's principal political parties.

Abbas and Hamas Clash Over Militant in Security Post
A Penny for Your Thoughts, and 1.4 Cents for the Penny
Gas Shortages Could Pose Problem for Drivers on East Coast

WaPo Front Page
Top Shiites Nominate a Prime Minister for Iraq
Dominant coalition selects Jawad al-Maliki, putting him on course to lead Iraq's first long-term government since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Nelson Hernandez and K.I. Ibrahim

Mollohan Exits Ethics Panel
Democrat cedes post amid accusations he funneled money to his own home-state foundations.
Jonathan Weisman
• The Fix: Mollohan Steps Down From Ethics Post

CIA Fires Employee Over Leak
Officer disclosed classified data to news media, including intelligence details, CIA spokesman says.

Friday, April 21, 2006

A View from the Eye of the Storm

The Arab who wrote this is Haim Harari, Chair, Davidson Institute of Science Education. This organization has a website and is headquartered in Israel

The root of the trouble is that this entire Moslem region is totally dysfunctional, by any standard of the word, and would have been so even if Israel had joined the Arab league and an independent Palestine had existed for 100 years.

The 22 member countries of the Arab league, from Mauritania to the Gulf States, have a total population of 300 million, larger than the US and almost as large as the EU before its expansion. They have a land area larger than either the US or all of Europe. These 22 countries, with all their oil and natural resources, have a combined GDP smaller than that of Netherlands plus Belgium and equal to half of the GDP of California alone. Within this meager GDP, the gaps between rich and poor are beyond belief and too many of the rich made their money not by succeeding in business, but by being corrupt rulers.

The social status of women is far below what it was in the Western World 150 years ago. Human rights are below any reasonable standard, in spite of the grotesque fact that Libya was elected Chair of the UN Human Rights commission.

According to a report prepared by a committee of Arab intellectuals and published under the auspices of the U.N., the number of books translated by the entire Arab world is much smaller than what little Greece alone translates.

Birth rates in the region are very high, increasing the poverty, the social gaps and the cultural decline. And all of this is happening in a region, which only 30 years ago, was believed to be the next wealthy part of the world, and in a Moslem area, which developed, at some point in history, one of the most advanced cultures in the world.

It is fair to say that this creates an unprecedented breeding ground for cruel dictators, terror networks, fanaticism, incitement, suicide murders and general decline. It is also a fact that almost everybody in the region blames this situation on the United States, on Israel, on Western Civilization, on Judaism and Christianity, on anyone and anything, except themselves.

A word about the millions of decent, honest, good people who are either devout Moslems or are not very religious but grew up in Moslem families:

They are double victims of an outside world, which now develops Islamophobia and of their own environment, which breaks their heart by being totally dysfunctional. The problem is that the vast silent majority of these Moslems are not part of the terror and of the incitement, but they also do not stand up against it. They become accomplices, by omission, and this applies to political leaders, intellectuals, business people and many others. Many of them can certainly tell right from wrong, but are afraid to express their views.
Read it all

Predator Educates Global Hawk

Defense Tech Says:

Every Army battalion commander, Air Force targeting cell and special operations team in Iraq wants access to a Predator drone at all times. The demand for these versatile little birds has skyrocketed in recent years. To meet the demand, General Atomics is rolling Predators off the production line as fast as it can. But there's a mismatch on the Air Force side of things. The Predator squadrons have suffered chronic manpower shortages, meaning they've got the birds, but no one to fly them.

rq1.jpgIt's a matter of planning. The Air Force didn't foresee just how popular Predator would be, so it didn't lay the groundwork for a rapid expansion of Predator infrastructure. Now the service is playing catch-up, struggling to meet warfighter's requirements for on-station Predators while training up new operators and forming new squadrons to fly factory-fresh aircraft. It's a huge mess.


It helps that the Global Hawk community has fewer aircraft and needs fewer operators. Still, Jella explains, proper planning is vital when you're standing up any new system: "We said several years ago, this system is coming, it's got a lot of steam behind it. I can see where the production line drops airplanes. I said we need to get ahead of this. So I started hiring folks two years ago and bringing them here."

