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   PoliticsPolitics for Pros- moderated

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To: LindyBill who wrote (72621)9/22/2004 4:12:23 PM
From: LindyBill
   of 782733
Presidential Tracking Poll: Bush-Kerry

Updated Daily by Noon Eastern Election 2004

Presidential Ballot

Bush 48.8%
Kerry 44.8%
Other 2.6%
Not Sure 3.9%

Wednesday September 22, 2004--The latest Rasmussen Reports Presidential Tracking Poll shows President George W. Bush with 49% of the vote and Senator John Kerry with 45%. The Tracking Poll is updated daily by noon Eastern.

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To: LindyBill who wrote (72624)9/22/2004 4:13:55 PM
From: LindyBill
   of 782733
The Sorrows of CBS

The network still seems to think it's involved in a political game

- Charles Paul Freund is a Reason senior editor.

CBS has now apologized for its use of disputed documents in a story it broadcast about George W. Bush's career in the National Guard, calling it "a mistake in judgment." That's certainly worth a headline. Because only CBS can resolve the mystery of CBS' incomprehensible behavior over the past two weeks, the apology at least makes it possible for this story to proceed toward a more useful resolution.

On the other hand, the CBS position that it was "misled" about the source of the documents rather misses the point of its own position. Given the intrinsic problems of the documents at issue, the advice of the forensics experts it consulted and ignored, and the length of time that this matter has been festering, CBS' attempt to portray itself as a duped victim is untenable.

It's interesting that CBS's situation has ended up taking this particular shape, which is far more political than it is journalistic. CBS is playing a role usually reserved for embarrassed Washington figures. The familiar rule of thumb in Washington is for embattled characters who have been caught in some impropriety to issue an acknowledgement of wrongdoing and, as the cliché goes, get the matter behind them. In American culture, confession is half the journey to redemption. (In practice, the other half of that journey is that people forget what you did.) Subsequent investigations eventually identify some lower-level figures who are forced from office to expiate the wrongdoing. Washington then "moves on." CBS seems to be casting itself in this role of embarrassed power, with document source Bill Burkett the first to play on-camera expiator. Other expiators are doubtless to follow.

If that's how CBS sees its psychodrama playing out, however, it's yet another miscalculation on the network's part. Its role is not that of a wielder of power, but as a corrector of power. It cannot put an end to its problems with a confession that shunts blame, at least not without undermining its own institutional role. CBS's problem is not merely that it was somehow "misled" into using crude forgeries in a report involving a president in the midst of an election campaign; its problem is that it dismissed criticism and denigrated its critics without offering credible substantiation of its original story. Indeed, it adopted a pose—now revealed to be utter pretense—that its documents had been vetted adequately and that its critics were unworthy pajama-wearing "political operatives." This was a political reaction, predicated on the network's apparent notion that it was involved in a political dispute. In short, the network has behaved imperiously throughout, and has now sought an imperious, Washington-style exit.

This is in obvious contrast to the reaction by such organizations as The Washington Post and USA Today when they faced challenges to their own credibility. These news organizations did not attempt to portray themselves as victims; instead, they accepted that they had failed in their institutional role, put up with the glee of their critics, and moved to make their internal problems transparent. That was the only way to regain their credibility, and it is the only way available to CBS as well. It doesn't matter that anyone attempted to mislead CBS about these documents; people attempt to mislead news organizations every day. What matters is that CBS blew the story and its aftermath.

Is the continuing CBS scandal a watershed media event? That depends on how important you think CBS News is to begin with. Broadcast network news was once an essential force in shaping the nation's informational Zeitgeist, but that hasn't been true for years; one can now be perfectly well informed on every major issue before the country and never watch any of the network broadcasts. Broadcast news, like the once-powerful newsweekly magazines, has been reduced to a state of latent power.

