Friday, October 07, 2005

Short Takes

- Mohammed ElBaradei, IAEA win Nobel Peace Prize "for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way." Probably not the choice I would have picked for the prize this year, what with the precarious state of nuclear proliferation in Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, etc. etc.

- Terrorist threat to NYC subways: We can all hope that the information received is incorrect, but I can't fault the City for responding seriously and overwhelmingly to the threat. What worries me most is the paragraph in the NYT article which reads "Some officials in Washington, in interviews last night, played down the nature of the threat. While not entirely dismissing it, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security described it as 'specific yet noncredible,' adding that the intelligence community had concluded that the information was of 'doubtful credibility.' Maybe so, but let's keep our eye on the ball here - better to take it seriously and stop an attack than downplay it, I should think.

- Senator Sam Brownback, a vociferous abortion foe, said after a meeting with Harriet Miers, he wasn't convinced yet that he could support her nomination. Democrats are saying she'll have to be more forthcoming than Roberts in her hearings, and Republicans still aren't comfortable with her. And we still don't know what Dobson knows that the rest of us don't. I have no idea how this is all going to play out, but it's definitely going to be a fascinating few weeks of political kabuki as Miers' hearings unfold. Unlike with Roberts, the result of Miers' rounds with the Judiciary Committee are nowhere near predetermined.

Miers doesn't seem to be helping herself much either: the WaPo reports this morning that in a meeting with Senator Leahy, she was asked about her favorite past Supreme Court justice. "Warren," she answered. Earl Warren, or Warren Burger, Leahy asked. Sources told the Post Miers said she meant Burger, a thoroughly un-noteworthy chief justice who conservatives revile for his concurrence in Roe v. Wade and most others dislike for different reasons. My question would be this - how did Harriet Miers come to be on a first-name basis with Warren Burger? And if she actually meant Earl Warren, isn't that big news?

[Update: They've been discussing this over at Bench Memos, where someone writes: "Miers was asked about Justices she admired. She responded that she admired different Justices for different reasons, including Warren — interrupted by Senator Leahy — Burger for his administrative skills." Makes slightly more sense this way, so on those grounds alone I'm inclined to say this is probably more accurate than the Post's portrayal. -- 8:19 a.m.]

- The Washington Post has collected responses from the nine senators who voted against McCain's anti-torture amendment. The sickest, not surprisingly, comes from Oklahoma's James Inhofe: "From my first statement in the Senate Armed Services Committee in May of last year, I have made it clear that we are spending far too much of our time and effort on the prisoner abuse issue and not enough time on the quality of our interrogations ... It is my feeling that the more we air this issue publicly, the more we are emboldening the terrorists ..."
Ugh, and wow.

- The NYT does twin editorials on President Bush's "major speech" yesterday. Both are good, but here are the key paragraphs:

"The speech came one day after the White House threatened to veto a bill onto which the Senate added a ban on the use of 'cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment' against prisoners of the American government. This president could not find the spine to veto a bloated transportation bill that included wildly wasteful projects like the now-famous 'bridge to nowhere' in Alaska. What kind of priorities does that suggest? If we ever needed the president to demonstrate that he has a working understanding of exactly where he wants to take this country, we need it now.

The president's inability to grow beyond his big moment in 2001 is unnerving. But the fact that his handlers continue to encourage him to milk 9/11 is infuriating. For most of us, the memories are fresh and painful. We mourn the people who died on Sept. 11, as we mourn Daniel Pearl and other Americans, not to mention innocents from other countries, who were murdered by terrorists. The administration's penchant for using them as political cover is offensive. It threatens to turn our wounds, and our current fears, into cynical and desperate spin."

Harsh, but fair. Enough with the 9/11 references.


At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is very hard for me to have much faith in the Department of Homeland Security when they aren't even on the same page with the Mayor and Police Commissioner. Why would they downplay a threat that was deemed specific and possibly credible? Don't these guys work together?

Concerning the threatened veto of the defense bill over the prisoner abuse, how can you doubt that the responsibility for Abu Ghraib et al goes to the door of the president? If it didn't would they threaten to veto? What a terrible abuse of the soldiers who were following orders. If I were a soldier I would think twice about any order or lack thereof concerning the treatment of prisoners. You can't use the military for photo ops and then use them to take the fall without affecting the moral. No wonder we can't meet our recruitment figures.

At 11:08 AM, Blogger Jerry said...

Good lord, Pat Roberts. If I may paraphrase his quote in the Wash. Post article:

"I'm against torture, but we need terrorists to believe we might torture them if they get caught."


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