Monday, September 11, 2006



Posted on Mon, Sep. 11, 2006


On 9/11, innocence was lost once again


On Sept. 10, 2001, this nation was over a quarter century past its last realcrisis.

This is not to say the intervening years were uneventful: they were not.Those years saw three attempted presidential assassinations, a shuttleexplosion, an impeachment and sundry hostage takings, military actions andpolitical scandals. But there had not, since Watergate, been a true crisis,no event of the kind that shakes a nation, that stops it cold and takes itsbreath and makes it anxious about its future.

In this, the quarter century that ended five years ago was an aberration.Previous generations of Americans had come of age with reminders of life'strue nature breathing close enough to stir the hairs at the nape of theneck. From the Great Depression that put the nation on the skids in the1930s, to the sneak attack that plunged it into war in the 1940s, from the1960s when every day seemed to bring fresh outrage -- assassinations, riots,a step to the brink of nuclear war -- to Watergate and the subsequent fallof a president, and from there to the Cold War that hung over more than 40years of American history like a pall of smoke, we were a nation toofrequently made to know that life does not play fair.


Gore says he hasn't ruled out second White House run
Posted 9/10/2006 11:53 AM ET

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) - Former Vice President Al Gore said Sunday he hadn'trule out making a second bid for the White House, though he said it was unlikely.

Gore spoke to reporters in Sydney, where he was promoting the local premiereof his documentary on global warming.

"I haven't completely ruled out running for president again in the futurebut I don't expect to," Gore said before the Sunday night premiere of AnInconvenient Truth.

"I offer the explanation not as an effort to be coy or clever. It's just theinternal shifting of gears after being in politics almost 30 years.I hate to grind the gears," he added.


September 11: What We Must Remember

by Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director, Lambda Legal

(New York City) This September 11, New York will remember the 2,749 peoplewho died in the World Trade Center at a ceremony at Ground Zero. As onprevious anniversaries, the names will be read aloud, but this year theywill be read by the spouses and partners of the victims. The emphasis ismine although the language comes from the PR materials and billing of theupcoming event. This is significant recognition for surviving lesbian andgay partners of 9/11, symbolic though it is. We've still got a long way togo before our families receive equal treatment under the law, particularlyin times of hardship.

Roughly two dozen lesbians and gay men that we know of lost a partner in theSeptember 11th attacks, and less than a quarter of those people received thebenefits automatically awarded to married spouses. Some of those "benefits"boiled down to fundamental rights and responsibilities like being able toobtain a death certificate and to make arrangements for a partner's remains.On top of the intense sorrow of tragically losing a loved one, survivingpartners also suffered the indignity of having to prove the validity oftheir relationship over and over again - and that was in the best ofcircumstances, when people had taken the time to write a will and health care proxy or, where applicable, register as domestic partners.


Worried GOP bids to shore up conservative support for Nov.

Leaders fear those disillusioned with the Republican-led Congress could stay home on Election Day, giving victory to the Democrats.
By WES ALLISON, Times Staff Writer
Published September 11, 2006

WASHINGTON - For all those glum conservatives out there, Terry Jeffries hasa message: Yes, the Republican-led Congress has failed to plug the leaks inthe nation's borders. Yes, federal spending is out of control, despitepledges by Republican leaders to temper it. And, yes, Congress has failed topass key social measures once thought all but assured, considering Congressand the White House are in Republican hands.

But Jeffries, the editor of Human Events, a respected conservativenewsweekly, also wants readers to realize those frustrations will seempiddling if Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the strident Democratic leader fromCalifornia, becomes speaker of the House after November's elections.


Sadly, America has lost status as the good guy


The milk carton I open this morning bears an oddly pedestrian message: Useby 9/11. I am bemused to see this infamous date in such an ordinary context.Somehow I thought it had been removed from the commercial calendar the wayhotels removed the number 13 from their floor plans. By now, surely, 9/11 ismore an icon than a date.

It's been five years since that September morning when those four planestook off in synchronized suicide. Still, 98 percent of Americans rememberexactly where we were when we heard about the terrorist attack on what wehave come to call the homeland.

More than half of us think of 9/11 several times a week.

The 9/11 Commission pinned the success of the attacks on ''a failure ofimagination.'' But this summer, when the British police reported on ''a plotto commit murder on an unimaginable scale,'' I had no trouble imagining thecontact-lens solution, the water bottle, even the lipstick, as agents of carry-on destruction.

But here is something I never imagined five years ago: that America wouldlose our status as the good guy in the struggle against terrorism. I didn'timagine that our government would squander the righteous role won for us thehard way by victims falling from the Twin Towers and firefighters racing totheir deaths.


