Archive for April, 2005

29
Apr
05

Court shuns Limbaugh’s claim of privacy violation

By Jill Barton

The Associated Press

Rush Limbaugh hasn’t been charged with a crime.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. � The Florida Supreme Court yesterday declined to consider an appeal from commentator Rush Limbaugh claiming his privacy was violated when his medical records were seized for an investigation of whether he illegally purchased painkillers.

The 4-3 order did not explain the court’s reasoning.

Limbaugh’s attorney also had objected to the use of search warrants to obtain the medical records in 2003. The documents have remained sealed, pending the outcome of Limbaugh’s appeals.

A prosecution spokesman declined to say when his office might begin reviewing the records.

The court said it would not consider any motions for a review of the order, so it was unclear whether Limbaugh has further legal recourse to stop the investigation.

Limbaugh was unavailable for comment yesterday. The show has 20 million listeners a week, and is heard on nearly 600 radio stations, including KTTH-AM (770) in Seattle.

“He has not been charged with a crime, and he should not be charged. His medical records will show that he received legitimate medical treatment for legitimate medical reasons,” Limbaugh’s attorney, Roy Black, said in a statement.

Prosecutors seized the records after learning that Limbaugh had received about 2,000 painkillers, prescribed by four doctors over six months, at a pharmacy near his mansion in Palm Beach.

The conservative commentator has maintained his innocence while acknowledging an addiction to painkillers that he said started after he developed severe back pain. He argues that the case threatens privacy rights for all Floridians � a point that has drawn support from the American Civil Liberties Union � and accuses Palm Beach County State Attorney Barry Krischer, a Democrat, of leading a politically motivated investigation.

Seattle Times staff contributed to this report.

Copyright � 2005 The Seattle Times Company

25
Apr
05

Bush should acknowledge party unity on Bolton

Commentary

Emerald editorial board

April 25, 2005

Last week, President Bush made an interesting request to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the group in charge of confirming his chosen U.N. ambassador, John Bolton: Bush asked the panel to “put aside politics,” indicating his opinion that a rejection of Bolton would simply be a factor of Democrats versus Republicans. However, in the case of Bolton’s confirmation, Bush is seriously mistaken. The problems with Bolton as potential ambassador to the United Nations are myriad, and they are being discussed by both Democrats and Republicans alike.

The first strike against Bolton is his widely published statement in which he was quoted as saying there is no such thing as the United Nations. No wonder members of the committee are reluctant to confirm this man; it’s a dangerous game to hire someone for the purpose of interacting with an organization that, in the person’s mind, may or may not exist. Can our nation expect that Bolton would be experienced or knowledgeable about the inner-workings of the United Nations with respect to his earlier comments on it?

Strike two is the disparity between Bolton’s qualifications and the needs of the job he is slated to fill. Issues of peacekeeping and worldwide diplomacy are especially important to the United States at a time when we have already alienated so many countries with cries of “with us or against us.” As ambassador to the United Nations, Bolton would be filling a primarily diplomatic job, yet Bolton’s personality and work tactics have been descried repeatedly as tough-minded and bullying. There is nothing wrong with politicians who stay firm to their beliefs, but in the case of a U.N. diplomat, it seems obvious that a bully is exactly what the United States does not need handling its international relations. Ex-State Department official Carl Ford has even testified that Bolton was abusive toward his junior staff.

Interestingly, Bush made a valid point when asking that party politics not come into play while the panel makes its decision. Unfortunately for Bush, some members of his own party are just as reluctant as Democrats to approve Bolton. The Senate Foreign Relations committee is made up of eight Democrats and 10 Republicans. As of now, at least one Republican had indicated he may side with Democrats and vote against the nomination of Bolton. After hearing witnesses called by committee Democrats, Republican Senator George Voinovich said he didn’t “feel comfortable about voting for Mr. Bolton.”

If disagreement over President Bush’s nomination of John Bolton has crossed party lines, chances are good there is a real issue here, not just another Republican/Democrat squabble. President Bush should recognize this fact. Instead of asking the parties to put aside politics, Bush needs to take a second glance at the surrounding political world and recognize that Bolton is not the best choice for ambassador to the United Nations. It is a diplomatic organization; if the United States hopes to maintain friendly ties with that organization and the countries involved in it, Bush must choose a different nominee.

24
Apr
05

Bombs kill 22 in twin attacks

Lutfi Abu-Ounin in Baghdad and Reuters
Monday April 25, 2005
The Guardian

Two bombs exploded near a Shia Muslim mosque in Baghdad yesterday, killing at least 15 people and wounding nearly 60 others.

As scores of people inspected damage caused by the first blast from a roadside bomb, a suicide bomber in a car drove into the crowd and blew himself up. A police official said 57 people were wounded in the attack near the mosque in the mostlyShia Shu’la district of Baghdad.

