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Between the Lines

March 25, 2004

Fallout from the 9/11 hearings

Everyone has an opinion. Here are a few:

Newsweek: Could 9/11 have been prevented? Maybe. And in any event, ”Thanks to Clarke's testimony, the second guessing is certain to get louder.”

The bungled search for Osama bin Laden: Both the Clinton and Bush administrations fumbled the search for the terror master, the New York Times reports. During the five years between formation of a special unit assigned to track Bin Laden and the 9/11 disaster “ … is the story of bureaucratic miscommunication, diplomatic dead ends, military hesitation, intelligence failures, political rivalries and policy miscalculations at the highest levels of two presidential administrations — a trail of fumbles presented in sweeping new detail in two days of commission hearings and four staff reports made public this week.” (Free site registration may be required.)

Clarke hits Bush’s one strong suit, the war on terror: " … two days of public testimony before the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks — along with the release this week of a critical book by the president's former top counterterrorism advisor — have offered the most forceful challenge yet to Bush's record in combating the terrorist threat,” says the Los Angeles Times (free site registration may be required).

Clarke’s changing views: Blogger Gregory Djerejian says Richard Clarke’s critique of U.S. government efforts to combat terrorism changed both in tone and substance in his P.B. (pre-book) and B. (book) phases. He also has some pointed comments about liberal bias in some media coverage.

Clarke is stacking the deck: Blogger Daniel Drezner restacks it to make his point.

It’s the ‘fair and balanced’ hacks of Fox News who have a credibility problem: So says Joshua Marshall, who has chapter and verse.

How the families of victims helped shape the 9/11 hearings: "They were a driving force behind the creation of the 9/11 commission and the joint congressional investigation that preceded it. They describe themselves as the commission's best friends - and ‘worst nightmare.’

Happy reading.

Posted by tbrown at 12:21 PM

Not home this Christmas, nor next

It looks like our men and women will be in Iraq for a long time. Plans are advancing for the construction of no fewer than 14 “enduring bases” in Iraq.

“The number of U.S. military personnel in Iraq, between 105,000 and 110,000, is expected to remain unchanged through 2006, according to military planners.”

Posted by tbrown at 11:59 AM

The legality of the ‘Mother of All Bombs’

Steven Aftergood’s indispensable Secrecy News e-mail letter has an enlightening item on the 11-ton bomb we developed for possible use in Iraq (none were dropped) and the vetting process that is supposed to ensure that such weapons meet the requirements of international law.

The Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb is now the largest conventional explosive in the U.S. arsenal. It’s official designation is the GBU-43/B, but it was quickly nicknamed the Mother of All Bombs. Here are photos of the bomb and video and stills of a test conducted at Eglin AFB in Florida.

Here’s a three-page Pentagon memo on MOAB, which lists three criteria weapons must meet to be legal: a.) whether it causes unnecessary suffering, b.) whether it is controllable in order to minimize collateral damage and c.) whether there is a specific law prohibiting its use. The answers, in the case of MOAB are, unsurprisingly, no, yes and no. So it’s legal

Posted by tbrown at 11:58 AM

Privacy? Forget it

The federal government and private industry are swiftly moving ahead with projects that virtually guarantee an end to personal privacy as we know it. It looks like Wal-Mart may soon need to add, “Smile – you’re on camera” to its cheery greetings.

The nation’s biggest retailer teamed with Procter & Gamble recently to embed tiny electronic chips in products Then they filmed Wal-Mart customers who picked them up. Were customers advised of this? Why would they do that?

“In the study, uncovered by the Chicago Sun-Times, shelves in a Wal-Mart in Broken Arrow, Okla., were equipped with hidden electronics to track the Max Factor Lipfinity lipstick containers stacked on them. The shelves and Webcam images were viewed 750 miles away by Procter & Gamble researchers in Cincinnati who could tell when lipsticks were removed from the shelves and could even watch consumers in action.

“The study involved a new technology, known as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), that enables retailers to use radio signals to electronically track products in warehouses and on store shelves, a technology critics fear ultimately could be used to track people once they leave the store.

“Manufacturers and retailers are looking at ultimately putting the tiny chips into everything from soda cans and cereal boxes to shoes, clothing and car tires.”

The Oklahoma test went on for four months.

It’s their world. We just live in it.

(If you want to keep track of government efforts, Noah Schactman’s excellent is a good starting place. Wired magazine also keeps an eye on both government and private efforts in this area.)

Posted by tbrown at 11:56 AM

The demise of Bob Edwards

I missed this yesterday, but the NPR host of “Morning Edition” – which under his stewardship has become the most popular morning radio show in the nation – has been removed by his genius bosses.

Posted by tbrown at 11:53 AM

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Fallout from the 9/11 hearings
Not home this Christmas, nor next
The legality of the ‘Mother of All Bombs’
Privacy? Forget it
The demise of Bob Edwards


Blogs to watch

Abu Ardvark
Andrew Sullivan
Atrios Eschaton
Best of the Web
Drudge Report
Joe Conason (subscription required)
Josh Marshall
Kaus files
No More Mr. Nice Blog
Real Clear Politics
The Corner
The Volokh Conspiracy
The Whiskey Bar

Mideast blogs

Salam Pax (Iraq)
G. in Baghdad
L.T. Smash (U.S. military in Iraq)
Lady Sun (Iran)

City blogs

L.A. Examiner

Africa blogs

Cathy Buckle

Media blogs

Dan Gillmor's eJournal
Media Whores Online


Newspapers online (guide to papers on the web)
International Herald Tribune
The Guardian U.K.
New York Times (free registration required)

Economy blogs

Brad DeLong

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