Predator and Global Hawk promise to greatly improve the U.S. military's ability to get intel into the right hands at the right time -- but only if the Air Force can keep operators in seats and birds in the air. The service has plans to iron out Predator's problems, according to Pentagon spokespeople. The plan seems to include throwing a lot of money at the problem. For the sakes of all those battalion commanders and their soldiers on the ground in Iraq, I hope it works.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Fired CIA officer reportedly gave information to WP's Priest

By (Jim Romenesko)

Read the article

NBC News
The officer failed a polygraph exam before being fired on Wednesday and is now under investigation by the Justice Department. Robert Windrem and Andrea Mitchell report he allegedly gave information about the CIA's secret prisons to Washington Post reporter Dana Priest (left). She said she couldn't comment on the firing, which she learned about from NBC News.

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

The NYT front page
Shiite Drops Bid to Keep His Post as Iraqi Premier
Shiite Drops Bid to Keep His Post as Iraqi Premier

The move by Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, made under intense pressure, could help break a political deadlock.

F.D.A. Dismisses Medical Benefit From Marijuana

The agency's declaration that "no sound scientific studies" support the drug's medical use contradicted a review by government scientists.

Democrats Eager to Exploit Anger Over Gas Prices
Democrats Eager to Exploit Anger Over Gas Prices

Democratic candidates see gasoline as a metaphor for economic anxiety, while Republicans hope to highlight the economy's growth.

Bush and Hu Vow New Cooperation
Bush and Hu Vow New Cooperation

President Bush and China's president, Hu Jintao, made some progress on nuclear proliferation and trade imbalances, but broke no new ground on the most delicate issues that divide the two nations.

Standoff Over Property Taxes Threatens Band of Polygamists
Standoff Over Property Taxes Threatens Band of Polygamists

A Utah church that has long paid property taxes for its members is now in chaos, but its adherents refuse to acknowledge individual bills.

WaPo Front Page

Bush and Hu Produce a Summit of Symbols
President presses Chinese leader to open markets and do more to curb nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea, but comes away with no agreements.
Peter Baker and Glenn Kessler
Analysis: U.S., China Together but Not Equal
Sketch: Greeted by a Host of Indignities
VIDEO: Hu Visits Washington | PHOTO GALLERY

Pinning Blame for Gas Prices
Firms cite supply issues and deny gouging as drivers face ever higher prices at the pump.
Steven Mufson

A Teen's Passions, Writ Small
You want to know the essential truth of teenagers? Check out the photos, inscriptions and jewels on their dog tags. –Ian Shapira

Iran's Youth Seek Opportunity
While the world focuses on its nuclear ambitions, the nation's young people see theirs denied.

Andrew McCarthy on the Pulitzers

These awards unmistakably announce that organized journalism, a.k.a. the mainstream media, is embarked on its own version of the al-Arian defense for Dana Priest, James Risen, and Eric Lichtblau. These are the reporters who, along with their powerful newspapers (respectively, the Washington Post and the New York Times), took it upon themselves to decide what national-security secrets were not important enough to keep confidential in wartime — notwithstanding that those secrets (viz., how our intelligence community houses high-level al Qaeda detainees and how it searches for potential terrorists operating within the U.S.) are designed to keep Americans from getting killed by the enemy.

Sami Al-Arian, who finally pled guilty to supporting terrorism and will be deported, proved very hard to convict (indeed, for years he was essentially impossible to indict) in large measure because he ingratiated himself with powerful government officials throughout the 1990s. Down the road, predictably, his defense — regardless of what the evidence showed about his ties to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a barbaric terror organization — was: How bad a guy can he really be if he has access to high-level political actors who certainly don't seem to be treating him like a terrorist?

With these Pulitzers, organized journalism is inoculating its operatives the same way: How can this reporting, which reveals national-defense secrets critical to wartime intelligence gathering, be deemed treasonous or otherwise against the public interest? After all, pillars of journalism like the elite writers, editors, and academics on the Pulitzer committee have recognized it with these coveted awards? This ups the ante to a degree commensurate with the prestige of the award.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

The NYT Front Page
Rove Is Giving Up Daily Policy Post to Focus on Vote
Rove Is Giving Up Daily Policy Post to Focus on Vote

White House adviser Karl Rove's role shrank for the first time, and spokesman Scott McClellan said he was stepping down.

Storm Evacuees Are Straining Texas Hosts
Storm Evacuees Are Straining Texas Hosts

The state may be nearing the end of its ability to play good neighbor without compensation.

