Subject to Change, version 2.0
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Thursday, June 09, 2005

White House Calls Editing Climate Files Part of Usual Review.

Andrew C. Revkin | June 9

NYT - Bush administration officials said yesterday that revisions to reports on climate change made by Philip A. Cooney, a former oil-industry lobbyist now working at the White House, were part of the normal review before publishing projects that involved many agencies.

[The Agonist]
9:21:13 PM    

Report Shows FBI's Missed Sept. 11 Chances.

Pete Yost | Washington | June 10

AP - The FBI missed at least five opportunities before the Sept. 11 attacks to uncover vital intelligence information about the terrorists, and the bureau didn't aggressively pursue the information it did have, the Justice Department's inspector general says in a newly released critique of government missteps. The IG faulted the FBI for not knowing about the presence of two of the Sept. 11 terrorists in the United States and for not following up on an agent's theory that Osama bin Laden was sending students to U.S. flight training schools. The agent's theory turned out to be precisely what bin Laden did. "The way the FBI handled these matters was a significant failure that hindered the FBI's chances of being able to detect and prevent the Sept. 11 attacks,'' Inspector General Glenn Fine said.

[The Agonist]
9:20:01 PM    

Can't think of any good Amnesty International jokes.

They are doing good work and getting slammed for political gain by the Shrub and company, all of who would quickly sell their own mothers into slavery if they could get a decent asking price. We can't save Amnesty International, but we can pull off a stunt to entertain you, introduce some favorite bloggers to larger audience, and most importantly, raise money to give to Amnesty International.

It's Pandagon Blog-a-thon 2005. 8AM EST on Saturday the 11th to 8AM EST Sunday the 12th, Jesse and I, along with some guest bloggers, will be updating this blog at least once every half-hour. I have like ten bands to see, a going-away party for a friend and neighbor, and a brunch with another friend from out of town during this time. Jesse's got a loaded social calendar as well. No matter! We will blog and blog and blog! And in the end, we hope to have a fat check to give Amnesty International.

The donation button is on the sidebar. Thanks for your help! We can't stop torture and other human rights abuses overnight, but we sure as hell can help.

9:19:12 PM    

Jesse Helms: Still Scum.

I thought he was dead. Jesse Helms has decided to make clear in his memoir that yes, he's still a racist s-o-b.

Helms mea culpa on AIDS, not integration

“We will never know how integration might have been achieved in neighborhoods across our land, because the opportunity was snatched away by outside agitators who had their own agendas to advance,� according to the uncorrected proof. “We certainly do know the price paid by the stirring of hatred, the encouragement of violence, the suspicion and distrust.�

If we blacks had simply bided our time, and wait for the rights we duly deserved to be dribbled out to us by the Jesse Helmses of the world, we'd be so much better off. I bet if we had done the right thing and elected Strom Thurmond president on the segregation ticket, we wouldn't have all these problems - right, Trent Lott?

They can't avoid thinking this way. It's like its embedded on their DNA.

[Oliver Willis's blog]
4:50:45 PM    

Hooman Majd: Dr. ElBaradei Goes to Washington

Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the director of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) is due in Washington on Thursday, having been summoned by Condoleeza Rice for a meeting. In Vienna, where Dr. ElBaradei is based, reports (AP) say he won’t heed U.S. calls for him to become tougher on Iran in exchange for U.S. support for his campaign for another term, while in Washington, the NY Times reports that the administration has signaled that it will no longer object to his appointment to a third term next Monday at an IAEA Board meeting. The good news is that Washington’s objection to Dr. ElBaradei’s continued directorship is echoed by no other board member, so dropping it is merely a face-saving move on the part of the U.S.

But Dr. ElBaradei’s situation is a key indication of how the Bush administration views diplomacy and the work of international agencies. This administration has made it clear that their preference for the directorship of the IAEA (or indeed any international body), is someone who will echo American claims and who will do our bidding, no questions asked. Dr. ElBaradei’s sin, in the eyes of John Bolton and other administration officials, is that he has been absolutely impartial in his dealings with Iraq (prior to the war) and with Iran (ever since). In Iraq, the U.S. wanted him to quickly declare Saddam Hussein wildly in pursuit of nukes and hiding other WMDs, while with Iran the U.S. wants him to simply declare that that country is in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty. In both cases, ElBaradei has been right in taking the positions he has: his inspectors were in Iraq attempting to prove U.S. claims and were withdrawn only when our bombs were about to fall on them and the country, and in Iran he has merely said that there is no concrete proof that the regime is pursuing weapons rather than energy, although his inspectors are there trying to find out. As for Iran being in violation of the NPT, well, technically they’re not, even if they resume enrichment, so what the U.S. wants is for him to abandon his impartiality, the one asset he has in dealing with a Third World suspicious of CIA involvement in every international body. And what would be wrong with that, since surely it’s better to be safe than sorry? What if he took a much stronger stand against Iran, or had been quicker to judge Iraq? Leaving aside any moral or legal questions (we hardly want our own judges and juries to be anything less than impartial), if the Director of the IAEA had gone to the Dick Cheney school of diplomacy he might have received more invitations to Crawford but probably none from Tehran. And that’s where it’s more important for him to be welcome.

The Bush administration seems to have forgotten that diplomacy is a human endeavor designed to avoid, rather than start, conflict and war. How, if the Director followed American instructions and declared Iran in violation of the NPT, would conflict be avoided? What could Iran possibly do, other than accelerate its weapons program, kick out any inspectors, and mobilize its troops?