That is, because the evening news and the various network feature programs (such as the 60 Minutes shows) enter nearly every American home, they remain capable of creating major stories, as was demonstrated in the course of the Abu Ghraib scandal. (The producer of CBS' Abu Ghaib story, Mary Mapes, was also the producer of the National Guard story.) But networks are no longer capable of exerting daily influence over news narratives in the way they did before the rise of cable TV and the Internet, and the consequent fracturing of the audience. To the degree that broadcast news has lost so much of its power, the stakes in the CBS story have been diminished. (Of course, that's based on what we know now. If it turns out, for example, that CBS acted in collusion with the Kerry campaign—and there is no evidence that it did—then the stakes in this story would rise dramatically.)

However, journalism has entered into an unsteady state. The blogging community that set itself against CBS' claims can boast of another illustration of its power to keep a story going until it reaches a consequential stage. (We've seen that before, notably in the effort that forced Sen. Trent Lott from his position as Senate Majority Leader.)

Their achievement can hardly be denied, and shouldn't be minimized; a group of them challenged the CBS story, and went headlong into Deep Typewriter mode to gather the arcane expertise that contributed to CBS' undoing. Many bloggers showed genuine enterprise in their efforts, notably Charles Johnson's use of a default MS WORD document laid over and matching exactly a CBS document that was supposedly created in the 1970s.

Even so, their target in this case exhibited perfectly phenomenal stupidity, playing repeatedly into their hands by adopting a rejectionist position it was unable to sustain. Furthermore, as Jesse Walker argued recently on this site, bloggers' efforts were greatly enhanced by major institutions of the establishment media, especially The Washington Post and ABC News.

Bloggers represent a powerful, self-organized community capable of gathering widely dispersed knowledge, and applying that knowledge to effect. Its members offer challenges to the mainstream media, alternatives to its narratives, re-readings of its stories, new information, and much else. But while blogging has become a wild force in the practice of journalism, one that can claim some remarkable results, it is obviously not a substitute for the major institutions of establishment journalism.

The continued wellbeing of establishment journalism requires trust. That trust is exactly what CBS' bizarre behavior has been undermining. The rest of this story, in which the network takes responsibility for its own actions, could be its most interesting chapter.

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To: LindyBill who wrote (72612)9/22/2004 4:16:21 PM
From: Nadine Carroll
   of 782733
Sullivan is being naive. Syria is certainly playing games - aha, I got the Great Satan to negotiate with me! watch how I dole out bits of cooperation and get big concessions from the fools. Just like dear old Dad.

The difference is, dear old Dad was a shrewd player and knew how far he could go, when he could renege and when he had to stick to his word. Boy Bashar is pretty stupid. I would sincerely hope that the US is also playing games - in this case, 'so, you wanna provoke me?' let me hand you some agreements, that will give me real provocation to act when you break them.

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To: Nadine Carroll who wrote (72623)9/22/2004 4:25:56 PM
From: carranza2
   of 782733
I briefly heard NPR this morning report that the US was going to release the two women. This disturbed me, but I have not heard or read anything about such a release since then. Have you or anyone else?

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To: unclewest who wrote (72541)9/22/2004 4:30:18 PM
From: MichaelSkyy
   of 782733
I'm hoping the 'ole "Grapevine" still works and this coward gets ID and some old fashioned 'whup-ass' follows...

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To: Neeka who wrote (72578)9/22/2004 4:32:57 PM
From: Alan Smithee
   of 782733
FCC Fines CBS $550,000 for Jackson Super Bowl Show

Justin Timberlake described the incident as a "wardrobe malfunction."

Rather's problems, OTOH, stem from a "document malfunction."

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To: Nadine Carroll who wrote (72623)9/22/2004 4:37:51 PM
From: Ilaine
   of 782733
>>Zarqawi may be seeking their release so that they can be hired by al Qaeda to continue the biological weapons researches they performed for the deposed Iraqi dictator.

If they're being held by Americans, then Zarqawi is barking up the wrong tree, at least through January 2005. Hopefully longer.

