Jul. 13th, 2003

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CIA Director George J. Tenet successfully intervened with White House officials to have a reference to Iraq seeking uranium from Niger removed from a presidential speech last October, three months before a less specific reference to the same intelligence appeared in the State of the Union address, according to senior administration officials.

Tenet argued personally to White House officials, including deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley, that the allegation should not be used because it came from only a single source, according to one senior official. Another senior official with knowledge of the intelligence said the CIA had doubts about the accuracy of the documents underlying the allegation, which months later turned out to be forged.

The new disclosure suggests how eager the White House was in January to make Iraq's nuclear program a part of its case against Saddam Hussein even in the face of earlier objections by its own CIA director. It also appears to raise questions about the administration's explanation of how the faulty allegations were included in the State of the Union speech...
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The administration is in the biggest trouble of its tenure. The election campaign is starting, and the president's numbers are going down. The papers are actually starting to print stories that the White House doesn't like.

Arriving late to the party, Mr. Nader (who has threatened another run because the Democrats haven't fought Bush hard enough) has been given valuable Sunday OpEd real estate in the Washington Post, the home town paper of the political establishment, to add his five cents to the ongoing dialogue about the dangers that face our nation without and within.

Though it has hit a few bumps in the road recently, Major League Baseball still expects to shake down the District of Columbia. Many in the city want a team -- but we don't have to give in to baseball's demands to get it...

Thanks, Ralph.


Jul. 13th, 2003 11:15 am
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The Bush administration said Sunday that the president's statement in the State of the Union address about Iraq seeking uranium was accurate and is supported by other British and U.S. information.

Nevertheless, said Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, the statement should not have been in the Jan. 20 speech, in which President Bush laid out reasons for military action against Iraq, because "we have a higher standard for presidential speeches" than raw intelligence.

Roll your own.
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Natalie Maines' controversial comments about President Bush are echoing ever louder in Congress and starting to rattle windows in the radio industry.

Cumulus Broadcasting -- which banned Maines' group, the Dixie Chicks, from all 50 of its country stations after her remarks at a London concert in March -- was the latest to feel the sting of a mounting backlash against media consolidation.

In congressional hearings held July 8, Dixie Chicks manager Simon Renshaw led the charge against Cumulus and the radio business. He revealed his office had had death threats during the ban and he had uncovered evidence that the effort was "orchestrated" in part by "right-wing political" groups.

"What happened to my clients is perhaps the most compelling evidence that radio ownership consolidation has a direct negative impact on diversity of programming and political discourse over the public airwaves," he charged.

Executives in the corporate offices of Cumulus decided to take the group off the air following a well-publicized remark Maines made that the band was "ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas."

"It's an incredible, incredible act," said John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, at the volatile oversight hearing.

Lewis W. Dickey Jr., chairman/CEO of Atlanta-based Cumulus -- which owns about 275 stations -- took all of the heat regarding the Chicks episode. The company lifted the ban in May, but not before disciplining DJs at two stations for defying the edict.

McCain repeatedly grilled Dickey: "Did you not order those stations to take the Dixie Chicks off the air?"

Dickey finally said yes.

McCain then asked: "Would you do that to me?"

Dickey replied, "No."

"Then why do it to a group of entertainers?" McCain asked.

Dickey replied that the ban was a "business decision. Our stations turned to us for guidance. There was a groundswell, a hue and cry from listeners."

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., countered: "I keep hearing you say 'a hue and cry.' Well, that happens all the time in this country. There's a hue and cry every time I speak out about women's choice. That's what happens when you have a diversity of views, discourse. A hue and cry is a beautiful sound. It's the sound of freedom."

Dickey acknowledged that his local station managers "fell in line" with the corporate decision.

"I don't think you know what you've done," Boxer told Dickey. "You've motivated us to look closely at consolidation. When you said earlier that your local staff 'fell in line,' that was a dead giveaway."

