Blackwater Guards Fired on Civilians Without Provocation.

Via Guardian Unlimited

By ROBERT H. REID / Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD (AP) – Iraqi investigators have a videotape that shows Blackwater USA guards opened fire against civilians without provocation in an incident last week in which 11 people died, a senior Iraqi official said Saturday. He said the case had been referred to the Iraqi judiciary.

The video will be posted when it’s available.

HT: TPZoo reader Bartlebee.

US Government Collecting Data on Our Travel

Washington Post:

The U.S. government is collecting electronic records on the travel habits of millions of Americans who fly, drive or take cruises abroad, retaining data on the persons with whom they travel or plan to stay, the personal items they carry during their journeys, and even the books that travelers have carried, according to documents obtained by a group of civil liberties advocates and statements by government officials.

The personal travel records are meant to be stored for as long as 15 years, as part of the Department of Homeland Security‘s effort to assess the security threat posed by all travelers entering the country. Officials say the records, which are analyzed by the department’s Automated Targeting System, help border officials distinguish potential terrorists from innocent people entering the country.

But new details about the information being retained suggest that the government is monitoring the personal habits of travelers more closely than it has previously acknowledged.  (Emphasis added)
Read the rest of the story.

A Plank in the ‘Eye’

In the complaint filed by Dan Rather [PDF] in the case of Rather v. CBS, emptywheel has uncovered the allegations of some nefarious goings on in the lead-up to the Abu Ghraib story:

Even after obtaining nearly a dozen, now notorious, photographs, which made it impossible to deny the accuracy of the story, Mr. Heyward and Ms. West continued to delay the story for an additional three weeks. This delay was, in part, occasioned by acceding to pressures brought to bear by government officials urging CBS to drop the story or at least delay it. As a part of that pressure, Mr. Rather received a personal telephone call from General Richard B. Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, urging him to delay the story.

Only after it became apparent that, due to the delay, sources were talking to other news organizations and that CBS would be “scooped,” Mr. Heyward and Ms. West approved the airing of the story for April 28, 2004. Even then, CBS imposed the unusual restrictions that the story would be aired only once, that it would not be preceded by on-air promotion, and that it would not be reference [sic] on the CBS Evening News.

It looks like lots of folks, both at CBS and in the federal government, may have had it in for Rather long before his humiliating forced exit from the network.

Bill Displays His Political Ignorance

In a recent column by Bill O’Reilly, the Master of Misspeak demonstrates, once again, why the simple-minded should not be given a public forum as vast as the one he’s been given to disseminate what passes for “ideas” in his head. Bill is worried that Sen Hillary Clinton will be elected president in 2008. And one reason that he’s worried reveals his ignorance of the political process:

Certainly, even far-left Democrats, who generally dislike Mrs. Clinton, would pull the lever in her direction the next time around. To elect another Republican would be unthinkable.

Republicans, however, are not so united. Many on the right are caught up in selective issues like abortion and gay marriage. If a candidate doesn’t see things their way, they won’t support that candidate, even if it’s Hillary staring at them from across the divide.

You see, Bill believes that every voter in this country thinks that he or she has a choice on Election Day between two, and only two, choices for president – the Democratic Party candidate or the Republican Party candidate. He cannot imagine that someone might decide, for reasons forever lost on Bill, to cast his vote for a third party candidate. He is one of the people dangerous to democracy – the kind who doesn’t want you to know that you can vote for whomever you wish. They want you to think that the two major political parties are all you need to solve our nation’s problems. And they want you to think that way because the two major political parties have figured out how to control this country, and they don’t want to give that up. They like things the way they are. If people from other parties started getting elected to Congress, they might not end up with a clear majority, and thus lose control. And they can’t have that now, can they?

But that is not the only example in just this column of Bill’s split with the reality-based community. (more)