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Monday, June 30, 2003

CHARLIE'S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE

Charlie's Angels (Superbit Deluxe) / Charlie's Angels Full Throttle (Unrated Widescreen Special Edition)Entertaining? Yes - definitley. A real crowd pleaser, for sure. And it's not really insulting, either, which is nice.
Technically any good? It's a reasonably competent parody of action movies - the stunts and action scenes are really over the top and a lot of fun. However, the story doesn't quite hold together.
How did I feel as the credits rolled? Definitely satisfied, but wishing the car wash scene was actually in the movie and not just behind the credits.
Final Rating? SIYL (Even for women, I don't think it will let you down as far as mostly brainless fun goes.)

NEVER ENOUGH HD SPACE!

I swear, I never seem to have enough hard drive space. Saturday before the shoot, I transfered the last of the footage on a couple of miniDV tapes onto my hard drive. This was so I could shoot my movie on those two miniDV tapes. Of course, now I've got all this crap on my hard drive that I need to edit (it's not really crap) and output to some sort of cd/dvd in order to make space for all the stuff I shot on Saturday. I've spent all day clearing hard drive space and editing - luckily, while burning I have time to do other things, so I updated the KnowTHIS page A LOT. I added 15 stories today. Check 'em out. The sad thing is, I've got way more than that waiting to be posted.

I'll try to update TheBeauty tonight and tomorrow I hope to look for work, edit more and try to squeeze in some drawing time - yeah right. Oh yeah and I'm supposed to meet with my actors, possibly...

So much to do and NEVER ENOUGH HD SPACE!!

CELL/MOBILE PHONES MORE DANGEROUS THAN DRIVING DRUNK AND HEADSETS DON'T HELP

According to a couple of studies done in Sweden and the UK, if you're driving while on the phone, even with a hands-free headset on, you are more impared than if you were driving legally drunk.

To get specific, a UK study found that people talking on the phone while driving reacted 30% slower than their drunk counterparts while drivers "DWTC" (Driving While Telephonically Conversing) were 50% slower in their reactions than sober drivers who weren't talking on the phone.

Meanwhile, in another study, this one done in Sweden, researchers discovered that there was no difference in reaction time between drivers talking on handsets and those talking with the hands-free headsets.

Guess it's time to start waiting until you're home or at work to make or take that phone call, huh? Unless we all want this to become an epidemic, first...

Read more about the British study.
Read more about the hands-free study.

TWO FACTS ABOUT ISRAEL

First things first - this article, nor is it's author anti-Jew, anti-semetic, or anti-anything. This article simple puts for two facts meant to point out problems with the United States' attack on Iraq and Israel's current government. AGAIN - this is NOT about jews or arabs or Muslims or the Israeli people - this is STRICTLY about the Israeli government and the US Government and the Iraq Attack.

Fact 1: Israel has nukes and is showing expansionist qualities.
Fact 2: Israel has violated more UN resolutions than Iraq.

I, ThePete, have no problem with anyone who is Jewish, I do not believe that there is a Jewish conspiracy, nor do I believe that Jewish people should be treated in any other way but equals to all humans. My problem is strictly with the Israeli government and the US government. I respect the rights and beliefs of all people everywhere. The rights and beliefs of governments are another story.

Please click the above links to read more about this situation. Or click here to see a list of UN Violations by countries other than Iraq. (We know what Iraq has supposedly violated...)

DID YOU KNOW THAT THERE HAVE BEEN 32 ACCIDENTS INVOLVING US NUCLEAR WEAPONS?

Do you know what a Broken Arrow is? A "Broken Arrow" is what the US Military refers to as a nuclear weapon that has been lost, has malfunctioned or accidentally detonated. Believe it or not, between the US Air Force and the US Navy, there has been at least one Broken Arrow reported between 1950 and 1980.

And King George worries that Saddam had nukes? The world should probably be worried that anyone has nukes.

Check out this short list of Broken Arrows.

ANOTHER REASON HAVING US CITIZENS SPY ON EACH OTHER DOESN'T WORK

Here comes another reason why using US Citizens in The War Against Terror is a bad idea - this one comes right out of Hollywood: Jerky employees. In the wee hours of June 24, 2003, a truck was discovered parked near the Burbank Airport with what an anonymous tip described as illegal explosives inside. Well, it turned out that it was actually pyrotechnics for a Hollywood movie.

While it's obvious that tips in general are fine, but when initial reports of this circulated - many roads were closed and rumors flew that it was terrorist explosives in the truck. This is the exact kind of hysteria that is dangerous. If this story got out of hand and was not handled properly by authorities, panic could have ensued at the worst and at the best, paranoia would have taken over regardless of whether it was reported that the explosives were legal and used for movies.

Read KABC LA News' coverage of this story.

WORLDCOM NOT SO BAD OFF AS WE THOUGHT

Check it out - the massive communications company WorldCom - you remember, they are the company that according to many observers committed the largest act of accounting fraud in American business history (Oh yeah, those guys!), is among the mega-companies given the cherry deals in Iraq.

That's right - it's not just the obvious choices like Haliburton and Bechtel getting preferential treatment by the USGov, but criminal corporate body WorldCom, as well. It's nice to see how loyal the USGov can be even after a close friend has committed criminal acts of fraud, robbing WorldCom investors and WorldCom employees of their futures.

Thanks United States Government!

Read Molly Ivins' article about WorldCom and her patron, the USGov at Alternet.

MISUSE OF TERRORIST LABEL PLAGUES FOREIGN ARRESTEES

This has always been a major concern - that when the nation says "arrests terrorists!" law enforcement, in their drive to give the public what it wants, begins using the terrorist label on criminals are anything but. Alexander Gourevitch of Washington Monthly found this to be the case in New Jersey. Here's a quote:
Sixty of the 62 international terrorists, according to a March story in The Philadelphia Inquirer, turned out to be Middle Eastern students who had cheated on a test; specifically, they had paid others to take an English proficiency exam required for college or graduate school. Only one of the other two cases involved charges that might normally be understood as relating to an act of terrorism: Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was indicted for his role in the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan.

With the exception of Pearl's kidnapping conspirator, in other words, none of the terrorists in question were actually terrorists. And these aren't isolated examples.
It's true - he went on to find that in a January 2003 report from the General Accounting Office, "at least 46 percent of all terrorism-related convictions for FY 2002 were misclassified; of those cases listed as "international terrorism," at least 75 percent didn't fit the bill."

More fun from a government that thinks this whole thing is just a game.

Read a lot more about Gourevitch's findings.

SON OF THE MOST INFAMOUS ACCUSED/EXECUTED SPIES IS WORRIED

In 1953, Ethel and Julius Rosenburg were put to death by the United States Government on charges they were Soviet spies. Up until the moment they were both electrocuted, they both maintained their innocence and the idea that they had been victims of a frame up. In the 50 intervening years, one of their sons, Robert Meeropol, continues to share this belief. Big surprise. He is their son, after all.

However, Meeropol has come to believe that the environment that existed in the 50s, of rampant paranoia regarding Communists spies in America mirrors greatly the world of the early twenty-first century America - where rampant paranoia about terrorists in America. Another point Meeropol makes is that any dissent against what is happenning in America today is usually brushed aside, glossed over, or entirely ignored by the USGov, the mainstream media and by fellow Americans.

Now where did he get that idea?

Check out a huge article about Meeropol and his concerns at Alternet.

OIL FLOWING SLOWLY FROM IRAQ

The Washington Post reports in a June 22, 2003 article on their web site that sabotage has slowed the flow of oil to the world market. The US' chief administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer has assured investors and others that security is his main concern and that the movement against continued US involvement in Iraq's oil production is a tiny minority of Iraqis still sympathetic to Saddam Hussein.

Apparently, the possibility that the Iraqi people want the US' hands off their oil, hasn't occured to Bremer.

Read the Washington Post article.

FBI USES TERRORISM EXCUSE TO RAID THE HOME OF USMIL WATCHDOG

KLAS TV, the CBS affiliate in Las Vegas, Nevada reported on their website on June 20, 2003 that a local US Military watchdog and Area 51 expert has had his home searched and items taken in an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force raid. While the search warrant is sealed, KLAS News believes Chuck Clark's home was the target of the JTTF simply because he gave the news organization a tour of the outer perimeter of Area 51, pointing out where the US Military had placed a few human-spotting sensors - on public land - more than 25 miles from the base itself.

Authorities took records, photos and Clark's computer in the raid. He has not been charged with anything and is not saying anything else, for that matter.

Read the KLAS News article.

US INTEL REPORT DISPUTES BUSH'S IRAQ-AL QAEDA LINK

A June 22, 2003 Washington Post article reports on the fact that while George W. Bush was explaining to the people of the United States that Saddam Hussein had to be toppled thanks to his connection with Al Qaeda terrorists, US intelligence analysts and Washington Post congressional sources who had read a US intelligence report on a possible link knew that there was no such clear connection between the two entities.

More exaggerations (and possibly lies) from the Bush camp regarding why the Iraq Attack was so necessary. Can any reasonable person still believe that we should trust what the Bush 43 administration says?

Read the Washington Post article.

RECORD NUMBER OF US HOME OWNERS BEHIND ON PAYMENTS

According to a June 20, 2003 Washington Post article, Americans are having a harder time keeping up with their mortgages. The reasons for this are numerous, according to the article, however, the difficult economy is the clear main cause.

Read the Washington Post article for more insight.

NKOREA RATTLES SABER AS GOOD AS THE USGOV

NKorea has promised that if the USGov takes the NKorea nuclear issue to the UN, it will retaliate. As with many threats leveled from the American government, the NKorean threat was vague and inspecific, only citing a "second Korean war".

Read the Washington Post article reporting on this issue.

NoKOREA HAS BALLISTIC MISSILES?

Well, according to the Syndey Morning Herald, US officials have warned the Japanese that North Korea has the ability to strike at them with ballistic missiles that could be used to deliver nuclear weapons. The article goes on to explain that it's not clear how US officials know this or has come to know this.

With all of the lies, half-truths and other non-confirmables coming out of Washington DC, it is difficult not to wonder if the US is just trying to create a pretext to march into another country. Back in 1992, according to the documentary Hidden Wars of Desert Storm, the US made similar claims of Saddam Hussein's army lining up thousands of troops to march into Saudi Arabia - they claimed they had satellite intelligence that proved this, but this evidence was never provided to the press, so independent confirmation was impossible. Right after hearing about these troops, Saudi Arabia invited US military forces to build bases on Saudi soil.

Read the Sydney Morning Herald Article.
Find out more about the documentary Hidden Wars of Desert Storm.

USUK GI'S GETTING TIRED OF IRAQ ATTACK

And who can blame them? According to a June 20, 2003 Washington Post article, they are facing daily assults from a "well-armed resistance". Pat Buchanan said in a June 30, 2003 column at WorldNetDaily.com, that one American GI per day is being killed and also mentions that the US has lost almost as many troops since the war "ended" as the US did while it was still going on.