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To: carranza2 who wrote (72627)9/22/2004 4:38:31 PM
From: KLP
   of 782733
Re: the Iraqi women and possible release: Breaking: U.S. Says Women Prisoners in Iraq Will Not Be Released; Tape Shows British Hostage Pleading for His Life

By Alexandra Zavis Associated Press Writer
Published: Sep 22, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A senior Iraqi official said Wednesday that a decision had been made to release a top female germ-warfare scientist for Saddam Hussein, but Iraq's leader and U.S. officials moved quickly to squelch the idea that she would be freed soon. Iraqi militants who beheaded two Americans have threatened to kill a Briton unless female detainees are let go.
A videotape posted on an Islamic Web site later Wednesday showed a man identifying himself as British hostage Kenneth Bigley pleading for British Prime Minister Tony Blair to help save his life.

"To Mr. Blair, my name is Ken Bigley, from Liverpool," the blindfolded man said in the grainy videotape. "I think this is possibly my last chance. I don't want to die."

"Please, please, release the female prisoners that are held in Iraqi prisons," the speaker said. "Please help them. I need you to help me Mr. Blair because you are the only person now on God's Earth that I can speak to. Please, please help me see my wife, who cannot go on without me."

The kidnappers had not released such videos for the American hostages, whose deaths were announced promptly after deadlines set by the militants had past on Monday and Tuesday. It was not known if there was any connection between the release of the new video and Wednesday's confusion over a possible prisoner release.

After the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said there would be no immediate release of either of the two women in U.S. custody, Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said there were no immediate plans to free the detainees, disputing the earlier statement by his Justice Department that a decision was made to release one of them.

Allawi told The Associated Press that his government has begun reviewing the status of its detainees, including the two female scientists known as "Dr. Germ" and "Mrs. Anthrax" for their involvement in Saddam Hussein's biological weapons programs.

But he said the review process had nothing to do with the current hostage situation and had started weeks ago in Iraq.

"We have not been negotiating and we will not negotiate with terrorists on the release of hostages," he said in a telephone interview from New York. "No release takes place unless I authorize it."

A decapitated body was found in Baghdad on Wednesday. The family of hostage Jack Hensley said it had received confirmation that the body was Hensley, whose slaying was announced a day earlier by the al-Qaida-linked militant group loyal to Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Meanwhile, U.S. aircraft and tanks attacked rebel positions in Baghdad's Sadr City slum, killing 10 people and wounding 92. Suicide attackers set off two car bombs in Baghdad, one of them killing six people. The second, in the upscale district of Mansour, wounded four U.S. soldiers and two Iraqis.

A U.S. soldier was killed in one of the bombings, the military said, but didn't specify which one.

Two other U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq on Wednesday, officials said. One was killed by a roadside bomb about three miles south of Tikrit. The second died of his wounds following an attack on a patrol in the northern town of Mosul.

Two U.S. Army soldiers were killed in separate incidents in northern Iraq on Wednesday, officials said. One soldier was killed by a roadside bomb about three miles south of Tikrit. The other died of his wounds following an attack on a patrol in the northern town of Mosul.

Also, the spiritual leader of al-Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad group was killed in a U.S. airstrike several days ago in a Baghdad suburb, the man's father said.

U.S. and Iraqi troops also battle with insurgents in the central city of Samarra, where U.S. forces had earlier claimed success against militants waging a 17-month insurgency, police said. At least one child was killed and five people wounded in the fighting, police said.

The conflicting U.S. and Iraqi statements raised questions over who has authority in the country, even after the handover of sovereignty to Allawi's interim government in June. U.S. officials have been saying that they have been giving more decision-making power to Iraqis, including over security matters.

The U.S. military says it has two Iraqi women in custody, both high-profile security detainees held at an undisclosed location - Rihab Rashid Taha, a scientist who became known as "Dr. Germ" for helping Iraq make weapons out of anthrax, and Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, a biotech researcher known as "Mrs. Anthrax."

