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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, July 29, 2014
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By Brad Friedman on 10/27/2004 1:35pm PT  

"For a political candidate to jump to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief" --- George W. Bush, campaign rally in PA, 10/26/04

(via Michael at AMERICABlog)

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Don't get spun.
By Brad Friedman on 10/27/2004 1:09pm PT  

AP is reporting "Spokesman for military unit at Al-Qaqaa says there was no search for explosives":

A U.S. military unit that reached a munitions storage installation after the invasion of Iraq had no orders to search or secure the site, where officials say nearly 400 tons of explosives have vanished.

Looters were already throughout the Al-Qaqaa installation south of Baghdad when troops from the 101st Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade arrived at the site a day or so after other coalition troops seized the capital on April 9, 2003, Lt. Col. Fred Wellman, deputy public affairs officer for the unit, told The Associated Press.
...
''Orders were not given from higher to search or to secure the facility or to search for HE type munitions, as they (high-explosive weapons) were everywhere in Iraq,'' he wrote.
...
A U.N. official said Al-Qaqaa installation was believed to be the only site in Iraq where high explosives such as HMX, RDX and PETN were stored. When Iraq declared the explosives after the 1991 Gulf War, IAEA experts concentrated them at Al-Qaqaa so they could be monitored by U.N. nuclear inspectors, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
...
AP Correspondent Chris Tomlinson, who was embedded with the 3rd Infantry but didn't go to Al-Qaqaa, described the search of Iraqi military facilities south of Baghdad as brief, cursory missions to seek out hostile troops, not to inventory or secure weapons.

The enormous size of the bases, the rapid pace of the advance on Baghdad and a limited number of troops made it impossible for U.S. commanders to allocate any soldiers to guard any of the facilities after making a check, Tomlinson said.
...
NBC correspondent Lai Ling Jew, who was with the 101st, told MSNBC that ''there wasn't a search'' of Al-Qaqaa.

''The mission that the brigade had was to get to Baghdad,'' she said. ''As far as we could tell, there was no move to secure the weapons, nothing to keep looters away.''

There's more on the specific dates of all this in the story, and as we've pointed out before Josh Marshall has pulled together all the math to make sense of it. His later coverage, is similarly reasoned and clear-headed. Inform yourself.

In the meantime, as I was watching Fox and listening to the other Wingnut pundits yesterday (See Edward Daley's "Al Qaqaa Bomb Cache Fraud: A New Low For Liberals" for instance), this question occured to me:

What is more important at this point?

Determining how 380 tons of some of the highest explosives known to man (just one pound of it took down Pan Am 103) has undeniably disappeared and what has happened to them?

Or investigating whether or not this may be some kind of "Dirty Trick", as O'Reilly suggested yesterday, being grandly orchestrated somehow to take down Bush in some bizarre grand conspiracy requiring the complicit cooperation of the Iraqi Interim Government, the IAEA, the U.N., The New York Times and the Democratic party?

You tell me which one of those questions should be of more concern right now.

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By Brad Friedman on 10/27/2004 12:40pm PT  

I had been planning to cover this a bit, but it looks like New Donkey has taken care of some of it for me:

The GOP's November Surprise
I should have known when George Will started writing columns about the dastardly threat of voter fraud that something big was in the works. And sure enough, the conservative media echo chamber is now vibrating from a cacophany of warnings that Democrats are trying to steal the presidential election by fradulently registering ineligible voters.

What's happening here is an effort to soften up the news media and the public for a truly audacious, and perhaps even desperate, gambit by the Republican Party that appears to be planned for election day: wholesale challenges to minority voters in battleground states in an effort to either (1) intimidate or demoralize likely Democratic voters, or (2) lay the groundwork for one of those Bush-v.-Gore-enabled retroactive legal actions aimed at reversing an adverse result. More likely, the aim is (3) both.

Read the article for more specifics.

As I've mentioned here previously, when the GOP starts charging something about Democrats (e.g. "They're trying to scare voters!", "They're intolerant of free speech!", etc.), it's a virtual guarantee that it's something they are either currently doing or plan to do themselves. For years now, they've honed this pre-emptive attack on others for what they are actually doing themselves to an art form. Will the media and the voters be smart enough to recognize that this time around?

(Hat tip Bryan for the link!)

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By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2004 11:27pm PT  

Just a quick note to mention that the BRAD BLOG has been steadily gaining traffic over the last month or two due to so many of you spreading the good word and staying involved.

