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Under-Secretary of State John

Under-Secretary of State John R. Bolton recently accused Cuba of developing and proliferating Weapons of Mass Destruction, specifically offensive biological weapons. Today Secretary of State Colin Powell most tepidly endorsed Bolton's claim by telling Russian TV that "we know that Cuba has been doing some research with respect to biological offensive weapons possibly, and so we think that it is appropriate for us to point out this kind of activity."

'possibly' ... 'with respect to'... you get the picture.

There is a slender hint of credibility to this charge since Cuba is known to have a pretty advanced biotech industry and that includes the equipment and know-how you'd want for creating bioweapons. But I'm going on the assumption that the claim is essentially bogus, and Powell's statement today, to my ears, tends to confirm this. This statement doesn't sound like it's about WMD. It sounds like it's about pandering to anti-Castro nut-cases. (Sorry for the blunt language, but ...)

Anyway, there's a price to pay for this kind of foolishness. The United States is trying to make the case that the Iraqi government really is developing WMD and really is a seriously threat to global security and really should be overthrown. I am rather in spite of myself coming to the conclusion that they're right. But if Saddam really is dangerous then there's a very high priority in marshaling and protecting our credibility and believability in making our case against him. Playing games and saying the Fidel Castro is another Saddam isn't tough, it's stupid. And it endangers the United States. Because it weakens us in our ability to make the case against actual bad actors.

New Bradley-Reich quasi-lib axis

New Bradley-Reich quasi-lib axis revealed!

From: "Bradley-Reich Reception"
To: postmaster@RobertReich.org
Subject: May 14th Bill Bradley Event
Date: Thu, 9 May 2002 17:48:06 -0700

Bill Bradley invites you to help Robert Reich get Massachusetts moving again...

At the Museum of Transportation.

Please join former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley in supporting ROBERT REICH FOR GOVERNOR

When: Tuesday, May 14th
Sponsor Reception: 6:30pm to 7:30pm ($500, $250)
Main Reception: 7:30pm to 9:00pm ($50)

Where: The Museum of Transportation
Larz Anderson Park, 15 Newton Street, Brookline, MA

For more information, download an invitation at http://RobertReich.org/ 2002/Bradley.pdf

To RSVP, email Receptions@RobertReich.org or call (617) 461-5048.

Hope to see you there!

Directions and updates at http:// Robert Reich.org /2002 /events_bradley .shtm

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I sometimes wonder whether

I sometimes wonder whether there is a higher rate of literary production on weblogs or in newspapers and magazines writing about weblogs. Certainly it's a close call. No sooner had I heard the news that Mickey Kaus was taking the final leap and making Kausfiles a part of Slate than I got a call from a reporter at one of the New York dailies (using a very broad definition) asking me to comment on it.

I did what I could to come up with something interesting to say. But it wasn't easy. The first thought that came to my mind frankly was, "Jacob, what am I? Chopped liver?" But I'll take that up with him personally.

What I told the guy was that I thought what was valuable about weblogs (a term I hate, to be honest with you) wasn't so much their editorial or business independence as the fact that they are a new and I think worthwhile form of writing, one not tethered to the conventions and constraints of ledes, nut-grafs, beginnings and endings or even quality.

That being as it may, with the news of Mickey's move it's probably time for me to discuss my own recent negotiations in the same direction. For the last month or so Steve Case and I have been been discussing merging Talking Points Memo with AOL. As I noted above, I'm not averse on principle to bringing TPM under the wing of a major media conglomerate. But frankly after we looked at AOL's financials it just wasn't a pretty picture and we had to break off the negotiations. I mean, look what happened to Time Warner. "You've Got Stock Valuation!" Or, then again, maybe you don't.

Anyway I don't want to beat up on those guys. We just weren't ready to tie our fate to such a creaky ship. So for now it's just pure TPM, no TPM (a subsidiary of AOL-TimeWarner).