Tram Rescuers Rigged 2 Untested Ways Out
Tram Rescuers Rigged 2 Untested Ways Out

The rescue aboard a New York tram raised questions about emergency planning and the tram system itself.

In New Job, Spymaster Draws Bipartisan Criticism

Two top lawmakers fear that John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, is just another blanket of bureaucracy.

For Berlusconi, Defeat Isn't End of the Campaign
For Berlusconi, Defeat Isn't End of the Campaign

Italy's highest court upheld Silvio Berlusconi's defeat in last week's elections, but he is not yet conceding defeat.

Learning to Savor a Full Life, Love Life Included
Learning to Savor a Full Life, Love Life Included

A new movement promotes healthy sexuality for people with mental retardation and related disabilities.

The WaPo Front Page
White House Signals a Shift Into Survival Mode
Chief of staff seeks to revitalize presidency quickly enough to avoid crippling GOP losses in Nov. that could thrust Bush into instant lame-duck status.
Dan Balz
Rove Gives Up Policy Post in Latest Shake-Up
McClellan Stepping Down | PHOTOS | VIDEO
• Washington Sketch: Plenty of Embarrassment

War Bill Grows With Extra Costs
Senate set to debate annual defense expenditures as military fights to fix or replace guns and tanks.

From the 9th Circuit? Amazing!

Appeals court denies rehearing on terror indictments
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO - Seven Los Angeles area residents indicted on accusations of raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for a terror organization lost a federal court challenge in a bid to prove their innocence.

The seven wanted to challenge a determination by the State Department that a group they funded was a terror organization.

The seven allegedly provided money to the Mujahedin-e Khalq, which "participated in various terrorist activities against the Iranian regime" and "carried out terrorist activities with the support of Saddam Hussein's regime," according to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The San Francisco-based appeals court in 2004 first ruled against the seven and on Monday let the decision stand without a rehearing.

A 1996 law makes it illegal to give money to organizations the State Department has linked to terrorism. Rarely used before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the law has since been used to win terror convictions.

The defendants claimed the law violated their First Amendment right to contribute money to groups they claim are not terror organizations, and they argued they should be allowed to prove the groups did not belong on the State Department's list.

In 2002, U.S. District Judge Robert Takasugi invalidated the law, saying it did not provide the groups a proper forum to contest their terror designations.

On Monday, the 9th Circuit said those accused of supporting the listed groups cannot challenge the list. Lawyers for those indicted asked the appeals court to review the 2004 decision with a panel of 15 judges, which the San Francisco-based appeals court declined.

Country boy

Nina Burleigh wrote this piece for "Salon." She is famous as the woman who announced that she "would be happy to give him a blowjob just to thank him for keeping abortion legal. I think American women should be lining up with their presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs." She obviously has no idea what it reveals about herself. Some excerpts:

"After growing accustomed to the French social system -- with its cheap medicine, generous welfare, short workweek and plentiful child care -- life back in depressed upstate New York felt especially harsh. We'd never planned to get involved in the life of the town, nor had it ever occurred to us that we might send our son to the Narrowsburg School. But suddenly we were upstate locals, with a real stake in the community."

"I cringed as my young son recited the Pledge of Allegiance. But who was I to question his innocent trust in a nation I long ago lost faith in?"

"Still, for the first few months, we felt uneasy. Eighty of Narrowsburg's 319 adults are military veterans and at least 10 recent school graduates are serving in Iraq or on other bases overseas right now. The school's defining philosophy was traditional and conservative, starting with a sit-down-in-your-seat brand of discipline, leavened with a rafter-shaking reverence for country and flag. Every day the students gathered in the gym for the "Morning Program," open to parents, which began with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a patriotic song, and then discussion of a "word of the week." During the first few weeks, the words of the week seemed suspiciously tied to a certain political persuasion: "Military," "tour," "nation" and "alliance" were among them."

"....In simple language, I told my son that our president had started a war with a country called Iraq. I said that we were bombing cities and destroying buildings. And I explained that families just like ours now had no money or food because their parents didn't have offices to go to anymore or bosses to pay them. "America did this?" my son asked, incredulous. "Yes, America," I answered. He paused, a long silent pause, then burst out: "But Mommy, I love America! I want to hug America!""