What both the Washington Post and the Buchanan column are getting at is that despite the fact that no WMDs have yet to be found in Iraq, the Iraqis seem to feel that the USUK Forces' objective has been met. Saddam Hussein is no longer in power and neither is his government. Now, they would like the foreign military out of their country. Which, while not the most thankful attitude to have, is somewhat understandable, since the USUK Forces are going beyond their initial state mission objectives in, trying to control how the new country is put together - from it's federal-level government, right down to it's police officers walking the streets. USUK Forces have even tried to disarm Iraqi civilians - a move that seems positively un-American, what with the US Bill of Rights promise of the Right to Bare Arms.

There is a lot more to both the WP article and Buchanan's opinion piece - check them both out...

Read the Washington Post article about US Troops frustrated in Iraq.
Read conservative Pat Buchanan's column entitled "Why are we still there?". (It's always disturbing to agree with that guy!)

From WashingtonPost.Com:

U.S. Troops Frustrated in Iraq


Soldiers Say They Are Ill-Prepared For Peacekeeping

By Daniel Williams and Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, June 20, 2003; Page A16


BAGHDAD -- Facing daily assaults from a well-armed resistance, U.S. troops in volatile central Iraq say they are growing frustrated and disillusioned with their role as postwar peacekeepers.

In conversations in a half-dozen towns across central Iraq, soldiers complained that they have been insufficiently equipped for peacekeeping and too thinly deployed in areas where they are under attack from fighters evidently loyal to deposed president Saddam Hussein. Others questioned whether the armed opposition to the U.S. presence in Iraq may be deeper and more organized than military commanders have acknowledged.

"What are we getting into here?" asked a sergeant with the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division who is stationed near Baqubah, a city 30 miles northeast of Baghdad. "The war is supposed to be over, but every day we hear of another soldier getting killed. Is it worth it? Saddam isn't in power anymore. The locals want us to leave. Why are we still here?"

Thursday, a soldier from the 804th Medical Brigade was killed when a rocket-propelled grenade struck a military ambulance carrying a soldier wounded in another incident, said Capt. John Morgan, a military spokesman here. The attack, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, produced the third U.S. fatality from hostile fire in four days. Two other soldiers were wounded in Thursday's ambush.

Most armed assaults on U.S. military personnel have occurred in an arc of towns and cities to the north and west of Baghdad, where support for Hussein was deepest. U.S. forces also have mounted a massive counterinsurgency drive in the region. Areas south of the city, where no such counterattack has been launched, had been quiet until Thursday.

The weapons used against the Americans also have been increasing in power. In Samarra, a city about 70 miles north of Baghdad, U.S. troops killed an Iraqi Thursday and captured another after they fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a tank. On Wednesday, three mortar shells rained on a U.S.-run civil administration office in the city, killing an Iraqi bystander, military spokesmen said.

Some soldiers are vexed by what they see as a contradictory reception from Iraqis. Sometimes the public appears welcoming, sometimes actively hostile. The problem recalls other military U.S. deployments, including in Afghanistan, where it can be difficult to distinguish friends from enemies.

"The way it seemed is, once Iraqis got over being grateful for getting rid of Saddam, they found out quickly they don't want the Americans, either," said Sgt. Nestor Torres, a military policeman with the 3rd Infantry Division in the restive town of Fallujah, 35 miles west of Baghdad. "Everyone is blending in with everyone else, so you can't tell the friendly ones from the hostile."

Torres is a bodyguard for the division commander, Maj. Gen. Buford C. Blount III. "When I look around, I've got to wonder who wants to shoot my boss," Torres said.

Peacekeeping duty in Iraq has made soldiers particularly vulnerable. Troops at police stations and on guard duty at banks, electrical installations and fuel stations are frequent targets of sniping. Soldiers have been fired on when delivering propane gas. Bystanders throw stones at them when they are constructing soccer fields or fixing schools.

By contrast, no American has been killed during the recent armed raids in northern and western Iraq, during which U.S. troops have tried to apprehend suspected Baath Party militiamen, fighters from Saddam's Fedayeen and other Hussein loyalists.

Some soldiers complain they are playing roles for which they are ill-prepared. In Baqubah, the domain of the 4th Infantry's 2nd Brigade, combat engineers who specialize in weapons demolition and building bridges have been given a new mission: to drive around in their M113 armored personnel carriers to fight crime.

"I don't know why they're keeping us around here," said Cpl. Anthony Arteaga, 25, of Hammond, La., who is assigned to the 588th Engineer Battalion. "We're not peacekeepers. We're heavy-combat engineers."

As Arteaga's M113 roared out of a parking lot to conduct a patrol, the noise of the engine drowned out nearby conversations, prompting Pvt. Dan Sullivan, 21, of Gainesville, Fla., to complain that the vehicle was ill-suited for catching criminals.

"They hear you from two miles away," he said. "By the time we get there, the bad guys are gone."

Sullivan also said that the armored vehicle was too wide to travel down some of Baqubah's narrower streets. "This wasn't made for patrolling a city," he said.

But that is what the battalion has been doing for the past six weeks. Assigned to squelch the lawlessness that followed the downfall of Hussein's government and confiscate illegal weapons, the unit's M113s rumble through the city for hours at a time, even under the blazing afternoon sun. Soldiers decked out in full combat attire, including heavy flak jackets, poke out of the hatch, their M-16 rifles at the ready.

When the battalion first arrived in Baqubah in late April, "every single person was waving at us," said 2nd Lt. Skip Boston, 24, of Marshalltown, Iowa. Now, he said, "they just stare."

"A man told me the other day that we've been here for two months and nothing's changed," Boston said. "That's not really true, but all they see is us riding up and down the roads and being a nuisance for them."

The focus on crime fighting has annoyed Boston and his men, who said they would rather be blowing up ammunition caches. "It's getting really frustrating," Sullivan said. "We took the city, but what was it for? We took one bad guy out, but now there are lots of bad guys here."

After President Bush declared on May 1 that major combat in Iraq was finished, many soldiers assumed they would be returning to the United States in a matter of weeks. But withdrawal plans have been placed on hold. Not only have military units have been reassigned to street patrols, many are still living in the same spartan camps they pitched two months ago, where they eat rations and sleep in dusty tents.

The inability to unwind outside their camps or interact with Iraqis in a non-military setting has added to soldiers' frustration, several said. Soldiers are prohibited from leaving their compounds without a weapon, body armor and a specific mission. Although they are encouraged to talk to Iraqis while on patrol, they have been urged not to eat local food, and alcohol consumption is prohibited by a general order applying to all military personnel in Iraq.

At a checkpoint on the outskirts of Baghdad set up to search for illegal weapons, a soldier sweating in the 110-degree heat told a reporter, "Tell President Bush to bring us home." On a skylight atop Fallujah's city hall, a soldier has scrawled in the dust: "I'll kill for a ticket home."

Elements of Blount's 3rd Infantry Division have been away from their home base at Fort Stewart, Ga., since September, when they were deployed to Kuwait to prepare for the invasion. After spearheading the race to Baghdad and the conquest of the capital, many in the division expected to be sent home. Instead, they were dispatched to Fallujah to put down a budding revolt.

"Fatigue could come," Blount, the division commander, said in an interview. "They are getting tired. But morale is still pretty good."

Others contend spirits already are slipping, particularly among reservists who did not anticipate staying in Iraq for more than a few months. "It's a cliche, but winning the war is easy," said Master Sgt. Steven Quick, a reservist and police officer from Severn, Md. "Winning the peace is difficult. For future recruitment and retaining of reservists, there has to be a clear idea of when we can go home in situations like this."

Even relatively simple projects designed to show goodwill can turn sour. Military engineers recently cleared garbage from a field in Fallujah, resurfaced it with dirt and put up goal posts to create an instant soccer field.

A day later, the goal posts were stolen and all the dirt had been scraped from the field. Garbage began to pile up again. "Is this animosity, crime or both? What kind of people loot dirt?" said Capt. Allen Vaught, from the 490th Civil Affairs Battalion. "We can't build stuff and then have everyone just help themselves. We don't get anywhere that way."


(c) 2003 The Washington Post Company


From WorldNetDaily.Com:

Why are we still here?

Posted: June 30, 2003
1:00 a.m. Eastern


(c) 2003 Creators Syndicate, Inc.


"What are we getting into here?" asked the sergeant from the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division, stationed north of Baghdad. "The war is supposed to be over, but every day we hear of another soldier getting killed. Is it worth it? Saddam isn't in power anymore. The locals want us to leave. Why are we still here?"

The questions that sergeant put to a Washington Post reporter are ones our commander in chief had better begin to address.

For less than three months after the fall of Baghdad, we have lost almost as many men in Iraq as we did in three weeks of war. One U.S. soldier is now dying there every day.

"Mission Accomplished," read the banner behind President Bush as he spoke from the carrier deck of the Lincoln. But if the original mission � to oust Saddam and end the mortal threat of his weapons of mass destruction � is "accomplished," why are we still there?

What is our new mission? What are the standards by which we may measure success? What will be the cost in blood and treasure? When can we expect to turn Iraq back over to the Iraqis? Or is ours to be a permanent presence, as in postwar Germany and Japan?

If that sergeant does not know what he is doing there, it is because his commander in chief has left him, and us, in the dark. And if the president does not begin soon to lay out the case for why we must keep 150,000 men in Iraq, the American people will begin to demand they be brought home. Already, one poll shows that 44 percent of the nation finds the present level of U.S. casualties "unacceptable."

This is not 1963. Americans no longer have the same patience or trust in government we had when JFK took us into Vietnam. We are no longer willing to have Americans die in open-ended wars for unexplained ends. Dean Rusk's familiar mantra, "We are there, and we are committed," is no longer enough.

When the United States lost 241 U.S. Marines in the bombing of the Beirut barracks 20 years ago, and 18 Army Rangers in the "Blackhawk Down" incident in Mogadishu, Americans demanded we get out. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton hastily did.

As has been written here many times, Americans are lousy imperialists. We are uninterested in ruling and reforming other peoples if they appear to want us out of their lives. Nor are we willing to shed American blood for visions of empire dancing in the heads of Potomac pundits.

This week, six British soldiers were killed � three executed � after surrendering to Iraqi civilians enraged over intrusive house searches that they believe dishonored them and their women. This was in the Shia region of southern Iraq, which had been thought to be pacified.

One is reminded of Yitzhak Rabin's remark after the invasion of southern Lebanon had ignited the peaceful population there: "We have let the Shia genie out of the bottle."

On their visit to Baghdad, Sens. Lugar and Biden warned the U.S. Army might have to remain in Iraq five years. But Americans are not going to tolerate five years, or even two years, of guerrilla war without a better explanation as to exactly what vital interest of ours requires us to stay in Iraq and fight this war.

Moreover, there is every indication the security situation is getting worse. The incident in the south is but one example. The heavy-handed but natural reaction of U.S. soldiers to being ambushed and sniped at and killed every day is another. Invading homes searching for weapons, rousting out and roughing up Iraqi men, and patting down their women is a sure way to antagonize a fighting people.

Lest we forget, among the "Intolerable Acts" that led to our own revolution was the "Quartering Act," where Bostonians had to provide shelter for British troops sent to pacify the city after Sam Adams' tea party down at the harbor.

We are told the United States cannot walk away from Iraq now, or it would descend into chaos. That may be true. But if chaos is one alternative, another is a no-win war such as Israel is today fighting against the Palestinians. And the chances of that are daily rising.

