Friday, September 28, 2007

This is terribly depressing

Another Round of Reform in the FBI-Will it Make a Difference

A new book and depressing book by Amy Zegart, Spying Blind, argues that there were 12 major intelligence reform studies from 1991 and the end of the Cold War, to just before 9/11.

Out of those, she finds 340 terrorism-related reforms, almost all of them the major themes of the 9/11 Commission, where most were recommended again.

Of those 340 recommendations, mostly directed to the CIA and FBI, only 35 were fully implemented. Another 30 were partially implemented and seven were implemented to an unmeasurable extent, meaning that 79 percent of the total-268 recommendations-were not acted on at all.

Many of those that were implemented, she notes, were “minor recommendations that urged continued study of a problem rather than adoption of a particular solution
.”


RTWT
Two good reviews of an important book

The Oswald Effect

The True Politics of the Paranoid Style


HT: Milt's File



Wednesday, September 26, 2007

He joked his way to an important truth

ESPN's Mike Greenberg talks about an emotionally devastating experience-- Googling himself :
Golic: So you didn’t receive the negative criticism well?
Greeny: Well, at first, it was just sort of mesmerizing. I was just like, wow.
Golic: Did you think everybody loved you?
Greeny: You know, you can sort of live in this world where you think most people like you
.
I think most big-time media personalities labor under the same delusion. They think they are smart, funny, and wildly popular. The horrible thing about the new media is that they (sometimes) find out that it just ain't so.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A stand up guy

I saw the "rant" by OSU's Mike Gundy on ESPN. They positioned it as a "meltdown" but i thought it was sweet payback to a clueless sports pundit. I like that he stood up for his player who was unfairly attacked. And the guy was not even a star on the team.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Why OJ?

Why is O. J. Simpson a symbol of all that is wrong with the justice system, but Mary Winkler is almost forgotten?

In both cases a killer is walking the streets after spending a few months in jail.

UPDATE: Check out this from Dr. Helen:

Kill Your Husband--Get a House and Car

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Duke lacrosse: The News and Observer hopes we are stupid

They apparently want credit for being "the first major publication to pick apart the prosecution’s case".

That claim is laughable to anyone who read what the N&O was printing in the summer of 2006.

In this post from January, i wrote:

But the truth is, they ran alot of stories on the Duke lacrosse travesty, however their coverage has not been fair, accurate, comprehensive, or exhaustive. They began with vicious attacks on the lacrosse team , a sanitized interview with the dancer/escort, and a docile acceptance of Nifong's statements. Since then they have made grudging attempts to cover the new developments fairly (Joseph Neff has done stand-out work) but they have also made many missteps. Most importantly, their coverage has not been comprehensive because they have never "exhaustively" examined their coverage nor owned up to their mistakes.

I think that is still a fair assessment.

If you read through these posts, you can see that the N&O was a Nifong-enabler long after they claim that they became an important critic.

Their culpability continues to this day. They know that the DPD lied in the early days of the case. Yet, they are unwilling to address those lies for the record. The reason is simple: those liars were important sources for the N&O.
The NFL: The Big Four and the other 28

The truth is that, for more than a decade now, the NFL has been dominated by the AFC and, more specifically, it’s been dominated by the modern Fearsome Foursome: Denver, Indy, New England and Pittsburgh.
RTWT at Cold, Hard Football Facts.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"Quality fade" hits TMQ

It's not just Chinese manufacturers who dilute their product. This week's Tuesday Morning Quarterback spends more time on the gas mileage of cars, crazy over-priced restaurants, and Sci-Fi movies blunders than it does on football.
Duke lacrosse: Until Proven Innocent

I’ve waited for months to read Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson’s Until Proven Innocent. Having finished it, I can say that it is worth the wait. The book is well-written and filled with new details. Even though I read KC’s blog every day, the book was still highly informative. For those who did not follow the case closely, UPI provides a clear, concise narrative of hoax and a thorough analysis of the issues that it raised.

