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It could take a quarter century to rebuild New Orleans (05:29) - Much of New Orleans' rebirth from Hurricane Katrina hinges on factors beyond the government's control and could take up to a quarter-century to complete, the Bush administration's Gulf Coast recovery chief said Thursday.
Thursday 30 March
Immigration debate avoids real issues (03:54) - President Vicente Fox paused for a long moment before answering a question on how long it would take Mexico to reach a stage where citizens no longer want to cross the U.S. border to seek work. "Generations," he finally said.
Abramhoff gets five years, 10 months, in cruise line fraud case (03:48) - Jack Abramoff, the scandal-ridden lobbyist at the center of a Washington influence-peddling scandal that threatens to gut the Republican party, was sentenced to nearly six years in prison on Wednesday for fraud in the purchase of a Florida casino cruise line.
A lesson in the excess of access (02:44) - Here's a lesson about history and democracy: Try to get something done in Washington, and there's a good chance it will take longer and cost more than anyone ever imagined.
Wednesday 15 March
Blowing the CIA's cover (02:02) - A powerful and even patriotic scoop in Sunday's Chicago Tribune set a time machine whirring, emitting a sound that fell somewhere between Walter Mitty's ta-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa and Yogi Berra's deja-vu-vu-vu (all over again).
Monday 13 March
Freedom of information? Not at the CIA (21:22) - The CIA has the worst record of any U.S. government agency for complying with the Freedom of Information Act, an independent archive that publishes declassified U.S. government documents said on Monday. The National Security Archive at George Washington University named the spy agency as the 2006 recipient of its annual Rosemary Award, which recognizes the poorest performance within the federal government for responses to Freedom of Information Act requests from the public.
Iraq worse off than before war (19:32) - As the third anniversary of the war approaches, the $21 billion the United States has allocated for reconstruction of Iraq has yet to lift the war-torn nation from ruin. Power outages are the norm; in fact, there's less electricity available than before the war began. Fewer people have clean water and sanitation systems. And fuel production isn't at pre-war levels, either.
Hey fatso! Uncle Sam doesn't want you! (05:08) - Uncle Sam wants YOU, that famous Army recruiting poster says. But does he really? Not if you're a Ritalin-taking, overweight, Generation Y couch potato _ or some combination of the above. As for that fashionable "body art" that the military still calls a tattoo, having one is grounds for rejection, too.
Saturday 11 March
A sour deal all the way around (02:37) - There's no getting around it. The Dubai deal ended badly for all concerned _ except those members of Congress, Republican and Democratic, running for re-election who exploited it to puff up their national-security credentials.
Friday 10 March
Out of control (07:06) - Iran threatens to withhold oil and gas to cause us "harm and pain" because of our efforts to keep it from developing nuclear weapons. North Korea pays no heed to our admonitions to stop trying to build a nuclear bomb.
Thursday 9 March
Former Justice Department lawyer says Bush's domestic spying program is illegal (05:08) - A former top national security lawyer at the Justice Department questions the Bush administration's legal rationale for its warrantless eavesdropping program, newly released documents show. David Kris, now the chief ethics and compliance officer at Time Warner Inc., said in a Jan. 19 e-mail that administration legal arguments put forth a month after the program was publicly disclosed had "a slightly after-the-fact quality or feeling to them."
Judge rules U.S. violates alternative fuel laws (03:15) - A federal judge ruled that the Bush administration is violating a 1992 law aimed at increasing the country's use of alternative fuel vehicles. The Department of Energy has ignored a requirement to set long-range goals for converting a percentage of...
Wednesday 8 March
States provide battlefield for abortion war (03:11) - First a celebration, then a fight over strategy, now a campaign on two fronts. That's how the nation's anti-abortion movement has reacted since South Dakota last month became the first state among 10 contenders to pass a ban on abortion in order to test a shifting U.S. Supreme Court.
