Probe launched on domestic spying

The Justice Department has reopened a long-dormant inquiry into the government’s warrantless wiretapping program, a major policy shift only days into the tenure of Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

The investigation by the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility was shut down last year, after the investigators were denied security clearances. Gonzales told Congress that President Bush, not he, denied the clearances.

Blackwater murders ‘unjustified’

A Blackwater Worldwide spokeswoman says the company supports “stringent accountability” for any wrongdoing in the wake of a New York Times report that federal investors have found that the shooting deaths of at least 14 Iraqi civilians by Blackwater guards in Baghdad in nearly two months ago violated rules of deadly force.

True war cost placed at $3.5 trillion

Democrats on Tuesday warned hidden costs would catapult the price of the Iraq and Afghan conflicts to a staggering 3.5 trillion dollars, staking out a new war showdown with President George W. Bush.

The report by Democratic staffers on Congress’s Joint Economic Committee (JEC) said war costs would hit 1.6 trillion dollars by the end of next year, doubling the 804 billion dollars spent or requested by the administration.

If others had outsourced our wars

Gazing at the 24/7 news from Pakistan showing the democratic disaster produced by our heralded ally in the war in terror, a thought occurs:

What would George W. Bush and Dick Cheney be saying today if they were campaigning politicians running against a President Clinton (either one of them) who had outsourced our responsibility to retaliate against Osama bin Laden for his 9/11 attacks on our homeland?

On the run

A beautiful thing about the sport of running is that it’s impossible to lie to yourself about how good or bad you are at it. By contrast, anybody can watch a tennis match or a basketball game and imagine he might take a few points off Roger Federer or score a couple of buckets on Shaquille O’Neal.

Stop cell phone use in cars

They’re out to get you, these people who talk on cell phones while driving, and it’s not just various studies that convince me every state in the union ought to pass tough laws prohibiting this selfish, reckless, life-endangering amusement. It’s the evidence of my own eyes.

Just in the past couple of weeks, I have witnessed three instances of erratic driving, taken a look at the driver and seen the person yakking away with a handheld cell phone pressed blissfully to the ear.

Hidden expenses double war’s cost

A new study by congressional Democrats says “hidden costs” have driven the price of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to about $1.5 trillion, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

That figure is nearly double the $804 billion the White House has spent or requested, according to the report by the Democratic staff of Congress’s Joint Economic Committee, which examines the hidden costs of the wars, the Post said.

Drug lobbyists stall generic research

Legislation aimed at speeding the availability of cheaper generic drugs has stalled in Congress in the face of major lobbying by the drug industry.

The Senate bill would ban most settlements known as “reverse payments,” in which a brand-name company pays a generic manufacturer to delay the introduction of the generic drug. The Federal Trade Commission, which has called on Congress to take action, says such settlements could cost American consumers billions of dollars.

Listen to this man

I’ve read quite a few books about Vietnam, but the only one that I’ve read twice is “We Were Soldiers Once…and Young,” by Lt. Gen. Harold Moore (Ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway.

It’s the story of the first full-scale engagement between North Vietnamese regulars and American troops, a bloody, desperate battle in the central highlands of Vietnam that began on Nov. 14, 1965. The 1st Battalion, 7th Calvary, commanded by Lt. Col. Moore, launched a helicopter-borne air assault into the remote and rugged Ia Drang Valley, employing a tactic that would become iconic for the war.

Failing the Veterans

On Nov. 3, the New York Times published a front-page photograph of soldiers in the 10th Mountain Division returning to Fort Drum, N.Y., after a 15-month tour in Iraq. Several soldiers, glad to be back on U.S. soil, were shown kissing the ground.

For some of these soldiers, their return to the United States and their family reunions were bittersweet, and Sunday’s Veterans Day celebration was virtually meaningless.