"....Our son is enrolled in a well-rated K-5 public school on Manhattan's Upper West Side; not surprisingly, the Pledge of Allegiance is no longer part of his morning routine. Come to think of it, and I could be wrong, I've never seen a flag on the premises."

"...How soon childish national pride is shed, I sometimes think now, and not a little wistfully. Only once it was gone did I realize that, after our initial discomfort, my husband and I had begun to see our son's patriotism as a badge of innocence. His faith was a reminder to us that the reason we are devastated by the war in Iraq and the Bush presidency is that we too love America."

Moving to the Right

Howard Kurtz tell us that Brit Hume's Path Took Him From Liberal Outsider to The Low-Key Voice of Conservatism on Fox News. A large excerpt:

As a senior Fox News executive and anchor who landed the only interview with Vice President Cheney after his hunting accident, Hume has traveled light-years since his early days as a dogged investigator. He has made the transition from newspaper reporter to television star, from outside critic to charter member of the Washington establishment, from garden-variety liberal to committed conservative. He has become an acerbic critic of his chosen profession. And he has endured a family tragedy that changed his outlook on life.

There is a formal bearing about Hume that transcends his suspenders and American flag lapel pin. He speaks deliberately, unhurriedly, making his points with logic rather than passion. On a network filled with flamboyant personalities, he gave his nightly program the bland title "Special Report."

"I was trying to develop a show that wasn't about me," says Hume, 62.

Fred Barnes, an old friend and regular panelist on "Special Report," says Hume has essentially rejected the Beltway social scene.

"He doesn't go to the Kennedy Center," Barnes says. "He doesn't want to have dinner with Cabinet members or hang around with other people in the press. It's not normal for a person at the top of the heap in Washington."

Despite an aura of self-confidence bordering on cockiness, Hume shies away from self-promotion. The day that he scooped the world with Cheney's first account of his accidental shooting of a hunting companion, the former ABC newsman declined an invitation from "Good Morning America," saying he had time only to appear on Fox's morning show.

Cheney's choice of Hume was widely mocked, although most journalists acknowledged that the interview, while polite, was thorough. Hume, like his network, has clearly become a lightning rod in a polarized media environment. Hume is almost evangelical in his belief that he is fair and balanced while most of the media are not, an argument challenged by several studies showing that his program leans to the right.

Hume is no partisan brawler in the mold of some of Fox's high-decibel hosts. By virtue of his investigative background, his understated style and his management role, he represents a hybrid strain: conservatives who believe in news, not bloviation, but news that passes through a different lens, filtered through a different set of assumptions.

On April 6, when every network newscast led with the revelation that President Bush had authorized former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to leak classified information about Iraq, Hume began his program with an apology by Democratic Rep. Cynthia McKinney for a physical altercation with a Capitol police officer a week earlier. Bush and the CIA leak was Hume's third story.

"Sure, I'm a conservative, no doubt about it," Hume says. "But I would ask people to look at the work." He does not accuse his fellow journalists of pursuing a partisan agenda, saying their bias is "unconscious."

Hume and his wife, Kim, abandon Washington every Thursday night for their country home in Fauquier County -- in the tiny town of Hume, Va., named for one of his relatives in a clan that emigrated from Scotland in 1721. But that doesn't mean Hume is unmindful of his standing in the capital.

"One of the things he needs is to be respected and thought of as somebody who matters in the world, and he's very upfront about that," says Kim Hume, who is Fox's Washington bureau chief. "But he is not egocentric in the normal sense of what you think of a TV anchorman."

A Move to Television

Hume's first job was not what you would call glamorous.

It was 1965, and he had married his first wife, Clare Stoner, in his senior year at the University of Virginia, where by his own account he barely managed to graduate. The son of a Washington manufacturing rep who marketed his own inventions, including a bird feeder, Hume had attended St. Albans but had no great media contacts. So when an employment agency landed him a $5,000-a-year job as a reporter for the Hartford Times in Connecticut, Hume grabbed it.

Hume fell in love with the paper, which has since folded, and then jumped to United Press International. A year later he joined the Baltimore Evening Sun, which led to a fellowship at the Washington Journalism Center, where he was befriended by Ralph Nader. The consumer advocate suggested that he dig into corruption at the United Mine Workers and even put Hume in touch with his publisher. The book research led to an article in the Atlantic, and that, in turn, persuaded Anderson to hire the young reporter.