A recent U.S. strike in the west turned up the bodies of Saudis and Syrians who had come to fight Americans, as their fathers went to Afghanistan to fight Russians. Moreover, U.S. pressure on Iran to permit inspections of its nuclear facilities � or U.S. pre-emptive strikes � would surely be answered by the kind of Iranian aid to and instigation of the Shias in Iraq that Teheran gave to Hezbollah in Lebanon. And Hezbollah, after years of guerrilla war, drove the Israelis out of their country.

President Bush had best begin devising an exit strategy for U.S. troops, before our enemies succeed with theirs.

BIG GOVERNMENT ACTUALLY DOING IT'S JOB?

Check it out, according to the Associated Press, the Senate Commerce Committee voted to overturn portions of the decison by the FCC to remove or replace limitations on what mega-media-companies can and cannot own. The Associated Press' article (available through St. Louis, Missouri's KSDK News web site) goes on to explain that this movement by the SCC is just the tip of the opposition iceberg for the FCC decision.

Let's hope the article is right.

Read the Associate Press article at St. Louis, Missouri's KSDK News web site.

From KSDK.com:

Senate Committee Votes to Overturn FCC Ruling

6/19/2003 1:17:55 PM

By DAVID HO
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate Commerce Committee voted Thursday to overturn parts of a Federal Communications Commission decision freeing media companies from decades-old ownership limits and allowing them to buy more outlets and merge in new ways.

The proposal, which faces an uncertain future in the full Senate and a tough road in the House, would roll back changes that allowed individual companies to own television stations reaching nearly half the nation's viewers and combinations of newspapers and broadcast stations in the same city.

"I would like the FCC to start all over," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who opposes the changed rules. She said they are "potentially dangerous to media diversity in this country.�

Many media companies wanted relaxed rules, saying the old restrictions limited their ability to grow and provide better services in a market changed by cable TV, satellite broadcasts and the Internet. The broadcast networks say the changes will aid in keeping free TV alive by helping them compete with pay services for quality programming.

The rules, originally adopted between 1941 and 1975, were created to promote diversity of opinion in the media, encourage competition and prevent a few big companies from controlling what people see, hear and read.

The Republican-controlled FCC relaxed those rules on June 2 with a 3-2 party-line vote.

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., would roll back the national ownership limit so a company can own TV stations reaching only 35 percent of U.S. households instead of 45 percent. The bill passed by a voice vote.

The proposed legislation also would reinstate a ban on newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership. However, it would allow state regulators to recommend to the FCC exemptions for small communities where a merger may be needed to support media outlets in financial trouble.

The bill also would clarify the FCC's authority to strengthen as well as relax media ownership restrictions, a question raised by courts that have rejected past rule changes.

Another component of the bill would require the FCC to hold at least five public hearings on future ownership rule changes before voting. Lawmakers criticized the agency for not seeking more public comment before its June 2 decision.

An amendment narrowly approved 12-11 would expand new, stricter radio ownership rules so they apply to existing and future deals. If made into law, the change could force companies like Clear Channel, the country's largest radio chain with 1,200 stations, to sell stations in markets where they exceed ownership limits.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and other lawmakers say they also will try other legislative methods to overturn the changes.

"The airwaves belong to the people," Dorgan said. "The FCC ignores that requirement and advances corporate interests at the expense of the public's interest.�

It's unclear how far these proposals will get beyond the Senate Commerce Committee. Challenges to the FCC rules face stiffer opposition in the House, where Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, supports the changes.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell and the two other Republicans on the five-member commission pushed through the changes despite opposition from two Democratic commissioners and a diverse circle of critics that included media moguls Ted Turner and Barry Diller, consumer advocates, civil rights and religious groups, writers, musicians, unions and the National Rifle Association.

Even without new legislation, legal challenges to the rules are expected from consumer groups seeking stiffer restrictions and media companies wanting even more deregulation.

News Corp., owner of Fox, and Viacom Inc., which owns CBS and UPN, benefit from the higher national TV ownership cap because mergers have pushed the media giant above the 35 percent level. The companies could be forced to sell stations if a new law is enacted and upheld in court.

The major networks wanted the cap eliminated, while smaller broadcasters said a higher cap would allow the networks to gobble up stations and take away local control of programming.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Sunday, June 29, 2003

SHOOTING HAS BEGUN!

Well, we shot yesterday and the Film Gods were quite merciful to us. We got a good two-thirds of the script shot and all the takes looked pretty good. We had a few annoying location-oriented problems, including birds, workmen and an international incident with a German guy who worked at the museum we were shooting outside of, but nothing so major that we didn't get a good chunk of the script done.

Oh yeah and I got mucho sunburned - wanna know why film directors usually wear ballcaps on set? That's why... By the time we finished up, my head looked like a tomato with features.

And I'll tell you, ten years after shooting my last film, it felt really good to be back into it. My actors seemed to be into it and they seemed to accept me as a director, which is (in my opinion) the most important thing on a shoot - if you're even slightly unsure of yourself, it can end up showing in the actors performances. But, so far so good. I'll check out the footage later today, time-permitting. I hope to grab some stills, too and post them here...

More to come!

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I'M SHOOTIN' A MOVIE!

Well, a SHORT movie, anyway. I met with my actors yesterday - well, two of them and they're into it, so that's good. I had hoped to start shooting tomorrow, but I couldn't get a crew together, so it's back to the original plan to shoot this Saturday, but Saturday is no good for one of my actors - however, since it's better for everyone else (the other two actors, crew, etc) Saturday it is!! And I have to hope I can recast the third character... wish me luck! I'm meeting with two of the actors tomorrow again to talk over, you know, acting stuff and then I have to location scout. Yippee!!

Stay tuned for more details!

Oh yeah and I changed the layout of FAP - click the link by the logo in the upper-left corner to check it out! It's still not done, but getting there...

Thursday, June 19, 2003

HULK (2003)

Hulk (Widescreen Special Edition)Entertaining? Moderately - but it's not SPIDER-MAN or X-MEN...
Technically any good? The story lumbers along more slowly than the title character. CLUNKY story elements - characters doing stuff that doesn't make much sense (like Betty recognizing Bruce as the Hulk) and a back story that has no purpose but to set up the weak-ass badguy and the weak-ass climax.
How did I feel as the credits rolled? Disappointed - Ang Lee makes a bad film every once in a while and this movie means his next one will kick butt! I'm a fan of the comic, but like DAREDEVIL this one just doesn't stand up on it's own.
Final Rating? SAM (for the FX - cuz that's all this film's got going for it...)

ORRIN HATCH: THE DISTINGUISHED HYPOCRITE FROM UTAH

Check it out, in a June 17, 2003 article, the Washington Post reported that Orrin Hatch, Republican Senator from Utah is interested in software that would destroy the computers of anyone who illegally downloaded copyrighted material. The important thing to note is that if he gets his way, he'll be violating one of the basic tenents of the American Way - you know, "Innocent Until Proven Guilty."

The idea here is that just because a copyrighted song of movie file is on a person's harddrive - will this new software learn the difference? And isn't this just a way of passing off the human responsibility of judge, jury and executioner to a computer program?

Ah-hah - but it gets even better. According to a June 19, 2003 Wired article, Orrin Hatch himself is using bootlegged - or at least unlicensed - software on his very own web site. From the Wired article:
The senator's site makes extensive use of a JavaScript menu system developed by Milonic Solutions, a software company based in the United Kingdom. The copyright-protected code has not been licensed for use on Hatch's website.

"It's an unlicensed copy," said Andy Woolley, who runs Milonic. "It's very unfortunate for him because of those comments he made."

Nice... and this from the same guy who wanted to have the sunset provision removed from the Patriot Act.

Read the Washington Post article detailing the specifcs of Hatch's interests.

Read the Wired article that describes how Hatch contradicts himself.

From WashingtonPost.com:

Hatch Takes Aim at Illegal Downloading

By TED BRIDIS
The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 17, 2003; 5:22 PM

WASHINGTON - The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday he favors developing new technology to remotely destroy the computers of people who illegally download music from the Internet.

The surprise remarks by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, during a hearing on copyright abuses represent a dramatic escalation in the frustrating battle by industry executives and lawmakers in Washington against illegal music downloads.

During a discussion on methods to frustrate computer users who illegally exchange music and movie files over the Internet, Hatch asked technology executives about ways to damage computers involved in such file trading. Legal experts have said any such attack would violate federal anti-hacking laws.

"No one is interested in destroying anyone's computer," replied Randy Saaf of MediaDefender Inc., a secretive Los Angeles company that builds technology to disrupt music downloads. One technique deliberately downloads pirated material very slowly so other users can't.

"I'm interested," Hatch interrupted. He said damaging someone's computer "may be the only way you can teach somebody about copyrights."

The senator acknowledged Congress would have to enact an exemption for copyright owners from liability for damaging computers. He endorsed technology that would twice warn a computer user about illegal online behavior, "then destroy their computer."

"If we can find some way to do this without destroying their machines, we'd be interested in hearing about that," Hatch said. "If that's the only way, then I'm all for destroying their machines. If you have a few hundred thousand of those, I think people would realize" the seriousness of their actions, he said.

"There's no excuse for anyone violating copyright laws," Hatch said.

Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., who has been active in copyright debates in Washington, urged Hatch to reconsider. Boucher described Hatch's role as chairman of the Judiciary Committee as "a very important position, so when Senator Hatch indicates his views with regard to a particular subject, we all take those views very seriously."

Some legal experts suggested Hatch's provocative remarks were more likely intended to compel technology and music executives to work faster toward ways to protect copyrights online than to signal forthcoming legislation.

"It's just the frustration of those who are looking at enforcing laws that are proving very hard to enforce," said Orin Kerr, a former Justice Department cybercrimes prosecutor and associate professor at George Washington University law school.

The entertainment industry has gradually escalated its fight against Internet file-traders, targeting the most egregious pirates with civil lawsuits. The Recording Industry Association of America recently won a federal court decision making it significantly easier to identify and track consumers - even those hiding behind aliases - using popular Internet file-sharing software.

Kerr predicted it was "extremely unlikely" for Congress to approve a hacking exemption for copyright owners, partly because of risks of collateral damage when innocent users might be wrongly targeted.

"It wouldn't work," Kerr said. "There's no way of limiting the damage."

Last year, Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., ignited a firestorm across the Internet over a proposal to give the entertainment industry new powers to disrupt downloads of pirated music and movies. It would have lifted civil and criminal penalties against entertainment companies for disabling, diverting or blocking the trading of pirated songs and movies on the Internet.

But Berman, ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary panel on the Internet and intellectual property, always has maintained that his proposal wouldn't permit hacker-style attacks by the industry on Internet users.

On the Net: Sen. Hatch: http://hatch.senate.gov

(c) 2003 The Associated Press


From Wired.com:

Orrin Hatch: Software Pirate?

By Leander Kahney
11:56 AM Jun. 19, 2003 PT

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) suggested Tuesday that people who download copyright materials from the Internet should have their computers automatically destroyed.

But Hatch himself is using unlicensed software on his official website, which presumably would qualify his computer to be smoked by the system he proposes.

The senator's site makes extensive use of a JavaScript menu system developed by Milonic Solutions, a software company based in the United Kingdom. The copyright-protected code has not been licensed for use on Hatch's website.

