Thursday, January 7, 2010

Rounding Up The News And Views For 01.07.2010

Rounding Up The News And Views For 01.07.2010




January-May 2010:

The Plum Line Greg Sargent's blog

Politico Editor Defends Platform Granted To Cheney

Politico editor John Harris is pushing back hard on criticism of his publication for providing a frequent, often uncritical platform to Dick Cheney, claiming in an email to me that “trying to get newsworthy people to say interesting things is part of what we do.”

The criticism of Politico’s Cheney coverage got a boost last night when Chris Matthews blasted the publication in uncharacteristically aggressive terms (among Beltway journalists) for giving Cheney “his own news conduit” and for printing his “crap.”

Matthews echoed a frequent criticism on the left: That by printing Cheney’s political attacks on Obama with little scrutiny, Politico is in effect handing him a bulletin board in exchange for statements sure to generate traffic on both sides. (Multiple examples here.)

I asked Politico editor John Harris whether Politico had aired too many Cheney statements and claims with too little scrutiny or regard for their news value, as many alleged when Politico published a lengthy Cheney broadside on Obama’s “weakness.” Harris replied:

1. I thought the Cheney comments were newsworthy, which is why they drew such notice by other news organizations and columnists. In fact, it seemed to me that the people who found Cheney’s comments most objectionable were the ones who found them most newsworthy.

2. If you look at the other stories we ran at the same time as the Cheney quote there was a Josh Gerstein piece leading the site comparing Obama’s response to Bush’s after the 2001 shoe bomber and debunking the notion that Obama’s response was more sluggish. We also had a piece looking at GOP politicization of national security.

3. Trying to get newsworthy people to say interesting things is part of what we do. Also in December we had a long Q and A with the other prominent former vice president Al Gore. That story might also have looked to some like providing an uncritical platform if you viewed it only isolation.

It seems clear that some criticism of Politico is overly simplistic. It’s simply a fact that it does good big picture stories that change the conversation, and that it breaks news useful to both sides. But it’s unclear why Cheney’s continuing attacks on Obama as weak should continue to be deemed news, or why scrutiny of GOP strategy in other cases (or the Gore interview) should make it okay that Cheney is constantly given a free pass. My bet is even some at Politico see the constant elevation of Cheney as too cozy by half.

(Give Cheney An Orange Glow Jacket, A New Shot Gun And Send Him To Afghanistan!)

Conservatives Outnumber Moderates, Liberals, Poll Shows
CBS News (blog)
and you have it with, the huffington post, or the daily kooks? by jimmyc1955 January 7, 2010 2:04 PM EST Conservatives believe in smaller less ...
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TCF's The Best And Worst 2009

The Century Foundation "Best and Worst" annual review includes video and written commentary by TCF fellows and staff. Michael Hanna looked back on the year's events in the Middle East, while Geneive  Abdo focused on Iran, and Jeffrey Laurenti discussed the events in the international community. On the domestic front, Greg Anrig remarked upon the governmental response to the recession, while Bernard Wasow discussed how there is hope for an improved economy in 2010. Richard Kahlenberg discussed the virtues of U.S.'s largely decentralized education system, Maggie Mahar and Naomi Freundlich analyze health care reform and Patrick Radden Keefe discusses how civil liberties were effected by the new Obama administration. View the series.


Revelations that an al Qaeda-linked double agent was behind the bombing that killed seven CIA officers — and five Canadians — at an Afghan base “suggests the group has achieved a new level of sophistication” and is hardly prostrate, ReutersAdam Entous assesses. Until he blew up, the perpetrator had been considered the most promising informant in years as to the whereabouts of al Qaeda bigs, The New York TimesMark Mazzetti mentions — while The Independent’s Robert Fisk ventures that “America’s desire to be loved and feared has long misled the CIA.”

12/25 fallout: The handling of intel prior to the X-mas bomb attempt “was eerily reminiscent of one of the most shocking — and relatively underreported — revelations” from the 9/11 probe, commissionist as Thomas H. Kean and John Farmer Jr. comment in the Times — while Slate’s Timothy Noah insists that 9/11 panel recommendations have no bearing. “Obama can’t be happy with his Homeland Security chief. It’s fair to say no president deserves an appointee so extravagantly unequipped for her job,” The Wall Street Journal’s Dorothy Rabinowitz raps — and see Ed Rollins on CNN: “The Case for Firing Janet Napolitano.” The problem is that DHS “has been obsessed with enforcement of immigration laws [that] have no connection with terrorism,” Roger Algase remarks in The International Herald Tribune.