"I was in hog heaven," Hume says.

Hume loved working for Anderson and came up with a huge scoop. Anderson had obtained a memo from an ITT Corp. lobbyist that linked a $400,000 contribution to the Republican National Convention with the Nixon Justice Department's settlement of a major antitrust suit against the corporation. Hume confirmed the story with the lobbyist, Dita Beard, and wound up testifying on the Hill amid a tidal wave of publicity. Attorney General Richard Kleindienst later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for failing to tell a Senate hearing that President Nixon had told him to settle the ITT suit.

After Anderson had to retract a 1972 charge that Democratic vice presidential nominee Thomas Eagleton had been arrested for drunken driving, Hume concluded that his boss's credibility had been tarnished and resigned. But he was thrown together with Anderson again when a former general counsel for the mining union sued for libel over a column based on information from a confidential source.

"I was so worried about this," says Hume, who admits that part of the story was wrong. "It hung over me for six years." The case took a crucial turn when his lawyer persuaded the source -- the daughter-in-law of a senior union official -- to testify. A federal jury acquitted Hume and Anderson in 1975.

By then Hume had become a consultant to ABC News, and the following year he was offered a correspondent's job. Hume says he was "terrible," often standing with his head cocked to one side or looking stiff and unnatural, and that "it was humiliating." But eventually he learned the craft and covered the House for 11 years. Hume became more conservative as he saw how much money Congress wasted, and found the coverage of President Reagan "so biased," including the use of the derisive term "trickle-down economics."

When he was assigned to cover Walter Mondale's campaign to unseat Reagan in 1984, Hume says that "personally, I didn't want Mondale to win the election. But I admired him and liked him and felt it was my job to give him a fair shake." Hume was "a real favorite of Mondale's," says Joe Lockhart, who worked on that campaign. In 1988, however, Michael Dukakis's campaign complained to ABC that Hume's coverage of Vice President Bush was much softer than the network's reporting on the Democratic nominee.

After moving up to the White House beat in 1989, Hume occasionally got into arguments with anchor Peter Jennings over how stories should be handled.

"He and Peter had some clashes over coverage of the White House," says Charlie Gibson, who worked closely with Hume before becoming a co-host of "Good Morning America." "I saw Brit make arguments to Peter when he felt Peter was taking a position that was left of center, or wrong."

Hume says he came to feel "out of step with ABC News's natural tendencies." He recalls challenging an assignment about how the first President Bush "isn't doing anything" by saying: "Has it ever occurred to you that this guy's a Republican and Republicans don't believe that government is the solution to all the country's problems?"

When Bill Clinton took office, Hume found him "the most charming man I ever met." But on June 14, 1993, he felt the new president's wrath.

Clinton had just introduced Ruth Bader Ginsburg as his Supreme Court nominee, and Hume told the president that his consideration of other candidates and withdrawal of another nominee "may have created an impression, perhaps unfair, of a certain zigzag quality in the decision-making process here. I wonder, sir, if you could kind of walk us through it and perhaps disabuse us of any notion we might have along those lines. Thank you."

Clinton glared at Hume. "How you could ask a question like that after the statement she just made is beyond me," the president said, and abruptly ended the news conference.

Clinton quickly found a way to make amends. After learning that Hume had just returned from his honeymoon in Hawaii with his new bride, Kim, an ABC producer, Clinton -- who had a rough first six months with the press -- joked,"I'm just jealous that you had a honeymoon and I didn't."

During White House briefings, says former Clinton spokesman Mike McCurry, Hume would sit in the front row doing crossword puzzles. "But you could not get anything past him," McCurry says. "If you tried to slip a little spin in, he'd suddenly erupt and say, 'Wait a minute!' "

Hume drew some flak at ABC by writing pieces for the conservative American Spectator, although he had also written for the more liberal New Republic, where Barnes was an editor. Feeling increasingly out of place, Hume was intrigued in 1996 when he heard that Rupert Murdoch was launching a cable network.

Hume had met Murdoch at a Spectator dinner at the Brasserie (and wound up giving him a ride) and knew Roger Ailes, the president of the new network, from his role in the 1988 Bush presidential campaign. Months after Kim Hume signed on with Fox as the D.C. bureau chief, her husband gave up his ABC career to join the fledgling network.