"It's an unlicensed copy," said Andy Woolley, who runs Milonic. "It's very unfortunate for him because of those comments he made."

Hatch on Tuesday surprised a Senate hearing on copyright issues with the suggestion that technology should be developed to remotely destroy the computers of people who illegally download music from the Net.

Hatch said damaging someone's computer "may be the only way you can teach somebody about copyrights," the Associated Press reported. He then suggested the technology would twice warn a computer user about illegal online behavior, "then destroy their computer."

Any such technology would be in violation of federal antihacking laws. The senator, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, suggested Congress would have to make copyright holders exempt from current laws for them to legally destroy people's computers.

On Wednesday, Hatch clarified his comments, but stuck by the original idea. "I do not favor extreme remedies -- unless no moderate remedies can be found," he said in a statement. "I asked the interested industries to help us find those moderate remedies."

Just as well. Because if Hatch's terminator system embraced software as well as music, his servers would be targeted for destruction.

Milonic Solutions' JavaScript code used on Hatch's website costs $900 for a site-wide license. It is free for personal or nonprofit use, which the senator likely qualifies for.

However, the software's license stipulates that the user must register the software to receive a licensing code, and provide a link in the source code to Milonic's website.

On Wednesday, the senator's site met none of Milonic's licensing terms. The site's source code (which can be seen by selecting Source under the View menu in Internet Explorer) had neither a link to Milonic's site nor a registration code.

However, by Thursday afternoon Hatch's site had been updated to contain some of the requisite copyright information. An old version of the page can be seen by viewing Google's cache of the site.

"They're using our code," Woolley said Wednesday. "We've had no contact with them. They are in breach of our licensing terms."

When contacted Thursday, Woolley said the company that maintains the senator's site had e-mailed Milonic to begin the registration process. Woolley said the code added to Hatch's site after the issue came to light met some -- but not all -- of Milonic's licensing requirements.

Before the site was updated, the source code on Hatch's site contained the line: "* i am the license for the menu (duh) *"

Woolley said he had no idea where the line came from -- it has nothing to do with him, and he hadn't seen it on other websites that use his menu system.

"It looks like it's trying to cover something up, as though they got a license," he said.

A spokesman in Hatch's office on Wednesday responded, "That's ironic" before declining to put Wired News in contact with the site's webmaster. He deferred comment on the senator's statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which did not return calls.

The apparent violation was discovered by Laurence Simon, an unemployed system administrator from Houston, who was poking around Hatch's site after becoming outraged by his comments.

Milonic's Woolley said the senator's unlicensed use of his software was just "the tip of the iceberg." He said he knows of at least two other senators using unlicensed copies of his software, and many big companies.

Continental Airlines, for example, one of the largest airlines in the United States, uses Woolley's system throughout its Continental.com website. Woolley said the airline has not paid for the software. Worse, the copyright notices in the source code have been removed.

"That really pisses me off," he said.

A spokesman for Continental said the airline would look into the matter.

Woolley makes his living from his software. Like a lot of independent programmers, he struggles to get people to conform to his licensing terms, let alone pay for his software.

"We don't want blood," he said. "We just want payment for the hard work we do. We work very, very hard. If they're not prepared to pay, they're software pirates."

KING GEORGE WON'T TOLERATE NUKES IN IRAN... LOOK OUT IRAN!

Sure, this story should probably be filed in the "big friggin' surprise" drawer, but it's important to note for the record, Bush's sabre rattling. Here's a quote from a June 18, 2003 Washington Post article:
"The international community must come together to make it very clear to Iran that we will not tolerate construction of a nuclear weapon," Bush told reporters at the end of a meeting in the White House Cabinet Room. "Iran would be dangerous if it had a nuclear weapon," he said.

Oh yeah and America has never come close to wiping away the planet Earth! More from the article:
Iran also has an advanced missile program and maintains ties to terrorist groups, possibly including al-Qaida, the administration has asserted, and is run by conservative mullas who are deeply hostile toward the United States.

Oh, more assertions - GREAT - those never get us in to trouble!
The Bush administration is banking on diplomatic pressure to encourage Iran to rethink its nuclear program. It is confident that the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, meeting this week, will find Iran to be in violation.

Wow - talk about deja vu!

Read the Washington Post article.

From WashingtonPost.com:

Bush Takes Strong Stand Against Iran Nuclear Plans

By Scott Lindlaw
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, June 18, 2003; 2:55 PM

President Bush said Wednesday that he and other world leaders will not tolerate nuclear weapons in Iran and he urged Tehran to treat protesters seeking the ouster of the Islamic government with "the utmost of respect."

Iran is thought to be developing nuclear weapons, though the government denies it.

"The international community must come together to make it very clear to Iran that we will not tolerate construction of a nuclear weapon," Bush told reporters at the end of a meeting in the White House Cabinet Room. "Iran would be dangerous if it had a nuclear weapon," he said.

Bush said he had brought the matter of nuclear weapons up with other leaders at the G-8 meeting of industrial powers, plus Russia, earlier this month.

"There was near-universal agreement that we all must work together to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon," he said.

Iran also has an advanced missile program and maintains ties to terrorist groups, possibly including al-Qaida, the administration has asserted, and is run by conservative mullas who are deeply hostile toward the United States.

Bush labeled Iraq a threat to U.S. national security before invoking his revised U.S. defense posture which called for pre-emptive attack in such a case.

Bush did not say what he would do if international inspectors found Iran in violation of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Bush administration is banking on diplomatic pressure to encourage Iran to rethink its nuclear program. It is confident that the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, meeting this week, will find Iran to be in violation.

Such a step that could put the issue before the U.N. Security Council.

Tehran and other cities saw violent clashes last week as pro-government forces put down student-led protests demanding an end to clerical rule. Those protests have largely died down in the past few days.

Bush paid tribute to "those courageous souls who speak out for freedom in Iran."

"They need to know America stands squarely by their side, and I would urge the Iran government to treat them with the utmost of respect," he said.

The Iranian government has accused Washington of interfering in its internal affairs - and some opponents of the regime also say that public criticism by American leaders does not help their cause.

Reformist lawmaker Fatemeh Haqiqatjou said she and 200 other reformists signed a statement Tuesday against the U.S. comments. "Iranians want change and that change has to be brought by Iranians themselves, not foreigners," she said. "America's involvement only undermines the slow pace of reforms in Iran."

(c) 2003 The Associated Press

HOW DO YOU LOSE A PASSENGER PLANE? IT HAPPENED...

That's right - an African airport has managed to lose track of a 727 - the thing was sitting there empty for 14 months. Then, on May 25, 2003, it's engines fired up and began to taxi to take off. Angolan air traffic controllers tried to contact the airplane's pilot, but he didn't respond - he just took off.

The reason this is an important story is because that this plane could be used for a terrorist attack, similar to America's 911. What is even more bizarre is how they managed to lose track of it once it got into the air. Now, Angolan officials as well as American officials are searching for the thing.

Read the June 18, 2003 story at the Washington Post web site about this situation.

Find out the latest on this story by visiting Google News

From WashingtonPost.com:

In Angola, A Jetliner's Vanishing Act

Boeing 727 Is Subject Of Search, U.S. Worry
By John Mintz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 18, 2003; Page A01

The Boeing 727 had not budged from its parking place at the airport in Angola's capital city for 14 months, so when the jetliner started taxiing down the runway, the men in the control tower radioed the pilot for an explanation. There was no reply from the cockpit, even after the plane rumbled to a takeoff into the African skies.

The plane has been missing since it took off from the Luanda airport around dinnertime on May 25, setting off a continent-wide search for its whereabouts that includes the CIA, the State Department and a number of African nations. Their fear is that terrorists could stage a replay of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, using the plane in a suicide attack somewhere in Africa.

U.S. authorities say it is likely the airplane was filched as part of a business dispute or financial scam. But even so, they say, there is a danger that unscrupulous people in control of a plane that size could make it available to arms or gem smugglers, guerrilla movements or terrorists.

It has been a commonplace for decades in Africa for the paperwork on commercial aircraft, especially small and mid-sized planes, to be dodgy, and for regulation to be extremely lax, industry officials said. Planes continually change ownership, and the aprons of some African airstrips are littered with wrecked aircraft stripped for parts.

But losing a 153-foot, 200,000-pound aircraft is no common occurrence.

"I haven't come across this before in 22 years in this business," said Chris Yates, a civil aviation security analyst for the private Jane's Aviation service. "It is not a stretch to think this plane could end up in the hands of terrorists. A number of companies involved in gun running [and other crimes] in Africa have indirect ties to various terrorist groups."

In the post-Sept. 11 world, even the possibility that terrorists could obtain a large aircraft prompts intensive government scrutiny. U.S. officials are alarmed because large swaths of Africa are under heightened alert for terrorism. Last month, 42 people, including 13 terrorists, died in a series of orchestrated suicide bombings in Casablanca, Morocco. In November, 16 people, including three terrorists, died in the bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa, Kenya.

Western intelligence officials say al Qaeda operatives are known to be casing possible targets in Kenya and other East African nations. On May 15, British officials suspended flights to and from Kenya after raising the perceived threat to its commercial flights there to the highest level, "imminent."

Homeland Security Department officials said that given the likelihood that thieves and not al Qaeda are behind the 727's disappearance, there is no cause for grave alarm.

"Yes, there is concern, and an ongoing search, but it is not one that could be described as a desperate search," said Homeland Security Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse.

U.S. spy satellites have snapped pictures of remote airstrips throughout Africa, starting with ones that are within half a fuel tank's distance from Luanda's "4 de Fevereiro" International Airport. The 28-year-old 727 had taken on 14,000 gallons of A-1 jet fuel shortly before it departed.

U.S. embassy personnel are traveling around Africa to ask host aviation ministries for any sign of the aircraft. "They haven't seen hide nor hair of it," said one government official. "It's so odd."

A large number of people and companies have owned, leased or subleased the aircraft in recent years. U.S. officials say that a few have been involved in shady endeavors. One firm recently involved in owning or leasing it, a U.S. official said, "has a history of allowing aircraft to be used by people for illegal things."

According to the private Airclaims airplane database, the 727's current owner is a Miami-based firm called Aerospace Sales & Leasing Co., which bought it in 2001 after it was flown by American Airlines for decades. In 1997, Aerospace Sales's president, Maury Joseph, was barred from running any publicly traded firm after he was convicted of forging documents and defrauding investors by exaggerating the profits of another company he ran, Florida West Airlines.

Joseph's son, Lance Joseph, said the company has committed no wrong. He said a firm that had leased the plane from Aerospace Sales -- a company whose name he said he couldn't recall -- had removed the seats and replaced them with fuel tanks. It flew the 727 to Luanda with a plan to deliver fuel to remote African airfields, he said.

According to the Airclaims database, a company called Irwin Air had planned to buy the 727 last month. No more information could be learned about the company.

Helder Preza, Angola's aviation director, told the Portuguese radio network RDP that the plane arrived in Luanda in March 2002, but that authorities prevented it from flying on because "the documentation we held did not pertain to the aircraft in question."

Angolan officials also demanded stiff ramp fees as well as settlement of private liens on the 727, Joseph said. Aerospace Sales was settling the disputes and planning to repossess the aircraft and fly it away when the 727 -- one of about 1,100 worldwide -- disappeared, he said.