Now that the lax players have been exonerated, it is easy for pundits to minimize the harm done by Nifong, Duke, the Durham police, and the MSM. Brian Loftus, a retired New York fire fighter, puts the lie to such revisionism:

I spent thirty-six hours in the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks. I thought that was the worst day of my life. But seeing what is happening to my son and his friends is worse.

The Duke case was, in some ways, a perfect storm. Radical professors, an ambitious and unethical prosecutor, agenda-driven journalists, and tabloid-cable sleaze-merchants exploited the case for their own ends. The Duke administration (with a few notable exceptions like Peter Lange) caved under the pressure. Taylor and Johnson document all of this in detail.

The striking thing about this injustice is that the Left-Right political spectrum was irrelevant in many ways. The Gang of 88 were on the Left and their actions were reprehensible in numerous levels. Yet, the most frightening “totalitarian whiff” from the whole affair came from Bob Steele--Wall Street plutocrat and under secretary of Treasure in the Bush administration:

Bob Steele also defended the firing of Pressler and everything else that Duke had done, while telling Trumpbour (as he had told Peter Boyer of the New Yorker) that 'even though it is not fair, people have to be sacrificed for the good of the organization.'

“People have to be sacrificed for the good of the organization”. At least left-wingers justify their actions in the name of utopian revolution. Bureaucrats like Steele and Burness sacrifice justice and integrity for a little positive PR.

I thought one of the most telling points in the book concerned the dashed hopes of James Coleman. Coleman, one of the genuine heroes of this sorry saga, thought the Duke case

provided a 'chance to engage' groups that ordinarily are little concerned with the rights of defendants and civil liberties, and perhaps create a multiracial coalition across ideological lines to seek fundamental reforms of North Carolina's criminal justice system.
Sadly, the “Right” flunked this test just as much as the “Left”. Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck still use Wendy Murphy as a “legal analyst” on their cable shows. O'Reilly even wrote the forward to her new book. This despite her disgusting performance during the lacrosse case:

In her Duke lacrosse case commentary on Fox, MSNBC, CBS, and CNN, Murphy compiled a record of demonstrably untrue statements, wholly unfounded speculation, and disregard for due process.





Friday, September 14, 2007

Patriots-gate

David Halberstam’s book on Belichick makes for interesting reading in light of recent events:

Damon Hack, a writer for the New York Times, noted that since Belichick had come to the Patriots, there were fourteen occasions when Belichick had had a seconde shot in a season against a given team. His record in these second-chance encounters was a striking one: fourteen victories, no defeats.

That seems like circumstantial evidence for the effectiveness of the Belichick method.

In the short-term, this also hurts Tom Brady’s image. His coolness under pressure was a marvel. Now, we know he had help.

Does this mean Charlie Weis isn’t quite the offensive genius we thought he was? Wonder if Notre Dame boosters are having second thoughts?

What about Alabama? Nick Saban was a Belichick acolyte. Think any SEC teams are going to be extra-security conscious this season?

Long-term, I don’t think this affects the Patriot “legacy”. The Raiders of the 70s were outlaws and cheapshot artists. There is no asterisk on their Super Bowl wins. John Madden coached them and then slid easily into a long television career.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Siege of Vienna

Originally posted 9-12-2003

In the summer of 1683 the Ottoman Turks advanced up the Danube, occupied Hungary, and, in July, laid siege to Vienna. They had 200,00 men and over 300 cannon. The defenders of the city numbered less than 22,000 only 6,000 of whom were regular soldiers; the remainder were civilians pressed into service at the start of the siege.

The relief of the city was complicated by European politics. Louis XIV of France hoped to gain German territory on the Rhine while the Hapsburgs were occupied in the east. To that end, he worked to create am anti-Hapsburg alliance with Hungary and Poland which would deny Austria aid against the Turks. (Incidentally, the Ottoman artillery were commanded by a Frenchman, a former Capuchin no less).

By September, conditions were desperate inside the city- low supplies, disease, and weakening defenses. The Hapsburgs had raised a relief army of only 21,000. But, fortunately, Poland had spurned Louis's maneuvers and sent an army of 24,000 under their King John Sobieski.