Tuesday 7 March
Revised Patriot Act targets allergy, cold meds (06:53) - Suffer from springtime allergies? You could be among the first affected by the USA Patriot Act poised for final congressional passage this week. Besides terrorism, the bill takes aim at the production of methamphetamine, a highly addictive drug that cannot be manufactured without a key ingredient of everyday cold and allergy medicines. The bill would impose new limits next month for how much relief a person can buy over the counter. And beginning Sept. 30, it'll take a flash of ID to buy that medication.
Independent panel probes role of National Guard, Reserves (00:32) - Thorny issues involving the changing role of the National Guard and Reserves and friction between federal and state officials over who controls the citizen soldiers must be addressed, members of a newly formed independent commission said Monday. Members of the panel, many of them retired military, said they will begin rolling out initial recommendations by June. They cautioned, however, that state officials should not look to the commission to overturn unpopular base closure decisions approved by Congress last year.
Monday 6 March
AP sues to open up court records (21:24) - The Associated Press sued the Justice Department on Monday for access to American-born Taliban soldier John Walker Lindh's petitions to have his 20-year federal prison sentence shortened.
Homeland security faulted...again (21:21) - The Homeland Security Department still spends money on U.S. port projects that aren't considered national security priorities even though it has made some corrections, a new report says.
Warning! Financial responsibility can lead to terrorism (05:47) - And all they did was pay down their debt. They didn't call a suspected terrorist on their cell phone. They didn't try to sneak a machine gun through customs. They just paid a hefty chunk of their credit card balance. And they learned how frighteningly wide the net of suspicion has been cast.
Sunday 5 March
Army launches criminal probe of Pat Tillman's death (04:46) - The Army said Saturday it will launch a criminal investigation into the April 2004 death of Pat Tillman, the former professional football player who was shot to death by fellow soldiers in Afghanistan in what previous Army reviews had concluded was an accidental shooting.
Saturday 4 March
A Band-Aid fix that makes things worse (05:01) - Perversely, the Guantanamo Bay detainees may be worse off under a new law designed to protect them from abusive treatment. The McCain amendment to the Detainee Treatment Act quite rightly restates the longstanding American prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody. In short, we don't torture. But that same law limits the detainees' access to U.S. courts. They may challenge their enemy combatant status and appeal the verdicts of military tribunals but they may not seek habeas corpus or protest their treatment.
Education Department bent rules to award grants (04:37) - The Education Department bent the rules to award grants worth millions of dollars to hand-picked applicants in 2001 and 2002, congressional investigators have found. The moves were not characterized as illegal and no corrective action was required.
CIA official investigated for cronyism (04:35) - The CIA's top watchdog has opened an investigation into the agency's No. 3 official and his relationship with at least one defense contractor with alleged links to the bribery of a former congressman.
Security concerns from DHS ignored in rush to turn over ports (21:49) - In the Bush Administration, where the "war on terrorism" reportedly rules all decision, the Department of Homeland Security stood alone in opposing turning over control of six U.S. ports to a United Area Emigrates company. American intelligence agencies, however, supported the deal.
Friday 24 February
Shameless political posturing (00:36) - The political firestorm over port security shows American politics at their most shameless and, for a change, President Bush is on the receiving end of it.
National security has always been the Republicans' _ and the president's _ best issue, and regardless of what Bush believes about the ins and outs of port management, congressional Republicans are not going to let it get away from them. And Democrats see a rare opportunity to get to the right of Bush on the issue.
The little agency that created a great big stink (00:20) - Five years ago -- or even five days ago -- it was just another obscure federal agency, one of thousands with alphabet-soup acronyms and quiet missions performed beyond the glare of public scrutiny.
The gulag named Guantanamo (06:18) - This is the story of a man without a name. For the past four years he has been a prisoner of the United States government; yet if our leaders had their way, the fact he even exists would remain unknown to anyone but themselves. According to the administration, this man is a terrorist, and therefore deciding whether to imprison him indefinitely without trial is the sole and unreviewable prerogative of the president.