Feds: An initial report on the 12/25 security glitches will be released today along with more specific recommendations, The Detroit Free PressTodd Spangler quotes the White House. More Republican senators have expressed reservations about President Obama’s choice to run TSA, The Washington Post’s Robert O’Harrow Jr. relates. New Jersey’s two U.S. senators, meantime, yesterday called for TSA to improve protocols following a security breach that locked down Newark airport Sunday night, the Star-Ledger’s Mike Frassinelli reports. Controversial FBI terror informant and mosque infiltrator Craig Monteilh discusses his undercover career at length with The Orange County Register’s Salvador Hernandez. Federal authorities will conduct a nationwide review of courthouse security after a gunman killed a courthouse officer and wounded a marshal in Las Vegas, The Associated PressDevlin Barrett recounts.

State and local: NYPD officials are not happy with a fraternal organization’s “law enforcement” placard, a stolen example of which was left on the dashboard of a van that sparked a Times Square terror scare, The New York Daily News notes. The man in charge of Florida’s disaster preparedness abruptly resigned Monday amid allegations of sexual discrimination and financial impropriety, The Miami Herald mentions. New federal requirements that took effect Jan. 1 could mean longer lines, confusion and a lot of frustration for Floridians looking to renew driver’s licenses, The Florida Times-Union adds. Two more California counties have hooked up to an ICE database that screens the immigration status of arrestees, The San Jose Mercury News notes.

Ivory (Watch) Towers: In a Times interview, a university official describes homeland security as a “meta-discipline, much like medicine, within which there are tons of different functions and specialties,” adding that training is essential in building this workforce. The underwear bomber case underlines the dangerous Islamist radicalism being preached by speakers brought in by the University College London’s Islamic society, The Sunday Telegraph tells. That so-called Nigerian student “never studied in Nigeria . . . Instead his initiation into terror clubs happened abroad in the countries where he was sent to study to become a better person,” another Nigerian foreign student protests in New America Media. The terrorist threat posed by radicalized Muslim-Americans has been exaggerated, CNN has a Duke University-UNC Chapel Hill study finding.

Bugs ’n bombs: A false bomb threat this week evacuated an Anaheim Home Depot store, The Orange County Register relates — while The Wilmington (Del.) News Journal sees a YMCA there closed by another such hoax, and Little Rock’s WXVT News reports a man arrested after threatening to bomb a Central Arkansas Transit Authority bus. A local institute has won an NIH grant to research vaccines to some of the world’s most infectious diseases — including smallpox, which, though eradicated, poses major bioterror concerns, The San Diego Business Journal reports. “Russian scientists will soon meet in secret to work on a plan for saving Earth from a possible catastrophic collision with a giant asteroid in 26 years,” Agence France-Presse leads. “But the target space rock poses virtually no threat to our planet and moving it could actually make matters worse,” adds.

Coming and going: Under its Anti-Terrorism Assistance program, the FBI will host a 15-day rail security workshop here for Indian security and travel officials, The Times of India tells. “High-speed rail would be wonderful, but it wouldn’t be long before it, too, would be targeted,” sighs a San Bernardino County Sun columnist in re: mounting airport security hassles. The Christmas Day bombing attempt serves as “a reminder” for those charged with securing school buses, School Transportation News notes. “The Yemen connection underscores the need for stringent security for all such shipments,” The Boston Globe editorializes in re: an LNG shipment due in Boston’s harbor. “Freighters that ferry goods in the pirate-infested waters off the coast of Somalia have a new and unusual cargo: armed guards,” The Wall Street Journal leads.

