October 28, 2003

Newspeak. George W. Bush says the surge in attacks on American soliders in Iraq (up to 25-30 each day) is evidence that progress is being made. ... So the more soliders that die, the better things are going? Does that mean that if no Americans were being killed, the US would be failing? If Bush bothered to attend a serviceperson's funeral (maybe between fundraising jaunts), I'd like to see him explain his remarks to that dead soldier's parents. But "Bring 'Em On" Bush has not attended even one funeral. Finally, if more attacks and more death is progress, shouldn't the US stop trying to deter the attacks?

In last Sunday's New York Times, Philip Shenon reported that Thomas Kean, the Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, is prepared to subpoena highly-classified documents that the White House refuses to turn over to the Commission. However, the Times violates Journalism Rule #1: never bury the lead. You've got to read Shenon's entire 1,340-word article to get to this quote from Kean: "As each day goes by, we learn that this government knew a whole lot more about these terrorists before Sept. 11 than it has ever admitted." ... The requested documents include the Presidential Daily Briefings — the summary prepared each morning by the CIA — that Bush received in the weeks before the attacks. The White House refused to provide those reports to House and Senate investigators last year for their investigation of the attacks. Bush has still refused to say if the White House will comply.

One of those CIA briefings, presented to Bush in July 2001 warned that Osama bin Laden was about to launch a terrorist strike "in the coming weeks ... The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against US facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning." ... So with that warning fresh in his mind, Bush left Washington for a month-long vacation -- August 4 through September 3, which would have broken a modern record for a presidential vacation. Cheney was also on vacation for all of August. And John Ashcroft began traveling exclusively by leased jet instead of commercial airlines beginning in late July, citing a threat assessment that has still not been explained. ... In defending the Patriot Act, Republicans say: "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear." So what's the big deal?

At some point between April and October 2003, the White House added virtually all of the directories with "Iraq" in them to its robots.txt file, meaning that search engines would no longer list those pages in results or archive them. Among the excluded files (a list) are these:
Disallow: /president/fallatwhitehouse/iraq
Disallow: /president/fallatwhitehouse/text
Are these pretzel-related files? ... Howard Dean's blog adds: "Earlier this year, the White House revised pages on its website claiming that 'combat' was over in Iraq, changing them to say 'major combat'."

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