On September 12, the two relief armies and the forces inside the city attacked the besiegers. The critical moment came in mid-afternoon when Sobieski sent his cavalry into the heart of the Ottoman camp. The battle became a rout. The next day the Polish king wrote his wife: "the Vizer took such hurried flight that he had time to escape with only one horse."

He also noted the Turks "left behind a mass of innocent Austrian people, particularly women; but they butchered as many as they could." Separate from that slaughter, the Ottomans had sent 67,000 Austrians east as slaves and 14,000 girls to the harems of Constantinople.

Sobieski's troops captured the Ottoman battle flag ("The green standard of the Prophet") in the fighting. This he sent to the Pope with the message "Veni, vidi, Deus Vicit" ("I came, I saw, God conquered").

The lifting of the siege is usually marked as the turning point for the Ottoman empire. For centuries they had advanced against Europe, conquering the Byzantium empire, capturing lands in the Balkans and islands in the Mediterranean. After 1683 they began 250 years of retreat. (Funny how many of these critical turning points find the Poles fighting on the right side).

Today is the 324th anniversary of the lifting of the siege.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9-11-01: Remembrance

There are so many images from that day. There is one picture that deserves iconic status like the flag-raising at Iwo Jima.

Firefighter Richard Rattazzi snapped it shortly after the first tower fell. The street is choked with the white dust cloud. A firefighter, his back to the camera, is walking to Ground Zero to look for survivors. You can see the picture here and read about the firefighters.

Rick Rescorla’s story can’t be repeated too many times. His actions saved hundreds of lives that day. By all means let’s remember the old warrior in the stairwell singing his own version of “Men of Harlech” as he saw to the evacuation. But let’s remember the real reason he saved so many lives: For eight years he insisted that Morgan Stanley practice its evacuation plans.

In a crisis, you don’t rise to the occasion; you default to your training.
Thanks to Rick Rescorla’s stubbornness, the people he worked with had training to default to.

Mark Steyn understands what was at stake on United 93. This column is one of his best:

When an opinion-former’s caught unawares, he retreats to his tropes, however lame, as Lahr did, and Pilger, Chomsky et al. But the clearest way to understand the meaning of the day is to look at those who were called upon to act rather than theorise. We now know that the fourth plane, United Flight 93, the one that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, was heading for the White House. Had they made it, it would have been the strike of the day. It might have killed the Vice-President and who knows who else, but, even if it hadn’t, think of the symbolism: the shattered fa├žade, smoke billowing from a pile of rubble on Pennsylvania Avenue, just like the money shot in Independence Day. Those delirious Palestinians and Danes and Montrealers would have danced all night.

That they were denied their jubilation is because the dopey hijackers assigned by al-Qa’eda to Flight 93 were halfway across the continent before they made their move and started meandering back east. By the time the passengers began calling home on their cellphones, their families knew what had happened in New York. Unlike those on the earlier flights, the hostages on 93 understood they were aboard a flying bomb intended to kill thousands of their fellow citizens. They knew there would be no happy ending. So they gave us the next best thing, a hopeful ending. Todd Beamer couldn’t get through to anyone except a telephone company operator, Lisa Jefferson. She told him about the planes that had smashed into the World Trade Center. Mr Beamer said they had a plan to jump the guys and asked her if she would pray with him, so they recited the 23rd Psalm: ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me....’

Then he and the others rushed the hijackers. At 9.58 a.m., the plane crashed, not into the White House, but in some pasture outside Pittsburgh. As UPI’s James Robbins wrote, ‘The Era of Osama lasted about an hour and half or so, from the time the first plane hit the tower to the moment the General Militia of Flight 93 reported for duty.’

Exactly. The most significant development of 11 September is that it marks the day America began to fight back: 9/11 is not just Pearl Harbor but also the Doolittle Raid, all wrapped up in 90 minutes. No one will ever again hijack an American airliner with boxcutters, or, I’ll bet, with anything else not because of predictably idiotic new Federal regulations, but because of the example of Todd Beamer’s ad hoc platoon. Faced with a novel and unprecedented form of terror, American technology (cellphones) combined with the oldest American virtue (self-reliance) to stop it cold in little more than an hour. The passengers of Flight 93 were the only victims who knew what the hijackers had in store for them, and so they rose up, and began the transformation of Osama into a has-bin Laden
.

