Monday, March 26, 2007


**IF YOU CAN'T ACCESS THE FULL ARTICLE, CONTACT US AT and we'll be happy to send the full article.


A President All Alone

By Robert D. Novak
Monday, March 26, 2007; A15

Two weeks earlier on Capitol Hill, there was a groundswell of Republicandemands -- public and private -- that President Bush pardon Scooter Libby.Last week, as Alberto Gonzales came under withering Democratic fire, therewere no public GOP declarations of support amid private predictions of theattorney general's demise.

Republican leaders in Congress, who asked not to be quoted by name,predicted early last week that Gonzales would fall because the JusticeDepartment botched the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. By week's end, theystipulated that the president would not sack his longtime aide and thatGonzales would leave only on his own initiative. But there was still anominous lack of congressional support for the attorney general.

"Gonzales never has developed a base of support for himself up here," aHouse Republican leader told me. But this is less a Gonzales problem than aBush problem. With nearly two years remaining in his presidency, George W.Bush is alone. In half a century, I have not seen a president so isolatedfrom his own party in Congress -- not Jimmy Carter, not even Richard Nixonas he faced impeachment.

Republicans in Congress do not trust their president to protect them. Thatalone is sufficient reason to withhold statements of support for Gonzales,because such a gesture could be quickly followed by his resignation underpressure. Rep. Adam Putnam (Fla.), the highly regarded young chairman of theHouse Republican Conference, praised Donald Rumsfeld in November only to seehim sacked shortly thereafter.

But not many Republican lawmakers would speak up for Gonzales even if theywere sure Bush would stick with him. He is the least popular Cabinet memberon Capitol Hill, even more disliked than Rumsfeld was. The word most oftenused by Republicans to describe the management of the Justice Departmentunder Gonzales is "incompetent."


No Retreat on School Reform
By Edward M. Kennedy
Monday, March 26, 2007; A15

Five years ago, Congress and President Bush made a bold and historicpromise. We pledged in the No Child Left Behind Act that the federalgovernment would do all in its power to guarantee every child in America,regardless of race, economic background, language or disability, theopportunity to get a world-class education.

We have made progress toward fulfilling that commitment. Before the act waspassed, most states lacked ways to track student progress and teachereffectiveness.

Many state accountability requirements had no commitment to improvingeducation for every child. Only four states had approved assessments thattracked and reported the achievement of every group of students in theirschools.

Today, all 50 states have standards, assessments and accountabilityprocedures that enable us to track the achievement of every group ofstudents. Every school measures performance, based not on overall studentpopulation but on progress in closing achievement gaps and getting allstudents to meet high standards.

Schools across the country are using assessments under the No Child law toidentify weaknesses in instruction and areas of need for their students.

These are significant reforms, and we can't simply ignore them.

But to fulfill our promise, much more remains to be done.


Obstacle or Opportunity?
How the Palestinian Unity Government Offers a Path to Peace

By Daoud Kuttab
Monday, March 26, 2007; A15

When Henry Kissinger coined the term "constructive ambiguity" during hisattempts to negotiate Arab-Israeli peace, he couldn't have expected that oneday Palestinians would use it in their own peace initiative. The ambiguityin the agenda of the new Palestinian "unity government" depends on whetherone sees the cup as half full or half empty. If Israel and the United Stateswant to move forward on the peace process, the cup is half full. But ifthere is no real will to pay the price for peace, the cup is half empty.

More than a year ago, with international encouragement, the Palestinianpeople adopted electoral democracy, even before they enjoyed sovereignty andthe end of the Israeli occupation. They threw out their longtime Fatahsecularist leaders and replaced them with Hamas. The unjust freeze onPalestinian aid that followed sparked a social revolt and the beginnings ofa civil war; this was stopped in part by the recent Fatah-Hamas coalitionthat produced the unity government.