McCain said he was not concerned about free-speech violations at local stations that had initiated their own boycotts. "But this came from corporate headquarters. That's a strong argument that First Amendment erosion is in progress."

Sen. John E. Sununu, R-N.H., said, "Radio programrs should not be in the business of political censorship. They should be in the business of promoting political discourse."

in the mean time,

I went to a Dixie Chicks concert in Salt Lake City and a civics lesson broke out. Imagine that.

On the plaza of the Delta Center before the concert on Wednesday, local news live trucks were positioned. Their camera crews roamed the crowd. If they were looking for protesters, there were none.

Natalie Maines, lead singer of the Chicks, made a statement last March on tour in England that was critical of President Bush and the then-impending war. It sparked loud protests in this country. Clear Channel, which owns thousands of radio stations, stopped its country music stations from playing the Chicks' songs. At least one Clear Channel station organized a steamroller protest to crush Chicks CDs in a very public media event.

But there on the Delta Center plaza were the local Clear Channel radio personalities with their brightly painted trailer. They were only too eager to promote their Salt Lake radio stations to the thousands of fans attending...

How many friends you figure Bush has when he starts costing them real money?

Go, Emma.

Jul. 13th, 2003 01:35 pm
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edit: Also, see the eminent Mr. Hlavaty's take.
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Senior Bush administration officials adjusted their defense today of President Bush's claim in his State of the Union address that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa, insisting that the phrasing was accurate even if some of the underlying evidence was unsubstantiated.

Condeleeza Rice, the national security adviser, and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said in separate appearances on Sunday television talk shows that the disputed sentence in Mr. Bush's January speech was carefully hedged, enough that it could still be considered accurate today.

While continuing to acknowledge, as the White House and the Central Intelligence Agency did last week, that the phrase should not have been uttered, they emphasized today that the British had indeed, as Mr. Bush said, reported Iraq's interest in acquiring African uranium.

In his State of the Union address on Jan. 28, Mr. Bush, contended that Saddam Hussein was pursuing efforts to develop a nuclear bomb. Among other elements he cited to make his case, he said, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Dr. Rice, in an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," said: "The statement that he made was indeed accurate. The British government did say that."

And Mr. Rumsfeld said on the NBC News program "Meet the Press": "It turns out that it's technically correct what the president said, that the U.K. does Ñ did say that Ñ and still says that. They haven't changed their mind, the United Kingdom intelligence people."

On the ABC News program "This Week," Mr. Rumsfeld added: "It didn't rise to the standard of a presidential speech, but it's not known, for example, that it was inaccurate. In fact, people think it was technically accurate."

The legalistic defense of the phrasing seemed to signal a shift in the focus of the White House's strategy in dealing with the political fallout over Mr. Bush's public use of evidence that was based in part on fabricated documents and in part on uncorroborated reports from abroad.

It came after a week in which the White House first repudiated the statement and then blamed the Central Intelligence Agency for allowing Mr. Bush to make it. On Friday, George Tenet, director of central intelligence, accepted responsibility, saying, "These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the president."

But the bout of fingerpointing between the White House and the agency concerning the African uranium only served to intensify the criticism of the administration for its handling of prewar intelligence on Iraq. Rather than quelling the controversy, the White House stoked it through official statements, providing an opening for Democratic leaders to attack the administration's handling of the intelligence. So today effort by Dr. Rice and Mr. Rumsfeld appeared to be a response by the White House to turn down the flame on a hot story that the White House itself had helped ignite just days earlier.

Some White House officials suggested that the public is less interested in the story's ins and outs than the news media and the political opposition, and that this is why the administration has chosen this approach...

Still not clear about what they mean by "is" but I'm sure they'll get to it.

"...people think it was technically accurate."?

Somebody, quick, tell these people not to eat the daisies.
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It was a nice peaceful day.

I slept through most of it.

Fireflies are the best cat toy on earth - you can't catch them, they light up to tell you where they are, and they keep disappearing and reappearing somewhere else.

Hours of kitty fun.
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