Nice Speech, Rumsfeld-But What About Abu Ghraib? - June 2, 2004 -

Times Watch for June 2, 2004

Nice Speech, Rumsfeld - But What About Abu Ghraib?

Marc Santora covers Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's commencement speech at West Point and manages to shoehorn in two Abu Ghraib references: "The speech, which made no mention of the abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, drew polite applause. After the ceremony, Mr. Rumsfeld stayed at West Point for about 40 minutes, shaking hands and greeting well-wishers," Santora writes for Sunday's edition.

Then Santora apparently went through the throng of graduates asking about Abu Ghraib: "Cadets, who seemed to sparkle in the full dress grays over white, are not supposed to discuss politics. But several said privately that they were ashamed by what happened at Abu Ghraib and were critical of allowing untrained National Guard soldiers to be involved in interrogations."

For the rest of Santora's piece from West Point, click here.

" Abu Ghraib | Iraq War | Prisoners | Donald Rumsfeld | Marc Santora

"Sloth, Greed And Fear" to Blame for Kyoto Rejection

The last page of the new-style Sunday Book Review features a round-up review of several environmental doomsayer books penned by the Times' resident farm boy, Verlyn Klinkenborg.

In "Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid," he writes the world is just as much in danger now as it was when environmentalists first begin talking about "global warming," but: "What is news is the nature of the evidence. There are signs that global warming and environmental degradation are accelerating much more quickly than anyone expected even 10 years ago, and thus our ability to reduce the scale of climate change is swiftly diminishing".To most scientists, global warming is a truly successful hypothesis. The evidence overwhelmingly shows, as predicted, that human behavior is altering the climate, with potentially catastrophic results. And yet it seems strangely difficult to scare or reason or argue Americans, the critical audience to reach, into recognizing the truth and acting on it".Short-term self-interest is a powerful buffer against reality. So is the lobbying of the fossil fuel industries and the complacency of an administration that lives in thrall to them."

Then he quotes a discredited figure in the environmental hysteria movement: "We are well past the threshold of inevitable change and on the cusp of climate destabilization. As Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich note in One With Nineveh: Politics, Consumption, and the Human Future (Island Press/Shearwater, $27), 'Extreme weather events, such as heat waves and fierce storms, have become more common and are appearing in places where they have never been seen before.'"

Paul Ehrlich is author of the infamous 1968 book "The Population Bomb," which predicted that millions of people would starve to death in the U.S. in the 1970s and '80s due to overpopulation, and was a favorite of Al Gore. If Klinkenborg trusts Ehrlich, can we really trust Klinkenborg?

He later decries: "It will take an enormous reduction in carbon dioxide emissions over the next few decades-a far cry from the minor cuts proposed in the Kyoto Protocol, which President Bush has rejected anyway. What stands in the way is custom, ignorance, sloth, greed and fear."

And perhaps a little sound science as well?

For the rest of Klinkenborg's environmental doomsaying, click here.

" Books | Editorial | Environment | Paul Ehrlich | Global Warming | Verlyn Klinkenborg

Gassing Up Against the Economic Recovery

The economy may be recovering and adding jobs (just in time for Bush's re-election bid), but you wouldn't know it from the front page of the Times. Tuesday's front page story by Neela Banerjee is titled, "Many Feeling Pinch After Newest Surge In U.S. Fuel Prices." And the headline on the jump page hammers the point home: "Soaring Fuel Prices Start to Hurt in Much of U.S."

Here's now Banerjee's story opens: "Over the last six months, as fuel prices shot up to record highs, many Americans seemed to be coping with little difficulty, helped by a resurgent economy and low interest rates. But the big numbers at the gasoline pump have begun to take a toll, judging by nearly two dozen interviews with consumers and businesses in Denver over the last week."

But that blunt statement of "record high" prices is seriously misleading, in that it fails to adjust for inflation.