Oliver Stone based his movie “World Trade Center” on the rescue of Port Authority Policeman Will Jimeno. The reality is even more inspiring than anything Hollywood can crank out. Dennis Smith included Jimeno’s first person account in his book Report from Ground Zero:

I say “Hey Sarge, I don’t know if we can make it overnight.” I am thinking of my wife Allison, and my daughter, Bianca. She’s just 4, and I want to see them again. And my wife is having a baby, a girl. We’re going to call her Olivia. I ask God to let me see my little unborn Olivia, and somehow, in the future, to let me touch the baby.

Suddenly, now I hear a voice. “This is the United States Marine Corps. Is anybody here: can anybody hear us?” This is Staff Sergeant David Karnes and a Sergeant Thomas. I start wailing, “PAPD Officers down, 8-13.”

Before I know it, he is on the pile above us, and I ask him, I say, “Please don’t leave us. This is Officer Jimeno, who has a little girl and another on the way, and Sergeant McLoughlin down here; he has four kids. Please don’t leave us!”

And he says, “Buddy, I am not leaving you
.”
Karnes’ story is covered in two must read Slate articles:


An Unlikely Hero

Only 12 survivors were pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Center after the towers fell on Sept. 11, despite intense rescue efforts. Two of the last three to be located and saved were Port Authority police officers. They were not discovered by a heroic firefighter, or a rescue worker, or a cop. They were discovered by Dave Karnes.

Karnes hadn't been near the World Trade Center. He wasn't even in New York when the planes hit the towers. He was in Wilton, Conn., working in his job as a senior accountant with Deloitte Touche. When the second plane hit, Karnes told his colleagues, "We're at war." He had spent 23 years in the Marine Corps infantry and felt it was his duty to help. Karnes told his boss he might not see him for a while
.

How the rescue really happened

As for Dave Karnes, his role as one of two Marines to locate McLaughlin and Jimeno by searching the pile when the professional rescuers had backed off is based on reported accounts and fictionalization, since he didn't cooperate with the film's producers. Rather than work on a picture in Hollywood, Karnes re-enlisted in the Marines at age 45 "to go after the people who did this so it never happens again," as he told me. (When his first tour of duty didn't take him to Iraq, he re-upped for a second tour and made it to the combat zone, serving 17 months there.) In the movie, Karnes leaves his Wilton, Conn., office, dons his old Marine fatigues, stops to get a Marine Corps haircut, and visits his pastor on his way to Ground Zero. While these events are mostly accurate, the film seems to overplay his zeal without conveying his motivations and reasoning. In reality Karnes wanted to dress the part of a Marine for access to an all-but-sealed Lower Manhattan. In the movie, many of Karnes' lines are cryptic religious references that make him seem like a robotic soldier of Christ- a little wacky and simplistic. This may be why test audiences didn't believe he existed, according a report in Newsweek. The man I interviewed, while he embodied extraordinary inner conviction, was a real human being who took risks that most of us didn't.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The FBI in the summer of 2001

John Ashcroft's memoirs made barely a ripple when they were published last year. That is unfortunate because they provide an invaluable perspective on the crucial summer of 2001 and the events after 9/11.

The Ashcroft-FBI relationship started on a very sour note. On the very day he was sworn in as AG, Ashcroft learned from Louis Freeh that Robert Hanssen was spying for the Russians.

Then, in May, the FBI revealed that they had failed to turn over material to Timothy McVeigh's defense counsel.