Yesterday we had just under 10,000 unique visitors stop by. More importantly though, 2,500 of you were return visitors which is really most important to me. Whatever brought you here, many of you decided to come back again, and that's truly appreciated.

As I mentioned to our friend Henry in comments yesterday, never "mis-underestimate" the power of one. Please keep that in mind as Election Day nears. Get to work, spread the word, volunteer to knock on doors or help keep them honest on Election Day or just work the phones from home if that's more convenient. But do something.

To quote this year's savior of the Democratic Party: "You have the power!...You have the power!...You have the power!..."

He was right. I know this for a fact. So please, go use it!

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...in service of George W. Bush.
White House Uses Website to Campaign, In Violation of the Rule of Law...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2004 11:08pm PT  

While it may not be "breaking news", still I never fail to grow more amazed each day at the ever lowering depths of stark and cynical politicization of this George W. Bush administration.

While I'm not old enough to have contemporaneously tracked the troubling goings-on of the Nixon administration, I must say that from what I've been able to glean over the years about them, they just don't seem to hold a candle to the slick and orchestrated campaign of top-to-bottom politicization of virtually every facet of the current administration.

Sure both Clinton and Reagan were political champs, but they just didn't seem to have the fixation on the politicization of every nook and cranny of their administration in the way the Dubya team seems have accomplished during their catastrophic failure.

As I've been dealing with various issues related to the political scrubbing and/or white-washing and/or flagrantly partisan use of the White House website over the past couple of weeks, I've come across various bits and pieces, and have received various tips from readers on all sorts of questionable and/or deceptive and/or partisan and/or downright ugly uses of Bush administration-run facilities on their portion of the tax-payer funded "Internets".

By way of just a few examples, the White House's website is one of the top destinations on all of the Internets, as it offers a treasure trove of historical and educational information, including a section specifically tailored for children. (NOTE FOR THOSE OF YOU IN BLINDFOLD LAND: We're talking about the publicly funded Whitehouse.gov site now, a different animal all together than the appropriately partisan GeorgeWBush.com campaign site!)

Yet take a look at the screenshot on the right taken from the front page of Whitehouse.gov today. There's your tax dollars at work. A historical report concluding that "President George W. Bush's first term has been among the most consequential and successful in modern times."

I'll grant them "most consequential", but "most successful in modern times"?

Clicking on the link to their "special report" called "President George W. Bush: Record of Achievement", I found that my tax dollars are being used to inform me that...

President Bush...has signed one of the most sweeping arms reduction pacts in history. [ed: That's right, go read about it yourself in Chapter 3: "Promoting Peace and Democracy - and Acts of Mercy"]

President Bush...has signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act, the most important Federal education reform in history.

President Bush has strongly advocated...environmental standards that are making America's water and air cleaner.

He has made civility a touchstone of his rhetoric.

Such times demand a leader of clear convictions and determination, hope and vision, integrity and the courage to act. These qualities are the hallmarks of the Bush Presidency.

President George W. Bush put forward a historically ambitious agenda and restored dignity to the office he holds...The United States is safer and stronger, more resilient and better for his efforts.

And all of that is just on the first page of the full 19 Chapter "report"!

Meanwhile, lest we forget the children, the "Kids" section of Whitehouse.gov informs the impressionable tykes that "President Bush has pledged to work in a bipartisan spirit, which means he plans to work with both Republicans and Democrats in Congress." Perhaps those plans got set aside.

In another example of rank partisanship at work on the official Whitehouse.gov website, a reader (Vic) pointed out that there is a page devoted to a short biography of each American President. And right in the middle of the text of each one of those, they've been kind enough to offer the reader a convenient set of "Related Whitehouse.gov links" (See screenshot at left for the "Whitehouse.gov related links" to Abraham Lincoln, for example.)

The bio pages for each of the 43 former (or soon-to-be former) Presidents have that same set of "related" links dropped squarely into the middle of every historic Presidential biography.

As the reader who sent the tip noted, we might give the benefit of the doubt and overlook the links to the current President and Vice-President perhaps --- but links to their wives as well?!

To be fair, we've only had two administrations so far that have even had websites. So I wondered if perhaps Bill Clinton's website was similarly as unabashedly partisan and politicized as George W. Bush's.

I jumped over to the National Archives, where they have all five versions of Clinton's Whitehouse.gov website archived, versioned, indexed and frozen for posterity as the historical documents that such websites are --- according to the "rule of law" anyway, for those of you out there who still care about such antiquated notions.