Justice Ministry spokesman Noori Abdul-Rahim Ibrahim announced that "Iraqi authorities have agreed with coalition forces to conditionally release Rihab Rashid Taha on bail." He added that the decision "has nothing to do with the threat made by the kidnappers."

But soon afterward, a U.S. Embassy spokesman ruled out any immediate release. The two female scientists from Saddam's regime "are in our legal and physical custody. Legal status of these two and many others is under constant review," the spokesman said.

Representatives of the Iraqi government and U.S. coalition forces have identified a group of about 14 high-value detainees, including Taha, who may be eligible for release because they are no longer needed for questioning and do not pose a security threat, a multinational force official said on condition of anonymity.

The Iraqi government has already assented to all the names on the list, the official said. The list has gone to coalition forces and the U.S. Embassy for final approval.

The Iraqi government has also made a special request for the release of Ammash on humanitarian grounds, the official said. But because she is one of the top 55 most-wanted Iraqis on the so-called deck of cards, her case requires a Pentagon review.

"We want to make certain that there is no connection between the decision to release her with al-Zarqawi's demands," a Western official also said on condition of anonymity.

Al-Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad group announced Tuesday it killed Hensley, saying their demands had not been met. He would have marked his 49th birthday Wednesday. On Monday, the group released a video showing the beheading of another American, Eugene Armstrong, whose body was found in Baghdad the same day.

The group warned in a Web statement Tuesday that Bigley, 62, would be the next to die unless all Iraqi women are released from jail - though it did not set a deadline as it has in past statements.

Hensley, Armstrong and Bigley were kidnapped Sept. 16 from a house that the three civil engineers shared in an upscale Baghdad neighborhood.

Britiain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw appeared to hold out little hope for saving Bigley.

"We continue to do everything we can to secure Kenneth Bigley's safe release, but it would be idle to pretend that there's a great deal of hope," Straw told reporters in New York, where he is attending the United Nations General Assembly.

Straw stressed that Britain would not give in to the hostage takers' demands. "We cannot get into a situation, and I believe the family understand this, where we start bargaining with terrorists and kidnappers," he said.

Bigley's brother recorded a message Wednesday to be broadcast on Arabic language TV station Al-Jazeera urging his captors to free him.

Hensley's body and its severed head were found Wednesday in a black plastic bag in western Baghdad and was turned over to the United States, according to Iraqi authorities. The family was told later that the body was Hensley's.

Hensley's wife, Pati, was "extraordinarily devastated," said the slain hostage's brother, Ty, on NBC's "Today."

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hensley family," said Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman traveling with President Bush. "Their strength during a difficult time is amazing. The terrorists want to shake our will, but they will not. "

The latest beheading "shows the true barbaric nature of the enemies we face in Iraq that they would take innocent civilian life," McClellan said. "They will be defeated, they will not prevail."

Tawhid and Jihad - Arabic for "Monotheism and Holy War" - has claimed responsibility for the slaying of at least seven hostages, including American Nicholas Berg. The group has also said it is behind a number of bombings and gun attacks.

Its spiritual leader, Sheik Abu Anas al-Shami, 35, was killed when a missile hit his car on Friday in western Baghdad, according to al-Shami's father. The U.S. military had no comment.

A host of militant groups have used kidnappings and bombings to undermine Allawi's interim government and force the United States and its allies out of Iraq. The violence has already persuaded companies to leave, hindered foreign investment, led firms to drop out of aid projects, restricted activities to relatively safe areas and forced major expenditures on security.

More than 130 foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq, and at least 26 of them have been killed. Many more Iraqis have also been seized in the chaos since Saddam was ousted last year, in many cases for ransom.

