Friday, July 08, 2005
(I'm almost too shocked to post this. This is particularly gut churning, even for these bastards.)
Oh, and as you read that, consider this.
“Hello, I’m Rush Limbaugh. OxyContin has hopelessly addled my brain and turned me into a lunatic demagogue of the radio airwaves. Please do anything you can to avoid this miserable substance. This has been a public service announcement from the National Council of Churches and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.”
Just because there haven't been many stories lately about AIDS, don't think for one minute that it is no longer a scourge.
Not unlike a little kid trying to sneak one last cookie from the jar before dinner when our back is turned, our august legislators in the state of Pennsylvania voted themselves a pay raise at 2 AM this morning, shortly after they finally passed a state budget (weeks overdue again, as is the case just about every year).
The percentage of the raise? Anywhere from 16 to 34 percent, depending on whether or not you are a newly-elected legislator or a senior member of a high-profile committee.
As the Bucks County Courier Times opined this morning:
“The early morning vote hiked salaries from $69,647 to slightly more than $81,000, making them the second-highest paid legislators in the nation behind California. Not bad considering the average Joe earns $38,000 a year in PA and gets maybe a 3 percent pay hike.Yep. Also…
But regular people don’t get the kind of perks lawmakers get: $129 in expense money for every day they’re in Harrisburg; up to $650 a month or $7,800 a year to lease a car; fully paid health insurance valued at $13,000 a year; and a fully paid pension.
The increasing cost of health insurance alone has wiped out the salary increases most people have seen in recent years. In all likelihood, millions of Pennsylvanians are taking home less than they were a few years ago.”
“That a pay raise vote hasn’t taken place in a decade might lead to the conclusion that they’re due. We might agree, except that 10 years ago lawmakers not only voted themselves a pay hike, they also enacted annual cost of living raises. Those automatic increases have hiked legislative salaries some 25 percent since then.”Also, as John Grogan of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported…
“There is plenty to be outraged about here: The amount of the hike, the secretive way it was handled, and the insensitivity to the financial reality of the taxpayers who must foot the bill.I agree (Alison Hawkes, a beat reporter for the Courier Times, also did a good job reporting this story).
But most outrageous of all is the slippery end-run the lawmakers made around the state constitution in order to get their raises, pronto.
The constitution bans lawmakers from accepting a pay raise in the same legislative term in which they approve it. The rule is there for a good reason: to discourage greed and avarice. It is an essential safeguard in a system that allows politicians to decide how often and by how much they raise their own pay.
How did the legislature respond to that safeguard, which would have delayed the raises until December 2006? By taking advantage of a dubious and ethically challenged loophole.
Until the pay raise becomes official, lawmakers will receive it under the table in the form of unvouchered expense checks (no receipts necessary!).
This, taxpayers, is beyond outrageous. This is a willful perversion of the law of the land, a law put in place to keep politicians honest.
This is a travesty.”
Some lawmakers did the right thing and voted against this increase, and I’ll mention two of them later.
So what has this gang accomplished to merit such a huge jump in compensation? Here is a short list in no particular order (I’m sure I could find some more gems, but for now…):
The good news (and again, you have to look hard) is that Dave Steil, our Republican state rep, voted against the salary increase, as well as Tommy Tomlinson (he isn’t our state senator, but he has helped Rendell in the past, partly because the race track that would benefit from casino gaming resides in his district). More bad news? Our state senator, Joe Conti (who I thought once would be a better choice for U.S. Rep than Mike Fitzpatrick) voted for it. Care to explain, Joe?
- Passing a law that allows any of the estimated 1,300 retail establishments that sell beer to do so on Sundays, for a $100 fee of course (I don’t know what is more ridiculous – the fact that this law had to be passed in the first place, or that the state found a way to do it and gouge business owners in the process).
- Failing to pass any one of three bills to raise the state's minimum wage from the borderline-indentured-servitude rate of $5.15 per hour.
- Slicing state Medicare funding by a third when they passed the budget Thursday morning, resulting in about $243 million in service cuts, limiting doctor’s visits and hospitalizations for some of the state’s poorest and sickest residents (hey, you guys get all your health care coverage gratis. Care to “share the wealth”?).
- Passing a tort “deform” bill, which precludes patients from recovering damages for medical expenses already paid by insurers. "While this bill begins to address patient safety, it falls short of the public disclosure needed to curb the rise of serious medical errors," said Cliff Rieders, president of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. "Patients did not get what they deserved from this bill."
- The sabotaging of Act 72, which is Gov. Rendell’s attempt at property-tax reform through reducing school taxes and making up the difference with gaming revenue. As far as I’m concerned, the fault lies primarily with the school boards that refused to participate, no doubt unwilling to release control of their purse strings, but this was aided in no small way by state Repug politicians who abhorred the idea of gaming from the very start. Hey, I’m not in love with it either, but what sense does it make to continue losing this money to Atlantic City and elsewhere? Besides, Rendell ran for governor on this idea and told everyone what he planned to do. It was just ducky for everybody at the time, I guess, but “when the rubber met the road,” some legislators bailed on him.
- FINALLY providing a dedicated source of funding for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) for train, bus, subway, and trolley service, though SEPTA ranks 19th on the funding list of the top 25 transit systems in this country (click here for more information).
- Overturning a law passed by then-mayor of Philadelphia Rendell limiting gun purchases to one per month in a manner that prohibited Philadelphia and Pittsburgh from ever attempting to pass such a law again (special raspberry to State Representative Dennis O’Brien of Philadelphia, chairman of the state house Judiciary Committee, for squashing any attempts to get this issue resolved again – this was pointed out by John Grogan in a column earlier this year). This whole sorry spectacle points out once more how many legislators are in the “hip pocket” of the National Rifle Association.
- Lastly (and maybe most egregiously), the creation of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, a body dependent on state funding and toll revenue which has no regulatory oversight. None. You can’t find out how much money they’ve raised or how they fund their projects. I didn’t know this sort of thing was possible in this country, but apparently it is, and these geniuses created it.
Also, if you go to Media Matters, read about why this blow-dried, great-haired pretty boy named John Gibson is a d*ck and a smartass (I mention at the very bottom of this site that I don't advocate violence against anyone, but if I did, it would be against him).
Thursday, July 07, 2005
It appears that this was a highly coordinated attack with four, possibly as many as seven different explosions taking place in a close timeframe, though details are still being hashed out, of course.
Only a fool would think Al Qaeda (or whatever splinter group is responsible for this) would not feel emboldened now to try something else in this country again.
(by the way, great stuff at Atrios and especially The Daily Kos today about this tragedy.)
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
(For the longest time, Chapman took positions which were left-wing or middle of the road on most issues. As far as I’m concerned, though, he has officially “gone over to the dark side” with this one)…
The editor in chief of Time Inc. made news the other day by offering to do what most of us take for granted: obey the law. It's about time.Note Chapman’s huffy and self-righteous tone. It gets worse.
When I first heard about what Normal Pearlstine did (the editor in chief), I got PO’ed. However, after I read the article about the Miller/Cooper/Plame case in Time this week, I understood that he had exhausted all the legal remedies that he could and that his course of action, though regrettable, was understandable. It would have been unthinkable in the era of Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, but everything is “through the looking glass” now.
Reporter Matthew Cooper has declined to testify in the federal probe of the outing of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. But after the Supreme Court spurned his appeal on Monday, his superiors elected to turn over his notes, which apparently will make his refusal irrelevant.Uh, no. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, for some reason that is an utter mystery to me, still wants Cooper to testify. And it’s probably a good thing the Supremes didn’t hear it, because any ruling coming from this bunch may have further eroded the reporter’s right to confidentiality.
"The same Constitution that protects the freedom of the press requires obedience to the final decisions of the courts," said editor Norman Pearlstein -- an insight that has eluded many of his fellow journalists.“Many” reporters, huh? Do you have “many” examples?
That would include New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who claims the prerogative of deciding for herself what information the grand jury is entitled to hear, and whose publisher backs her up.Who claims the prerogative of giving up information in a way that protects her sources, yes, and her published SHOULD back her up.
By the way, I’ve read comments from some lefties who have decided to gang up on her (such as Atrios) in part because she was a cheerleader for Iraq War II and she dumped on John Kerry during the last election. Wrongheaded as it was for her to do that, that’s not at issue here.
Like Cooper, she apparently had a conversation with the leaker (or leakers) about Plame. Even though she didn't write a story, that could make her a witness to a federal crime, since it is illegal for a federal employee to unmask a covert agent.Yes, but she didn’t do the unmasking, did she? (Chapman will get to that shortly).
But Miller feels she has the right and the duty to keep her promise of confidentiality to her source, never mind that her source had no respect for his own secrecy obligations. She says she will go to jail rather than cooperate, and this week, she may get the chance.If you follow this logic, then anyone who has broken or will break a law should not be used as a source for a news story. If you take that logic one step further, then that would invalidate most plea bargains where criminals agree to lesser charges in order to give somebody up.
A seasoned reporter such as George Anastasia of the Philadelphia Inquirer, for example, reports on organized crime frequently. I know he’s had some run-ins with both the people he reports on and law enforcement, but part of the reporter’s job is to know how to straddle “the razor’s edge”.
(Actually, as I read Chapman’s remarks, I’m starting to wonder exactly what his background in journalism was before he landed this column gig at the Trib.)
Her fortitude would be admirable in a noble cause, which unfortunately this is not.No argument here.
Plame is the wife of former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who infuriated the White House by publicly rejecting claims that Saddam Hussein was trying to acquire nuclear weapons. After he wrote an article criticizing the administration's evidence, someone leaked the information in an attempt to discredit him.I was actually going to give Chapman the benefit of the doubt and attribute his remarks to being blinded, so to speak, by righteous outrage over Bushco’s antics in this, until I read the following paragraph.
Columnist Robert Novak obligingly published Plame's name, which he said he got from "two senior administration officials." (Novak refuses to say whether he's testified, but since he hasn't been threatened with jail, it's safe to assume he has.)No it isn’t. What kind of a statement is that? It’s not safe to assume that Novak and Fitzgerald have had any communication at all. Who’s your daddy, Steve?
Miller and Cooper have chosen to shield someone who blew an American agent's cover for political revenge.That’s assuming that Miller and Cooper’s source did that (paging Karl Rove), but again, that’s ultimately up to the courts to decide.
This is a terrible mistake for two reasons. In the first place, as the Supreme Court made clear, it is based on a legal privilege that exists only in the fertile imagination of journalists.It has also been substantiated in practice and through case law over many years.
In the second, it may serve to protect a serious felon from being brought to justice.Consider the chilling effect, Steve. No source would ever talk to a reporter again. Besides, as I’ve already said, if Fitzgerald wanted to get from A to B as directly as he could, Novak would be sweating it out in the box (oh, uh…sorry, I forgot. He must have testified already, right?).
Cooper is cooperating, but apparently that isn’t enough to satisfy Mad Dog Fitzgerald. But I’m sure he’ll make an example of Miller all the same (update: he did).
Miller insists that her subpoena, by compromising the confidentiality of news sources, threatens the public's right to know. But there are some things the public has no right to know -- including the names of covert agents. If Plame's exposure had made her a terrorist target, that would be painfully obvious.Hello, I’m Steve Chapman. I'm going to talk down to you like you're a moron for a little while. Do you mind?
The law in question was passed in 1982 after rogue agent Philip Agee outed more than 1,000 CIA operatives, potentially jeopardizing their lives. No one has argued it should be repealed. But if federal employees can leak names to journalists without fear that the reporters may testify against them, the law would have all the value of a Confederate bank note.Fear of testifying against them might “dry up” these potential sources also (how many times do I have to keep mentioning this?).
It may not be surprising to find a couple of journalists behaving irresponsibly.To you, maybe, though I don't consider Miller and Cooper's behavior "irresponsible".
What is surprising is that the entire press has rallied behind them. A host of news organizations signed a brief siding with Cooper and Miller during their court battle. Editorialists at The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, who normally can't agree that shamrocks are green, both condemned special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald…That should be your first clue, Sherlock.
…for thinking the protection of our spies justifies inconveniencing reporters.That may be the snottiest remark of this whole rant. I would consider jail a bit more than a minor inconvenience.
But even the states that have shield laws allow prosecutors to subpoena reporters under certain conditions. Federal courts have ruled that even if there were a reporter's privilege not to testify, it would not be enough to excuse Miller and Cooper, because the information sought is crucial and the prosecutor has exhausted every other means of getting it.That may be the biggest LIE of this whole rant. How has Fitzgerald “exhausted” his ability to get information out of Novak?
Besides, the reporters weren’t asking for immunity from testifying. They and their news organizations were asking for some judgment and common sense on the part of the special prosecutor, which I guess isn’t going to be forthcoming.
The only protection that might help is an absolute shield, akin to the attorney-client or doctor-patient privilege. But as University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone notes, even those have exceptions.As they should.
If a client asks his lawyer how to get away with robbing a bank, the conversation is not protected, because the privilege was never meant to facilitate violations of the law.Oh, so now you’re suggesting that, somehow, Cooper and Miller are co-conspirators because they “facilitated violations of the law.” What journalism school did you graduate from anyway? Whattsamatta U?
The sort of privilege sought by the news media, however, would do just that. Reporters who are witnesses to a crime could evade the normal duty of citizens to tell what they know.Sure, they “could,” and so could other professionals. Also, monkeys “could” fly out of my butt. Guess the glass is always half empty, isn’t it Steve?
Journalists like nothing better than exposing self-seeking behavior by special interests who care nothing for the public good. In this case, they can find it by looking in the mirror.I take back what I said earlier. THIS is the snottiest sentence in this whole rant.
Yeah, so Cooper and Miller did this because they LIKE prison and they LIKE being the objects of scorn and ridicule by hammerheads such as yourself, and they LIKE having their lives turned upside down.
Steve, if you have any sense of integrity left, go get a job with Fox and be more honest about passing yourself off as the shill you truly are. Somebody else around here needs to look in the mirror too.
P.S. - One more thing, Mr. Chapman: Read this column from Molly Ivins to get a clue.
This story shouldn't surprise me in the least. I think this paragraph is the most telling one:
"The cuts are not necessarily an indication of economic weakness, but rather the by-product of numerous trends, including changing consumer demand, outsourcing, mergers and acquisitions, automation and consolidation. We are also starting to see job cuts resulting from higher health care costs as well as higher oil and natural gas prices," said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.Just look on the bright side, though. If this affects you, you can just take whatever you may get in unemployment and stay longer at Morry's Pier in Wildwood and blow it on rides for the kids, since you won't have a job to go back to.
(If I were to include the great quotes from "Sweet Smell of Success" which he co-wrote with Clifford Odets, I'd have to include just about the entire screenplay.)
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Still, though, there are at least two aspects to this story that disturb me:
1) The “hands off” treatment given to conservative shill Robert Novak of the Chicago Tribune, when HE is the one that wrote the story that caused the mess. If Fitzgerald wanted to traverse “the shortest distance between two points” in this, as it were, he would subject Novak to the treatment that he’s giving to Miller and Cooper.
However, I don’t know if Fitzgerald is conducting this investigation the way he is because of some jurisdictional dispute between Chicago and New York (though his office operates freely in both locations), or maybe because the Tribune is standing up to him more than the Times did. It’s all speculation at this point. Also, though I detest Novak, he does have a reputation for asking the tough questions over 41 years of reporting, so I grudgingly have to acknowledge that.
2) The fact that Fitzgerald is running roughshod over the protection granted to reporters and their sources which has been acknowledged and respected through institutional practice and legal precedent throughout our country’s history. My hunch is that he’s doing this because he has determined that he can get away with it, and unfortunately he’s right. This also impresses his superiors who reflect Bushco’s mindset, goals, and attitudes, and that must be a consideration in Fitzgerald’s mind also.
Something else that is painfully obvious is that we need a national shield law to protect reporters and their sources (and also weaselly politicians and other operatives who leak information – this is a disreputable practice as far as I’m concerned, but it shouldn’t be illegal). This page provides information on pending legislation in Congress in this vein.
Please contact your U.S. senator or congressperson and ask them for their support. I’m going to track down Rep. Fitzpatrick and Sen. Specter on this (Specter will have his hands full shortly trying to replace O’Connor, but he should sign off on this also). I’d contact Rick “Pennsylvania Uber Alles” Santorum on this, but I’m not going to waste my time (he apparently said something else stupid today, this time about working parents trying to raise their kids…hee hee – keep it up and make it a cakewalk for Casey Jr.!).
And that's not even considering trying to clean up after a kid gets sick in the lobby from the food and whatever may get on your "duds" then (sorry - hope you're not eating as you read this).
My suggestion would be to add a scrolling LED dog tag with the attire, and if they're going to plug movies, the first one could be "Super Size Me" by Morgan Spurlock :-).
Putting aside the fact that it’s at best counterproductive and at worst a monumental waste of time to keep fighting battles that are over 18 years old, let’s consider the fact that, after the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee were sufficiently cowed by the resulting conservative backlash as a result of Bork’s defeat, the next candidate, Antonin Scalia, had a cakewalk, and he is at least as bad as Bork could have been. Worse, he will probably be the next chief justice, since Rehnquist will surely follow O’Connor’s path out the door now.
Also, regarding Judge Bork, let’s recall his role in the Watergate scandal for a moment (yes, he had one).
See, Nixon was getting mad at special prosecutor Archibald Cox because, well, gosh, it seemed the man was getting too close to the Oval Office during the course of his investigation (imagine that). I’ll let William Rivers Pitt provide the next bit of information.
…In Watergate, Congress did not commence impeachment proceedings to hold President Nixon accountable for his abuse of power until the American people demanded action after the Saturday Night Massacre (in which Nixon ordered the firing of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox to keep him from getting incriminating personal tape recordings).And this information appears courtesy of CBS News (this is what happened):
When Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor investigating the White House, refused a presidential order to make no further attempts to subpoena the Nixon tapes, President Richard Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliott Richardson to fire Cox. Richardson refused and resigned as did his deputy, William Ruckleshaus.I seem to recall that Nixon fired Ruckleshaus, but if CBS News said he resigned, then I’ll defer to them.
So guess who ended up firing Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox?
U.S. Solicitor General Robert H. Bork.
So, as far as I’m concerned, Bork put party loyalty above his duty to protect our government and the Constitution. That tells me all I need to know about his qualifications, now or ever, for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Also, Bork testified before Congress in 1987 that he did not believe there was such a thing as a constitutional right to privacy. Maybe not literally, but I would strenuously argue that such a thing exists in the spirit of the Constitution and in its implementation as the foundation of our government over lo these 229 years.
I would humbly ask that you keep this in mind the next time you hear Robert Bork pontificating about the importance of an “originalist” orientation for a Supreme Court justice.
Monday, July 04, 2005
I’ve read a great deal of news articles and columns where the authors don’t seem to understand the mood of the country and why there is no unified resistance to the Iraq war or the policies of the Bush administration in general (granted, a lot of these authors are liberal or progressive, and yes, there is a difference between the two). I believe there are several reasons for this.
One is the fact that the mainstream media upon which most of this country relies for information has been totally co-opted by a pro-business, conservative agenda more concerned with stories such as the tragic disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba and how the latest GDP numbers from Bushco are going to affect the leading economic indicators on Wall Street such as the Dow Jones industrial average.
Another is the truly ineffectual state of what laughably passes for an opposition party in this country. David Sirota (yet another plug) has posted twice on this subject over the last week, with the most recent one having to do with how 28 Democratic legislators in the House actually voted against a bill from fellow Dem Rose DeLauro to ban government contracts to companies that use offshore loopholes to avoid paying taxes in this country (including the pathetic Rahm Emanuel of Illinois who, when asked last year if we were right to invade Iraq without WMD actually said yes!). The bill was ultimately voted down (another Democrat who caved was John Murtha of Pa., a former Marine who I thought knew better).
Another reason is the fact that Bushco are, collectively, the most skilled propagandists I’ve ever seen, unfortunately. With their “Project for a New American Century” they envisioned a way to consolidate power by allowing for a total collapse of our economy and creating an environment for an attack on this country (Note 1: I will NEVER say that they knew 9/11 was coming and let it happen, if for no other reason than because Barbara Olsen, wife of connected conservative lawyer Ted Olson, was killed in the Pentagon attack, and she was definitely one of their own). Subsequently, the people of this country would instinctively rally around a leader who, by all appearances, was trying to put things back together.
Given all of this, I have this to offer regarding the mood of the vast majority of the people in this country. I think it can best be described as a kind of shocked anxiety, not having a clue as to what’s coming next and kind of numbed into a state of inertia because of repeated “fear and smear” warnings from Bush and his acolytes (how many times did Bush shamelessly mention 9/11 in his speech on Iraq last week?). That definitely explains the results of the election as far as I’m concerned, along with the fact that John Kerry was running an unimaginative campaign with themes from the 90s, along with voter intimidation and harassment in Ohio and Florida along with electronic fraud.
Bush’s strategy to shape public opinion in this way (assuming for a minute that he came up with this himself, which would be giving him far too much intellectual credit) recalls Nazi propaganda of an earlier day, as far as I’m concerned (Note 2: I am NOT saying that Bush is Hitler, only that he’s trying to copy Hitler’s tricks). All politicians and other propagandists want to address favorable audiences, but Bush and his cronies have elevated this throughout his administration in a manner not unlike der Fuehrer riding in the open jeep on his way to address the sixth Nuremberg Party Congress in 1934.
One difference I would note is that, after World War I, Germany was in such a state politically and economically that they were ripe for domination by a group such as the National Socialists. In this country, the conditions had to be created for plutocratic rule.
Though I am not old enough to recall the rise of Nazi Germany firsthand, I have a pretty clear picture of how those sympathetic to Hitler felt during that time, particularly in Austria. It was a total unquestioning acceptance of his policies, much like I see in the followers of Bushco today. Also, it was pretty clear early on that the Nazis sought world domination (thank God Winston Churchill had read Mein Kampf and understood what Hitler was about in the 30s while the rest of England was recovering from WWI), and everything they did was geared towards achieving that goal, and their followers dismissed some of the pre-war rhetoric about eliminating non-Aryans as some type of fictional propaganda. Bushco is relentless in their goals also, and they do not, nor have they ever, sought a compromise on anything. Likewise, I see the same sort of denial among their followers regarding news stories about what really is going on in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as Gitmo.
Germany as a nation suffered long-term repercussions for their support of Nazi Germany, and I’m afraid this country is in for the same fate because of its collective support for Bushco.
However, one note of hope that we can hang onto this day is that, due to the framework of our government and the vast well of patriotism and people doing the right thing on a grass roots level of either party, as far as I’m concerned, the kind of fascist rule that Bushco is trying to foist on us will never take hold. It is my hope and dream that that will be the case now and always.
Sunday, July 03, 2005
Our service people all over the world, including our reservists, who make the dangerous and often lonely sacrifice to preserve our way of life (we can, as always, send our prayers and good wishes to both them and their families). With our people in mind, I should mention that Michael Moore's site has a link called, "How Can I Help The Troops," and the Friends of Bruce Cockburn site has a link to the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation.
Ukrainian leader Viktor Yushchenko, who survived dioxin poisoning, believed to have been administered during the campaign by government agents, and won the presidency in December after courts overturned the election of his rival. This is unbelievable to me – as much as I dislike Dubya and the conservatives, I would NEVER consider doing something like that to them.
(Yushchenko, by the way, is this year’s winner of the Liberty Medal, but due to schedule conflicts, he will not receive it until September 17th, Constitution Day, in a ceremony at the National Constitution Center.)
The governor of Washington State, Christina Gregoire, whose election was validated after two vote recounts against Repug challenger Dino Rossi
The rescue of one member of a U.S. special operations team in Afghanistan, which tempers somewhat the loss of 16 other special ops members when their helicopter was shot down in that area
The rescue of Shasta Groene in Idaho, and the community support that made that possible (Though the outcome for her brother doesn't look good, let's pray and hope for him also.)
The news about Karl Rove which Newsweek will blare out to the world shortly (which precedes, of course, the inevitable denials from Rove’s lawyer…what else can you expect?)
The fact that Howard Dean hasn’t said anything stupid for the last couple of weeks (continually keeping my fingers crossed on that one:-)
A former top Iranian secret agent said yesterday that the hostage-taker in a 1979 photograph that has come under intense scrutiny is not President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but a former militant who committed suicide in jail.Fine. You know what I want to see, then? I want a complete list of all of the terrorists (not "students" as far as I'm concerned) who held our people hostage in 1979; their names, faces, date and time last seen and where they are now, and I want the list to be verified by international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International. It's just a bit too convenient that this Taqi Mohammadi guy just happened to commit suicide in jail to avert any suspicion (it's always easy to blame it on the dead guy, right? - see Iran-Contra and Casey, Bill).
Saeed Hajjarian, an adviser to outgoing President Mohammad Khatami and a former high-ranking official in the Intelligence Ministry, identified the man in the photo dating to the 1979 U.S. Embassy siege as Taqi Mohammadi.
Iran's newly elected president has been accused of being a main participant in the taking of American hostages at the embassy. Six former U.S. hostages who saw the president-elect in photos or on television said they believed Ahmadinejad was among the hostage-takers. One said he was interrogated by Ahmadinejad.