At Hume's last White House news conference, Clinton told him: "I think all of us think you have done an extraordinary, professional job under Republican and Democratic administrations alike."

In his new job as Fox's Washington managing editor, Hume began building a bureau for a network with few viewers. He had been in discussions about starting a Washington-based news show at 6 p.m., and in February 1998, in the midst of the Monica Lewinsky furor, Kim Hume told her husband that the story was so hot he should start the program immediately. After checking with Ailes, Hume launched "Special Report" that night.

He was not only having fun, he was proud of his 28-year-old son, Sandy, who had just signed a contract as a Fox contributor and was writing for the Hill newspaper and several magazines.

On Feb. 22, Sandy Hume killed himself with a hunting rifle in his Arlington apartment. He had been arrested the night before for driving under the influence, had tried to hang himself in a D.C. jail cell and was released after being evaluated in a psychiatric hospital.

"It's a moment of truth when you realize what you believe," Hume says. "I realized I believed in God." He had been "a fallen Christian," Hume says, but "it was such a devastating loss I was thinking, 'How in the world am I going to get through this?' I had this odd thought that I would get a phone call: 'Brit, this is God.' I had this idea that somehow I was going to be okay and God was going to rescue me."

Why such a promising young journalist took his life was a mystery. "The proximate cause was the arrest for DUI, which he believed, for reasons that are not entirely clear, was going to be ruinous. . . . He was manifestly depressed about it."

Was Hume racked with parental guilt? "It was a great help to me that I'd had a very good relationship with him. I didn't have to live with a lot of regrets about how we'd gotten along."

Within six weeks, he had received 973 Mass cards. "I cannot tell you how buoyed I felt," Hume says. "I thought, this is the face of God. I just got on with my life." Hume now struggles "with trying to make Washington political journalism consistent with an effort to lead a Christian life."

He says he still thinks about his son every day.

Thoughts of Retiring

Hume has come to dominate his time slot, with "Special Report" averaging nearly 1.2 million viewers. One of them is Charlie Gibson.

"He has a wonderful style which makes you want to hear what Brit has to say, in an age when so many people are in your face," Gibson says.

But Hume is well aware that some people, particularly on the left, view him as a conservative hack and Bush apologist.

"It bothers me a little bit," he says. "I think we look conservative to people who are not. . . . I knew the rap on us from Day One was going to be that we were a right-wing news outlet." But, he says, "I believed if we tried that, it would never work."

Hume and Fox News were among the first to jump on the charges by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth about Sen. John Kerry's Vietnam record, with Hume pushing the controversy day after day.

As the lead panelist on "Fox News Sunday," Hume said in August 2004 that the book by the Swift Boat Veterans "is a remarkably well-done document. It is full of detail. It is full of specifics. The charges that are being made of Kerry, of irresponsible and indeed in some cases mendacious conduct in his service in Vietnam, are made by people who were there."

The Center for Media and Public Affairs, in a 2004 study, found that "Special Report" coverage of President Bush was positive 60 percent of the time, while its evaluations of John Kerry were negative by a 5-to-1 margin. Hume says he was fair to Kerry and that the media gave far more scrutiny to Bush's National Guard record.

More recently, Hume said the press corps "behaved badly . . . like a pack of jackals" during the Cheney hunting accident furor. He also criticized an erroneous Associated Press report that said Bush had been warned that the New Orleans levees might be breached, when the word that a weather official used was "overtopped." "Much of the rest of the media fell for it hook, line and sinker," Hume said.

Part of what gives "Special Report" a right-leaning tone is its "all-star panel," the starters of which are the staunchly conservative Barnes, a Weekly Standard editor; Mort Kondracke, who positions himself as a moderate; and National Public Radio's Mara Liasson, who has described herself as a "girl reporter" who tries "to be right down the middle." Hume defends the lineup on loyalty grounds: "They were here when no one else cared."

Sometimes Hume can stretch things to make a point. In August 2003, he reported that "U.S. soldiers have less of a chance of dying from all causes in Iraq than citizens have of being murdered in California, which is roughly the same geographical size." The problem: California's population of 34 million people compared with 145,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Hume later agreed it was a "crude comparison."

