Reading Seth Mnookin's book Hard News, I came across this passage about Howell Raines' indulgence of Judith Miller: "Raines had treated Miller -- like Patrick Tyler and Rick Bragg -- like a star. At one point soon after September 11, he personally instructed her to go out and 'win a Pulitzer.' What's more, Raines had effectively chased investigative editor Stephen Engelberg out of the paper; Engelberg, who had co-authored a book on biological warfare with Miller, was known as the one editor who had the knowledge and background to rein Miller in when she became excitedly insistent about whatever latest supposed scoop had been leaked to her."
The Spectacle Blog
I'm subbing for Hugh again today on the Salem Radio network. We'll be talking about the Saddam trial, the latest on the quagMiers nom, and a whole lot more. I can't take seriously the rumors that Cheney is one of Fitzgerald's targets. But ya never know. We'll be talking about that, too.
Just saw WaPo's Walter Pincus on FNC. He was one of the reporters who testified before Fitzgerald's grand jury. Pincus is an old enough hand to remember the wisdom of Watergate. As he said, "it's not what you do in Washington that's important. It's what you do after you get caught." (So who at the CIA may be indicted?)
Should it trouble us that all the judges sitting on Saddam's case were judges under his old regime? Of the five sitting on the case, none were involved in Saddam's "extra-judicial" (i.e., murder/torture) "courts." But all were, at one time or another, Ba'athists. According to my sources, the judges joined the Ba'athist party just to get along. Didn't Gen. Patton get in a lot of trouble for hiring former Nazis and saying they joined the Nazi party just like Americans signed up to be Democrats or Republicans? On a good note, the five who will preside when the trial gets going are ethnically mixed. Presumably there will be no Lance Itos among them.
It's thoughtful of the Iraqis to schedule Saddam's trial to begin on November 28. The Miers hearings will be over by then, and by the 28th, the Thanksgiving weekend football games will be over.
I find it stunning that seemingly out of the blue the president came out and said yesterday, "We're going to get control of our borders....If somebody is here illegally, we've got to do everything we can to find them... [and have them] returned to their home countries as soon as possible." So who's going to get the contract to deport 11 million illegals to Latin America?
There is a new layer of nothingness to the Judy Miller story: she didn't even write her "first-person" account of the experience that appeared in the New York Times last weekend.Â One of her few remaining friendlyÂ colleagues at the paperÂ helped carry the ball on that one, according to the New York Observer's story. It is fitting that she picked up her First Amendment award at the "Alladin" in Las Vegas. She's performed quite a magic trick: getting gobs of attention for a story not written, about a crime not committed, for protecting a source not known or not needing protection, all written up in a "first-person" account by another person.
As Bush administration incompetence allows yet another hurricane to bear down on the U.S. territory, I was reminded of George Will's recent endorsement of Simon Winchester's enduring fascination with "humankind's insistent folly in living in places where they shouldn't." Earlier in the same column Will warned that "we should have quite precise worries about the incurably unstable ground on which scores of millions of Americans live." As if Al Gore were whispering in his ear, he then added, "This almost certainly will result in a huge calamity, probably in the lifetime of most people now living." He was writing about California and earthquakes, but it's the sort of doomsday logic that could be applied to any populated areas exposed to hurricanes, floods, drought, cold, heat, fire, rockslides, mudslides, avalanches, not to mention mosquitoes. George, isn't there some erupting volcano we should be fleeing?
President Bush renewed his guest worker program efforts yesterday, and even tossed some immigration bones to the base:
Seeking to mollify balky Republicans, Bush emphasized border-control measures, saying the bill he signed would help the deportation of illegal immigrants and would provide more border patrol agents, new technologies, and expanded detention centers.
Agitating conservatives get results, right? Sort of. If Bush were really serious about immigration reform and placating conservatives, he would begin by ordering the Border Patrol to enforce existing laws to the best of their ability.
But in some ways, Iraq also will be on trial, with the world watching to see whether its new Shiite and Kurd-dominated ruling class can rise above politics and prejudice and give the former dictator a fair hearing.What do you suppose an unfair hearing for Saddam Hussein would look like?
Newsweek's Christopher Dickey weighs in on the Judith Miller story, at once running her down and rebuking her critics (focus on other media ills, he tells his colleagues, such as "persistent intimidation from right-wing ideologues"). He says she's great at getting "access" to powerful figures and taking copious notes; she just can't process them or label them properly. Once when he was traveling with her abroad he compared notes with her after they had both interviewed the same subject. He discovered that in her notes she had confused his questions for the subject of the interview's answers. But while Dickey basically says Miller can't think, he does credit her with a certain craftiness. She bragged to him on their travels that she never "breaks a sweat."