AP-ES-09-22-04 1557EDT

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To: Ilaine who wrote (72630)9/22/2004 4:40:54 PM
From: KLP
   of 782733
Breaking: Lebanon Captures Country's Top Al-Qaida Operative, Alleges He Plotted Suicide Bombings and Recruited Insurgents for Iraq

By Hussein Dakroub Associated Press Writer
Published: Sep 22, 2004

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - Lebanon announced the arrest of the country's top al-Qaida operative and said Wednesday that he and another Lebanese suspect plotted suicide attacks on Western embassies and recruited insurgents to fight in Iraq.
Senior security officials said the two, who were arrested Friday with eight accomplices, also planned to assassinate Western diplomats and attack Lebanese security and judicial targets.

At least one of the suspects allegedly had contact with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant whose Tawhid and Jihad group beheaded two American hostages in Iraq this week.

Lebanese officials said the arrests were testimony to its cooperation in the U.S.-led war on terrorism. They thanked Syria - the key power broker in Lebanon - and Italy for their cooperation in breaking up the alleged plot.

Interior Minister Elias Murr identified the two key suspects as Ahmed Salim Mikati and Ismail Mohammed al-Khatib. He said the accomplices included Lebanese and Palestinians.

Prosecutor-General Adnan Addoum told reporters al-Khatib was "the head of al-Qaida organization in Lebanon."

Al-Khatib, Murr said, "is an al-Qaida operative ... his role was to recruit fundamentalist youth to carry out operations against coalition forces in Iraq." The group, the minister said, is "the first network linked to al-Qaida organization to be smashed in Lebanon."

The prosecutor-general alleged Mikati was trying to establish al-Qaida cells in Lebanon and had contacts with al-Zarqawi with the aim of recruiting fighters to go to Iraq. One recruit was a Lebanese who was killed in Iraq on Sept. 17, officials said.

The two leaders and their accomplices planned simultaneous bombings of the Italian and Ukrainian embassies in Beirut. Both countries are part of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

The suspects allegedly plotted a suicide bomb attack on the Italian Embassy, the officials said. They said explosives had been seized.

An Interior Ministry statement said the suspects planned to pack a car with 660 pounds of TNT and blow up the Italian Embassy in the Lebanese capital, an area often packed with tourists and sidewalk cafes.

The officials said the suspects also planned to assassinate employees in Western embassies in Lebanon and wanted to attack Lebanese security and judicial targets.

Addoum described Mikati as "one of the most dangerous people wanted in Lebanon" and said he was also behind crimes in Lebanon.

The prosecutor referred to the attack on a McDonald's restaurant in Beirut in April 2003, as well as attacks on U.S. and British interests last year. Mikati has been condemned to death in absentia by a Lebanese military court.

In 2002-03, a series of bombs exploded in Tripoli and Beirut outside American franchises, such as McDonald's and KFC. The attacks, which wounded five people, were seen as a response to Washington's policies on Israel and Iraq. Several people have been convicted in the attacks.

Addoum said he also had "unconfirmed information" that Mikati may have had a role in the slaying last year of an American missionary nurse who was shot at a clinic in the southern city of Sidon.

Mikati was known to be hiding in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh on the outskirts of Sidon. The camp is notorious for its lawlessness and as a refuge for fugitives and Islamic extremists. Lebanese authorities have no presence in the camps and officials did not say how they arrested al-Khatib.

Addoum said Mikati belonged to a group that clashed with the Lebanese army in the northern region of Dinniyah in 1999. More than 40 people, including 11 soldiers, were killed.

Last year, Lebanese police arrested members of a terrorist network that planned attacks on the U.S. Embassy and other Western targets in Lebanon, as well as the assassination of the U.S. ambassador in Beirut.

AP-ES-09-22-04 1616EDT

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To: LindyBill who wrote (72625)9/22/2004 4:44:16 PM
From: unclewest
   of 782733
The network still seems to think it's involved in a political game

VIAb is down almost $1 billion today. At this rate, the political game won't last long.

How much is Dan Rather worth has got to be the boardroom question.

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