I looked mostly at the fifth and final version of the Clinton website, since it would have been in play during the 2000 Elections and most comparable to Bush's current site. While I found documents that discussed various positive Clinton achievements, I just didn't come across the sort of wildly unabashed campaign rhetoric that the current White House site offers readers in spades.

One enlightening, though admittedly anecdotal measure of the differences in the two administrations is revealed by comparing each administration's former (and soon-to-former) historical bio pages of past Presidents.

There are no "Whitehouse.gov related links" to Clinton, Gore and their respective wives in the middle of the Clinton versions of those pages. Though there is a link on each page to a bio for each respective President's wife on the Clinton version. The direct links to the First Ladies (other than Laura Bush, of course, who is on every page) is removed on the Bush version. Instead, the Bush site, as did the Clinton site, offers a section specifically dedicated to historical First Lady bios.

More telling, however, is the direct comparison of the biographical essays for each President. I compared each site's version for LBJ through "present".

But for a short "FUN FACT" removed from the top of each of the Clinton site's Bio pages, it looks like the Bush Administration retained the exact same texts from the Clinton years for almost every President. That says something, I'd think, of the fair and balanced treatment that the Clinton team gave to former Presidents.

All of the Clinton essays seemed to be mostly even and non-partisan essays. An observation further borne out, I'd suggest, by the fact that even the Clinton team's version of Dubya's dad, Bush 41, remains completely unchanged on Dubya's version for his own dad through all four years of his term.

So Bush 43 found no reason to change the essay that Clinton had created for Bush 41, but --- as you might guess --- they did change the text for the Clinton bio when they took over the sandbox. Appropriately, they added information that hadn't been there previously about impeachment, but many Clinton achievements were simply excised entirely. Phrases such as "he outlined a bold strategy to lift the economy through increased public and private investment while cutting $500 billion from the Federal deficit" were removed. While other descriptive phrases like "After the failure in his second year of a huge program of health care reform" were added by Team Bush.

You can compare other differences for yourself.

While all of this is not necessarily earth-shaking --- as I said, "not breaking news" --- I do find it interesting, instructive and indicative of the politicized posture the current Administration has had from Day 1 of their "Presidency" in virtually every area, large to small.

The only other differences in Presidential essays that I noticed between the two sites is the entirely lopped off final paragraph from Clinton's version of the Jimmy Carter bio. The short excised paragraph at the end which spoke of Carter's achievements after leaving the White House, such as his founding of "the nonprofit Carter Center in Atlanta to promote peace and human rights worldwide" was simply gone.

Perhaps the Bush White House decided that post-Presidential activities were a can of worms they preferred better left unopened.

Some day, if I find the stomach for it, perhaps I'll compare the First Lady bios from the Clinton and Bush sites. Though I have a feeling it's not gonna be pretty.

UPDATE 10/29/04: BRAD BLOG SUCCESS! WH restores Audio/Video! Though much still missing...

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By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2004 9:48am PT  

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Advice for our Right Wing Readers
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2004 9:44am PT  

A helpful note to our Wingnut Readers: Before you race to your blogs in a panic to parrot the misleading Drudge/NBCNews story which tries to suggest that the 380 TONS of missing high explosives from al Qaqaa were missing before we ever got there....Before you hit the comments button here and re-type what Rush is lying to you about this morning...For once, try to educate yourself and understand the facts of the story first so you don't embarrass yourself again, and waste everybody's time. Josh Marshall --- a very good and professional reporter --- can help you avoid that mistake again. But you'll have to read him first. Please do.

Thank you.

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Who do you suppose he's voting for this year?
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2004 11:42pm PT  


Gave me the smile I needed tonight.
via Angry Finger who titled it "Biggest. Kerry. Fan. Ever" :-)

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By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2004 10:31pm PT  

The Washington Post is reporting this in tomorrow's paper:

The Bush administration intends to seek about $70 billion in emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year, pushing total war costs close to $225 billion since the invasion of Iraq early last year, Pentagon and congressional officials said yesterday.

Now go watch Bush not answer Charlie Gibson's direct question about precisely that on tomorrow's GMA interview (I've seen the preview).

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Letters intended for GeorgeWBush.com miss their target!
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2004 8:54pm PT  

GeorgeWBush.org, a very funny parody website, has just discovered the misaddressed email they've been receiving in their "catch-all" mailbox intended for addresses of GeorgeWBush.com. Peruse the "dead letters" from GOP operatives! Share your favorite finds in comments here (and give Mary Matlin a phonecall with our best regards while you're there!)

Can't these guys get anything right?