For the first time in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, amajority of Palestinians, including the Islamists, are willing to accept aPalestinian state within the internationally acceptable borders of 1967. Theimplicit recognition of Israel in this is supported by clauses in agreementsbetween the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel that includedmutual recognition as well as respect for Arab and international resolutionsand treaties. By demanding explicit recognition before negotiations canbegin, Israel and others are being unreasonable. No other people withoutsovereignty has been forced to recognize an occupier whose borders arevague. By accepting an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza alongsideIsrael, the Palestinians have declared the borders of their own state andoffer the possibility of mutual recognition through negotiation.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the supreme military commander, hascalled for an end to occupation through negotiations and has rejectedoutright the use of violence. While insisting on the people's right toresist occupation through any method, the unity government prioritizesnonviolent resistance. Furthermore, by seeking to extend the cease-fire inGaza to the West Bank, the new government is offering an olive branch to theIsraelis even before negotiations begin.

Politically, the new government provides a logical process regardingnegotiations for a permanent resolution of the conflict. It gives Abbas andthe PLO, which he chairs, full authority to negotiate a peace agreement withIsrael. Once an agreement is reached, it is to be ratified by thePalestinian National Council or through a referendum. Polls of Palestiniansconsistently show strong support for a peace based on the two-statesolution. So an Abbas-brokered deal approved by the people is possible evenwith Hamas in power. Such a peace, negotiated by a moderate Palestinian andapproved by the silent majority, would last. The alternative, making asecret deal without public support, would not last and would easily betorpedoed, as we saw with the Oslo accords.


Soft Pedaling the Housing Market Blues

By Desmond Lachman
Special to's Think Tank Town
Monday, March 26, 2007; 12:00 AM

On observing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke minimize the likelyeconomic impact of today's deepening housing market problems, one has towonder what, if anything, might the Federal Reserve have learnt from thebursting of the dot-com bubble in 2001. At that time, too, the Feddownplayed the economic consequences of a collapsing asset market. And itdid so only to find itself, a few months later, in the awkward position ofhaving to aggressively cut interest rates to prevent the dot-com crash fromprecipitating a deep economic recession.

Drawing parallels between the earlier dot-com meltdown and today's unfoldingproblems in the housing market would seem appropriate given the very strongrun-up in home prices over the past six years. As Robert Shiller, therenowned Yale University expert on the U.S. housing market, has correctlyobserved, between 2000 and 2006, home prices, adjusted for inflation,increased by a staggering 80 percent. That remarkable increase in homeprices, which has no precedent in the United States over the past hundredyears, increased household wealth by around 50 percent of GDP, or by anamount not dissimilar to that created by the earlier run-up in dot-comequity prices.

Among the more important factors fueling the housing market boom in recentyears was the maintenance of abnormally low interest rates by the Fed in thewake of the bursting of the dot-com bubble. Not only did the Fed cutinterest rates to as low as 1 percent by 2003, but it was also very slow inrestoring interest rates to more normal levels over the next four years. Nowonder, then, that speculative home purchases became increasingly rampant asthe housing boom gathered pace.

Adding fuel to the housing market boom was an unprecedented relaxation ofmortgage-lending standards and the introduction of a vast array of newlending instruments specifically designed to make it easier for the leastcreditworthy borrowers to buy homes. No longer were borrowers required toverify their income or to provide a credit record to qualify for a mortgageloan. And no longer did they need to pay high interest rates or amortizationpayments in the early stages of their loan, as adjustable rate mortgages andinterest-only loans became the norm.

The trouble with today's housing market is that the chickens are now cominghome to roost as the period of easy home credit has run its course. Fearfulof igniting inflation, the Fed has restored interest rates to 5.25 percentand it shows no sign of dropping its inflation guard any time soon. At thesame time, an alarming rise in defaults at the subprime, or the weak creditend, of the home market has led to the folding of many subprime mortgagelenders, which last year accounted for as much as 20 percent of totalmortgage lending. Rising defaults have also prompted the regulators, whowere pretty much asleep while the party was in full swing, to now take itupon themselves to shut the easy mortgage credit door long after the horsehas bolted.


A Partnership on Iraq

By Lee H. Hamilton
Sunday, March 25, 2007; B07

President Bush staked out his position on Iraq in January, and the House hasnow staked out its own. Deep divisions between these positions signal astalemate among our political leaders. There is no unity of effort. Yet thepresident and the Democratic majorities in Congress will remain in officefor nearly two years. They must seek a bipartisan consensus in the monthsahead; otherwise, our efforts in Iraq will falter.

The American people have soured on the war. They clearly are looking for aresponsible transition for U.S. forces out of Iraq. The House supplementalspending plan outlines a transition, as do proposals pending in the Senate.Moving forward, the president and Congress must become partners, and notantagonists, toward this end.