Joseph also said that in recent months a former Aerospace Sales associate with whom he has had bitter financial disputes, Miami aircraft broker Mike Gabriel, had been in Africa stating that he planned to stop the plane's repossession and make a claim on it.

In the 1980s, Gabriel was convicted of importing 5,000 pounds of marijuana. He did not return messages left at his office requesting comment, and his attorney, Jack Attias, declined to comment.

Preza, the Angolan official, said that "the owner of the aircraft contacted us saying he wished to fly out of Angola." Then, he added, a man who presented himself as "the legitimate representative of the aircraft's owner'' -- a man Preza described as a U.S. citizen but whom he declined to name -- entered the aircraft. Moments later, Preza said, the man flew the plane away.

"The person who flew out the plane was no stranger to the aircraft," Preza said.

Another twist in the case is that the State Department is asking its diplomats in Africa, in searching for the 727, to ask host governments whether they have any information about two men that its cables say "reportedly" own the plane -- Ben Padilla and John Mikel Mutantu. The men are not listed as owners on any public database, and no other information about them was available.

Aviation expert Yates said the plane might never be located. "I suspect it's disappeared into the murky world of African aviation," he said.

Staff researchers Margot Williams and Mary Louise White contributed to this report.


(c) 2003 The Washington Post Company

Thursday, June 12, 2003

IN MEMORIAM: HE WAS IN IT UP TO HIS NECK

gregorypeck (100k image)


You will be missed...

Read a great bio of Peck at Yahoo.com.

From News.Yahoo.Com:

Winner Gregory Peck Dies at 87

By DAVID GERMAIN, AP Movie Writer

LOS ANGELES - Gregory Peck, who embodied saintly fatherhood in "To Kill a Mockingbird" and played a range of real-life figures from Abraham Lincoln to Josef Mengele, died Thursday at 87.


With his wife of 48 years, Veronique, at his side, Peck died about 4 a.m. at his Los Angeles home, spokesman Monroe Friedman said.


Though he played a handful of villains, including the Nazi doctor Mengele in "The Boys From Brazil," Peck was best known for upright, chivalrous characters in such films as "Roman Holiday" and "Gentleman's Agreement" or stalwart heroes in "Captain Horatio Hornblower" and "Pork Chop Hill."


Nominated for Academy Awards four times early in his career, Peck finally won the best-actor honor with his fifth and final nomination for "To Kill a Mockingbird." The 1962 classic was based on Harper Lee's novel about widowed lawyer Atticus Finch, who is raising two children amid Southern racial unrest as he defends a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman.


"Gregory Peck was unique. He represents integrity, compassion and honesty. His star shone brightly for a long time, and now it will continue to shine in heaven," said Kirk Douglas. "We talked so often about doing a picture together, and I am sad that we never got to do one."


Peck's "legacy not only lies in his films, but in the dignified, decent and moral way in which he worked and lived," said Steven Spielberg. "He was the reigning father of the actor."


Finch earned Peck his final Hollywood honor, placing No. 1 last week on the American Film Institute's list of top 50 heroes in U.S. movies.


"I put everything I had into it � all my feelings and everything I'd learned in 46 years of living, about family life and fathers and children," Peck said in 1989, recalling the role. "And my feelings about racial justice and inequality and opportunity."


Spokesman Friedman said Peck had not been suffering from any particular ailments. Friedman said Peck's wife told him she held his hand as the actor slipped off to sleep and died.


"He had just been getting older and more fragile," Friedman said. "He just sort of ran his course and died of old age."


Off-screen as well as on, Peck conveyed a quiet dignity. He had one amicable divorce, and scandal never touched him. He served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and was active in the Motion Picture and Television Fund, American Cancer Society, National Endowment for the Arts and other causes.


"He was more than a great man. He was a complete and total gentleman," said Polly Bergen, who played Peck's wife in the 1962 thriller "Cape Fear." "One of the dearest I've worked with. He taught me chess between scenes."


Peck's lanky, gaunt-cheeked good looks, measured speech and courtly demeanor quickly established him as star material in the 1940s.


He made his film debut in 1944's "Days of Glory," a tale of Russian peasants coping with Nazi occupation. The next year, Peck played a priest in his second film, "Keys to the Kingdom," which brought him his first Oscar nomination.


Three more nominations soon followed: for 1946's "The Yearling," the family classic about a boy and his pet fawn; for 1947's best-picture winner "Gentleman's Agreement," in which Peck played a reporter posing as a Jew to expose anti-Semitism in America; and for 1949's "Twelve O'Clock High," with Peck as a World War II flight leader coming unglued under the pressures of command.


Other films included Alfred Hitchcock's "Spellbound," the Ernest Hemingway adaptation "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," the corporate-America critique "The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit" and the nuclear-Armageddon tale "On the Beach."


Peck played Gen. Douglas MacArthur in "MacArthur," Lincoln in the TV miniseries "The Blue and the Grey" and F. Scott Fitzgerald in "Beloved Infidel."


Roles became scarce late in his career. He played writer Ambrose Bierce in 1989's "Old Gringo" and the owner of a company targeted for a hostile takeover in the 1991 Danny DeVito comedy "Other People's Money."

"It was an honor to know him. It was an honor to have worked with him," DeVito said. "He was gentle, sweet and generous."

Among Peck's final roles were playful revisitations of his past films. In the 1998 TV miniseries "Moby Dick," Peck had a small part as a fire-and-brimstone preacher, a role Orson Welles played in the 1956 movie version in which Peck starred as Capt. Ahab.

Martin Scorsese's 1991 remake of "Cape Fear" cast Peck and Robert Mitchum in a reversal of the good and evil types they played in the 1962 original. Mitchum, the vengeful ex-con who terrorized Peck and his family in the original, played a sympathetic policeman in the new version, while Peck played the ex-con's vile lawyer in the remake.

Born Eldred Gregory Peck on April 5, 1916, in La Jolla, Calif., Peck had a disjointed childhood after his parents divorced when he was 6. He was shuffled back and forth between them for two years, lived two more years with his maternal grandmother, then was sent at age 10 to a Roman Catholic military school in Los Angeles.

An English major at the University of California, Berkeley, Peck was lured into acting when the director of the campus little theater accosted him and said he needed a tall actor for a stage version of "Moby Dick."

Peck appeared in five more plays his last year at college, then went to New York City, where he studied with Sanford Meisner and Martha Graham, did summer stock and made his Broadway debut with the lead in Emlyn Williams' "Morning Star."

After his first few films, Peck was soon under non-exclusive contracts to four studios; he refused an exclusive pact with MGM despite Louis B. Mayer's tearful pleading. With most male stars absent in the war, the studios desperately needed strong leading men. Peck was exempt from service because of an old back injury.

A Roosevelt New Dealer, Peck campaigned for Harry Truman in 1948 "at a time when nobody thought he had a chance to win." He continued championing liberal causes, producing an anti-Vietnam War film in 1972, "The Trial of the Catonsville Nine" and helping the campaign against the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987.

Peck married his first wife, Greta, in 1942 and they had three sons, Jonathan, Stephen and Carey. Jonathan, a TV reporter, committed suicide at age 30. After his divorce in 1954, Peck married Veronique Passani, a Paris reporter. They had two children, Anthony and Cecilia, both actors.

peck01 (31k image)
Gregory Peck is shown as attorney Atticus Finch in a scene from the 1962 movie 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' Peck, the lanky, handsome movie star whose long career included such classics as ``Roman Holiday,'' ``Spellbound'' and his Academy Award winner, ``To Kill a Mockingbird,'' has died overnight, a spokesman said Thursday June 12, 2003. He was 87. (AP Photo)

THE RIGHT STUFF AT THE EGYPTIAN THEATRE IN HOLLYWOOD

One of the things that I actually like about this town is that it really is a movie-lovers paradise. The theaters here are the best in the world. Also, there are theaters here that believe new releases aren't the only films worth seeing on the big screen. One such theater here in LA is the Egytpian Theatre. The theater itself has been around almost as long as the Chinese Theater, but actually fell into disrepair back in the 80s and 90s. In fact, if you find the movie Jimmy Hollywood with Joe Pesci and Christian Slater, you'll see what the Egyptian looked like back in the early 90s. (It's not that great a movie, but it is entertaining.)

But in the late 90s, a non-profit group called The American Cinematheque bought the delapidated old theater from the city of Los Angeles for $1 with the promise that they would spend a lot of money on it to restore it to the way it was when it was first built (excepting for safety and technological differences, of course). It now houses one of the most state of the art screening theaters in the world and is also one of the most ornate. But the really great thing about the Egyptian is that all these great movies run there.

On June 9, 2003, it was THE RIGHT STUFF, the film that chronicles America's trip from the air into space, beginning with Chuck Yeager's historical flight in 1947 that broke the sound barrier for the first time and ending with Gordon Cooper's flight into orbit (with a LOT of stuff in between). It's one of my favorite movies and to see it on the big screen was treat enough - but then the Egyptian pulled out all the stops - they had a whole slew of stars from the movie as well as the director, a producer as well as some mock-ups and models from the movie. But the absolute best part was that they had Original Mercury Astronaut Gordon Cooper (played by Dennis Quaid in the movie) and Legendary Pilot Chuck Yeager (played by Sam Shepard) IN PERSON.

All I can say is, it was pretty cool being there in person. Unfortunately, (as always happens at the Egyptian), organizers didn't leave enough time for Q&A and the audience only got to ask three questions of the legends/stars/crew that were there, which to me seemed like an awful waste of an event. Still, it was great to see these people in person - especially Cooper and Yeager. VERY cool...

Monday, June 9, 2003

BIRTHDAY WEEKEND A SUCCESS, BUT NOT OVER YET!!

UPDATED 4pm PST!! CHECK OUT THE LINK AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS ENTRY!

My bday weekend was pretty good - everything went mostly well Friday (my bday) - although traffic got very bad on the way to my bday dinner - did you hear about that plane crash in LA? A single engine plane crashed into an apartment building about three blocks from where I used to work.
Strangely I had little trouble getting to my favorite Hot Wings place (my route took my right past my old workplace) but one friend took an hour to get there from about fifteen minutes away and another friend never made it at all. Luckily, I had other friends who did make it so it was fine.

Then one friend got wickedly sick to his stomach, so he went home, another friend had to take off and the rest of us went down to Orange County for The Omen. The movie was great as always, but the popcorn was stale and they charged for butter. $0.50!! Absurd!! The theater was this smaller version of a classic-Hollywood-style movie house called the Bay Theatre. Interesting atmosphere - you could kind of imagine what it was like to go to movies there in the 1940s - it's changed that little inside. It looked (and felt) like even the seats were the same.

Anyway, Saturday was fine - downloaded a bunch of junk and I watched a couple of episodes of Astro Boy. Every seen Astro Boy? He's like Mickey Mouse in Japan - only he's a Mickey Mouse that does some really cool stuff. The story is really dark, too - Astro Boy is a robot version of a little boy who is killed in a car accident in the beginning of the first episode. His father then goes insane and builds a robot version of his dead son. Years pass and the father tries to raise Astro Boy as a real child, but Astro Boy is a robot, so he doesn't grow like a child - the father demands Astro Boy grow, when he can't, his father sells him to a robot circus where he is forced to battle huge robots for his very life. Then, his father is fired from the company he worked at and his replacement comes to get Astro Boy from the circus. When the circus owner says no, Astro Boy's father's replacement tells the circus owner that a robot-liberation-act has just been passed and he is now forced to give up Astro Boy and let him go. And THAT's all in just the first episode!!