In the end, it's racism (06:13) - The objections to Dubai Ports World's taking over the contracts to manage operations at six U.S. ports boil down to two: It is Arab-owned, and it is based in the Mideast.
Changing the tone of Washington (05:21) - Washington is all about tone these days. The tone is all about name-calling. And today, here in our Department of Think Big But Start Small punditry, we are proposing one way of changing the tone -- for one day.
Feds step up concealment of public documents (00:01) - U.S. intelligence agencies have been secretly removing from public access at the National Archives thousands of historical documents that were available for years, The New York Times reported on Monday.
Curtains for Gitmo? (00:00) - The Bush administration is proud of its professed immunity to international pressure and world opinion, but in the case of the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, perhaps it should start listening. And, increasingly, the opinion of our friends and allies is: Close it.
Monday 20 February
Pentagon ignored warnings on prisoner abuse (06:17) - Pentagon officials ignored warnings from the Navy's former general counsel that circumventing international agreements on torture and detainees' treatment in Iraq would invite abuse and lead to scandal.
Sunday 19 February
Time to dissolve, rebuild FEMA (11:17) - The Federal Emergency Management Agency should be dissolved and rebuilt before the upcoming hurricane season, a Democratic senator said Sunday.
The Cheney shooting: Revising history in real time (05:52) - Vice President Dick Cheney said he didn't immediately disclose his hunting accident because he wanted the confusing details to come out right. Instead, authorized accounts came out slowly -- and often still wrong. The result: a week of shifting blame, belatedly acknowledged beer consumption (not "zero" drinking after all) and evolving discrepancies in how the shooting happened, its aftermath and the way it was told to the nation. "There's a reason they call this crisis management," said corporate damage-control specialist Eric Dezenhall, "and that's because it's a mess."
Hey! What happened to the racism? (04:44) - The House released its investigative report on Hurricane Katrina this week, under the title "A Failure of Initiative." The report is an indictment of government failure at all levels _ federal, state and local. In 379 pages, plus 141 appendices, the report documents government failure in major areas that, if handled better, could have reduced the death and damage caused by Katrina. But it is also important to note what the report does not say. Nowhere is there any conclusion that the poor response resulted from racism.
Friday 17 February
Spying program sparks political jitters (05:39) - It could be campaign-year jitters. President Bush's controversial eavesdropping program has irritated congressional Democrats and even some Republicans. To some, the shift is pure politics as lawmakers worry about the November elections or look ahead to 2008. They are emboldened by fundamental legal questions about the National Security Agency's monitoring and Bush's weak public support on terrorism, once his bread-and-butter issue. To others, it's Congress reasserting itself as an equal branch of government.
On a road to nowhere (04:31) - There is no overall plan to overhaul the nation's transportation system for the future, as other nations are doing. As previous administrations did, the Bush administration often kills or promotes projects willy-nilly, based more on political favors than on whether the project makes sense.
Thursday 16 February
A public relations disaster (05:02) - For a media-savvy administration that has perfected the art of rapid response and spin doctoring, the handling of Dick Cheney's hunting accident has been a public-relations disaster, experts say.
Wednesday 15 February
Shoot first, take questions later (05:28) - No doubt you are as sick and tired as I am at having to listen to the whining of the White House press corps. Just because they are not informed in a timely fashion every time a vice president shoots someone.
Dick Cheney's legacy (05:25) - Cheney jokes are all over the Internet and the comedy shows, and they distill the impression that -- what with undisclosed secure locations, closed-door meetings with the powerful, a mania for secrecy, an indicted top aide -- that he is a remote, arrogant and even sinister presence in the Bush administration.
Political animals (05:22) - Vice President Dick Cheney may be a national laughingstock after shooting a fellow hunter while aiming for a flock of quail. But he's hardly the first politician who has suffered an embarrassing and potentially disastrous run-in with nature's creatures.