A strategy of sustained pressure on the Iraqi government to advance nationalreconciliation, provide security and improve the lives of the Iraqi peopleoffers the best chance of advancing stability. U.S. military forces haveperformed valiantly, but they cannot by themselves accomplish these goals --only Iraqis can. As President Bush told the nation on Jan. 10, "only theIraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people."

To that end, the House bill lays out the steps that the Iraqi governmentmust take. These benchmarks are not new. They have been widely agreed uponby the White House and the Iraqi government, as have target dates forcompletion. At issue is the conditionality of U.S. support. Time and again,Iraqis have missed deadlines. Time and again, deadlines have been extended,and U.S. political, economic and military support has continued and evenincreased.

The House bill breaks this cycle. By compelling the president to reportIraq's performance to Congress, the House provides a necessary mechanism totrack progress. By tying continued U.S. support -- including the presence ofU.S. troops -- to benchmarks, it uses the strongest possible leverage topress Iraqi leaders to meet their commitments.


An Opening for Democrats

By David S. Broder
Sunday, March 25, 2007; B07

Six years of Republican control in Washington have taken a toll on thecountry -- and the GOP is paying the price politically. Instead of the Bushadministration ushering in a new era of GOP dominance, as Karl Rove hoped,it has set the stage for a Democratic resurgence.

That turnabout was implicit in the results of the 2006 midterm election,when Democrats took back narrow majorities in the House and Senate andcaptured the majority of governorships. And it is reinforced by a massivepoll released last week by Andrew Kohut and the Pew Research Center for thePeople and the Press.

The survey of 2,007 people, conducted in December and January, depicts adramatic shift in Americans' attitudes, opinions and values between 1994,when Republicans took control of Congress, and now. Most of the change hasoccurred since George Bush took office in 2001.

The poll, which can be found at, is a treasuretrove of information about Americans' views of the parties, government, theworld scene, religion, the economy, business, labor and a dozen othertopics.

The finding that will jump out at politicians and journalists is the onemeasuring the collapse of support for the GOP. In 2002, the number ofRepublicans and Republican-leaning independents -- 43 percent -- wasidentical to the 43 percent who favored the Democrats. Now, the Democratslead 50 percent to 35 percent.

The story is one of disenchantment with Republicans, not a burst ofpopularity for the Democrats. The Democratic Party favorability score of 54percent is only four percentage points higher now than it was in 1994. ButRepublican favorability has plunged from 67 percent to 40 percent. Amongindependents, it dropped 28 points.


GOP Support For Attorney General Erodes
by The Associated Press
Posted: March 25, 2007 - 2:00 pm ET

(Washington) Republican support for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales erodedSunday as three key senators sharply questioned his truthfulness and aDemocrat joined the list of lawmakers who want him to resign over the firingof eight federal prosecutors.

"We have to have an attorney general who is candid and truthful. And if wefind out he's not been candid and truthful, that's a very compelling reasonfor him not to stay on," said Sen. Arlen Specter, the top Republican on theSenate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Justice Department.

Specter, R-Pa., said he would wait until Gonzales' scheduled April 17testimony to the committee on the dismissals before deciding whether hecould continue to support the attorney general. He called it a "make orbreak" appearance.

To Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., Gonzales "does have a credibility problem. ...We govern with one currency, and that's trust. And that trust is allimportant. And when you lose or debase that currency, then you can't govern.And I think he's going to have some difficulties."

Hagel cited changing stories from the Justice Department about thecircumstances for firing the eight U.S. attorneys. "I don't know if he gotbad advice or if he was not involved in the day-to-day management. I don'tknow what the problem is, but he's got a problem. You cannot have thenation's chief law enforcement officer with a cloud hanging over hiscredibility," Hagel said.


Conservatives Battle For Control Of GOP
by The Associated Press
Posted: March 25, 2007 - 11:00 am ET

(Sioux City, Iowa) A blip in most of the early polling, GOP presidentialcandidate Mike Huckabee said Saturday he believes his conservative viewswill prevail.

"Sometimes when people say, 'When you get traction, I'm going to be withyou,' my answer is, 'You are my traction,' " the former Arkansas governortold The Associated Press.