On Sunday I managed to change the oil on my scooter (with some help from TheFiancee) which is a major feat for me, since, I am someone who has zero experience with machines that use oil. And while I was worried I did a couple things wrong, after I was done the engine fired up and functioned just fine. Then Sunday night we had a small get-together, watched some episodes of Coupling - it's a British sitcom that is absolutely brilliant. Finally, I tried to watch some episodes of Space Battleship Yamato (aka Starblazers) which I have a few episodes of in the original Japanese. Unfortunately, I was totally wiped out and fell asleep about 10 minutes in.

Tonight we are going to see The Right Stuff at the Egyptian Theater here in LA. I am CRAZY excited for this because as the Egyptian usually does, they have people from the movie to talk about it and answer questions. Only this time they're pulling out all the stops. They've got the director (Phillip Kaufman, two of the producers (Irwin Winkler & Robert Chartoff), a good number of the actors (Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, Scott Glenn, Kathy Baker, Veronica Cartwright, Fred Ward and Scott Wilson) AND (get this!!!) Astronaut Gordon Cooper and legendary pilot CHUCK YEAGER who happens to be a personal hero of mine. (He broke the sound barrier way back in 1947!!)

So, my bday weekend should end pretty well, assuming a plane doesn't crash into the Egyptian Theater or my scooter engine doesn't explode. But I'm pretty sure those things won't happen.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 7, 2003

"USGov LIES FOR IRAQ ATTACK" COVERAGE ROUND-UP

There seem to be MANY stories on the Internet from reputable sites reguarding how the USGov has distorted evidence or outright lied in order to make their case for going to war in Iraq. So many articles, it seemed to make more sense to do a quick round up of all of the articles from the past week or so.

Here goes:

At Saddam's Bombed Palace
This May 28, 2003 CBSNews.com article talks about how that bunker Saddam was supposed to be in the very first night of the Iraq Attack... doesn't exist.

WMD source 'was senior Iraqi officer'
This June 4, 2003 Financial Times article reports on how UK Prime Minister Tony Blair hung his entire belief that Iraq had WMD on intelligence from a single source. To be clear this source was a high placed Iraqi official, but to trust one man to be telling the truth? Seems to be a fairly questionable tactic.

Pentagon's intelligence service reported no reliable evidence of Iraqi weapons last September
This June 6, 2003 article posted on the San Francisco Chronicle website covers what the headline suggests. A Pentagon report released in September of 2002 concluded that there was no reliable evidence that Iraq had weaponized chemical agents. (On a side note, check out Some Analysts of Iraq Trailers Reject Germ Use at the New York Times website for info on Bio-weapons being ruled out as well.)

Ex-Official: Evidence Distorted for War
A retired intelligence officer is claiming that during the months before the Iraq Attack (during which he was still on active duty) the Bush 43 Administration fudged the facts in the interest of going to war with Iraq accoring to this June 7, 2003 article at the Washington Post website.

Truth and Consequences: New questions about U.S. intelligence regarding Iraq's weapons of mass terror
This June 9, 2003 article at US News & World Report website chronicles in reasonable detail a meeting Colin Powell had with 2 dozen USGov officials at CIA headquarters four days before Powell would speak to the UN. The point of this meeting was to essentially 'rehearse' what Powell would say at the UN. According to the article:
At one point during the rehearsal, Powell tossed several pages in the air. "I'm not reading this," he declared. "This is bulls- - -."

In the end, all we can assume is that we've definitely been lied to, at least in some capacity. Will we ever know specifically? These articles give us a good start, but the full details may never be known. The one thing to remember though is that after all these lies coming from the USGov, can the American people (or anyone else) expect to whole truth and nothing but the truth from the USGov? Consider Iran's recent denial that it has secret nuclear sites and connections to Al Qaeda as reported in this May 28, 2003 Washington Post article. If US accusations are again used as evidence for an Iran Attack, how sure will anyone be that there will be WMD or Al Qaeda ties found?

Check out the articles and know what you can...

From CBSNews.com:

At Saddam's Bombed Palace

DORA FARMS, Iraq, May 28, 2003

The mystery of what happened to Saddam Hussein begins at a palace compound called Dora Farms on the southern outskirts of Baghdad. The war began here ten weeks ago when the U.S. dropped bombs and cruise missiles in an attempt to kill the Iraqi dictator.

CBS News became the first news organization to visit Dora Farms.

CBS National Security Correspondent David Martin found that U.S. intelligence was wrong about one crucial fact and the strike was not a complete success despite Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's March 21 statement that "the strike on that leadership headquarters was successful."

And despite comments by the Air Force general who commanded the strike that if Saddam was there he was probably killed.

No one has searched Dora Farms more carefully than Tim Madere, a U.S. Army colonel assigned the task of searching sensitive sites.

Madere says no bodies have been found here.

The Air Force dropped four 2,000-pound bombs on the site because intelligence said there was a bunker complex hidden beneath the buildings. But Madere has yet to find it.

The compound has been searched three times � once by the CIA and twice by Madere, trying to find Saddam's DNA.

"When we came out here the primary thing they were looking for was an underground facility, or bodies, forensics," says Madere. "And basically what they saw was giant holes created. No underground facilities, no bodies."

Every structure in the compound was destroyed, except one building � the main palace � hidden behind a wall topped by electrified barbed wire. It's a shambles, windows have been blown out, but it is not destroyed.

Madere says a person in the house "could have survived."

One weapon clearly missed the compound. Others landed just outside the wall, destroying other buildings.

This doesn't solve the mystery of what happened to Saddam, but the clues at Dora Farms leave no doubt he could have survived.

(c) MMIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.


From Financial Times:

WMD source 'was senior Iraqi officer'

By James Blitz and Mark Huband
Published: June 4 2003 21:49 | Last Updated: June 4 2003 21:49

A senior Iraqi officer on active service within the country's military provided British intelligence last August with the information that Iraq could fire chemical or biological warheads within 45 minutes of Saddam Hussein giving the order, according to senior Whitehall officials.

The claim, contained in the government's dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, has become the chief test of whether ministers "duped" the British public over the need for war.

Whitehall officials in two departments said last night the evidence of the 45-minute capability had come from a serving Iraqi officer with a record for providing reliable data over years. The information was analysed by Britain's Joint Intelligence Committee and immediately distributed to some cabinet ministers at the end of August, a few weeks before the compilation of the government's WMD dossier.

There have been assertions that intelligence about the Iraqi capability had come via the US from an "unreliable" source, a Iraqi defector with contacts with the Iraqi opposition movement.

The new revelation came as Tony Blair denied claims that Downing Street had "doctored" the dossier, published last September, saying the allegation was "completely and totally untrue".

The prime minister refused to bow to calls from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats for an independent judicial inquiry into the way the government had presented its intelligence assessment of Saddam Hussein's WMD before the start of the war. However, Downing Street indicated that Mr Blair would give evidence to parliament's intelligence and security committee, a cross-party body of MPs which will conduct an inquiry in private but make its report public.

Intelligence sought to find a second source for the information and was unable to do so. However, the JIC was prepared to rely on a single source because the official was a senior figure in Mr Hussein's regime, not a defector.

Although Whitehall officials on Wednesday acknowledged that the claim about a 45-minute capability was based on its single source, they said the JIC's decision to distribute this information through official channels made it impossible to argue that the dossier had been "sexed up".

In the Commons, Mr Blair backed John Reid, the Commons leader, who had claimed "rogue elements" in the intelligence services were briefing against the government. But Mr Blair said he was convinced nobody was involved from the JIC. Whitehall sources said they were not convinced it was somebody working within the security services.

Mr Blair remained confident that chemical and biological weapons would be found in Iraq, saying that the Iraq Survey Group - made up of 1,400 UK, US and Australian officials - were only now starting their work.


From San Francisco Chronicle website:

Pentagon's intelligence service reported no reliable evidence of Iraqi weapons last September

ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer
Friday, June 6, 2003
�2003 Associated Press

(06-06) 10:07 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) --

The Pentagon's intelligence service reported last September that it had no reliable evidence that Iraq had chemical agents in weaponized form, officials said Friday.

The time frame is notable because it coincided with Bush administration efforts to mount a public case for the urgency of disarming Iraq, by force if necessary. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and others argued that Saddam Hussein possessed chemical and biological weapons and was hiding them.

Two months after major fighting in Iraq ended, U.S. officials have yet to find any chemical or other mass-killing weapons, although they still express confidence that some will turn up.

Rumsfeld recently raised the possibility that Iraq destroyed the weapons before the war started March 20. He also has said he believes some remain and will be discovered when U.S. search teams find knowledgeable Iraqis who are willing to disclose the locations.

In making its case for invading Iraq, the administration also argued that Iraq was seeking to develop nuclear weapons and that it might provide some of its mass-killing weapons to terrorists.

On Friday, a small team of United Nations nuclear experts arrived in Baghdad to begin a damage assessment at Iraq's largest nuclear facility, known as Tuwaitha. It was left unguarded by American and allied troops during the early days of the war and then pillaged by villagers.

The arrival of the team -- whose members are not weapons inspectors -- marked the first time since the Iraq war began that representatives from the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency returned to the country. The atomic energy agency had long monitored Iraq's nuclear program.

In its report last September, the Defense Intelligence Agency said it could find no reliable information to indicate that Iraq had any chemical weapons available for use on the battlefield. But the agency also said Iraq probably had stockpiles of banned chemical warfare agents.

The existence of the DIA report was disclosed by U.S. News & World Report, and a classified summary was reported by Bloomberg News on Thursday. Two Pentagon officials who had read the summary confirmed Friday that it said DIA had no hard evidence of Iraqi chemical weapons.

A White House spokesman said a portion of the still-classified report is being taken out of context of the entire document's conclusions, which match what the Bush administration argued all along.

"The entire report paints a different picture than the selective quotes would lead you to believe," said Michael Anton, a spokesman with the White House's National Security Council. "The entire report is consistent with with the president was saying at the time."

A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was a National Intelligence Estimate published at nearly the same time as the DIA report -- and with DIA's concurrence -- that concluded Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

The DIA's analysis is just one piece of an intelligence mosaic that Rumsfeld and other senior administrations could consider in making their own assessment of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons capability. Congress is reviewing the prewar intelligence to determine whether the administration overplayed the weapons threat in order to justify toppling the Iraqi regime.

On Friday, the Senate Armed Services convened a closed-door hearing focusing on the mission of the 75th Exploitation Task Force, which made the initial effort to find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction at the conclusion of the war, and the follow-on search team, called the Iraq Survey Group.

The committee was hearing from Stephen A. Cambone, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence; Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the DIA; and an unidentified CIA representative.

(c)2003 Associated Press


From New York Times website:

Some Analysts of Iraq Trailers Reject Germ Use

June 7, 2003
By JUDITH MILLER and WILLIAM J. BROAD

American and British intelligence analysts with direct access to the evidence are disputing claims that the mysterious trailers found in Iraq were for making deadly germs. In interviews over the last week, they said the mobile units were more likely intended for other purposes and charged that the evaluation process had been damaged by a rush to judgment.