Ashcroft also learned that the FBI had lost or misplaced over 300 lap top computers; some of them contained highly classified material. They had also managed to lose 200 weapons. The AG worried that the FBI had become dangerously sloppy and complacent. He had good reasons for his concern:

It seemed to me that an inordinate number of people at the FBI were biding their time, merely coming to work every day and going through the motions. Shortly after I began as attorney general, i became aware of a number of people with 'retirement clocks' on their desks, literally counting down the years, days, and hours till their retirement from the Bureau. The 'when can I leave' attitudes that accompanied those clocks could paralyze any company's success, but when they existed in the nation's top criminal investigation personnel, they could be deadly.
This says it all

A view from afar: No love lost for most announcers

What was Agassi doing that made him so great? Well, it might be easier to say what he wasn't doing. For one, he wasn't screaming. He wasn't trying hard to be funny. He wasn't trying to be hip or controversial or glib or silly. He didn't try any goofy gimmicks. He did not talk down to us.

I think this is what's missing most. Look, we as fans know more about football than ever before. We've seen enough football and played enough video games that we don't need announcers to tell us about stunts and blitzes like we've never heard the term before. We've watched enough replays that we can make up our own minds about whether or not a call will be reversed. We've seen enough touchdowns that we don't need sound effects. We've heard the cliches
.

Friday, September 07, 2007

9-11: White noise inside the FBI

This article from Time is an important marker. It highlights the problems inside the FBI in the summer of 2001. What makes it invaluable is that it was written before 9-11. Hence, it is not an exercise in 20/20 hindsight.

Botching The Big Case
What stands out is the number of controversies and embarrassments the FBI had to deal with in the spring of 2001. There was the admission that they failed to turnover documents to Timothy McVeigh's defense attorneys. But that was only the tip of the iceberg.


The McVeigh fiasco comes just as the FBI is having to defend itself against charges that it is capable of brutal indifference to individual rights if it feels justified by some larger goal. It's hard even to say which was the worst of the recent crop of federal offenses, though the McVeigh blunder probably doesn't make the top five. Two weeks ago, officials from the Boston FBI field office were hauled before the House Committee on Government Reform to explain why they had allowed Joseph Salvati to spend 30 years in prison for a murder they knew he didn't commit, just to protect one of their informants. "The Federal Government determined that Joe Salvati's life was expendable," said his lawyer Victor Garo. Asked if he felt any remorse for what they had done to Salvati and his family, retired Boston agent H. Paul Rico said: "What do you want, tears?"

That same week, prosecutors in Alabama finally convicted the Klansman who bombed the black church in Birmingham back in 1963, killing four little girls. We could have done this years ago, they said, if the FBI had just handed over their secret tapes that proved his guilt. That conviction came after months of criticism that the FBI had dismissed warnings of a mole in its ranks right up until they tripped over Russian spy Robert Hanssen, an agent for 25 years. Last month the bureau announced a mediation agreement with African-American agents in a long-running class action charging bias in promotions. Last year there was the relentless pursuit of Wen Ho Lee, the Los Alamos scientist who spent nine months in jail after an immense FBI mole hunt, only to be released by a judge who said his imprisonment had "embarrassed our entire nation and each of us who is a citizen of it." To say nothing of Richard Jewell
.
This comment of Freeh's style is also interesting:

"This is not a guy who breeds healthy skepticism and dissent," says a Clinton White House official of Freeh. "He got rid of a lot of people. He surrounded himself with yes men, and he believes in his own righteousness. And therefore people don't stop to think and say, 'Hey Louie? Are we doing this right?' This is a pretty monumental screw-up, and it feels like no one was in charge."

Then there is the problem we became very familiar with post-9/11:

FBI officials blamed an antiquated computer-database system: "Our technology is so old and unreliable, we don't know what we know," said one. Yet a former senior Justice official called it "beyond amazing" that the FBI would commit such a blunder in its most high-profile case in years--especially after similar charges of mishandling evidence were leveled during the investigation of Clinton's campaign-finance scandals and led to a sweeping internal probe. "It's a problem the bureau has had for a long time," the official noted. "Agents are great at acquiring information; they're not great at cataloging it or knowing what they have." What was especially troubling was that the mistakes were so widespread. Fully 46 of 56 FBI field offices, from Houston to Honolulu and Atlanta to Anchorage, failed to turn over everything they had on the case--in some instances it appears that the Special Agents in Charge decided on their own that some dutiful reports were unimportant. "The thing that flabbergasts me--and makes me think that more inquiry is required here--is that this was not just one office," says a Justice veteran. "This was the whole damn bureau. I can't figure out how so many people ignored the rules."