"If people of genuine conservative convictions don't support a conservativewith convictions, then quite frankly I'm not sure what the point would be tobe in politics," he said in an interview.

Huckabee was on a one-day visit to heavily Republican western Iowa, hissecond trip to the state since forming an exploratory committee. But in astate whose precinct caucuses will launch the presidential nominatingseason, Huckabee has spent less time than better known rivals and trails inmost early polling.

Some Republicans said Huckabee's conservative message appeals to the GOPbase, but he needs to convince activists he is a serious player. Huckabeesaid that will happen naturally over the next few months as Republicansbegin to sort through the field.


The New York Times

March 26, 2007
The Hamas Conundrum

As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice moves into the final days of herMiddle East trip, she still needs to come up with a way to translate thecurrent lull in the violence between Israel and the Palestinians into anopening for genuine peace negotiations.

Nobody pretends that will be easy. Hamas - which has now formed a unitygovernment of convenience with the more moderate Fatah - still refuses totake the three steps needed to demonstrate its commitment to good-faithdiplomacy: renouncing terrorism, recognizing Israel and adhering topreviously negotiated agreements. And until it does, Israel refuses tonegotiate with Hamas or conduct serious business with the PalestinianAuthority president, Mahmoud Abbas, of

Standing back and waiting for more promising conditions is not an option -and never has been. After six wasted years of Bush administration posturing,Ms. Rice appears, belatedly, to realize that a just, negotiated peacebetween Israel and the Palestinians is essential for Israeli security andAmerican diplomacy. But recognizing it is not enough. If seriousnegotiations are to begin any time soon, Washington has to help jump-startthe process.

That will require Ms. Rice to be willing to talk to any Palestiniangenuinely willing to discuss peace - no matter Israel's objections. Ms. Rice'sclear message to all Palestinians - those in the room and those outside it - needs to be that if their new government is ready to stop all terroristattacks against Israel, Ms. Rice is ready to press Israel to take matchingsteps, like halting all settlement construction and easing onerousrestrictions on movements within the West Bank that have throttled economicdevelopment and stoked almost universal anger among ordinary Palestinians.

If Hamas wants American aid restored, it still must meet the threeconditions on ending terrorism, recognizing Israel and accepting pastagreements. European governments should hold that line as well. That stillleaves room for humanitarian aid delivered through nongovernmental channels,which should continue as needed.


The New York Times

March 26, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor

A High Price for Freedom

ALL the talk about a potential presidential pardon for I. Lewis Libby Jr.has infuriated critics of the Bush administration; many feel that a Libbypardon would amount to a whitewashing of the White House's actions relatingto Valerie Plame's identity.

Perhaps they should take heart: Mr. Libby may escape prison time, but if heaccepted a pardon, he (and Mr. Bush) would have a hard time continuing toinsist that he was an innocent victim of a vengeful prosecutor. It wouldalso undermine the claim that the Plame investigation was a partisan ploy todiscredit the White House, and leave another stain on Mr. Bush's legacy.

Here's why: If Mr. Libby were to accept a traditional presidential pardon -
"full and unconditional" grant of clemency - he would be admitting that hewas guilty of the crimes of which he was convicted: obstructing justice,perjury and lying to the F.B.I. Perhaps it shouldn't be that way, but itis - no ifs, ands or buts about it. So, while many who have been pardonedlike to claim they have been "exonerated," that simply isn't so.

The Supreme Court laid down the law in 1915 in a case that, paradoxically,grew out of a debate over the sanctity of a newspaperman's sources. Sixdecades later, President Gerald Ford relied heavily on the court'sdecision - in his own mind, though not publicly - in justifying his pardonof Richard Nixon. Ford would have preferred an open confession of guilt byNixon instead of the grudging statement that confessed nothing, but Fordconsoled himself with the doctrine that acceptance of a pardon is, legallyand ethically, an admission of guilt.

The story behind the 1915 case is little known but very relevant today. Itinvolved the city editor of The New York Tribune, George Burdick, who,unlike journalists in the Libby case, flatly refused to testify before afederal grand jury about his sources for an article on fraud in the UnitedStates Custom House in New York. He said he might incriminate himself in histestimony. The federal prosecutor saw a quick pardon as the answer to thisproblem, and President Woodrow Wilson agreed.