Close air support: An unruly passenger aboard a Hawaii-bound flight prompted the plane’s return to Portland escorted by two military fighter jets, MSNBC mentions — while The Oregonian has the man being released without charges. “Adopting an irrational air safety policy based on fear could hand al Qaeda another success,” a Los Angeles Times editorial alerts. “The final week of 2009 . . . was one of the strangest periods yet in the annals of air travel security since [9/11],” The New York Times’s travel writer concludes anent a TSA pat-down of his pet parrot — as ABC News underlines the “misery” ever-tightening security is creating for senior flyers. “Never, at any moment, imagine that the rigmarole of airport security is guaranteed to make you safer,” a Post columnist contends. Irish police released a man detained at Dublin’s airport after Slovakian authorities admitted planting explosives in his luggage, BBC News notes — while The Associated Press has Bratislava securicrats apologizing.

Terror tech: Implant Sciences says its Quantum Sniffer could have detected the PETN carried by the underwear bomber, Your Defence News notes — while experts tell CNN that specially trained bomb-sniffing dogs are a low-tech solution to future crotch bomb threats. “Repeatedly, gadget defenses have shown themselves to be costly, flawed and difficult to implement,” an MSNBC columnist meanwhile cautions. A new iPhone app “lets you easily and instantly give TSA a piece of your mind without the nuisance of being dragged into an interrogation room while handcuffed,” Autopia informs. “Has the time come to view cyberspace as an al Qaeda battlefront?” asks a Defense Tech blog entry mulling “preemptive cyber strikes” — as Asharq Al Awsat observes that al Qaeda “is stepping up its technological efforts, particularly its usage of mobile phones.” Our ragtag terrorist foes “innovate faster and more effectively than our armed forces and the legion of overpaid contractors behind them,” Ralph Peters rues in the New York Post.

Courts and rights: “Our dual role as a liberal democracy and as a legitimately aggrieved superpower” prompts many terror-era legal anomalies, Michael Kinsley suggests in a Times op-ed. Some critics suggest that by bringing the underwear bomber before a judge to face charges, the Obama administration blew “an opportunity to interrogate him more thoroughly,” The Wall Street Journal surveys — while The Washington Independent shows 58 percent of poll respondents favoring waterboarding the defendant, and The Lansing State Journal has a federal grand jury in Detroit yesterday indicting the Nigerian suspect on six counts.

Over there: The British government seeks to douse a flare-up with Washington over intel sharing related to the underwear bomber, The Independent informs — while The Punch sees Nigerian legislators accelerating a lagging anti-terror bill, spurred by the underwear bomber’s notoriety. Some of al Qaeda’s best-known figures, many with strong connections to Osama bin Laden, live in besieged Yemen, the Post, again, surveys. One of the most visible leaders of Somalia’s terrorist militia spent a year in Toronto ingratiating himself with Somali immigrants as a convert to Islam, the Star says.

Holy wars: “The great advantage the jihadis have over us [is that] they think not in days, but in centuries. They would never drop the phrase‘long war’ because, for them, all wars are long,” The Daily Telegraph asserts. Islamist ideologue Yousuf Baadarani “believes that while terrorists could be a state, a group or an individual, there is no such thing as an Islamic terrorist,” an Asia Times Q&A explores. “The war on terror has failed because developed countries insist on keeping brown and black terrorists away from their borders, rather that treat terrorism as a global menace,” a Kenya Imagine commentator contends. “A British-based terror cell plotted to murder the parents of a Scots Army sniper in a sick revenge bid for him shooting evil Taliban killers in Afghanistan,” The Sun leads — while The Raw Story has a retired general urging airport strip searches for all 18- to 28-year-old Muslim men.

Airport security — an inside job: “If the failed Christmas Day terror attempt taught us anything it’s that we’re doing is not enough to prevent terrorism,” Ridiculopathy ridicules. “Just as the failed shoe bombing a few years ago caused millions of people to remove their shoes, this new incident will force people to take off their underwear as they go through security checkpoints. And that’s just the start. Our airport security will only be as good as our TSA agents. If you’ve ever met one, you would know right away that this simply will not do. So, the answer, it seems, lies in technology. Metal detectors aren’t enough. Full body imagers aren’t enough. Even the brand new digital anal cavity scanners aren’t enough. What we need is a new machine that will ferociously molest passengers prior to boarding . . . demoralizing anyone and everyone on that flight who may or may not bear ill intentions.” See also, in The Spoof: “Controversial New TSA Regulations Have Passengers Sitting Tight.”

Western Troops Accused Of Executing 10 Afghan Civilians, Including Children

American-led troops were accused yesterday of dragging innocent children from their beds and shooting them during a night raid that left ten people dead.