See also:
Robert Hanssen: 9/11's Forgotten Man

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Marketing malpractice

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article on the troubles at Wendy’s.

AFTER DAVE ($)
How Wendy's Faltered, Opening Way to Buyout
The latest wave of TV ads for Wendy’s leave me scratching my head. The slacker/stoner dude in red pigtails looks like he belongs in a Saturday Night Live parody of Wendy’s, not in a real commercial. There is smart edgy and then there is stupid and pointless pretending to be edgy. Apparently, the people at Wendy’s and at Saatchi and Saatchi cannot distinguish the two.

The commercials are more than bad. They consciously mock the pillars of the Wendy’s consumer image. Hence, they undermine the brand.

The mind boggles. Companies spend millions to build a brand. Then there is Wendy’s which spends millions to destroy a brand that was cultivated over thirty years.

The CEO is now “embattled”. Big surprise. You have to wonder about her leadership ability and basic people skills. What kind of idiot approves an ad campaign that mocks a family member of the beloved founder? A family member, moreover, that the company is named after.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Richard Jewell (III)

I came across this outstanding article from 1997.

AMERICAN NIGHTMARE- THE BALLAD OF RICHARD JEWELL (.PDF)
It deserves to be read in its entirety. Here are a few points that caught my eye:

A. Louis Freeh might not have told the whole truth in his memoirs. (gasp!). He portrays himself as disengaged from the investigation. Brenner found that some FBI agents thought differently:

The case became an investigative catastrophe, which laid bare long-simmering resentments of many F.B.I. career professionals regarding the micromanagement style and imperious attitude of Louis Freeh and his inner circle of former New York prosecutors, who have worked together since their days at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District. Within the bureau, the beleaguered director now has a new nickname: J. Edgar Hoover with children.
AND

In November and December, the Office of Professional Responsibility conducted an exhaustive investigation into the Jewell affair. Responding to an attempt by headquarters and certain officials to distance themselves, according to F.B.I. sources, several agents, including a senior F.B.I. supervisor in Atlanta, have provided the O.P.R. with signed statements insisting that Freeh himself was responsible for "oversight" during the crisis. These agents "shocked the investigators" because they reiterated, when asked who was in charge of the overall command of the investigation, that it was the director himself.
Moreover, Freeh acts as though leaks were something he deplored but had to live with (“That’s Washington”). Brenner, in contrast, shows that Freeh and those around him were masters at leaking and using the press to make themselves and the Bureau look good.

B. The immolation of Richard Jewell was not something that just happened. The Bureau lit the match and poured the gasoline. The first tip to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution naming Jewell came from an FBI agent. Brenner’s reporting suggests that the leak may have been part of the G-men’s strategy to break Jewell and that Freeh was partly responsible for setting the plan in motion:

Freeh made a decision: however experienced Montgomery, Fuentes, and Mawn were, this investigation would be run by Division 5 of the F.B.I., the National Security Division, a former counterintelligence unit that has been looking for a purpose since the Cold War ended. Trained in observation, division members rarely made a criminal casetheir strength was intimidation and manipulation rather than the deliberate gathering of evidence to be presented in court. The F.B.I. promptly declared the bombing a terrorism case and placed it under the authority of Bob Bryant, head of the division. David Tubbs of Division 5 was sent to Atlanta to be the spokesman and to augment Woody Johnson, the Atlanta special agent in charge (S.A.C.), who had been trained in hostage rescue and who was awkward in press briefings. Tubbs was not as experienced in criminal cases as Mawn or Montgomery, who returned to Newark and Quantico, respectively, "to get out of the line of fire," according to numerous F.B.I. sources. But Bryant and Freeh were reportedly micromanaging the S.A.C.’s and, later, the case agents Don Johnson and Diader Rosario.
The FBI intimidation of Jewell was by no means subtle. They followed his every move in three and four car caravans. They questioned his friends at their job sites. They sent 40 people to search his mother’s small 2-bedroom apartment.