The New York Times

March 26, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Emerging Republican Minority

Remember how the 2004 election was supposed to have demonstrated, once andfor all, that conservatism was the future of American politics? I do: earlyin 2005, some colleagues in the news media urged me, in effect, to give up."The election settled some things," I was told.

But at this point 2004 looks like an aberration, an election won withfear-and-smear tactics that have passed their sell-by date. Republicans nolonger have a perceived edge over Democrats on national security - andwithout that edge, they stand revealed as ideologues out of step with anincreasingly liberal American public.

Right now the talk of the political chattering classes is a report from thePew Research Center showing a precipitous decline in Republican support. In2002 equal numbers of Americans identified themselves as Republicans andDemocrats, but since then the Democrats have opened up a 15-point advantage.

Part of the Republican collapse surely reflects public disgust with the Bushadministration. The gap between the parties will probably get even widerwhen - not if - more and worse tales of corruption and abuse of poweremerge.


The New York Times

March 26, 2007
G.O.P. Senators Lug Weight of War Toward '08

NORTH CONWAY, N.H., March 24 - Senator John E. Sununu knows that hispolitical future could hinge on the war in Iraq, try as he might to changethe subject.

For weeks, Mr. Sununu and Republican colleagues who face re-election nextyear have trudged through an on-again, off-again Iraq debate in Congress. Sothe annual Lincoln Day Dinner that he attended here Saturday evening, withits friendly audience, might have been expected to offer a respite from therealities of Washington.

But even among the ladies and gentlemen of the Carroll County RepublicanCommittee, more than a few of whom wore elephant neckties and broaches tocelebrate the symbol of their party, the vexing issue of Iraq was the realelephant in the room.

"Nobody is happy with the way the war is going," said Richard Hickey, acertified public accountant and loyal Republican who attended the event. "Itwas a Republican project, so my guess is that he's in trouble. SenatorSununu has been such a big supporter of George W. Bush, the Democrats willtake a good shot at him."

On Monday, the Senate resumes its protracted struggle to forge an Iraqstrategy. Mr. Sununu and a handful of Republicans - including those facingre-election next year and those who have expressed unhappiness withPresident Bush's conduct of the war but are uncomfortable with the idea ofsetting a date for withdrawal - find themselves searching for balance asthey juggle three tasks: responding to the frustrations of theirconstituents, resisting the demands of antiwar Democrats and not entirelyabandoning the White House.


The New York Times

March 26, 2007
Poor Behavior Is Linked to Time in Day Care

A much-anticipated report from the largest and longest-running study ofAmerican child care has found that keeping a preschooler in a day carecenter for a year or more increased the likelihood that the child wouldbecome disruptive in class - and that the effect persisted through the sixthgrade.

The effect was slight, and well within the normal range for healthychildren, the researchers found. And as expected, parents' guidance andtheir genes had by far the strongest influence on how children behaved.

But the finding held up regardless of the child's sex or family income, andregardless of the quality of the day care center. With more than two millionAmerican preschoolers attending day care, the increased disruptiveness verylikely contributes to the load on teachers who must manage large classrooms,the authors argue.

On the positive side, they also found that time spent in high-quality daycare centers was correlated with higher vocabulary scores through elementaryschool.

The research, being reported today as part of the federally financed Studyof Early Child Care and Youth Development, tracked more than 1,300 childrenin various arrangements, including staying home with a parent; being caredfor by a nanny or a relative; or attending a large day care center. Once thesubjects reached school, the study used teacher ratings of each child toassess behaviors like interrupting class, teasing and bullying.


N.Y. Mayor Is Eyeing '08, Observers Say

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 26, 2007; A01

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a self-made billionaire, has toldfriends more than once that his definition of good financial planning ismaking sure the check to the undertaker bounces when it's finally time togo.

So how does a billionaire spend all his money before he dies? In Bloomberg'scase, he just might drop a cool half-billion on a long-shot bid to becomethe nation's first modern president from outside the two major politicalparties.

As fellow New Yorkers Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D)campaign vigorously across the country to become their parties' nominees andprepare for what would be an electric general-election clash, Bloomberg isgoverning the "ungovernable city" -- and patiently waiting in the wings.