Afghan government investigators said that eight schoolchildren were killed, all but one of them from the same family. Locals said that some victims were handcuffed before being killed.

Western military sources said that the dead were all part of an Afghan terrorist cell responsible for manufacturing improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which have claimed the lives of countless soldiers and civilians.

“This was a joint operation that was conducted against an IED cell that Afghan and US officials had been developing information against for some time,” said a senior Nato insider. But he admitted that “the facts about what actually went down are in dispute”.

The allegations of civilian casualties led to protests in Kabul and Jalalabad, with children as young as 10 chanting “Death to America” and demanding that foreign forces should leave Afghanistan at once.

President Karzai sent a team of investigators to Narang district, in eastern Kunar province, after reports of a massacre first surfaced on Monday.

“The delegation concluded that a unit of international forces descended from a plane Sunday night into Ghazi Khan village in Narang district of the eastern province of Kunar and took ten people from three homes, eight of them school students in grades six, nine and ten, one of them a guest, the rest from the same family, and shot them dead,” a statement on President Karzai’s website said.

Assadullah Wafa, who led the investigation, said that US soldiers flew to Kunar from Kabul, suggesting that they were part of a special forces unit.

“At around 1 am, three nights ago, some American troops with helicopters left Kabul and landed around 2km away from the village,” he told The Times. “The troops walked from the helicopters to the houses and, according to my investigation, they gathered all the students from two rooms, into one room, and opened fire.” Mr Wafa, a former governor of Helmand province, met President Karzai to discuss his findings yesterday. “I spoke to the local headmaster,” he said. “It’s impossible they were al-Qaeda. They were children, they were civilians, they were innocent. I condemn this attack.”

In a telephone interview last night, the headmaster said that the victims were asleep in three rooms when the troops arrived. “Seven students were in one room,” said Rahman Jan Ehsas. “A student and one guest were in another room, a guest room, and a farmer was asleep with his wife in a third building.

“First the foreign troops entered the guest room and shot two of them. Then they entered another room and handcuffed the seven students. Then they killed them. Abdul Khaliq [the farmer] heard shooting and came outside. When they saw him they shot him as well. He was outside. That’s why his wife wasn’t killed.”

A local elder, Jan Mohammed, said that three boys were killed in one room and five were handcuffed before they were shot. “I saw their school books covered in blood,” he said.

The investigation found that eight of the victims were aged from 11 to 17. The guest was a shepherd boy, 12, called Samar Gul, the headmaster said. He said that six of the students were at high school and two were at primary school. He said that all the students were his nephews. In Jalalabad, protesters set alight a US flag and an effigy of President Obama after chanting “Death to Obama” and “Death to foreign forces”. In Kabul, protesters held up banners showing photographs of dead children alongside placards demanding “Foreign troops leave Afghanistan” and “Stop killing us”.

Hekmatullah, 10, a protester, said: “We’re sick of Americans bombing us.” Samiullah Miakhel, 60, a protester. said: “The Americans are just all the time killing civilians.”

Nato’s International Security Assistance Force said that there was “no direct evidence to substantiate” Mr Wafa’s claims that unarmed civilians were harmed in what it described as a “joint coalition and Afghan security force” operation.

“As the joint assault force entered the village they came under fire from several buildings and in returning fire killed nine individuals,” he said.

• Eight Americans were killed in an attack in eastern Afghanistan yesterday (Jerome Starkey writes). Nato’s International Security Assistance Force said that the dead were not uniformed soldiers. Afghan sources said that they were civilians killed in a suicide attack on a compound in Khost province. The US Embassy in Kabul said: “Eight Americans have been killed in an attack on RC-East,” referring to the military region of eastern Afghanistan that includes 14 provinces.


Right Wing Round-Up | Right Wing Watch
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Right Wing Round-Up. Submitted by Kyle on January 7, 2010 - 4:47pm. Sarah Palin says she is not going to back down from her false "death panel" claims. Speaking of Palin, just how much is she getting paid to speak at the National Tea ...
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The Perils of Passivity
It's ludicrous to think of Obama, Reid and Pelosi as some sort of tough guy enforcers. In fact, of course, their as wimpy as can be. And that's an expensive characteristic indeed.


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