As a boss, Hume is a tough taskmaster. He can be withering in his comments to young staffers, say those who know him, and has a strong temper, once throwing a pitcher of half-frozen orange juice against the wall. But, they say, his flashes of anger quickly pass.

"It's not easy being a reporter for Brit," Barnes says. "If he thinks the story is one way and you've done it differently, you're probably going to hear from him."

Correspondent Jim Angle, who anchors the show on Fridays, says: "Flabby writing and poor video are not welcome. He pays attention to every detail of the craft. He doesn't feel compelled to do what everyone else is doing."

Lately, Hume says, he has been "seriously considering" hanging it up when his contract expires in three years. His wife has nudged him into becoming a golf enthusiast, and they now play around the country.

For now, Hume will continue to take his journalistic swings, and seems to accept the fact that he is playing to a mostly partisan crowd.

"Am I going to be able to get devoted readers of the New York Times to watch Fox News? Maybe, but it would be heavy lifting," he says. "We are in some respects the antidote."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

The New York Times Front Page:
China's Rising Need for Oil Is High on U.S. Agenda

China's oil demand, which the U.S. has blamed in part for rising prices, will be a subject of President Hu Jintao's visit.

New York Offers Housing Subsidy as Teacher Lure

The city will offer up to $14,600 to help recruit new math, science and special education teachers.

Here's Donny! In His Defense, a Show Is Born
Here's Donny! In His Defense, a Show Is Born

Donald H. Rumsfeld's self-defense is now a daily ritual, complete with praise from serving generals and tributes from the president.

Study Fuels a Growing Debate Over Police Lineups
Study Fuels a Growing Debate Over Police Lineups

An experiment in Illinois casts doubt on a new method in which witnesses are shown suspects one at a time.

F.B.I. Is Seeking to Search Papers of Dead Reporter

Jack Anderson's family has refused to allow the agency to remove classified material he may have accumulated.

The Washington Post's Front Page:

More Changes Coming But Rumsfeld Will Stay In Job, President Says
President Bush yesterday nominated former representative Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to head the White House budget office, as part of a broader effort to soothe relations with an increasingly restive Republican Congress. But Bush also said his administration's personnel shake-up will not include the...
Mortgage Firm to Pay $3.8 Million Over Fundraising Allegations
Mortgage firm to pay FEC's $3.8 million fine over allegations of illegal political fundraising practices.
Most Counties Outpace Nation, Census Finds
The number of black-owned businesses has grown rapidly in Washington's suburbs, sprouting up in areas outside of the District that have attracted enclaves of African American professionals.
DURHAM, N.C., April 18 -- Two Duke University lacrosse players turned themselves in to police here early Tuesday morning and were booked on charges of raping and kidnapping an exotic dancer hired to perform at a team party last month.
She showed up at a school in a coastal city in China nearly five months ago and begged for help. Instead, she was deported to her native North Korea and never seen again.

Major Piece by Michael Yon

Urozgan and Heland Provinces, Afghanistan

More than a year ago, I wrote from the "Sunni Triangle" that Iraq was in the midst of a civil war, words that received little attention then. I had published that dispatch about three weeks after the unexpected but overwhelming success of the first Iraqi elections. People were understandably distracted by the post-vote euphoria, while the media was largely busy explaining how they so misjudged the mood of the Iraqi people. Nearly all their pundits predicted a gloomy, violence-ridden election day with poor turnout. Instead, the day was relatively peaceful and Iraqi voter turnout was nothing less than stunning. Looking ahead from that moment, knowing that planning for the future is best done with a clear memory, I wrote on 23 February 2005:

Monday, April 17, 2006

Professor Put on Leave After Abortion Spat

AP - HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. -- A college professor has been put on leave and will retire at the end of the semester after admitting she told students to destroy an anti-abortion display on campus. Sally Jacobsen, a professor in the literature and language department at Northern Kentucky University, will not return to the school, President James Votruba said.

Illegal aliens recruit workers

AP says: A growing number of U.S. employers in need of cheap labor are turning to illegal workers to recruit friends and relatives back home, and to smugglers to find job seekers. ''It continues to become clear who controls immigration: It's not governments, but rather the market'' /break/ In one case, a single smuggler purportedly earned $900,000 over 15 months placing 6,000 migrants in jobs at Chinese restaurants across the upper Midwest.

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