Publicly, the Democrat-turned-Republican professes no interest in the topjob at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. But the founder of the Bloomberg financialnews empire has dropped enough hints and has had enough tantalizingdiscussions with potential supporters that people who observe the city'spolitics for a living are convinced he is at least thinking about it.

"He would be a very compelling candidate," said civil rights activist AlSharpton, himself a once and potentially future presidential hopeful fromthe Big Apple, and a friend of the mayor's. Sharpton called Bloomberg "RossPerot with a resume" and predicted that "if he operates as he's done inother parts of his life, he will put both feet in."



Published: March 9, 2007
Bush Claims About NCLB Questioned

Data on gains in achievement remain limited, preliminary.
By David J. Hoff and Kathleen Kennedy Manzo

Is the No Child Left Behind Act working?

President Bush says it is, pointing to student-achievement results from asingle subsection of the National Assessment of Educational Progress andtentative Reading First data. But the evidence available to support hisclaim is questionable.

"Fourth graders are reading better," the president said during a March 2visit to a school in New Albany, Ind. "They've made more progress in fiveyears than the previous 28 years combined."

In mathematics, he said, elementary and middle school students "earned thehighest scores in the history of the test."

The data Mr. Bush cited at that event are from just the "long-term trend"NAEP in reading and math, researchers say. All available data, they add,show modest improvements that can't be attributed to the 5-year-old law.Instead, progress in achievement is more likely a continuation of trendsthat predate the law.

"There's not any evidence that shows anything has changed," said Daniel M.Koretz, a professor of education at Harvard University's graduate school ofeducation.


The New York Times

March 26, 2007
Sunni Baghdad Becomes Land of Silent Ruins

BAGHDAD, March 25 - The cityscape of Iraq's capital tells a stark story ofthe toll the past four years have taken on Iraq's once powerful Sunni Arabs.

Theirs is a world of ruined buildings, damaged mosques, streets pitted bymortar shells, uncollected trash and so little electricity that many peoplehave abandoned using refrigerators altogether.

The contrast with Shiite neighborhoods is sharp. Markets there are in fullswing, community projects are under way, and while electricity is scarcethroughout the city, there is less trouble finding fuel for generators inthose areas. When the government cannot provide services, civilian arms ofthe Shiite militias step in to try to fill the gap.

But in Adhamiya, a community with a Sunni majority, any semblance of normallife vanished more than a year ago. Its only hospital, Al Numan, is so shortof basic items like gauze and cotton pads that when mortar attacks hit thecommunity last fall, the doctors broadcast appeals for supplies over localmosque loudspeakers.

Here, as in so much of Baghdad, the sectarian divide makes itself felt inits own deadly and destructive ways. Far more than in Shiite areas,sectarian hatred has shredded whatever remained of community life andcreated a cycle of violence that pits Sunni against Sunni as well as Sunniagainst Shiite.


The New York Times

March 26, 2007
India Attracts Universities From the U.S.

CHENNAI, India - It was an unusual university entrance interview.

Late one recent evening here in steamy southern India, Vijay Muddana sat ina mercilessly air-conditioned room, leaning forward in his chair and talkingto the wall.

There, projected on a screen via videoconferencing equipment, wereadministrators from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where an earlymorningsnowstorm had caused a power failure, delaying the interviews by an hour.The Indians found it funny that even in Pittsburgh, there were powerfailures.

Mr. Muddana, 21, was among a dozen ambitious young Indians hoping to get agraduate degree in information technology offered jointly by Carnegie Mellonand a small private college here.

The exchange was one of the many ways in which American universities, eagerto expand to markets abroad, are training their sights on India. Some 40percent of the population is under 18, and a scarcity of higher educationopportunities is frequently cited as a potential hurdle to economicprogress.

The American universities are just testing the waters, because the law hereis still vague on how foreign educational institutions can operate. But thatmay soon change.


The Washington Post

Terrorized by 'War on Terror'
How a Three-Word Mantra Has Undermined America

By Zbigniew Brzezinski
Sunday, March 25, 2007; B01

The "war on terror" has created a culture of fear in America. The Bushadministration's elevation of these three words into a national mantra sincethe horrific events of 9/11 has had a pernicious impact on Americandemocracy, on America's psyche and on U.S. standing in the world. Using thisphrase has actually undermined our ability to effectively confront the realchallenges we face from fanatics who may use terrorism against us.