The New York Times

September 11, 2006

Blair Faces Angry Reception in Beirut
Filed at 6:51 a.m. ET

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) -- Hundreds of people protested British Prime Minister Tony Blair's arrival in Beirut on Monday, angry over his perceived backing of Israel's bombardment of Lebanon.

The parliament speaker, a close ally of Hezbollah who was supposed to meet with Blair, left town in an apparent snub to the first British leader to visit Lebanon.

The country's most senior Shiite Muslim cleric said he held Blair responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Lebanese civilians during the 34-day war because Britain supported the United States in refusing to demand a quick cease-fire.

While Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora greeted Blair at the airport, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in central Beirut. The two leaders road into the city in a 22-vehicle motorcade, with hundreds of security forces guarding the route.

''Blair, you are not welcome in Lebanon,'' read a banner carried by protesters. ''In the name of the Lebanese people: Thank you for destroying our homes, neighborhoods and memories.''


The New York Times

September 11, 2006

Denying the Vote

It has been decades since federal laws overturned the literacy tests and poll taxes that were the most blatant forms of discrimination barring black people from voting in Southern states. But even today, felony disenfranchisement is an enormous obstacle to voting for black people in the Deep South. These laws are the worst in the free world. The process for restoring voting rights for people who have been convicted of crimes can be so byzantine that officials don't know who is eligible. The confusion bars some eligible voters from the polls for life.

In Alabama, an archaic law strips the right to vote from people convicted of crimes involving "moral turpitude,'' without explaining what that is or what crimes are covered. A man who was convicted of a felony for driving under the influence of alcohol, for example, was stripped of his right to vote. When he reapplied for the vote, different agencies gave him contradictory answers, and he was initially prohibited from registering.

An Alabama judge has instructed the Legislature to clear up the confusion by clearly defining what the phrase means. But the problem with the state's system runs far deeper than that. The Legislature recognized that something was seriously wrong in 2003, when it passed a law streamlining the process of restoration of voting rights for people who have completed their sentences for certain crimes. The expedited system has failed, however, because of foot-dragging and endemic confusion.


The New York Times

September 11, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist

Promises Not Kept

Five years ago, the nation rallied around a president who promised vengeance against those responsible for the atrocity of 9/11. Yet Osama bin Laden is still alive and at large. His trail, The Washington Post reports, has gone "stone cold." Osama and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are evidently secure enough in their hideaway that they can taunt us with professional-quality videos.

They certainly don't lack for places to stay. Pakistan's government has signed a truce with Islamic militants in North Waziristan, the province where bin Laden is presumed to be hiding. Although the Pakistanis say that this doesn't mean that bin Laden is immune from arrest, their claims aren't very credible.

Meanwhile, much of Afghanistan has fallen back under the control of drug-dealing warlords and of the Taliban, which sheltered Al Qaeda before it was driven from Kabul. NATO's top commander has appealed for more troops; the top British commander in Afghanistan has said that fighting there is fiercer than in Iraq. And the numbers bear him out: since the beginning of 2006, the NATO force in Afghanistan has had a higher rate of fatalities than that suffered by coalition troops in Iraq.


The New York Times

September 11, 2006


The feelings of sadness and loss with which we look back on Sept. 11, 2001, have shifted focus over the last five years. The attacks themselves have begun to acquire the aura of inevitability that comes with being part of history. We can argue about what one president or another might have done to head them off, but we cannot really imagine a world in which they never happened, any more than we can imagine what we would be like today if the Japanese had never attacked Pearl Harbor.

What we do revisit, over and over again, is the period that followed, when sorrow was merged with a sense of community and purpose. How, having lost so much on the day itself, did we also manage to lose that as well?

The time when we felt drawn together, changed by the shock of what had occurred, lasted long beyond the funerals, ceremonies and promises never to forget. It was a time when the nation was waiting to find out what it was supposed to do, to be called to the task that would give special lasting meaning to the tragedy that it had endured.


The New York Times
September 11, 2006

Activism Is in the Eye of the Ideologist

Conservatives like to divide judges into liberal "activists" and conservative nonactivists who interpret the law rather than making it. Anyone who follows the courts knows that conservative judges are as activist as liberal judges -just for different causes. A new study of Supreme Court voting patterns confirms this and suggests that the conservative Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas are actually more activist than their liberal colleagues.

Lori Ringhand, a professor at the University of Kentucky College of Law, examined the voting records of the Supreme Court justices from 1994 to 2005. Because judicial activism is a vague concept, she applied a reasonable, objective standard. In the study, which is forthcoming in Constitutional Commentary, justices were considered to have voted in an activist way when they voted to overturn a federal or state law, or one of the court's own precedents.