In a similar coordinated attack earlier in the day, suicide car bombers twice targeted a police academy compound in the town of Tikrit, 90 miles north of Baghdad, killing at least seven people and wounding dozens.

The bombings come as Iraqi politicians are trying to agree a new government. But insurgent attacks have returned to the levels seen over the last two years, with suicide bombings, shootings and kidnappings overshadowing the political process.

Al-Qaida’s Iraqi wing threatened yesterday to kill those who join the country’s new government, saying they would be considered infidels.

Like the Baghdad attack, bombers in Tikrit attacked a crowd of people at the scene of a blast which had occurred minutes earlier.

A bomber drove into the compound and blew up his vehicle, killing several policemen, witnesses told a Reuters reporter. As police and passersby rushed to help those injured in the blast, a second car bomber entered the compound and detonated his vehicle, the witnesses said.

A doctor at Tikrit’s hospital, Mohammed Ayash, said seven bodies had been brought in and as many as 26 people were wounded. All those killed were police, while civilians and police were among the wounded.

Al-Qaida’s wing in Iraq said that a pair from its martyrs brigade carried out the attack, according to an internet posting. It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the statement.

Iraqi and US officials have accused al-Qaida’s Iraqi wing of bombing Shia targets in an attempt to spark a civil war.

“We warn all those who want to join the politics of infidels and apostates that the steel sword will be their only fate,” the group, led by Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said in a statement posted on a website used by Islamists.

22
Apr
05

The Coultergeist Challenge

Posted by Hello

1. Would you rather?

  1. Kiss Ann Coulter
  2. Gnaw old gum off the sidewalk

  1. Who has larger feet?
  1. Ann Coulter
  2. Shack

  1. Which person would you go out on a date with?
  1. Ann Coulter
  2. The Clown from Stephen Kings movie IT

  1. Which is more hairy?
  1. Ann Coulter�s top lip
  2. Rush�s backside

5. What is Ann Coulter really hiding?

  1. If you remove that thin layer of skin, she is really the Grim Reaper
  2. She is really he
18
Apr
05

Bullies need not apply

Inside Politics

Mark Shields, nationally known columnist and commentator, is the moderator of CNN’s “The Capital Gang.”

Bullies need not apply

Monday, April 18, 2005 Posted: 11:01 AM EDT (1501 GMT)

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ASHINGTON (Creators Syndicate) — Tell me that Bob Jones III, the president of the segregationist South Carolina university of the same name, has been nominated as chairman of the Civil Rights Commission.

Tell me that Father Dan Berrigan, the antiwar Jesuit priest, had just been named commandant of the Marine Corps or that Sir Elton John will be the new president of the Teamsters Union.

But don’t tell me that the United States Senate, which likes to be called the “the world’s greatest deliberative body” will vote to confirm President Bush’s pick of John Bolton to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

John Bolton has what conservatives used to call “book smarts.” He is a distinguished alumnus of a New Haven school that is the alma mater of both Presidents Bush, Yale, as well as of that same university’s law school.

He has a long record of federal appointments, including service as a U.S. assistant attorney general, assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, and from 2001 to 2005, as under secretary of state for arms control.

Bolton on paper has strong credentials. What John Bolton tragically lacks, according to the first-hand testimony of people who have worked with him, is the human touch or mature temperament so important in a colleague and so indispensable in a diplomat.

In closed door sessions with the committee, one CIA official and three State Department officials recounted two episodes in which Bolton attempted to remove intelligence analysts who had upset him. They had told him that there was no conclusive evidence to support the claim he intended to make in a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation that Cuba had a program of biological weapons of mass destruction that could threaten the United States. While denying he sought to get the analysts fired, Bolton admitted that he did try to get them moved to other jobs.

Bolton is the classic swaggerer who never served in uniform but conspicuously places on his office desk a brass hand grenade. Carl W. Ford, a self-identified conservative Republican and the former chief of State Department intelligence, testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that John Bolton is a bully, a “serial abuser” of subordinates and a “kiss-up, kick-down” type. In 2005 or any other year, the nation’s capital does not need another bully in a position of power.

Sucking up to your superiors and mistreating, even tormenting, your juniors is unprincipled but, sadly, not uncommon. Character, or the lack thereof, is revealed in how someone with power treats someone without power and without the capacity to retaliate.

If the United States senators take at all seriously their responsibility to “advise and consent” to the nominations the president makes, then they have to talk to and listen to the dedicated professionals and “little people” who have, during his years in public office, had John Bolton as a boss.

Supporters of Bolton have defended his history of contemptuous public statements about the value and mission of the United Nations by comparing him to one of this nation’s most respected ambassadors to the United Nations, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Moynihan never hesitated to publicly criticize actions or inactions of the world body he deemed hypocritical or intellectually indefensible.