The damage these three words have done -- a classic self-inflicted wound --is infinitely greater than any wild dreams entertained by the fanaticalperpetrators of the 9/11 attacks when they were plotting against us indistant Afghan caves. The phrase itself is meaningless. It defines neither ageographic context nor our presumed enemies. Terrorism is not an enemy but atechnique of warfare -- political intimidation through the killing ofunarmed non-combatants.

But the little secret here may be that the vagueness of the phrase wasdeliberately (or instinctively) calculated by its sponsors. Constantreference to a "war on terror" did accomplish one major objective: Itstimulated the emergence of a culture of fear. Fear obscures reason,intensifies emotions and makes it easier for demagogic politicians tomobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue. The warof choice in Iraq could never have gained the congressional support it gotwithout the psychological linkage between the shock of 9/11 and thepostulated existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Support forPresident Bush in the 2004 elections was also mobilized in part by thenotion that "a nation at war" does not change its commander in chief inmidstream. The sense of a pervasive but otherwise imprecise danger was thuschanneled in a politically expedient direction by the mobilizing appeal ofbeing "at war."

To justify the "war on terror," the administration has lately crafted afalse historical narrative that could even become a self-fulfillingprophecy. By claiming that its war is similar to earlier U.S. strugglesagainst Nazism and then Stalinism (while ignoring the fact that both NaziGermany and Soviet Russia were first-rate military powers, a status al-Qaedaneither has nor can achieve), the administration could be preparing the casefor war with Iran. Such war would then plunge America into a protractedconflict spanning Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and perhaps also Pakistan.

The culture of fear is like a genie that has been let out of its bottle. Itacquires a life of its own -- and can become demoralizing. America today isnot the self-confident and determined nation that responded to Pearl Harbor;nor is it the America that heard from its leader, at another moment ofcrisis, the powerful words "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself";nor is it the calm America that waged the Cold War with quiet persistencedespite the knowledge that a real war could be initiated abruptly withinminutes and prompt the death of 100 million Americans within just a fewhours. We are now divided, uncertain and potentially very susceptible topanic in the event of another terrorist act in the United States itself.


Japan PM Apologizes to WWII Sex Slaves

The Associated Press
Monday, March 26, 2007; 7:06 AM

TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, under fire for denying thatJapan forced women to work as sex slaves during World War II, offered afresh apology Monday but refused to clearly acknowledge Japan'sresponsibility for running the frontline brothels.

"I express my sympathy toward the comfort women and apologize for thesituation they found themselves in," Abe told a parliamentary debate, usinga euphemism used by Japanese politicians to refer to former sex slaves.

"I apologize here and now as prime minister," he said.

Abe's apology was his clearest yet since the conservative leader triggeredinternational furor earlier this month by saying there was no evidence thatwomen were coerced into sexual service in the World War II era.

Still, his remarks fall short of demands made by victims that Abe clearlyacknowledge that the wartime military was involved in forcing the women intoprostitution.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Mon, Mar. 26, 2007
Australian first to appear before reopened Guantánamo war-crimes court

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- Amid days of secret Pentagon proceedingsagainst reputed al Qaeda arch-terrorists, the U.S. military is reopening itswar-crimes court today with a single charge against an alleged war-on-terrorfoot soldier with no explicit links to the 9/11 attacks.

Australian David Hicks, 31, is slated this afternoon to become the firstGuantánamo captive to appear before a newly constituted Military Commissionin what would be the first war-crimes tribunal since World War II.

Fourteen so-called high-value detainees could eventually appear before asimilar commission, including alleged al Qaeda kingpin Khaled SheikMohammed, who according to Pentagon transcripts admitted in a secret hearinghere to orchestrating the 9/11 attacks and beheading Wall Street Journalreporter Daniel Pearl.

In a nine-page charge sheet, Hicks is accused of providing material supportfor terrorism. It casts the former kangaroo skinner as a Christian convertto Islam who wandered the world as a soldier of fortune and joined aninternational anti-American jihad.

If convicted, officials say he would serve out any sentence -- a maximum oflife imprisonment -- in Australia under an earlier diplomatic deal.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Mon, Mar. 26, 2007
Mel loses his cool, again

Actor-director Mel Gibson found himself at the center of controversy againFriday, reports The Los Angeles Daily News, a day after he cursed a CalState Northridge professor who accused him of racially stereotyping Mayansin his latest film, Apocalypto.