"Everyone has wanted to find the 'smoking gun' so much that they may have wanted to have reached this conclusion," said one intelligence expert who has seen the trailers and, like some others, spoke on condition that he not be identified. He added, "I am very upset with the process."

The Bush administration has said the two trailers, which allied forces found in Iraq in April and May, are evidence that Saddam Hussein was hiding a program for biological warfare. In a white paper last week, it publicly detailed its case, even while conceding discrepancies in the evidence and a lack of hard proof.

Now, intelligence analysts stationed in the Middle East, as well as in the United States and Britain, are disclosing serious doubts about the administration's conclusions in what appears to be a bitter debate within the intelligence community. Skeptics said their initial judgments of a weapon application for the trailers had faltered as new evidence came to light.

Bill Harlow, a spokesman for the Central Intelligence Agency, said the dissenters "are entitled to their opinion, of course, but we stand behind the assertions in the white paper."

In all, at least three teams of Western experts have now examined the trailers and evidence from them. While the first two groups to see the trailers were largely convinced that the vehicles were intended for the purpose of making germ agents, the third group of more senior analysts divided sharply over the function of the trailers, with several members expressing strong skepticism, some of the dissenters said.

In effect, early conclusions by agents on the ground that the trailers were indeed mobile units to produce germs for weapons have since been challenged.

"I have no great confidence that it's a fermenter," a senior analyst with long experience in unconventional arms said of a tank for multiplying seed germs into lethal swarms. The government's public report, he added, "was a rushed job and looks political." This analyst had not seen the trailers himself, but reviewed evidence from them.

The skeptical experts said the mobile plants lacked gear for steam sterilization, normally a prerequisite for any kind of biological production, peaceful or otherwise. Its lack of availability between production runs would threaten to let in germ contaminants, resulting in failed weapons.

Second, if this shortcoming were somehow circumvented, each unit would still produce only a relatively small amount of germ-laden liquid, which would have to undergo further processing at some other factory unit to make it concentrated and prepare it for use as a weapon.

Finally, they said, the trailers have no easy way for technicians to remove germ fluids from the processing tank.

Senior intelligence officials in Washington rebutted the skeptics, saying, for instance, that the Iraqis might have obtained the needed steam for sterilization from a separate supply truck.

The skeptics noted further that the mobile plants had a means of easily extracting gas. Iraqi scientists have said the trailers were used to produce hydrogen for weather balloons. While the white paper dismisses that as a cover story, some analysts see the Iraqi explanation as potentially credible.

A senior administration official conceded that "some analysts give the hydrogen claim more credence." But he asserted that the majority still linked the Iraqi trailers to germ weapons.

The depth of dissent is hard to gauge. Even if it turns out to be a minority view, which seems likely, the skepticism is significant given the image of consensus that Washington has projected and the political reliance the administration has come to place on the mobile units. At the recent summit meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, President Bush cited the trailers as evidence of illegal Iraqi arms.

Critics seem likely to cite the internal dispute as further reason for an independent evaluation of the Iraqi trailers. Since the war's end, the White House has come under heavy political pressure because American soldiers have found no unconventional arms, a main rationale for the invasion of Iraq.

Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, who also used Iraqi illicit weapons as a chief justification of the war, has been repeatedly attacked on this question in Parliament and outside it.

Experts described the debate as intense despite the American intelligence agencies' release last week of the nuanced, carefully qualified white paper concluding that the mobile units were most likely part of Iraq's biowarfare program. It was posted May 28 on the Internet at www.cia.gov.

"We are in full agreement on it," an official said of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency at a briefing on the white paper.

The six-page report, "Iraqi Mobile Biological Warfare Agent Production Plants," called discovery of the trailers "the strongest evidence to date that Iraq was hiding a biological warfare program."

A senior administration official said the White House had not put pressure on the intelligence community in any way on the content of its white paper, or on the timing of its release.

In interviews, the intelligence analysts disputing its conclusions focused on the lack of steam sterilization gear for the central processing tank, which the white paper calls a fermenter for germ multiplication.

In theory, the dissenting analysts added, the Iraqis could have sterilized the tank with harsh chemicals rather than steam. But they said that would require a heavy wash afterward with sterile water to remove any chemical residue - a feat judged difficult for a mobile unit presumably situated somewhere in the Iraqi desert.

William C. Patrick III, a senior official in the germ warfare program that Washington renounced in 1969, said the lack of steam sterilization had caused him to question the germ-plant theory that he had once tentatively endorsed. "That's a huge minus," he said. "I don't see how you can clean those tanks chemically."

Three senior intelligence officials in Washington, responding to the criticisms during a group interview on Tuesday, said the Iraqis could have used a separate mobile unit to supply steam to the trailer. Some Iraqi decontamination units, they said, have such steam generators.

The officials also said some types of chemical sterilization were feasible without drastic follow-up actions.

Finally, they proposed that the Iraqis might have engineered anthrax or other killer germs for immunity to antibiotics, and then riddled germ food in the trailers with such potent drugs. That, they said, would be a clever way to grow lethal bacteria and selectively decontaminate the equipment at the same time - though the officials conceded that they had no evidence the Iraqis had used such advanced techniques.

On the second issue, the officials disputed the claim that the mobile units could make only small amounts of germ-laden liquids. If the trailers brewed up germs in high concentrations, they said, every month one truck could make enough raw material to fill five R-400 bombs.

Finally, the officials countered the claim that the trailers had no easy way for technicians to drain germ concoctions from the processing tank. The fluids could go down a pipe at its bottom, they said. While the pipe is small in diameter - too small to work effectively, some analysts hold - the officials said high pressure from an air compressor on the trailer could force the tank to drain in 10 or 20 minutes.

A senior official said "we've considered these objections" and dismissed them as having no bearing on the overall conclusions of the white paper. He added that Iraq, which declared several classes of mobile vehicles to the United Nations, never said anything about hydrogen factories.

Some doubters noted that the intelligence community was still scrambling to analyze the trailers, suggesting that the white paper may have been premature. They said laboratories in the Middle East and the United States were now analyzing more than 100 samples from the trailers to verify the intelligence findings. Allied forces, they noted, have so far failed to find any of the envisioned support vehicles that the trailers would need to produce biological weapons.

One skeptic questioned the practicality of some of the conjectural steps the Iraqis are envisioned as having taken to adapt the trailers to the job of making deadly germs.

"It's not built and designed as a standard fermenter," he said of the central tank. "Certainly, if you modify it enough you could use it. But that's true of any tin can."

The reporting for this article was carried out by Judith Miller in Iraq and Kuwait and by William Broad in New York. Her agreement with the Pentagon, for an "embedded" assignment, allowed the military to review her copy to prevent breaches of troop protection and security. No changes were made in the review.


From Washington Post website:

Ex-Official: Evidence Distorted for War

By JOHN J. LUMPKIN
The Associated Press
Saturday, June 7, 2003; 6:18 AM

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration distorted intelligence and presented conjecture as evidence to justify a U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a retired intelligence official who served during the months before the war.

"What disturbs me deeply is what I think are the disingenuous statements made from the very top about what the intelligence did say," said Greg Thielmann, who retired last September. "The area of distortion was greatest in the nuclear field."

Thielmann was director of the strategic, proliferation and military issues office in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. His office was privy to classified intelligence gathered by the CIA and other agencies about Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear programs.

In Thielmann's view, Iraq could have presented an immediate threat to U.S. security in two areas: Either it was about to make a nuclear weapon, or it was forming close operational ties with al-Qaida terrorists.

Evidence was lacking for both, despite claims by President Bush and others, Thielmann said in an interview this week. Suspicions were presented as fact, contrary arguments ignored, he said.

The administration's prewar portrayal of Iraq's weapons capabilities has not been validated despite weeks of searching by military experts. Alleged stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons have not turned up, nor has significant evidence of a nuclear weapons program or links to the al-Qaida network.

Bush has said administration assertions on Iraq will be verified in time. The CIA and other agencies have vigorously defended their prewar performances.

CIA Director George Tenet, responding to similar criticism last week, said in a statement: "The integrity of our process was maintained throughout, and any suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong." On Friday, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency acknowledged he had no hard evidence of Iraqi chemical weapons last fall but believed Iraq had a program in place to produce them.

Also Friday, Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he was not prepared to place blame for any intelligence shortcomings until all information is in.

"There are always times when a single sentence or a single report evokes a lot of concern and some doubt," Warner told reporters after a closed hearing of his committee. "But thus far, in my own personal assessment of this situation, the intelligence community has diligently and forthrightly and with integrity produced intelligence and submitted it to this administration and to the Congress of the United States."

Thielmann suggested mistakes may have been made at points all along the chain from when intelligence is gathered, analyzed, presented to the president and then provided to the public.

The evidence of a renewed nuclear program in Iraq was far more limited than the administration contended, he said.

"When the administration did talk about specific evidence - it was basically declassified, sensitive information - it did it in a way that was also not entirely honest," Thielmann said.

In his State of the Union address, Bush said, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

The Africa claim rested on a purported letter or letters between officials in Iraq and Niger held by European intelligence agencies. The communications are now accepted as forged, and Thielmann said he believed the information on Africa was discounted months before Bush mentioned it.

"I was very surprised to hear that be announced to the United States and the entire world," he said.

Thielmann said he had presumed Iraq had supplies of chemical and probably biological weapons. He particularly expected U.S. forces to find caches of mustard agent or other chemical weapons left over from Saddam's old stockpiles.

"We appear to have been wrong," he said. "I've been genuinely surprised at that."

One example where officials took too far a leap from the facts, according to Thielmann: On Feb. 11, CIA Director Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Iraq "retains in violation of U.N. resolutions a small number of Scud missiles that it produced before the Gulf War."

Intelligence analysts supposed Iraq may have had some missiles because they couldn't account for all the Scuds it had before the first Gulf War, Thielmann said. They could have been destroyed, dismantled, miscounted or still somewhere in Saddam's inventory.

Some critics have suggested that the White House and Pentagon policy-makers pressured the CIA and military intelligence to come up with conclusions favorable to an attack-Iraq policy. The CIA and military have denied such charges. Thielmann said that generally he felt no such pressure.

Although his office did not directly handle terrorism issues, Thielmann said he was similarly unconvinced of a strong link between al-Qaida and Saddam's government.

Yet, the implication from Bush on down was that Saddam supported Osama bin Laden's network. Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks frequently were mentioned in the same sentence, even though officials have no good evidence of any link between the two.

(c) 2003 The Associated Press


From US News & World Report website:

Truth and consequences


New questions about U.S. intelligence regarding Iraq's weapons of mass terror

By Bruce B. Auster, Mark Mazzetti and Edward T. Pound

On the evening of February 1, two dozen American officials gathered in a spacious conference room at the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Va. The time had come to make the public case for war against Iraq. For six hours that Saturday, the men and women of the Bush administration argued about what Secretary of State Colin Powell should--and should not--say at the United Nations Security Council four days later. Not all the secret intelligence about Saddam Hussein's misdeeds, they found, stood up to close scrutiny. At one point during the rehearsal, Powell tossed several pages in the air. "I'm not reading this," he declared. "This is bulls- - -."