- Hooman Majd

[The Huffington Post | Full Blog Feed]
10:43:47 AM    

Chris Mooney: The Stories Behind the Story

Yesterday, New York Times global warming ace Andrew Revkin broke the story of how an official at the White House Council on Environmental Quality--Philip Cooney, formerly of the American Petroleum Institute--has tinkered with the wording of government reports on global warming to exaggerate scientific uncertainty. Published on the front page of the Times, and coming just after Tony Blair arrived in the U.S. to pester Bush about climate change, Revkin's article was bound to draw considerable attention. Indeed, in yesterday's press gaggle, White House spokesman Scott McClellan had to put on an impressive display of public relations jujitsu just to head off a feeding frenzy of reporters peppering him with questions about climate science. It was truly a sight to behold.

But what nobody pointed out is the following: Andy Revkin has broken numerous similar stories over the past several years. In each case, they create a stink for the administration, but because of the short attention span of the media, it's only a temporary one. Then business as usual resumes -- as does the routine politicization of science, apparently -- while I suppose that Revkin starts working on the next story.

Let's just take a look at some examples of what Revkin has exposed over the years about the Bush administration's politicization of and interference with climate science and government climate scientists:

April 2, 2002: Following urging by energy interests, the Bush administration pushes to have leading scientist Robert Watson--who is "highly regarded as an atmospheric chemist by many climate experts," according to Revkin--removed as chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Watson is indeed later replaced by a scientist from India.

September 15, 2002: An annual Environmental Protection Agency report on air pollution omits its section on global warming "for the first time in six years," Revkin reports, a decision made "by top officials at the Environmental Protection Agency with White House approval." "There's a complete paranoia about anything on climate, and everything has to be reviewed widely," one EPA insider tells the Times.

June 19, 2003: The White House Council on Environmental Quality drastically edits the global warming section of an EPA report on the state of the environment, leaving the section "whittled to a few noncommittal paragraphs." "Among the deletions," writes Revkin, "were conclusions about the likely human contribution to warming from a 2001 report on climate by the National Research Council that the White House had commissioned and that President Bush had endorsed in speeches that year." An internal EPA memo--which you can download here--objects that due to the White House changes, the report "no longer accurately represents scientific consensus on climate change." Ultimately the EPA decides to drop the global warming section from the report entirely.

April 25, 2004: NASA cracks down on its scientists, telling them they are not allowed to do interviews or otherwise comment on the global warming disaster flick The Day After Tomorrow. ''It's just another attempt to play down anything that might lead to the conclusion that something must be done'' about climate change, gripes one government scientist to Revkin, who can't use his name "because of standing orders not to talk to the news media."

October 26, 2004: NASA climate expert James Hansen--sometimes called the "father of global warming" for his 1988 congressional testimony calling attention to the problem--goes public with allegations that agency administrator Sean O'Keefe instructed him not to discuss "dangerous anthropogenic interference [with the climate], because we do not know enough or have enough evidence for what would constitute dangerous anthropogenic interference.'' Hansen, a government employee, lays it on the line to denounce the Bush administration's approach to climate science just days before the presidential election.

Does anyone detect a pattern here? (Besides the fact that Andrew Revkin is a good reporter I mean.)

This list sets Revkin's latest story, about the Council on Environmental Quality and its editing of scientific reports, into a much deeper context. Not only has the office done this before; it has been previously caught in the act for it by Revkin and the Times. So there's a very long history here, and the current news is just one episode among many. Moreover, despite this long history, and despite repeated complaints from government scientists and whistleblowers, the Bush administration shows no inclination of ceasing to interfere with government climate science on a regular basis. Indeed, it refuses to admit there's even a problem.

Moreover, Andrew Revkin is just one reporter out of many who's been covering interference with climate science by the Bush administration. For a totally different example--now switching over to the Washington Post -- see here. I suppose it's possible that every last one of these news stories might be based on massive distortions and a hefty helping of liberal media bias. But it doesn't seem very likely, does it?

- Chris Mooney

[The Huffington Post | Full Blog Feed]
9:08:39 AM    

Private property 3.

Or: "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Road to Serfdom" OK, as promised, here's one biblical story/passage I find utterly bewildering: Genesis 47. This isn't the story of a villain, like the story of Ahab's murderous usurpation of Naboth's vineyard, but...

4:57:42 AM    

Hillary Gone Wild.

Hillary busted out of the gate this morning with one of those take-no-prisoners addresses that does our shriveled little partisan hearts such good:Mrs. Clinton, who is running for a second term in 2006 and is widely described as a possible...

[Ezra Klein]
4:55:12 AM    

Nabobs of NABA.

It was an experiment. The Initiative represented the government's interest in not only controlling the otherworldly menace, but in harnessing its power for our own military purposes. The considered opinion of this council is that the experiment has failed. ......

4:54:06 AM    

Emanuel's Objections.

Blogging over at The Washington Monthly, Ezekiel Emanuel has penned one of the most woefully unconvincing critiques of single payer health care I have ever read. In two posts, (one, two), he raises these objections:  "Americans are simply...

[Ezra Klein]
4:52:25 AM    

FEC dissent.

Kos is arguing that bloggers should be eligible for a media exemption to the FEC reporting rules. The media exemption gives journalists the right to say whatever they want about a candidate without reporting their expenditures to the FEC. I...

4:51:25 AM    

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