But, unlike John Bolton, Pat Moynihan believed profoundly in the importance and the possibility of the United Nations and its charter, of which he wrote, “It is of inestimable value that these are the proclaimed standards of the nations of the world to which they are bound by solemn covenant.” You will never hear a red-meat, tough guy like John Bolton expressing such sentiments.

Character, it has been written, is destiny. Temperament really does matter. Abuse of subordinates is not to be rewarded. A bully is never a leader. The Senate should reject President George W. Bush’s nomination of John Bolton to the United Nations.

17
Apr
05

Bush administration eliminating 19-year-old international terrorism report

By Jonathan S. Landay
Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON – The State Department decided to stop publishing an annual report on international terrorism after the government’s top terrorism center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985, the first year the publication covered.

Several U.S. officials defended the abrupt decision, saying the methodology the National Counterterrorism Center used to generate statistics for the report may have been faulty, such as the inclusion of incidents that may not have been terrorism.

Last year, the number of incidents in 2003 was undercounted, forcing a revision of the report, “Patterns of Global Terrorism.”

But other current and former officials charged that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s office ordered “Patterns of Global Terrorism” eliminated several weeks ago because the 2004 statistics raised disturbing questions about the Bush’s administration’s frequent claims of progress in the war against terrorism.

“Instead of dealing with the facts and dealing with them in an intelligent fashion, they try to hide their facts from the American public,” charged Larry C. Johnson, a former CIA analyst and State Department terrorism expert who first disclosed the decision to eliminate the report in The Counterterrorism Blog, an online journal.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who was among the leading critics of last year’s mix-up, reacted angrily to the decision.

“This is the definitive report on the incidence of terrorism around the world. It should be unthinkable that there would be an effort to withhold it – or any of the key data – from the public. The Bush administration should stop playing politics with this critical report.”

A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, confirmed that the publication was being eliminated, but said the allegation that it was being done for political reasons was “categorically untrue.”

According to Johnson and U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the issue, statistics that the National Counterterrorism Center provided to the State Department reported 625 “significant” terrorist attacks in 2004.

That compared with 175 such incidents in 2003, the highest number in two decades.

The statistics didn’t include attacks on American troops in Iraq, which President Bush as recently as Tuesday called “a central front in the war on terror.”

The intelligence officials requested anonymity because the information is classified and because, they said, they feared White House retribution.
Johnson declined to say how he obtained the figures.

Another U.S. official, who also requested anonymity, said analysts from the counterterrorism center were especially careful in amassing and reviewing the data because of the political turmoil created by last year’s errors.

Last June, the administration was forced to issue a revised version of the report for 2003 that showed a higher number of significant terrorist attacks and more than twice the number of fatalities than had been presented in the original report two months earlier.

The snafu was embarrassing for the White House, which had used the original version to bolster President Bush’s election-campaign claim that the war in Iraq had advanced the fight against terrorism.

U.S. officials blamed last year’s mix-up on bureaucratic mistakes involving the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, the forerunner of the National Counterterrorism Center.

Created last year on the recommendation of the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the center is the government’s primary organization for analyzing and integrating all U.S.
government intelligence on terrorism.

The State Department published “Patterns of Global Terrorism” under a law that requires it to submit to the House of Representatives and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a country-by-country terrorism assessment by April 30 each year.

A declassified version of the report has been made public since 1986 in the form of a glossy booklet, even though there was no legal requirement to produce one.

The senior State Department official said a report on global terrorism would be sent this year to lawmakers and made available to the public in place of “Patterns of Global Terrorism,” but that it wouldn’t contain statistical data.

He said that decision was taken because the State Department believed that the National Counterterrorism Center “is now the authoritative government agency for the analysis of global terrorism. We believe that the NCTC should compile and publish the relevant data on that subject.”

He didn’t answer questions about whether the data would be made available to the public, saying, “We will be consulting (with Congress) … on who should publish and in what form.”

Another U.S. official said Rice’s office was leery of the methodology the National Counterterrorism Center used to generate the data for 2004, believing that analysts anxious to avoid a repetition of last year’s undercount included incidents that may not have been terrorist attacks.

But the U.S. intelligence officials said Rice’s office decided to eliminate “Patterns of Global Terrorism” when the counterterrorism center declined to use alternative methodology that would have reported fewer significant attacks.

The officials said they interpreted Rice’s action as an attempt to avoid releasing statistics that would contradict the administration’s claims that it’s winning the war against terrorism.

To read past “Patterns of Global Terrorism” reports online, go to:
http://www.mipt.org/Patterns-of-Global-Terrorism.asp

15
Apr
05

Email to Mike, VOA moving to China

Hey Mike, I do not know if you heard, but the Voice of America is moving from DC to Red China… That’s what your old pals at CNN are reporting (L. Dobbs). Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t the VOA setup to stop Communism? Oh, and if that doesn�t raise your blood pressure, I hear some DC local right-wing flying monkey use your tag-line �truth seeker�. Courage Mike, courage