Cowell Not Cowed from Blaming Tony Blair

Documenting and Exposing the Liberal Political Agenda of the New York Times.

Cowell Not Cowed from Blaming Tony Blair

The Saturday and Sunday editions bring stories from London bureau chief Alan Cowell on the terrorist bombings that killed over 50 people there.

As is his wont, Cowell wastes no time in fingering British Prime Minister Tony Blair (aka "Bush's poodle") for a bit of blame: "Increasingly, though, Britons seemed to be interpreting the attacks as a direct result of Mr. Blair's support for President Bush in the Iraq war and America's campaign against terrorism. 'The price for being America's foremost ally, for joining President Bush's Iraq adventure, was always likely to be paid in innocent blood,' Max Hastings, a military historian and former newspaper editor, wrote in the Conservative-leaning Daily Mail. 'We must acknowledge that by supporting President Bush's extravagances in his ill-named war on terror and ill-justified invasion of Iraq, Blair has ensured that we are in the front line beside the U.S., whether we like it or not.'"

Cowell likes that convenient conservative quote so much he quotes him again in "Facing Terror After London" in Sunday's Week in Review: "Among his European peers at the Group of 8 summit meeting, the attacks produced a public display of solidarity, but in private European leaders who had opposed the war in Iraq were more likely concluding that they were right to have avoided a similarly close association with President Bush. At home, Mr. Blair won a near-unanimous display of cross-party support in Parliament, which accompanied universal praise for the rescue and security crews who had assisted the wounded. But the bombings nonetheless raised the specter of Iraq, which haunted Mr. Blair through his recent election campaign. By Friday, critical voices on the left and the right assailed him for having drawn Britain into a war on terrorism - 'whether we like it not,' in the words of the historian and former newspaper editor Max Hastings, writing in the Conservative-leaning Daily Mail. The most serious hazard for Mr. Blair's political standing would, of course, be another such deadly attack."

"Rare" Partial-Birth Abortion? Who Says?

Sunday's front-page features Robin Toner and Adam Liptak on the state of the abortion debate amid the changing complexion of the Supreme Court ("In New Court, Roe May Stand, So Foes Look to Limit Its Scope").

They warn: "For abortion rights advocates, it is a moment of growing peril. In their view, Justice O'Connor was perhaps the last protection against a Congress, a president and a sizable number of state legislatures intent on chipping away at the rights established in Roe. 'There's enormous concern,' said Nancy Northup, head of the Center for Reproductive Rights. While Roe may stand, some advocates and analysts assert, the right to obtain an abortion could become so restricted in parts of the country that it becomes largely meaningless."

The reporters stick to the Times' obnoxious stylebook regarding (so-called) partial-birth abortion: "The so-called partial birth ban has been, for many years, at the center of the struggle over what is, and is not, a constitutionally permissible abortion restriction. The law involves a relatively rare procedure used to terminate pregnancies in the second and third trimesters, a procedure known medically as intact dilation and extraction. Abortion opponents contend the procedure typically involves delivering the lower part of the fetus's body, collapsing the skull while it is still inside the woman's body, and then delivering a dead but largely intact fetus."

On Saturday reporter Julia Preston makes the same "rare" claim in a story from St. Louis, "Appeals Court Voids Ban On 'Partial Birth' Abortions," writing: "The law forbids a method of abortion that has been infrequently used, in rare or unexpected complications of pregnancy mainly in the second or third trimester."

But in the rush to minimize the issue, how does the Times actually know that partial-birth abortion is rare? The Times seemed confused in an earlier story by MaryDuenwald in the April 22, 2003 Times: It is not known how often [PBA] is performed in the United States, but its use is limited to the latter weeks of the second trimester. Even then, it is not always the procedure doctors choose. In fact, it is practiced very rarely."

Sono one knows how often its performed, but the Times knows its "practiced very rarely." Not exactly reassuring.

To read the rest of Preston on partial-birth abortion, click here

For the rest of Toner and Liptak on abortion, click here

U.S. "Restricting Its Citizens' Rights" for Security's Sake

Europe-based reporter Richard Bernstein puffs up Europe's apparently superior civil liberty sensibility over that of the United States in Saturday's "Despite Terror, Europeans Seem Determined to Maintain Civil Liberties."

"From the 9/11 attacks through the Madrid bombings, Europeans have refused to sacrifice civil liberties in the fight against terrorism, sharply criticizing the United States for restricting its citizens' rights for the sake of security. Even with the London attacks, there is little indication that this philosophical divide is narrowing."

"Restrictions" such as? Bernstein doesn't say.

"As in the United States, there is a debate in Europe about the relative weight that needs to be given to civil liberties on the one side and law enforcement on the other. But Europeans are generally more inclined to err on the side of civil protections, because they are convinced that taking too severe a line only makes matters worse.By and large, Europeans oppose the American war in Iraq, which many say is responsible for increasing the terrorist threat against them. Political leaders in Europe diplomatically avoid criticizing the United States, but it has surely not been lost on ordinary Europeans that the countries attacked, and threatened by attack, are those that have supported the American war in Iraq."

Based on Bernstein's evidence, the actual squelching of civil liberties in America seems rather underwhelming: "The debate about civil liberties versus strong, intrusive security measures is not restricted only to Europe, of course. In Washington, President Bush is pressing Congress to renew the USA Patriot Act, the broad anti-terrorism law that was passed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. But the measure has run into roadblocks on Capitol Hill. The reauthorization bill has yet to come to a vote in either chamber. But last month the House approved a spending measure that stripped the act of a provision making it easier for federal investigators to review the records of bookstores and libraries."

Is that really the most "intrusive security measure" Bernstein could find? Besides, Europe is hardlythe shining citadel of "civil liberties" Bernstein seems to think it is, when it comes to fighting terror.

For the rest of Bernstein on "civil liberties" in Europe, click here