Now Cough

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Getting to Know You (Know Who)

The First of Many

An angry Republican has begun pulling on a string that, if true, could unravel all of the nonsense the Bush administration has fed us about the 911 attacks.

Congressman Curt Weldon, who was simple a chubby media hog county commissioner back in the 80s, now claims that a secret Army unit (Able Danger---you gotta love that one) had identified Mohammad Atta and three of the other 911 hijackers as Al Qaeda members already in the United States in mid-1999.

But the Army decided not to tell anyone. Not the FBI and not the CIA.

Let's pause to consider:

* The US Army had a secret unit that somehow learned of a domestic security threat. Does that mean the Army was conducting surveillance or 'data mining' on residents of the US?
* Why wasn't the FBI?
* What happened with this information--and what has happened with all the other information about Al Qaeda in the US? John Ashcroft wouldn't shut up about sleeper cells in the US---are there cells? Do we already have an idea of who is in them? Do we already know where these people are?
* Why didn't the Army alert everyone in the chain of command to a direct threat in the US to national security? Remember, this would have been on the even of the millennium when everyone was worried about a terrorist attack on New Year's Eve.
* What the heck has happened with this information in the years since?
* Who knew what when--and why was this not shared?
* Was this information intentionally buried after 911?

That last question is one that is now bugging the members of the 911 Commission, the one that spent millions getting to the bottom of what really happened leading up to the terrorist attacks. Former co-chairman Tom Kean wants to know if his staff missed this information somehow or were facts deliberately withheld from the Commission.

Heaven forbid. Facts withheld by this administration? Nahh...can't be.

Oh, and the man who was ultimately in charge of setting up Able Danger was General Hugh Shelton who was, up until a few months ago, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff answering directly to...Donald Rumsfeld.


Let's hope congress, the press and others have the guts to keep pulling on the string.

There is a lot more 911 information out there that has been hidden. My bet is that there is proof American taxpayer dollars made their way at some point to Osama bin Laden. And perhaps that is one reason the Bush administration does not want him captured...or captured alive.

Monday, August 08, 2005


Peter Jennings

Peter Jennings from ABC News died of cancer on Sunday night. I admit to having gasped when I saw the story, though we all knew he would never return to the anchor chair.

Still, it is a blow. Many will disagree with me but he truly was, as the AP story put it, the best of the TV news anchors. The sensibility I got from him was worldly, cosmopolitan---not dragged into the ridiculous nationalist performance of American flag lapel pins, or slipping into a 'we' and 'them' look at the world.

His scripts, especially on documentaries, were full of nuance and care and complexity. In an age when broadcasters are pressured to make things dumb in order to make them accessible, he made them simpler to grasp without cheapening the facts.

I enjoyed his astounding performance--and let's admit, being on TV demands performance skills. He appeared genuinely smart, perhaps without a real common touch, but as an elitist I liked that. Peter Jennings would never be one to pander or clumsily trade in awkward homilies like Dan Rather or many of the people at NBC and Fox.

I'll miss him as a viewer who only knew him from this side of a TV screen. Others whom I've known who worked with him regarded Jennings as simply a great guy to work alongside.

Is there any better compliment?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

For God's Sake...

Proof of De-Evolution

In an interview at the White House on Monday with a group of Texas newspaper reporters, Mr. Bush appeared to endorse the push by many of his conservative Christian supporters to give intelligent design equal treatment with the theory of evolution.

Recalling his days as Texas governor, Mr. Bush said in the interview, according to a transcript, "I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught." Asked again by a reporter whether he believed that both sides in the debate between evolution and intelligent design should be taught in the schools, Mr. Bush replied that he did, "so people can understand what the debate is about."

Mr. Bush was pressed as to whether he accepted the view that intelligent design was an alternative to evolution, but he did not directly answer. "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought," he said, adding that "you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes."

On Tuesday, the president's conservative Christian supporters and the leading institute advancing intelligent design embraced Mr. Bush's comments while scientists and advocates of the separation of church and state disparaged them...

But Mr. Bush's conservative supporters said the president had indicated exactly that in his remarks.

"It's what I've been pushing, it's what a lot of us have been pushing," said Richard Land, the president of the ethics and religious liberties commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Land, who has close ties to the White House, said that evolution "is too often taught as fact," and that "if you're going to teach the Darwinian theory as evolution, teach it as theory. And then teach another theory that has the most support among scientists."...

At the White House, intelligent design was the subject of a weekly Bible study class several years ago when Charles W. Colson, the founder and chairman of Prison Fellowship Ministries, spoke to the group. Mr. Colson has also written a book, "The Good Life," in which a chapter on intelligent design features Michael Gerson, an evangelical Christian who is an assistant to the president for policy and strategic planning.

[NOTE: This is the same Charles Colson who worked for Nixon and was sent to prison.]

"It's part of the buzz of the city among Christians," Mr. Colson said in a telephone interview on Tuesday about intelligent design. "It wouldn't surprise me that it got to George Bush. He reads, he picks stuff up, he talks to people. And he's pretty serious about his own Christian beliefs."

-- excerpts from "Bush Remarks Roil Debate Over Teaching of Evolution" in The New York Times, August 2, 2005 (Reg. Required)