C. The fruitless and vicious pursuit of Richard Jewell had other consequences. First, the real bomberEric Rudolphwas free to commit other crimes including a fatal bombing in Birmingham. That is a point often overlooked when a case of wrongful prosecution or a police rush to judgment takes place. The innocent suffer while the guilty are free to commit more crimes.

Second, AG Janet Reno and her deputy Jamie Gorelick became concerned with the FBI’s treatment of Jewell and their overall handling of the case. Did the Atlanta bombing and the FBI’s tactics influence subsequent policy for terrorism investigations? It’s hard to tell, I’ve seen no reporting that looks at this point. But it seems like an interesting question.

When it comes to “The Wall” and FISA, we usually tell the story backwards. We start at 9-11-01 and look for the “mistakes” that let it happen. The Jewell story offers us a different perspective. Unfortunately, at this time, no one has dug into the question of how the FBI mingled intelligence and investigation functions in the Atlanta case. Nor have they looked at the internal DOJ reaction to that part of the fiasco.

Brenner does provide us with one telling passage:

But the local U.S. attorney, Kent Alexander, insisted that their phones were not tapped. "There are no wiretap warrants," he said.
Maybe I am just the suspicious type, , but that denial is sounds almost Nifongesque.

D. Brenner is quite good at showing the harm done by the unholy alliance of cops and police reporters. When it comes to crime stories, the press is not the guardian of our rights; they are the compromised junior partners of police. At worst, they become the willing accessories of rogue police and prosecutors.

The page-one story had a double byline: Kathy Scruggs and Ron Martz. Walter had told these two early on that they would be the reporters assigned to any Olympic catastrophe. Martz, who had covered the Gulf War, had been assigned the security beat for the Olympics; Scruggs routinely covered local crime. Scruggs had good contacts in the Atlanta police, and she was tough. She was characterized as "a police groupie" by one former staff member. "Kathy has a hard edge that some people find offensive," one of her editors told me, but he praised her skills. Police reporters are often "dictation pads" for local law enforcement; recently the American Journalism Review sharply criticized The A.J.C. for the scanty confirmation and lack of skepticism in its coverage of Jewell.
Finally, Brenner relates a small, but telling, anecdote about America’s Favorite Failing Newsreader. This takes place after Jewell has to cancel an appearance on the Today Show after he is exonerated by the DOJ:

That evening a very testy Katie Couric tracked Bryant down at Nadya Light’s apartment, where we had gone to watch the news. "I want you to know that I canceled interviewing Barbra Streisand in L.A. for Richard Jewell. Don’t think he is always going to be a news story. No one will care about him in three days," she said, according to Bryant.

So America’s Aging Former Perky Sweetheart is a bitch. She was right about one thing. No one cared about the wrongly accused hero. For weeks the press had made his life a living Hell and passed along every scurrilous rumor and vicious lie. That was called NEWS. The truth, however, did nothing for the ratings and Richard Jewell’s whole story never got the attention it deserved. That’s why they are called the drive-by media.

UPDATE: This is how Katie Couric reported the death of Richard Jewell:

Back in 1996, the FBI investigated Richard Jewell, an Atlanta security guard, in connection with the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta. Richard Jewell died today of complications from diabetes. He was 44. Jewell was never charged with any crime. There is much more CBS… [FADE-OUT]

Sometimes the MSM just leaves you speechless.
Stellar

Thomas Lifson on Arthur Miller

Death of a Phony
RTWT.

More Miller here and here
New find

Awful Announcing bashes and flays those who really deserve it: sports announcers and commentators on TV. This post is so right it is scary. I especially like this:
Now, I rag on Kornheiser, and I’m aware that a lot of people like him. I just get annoyed that his columns seem to be nudging and winking at me all the time. I get it, he’s wacky. But he’s starting to remind me of Garrison Keillor, in that people now laugh out of reflex, even if something’s not that funny. Here, Tony took a five-minute break from all of his television work to give us 470 words on… himself, Wilbon, Kim Jong Il, basketball, hockey, and golf. It’s like ADD in print, and he covered all of this in under 500 words!