Deadeye Dick (04:31) - Several knee-jerk reactions to this news must be countered immediately. First of all, Cheney should not be hailed as a popular hero for bagging a lawyer. People, even attorneys, are always out of season, even in Texas. Besides, they often shoot back with writs, and nothing spoils a hunt more than the quarry turning on the hunter with a hail of lawsuits, known to be more deadly than birdshot. The other thing is that attorneys do not make good eating. The one that Cheney shot was a tough old bird and is already sitting up and taking nourishment. Even cannibals won't touch attorneys because they are so hardboiled.
Monday 13 February
Feds blow millions in Katrina aid fraud (20:58) - The government continued to showcase its incompetence in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, squandering millions of dollars in Katrina disaster aid, including handing $2,000 debit cards to people who gave phony Social Security numbers and used the money for such items as a $450 tattoo, auditors revealed Monday.
One of too many (19:54) - The danger in focusing too much on Abramoff's progress is that it turns this into a scandal about one very bad lobbyist, instead of a scandal about the thousands of lobbyists who spend their days prancing around the White House, sprinkling generous cash donations in choice places, and then making not-so-subtle hints about tax loopholes and energy policy -- mostly perfectly legally.
Three more Republicans caught in Abramoff's web (05:58) - Three more Republican members of Congress have been linked to efforts by lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a former General Services Administration official appointed by President Bush in a questionable effort to secure leases of government property for Abramoff's clients, court filings by federal prosecutors reveal. Reps. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, Don Young, R-Alaska and Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va. are identified in filings in U.S. District Court. The files also portray Bush loyalist David Safavian, a former GSA chief of staff, as an active adviser to Abramoff, giving the lobbyists tips on how to use members of Congress to navigate the agency's bureaucracy.
Friday 10 February
Judge considers deadline on producing spy records (16:38) - A federal judge said Friday he was considering setting a deadline for the Justice Department to produce records on the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program or to explain in court why it was refusing to do so. U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy said he was convinced the public would suffer irreparable harm if the government dragged its feet in a lawsuit filed over access to the documents.
Can anyone save New Orleans? (06:04) - What's cooking in New Orleans? "Nothing," celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse recently told the New York Post's Cindy Adams. "The mayor's a clunk. The governor is also a clunk. They don't know their (derrieres) from a hole in the ground. All my three restaurants got hit. I've reopened Emeril's, but only a few locals come. There're no tourists. No visitors. No spenders. No money. No future. No people. It's lost. It'll never come back."
Records show White House knew of New Orleans levee break but failed to act (06:03) - The earliest official report of a New Orleans levee breach came at 8:30 a.m., hours after Hurricane Katrina roared ashore. Word of the possible breach surfaced at the White House less than three hours later, at 11:13 a.m. In all, 28 federal, state and local agencies reported levee failures on Aug. 29, according to a timeline of e-mails, situation updates and weather reports that Senate Democrats say raise questions about whether the government moved quickly enough to rescue storm victims from massive flooding.
So much for patient rights (06:02) - So when is a physician not a physician? Is it when the doctor refuses to offer treatment because of disapproval of the medicine available or the way the patient's disease occurred? How much leeway is there in the Hippocratic oath to allow a doctor to spurn those in medical need because of religious conviction or concept of morality?
Wednesday 8 February
Bush's hard sell ain't selling (00:18) - By DALE McFEATTERS Despite the usual Democratic jeering and sniping from the sidelines, the battle over warrantless eavesdropping taking place in the Senate Judiciary Committee is between two branches of government, the presidency and Congress, both controlled by Republicans....
Tuesday 7 February
Divided Nation Syndrome (05:25) - By BONNIE ERBE Divided nation, divided nation. Sometimes I think if I hear that phrase just one more time, I'll scream. In a country where a 55 percent margin of victory in a presidential race is and historically has been...
Saturday 4 February
NSA spys mostly on innocent Americans (17:08) - Intelligence officers who eavesdropped on thousands of Americans in overseas calls under authority from President Bush have dismissed nearly all of them as potential suspects after hearing nothing pertinent to a terrorist threat, according to accounts from current and former...