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It keeps going...and going...and going...
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2004 6:20pm PT  

"Pacific John" at DKos has info on the now vanished "Countries Where al Qaeda Has Operated" from a State Dept. website report on a "very embarrassing Nov 10, 2001 State Dept. Report" on "Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda".

I've found other missing material from the State Dept. website, but haven't had time yet to report it in detail, unfortunately. Glad they're picking up the ball at Daily Kos!

(Thanks to tipster Brad J. for this one!)

UPDATE 10/29/04: BRAD BLOG SUCCESS! WH restores Audio/Video! Though much still missing...

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Who can keep up?
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2004 6:06pm PT  

While I've gotten sidelined a bit on the "Shrub Scrub" story, other all-new all-more-incredible failures of this administration have been hitting the wires. Most notably the 380 tons of explosive material that went unsecured and now missing from Al-Qaqaa after the U.S. capture of Iraq.

Apparently the latest White House / Wingnut line is that this is no big deal, and we don't even really know for sure when these 380 tons of explosives(!) went missing.

Josh Marshall, who's all over this one, shows that not only has the Administration known about this for over a year (only of actual concern to the White House now that the media has reported the story) but contrary to the denials of the Bush Dead Enders, the explosives which the U.N. and the IAEA both notified the U.S. about before the war was indeed found to be there, according to AP after we invaded Iraq:

At the Pentagon, an official who monitors developments in Iraq said US-led coalition troops had searched Al-Qaqaa in the immediate aftermath of the March 2003 invasion and confirmed that the explosives, which had been under IAEA seal since 1991, were intact. Thereafter the site was not secured by U.S. forces, the official said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

So it was there, and we didn't secure it, and now the White House is stuck in another lie, fib, mislead, failure, disaster...whatever you wish to call it.

The extraordinary thing at this point seems to be that the sheer unprecedented number of failures for a single administration may, in the end, help them cover up all of them! From 9/11 to WMD's to Abu Ghraib to Increases in Terrorism to 9/11 Commission failures to Backdoor Drafts to deadly Flu Vaccine mishaps to Website Scrubbing to Job Losses to Increases in Poverty Rates to Decreases in the number of Insured to rises in Health Costs to Rising Death Tolls to Unsecured Munitions Sites to Insufficient Forces on the Ground to Osama bin Laden both running and hiding...and on and on...Who can keep up with it all?

I suspect, as when America simply became turned off to endless silly (and unproven) allegations of scandal during the Clinton Administration, it's likely America may end up viewing actual disastrous policy failures-- most of which have made America less safe and certainly less better off than we were four years ago --- as more than they are able to process. I know I can hardly process it all anymore, and I'm paying attention!

Will Bush's endless failures turn out to be his trump card in the end? It's amazing to ponder that this may be the very thing that Bush and Co. now have to hang their hat on!

"Bush/Cheney '04: Who Understands Disaster Better Than Us?!"

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(Shrub Scrub? HTML-File-Gate?)
** A BRAD BLOG EXCLUSIVE! **
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2004 2:09pm PT  

· 10/06/04: WH Scrubs Coalition List from Website...
· 10/17/04: WH caught red-handed trying to cover tracks...
· 10/18/04: Bush's "not that concerned" about bin Laden Audio/Video goes missing...
· 10/21/04: More embarrassing Audio/Video files found missing from site...
· 10/22/04: 'Vanished Coalition List' story hits AFP news wires...
· 10/24/04: Scrubbed files in violation of "Presidential Records Act"...
· 10/25/04: Washington Post gets in game, covers Scrub story twice in one day...
· 10/25/04: State Dept. website scrubbed as well!...
· 10/26/04: WH uses website to campaign for Prez!...
· 10/29/04: SUCCESS! WH restores Audio/Video! Though much still missing...
· 1/21/05 (Yes, '05!): Reuters Reports: "White House Scraps 'Coalition of the Willing' List" (What took ya so long?!)
· 9/15/07: White House Still Lying About Coalition in Iraq After All These Years...
· 12/5/08: Altered White House Iraq War Docs "Discovered" by University Professor...More Than Four Years After The BRAD BLOG Originally Reported Same

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Twice!
And the White House lies about it again.
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2004 1:08pm PT  

Looks like I can back off a bit, for the moment, on my criticism of the print media (if not the broadcast media) as The Washington Post today has finally picked up the "White House Website Scrub" story in two different pieces. (Unlike the wire report on AFP/Yahoo, both WaPo stories were kind enough to give credit to yours truly for breaking the story.)

