"Can there be any doubting the conspiracy at the heart of the Mark Foley scandal? For years, much of official Washington has harbored a shameful secret about a certain congressman. Republicans looked the other way because they worried about their fragile majority, while the media played the role of willing enabler. Most knew the truth would come out eventually, but few had the guts to face it.
I refer here, of course, to the fact that Dennis Hastert is a bumbling half-wit--something that became apparent to the world last week but had been common knowledge in Washington for almost a decade. It was roughly eight years ago, after all, that Tom DeLay installed Hastert as his front-man, knowing full well that Hastert was no more capable of being speaker than the average sheepdog, to which he bears a remarkable resemblance. (Just after Hastert accepted the speaker's gig, a reporter asked him how he felt. Hastert's one-word response: "Scared.") But, rather than call DeLay on this lapse in judgment, House Republicans joined forces with the press to perpetrate an elaborate cover-up.
Reading back over the last several years of Hastert coverage, one is astonished by the lengths to which reporters go to avoid outing him as a guileless nincompoop. One common approach--frequently deployed in stories about dumb-but-powerful politicians--is to interpret Hastert's apparent lack of intelligence as evidence of his enigmatic character, as though Hastert were a walking riddle with jowls and a Midwestern accent."
* via froomkin:
" The percentage of respondents who said they strongly disapprove of (Preznit Blinky's) performance is about double the number who strongly approve. This disparity in voter intensity could have implications for turnout on Nov. 7, since impassioned voters are most likely to go to the polls. . . ."* amy:
"Bush Hid CIA Report on Pakistan-N.Korea Nuclear Ties
President Bush’s handling of the North Korea situation is coming under increasing scrutiny. Three years ago investigative reporter Seymour Hersh revealed that Pakistan was helping North Korea build the bomb. Hersh reported that the CIA had concluded that Pakistan had shared sophisticated technology, warhead-design information, and weapons-testing data with the Pyongyang regime. But according to Hersh, the Bush administration sat on the CIA report because the White House didn’t want to divert the focus from Saddam Hussein, and Pakistan had become a vital ally in President Bush’s war on terrorism."
"State Department Awards Grants to Iran Opposition* amy:
In news on Iran, the State Department is awarding 20 grants worth as much as one point five million dollars for projects that purportedly promote democracy and human rights in Iran. The Wall Street Journal reports the State Department has admitted there won’t be a lot of transparency on who gets the money because it could be seen as an attempt by the Bush administration of meddling in Iran’s affairs."
"Rep. Kucinich: Bush is Preparing For War Against Iran* amy:
On Capitol Hill, Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich is leading a briefing on Wednesday on whether the Bush administration is ramping up for a war against Iran. Among the experts testifying are former UN nuclear weapons inspector David Kay and retired Air Force colonel Sam Gardiner. Gardiner has said evidence exists that the United States is already conducting covert military operations inside Iran. Time Magazine recently reported the aircraft carrier Eisenhower has been deployed to the Persian Gulf. In a recent campaign fundraising letter, Congressman Kucinich warned “The Bush Administration is preparing for war against Iran, using an almost identical drumbeat of weapons of mass destruction, imminent threat, alleged links to Al Queda, and even linking Iran with a future 911.”"
Italian Prosecutors Seek to Try CIA Agents in Kidnapping Case
Italian prosecutors have completed their investigation into the CIA kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric in Milan. The prosecutors are said to be preparing to ask that more than two dozen CIA agents and several Italian intelligence officials be ordered to stand trial. They are seeking the arrest of 26 Americans, all but one suspected to be CIA agents. The cleric, Abu Omar, was seized by the CIA agents as he walked from his home to a local mosque in Milan. He was taken to a joint U.S.-Italian base and eventually flown to Egypt where he says he was beaten and given electrical shocks on his genitals. He remains in an Egyptian jail. He has never been charged with a crime and has never appeared in a court of law.