Then comes a series of hand-wringing, anecdotal reports ("Many Denver families, particularly the working-class and poor ones, face the tough and sometimes humiliating prospect of doing without things they once took for granted, from simple vacations to doctors' appointments.")

Banerjee waits until the story's 15th paragraph to finally provide some context via hard data: "Some analysts argue that the American economy has yet to suffer from the rise in prices. Adjusted for inflation, crude oil and gasoline are cheaper now than during the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74 or in the early 1980's, during production cutbacks from the Iran-Iraq war."

In fact, as the MRC's Tim Graham notes in a Media Reality Check, gas prices were at least 26 percent higher in March 1981 after the Carter-era inflation spiral.

For the rest of Banerjee's story on "record high" gas prices, click here.

" Neela Banerjee | Economy | Gas Prices

Memorial Day In Abu Ghraib

Shaila Dewan's Tuesday story marks Memorial Day in Powell, Wyoming-via Abu Ghraib.

Dewan talks to the father of a soldier killed in Iraq: "Lieutenant Childers died too soon to see the strife in Iraq today, or the photographs of prisoners being humiliated at the hands of American guards in the Abu Ghraib prison. 'He went in with the idea-not of occupation, it was totally, it was liberation,' Mr. Childers said."

For the rest of Dewan's Memorial Day story, click here.

" Abu Ghraib | Shaila Dewan | Iraq War | Prisoners

Wong's "Illegitimate" Iraqi Government

Edward Wong's Tuesday dispatch from Baghdad, "At Least 5 Move G.I.'s Are Killed in Iraq, 2 in Unraveling of Militia Truce in Kufa," features another of his gloomy predictions of more violent attacks to come on the new Iraqi government, "which many Iraqis view as an illegitimate body."

Here's Wong's latest helpful sentence: "More than a year after Saddam Hussein was deposed, many people here consider the security situation to be at one of its lowest points, and attacks are expected to continue unabated against the new government. The new posts will be filled mostly by members of the American-selected Governing Council, which many Iraqis view as an illegitimate body. That would be likely to spur the insurgents on."

For the rest of Wong in Baghdad, click here.

" Iraq War | Edward Wong

"More Oversight of Bush" Needed, Says GOP?

Monday's piece by Carl Hulse carries an unusually blunt headline (especially taking into account the generally toned-down titling of headlines during the Bill Keller era): "Even Some in GOP Call For More Oversight of Bush."

Hulse begins: "Members of Congress have a proud tradition of asking witnesses tough questions at famous inquiries like the Watergate and Iran-contra hearings. Now the Iraqi prison abuse scandal has some lawmakers asking a hard question of themselves: What doesn't Congress know and why doesn't it know it? The disclosures about the treatment of detainees, coupled with complaints from some quarters about the Bush administration's handling of antiterrorism money, have ignited a debate over whether Congress is keeping a close enough eye on the White House and staying adequately informed on developments in Iraq. Democrats, not surprisingly, think much more scrutiny is necessary and have been complaining for months that the Republican leadership in Congress is refusing to hold its allies in the administration accountable on a range of subjects. Now even some Republicans say they worry that Congress is abdicating its oversight responsibility."

But the sole Republican with a specific allegation against the administration is liberal Republican Rep. Christopher Shays: "'I believe our failure to do proper oversight has hurt our country and the administration,' said Representative Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican who traveled to Iraq to get a view of the situation outside administration control. 'Maybe they wouldn't have gotten into some of this trouble had our oversight been better.'"

Otherwise the only Republicans voicing thoughts on oversight are Sen. Charles Grassley, who declares a pox on both Democrat and Republican-controlled Congresses, and moderate Republican Susan Collins, who merely says: "We really do need to preserve the important role that Congress plays. It is our duty."

That hardly justifies the overblown "oversight" headline, which portrays Bush as a rogue president who needs taming.

For the rest of the Hulse "oversight" story, click here.

" George W. Bush | Congress | Headlines | Carl Hulse