Helen Dewar and Brian Faler cover the story on page 6 of today's paper here. And then Dan Froomkin's "White House Briefing" follows up a bit on that report here.

Since Froomkin's column does not get archived on the WaPo site (I don't think) and since a few minor corrections should be made to his report, I'll run it here in it's entirety:

"White House Briefing"
Dan Froomkin - Monday, Oct 25, 2004; 12:22 PM
The Washinton Post

Missing from the Web

Is the White House scrubbing its Web site?

Helen Dewar and Brian Faler write in The Washington Post about the mystery of the disappearing Coalition of the Willing --- and more.

"Blogger Brad Friedman, who noticed the disappearance, believes this is part of a widespread 'scrubbing' of documents on the government site. Gone are links to the audio and video of President Bush's statement that 'I'm not that concerned' about Osama bin Laden, a Q&A when Bush said 'misunderestimate' and Bush's acknowledgment that his decision making on stem cell policy was 'unusually deliberative for my administration.'

"Jimmy Orr, who handles the content for the White House site, said nothing nefarious was intended. 'We have some 80,000 pages and 3,000 video and audio links,' he said. 'When we republish pages and move files, some links are bound to go down, and there are bound to be dead pages.' "

For the record, the March 2001 press conference where Bush first said "misunderestimate" is in fact on the site; the transcript just says "mis-understimate" instead. Using Google, I found another version of the coalition list on the Web servers, for those of you who are curious. And the July 2001 press conference where Bush spoke about his unusual deliberation is in fact also on line. But the other stuff is indeed missing.

Indeed, as Froomkin reports, the audio from the "March 2002 press conference" where Bush used "misunderestimate" is now back online. It was not there when we originally reported that part of the story a few days ago. But as the other WaPo piece on this today from Dewar and Faler report, James Orr, head of content for the White House website claims that staffers are now "'clicking on every single audio and video link on our site' to make sure they work. So that could be one of the pages where they've now restored the previously missing audio.

In regards to the other version of the coalition list Froomkin was able to find by searching Google, as we reported old versions of the coalition list could be found via searching, but that the latest coalition list, the version linked to their actively updated "RENEWAL IN IRAQ: the Coalition" special report was expressly removed from that report just after Dick Cheney blasted John Edwards in the Veep Debate for being "dead wrong" for not counting Iraqi casualties as part of the coalition. That issue is explained, with before and after screenshots here.

Finally, the transcript for the "July 2001 press conference" where Bush spoke about being "unusually deliberative for my administration" on Stem Cell research was always available online, as my report on that indicated at the time. It was only the Audio and Video from the press conference that was not --- and is still not, as of this post --- available online. The links to them are there, but the content is unavailable.

Nonetheless, those are minor issues and I'm glad to see the media picking up on this story at all. I hope they will also look into the issues of possible criminal violations by the White House of the Presidential Records Act that I reported on last night.

Most importantly, I hope the media keep pressing the White House on all of this since their ridiculous cover story (now given by Orr to both AFP and WaPo) has been pretty pathetic. As the Dewar and Faler story reported in it's final graf...

As for the Coalition of the Willing? "This coalition list was dated and inaccurate," Orr said. He said another will be posted "as soon as we get a new one" --- without countries such as Costa Rica, which last month asked to be removed from the list.

So Orr is suggesting here that it takes over a month to remove a single line of text from an HTML web page?! Yet they were able to both delete the original page --- a list which never contained the country of Iraq, as Cheney suggested --- and remove the graphic link to that list from their special report on Iraq just a day or two after we first reported on it? But they can't seem to provide a list of coaltion countries during a time of war and in the middle of a Presidential campaign?

If you believe that, you probably also believe that "freedom is on the march" in Falluja.

These guys are incredible, and will say anything to cover their asses for what is clearly a cynical and corrupt, and likely illegal (remember that "rule of law" that used to matter?) use of the historical record on the publically funded White House website. Sadly, it's all merely demonstrative of the way everything in this administration seems to be handled.

UPDATE 10/29/04: BRAD BLOG SUCCESS! WH restores Audio/Video! Though much still missing...

ReddIt this story!



Desperation Reveals Character
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2004 9:13pm PT  

Just when you thought there was no new depths for these Bush bigots to plumb...Homophobia becomes a fully outted and approved Bush/Cheney campaign tactic. Why hide it in the closet? I guess we should expect nothing less from these people. Sad and pathetic. Be horrified..

Vote November 2nd.

ReddIt this story!



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