The expletive came after a late-night CSUN screening of the movie whenassistant professor Alicia Estrada questioned Gibson's sources for thegraphically violent film and translated a lengthy declaration denouncing it.

Several of those in attendance said Gibson's outburst came as Estrada wasbeing escorted from the room after a five-minute exchange in front of theaudience of 130 mostly film students.

'He told her to `F--- off, lady,' '' said CSUN student Josue Guajan, 22, anative Guatemalan who is half Mayan. ``I was shocked about his response. Ithought he would be more civilized and it would be educational.''

Estrada, a scholar of Mayan literature, is seeking an apology.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Mon, Mar. 26, 2007
NAACP must adapt to these turbulent times

Sixty-nine African Americans were reported lynched in 1909.

If those murders followed the pattern of thousands of similar crimescommitted between the Civil War and the civil rights movement, each wouldhave attracted hundreds of Christian white women, children and men to watchthe death kicks of a black man hanging by his neck from a tree or burningalive. The atmosphere would have been festive, like a county fair. Theywould have taken pictures or body parts as souvenirs. Nobody would have everstood trial.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People -- NAACP --was founded that year, and chances are nobody would have found it difficultto explain what was meant by the second of those double A's. It would havebeen considered quite an advancement, for instance, simply to get whitepeople to stop lynching black people with impunity.

Beyond that, there was a need to secure voting rights, desegregate schools,stop job discrimination, fight police brutality. In 1909, it was clear whatyou meant when you spoke of ``the advancement of colored people.''

Ninety-eight years later, it is considerably less so.

Witness this month's surprise decision by NAACP President Bruce S. Gordon tostep down after only 19 months on the job. Gordon, a 61-year-oldtelecommunications executive, quit because of a disagreement over themeaning and methods of advancement.


He says he wanted the group to invest more of its resources into what mightbe called advancement from within. Meaning pregnancy counseling, mentoring,and programs designed to teach business and wealth-building skills. Thisbrought him into conflict with the NAACP board of directors, which wanted torestrict the organization to its traditional role of advocating againstinjustice.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Mon, Mar. 26, 2007
Americans shouldn't surrender freedom for a costly scam

What if we just said No?

Not to drugs -- though that's a good idea, too. But No to beingfingerprinted and/or optically scanned for purposes of thesoon-to-be-mandatory ''National ID'' card?

How about it?

We're supposed to be a fiercely independent, freedom-loving bunch -- thesort who'd never trot willingly to the glue factory like so many Europeanherd animals.

So what's the deal with this National ID stuff -- specifically, to meeklysubmitting to being fingerprinted and having our irises scanned -- theso-called ''biometric'' tags -- like common criminals?

In 2005, the government passed into law the Real ID Act, which requires allstates to change the way they issue driver's licenses so that they conformto a single federal standard. That standard includes a requirement, dazzlingin its stridency, that each of us be tagged with those so-called biometricidentifiers -- digitized fingerprints, retina scans -- with the data linkedto a single federal database that would be continuously fed informationabout us and what we do and where we go.

All of it in the name of fighting terrorism; apparently this will beaccomplished by setting up one of the building blocks of every modern policestate. The National ID card will be required for virtually every transactionof modern life, from boarding an airplane to opening a bank account.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Mon, Mar. 26, 2007
Law won't violate civil liberties

As usual, the civil libertarians are mistaken. There's no ''national IDcard,'' let alone one that will destroy our civil liberties.

A 2005 federal statute provided that in 2008 ``a federal agency may notaccept, for any official purpose, a driver's license or identification cardissued by a state to any person unless the state is meeting the requirementsof this section.''

' `Official purpose' includes but is not limited to accessing federalfacilities, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft, enteringnuclear power plants, and any other purpose that the secretary (of homelandsecurity) may determine.''

Applicants for state-issued IDs must provide certain kinds of proof, such ascitizenship or legal residency, and the state-issued ID must contain certainkinds of information, such as name, photograph, date of birth.

There have been no serious examples proffered of how the statute violatesAmericans' civil liberties -- especially today, when the United States is inat least a de facto war with radical Islam.


[Send your comments about articles to]


No comments: