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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Monday, October 31, 2005

NPR : Bush Taps Alito for Supreme Court Vacancy

NPR : Bush Taps Alito for Supreme Court VacancyLegal Affairs
Bush Taps Alito for Supreme Court Vacancy

by Laura Sullivan

President Bush and Judge Samuel Alito, the new Supreme Court nominee

Judge Samuel Alito, right, speaks to reporters at the White House after President Bush announced Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court, Oct. 31, 2005. Reuters

About Samuel Alito

Age, Birth Date: 55; April 1, 1950 in Trenton, N.J.

Education: AB, Princeton, 1972; JD, Yale, 1975

Career Highlights:
-- Alito clerked for Judge Leonard Garth of the Third Circuit, who is now his colleague on that court.

-- From 1977-1980, Alito served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the appellate division, where he argued cases before the circuit court to which he was later appointed.

-- From 1981-1985, Alito served as assistant to the solicitor general. He argued 12 cases on behalf of the federal government before the U.S. Supreme Court, and numerous other cases before the federal courts of appeals.

-- From 1985-1987, Alito served in the Office of Legal Counsel as deputy assistant attorney general, providing constitutional advice for the Executive Branch.

-- From 1987-1989, Alito served as U.S. attorney for the district of New Jersey. The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Alito for the post. He was best known for prosecuting white-collar and environmental crimes, drug trafficking, organized crime and violations of civil rights.

-- In 1990, President George H.W. Bush nominated Judge Alito to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Alito was unanimously confirmed by voice vote by the U.S. Senate.

-- Alito has participated in thousands of appeals and authored hundreds of opinions.

-- Judge Alito has argued 12 Supreme Court cases and at least two dozen court of appeals cases, and he has handled at least 50 others.

-- Alito has participated in various professional associations, including the New Jersey Federal Bar Association (member of advisory board); the New Jersey State Bar Association; the American Bar Association; and the Federalist Society.

Family: Alito and his wife, Martha-Ann Bomgardner, live in West Caldwell, N.J. They have two children, a college-age son, Philip, and a younger daughter, Laura. His late father, Samuel Alito Sr., was the director of New Jersey's Office of Legislative Services from 1952 to 1984. Alito's sister, Rosemary, is a top employment lawyer in New Jersey.

Sources: The Associated Press, White House, October 31, 2005 · President Bush has nominated federal Judge Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court, a choice that quickly cheered the many conservatives who were disappointed with his last pick. Bush moved swiftly after his first nominee, White House Counsel Harriet Miers, withdrew her name from consideration last week amid growing opposition from members of the right that she lacked experience and wasn't conservative enough.

Alito will likely escape that particular criticism. He has spent the past 15 years as a judge on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. During that time, he consistently took conservative positions on such issues as opposing abortion and favoring public displays of religion. In fact, he's been dubbed "Scalito" by colleagues, referring to conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Speaking at the White House Monday, Bush called Alito "one of the most accomplished and respected judges in America." He was careful to highlight Alito's extensive judicial experience. In contrast to Miers, the 55-year-old Alito has spent decades serving as a judge or arguing cases before one.

"He has participated in thousands of appeals and authored hundreds of opinions," Bush said. "This record reveals a thoughtful judge who considers the legal merits carefully and applies the law in a principled fashion."

Conservatives and many Republicans immediately hailed Alito's nomination. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, "Anyone would be hard-pressed to name another nominee with such a sterling and distinguished record. Judge Alito believes the law -- not the judge -- should determine the results in a case."

Liberals and a number of Democrats swiftly criticized Mr. Bush's choice. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), said Alito was probably "too radical for the American people."

Alito's most well-known opinion is his dissent in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey in October 1991. Alito and his colleagues on the 3rd Circuit sided with the state, agreeing that teenagers must have parental consent before obtaining an abortion. They also upheld legislation stating that women must wait 24 hours after receiving information on alternatives to abortion before undergoing the procedure. But in an opinion that dissented in part, Alito went a step further and said it was within the law to require women to notify their spouses before they get an abortion.

When the U.S. Supreme Court took up an appeal of the ruling in 1992, much of the 3rd Circuit's ruling was upheld. The court agreed some limits such as parental notification were valid. But it agreed with the majority of the lower court that requiring women to notify their husbands was unconstitutional. The high court disagreed with Alito's lone dissent, saying requiring spousal notification would present an "undue burden" to women seeking an abortion.

In other cases, Alito sided with communities and citizens who wished to display religious symbols. In one case, he said a city hall display of holiday religious and non-religious items was legal, in part because taxpayers did not pay for the displays.

More of his writings are likely to be sifted through in coming days and weeks, including rulings on political asylum, an opinion that a campus police officer could be suspended prior to a hearing after he had been arrested on drug charges, and a majority opinion that a high school did not uphold a student's right to an education when it did not protect him from a bully.

Alito was born in Trenton, N.J., on April 1, 1950. He graduated from Princeton University and Yale Law School. After passing the bar, he clerked for Judge Leonard I. Garth on the 3rd Circuit, where Garth now presides.

Before being appointed to that court by President George H.W. Bush, Alito was the U.S. attorney for New Jersey. He also served as deputy assistant attorney general and assistant to the solicitor general.

Alito was careful not to express any political or personal opinions Monday as he accepted the nomination. As his wife, son and daughter looked on, he talked about his respect for the court and his family's immigration to the United States from Italy in 1914.

He also said he was thrilled to be nominated to fill the seat of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, whom he said went out of her way to treat him gently the first time he argued before the Supreme Court.

"I was grateful to her on that happy occasion, and I am particularly honored to be nominated for her seat," he said.

The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia

The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & MultimediaThe New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia
Bush to Nominate Samuel Alito for Supreme Court, According to News Reports

Doubts Cast on Vietnam Incident, but Secret Study Stays Classified - New York Times

Doubts Cast on Vietnam Incident, but Secret Study Stays Classified - New York TimesOctober 31, 2005
Doubts Cast on Vietnam Incident, but Secret Study Stays Classified

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 - The National Security Agency has kept secret since 2001 a finding by an agency historian that during the Tonkin Gulf episode, which helped precipitate the Vietnam War, N.S.A. officers deliberately distorted critical intelligence to cover up their mistakes, two people familiar with the historian's work say.

The historian's conclusion is the first serious accusation that communications intercepted by the N.S.A., the secretive eavesdropping and code-breaking agency, were falsified so that they made it look as if North Vietnam had attacked American destroyers on Aug. 4, 1964, two days after a previous clash. President Lyndon B. Johnson cited the supposed attack to persuade Congress to authorize broad military action in Vietnam, but most historians have concluded in recent years that there was no second attack.

The N.S.A. historian, Robert J. Hanyok, found a pattern of translation mistakes that went uncorrected, altered intercept times and selective citation of intelligence that persuaded him that midlevel agency officers had deliberately skewed the evidence.

Mr. Hanyok concluded that they had done it not out of any political motive but to cover up earlier errors, and that top N.S.A. and defense officials and Johnson neither knew about nor condoned the deception.

Mr. Hanyok's findings were published nearly five years ago in a classified in-house journal, and starting in 2002 he and other government historians argued that it should be made public. But their effort was rebuffed by higher-level agency policymakers, who by the next year were fearful that it might prompt uncomfortable comparisons with the flawed intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq, according to an intelligence official familiar with some internal discussions of the matter.

Matthew M. Aid, an independent historian who has discussed Mr. Hanyok's Tonkin Gulf research with current and former N.S.A. and C.I.A. officials who have read it, said he had decided to speak publicly about the findings because he believed they should have been released long ago.

"This material is relevant to debates we as Americans are having about the war in Iraq and intelligence reform," said Mr. Aid, who is writing a history of the N.S.A. "To keep it classified simply because it might embarrass the agency is wrong."

Mr. Aid's description of Mr. Hanyok's findings was confirmed by the intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the research has not been made public.

Both men said Mr. Hanyok believed the initial misinterpretation of North Vietnamese intercepts was probably an honest mistake. But after months of detective work in N.S.A.'s archives, he concluded that midlevel agency officials discovered the error almost immediately but covered it up and doctored documents so that they appeared to provide evidence of an attack.

"Rather than come clean about their mistake, they helped launch the United States into a bloody war that would last for 10 years," Mr. Aid said.

Asked about Mr. Hanyok's research, an N.S.A. spokesman said the agency intended to release his 2001 article in late November. The spokesman, Don Weber, said the release had been "delayed in an effort to be consistent with our preferred practice of providing the public a more contextual perspective."

Mr. Weber said the agency was working to declassify not only Mr. Hanyok's article, but also the original intercepts and other raw material for his work, so the public could better assess his conclusions.

The intelligence official gave a different account. He said N.S.A. historians began pushing for public release in 2002, after Mr. Hanyok included his Tonkin Gulf findings in a 400-page, in-house history of the agency and Vietnam called "Spartans in Darkness." Though superiors initially expressed support for releasing it, the idea lost momentum as Iraq intelligence was being called into question, the official said.

Mr. Aid said he had heard from other intelligence officials the same explanation for the delay in releasing the report, though neither he nor the intelligence official knew how high up in the agency the issue was discussed. A spokesman for Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who was the agency's. director until last summer and is now the principal deputy director of national intelligence, referred questions to Mr. Weber, the N.S.A. spokesman, who said he had no further information.

Many historians believe that even without the Tonkin Gulf episode, Johnson might have found a reason to escalate military action against North Vietnam. They note that Johnson apparently had his own doubts about the Aug. 4 attack and that a few days later told George W. Ball, the under secretary of state, "Hell, those dumb, stupid sailors were just shooting at flying fish!"

But Robert S. McNamara, who as defense secretary played a central role in the Tonkin Gulf affair, said in an interview last week that he believed the intelligence reports had played a decisive role in the war's expansion.

"I think it's wrong to believe that Johnson wanted war," Mr. McNamara said. "But we thought we had evidence that North Vietnam was escalating."

Mr. McNamara, 89, said he had never been told that the intelligence might have been altered to shore up the scant evidence of a North Vietnamese attack.

"That really is surprising to me," said Mr. McNamara, who Mr. Hanyok found had unknowingly used the altered intercepts in 1964 and 1968 in testimony before Congress. "I think they ought to make all the material public, period."

The supposed second North Vietnamese attack, on the American destroyers Maddox and C. Turner Joy, played an outsize role in history. Johnson responded by ordering retaliatory air strikes on North Vietnamese targets and used the event to persuade Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin resolution on Aug. 7, 1964.

It authorized the president "to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force," to defend South Vietnam and its neighbors and was used both by Johnson and President Richard M. Nixon to justify escalating the war, in which 58,226 Americans and more than 1 million Vietnamese died.

Not all the details of Mr. Hanyok's analysis, published in N.S.A.'s Cryptologic Quarterly in early 2001, could be learned. But they involved discrepancies between the official N.S.A. version of the events of Aug. 4, 1964, and intercepts from N.S.A. listening posts at Phu Bai in South Vietnam and San Miguel in the Philippines that are in the agency archives.

One issue, for example, was the translation of a phrase in an Aug. 4 North Vietnamese transmission. In some documents the phrase, "we sacrificed two comrades" - an apparent reference to casualties during the clash with American ships on Aug. 2 - was incorrectly translated as "we sacrificed two ships." That phrase was used to suggest that the North Vietnamese were reporting the loss of ships in a new battle Aug. 4, the intelligence official said.

The original Vietnamese version of that intercept, unlike many other intercepts from the same period, is missing from the agency's archives, the official said.

The intelligence official said the evidence for deliberate falsification is "about as certain as it can be without a smoking gun - you can come to no other conclusion."

Despite its well-deserved reputation for secrecy, the N.S.A. in recent years has made public dozens of studies by its Center for Cryptologic History. A study by Mr. Hanyok on signals intelligence and the Holocaust, titled "Eavesdropping on Hell," was published last year.

Two historians who have written extensively on the Tonkin Gulf episode, Edwin E. Moise of Clemson University and John Prados of the National Security Archive in Washington, said they were unaware of Mr. Hanyok's work but found his reported findings intriguing.

"I'm surprised at the notion of deliberate deception at N.S.A.," Dr. Moise said. "But I get surprised a lot."

Dr. Prados said, "If Mr. Hanyok's conclusion is correct, it adds to the tragic aspect of the Vietnam War." In addition, he said, "it's new evidence that intelligence, so often treated as the Holy Grail, turns out to be not that at all, just as in Iraq."

TV Newsman Is His Own News in the Leak Case - New York Times

TV Newsman Is His Own News in the Leak Case - New York TimesOctober 31, 2005
The Journalist
TV Newsman Is His Own News in the Leak Case

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 - On any given Sunday, the cream of Washington officialdom presents itself for confession before Tim Russert, a big, bluff lawyer-turned-journalist who may be the capital's most intimidating interlocutor outside a courtroom or Congress. Vice President Dick Cheney, not a chatty guy, has been his guest no fewer than 10 times since taking office.

But on this particular Sunday, the news compelled Mr. Russert to turn his trademark attention to an atypical topic: himself.

"Inside the C.I.A. leak indictments, including the role of journalists, including yours truly," Mr. Russert intoned in no-nonsense staccato before a commercial break halfway through "Meet the Press," NBC News's top-rated Sunday morning interview program.

Mr. Russert has moderated it for nearly 14 years, and with it he now wields as much influence as any single working journalist in Washington.

For Mr. Russert, who is also NBC's Washington bureau chief, turns out to be a pivotal ear-witness to the only crime so far charged in the inquiry into the disclosure of a C.I.A. agent's classified identity that has consumed the intersecting circles of news organizations and politics in which he has been a prominent player for years.

It was Mr. Russert's 20 minutes of sworn testimony to the special prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, in a Washington law office on a summer Saturday in 2004 that helped undermine the account of Mr. Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr.: that Mr. Russert first told him that Valerie Wilson, the wife of Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador and a sharp critic of the Bush administration's rationale for war with Iraq, worked at the C.I.A.

The five-count grand jury indictment against Mr. Libby charges that he called Mr. Russert "on or about July 10, 2003" (four days before Ms. Wilson's identity became public in a column by Robert D. Novak) "to complain about press coverage of Libby by an MSNBC reporter" (by all evidence, Chris Matthews of "Hardball") and "did not discuss Wilson's wife with Russert" at all.

In a telephone interview on Sunday afternoon, Mr. Russert acknowledged some discomfort with his unusual role in the case, in which Matthew Cooper of Time magazine and Judith Miller of The New York Times have also contradicted Mr. Libby's account under subpoena. "We hate being in the middle of what we're reporting on," he said. "But it is what it is."

Mr. Fitzgerald is clearly counting on the credibility of the 55-year-old Mr. Russert, a popular figure who cut his teeth in Washington more than 25 years ago as an aide to the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, as a crucial witness against Mr. Libby at any trial. But he would be far from the only one.

According to the indictment, Mr. Libby talked about Ms. Wilson's identity with at least six other people in the government, including Mr. Cheney, before talking with Mr. Russert, who says he learned about Ms. Wilson's name by reading Mr. Novak's column (and, good newshound that he is, he said he was irked not to have known it before). All those people have also told their stories and could be called to the stand.

If the charges in the indictment are true, it is by no means clear why Mr. Libby would have told investigators and the grand jury in March of last year that Mr. Russert was his source, except that he might have believed that Mr. Russert and the other journalists involved would not testify.

Mr. Libby's lawyer, Joseph A. Tate, has said that "Mr. Libby testified to the best of his honest recollection on all occasions" and cited the passage of time as a possible explanation for contradictory accounts. After getting waivers from Mr. Libby, all of the other journalists eventually testified, though Mr. Russert managed to avoid the protracted legal battles over the terms of such testimony that brought far more attention to Mr. Cooper and to Ms. Miller, who served 85 days in jail.

Mr. Russert declined to discuss the circumstances of his testimony in much detail beyond the official statements he and NBC issued at the time, and he largely confined himself to repeating those statements on the air on Sunday. But there is evidence he may have faced a somewhat easier decision than Mr. Cooper and Ms. Miller, because Mr. Libby was calling him not as a confidential source but as an angry viewer, upset about one or more MSNBC cable programs a day or two before his call.

On "Hardball" on July 8, 2003, for example, Mr. Matthews blamed Mr. Libby and others in the White House for failing to warn President Bush that a reference in his State of the Union speech that winter about Iraq trying to buy uranium from Niger was wrong. Mr. Wilson, a former ambassador to Gabon, had just published an Op-Ed article in The New York Times in which he said he had been sent to Niger by the C.I.A. the previous year to investigate an intelligence report about a possible uranium sale, and concluded that it was "highly doubtful."

Mr. Matthews said on the air, "Somebody's to blame here, and it's a very high level."

Mr. Libby testified to the grand jury about his conversation with Mr. Russert on March 5 and March 24 last year, and Mr. Russert was subpoenaed in May. NBC issued a statement at the time saying, "Russert was not the recipient of the leak," and vowed to fight the subpoena in federal court because of what it said was the potential chilling effect on its ability to cover the news. On July 20, 2004, the court rejected the network's arguments (although it did not make the decision public until Aug. 9) and on Aug. 7 Mr. Russert answered "limited questions" posed by Mr. Fitzgerald, an NBC statement said at the time.

Under an agreement with the prosecutor, NBC said, Mr. Russert did not go before the grand jury, and was not asked questions that would have required him to disclose information provided in confidence.

Steve Capus, the acting president of NBC News, said in a telephone interview Sunday that he was quite confident of Mr. Russert's ability to analyze the case on the air, despite his unusual role as a part of it. Mr. Cooper and Ms. Miller have each written first-person accounts of their own involvement.

"I feel that what we've done to date is a model of how we're going to handle this," Mr. Capus said. "We have tried to be as open as possible." He added: "I'm very comfortable with how Tim has handled himself."

As anyone who has ever watched his program during football season knows, Mr. Russert was born in Buffalo, and also worked as an adviser to former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo of New York early in his tenure in Albany. It seems clear that some of his sharp-eyed instincts for covering the political world were honed while he worked in it, though he himself gives equal credit to "four years of Latin and going to law school."

Mr. Russert's wife, Maureen Orth, is a writer for Vanity Fair. Their son, Luke, is a student at Boston College.

Mr. Russert moves easily in the worlds of official and social Washington, in which politicians and reporters sometimes find themselves on the same playing field.

But Mr. Russert never goes out on Saturday nights, preferring to attend the 4 p.m. Catholic Mass at Georgetown University Hospital's chapel before preparing for his program.

Mr. Russert was appearing live on MSNBC with the anchor Brian Williams shortly before 1 p.m. Friday when NBC's legal correspondent, Pete Williams, who was Mr. Cheney's press secretary at the Pentagon more than a decade ago, began reading aloud from the indictment and mentioned Mr. Russert's name.

"Tim, this will be an interesting conversation," Brian Williams said. It was then that Mr. Russert first acknowledged that Mr. Libby had been calling not to explain but complain.

In the telephone interview, Mr. Russert said he had not had any particular prior relationship with Mr. Libby, and that there were "other people in the vice president's office I talk to much more regularly." He said important guests like Mr. Cheney and President Bush, who appeared during the election campaign last year, came on "Meet the Press" because "we have a significant audience."

Some of Mr. Russert's colleagues have reacted sharply to the charges about Mr. Libby's actions. On "Hardball" Friday night, Tom Brokaw, the retired NBC anchor, said of Mr. Libby: "In all the years I've been covering Washington scandals, this is the clumsiest case of lying I've ever been witness to," and said Mr. Libby "concocted this scheme, beginning by trying to set up Tim Russert."

But Mr. Russert said that he had been careful not to go beyond the facts, using the reprinted written quotations and snippets of video that are part of his patented technique. "What I did this morning is went through, very carefully, what's in the allegations, what I said, what the other reporters said," he said. "I'm not going to be judgmental."

Sunday, October 30, 2005

NPR : John Hope Franklin puts a 'Mirror to America'

NPR : John Hope Franklin puts a 'Mirror to America'

Listen to this story...

by Debbie Elliott

Historian John Hope Franklin lives in Durham, N.C. Credit: Tina Tennessen, NPR.
Tina Tennessen, NPR

In addition to chronicling American history, Franklin has also witnessed it. Here are some more of his memories and thoughts.

* On the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921
* On Reparations for Slavery
* On the Lynching of a Classmate
* On FDR's Visit to Fisk University

All Things Considered, October 30, 2005 · Historian John Hope Franklin has spent much of his life -- 90 years, so far -- investigating the legacy of slavery in America.

He has been more than a chronicler of the African American experience. Franklin was, in fact, an important player in the Civil Rights movement, helping Thurgood Marshall and his team craft their landmark Brown v. Board of Education case against school segregation.

Debbie Elliott talks with Franklin about his new memoir, Mirror to America.

Tina Tennessen produced this story.

Inside Higher Ed :: 'Cuts' or 'Savings' for Student Loans?

Inside Higher Ed :: 'Cuts' or 'Savings' for Student Loans?Oct. 27
‘Cuts’ or ‘Savings’ for Student Loans?

They argued about numbers. They debated definitions. They challenged each other’s “facts.”

But ultimately, the Republican and Democratic members of the House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce followed their preordained scripts Wednesday in passing, along party lines, legislation that would “cut” (or “save,” as the Republican majority preferred) $15 billion from the federal student loan programs and shift the funds to the general federal budget for an array of non-higher education purposes, to the dismay of college officials.

It was clear from the very start of the long and drama-less drafting session that the top Republicans on the education committee, having agreed to cut more than $18 billion from the programs under their jurisdiction as part of a larger “budget reconciliation” effort by House leaders to cut $50 billion, would stick together and pass the legislation, which the panel’s chairman, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), said would “strengthen higher education programs and expand college access for low- and middle-income students,” while doing the committee’s part to reduce the burgeoning federal deficit.

The only thing left for Democrats to do, given that they clearly did not have the votes to stop (or even amend) the measure, was to score political points by portraying the bill over and over again as one that would take money out of students’ pockets to pay, among other things, for tax cuts for wealthy Americans. Student groups provided some visual aids, as about 10 students stood in the back of the hearing room wearing T-shirts with bright red stop signs on them that said “Stop the Raid on Student Aid” (for some reason, they never appeared on the committee cameras that aired the event on the Web, which usually scan the room for audience shots).

“This is Robin Hood in reverse,” said Rep. Dale A. Kildee (D-Mich.), asking students from low-income families to pay for “tax cuts for millionaires.” Kildee also said that as a former seminary student, he believed that the budget process Congress is currently engaged in should be called something other than “reconciliation.” “Reconciliation is an act of love, and I cannot call this an act of love,” he said. “We’ve got to get a better word.”

“We need to take this last clear chance not to try to balance the budget on the backs of students,” said Rep. John Barrow of Georgia. “No matter how it’s dressed up, no matter how you prepare the charts, what we’re doing today is a cut in student financial aid,” said Rep. David Wu of Oregon. “The money we’re here to cut today is going to go somewhere else, and those funds will never come back to education.”

Boehner, whose comments occasionally drip with sarcasm but who almost always keeps his cool, showed a bit of frustration as he insisted repeatedly that the legislation is good for students, noting that it would increase the amounts that students can borrow in their first and second years of college, for example. He emphasized that the vast majority of the $15 billion that the panel seeks to cut over five years will derive from reduced subsidies to and increased payments by banks, guarantors and other parties in the guaranteed student loan program.

“Students do just fine under the proposal,” the chairman said. “The lenders out there, they’re bleeding. If they weren’t all bandaged up, they’d be bleeding all over the floor.”

As for Democratic statements that the committee’s bill is “cutting student aid,” he said, “it’s just not true, in any way, shape or form.” Show me the ways this would cut funds for students, Boehner challenged the Democrats.

Led by Rep. George Miller of California, the senior Democrat on the panel, lawmakers did just that. They responded by listing various provisions in the bill that they said would take money directly out of students’ (or parents’) pockets: an increase to 3 percent from the current 1.5 percent in the fees that students pay when they first take out a loan (which Boehner noted would drop to 1 percent by 2010 under the legislation), for instance, and a requirement that guarantee agencies charge students a 1 percent “insurance” fee to protect against loan defaults. “These are significant increases, and they are in your bill,” said Miller. “Students and their families are going to be paying more than they are under current law.”

Rep. Robert E. Andrews (D-N.J.) also said that the increased costs financial institutions would be asked to bear under the legislation would, in some way, eventually be passed on to students, too. “They are going to pay it one way or the other,” he said.

Democrats offered a half-dozen amendments aimed at removing certain elements of the Republican plan or, in the case of a proposal by Miller, substituting a wholesale alternative that would use billions of dollars produced through increased fees and reduced subsidies for lenders to raise the maximum Pell Grant to $5,100 by 2010 (the companion bill, H.R. 609, that the education committee passed in July to extend the Higher Education Act would raise the Pell maximum to $4,100, up $50 from the current $4,050).

But all of those amendments were easily rebuffed by the Republican majority. The only amendment that passed, on a voice vote, would require the Education Department to work with the National Academy of Sciences to produce a “scientifically valid” study on the quality of distance education programs.

The committee-passed bill is expected to become part of a larger budget reconciliation measure that House leaders are preparing. Among the many pending questions is how the House will square its budget package and its separate Higher Education Act bill with a proposal moving through the Senate that would fold its version of the Higher Education Act renewal into the budget reconciliation measure. On Wednesday, the Senate Budget Committee gave its blessing to that legislation produced by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

The House could be pressured into adding the Higher Ed Act bill into budget reconciliation, or the Senate could be forced to drop the reauthorization legislation from its budget bill. Passage of the Higher Education Act this year is likelier if the legislation remains attached to the budget bill, which must be enacted this year, but budget reconciliation bills are much more difficult to amend than other types of legislation, giving college officials little hope of altering the parts of the Higher Education Act bills that they don’t like.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

It May Be Wrong, but Is It Perjury? For Prosecutors, That Is Often the Challenge - New York Times

It May Be Wrong, but Is It Perjury? For Prosecutors, That Is Often the Challenge - New York TimesOctober 30, 2005
The Legal Issues
It May Be Wrong, but Is It Perjury? For Prosecutors, That Is Often the Challenge

Proving perjury, the central charge against I. Lewis Libby Jr., is ordinarily no easy task, legal experts said yesterday. A prosecutor must convince a jury not only that the defendant said something false about a significant point but also that the falsehood was more than an innocent error produced by poor memory. To be perjury, the false statement has to be a knowing lie.

Mr. Libby, who resigned as Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff on Friday after being indicted on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements to investigators, will probably argue that any misstatements he made were the good-faith mistakes of a busy man.

"Mr. Libby testified to the best of his honest recollection on all occasions," his lawyer, Joseph A. Tate said in a statement on Friday. "A person's recollection and memory of events will not always match those of other people, particularly when they are asked to testify months after the events occurred. This is especially true in the hectic rush of issues and events at a busy time for our government."

Adam S. Hoffinger, a former federal prosecutor and now the head of the white collar practice at DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary in Washington, said corporate executives often made such arguments when they were charged with perjury and similar crimes. "That is a logical defense when you're dealing with someone on a high level," Mr. Hoffinger said.

But the special prosecutor in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has amassed a wealth of details about what Mr. Libby knew and when he knew it. Mr. Fitzgerald described those details in the indictment at a news conference on Friday, and he clearly believes they are sufficient to overcome the busy-executive defense.

"The way perjury is usually proven - unless you have a tape on which the defendant says, 'Ha, ha, ha, I lied' - is by circumstance," Mr. Hoffinger said. The details Mr. Fitzgerald has alleged, Mr. Hoffinger said, "are the circumstances from which you can infer that Libby was lying and knew that he was lying."

According to the indictment, Mr. Libby learned about Valerie Wilson, whose employment at the Central Intelligence Agency was classified information, from several government officials and classified documents in May and June 2003. He also discussed her identity with other officials in that same period, the indictment says. Yet he told a grand jury investigating the disclosure of Ms. Wilson's identity that he learned about her from Tim Russert of NBC News in July 2003.

Mr. Fitzgerald's mandate, according to the letter appointing him special counsel in the case in December 2003, was to investigate "the alleged unauthorized disclosure of a C.I.A employee's identity." But the indictment does not charge that Mr. Libby violated any law concerning classified information in discussing Ms. Wilson with three reporters in June and July 2003.

Such crimes, Mr. Fitzgerald said Friday, are hard to prove. "You need to know at the time that he transmitted the information, he appreciated that it was classified information, that he knew it or acted, in certain statutes, with recklessness," he said.

But Mr. Fitzgerald suggested that the charges against Mr. Libby, for his conduct months later during the investigation, would help prevent future disclosures. "It doesn't really, in the end, matter what statute you use," Mr. Fitzgerald said, "if you vindicate the interest."

The damage caused by Mr. Libby's conduct was substantial, said Christopher Wolf, a lawyer in the Washington office of Proskauer Rose who represents Ms. Wilson and her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former diplomat.

"Both Valerie Wilson and the nation were injured by this," Mr. Wolf said Friday. "Her personal safety and that of her family and her contacts is in jeopardy."

Mr. Libby's grand jury testimony about Mr. Russert, in March 2004, was, according to the indictment, detailed, expansive and confident.

"Did you know that Ambassador Wilson's wife works at the C.I.A.?" Mr. Russert asked Mr. Libby in a July 2003 conversation, according to Mr. Libby's testimony. Mr. Libby then described his reaction to the information: "I was a little taken aback" because "at that point in time I did not recall that I had ever known, and I thought this is something that he was telling me that I was first learning."

Mr. Russert did not appear before the grand jury, but according to a statement issued by NBC News after he was deposed in the investigation in August 2004, he denied knowing that Ms. Wilson was a C.I.A. operative when he talked with Mr. Libby and said that he had not provided that information to Mr. Libby.

Similarly, the indictment says, Mr. Libby testified that he passed along information about Ms. Wilson, attributing it to what "reporters were telling the administration" and without vouching for its truth, to Matthew Cooper of Time magazine and Judith Miller of The New York Times. The two reporters said they had not heard the attribution or caveat.

The differences, Mr. Libby's lawyer said, amount to nothing more than "alleged inconsistencies in Mr. Libby's recollection and those of others."

But William E. Lawler III, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice at Vinson & Elkins in Washington, said, "People are convicted of all sorts of stuff on the basis of he-said/he-said every day." In Mr. Libby's case, the documents and other information Mr. Fitzgerald gathered from inside the government also seem to contradict what Mr. Libby told the grand jury.

It may also hurt Mr. Libby that he told his version several times, to F.B.I. investigators in October and November 2003 and again to the grand jury the next year.

"The jury will hear," Mr. Lawler said, "that the defendant had many opportunities to set the record straight and come clean."

Some Tie Libby's Case to the Case for the War - New York Times

Some Tie Libby's Case to the Case for the War - New York TimesOctober 29, 2005
The Capital
Some Tie Libby's Case to the Case for the War

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 - Democrats portrayed Friday's indictment of a senior White House official in the C.I.A. leak case as evidence that the Bush administration was willing to risk national security to protect a flawed rationale for the war in Iraq. Republicans cautioned against a rush to judgment and sought to minimize any damage.

In a flood of stinging statements immediately after the announcement of charges against the aide, I. Lewis Libby Jr., leading Democrats quickly moved beyond the details of the indictment to the broader assertion that White House officials had ignored the law in mounting a furtive campaign to blunt criticism of President Bush's case for war.

"This case is bigger than the leak of highly classified information," said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader. "It is about how the Bush White House manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to bolster its case for the war in Iraq and to discredit anyone who dared to challenge the president."

In a statement read by his lawyer outside the federal courthouse, Joseph C. Wilson IV, the former ambassador and a central figure in the case along with his wife, Valerie Wilson, said, "When an indictment is delivered at the front door of the White House, the office of the president is defiled."

Democrats in the House and Senate immediately called for congressional oversight hearings into administration handling of classified information, even though Republican officials who control the House and Senate have ignored such demands in the past.

Republicans urged the public to await the outcome of the criminal proceedings and pointed to the fact that the indictment did not charge Mr. Libby or anyone else with intentionally unmasking a C.I.A. agent.

"Mr. Libby is entitled to his day in court to answer the charges against him, receive a full airing of all the facts and is innocent until proven otherwise," said Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee and the manager of Mr. Bush's 2004 campaign.

At the White House and in the offices of senior Republican lawmakers, there was clear relief that the charges did not - at least for now - reach to Karl Rove, the president's deputy chief of staff and a chief political architect for the president and the Republican majorities in the House and Senate. Staff members, though, did not want to say so on the record for fear of appearing happy on the day Mr. Libby was indicted.

Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah and a senior member of the judiciary and intelligence committees, acknowledged that the five counts against Mr. Libby were serious. But he said he believed the whole investigation was misguided because Ms. Wilson, whose role at the C.I.A. Mr. Libby is accused of disclosing, was not a covert agent as defined in the federal law that prompted the inquiry by the special prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

"If the whole covert agent thing is blown away because it never really applied to begin with, why are we going through all this?" Mr. Hatch asked.

A similar point was made by Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia and a member of the House Republican leadership who was traveling Friday with Vice President Dick Cheney.

"It's significant that the indictment does not mention the outing of Valerie Plame," Mr. Kingston said in a statement, using Ms. Wilson's maiden name. "It appears that after two years of investigation, Mr. Fitzgerald does not agree with the administration's critics that her situation is what this is all about."

Mr. Hatch and Mr. Kingston, though, were among a minority in their party to weigh in aggressively. Many Republicans were quiet, apparently preferring, at least initially, to stay out of the matter.

One Republican said the party would be judged on how decisively it responds to these accusations of wrongdoing and others in which leading Republicans are entangled. "What is our standard?" said Representative Christopher Shays, Republican of Connecticut. "The bottom line is how we handle it."

But Democrats castigated the administration. Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who lost the 2004 presidential race to Mr. Bush, said, "Today's indictment of the vice president's top aide and the continuing investigation of Karl Rove are evidence of White House corruption at the very highest levels, far from the 'honor and dignity' the president pledged to restore to Washington just five years ago."

Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, said the "heart of these indictments was the effort by the Bush administration to discredit critics of its Iraq policy with reckless disregard for national security and the public trust."

Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, the senior Democrat on the Government Reform Committee, immediately renewed his call for oversight hearings in a letter to Representative Thomas M. Davis III, the Virginia Republican who is chairman of the panel. Mr. Waxman pointed to the part of the indictment suggesting that Mr. Cheney told Mr. Libby of Ms. Wilson's work at the C.I.A.

"Obviously, the involvement of the vice president raises profoundly disturbing questions," Mr. Waxman wrote. "We need to understand in detail what role Mr. Cheney played in this despicable incident."

Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, also said additional inquiry was necessary. "The fact is that at any time the Senate Intelligence Committee pursued a line of questioning that brought us close to the White House, our efforts were thwarted," Mr. Rockefeller said.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Libby Resigns His Post; Rove's Fate Remains Unresolved - New York Times

Libby Resigns His Post; Rove's Fate Remains Unresolved - New York TimesOctober 28, 2005
Libby Resigns His Post; Rove's Fate Remains Unresolved

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 - I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff and one of the most powerful figures in the Bush administration, was formally accused today of lying and obstruction of justice in an inquiry into the unmasking of a covert C.I.A. officer.

A federal grand jury indicted Mr. Libby on one count of obstruction, two counts of perjury and two of making false statements in the course of an investigation that raised questions about the administration's rationale for going to war against Iraq, how it treats critics and political opponents and whether high White House officials shaded the truth. The charges are felonies.

Mr. Libby was not charged directly with revealing the identity of a C.I.A. undercover operative, the accusation that brought about the investigation in the first place.

Karl Rove, President Bush's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, was not charged today, but will remain under investigation, Mr. Rove's lawyer and people briefed officially about the case said. In a news conference this afternoon, the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, declined to talk about Mr. Rove but said that his investigation showed that Mr. Libby had told reporters about the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, and that "he lied about it afterwards, under oath and repeatedly."

Mr. Libby resigned just before the indictment was handed up. The charges lodged today could spell professional ruin for the 55-year-old lawyer, unless he is acquitted or the charges are dismissed. In a statement issued by his lawyer, Joseph A. Tate, Mr. Libby said: "I am confident that at the end of this process I will be completely and totally exonerated," according to the Reuters news agency.

Vice President Cheney said in a statement that he had accepted the resignation with "deep regret."

"In our system of government an accused person is presumed innocent until a contrary finding is made by a jury after an opportunity to answer the charges and a full airing of the facts," the statement said. "Mr. Libby is entitled to that opportunity."

Obstruction of justice carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, while the charges of perjury and making false statements have maximum terms of 5 years. Each of the five counts can also be punished with a $250,000 fine. Perjury is lying under oath, to a jury or other investigative body, while making false statements consists of lying to investigators while not under oath.

The indictment accuses Mr. Libby of lying to F.B.I. agents who interviewed him on Oct. 14 and Nov. 26, 2003; perjuring himself before the grand jury on March 5 and March 24, 2004, and engaging in obstruction of justice by impeding the grand jury's investigation into the leaking of Ms. Wilson's affiliation with the C.I.A. in the spring of 2003.

"When citizens testify before grand juries, they are required to tell the truth," Mr. Fitzgerald said in a statement. "Without the truth, our criminal justice system cannot serve our nations or its citizens. The requirement to tell the truth applies equally to all citizens, including persons who hold high positions in government."

The indictment constitutes a body blow to the White House, which has faced political problems on several fronts of late and where Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been powerful presences - Mr. Rove as the president's alter ego and top political adviser, and Mr. Libby as an important adviser to one of the most powerful vice presidents in American history.

The development also capped a politically bruising week for Mr. Bush. Earlier in the week the 2,000th American death in Iraq was recorded, and on Thursday the president's nominee to the Supreme Court, Harriet E. Miers, withdrew her candidacy after being attacked by conservatives and having her legal credentials questioned by lawmakers of both parties.

"Special Counsel Fitzgerald's investigation and ongoing legal proceedings are serious," Mr. Bush said this afternoon. "And now the process moves into a new phase. In our system each individual is presumed innocent and entitled to due process and a fair trial.

"While we're all saddened by today's news, we remain wholly focused on the many issues and opportunities facing this country. I got a job to do and so do the people that work in the White House. We've got a job to protect the American people and that's what we'll continue working hard to do. I look forward to working with Congress on policies to keep this economy moving. And pretty soon I'll be naming somebody to the Supreme Court." Though Mr. Rove was spared indictment today, he remains under a cloud and may be a political liability as Mr. Bush tries to push ahead with his second-term agenda. While Mr. Fitzgerald said the "substantial work" of the grand jury was concluded, he also said the work was "not over."

"We could use any other grand jury or avail another grand jury," he said. "We couldn't use the grand jury that expired today."

Asked about the Mr. Cheney's role in case, Mr. Fitzgerald said "We make no allegations that the vice president conducted any criminal act." Months ago, President Bush said anyone in his administration who committed a crime in connection with the disclosure of the name of Ms. Wilson - also known as Valerie Plame - would not be a part of his administration.

More recently, the White House has retreated somewhat from that position, with Mr. Bush's chief spokesman, Scott McClellan, saying it would not be appropriate to comment in the course of the investigation.

Mr. McClellan said repeatedly at White House news briefings that both Mr. Libby and Mr. Rove had assured him they were not involved in unmasking Ms. Plame. So the charges lodged against Mr. Libby and the ongoing investigation of Mr. Rove offer abundant grist, at least for now, to critics who question the administration's commitment to truth and candor.

Democratic response was instantaneous. "These are very serious charges," said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate minority leader. "They suggest that a senior White House aide put politics ahead of our national security and the rule of law. This case is bigger than the leak of highly classified information. It is about how the Bush White House manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to bolster its case for the war in Iraq and to discredit anyone who dared to challenge the president."

Mr. Fitzgerald said people should not look to the indictment for resolution or vindication of their feelings about the war: "This indictment is not about the war," he said, "this indictment is not about the propriety of the war."

Questions about the extent of Mr. Libby's involvement in the affair intensified this week, when lawyers involved in the case said that Mr. Libby first learned about Ms. Wilson from Mr. Cheney on June 12, 2003, rather than from journalists several weeks after that date. Ms. Wilson's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, is a former diplomat who was highly critical of the Bush administration's case for going to war.

As recently as the last few days, F.B.I. agents questioned neighbors of the Wilsons in northwest Washington, seeking to determine whether it was commonly known that she was a C.I.A. officer, a person involved in the case said. Ms. Wilson sometimes has been known by her maiden name, Valerie Plame.

Mr. Wilson learned of the indictment while at his home today. "If a crime was committed, it was a crime committed against the country," he said. "It's not about whether I'm vindicated or whether Valerie is vindicated, because this crime was not committed against us."

The indictment of Mr. Libby is the latest chapter in an episode that came to light in the summer of 2003. At first, the matter seemed like a tempest in a political teapot, driven by spite and revolving around the issue of whether anyone had violated an obscure federal statute that makes it illegal, under some circumstances, to unmask an undercover agent.

But well before the charges were announced, the affair had mushroomed into something far more serious. It resulted in the jailing of a New York Times reporter, Judith Miller, who had resisted Mr. Fitzgerald's pressure to testify, and it provided regular grist for administration critics to assert that the Bush White House routinely bullied its political opponents.

On July 6, 2003, Mr. Wilson wrote an Op-Ed article in The New York Times recounting a trip to Niger at the behest of the Central Intelligence Agency that left him highly skeptical of Bush administration assertions about Iraq's quest for nuclear material to make weapons.

Eight days after Mr. Wilson's article appeared, the columnist Robert D. Novak disclosed that Mr. Wilson's wife was a C.I.A. operative working on the issue of weapons of mass destruction, and that she had recommended her husband for the trip to Africa in 2002 to look into intelligence reports that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger that could be converted to weapons use. Mr. Novak wrote that he had learned of Ms. Wilson's identity from two senior administration officials. The columnist has refused to say whether he testified before the grand jury.

The indictment paints a portrait of Mr. Libby actively gathering information on Mr. Wilson and his wife in late May and June of 2003. It cites several meetings and conversations, including the following:

¶On May 29, Mr. Libby had a conversation with an undersecretary of state at which he asked for information on Mr. Wilson's trip to Niger.

¶On June 9, the C.I.A. faxed classified documents to Mr. Libby concerning the Niger trip, though they did not mention Mr. Wilson by name. Mr. Libby and one or more others in the vice president's office handwrote the names "Wilson" and "Joe Wilson" on the documents.

¶On June 11 or 12, the undersecretary of state told Mr. Libby that Mr. Wilson's wife worked for the C.I.A. On June 11, Mr. Libby was informed by a senior C.I.A. officer that Mr. Wilson's wife worked for the agency and was believed to be responsible for sending her husband on the trip.

¶On June 12, Mr. Cheney told Mr. Libby that Mr. Wilson's wife worked in the C.I.A.'s Counterproliferation Division. Mr. Libby understood that Mr. Cheney had found this out from the C.I.A.

¶On June 23, Mr. Libby met with Judith Miller, a reporter for The New York Times, criticizing "selective leaking" by the C.I.A. In discussing Mr. Wilson's trip with Ms. Miller, Mr. Libby informed her that Mr. Wilson's wife might work at a C.I.A. bureau.

Mr. Fitzgerald said at his news conference that Mr. Libby learned of Mr. Wilson's wife and her role in her husband's trip to Niger from at least four people in the government in June of 2003.

Bill Brink, Carla Baranauckas and Shadi Rahimi contributed reporting from New York for this article.

CBS 46 Atlanta - Cheney Adviser Resigns After Indictment

CBS 46 Atlanta - Cheney Adviser Resigns After IndictmentWashington
Cheney Adviser Resigns After Indictment
Oct 28, 2005, 02:23 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Vice presidential adviser I. Lewis "Scooter' Libby Jr. resigned Friday after being charged with obstruction of justice, perjury and making a false statement in the CIA leak investigation, a politically charged case that could throw a spotlight on President Bush's push to war.

Karl Rove, Bush's closest adviser, escaped indictment Friday but remained under investigation, his legal status a looming political problem for the White House.

The indictment charged Libby, 55, with one count of obstruction of justice, two of perjury and two false statement counts. If convicted on all five, he could face as much as 30 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines.

The charges stem from a two-year investigation by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald into whether Rove, Libby or any other administration officials knowingly revealed the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame or lied about their involvement to investigators.

Libby is accused of lying about how and when he learned about Plame's identity in 2003 and told reporters about it. The information on the officer was classified.

He is also accused of lying when he told Fitzgerald's investigators that he learned about Plame's CIA status from Tim Russert of NBC. He learned it from Cheney, the indictment says.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rosa Parks, 92, Founding Symbol of Civil Rights Movement, Dies - New York Times

Rosa Parks, 92, Founding Symbol of Civil Rights Movement, Dies - New York TimesOctober 25, 2005
Rosa Parks, 92, Founding Symbol of Civil Rights Movement, Dies

Rosa Parks, a black seamstress whose refusal to relinquish her seat to a white man on a city bus in Montgomery, Ala., almost 50 years ago grew into a mythic event that helped touch off the civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's, died yesterday at her home in Detroit. She was 92 years old.

Her death was confirmed by Dennis W. Archer, the former mayor of Detroit.

For her act of defiance, Mrs. Parks was arrested, convicted of violating the segregation laws and fined $10, plus $4 in court fees. In response, blacks in Montgomery boycotted the buses for nearly 13 months while mounting a successful Supreme Court challenge to the Jim Crow law that enforced their second-class status on the public bus system.

The events that began on that bus in the winter of 1955 captivated the nation and transformed a 26-year-old preacher named Martin Luther King Jr. into a major civil rights leader. It was Dr. King, the new pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, who was drafted to head the Montgomery Improvement Association, the organization formed to direct the nascent civil rights struggle.

"Mrs. Parks's arrest was the precipitating factor rather than the cause of the protest," Dr. King wrote in his 1958 book, "Stride Toward Freedom. "The cause lay deep in the record of similar injustices."

Her act of civil disobedience, what seems a simple gesture of defiance so many years later, was in fact a dangerous, even reckless move in 1950's Alabama. In refusing to move, she risked legal sanction and perhaps even physical harm, but she also set into motion something far beyond the control of the city authorities. Mrs. Parks clarified for people far beyond Montgomery the cruelty and humiliation inherent in the laws and customs of segregation.

That moment on the Cleveland Avenue bus also turned a very private woman into a reluctant symbol and torchbearer in the quest for racial equality and of a movement that became increasingly organized and sophisticated in making demands and getting results.

"She sat down in order that we might stand up," the Rev. Jesse Jackson said yesterday in an interview from South Africa. "Paradoxically, her imprisonment opened the doors for our long journey to freedom."

Even in the last years of her life, the frail Mrs. Parks made appearances at events and commemorations, saying little but lending the considerable strength of her presence. In recent years, she suffered from dementia, according to medical records released during a lawsuit over the use of her name by the hip-hop group OutKast.Over the years myth tended to obscure the truth about Mrs. Parks. One legend had it that she was a cleaning woman with bad feet who was too tired to drag herself to the rear of the bus. Another had it that she was a "plant" by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The truth, as she later explained, was that she was tired of being humiliated, of having to adapt to the byzantine rules, some codified as law and others passed on as tradition, that reinforced the position of blacks as something less than full human beings.

"She was fed up," said Elaine Steele, a longtime friend and executive director of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development. "She was in her 40's. She was not a child. There comes a point where you say, 'No, I'm a full citizen, too. This is not the way I should be treated.' "

In "Stride Toward Freedom," Dr. King wrote, "Actually no one can understand the action of Mrs. Parks unless he realizes that eventually the cup of endurance runs over, and the human personality cries out, 'I can take it no longer.' "

Mrs. Parks was very active in the Montgomery N.A.A.C.P. chapter, and she and her husband, Raymond, a barber, had taken part in voter registration drives.

At the urging of an employer, Virginia Durr, Mrs. Parks had attended an interracial leadership conference at the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tenn., in the summer of 1955. There, she later said, she "gained strength to persevere in my work for freedom, not just for blacks but for all oppressed people."

But as she rushed home from her job as a seamstress at a department store on Dec. 1, 1955, the last thing on her mind was becoming "the mother of the civil rights movement," as many would later describe her. She had to send out notices of the N.A.A.C.P.'s coming election of officers. And she had to prepare for the workshop that she was running for teenagers that weekend.

"So it was not a time for me to be planning to get arrested," she said in an interview in 1988.

On Montgomery buses, the first four rows were reserved for whites. The rear was for blacks, who made up more than 75 percent of the bus system's riders. Blacks could sit in the middle rows until those seats were needed by whites. Then the blacks had to move to seats in the rear, stand or, if there was no room, leave the bus. Even getting on the bus presented hurdles: If whites were already sitting in the front, blacks could board to pay the fare but then they had to disembark and re-enter through the rear door.

For years blacks had complained, and Mrs. Parks was no exception. "My resisting being mistreated on the bus did not begin with that particular arrest," she said. "I did a lot of walking in Montgomery."

After a confrontation in 1943, a driver named James Blake ejected Mrs. Parks from his bus. As fate would have it, he was driving the Cleveland Avenue bus on Dec. 1, 1955. He demanded that four blacks give up their seats in the middle section so a lone white man could sit. Three of them complied.

Recalling the incident for "Eyes on the Prize," a 1987 public television series on the civil rights movement, Mrs. Parks said: "When he saw me still sitting, he asked if I was going to stand up and I said, 'No, I'm not.' And he said, 'Well, if you don't stand up, I'm going to have to call the police and have you arrested.' I said, 'You may do that.' "

Her arrest was the answer to prayers for the Women's Political Council, which was set up in 1946 in response to the mistreatment of black bus riders, and for E. D. Nixon, a leading advocate of equality for blacks in Montgomery.

Blacks had been arrested, and even killed, for disobeying bus drivers. They had begun to build a case around a 15-year-old girl's arrest for refusing to give up her seat, and Mrs. Parks had been among those raising money for the girl's defense. But when they learned that the girl was pregnant, they decided that she was an unsuitable symbol for their cause.

Mrs. Parks, on the other hand, was regarded as "one of the finest citizens of Montgomery - not one of the finest Negro citizens - but one of the finest citizens of Montgomery," Dr. King said.

While Mr. Nixon met with lawyers and preachers to plan an assault on the Jim Crow laws, the women's council distributed 35,000 copies of a handbill that urged blacks to boycott the buses on Monday, Dec. 5, the day of Mrs. Parks's trial.

"Don't ride the buses to work, to town, to school, or anywhere on Monday," the leaflet said.

On Sunday, Dec. 4, the announcement was made from many black pulpits, and a front-page article in The Montgomery Advertiser, a black newspaper, further spread the word.

Some blacks rode in carpools that Monday. Others rode in black-owned taxis that charged only the bus fare, 10 cents. But most black commuters - 40,000 people - walked, some more than 20 miles.

At a church rally that night, blacks unanimously agreed to continue the boycott until these demands were met: that they be treated with courtesy, that black drivers be hired, and that seating in the middle of the bus go on a first-come basis.

The boycott lasted 381 days, and in that period many blacks were harassed and arrested on flimsy excuses. Churches and houses, including those of Dr. King and Mr. Nixon, were dynamited.

Finally, on Nov. 13, 1956, in Browder v. Gayle, the Supreme Court outlawed segregation on buses. The court order arrived in Montgomery on Dec. 20; the boycott ended the next day. But the violence escalated: snipers fired into buses as well as Dr. King's home, and bombs were tossed into churches and into the homes of ministers.

Early the next year, the Parkses left Montgomery for Hampton, Va., largely because Mrs. Parks had been unable to find work, but also because of disagreements with Dr. King and other leaders of the city's struggling civil rights movement.

Later that year, at the urging of her younger brother, Sylvester, Mrs. Parks, her husband and her mother, Leona McCauley, moved to Detroit. Mrs. Parks worked as a seamstress until 1965, when Representative John Conyers Jr. hired her as an aide for his Congressional office in Detroit. She retired in 1988.

"There are very few people who can say their actions and conduct changed the face of the nation," Mr. Conyers said yesterday in a statement, "and Rosa Parks is one of those individuals."

Mrs. Parks's husband, Raymond, died in 1977. There are no immediate survivors.

In the last decade, Mrs. Parks was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. But even as she remained an icon of textbooks , her final years were troubled. She was hospitalized after a 28-year-old man beat her in her home and stole $53. She had problems paying her rent, relying on a local church for support until last December, when her landlord stopped charging her rent.

Rosa Louise McCauley was born in Tuskegee, Ala., on Feb. 4, 1913, the elder of Leona and James McCauley's two children. Although the McCauleys were farmers, Mr. McCauley also worked as a carpenter and Mrs. McCauley as a teacher.

Rosa McCauley attended rural schools until she was 11 years old, then Miss White's School for Girls in Montgomery. She attended high school at the Alabama State Teachers College, but dropped out to care for her ailing grandmother. It was not until she was 21 that she earned a high school diploma.

Shy and soft-spoken, Mrs. Parks often appeared uncomfortable with the near-beatification bestowed upon her by blacks, who revered her as a symbol of their quest for dignity and equality. She would say that she hoped only to inspire others, especially young people, "to be dedicated enough to make useful lives for themselves and to help others."

She also expressed fear that since the birthday of Dr. King became a national holiday, his image was being watered down and he was being depicted as merely a "dreamer."

"As I remember him, he was more than a dreamer," Mrs. Parks said. "He was an activist who believed in acting as well as speaking out against oppression."

She would laugh in recalling some of her experiences with children whose curiosity often outstripped their grasp of history: "They want to know if I was alive during slavery times. They equate me along with Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth and ask if I knew them."

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Harriet Miers Nomination

Now who exactly is Harriet Miers and where did she come from? How come that President Bush chose her and not any other more qualified and more conservative candidate to fill in Sandra Day O’Connors place on the bench? Doesn’t he realize that he will face some opposition even from the far right oriented Congress Republicans
as he proceeds with the nomination? Why would he choose someone ho has only limited experience with commercial litigation, no experience with constitutional law whatsoever, and has never even been a judge before? Is he thinking at all??? Unfortunately, he is…at least this time. The key in this whole scheme is to find a candidate he knows but public does not, a candidate with limited public record so that nothing can be said about them, and above all the candidate of president’s utmost trust. What President Bush is doing is mimicking chess player who moves figures across the board, in what their opponents perceive as random patterns, while only the player himself knows that those are well plotted moves that will lead to the desired outcome.

My suspicion is that President Bush is introducing an ultra conservative judge whose conservative agenda and possibly even intention to legislate from the bench will be hard to detect during the congressional hearings. Democrats are about to walk in an ambush and they are not even aware of it. Harriet Miers will likely be nominated, certainly with less fuss than what we have witnessed with Justice Scalia and some other Supreme Court candidates proposed by the Bush administration. After the New Orleans organizational disaster, with the numbers of soldiers killed in Iraq going over two thousand, and with his approval rating on it’s all time low, Bush doesn’t need another loud quarrel with the democrats. Events like that only tend to further degrade the presidential reputation.

What democrats seem to be doing at this point is playing along with the administration, and it seems that Miers will be in Washington pretty soon. It might be that they are just comfortable with the candidate that once gave money for the Gore campaign and who is opposed by the ultraconservatives within the Republican Party because she is not “conservative enough”. Hey, there must be something good about this lady if she gave money to the democrat and if the “other” guys don’t like her – democrats seem to be saying.

However, Bush and Miers know each other for a while. She has in the white house since 2004, and worked for Bush family for many years before that. He knows that he can trust her, and he knows that this born again Christian has changed her mind about many issues since the time she gave money to Gore and the Democratic National Committee Services Corp. in 1988. Otherwise she wouldn’t be working with him. He knows of it, but we do not. Why would Bush, who has only hard core conservatives in his administration, give a job in a white house to a moderate and non-partisan lawyer? He wouldn’t!

While I realize that Congress is entirely Republican dominated I still think that Democrats need to wake up and do everything possible to prevent Miers form getting a placement among the Supreme Court Justices. For once allying with the ultraconservative republicans in order to reject nomination might be the right choice. Otherwise we will be buying a wrapped up surprise present from President Bush; a present that may cost us a lot in the long run. Do we want to do that? I do not trust the person that he would trust-too many civil liberties are at stake.

By Damir Tokic
Communications Law Student

Woman of Mass Destruction - New York Times

Woman of Mass Destruction - New York TimesOctober 22, 2005
Op-Ed Columnist
Woman of Mass Destruction

I've always liked Judy Miller. I have often wondered what Waugh or Thackeray would have made of the Fourth Estate's Becky Sharp.

The traits she has that drive many reporters at The Times crazy - her tropism toward powerful men, her frantic intensity and her peculiar mixture of hard work and hauteur - have never bothered me. I enjoy operatic types.

Once when I was covering the first Bush White House, I was in The Times's seat in the crowded White House press room, listening to an administration official's background briefing. Judy had moved on from her tempestuous tenure as a Washington editor to be a reporter based in New York, but she showed up at this national security affairs briefing.

At first she leaned against the wall near where I was sitting, but I noticed that she seemed agitated about something. Midway through the briefing, she came over and whispered to me, "I think I should be sitting in the Times seat."

It was such an outrageous move, I could only laugh. I got up and stood in the back of the room, while Judy claimed what she felt was her rightful power perch.

She never knew when to quit. That was her talent and her flaw. Sorely in need of a tight editorial leash, she was kept on no leash at all, and that has hurt this paper and its trust with readers. She more than earned her sobriquet "Miss Run Amok."

Judy's stories about W.M.D. fit too perfectly with the White House's case for war. She was close to Ahmad Chalabi, the con man who was conning the neocons to knock out Saddam so he could get his hands on Iraq, and I worried that she was playing a leading role in the dangerous echo chamber that Senator Bob Graham, now retired, dubbed "incestuous amplification." Using Iraqi defectors and exiles, Mr. Chalabi planted bogus stories with Judy and other credulous journalists.

Even last April, when I wrote a column critical of Mr. Chalabi, she fired off e-mail to me defending him.

When Bill Keller became executive editor in the summer of 2003, he barred Judy from covering Iraq and W.M.D. issues. But he acknowledged in The Times's Sunday story about Judy's role in the Plame leak case that she had kept "drifting" back. Why did nobody stop this drift?

Judy admitted in the story that she "got it totally wrong" about W.M.D. "If your sources are wrong," she said, "you are wrong." But investigative reporting is not stenography.

The Times's story and Judy's own first-person account had the unfortunate effect of raising more questions. As Bill said yesterday in an e-mail note to the staff, Judy seemed to have "misled" the Washington bureau chief, Phil Taubman, about the extent of her involvement in the Valerie Plame leak case.

She casually revealed that she had agreed to identify her source, Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff, as a "former Hill staffer" because he had once worked on Capitol Hill. The implication was that this bit of deception was a common practice for reporters. It isn't.

She said that she had wanted to write about the Wilson-Plame matter, but that her editor would not allow it. But Managing Editor Jill Abramson, then the Washington bureau chief, denied this, saying that Judy had never broached the subject with her.

It also doesn't seem credible that Judy wouldn't remember a Marvel comics name like "Valerie Flame." Nor does it seem credible that she doesn't know how the name got into her notebook and that, as she wrote, she "did not believe the name came from Mr. Libby."

An Associated Press story yesterday reported that Judy had coughed up the details of an earlier meeting with Mr. Libby only after prosecutors confronted her with a visitor log showing that she had met with him on June 23, 2003. This cagey confusion is what makes people wonder whether her stint in the Alexandria jail was in part a career rehabilitation project.

Judy refused to answer a lot of questions put to her by Times reporters, or show the notes that she shared with the grand jury. I admire Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and Bill Keller for aggressively backing reporters in the cross hairs of a prosecutor. But before turning Judy's case into a First Amendment battle, they should have nailed her to a chair and extracted the entire story of her escapade.

Judy told The Times that she plans to write a book and intends to return to the newsroom, hoping to cover "the same thing I've always covered - threats to our country." If that were to happen, the institution most in danger would be the newspaper in your hands.

Karl and Scooter's Excellent Adventure - New York Times

Karl and Scooter's Excellent Adventure - New York TimesOctober 23, 2005
Op-Ed Columnist
Karl and Scooter's Excellent Adventure

THERE were no weapons of mass destruction. There was no collaboration between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda on 9/11. There was scant Pentagon planning for securing the peace should bad stuff happen after America invaded. Why, exactly, did we go to war in Iraq?

"It still isn't possible to be sure - and this remains the most remarkable thing about the Iraq war," writes the New Yorker journalist George Packer, a disenchanted liberal supporter of the invasion, in his essential new book, "The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq." Even a former Bush administration State Department official who was present at the war's creation, Richard Haass, tells Mr. Packer that he expects to go to his grave "not knowing the answer."

Maybe. But the leak investigation now reaching its climax in Washington continues to offer big clues. We don't yet know whether Lewis (Scooter) Libby or Karl Rove has committed a crime, but the more we learn about their desperate efforts to take down a bit player like Joseph Wilson, the more we learn about the real secret they wanted to protect: the "why" of the war.

To piece that story together, you have to follow each man's history before the invasion of Iraq - before anyone had ever heard of Valerie Plame Wilson, let alone leaked her identity as a C.I.A. officer. It is not an accident that Mr. Libby's and Mr. Rove's very different trajectories - one of a Washington policy intellectual, the other of a Texas political operative - would collide before Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury. They are very different men who play very different White House roles, but they are bound together now by the sordid shared past that the Wilson affair has exposed.

In Mr. Rove's case, let's go back to January 2002. By then the post-9/11 war in Afghanistan had succeeded in its mission to overthrow the Taliban and had done so with minimal American casualties. In a triumphalist speech to the Republican National Committee, Mr. Rove for the first time openly advanced the idea that the war on terror was the path to victory for that November's midterm elections. Candidates "can go to the country on this issue," he said, because voters "trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America's military might and thereby protecting America." It was an early taste of the rhetoric that would be used habitually to smear any war critics as unpatriotic.

But there were unspoken impediments to Mr. Rove's plan that he certainly knew about: Afghanistan was slipping off the radar screen of American voters, and the president's most grandiose objective, to capture Osama bin Laden "dead or alive," had not been achieved. How do you run on a war if the war looks as if it's shifting into neutral and the No. 1 evildoer has escaped?

Hardly had Mr. Rove given his speech than polls started to register the first erosion of the initial near-universal endorsement of the administration's response to 9/11. A USA Today/CNN/Gallup survey in March 2002 found that while 9 out of 10 Americans still backed the war on terror at the six-month anniversary of the attacks, support for an expanded, long-term war had fallen to 52 percent.

Then came a rapid barrage of unhelpful news for a political campaign founded on supposed Republican superiority in protecting America: the first report (in The Washington Post) that the Bush administration had lost Bin Laden's trail in Tora Bora in December 2001 by not committing ground troops to hunt him down; the first indications that intelligence about Bin Laden's desire to hijack airplanes barely clouded President Bush's August 2001 Crawford vacation; the public accusations by an F.B.I. whistle-blower, Coleen Rowley, that higher-ups had repeatedly shackled Minneapolis agents investigating the so-called 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui, in the days before 9/11.

These revelations took their toll. By Memorial Day 2002, a USA Today poll found that just 4 out of 10 Americans believed that the United States was winning the war on terror, a steep drop from the roughly two-thirds holding that conviction in January. Mr. Rove could see that an untelevised and largely underground war against terrorists might not nail election victories without a jolt of shock and awe. It was a propitious moment to wag the dog.

Enter Scooter, stage right. As James Mann details in his definitive group biography of the Bush war cabinet, "Rise of the Vulcans," Mr. Libby had been joined at the hip with Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz since their service in the Defense Department of the Bush 41 administration, where they conceived the neoconservative manifesto for the buildup and exercise of unilateral American military power after the cold war. Well before Bush 43 took office, they had become fixated on Iraq, though for reasons having much to do with their ideas about realigning the states in the Middle East and little or nothing to do with the stateless terrorism of Al Qaeda. Mr. Bush had specifically disdained such interventionism when running against Al Gore, but he embraced the cause once in office. While others might have had cavils - American military commanders testified before Congress about their already overtaxed troops and equipment in March 2002 - the path was clear for a war in Iraq to serve as the political Viagra Mr. Rove needed for the election year.

But here, too, was an impediment: there had to be that "why" for the invasion, the very why that today can seem so elusive that Mr. Packer calls Iraq "the 'Rashomon' of wars." Abstract (and highly debatable) neocon notions of marching to Baghdad to make the Middle East safe for democracy (and more secure for Israel and uninterrupted oil production) would never fly with American voters as a trigger for war or convince them that such a war was relevant to the fight against those who attacked us on 9/11. And though Americans knew Saddam was a despot and mass murderer, that in itself was also insufficient to ignite a popular groundswell for regime change. Polls in the summer of 2002 showed steadily declining support among Americans for going to war in Iraq, especially if we were to go it alone.

For Mr. Rove and Mr. Bush to get what they wanted most, slam-dunk midterm election victories, and for Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney to get what they wanted most, a war in Iraq for reasons predating 9/11, their real whys for going to war had to be replaced by fictional, more salable ones. We wouldn't be invading Iraq to further Rovian domestic politics or neocon ideology; we'd be doing so instead because there was a direct connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda and because Saddam was on the verge of attacking America with nuclear weapons. The facts and intelligence had to be fixed to create these whys; any contradictory evidence had to be dismissed or suppressed.

Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney were in the boiler room of the disinformation factory. The vice president's repetitive hyping of Saddam's nuclear ambitions in the summer and fall of 2002 as well as his persistence in advertising bogus Saddam-Qaeda ties were fed by the rogue intelligence operation set up in his own office. As we know from many journalistic accounts, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby built their "case" by often making an end run around the C.I.A., State Department intelligence and the Defense Intelligence Agency. Their ally in cherry-picking intelligence was a similar cadre of neocon zealots led by Douglas Feith at the Pentagon.

THIS is what Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell's wartime chief of staff, was talking about last week when he publicly chastised the "Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal" for sowing potential disaster in Iraq, North Korea and Iran. It's this cabal that in 2002 pushed for much of the bogus W.M.D. evidence that ended up in Mr. Powell's now infamous February 2003 presentation to the U.N. It's this cabal whose propaganda was sold by the war's unannounced marketing arm, the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG, in which both Mr. Libby and Mr. Rove served in the second half of 2002. One of WHIG's goals, successfully realized, was to turn up the heat on Congress so it would rush to pass a resolution authorizing war in the politically advantageous month just before the midterm election.

Joseph Wilson wasn't a player in these exalted circles; he was a footnote who began to speak out loudly only after Saddam had been toppled and the mission in Iraq had been "accomplished." He challenged just one element of the W.M.D. "evidence," the uranium that Saddam's government had supposedly been seeking in Africa to fuel its ominous mushroom clouds.

But based on what we know about Mr. Libby's and Mr. Rove's hysterical over-response to Mr. Wilson's accusation, he scared them silly. He did so because they had something to hide. Should Mr. Libby and Mr. Rove have lied to investigators or a grand jury in their panic, Mr. Fitzgerald will bring charges. But that crime would seem a misdemeanor next to the fables that they and their bosses fed the nation and the world as the whys for invading Iraq.

NPR : Miers Confirmation in Doubt, Schumer Says

NPR : Miers Confirmation in Doubt, Schumer SaysMiers Confirmation in Doubt, Schumer Says, October 23, 2005 · Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says he believes that if a vote were held today, White House Counsel Harriet Miers would not win approval as a Supreme Court justice. Schumer says Miers' confirmation hearings are likely to make or break her nomination.

AOL News - Rice Commemorates Civil Rights Era Victims

AOL News - Rice Commemorates Civil Rights Era Victims
Updated: 06:08 PM EDT
Rice Commemorates Civil Rights Era Victims

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Oct. 22) - A ceremony Saturday marking a seminal event in the U.S. civil rights movement - a church bombing that killed four black girls - drew native daughter Condoleezza Rice, a friend of one of the victims.

In a park across the street from the 16th Street Baptist Church, where the murders took place in 1963, the secretary of state said that the act of terror - coming less than three weeks after Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech - was meant to "shatter our dreams. It was meant to say we couldn't rise up."

Even though the four girls were denied a chance to grow up, "in their deaths they represent the very tragedy to triumph that we are celebrating because we were not denied," said Rice, the highest-ranking black official in the U.S. government.

Bronze plaques featuring likenesses of the four girls, including Rice's friend Denise McNair, were unveiled. Among the estimated 200 people who attended the ceremony were city officials and family members of the girls as well as British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who is accompanying Rice on her two-day homecoming tour.