The conservative justices were far more willing than the liberals to strike down federal laws - clearly an activist stance, since they were substituting their own judgment for that of the people's elected representatives in Congress. Justice Thomas voted to overturn federal laws in 34 cases and Justice Scalia in 31, compared with just 15 for Justice Stephen Breyer. When state laws were at issue, the liberals were more activist. Add up the two categories, and the conservatives and liberals turned out to be roughly equal. But Justices Thomas and Scalia, who are often held out as models of nonactivism, voted to strike down laws in more of these cases than Justice Breyer and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court's two Clinton appointees.


The New York Times

September 10, 2006
The World

Al Qaeda Finds Its Center of Gravity

OVER the last year, as Iran, Iraq and Lebanon have dominated headlines, hopes of gaining firmer control of a largely forgotten corner of the war on terrorism - the lawless Pakistan-Afghanistan border region - have quietly evaporated.

On Tuesday, the Pakistani government signed a "truce" with militants who have resisted Pakistani military efforts to gain control of the region, which is roughly the size of Delaware. The agreement, which lets militants remain in the area as long as they promised to halt attacks, immediately set off concern among American analysts.

Al Qaeda's surviving leadership is suspected of using the border areas as a base of operation to support international terrorist attacks, including possibly the July 2005 London subway bombings. Meanwhile, the Taliban leadership is widely believed to be using another border area to direct spiraling attacks in Afghanistan.


The New York Times

September 10, 2006
Ideas & Trends

A Terror Trial, With or Without Due Process

SOME debates are so polarized, with the competing sides so certain that any compromise would be dangerous, that it's hard to imagine any middle ground emerging.

The argument over how to try the 14 terror suspects recently transferred from Central Intelligence Agency prisons to military custody at Guantánamo Bay seems to be one of them.

On one side is the Bush administration, which last week proposed that these suspects, whom it called the most dangerous in the war on terror, should be tried in military commissions under procedures that the White House asked Congress to endorse.

Under the Bush proposal, the trials would not resemble any civilian trials or courts-martial held in the United States. Hearsay evidence and evidence obtained under coercion or duress could be admitted. And suspects could be denied access to classified evidence, although it would be disclosed to their military defense lawyers.


The Washington Post

Losing the War on Terror
Why Militants Are Beating Technology Five Years After Sept. 11

By Ahmed Rashid
Monday, September 11, 2006; A17

LAHORE, Pakistan -- In the five years since Sept. 11, the tactics and strategy of Islamic extremists fighting U.S. or NATO forces have improved dramatically. To a degree they could not approach five years ago, the extremists are successfully facing off against the overwhelming technological apparatus that modern armies can bring to bear against guerrillas. Islamic extremists are winning the war by not losing, and they are steadily expanding to create new battlefronts.

Imagine an Arab guerrilla army that is never seen by Israeli forces, never publicly celebrates victories or mourns defeats, and merges so successfully into the local population that Western TV networks can't interview its commanders or fighters. Such was the achievement of Hezbollah's 33-day war against Israeli troops, who admitted that they rarely saw the enemy until they were shot at.

Israel's high-tech surveillance and weaponry were no match for Hezbollah's low-tech network of underground tunnels. Hezbollah's success in stealth and total battlefield secrecy is an example of what extremists are trying to do worldwide.


The Washington Post

Muslim Candidate Plays Defense
Lead Shrinks as Minnesota Democrat Repudiates Association With Farrakhan

By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 11, 2006; A03

MINNEAPOLIS -- Keith Ellison is a Democrat running for an open House seat in a heavily Democratic district. But what once looked like a cakewalk has turned into a bruising campaign in which many facts are disputed but a central one is not: If he wins, he will be the first Muslim elected to Congress.

Before he can make history, Ellison must capture Tuesday's hotly contested Democratic primary in Minnesota's 5th Congressional District, which consists of the Minneapolis side of the Twin Cities and an inner ring of suburbs. Whoever gets the Democratic nomination is expected to sweep to victory in November to succeed Rep. Martin O. Sabo (D), who is retiring after 28 years in the House.

Ellison, 43, is a two-term state legislator. He prays toward Mecca five times a day and says he has not eaten pork or had a drink of alcohol since he converted to Islam as a 19-year-old student at Wayne State University in Detroit. When speaking at mosques or to members of Minneapolis's large Somali immigrant population, he opens with "Salaam aleikum," Arabic for "Peace be with you."


The New York Times

September 11, 2006

Abbas Announces Deal on Government
Filed at 7:49 a.m. ET

GAZA (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday he had reached an agreement with Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh over the formation of a unity government that could be constituted in a matter of days.

``Hopefully in the coming days we will begin forming the government of national unity,'' Abbas said.

It is hoped that the formation of such a government will lead to the lifting of international sanctions that have stalled the functioning of the current Palestinian government led by the Islamic militant movement Hamas, Haniyeh's party.