Just how good was America's intelligence on Iraq? Seven weeks after the end of the war, no hard evidence has been turned up on the ground to support the charge that Iraq posed an imminent threat to U.S. national security--no chemical weapons in the field, no Scud missiles in the western desert, no biological agents. At least not yet. As a result, questions are being raised about whether the Bush administration overstated the case against Saddam Hussein. History shows that the Iraqi regime used weapons of mass terror against Iraqi Kurds and during the war against Iran in the 1980s. But it now appears that American intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs was sometimes sketchy, occasionally politicized, and frequently the subject of passionate disputes inside the government. Today, the CIA is conducting a review of its prewar intelligence, at the request of the House Intelligence Committee, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has conceded that Iraq may have destroyed its chemical weapons months before the war.

The dossier. The question remains: What did the Bush administration know-- or think it knew--on the eve of war? In the six days before Powell went to the U.N., an intense, closed-door battle raged over the U.S. intelligence dossier that had been compiled on Baghdad's weapons of mass destruction and its links to terrorists. Holed up at the CIA night and day, a team of officials vetted volumes of intelligence purporting to show that Iraq posed a grave threat. Powell, CIA Director George Tenet, and Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, were among those who participated in some sessions. What follows is an account of the struggle to find common ground on a bill of particulars against Saddam. Interviews with more than a dozen officials reveal that many pieces of intelligence--including information the administration had already cited publicly--did not stand up to scrutiny and had to be dropped from the text of Powell's U.N. speech.

Vice President Cheney's office played a major role in the secret debates and pressed for the toughest critique of Saddam's regime, administration officials say. The first draft of Powell's speech was written by Cheney's staff and the National Security Council. Days before the team first gathered at the CIA, a group of officials assembled in the White House Situation Room to hear Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, lay out an indictment of the Iraqi regime--"a Chinese menu" of charges, one participant recalls, that Powell might use in his U.N. speech. Not everyone in the administration was impressed, however. "It was over the top and ran the gamut from al Qaeda to human rights to weapons of mass destruction," says a senior official. "They were unsubstantiated assertions, in my view."

Powell, apparently, agreed. So one week before he was to address the U.N. Security Council, he created a team, which set up shop at the CIA, and directed it to provide him with an intelligence report based on more solid information. "Powell was acutely aware of the need to be completely accurate," says the senior official, "and that our national reputation was on the line."

The team, at first, tried to follow a 45-page White House script, taken from Libby's earlier presentation. But there were too many problems--some assertions, for instance, were not supported by solid or adequate sourcing, several officials say. Indeed, some of the damning information simply could not be proved.

One example, included in the script, focused on intelligence indicating that an Iraqi official had approved the acquisition of sensitive software from an Australian company. The concern was that the software would allow the regime to understand the topography of the United States. That knowledge, coupled with unmanned aerial vehicles, might one day enable Iraq to attack America with biological or chemical weapons. That was the allegation. Tenet had briefed Cheney and others. Cheney, says a senior official, embraced the intelligence.

The White House instructed Powell to include the charge in his presentation. When the Powell team at the CIA examined the matter, however, it became clear that the information was not ironclad. CIA analysts, it turns out, couldn't determine after further review whether the software had, in fact, been delivered to Iraq or whether the Iraqis intended to use it for nefarious purposes. One senior official, briefed on the allegation, says the software wasn't sophisticated enough to pose a threat to the United States. Powell omitted the allegation from his U.N. speech.

It had taken just one day for the team assembled at the CIA to trip over the fault line dividing the Bush administration. For months, the vice president's office and the Pentagon had been more aggressive than either State or the CIA when it came to making the case against Iraq.

Veteran intelligence officers were dismayed. "The policy decisions weren't matching the reports we were reading every day," says an intelligence official. In September 2002, U.S. News has learned, the Defense Intelligence Agency issued a classified assessment of Iraq's chemical weapons. It concluded: "There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons . . . ." At about the same time, Rumsfeld told Congress that Saddam's "regime has amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX, sarin, cyclosarin and mustard gas." Rumsfeld's critics say that the secretary tended to assert things as fact even when intelligence was murky. "What we have here is advocacy, not intelligence work," says Patrick Lang, a former top DIA and CIA analyst on Iraq. "I don't think [administration officials] were lying; I just think they did a poor job. It's not the intelligence community. It's these guys in the Office of the Secretary of Defense who were playing the intelligence community."

Douglas Feith, Rumsfeld's top policy adviser, defended the intelligence analysis used in making the case for war and says it was inevitable that the "least developed" intelligence would be dropped from Powell's speech. "With intelligence, you get a snippet of information here, a glimpse of something there," he said. "It is inherently sketchy in most cases."

In a written statement provided to U.S. News, the CIA's Tenet says: "Our role is to call it like we see it--to tell policymakers what we know, what we don't know, what we think, and what we base it on. . . . The integrity of our process was maintained throughout, and any suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong."

In those first days of February, the disputed material was put under the microscope. The marathon meetings, which included five rehearsals of the Powell presentation, lasted six days. According to a senior official, Powell would read an item. Then he would ask CIA officers there--including Tenet and his deputy, John McLaughlin--for the source of the information. "The secretary of state insisted that every piece of evidence be solid. Some others felt you could put circumstantial evidence in, and what matters is the totality of it," says one participant. "So you had material that ended up on the cutting-room floor."

And plenty was cut. Sometimes it was because information wasn't credible, sometimes because Powell didn't want his speech to get too long, sometimes because Tenet insisted on protecting sources and methods. At the last minute, for instance, the officials agreed to drop an electronic intercept of Iraqis describing the torture of a donkey. On the tape, the men laughed as they described what happened when a drop of a lethal substance touched the animal's skin.

Thin gruel. The back and forth between the team at the CIA and the White House intensified. The script from the White House was whittled down, then discarded. Finally, according to several participants, the National Security Council offered up three more papers: one on Iraq's ties to terrorism, one on weapons of mass destruction, one on human-rights violations. The document on terrorism was 38 pages, double spaced. By the time the team at the CIA was done with it, half a dozen pages remained. Powell was so unimpressed with the information on al Qaeda that he decided to bury it at the end of his speech, according to officials. Even so, NSC officials kept pushing for Powell to include the charge that 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta had met with an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague. He refused.

By Monday night, February 3, the presentation was taking final shape. Powell wanted no doubts that the CIA stood behind the intelligence, so, according to one official, he told Tenet: "George, you're coming with me." On Tuesday, some members of the team decamped to New York, where Powell took a room at the Waldorf-Astoria. Participants ran two full dress rehearsals complete with place cards indicating where other members of the Security Council would be sitting. The next morning, Powell delivered his speech, as scheduled. Tenet was sitting right behind him.

Today, the mystery is what happened to Iraq's terror weapons. "Everyone believed they would find it," says a senior official. "I have never seen intelligence agencies in this government and other governments so united on one subject."

Mirages. Were they right? Powell and Tenet were convinced that chemical agents had been deployed to field units. None have been found. War planners used the intelligence when targeting suspected weapons of mass destruction sites. Yet bomb-damage assessments found that none of the targets contained chemical or biological weapons. "What we don't know at this point," says an Air Force war planner, "is what was bad intelligence, what was bad timing, what was bad luck."

As for the al Qaeda tie, defense officials told U.S. News last week they had learned of a potentially significant link between Saddam's regime and Osama bin Laden's organization. A captured senior member of the Mukhabarat, Iraq's intelligence service, has told interrogators about meetings between Iraqi intelligence officials and top members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a group that merged with al Qaeda in the 1990s. The prisoner also described $300,000 in Iraqi transfers to the organization to pay for attacks in Egypt. The transfers were said to have been authorized by Saddam Hussein. "It's a single-source report," says one defense official. "But is this the first time anyone has told us something like this? Yeah."

Senior administration of-ficials say they remain convinced that weapons of mass destruction will turn up. The CIA and the Pentagon reported last week that two trucks seized in Iraq were apparently used as mobile biological weapons labs, though no biological agents were found. A senior counterterrorism official says the administration also believes that biological and chemical weapons have been hidden in vast underground complexes. "You can find it out in the open, but if you put this stuff underground or underwater," he says, "there is no signature and it doesn't show up." He added that the Pentagon is using small robots, outfitted with sensors and night-vision equipment, to get into and explore "heavily booby-trapped" underground complexes, some larger than football fields. "People are getting discouraged that they haven't found it," he says. "They are looking for a master source, a person who can say where the stuff is located."

Some 300 sites have been inspected so far; there are an additional 600 to go, and the list is growing, as captured Iraqis provide new leads. But what if those leads turn up nothing? "It would be," says a senior administration official, "a colossal intelligence failure."


From WashingtonPost.com:

Iran Denies Secret Nuclear Sites, Al Qaeda Links

Reuters
Wednesday, May 28, 2003; 5:48 AM

By Paul Hughes

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran on Wednesday denied U.S. allegations that it had secret atomic facilities or links with al Qaeda and accused Washington of double standards in the war on terror.

U.S. officials have increased pressure on Tehran in recent days, accusing it of taking insufficient steps to root out members of al Qaeda in Iran who may have played a role in suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia earlier this month.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said a "handful" of suspects were still being questioned and it was not yet clear whether they could include senior members of Osama bin Laden's network who may have known about the Riyadh attacks.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said on Tuesday the arrests had not quelled U.S. concerns that senior al Qaeda members were still in Iran.

Asked about Fleischer's comments, Asefi turned the tables.

"On the contrary, we believe America is not serious about fighting terrorism. It adopts a double standard policy in confronting them which shows its indecision in dealing with terrorists," he told Reuters.

Iran has expressed concerns that the United States has not dealt firmly with its main opposition threat, the Iraq-based People's Mujahideen militia, despite the fact that it is listed as a terrorist organization by the State Department.

Washington, which broke ties with Tehran shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution, has also accused Iran of interfering in neighboring Iraq, whose leader Saddam Hussein was overthrown by U.S.-led forces last month.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in comments published on Tuesday that the United States would not allow Iraq's neighbors "to remake Iraq in Iran's image."

Senior U.S. policymakers are due to hold a meeting on Iran on Thursday with the Pentagon reportedly pushing for a tougher line including actions to destabilize its clerical rulers.

Thirty four people, including eight Americans, died in the Saudi attacks on May 12, blamed by Washington on al Qaeda.

U.S. officials have also said they want the International Atomic Energy Agency to declare Iran in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The IAEA is due to report on the findings of a February visit to Iran on June 16.

An exiled Iranian opposition group on Tuesday said it had learned of two previously undisclosed nuclear sites related to producing enriched uranium which could be used in bombs.

Iran says its nuclear ambitions are limited to generating electricity and that it has told the IAEA about all of its nuclear facilities. "We don't have any site hidden from the IAEA," Khalil Moosavi, spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said by telephone.

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, in a speech to a meeting of foreign ministers from the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said on Wednesday that "media campaigns" were attempting to associate Islam with violence and terrorism.

"Ascribing the fanatic and perverted beliefs of the Taliban and al Qaeda terrorist organization to Islam...is a deceitful tactic and a conspiracy to contain the spread of Islamism and Islamic tendencies in the world," he said. (Additional reporting by Parinoosh Arami)

(c) 2003 Reuters<