The Alabama church murders sparked outrage throughout the United States and around the world and provided a catalyst for passage of a comprehensive civil rights bill in 1964 and a voting rights bill a year later. Today, blacks dominate Birmingham's political leadership.

Afterward, Rice and her party were driven to Tuscaloosa, 50 miles (80 kilometers) away, to attend a football game between Alabama's Crimson Tide and the Tennessee Volunteers.

Rice had made her sympathies known while visiting the Alabama campus on Friday. "The Tide is going to roll, roll, roll!" she told several hundred cheering fans during a speech.

Rice spent her first 13 years in Alabama, and her 55-hour homecoming visit, which ends Sunday, has brought back a flood of memories.

On Friday, for the first time in 39 years, she entered the Brunetta C. Hill Elementary School, where she was a pupil from grades 4-6. She seemed delighted that she could still remember the location of her classrooms and the library in the aging two-story building.

It was a happy time for the piano-playing youngster but a period thick with racial tensions. Rice said Friday that Birmingham "has come a long way - light years - from when I lived here."

Rice drew a link between Birmingham's successes and the problems she monitors daily in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Only with democracy is there hope for a better day, she said.

She said the city might not have escaped its racist ways were it not for democratic institutions that enabled compromise to prevail over conflict.

"At one point, not that long ago, the promise of democracy seemed distant here in Alabama and throughout the American South," she said in her Tuscaloosa speech.

"But when impatient patriots in this country finally demanded their freedom and their rights, what once seemed impossible suddenly became inevitable," she said. "So it was in America. So it was in much of the world. And so it will be in the Middle East."

10/22/05 16:15 EDT

Friday, October 21, 2005

Reporters sans fronti�res - Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index - 2005

Reporters sans fronti�res - Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index - 2005Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2005

North Korea, Eritrea and Turkmenistan are the world’s “black holes” for news

Western democracies slip back, with the US falling more than 20 places

North Korea once again comes bottom of the Reporters Without Borders fourth annual World Press Freedom Index, released today. It is closely followed in the 167-country list by Eritrea (166th) and Turkmenistan (165th), which are other “black holes” for news where the privately-owned media is not allowed and freedom of expression does not exist.

Journalists there simply relay government propaganda. Anyone out of step is harshly dealt with. A word too many, a commentary that deviates from the official line or a wrongly-spelled name and the author may be thrown in prison or draw the wrath of those in power. Harassment, psychological pressure, intimidation and round-the-clock surveillance are routine.

East Asia (Burma 163rd, China 159th, Vietnam 158th, Laos 155th), Central Asia (Turkmenistan 165th, Uzbekistan 155th, Afghanistan 125th, Kazakhstan 119th) and the Middle East (Iran 164th, Iraq 157th, Saudi Arabia 154th, Syria 145th) are where journalists have the toughest time and where government repression or armed groups prevent the media operating freely.

The situation in Iraq (157th) deteriorated further during the year as the safety of journalists became more precarious. At least 24 journalists and media assistants have been killed so far this year, making it the mostly deadly conflict for the media since World War II. A total of 72 media workers have been killed since the fighting began in March 2003.

But more and more African and Latin American countries (Benin 25th, Namibia 25th, El Salvador 28th, Cape Verde 29th, Mauritius 34th, Mali 37th, Costa Rica 41st and Bolivia 45th) are getting very good rankings.
Western democracies slip back

Some Western democracies slipped down the Index. The United States (44th) fell more than 20 places, mainly because of the imprisonment of New York Times reporter Judith Miller and legal moves undermining the privacy of journalistic sources. Canada (21st) also dropped several places due to decisions that weakened the privacy of sources and sometimes turned journalists into “court auxiliaries.” France (30th) also slipped, largely because of searches of media offices, interrogations of journalists and introduction of new press offences.

At the top of the Index once again are northern European countries Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, Norway and the Netherlands, where robust press freedom is firmly established. The top 10 countries are all European. New Zealand (12th), Trinidad and Tobago (12th), Benin (25th) and South Korea (34th) are the highest-ranked countries in other continents.
Press freedom, economic development and independence

Countries that have recently won their independence or have recovered it are very observant of press freedom and give the lie to the insistence of many authoritarian leaders that democracy takes decades to establish itself. Nine states that have had independence (or recovered it within the past 15 years) are among the top 60 countries - Slovenia (9th), Estonia (11th), Latvia (16th), Lithuania (21st), Namibia (25th), Bosnia-Herzegovina (33rd), Macedonia (43rd), Croatia (56th) and East Timor (58th).

The Index also contradicts the frequent argument by leaders of poor and repressive countries that economic development is a vital precondition for democracy and respect for human rights. The top of the Index is heavily dominated by rich countries, but several very poor ones (with a per capita GDP of less than $1,000 in 2003) are among the top 60, such as Benin (25th), Mali (37th), Bolivia (45th), Mozambique (49th), Mongolia (53rd), Niger (57th) and East Timor (58th).

Reporters Without Borders compiled this Index of 167 countries by asking its partner organizations (14 freedom of expression groups from around the world) and its network of 130 correspondents, as well as journalists, researchers, legal experts and human rights activists, to answer 50 questions designed to assess a country’s level of press freedom. Some countries are not mentioned for lack of information about them.
How the index was compiled The ranking
N° Country Note
1 Denmark 0,50
- Finland 0,50
- Iceland 0,50
- Ireland 0,50
- Netherlands 0,50
- Norway 0,50
- Switzerland 0,50
8 Slovakia 0,75
9 Czech Republic 1,00
- Slovenia 1,00
11 Estonia 1,50
12 Hungary 2,00
- New Zealand 2,00
- Sweden 2,00
- Trinidad and Tobago 2,00
16 Austria 2,50
- Latvia 2,50
18 Belgium 4,00
- Germany 4,00
- Greece 4,00
21 Canada 4,50
- Lithuania 4,50
23 Portugal 4,83
24 United Kingdom 5,17
25 Benin 5,50
- Cyprus 5,50
- Namibia 5,50
28 El Salvador 5,75
29 Cape Verde 6,00
30 France 6,25
31 Australia 6,50
- South Africa 6,50
33 Bosnia and Herzegovina 7,00
34 Jamaica 7,50
- Mauritius 7,50
- South Korea 7,50
37 Japan 8,00
- Mali 8,00
39 Hong-Kong 8,25
40 Spain 8,33
41 Costa Rica 8,50
42 Italy 8,67
43 Macedonia 8,75
44 United States of America (American territory) 9,50
45 Bolivia 9,67
46 Uruguay 9,75
47 Israel 10,00
48 Bulgaria 10,25
49 Mozambique 10,50
50 Chile 11,75
51 Dominican Republic 12,25
- Taiwan 12,25
53 Cyprus (North) 12,50
- Mongolia 12,50
- Poland 12,50
56 Croatia 12,83
57 Niger 13,00
58 Timor-Leste 13,50
59 Argentina 13,67
60 Botswana 14,00
- Fiji 14,00
62 Albania 14,17
63 Brazil 14,50
- Tonga 14,50
65 Serbia and Montenegro 14,83
66 Ghana 15,00
- Panama 15,00
68 Nicaragua 15,25
69 Paraguay 15,50
70 Romania 16,17
71 Congo 17,00
- Guinea-Bissau 17,00
- Seychelles 17,00
74 Moldova 17,50
- Tanzania 17,50
76 Angola 18,00
- Honduras 18,00
78 Burkina Faso 19,00
- Senegal 19,00
80 Uganda 19,25
81 Lesotho 19,50
82 Central African Republic 19,75
83 Cameroon 20,50
- Liberia 20,50
85 Kuwait 21,25
86 Guatemala 21,50
87 Ecuador 21,75
88 Comoros 22,00
89 Malawi 22,75
90 Burundi 23,00
- Cambodia 23,00
- Qatar 23,00
- Venezuela 23,00
- Zambia 23,00
95 Togo 23,75
96 Jordan 24,00
97 Madagascar 24,50
98 Turkey 25,00
99 Georgia 25,17
100 Kosovo 25,75
- United Arab Emirates 25,75
102 Armenia 26,00
- Gabon 26,00
- Guinea 26,00
- Indonesia 26,00
106 India 27,00
107 Thailand 28,00
108 Lebanon 28,25
109 Chad 30,00
- Kenya 30,00
111 Kyrgyzstan 32,00
112 Ukraine 32,50
113 Malaysia 33,00
- Tajikistan 33,00
115 Sri Lanka 33,25
116 Peru 33,33
117 Haiti 33,50
118 Swaziland 35,00
119 Kazakhstan 36,17
- Morocco 36,17
121 Djibouti 37,00
122 Rwanda 38,00
123 Bahrein 38,75
- Nigeria 38,75
125 Afghanistan 39,17
126 Sierra Leone 39,50
127 Mauritania 40,00
128 Colombia 40,17
129 Algeria 40,33
130 Gambia 41,00
131 Ethiopia 42,00
132 Palestinian Authority 42,50
133 Equatorial Guinea 44,00
- Sudan 44,00
135 Mexico 45,50
136 Yemen 46,25
137 United States of America (in Iraq) 48,50
138 Russia 48,67
139 Philippines 50,00
140 Singapore 50,67
141 Azerbaijan 51,00
142 Bhutan 51,50
143 Egypt 52,00
144 Côte d’Ivoire 52,25
145 Syria 55,00
146 Democratic Republic of Congo 57,33
147 Tunisia 57,50
148 Maldives 58,50
149 Somalia 59,00
150 Pakistan 60,75
151 Bangladesh 61,25
152 Belarus 61,33
153 Zimbabwe 64,25
154 Saudi Arabia 66,00
155 Laos 66,50
- Uzbekistan 66,50
157 Iraq 67,00
158 Vietnam 73,25
159 China 83,00
160 Nepal 86,75
161 Cuba 87,00
162 Libya 88,75
163 Burma 88,83
164 Iran 89,17
165 Turkmenistan 93,50
166 Eritrea 99,75
167 North Korea 109,00

Post provided by Damir Tokic
Communications Law Student