Depends what the meaning

Depends what the meaning of 'is' is ...

Dude: Bill Clinton, Former President of the United States

Questionable Assertion: Said he'd never really been 'alone' with ex-paramour Monica Lewinsky.

Told to: Jones Legal Team; Judge Susan Weber Wright

Dude: Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the House of Representatives

Questionable Assertion: Said he'd never really been 'married' to ex-wife Marianne Gingrich.

Told to: Roman Catholic Church; God

You may note from

You may note from the datestamp on this post that I am still burning the midnight oil, rather feverishly I might add, on my article on the Iraq debate in Washington, DC.

I couldn't help pointing your attention, however, to Bill Safire's OpEd in today's Times. The subject of the piece is the alleged meeting between Mohamed Atta and a key Iraqi intelligence operative in Prague last year.

As Safire notes, "If the report proves accurate, a connection would exist between Al Qaeda's murder of 3,000 Americans and Iraq's Saddam. That would clearly be a casus belli, calling for our immediate military response, separate from the need to stop a demonstrated mass killer from acquiring nuclear and germ weapons."

Safire goes on to describe how a "protect-Saddam cabal" at the Justice Department and the CIA is scheming to cover this up.

Let me give you a peek at a section of one of the interviews I conducted for my article.

Danielle Pletka was until recently a key staffer to Senator Jesse Helms. She was the Senator's point-person on Iraq. Recently she moved to the American Enterprise Institute. Pletka is feisty, sharp, and very candid. Some of those she's gone up against have an even more expansive package of adjectives. But I enjoyed my conversation with her, so we don't need to go into that.

Pletka thinks there are more than enough reasons to go after Saddam right now. But a hand in September 11th isn't one of them.

When I spoke to her late last month she told me: "Nobody credible makes the case that there's some connection between Saddam Hussein and what happened September 11th." As she puts it, with admirable directness: "The case [against Saddam] has been the same since 1991, hell, since 1988 and that is that Saddam Hussein is a lunatic and he is seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction."

One thing I've learned in reporting on Iraq is how much our policy has been distorted and mangled and generally made a shambles of by mouthy pundits who don't have a clear idea what they're talking about. Safire's piece today looks like a case in point.

I dont want to

I don't want to make too big a deal about this. But I have to agree with Mickey Kaus that Tony Blair's statement on the assassination of Dutch rightist politician Pim Fortuyn was more than a little inadequate. "No matter what feelings political figures arouse, the ballot box is the place to express them," said the Brit PM. This caught my eye here even before I saw that Mickey had pointed it out. It does almost read like, "Well, you can understand the sentiment but this is hardly an appropriate response." Perhaps, as they say in the House, Blair needs to revise and extend his remarks.

I hear that the

I hear that the internal Pentagon investigation into Tom White's alleged lobbying of Congress against Don Rumsfeld's decision to kill the Crusader artillery system has been completed. And Tom White dodged the bullet. They fingered some lower levels guy instead. So Rumsfeld apparently lets White stay on.

The one person who ends up looking a bit off base here is Torie Clarke, who may have gotten out a little ahead of her brief on this one. She told the Times that "without prejudging [the Army's inquiry] "if people try to blame some midlevel staffers, it would be inappropriate and wrong."

"What the hell is she saying?" a Pentagon source told TPM today. "She's saying I don't want to prejudge the report but regardless of what it says you're not going to get away with blaming mid-level people. Well, you know today Rumsfeld said based on Tom White's assurance it looks like midlevel people did it. So we think that Torie Clarke is a loose canon, no pun intended."

On an unrelated note, could Led Zeppelin IV be any more of a kick-$&% album? Yes, yes, yes, I picked up my copy when I was like nineteen but I hadn't listened to it in a while. Metal-infused blues before it got lame? And precious, folky guitar ballads before they got too precious and folky? God, it rocks.

Maybe I've been working on this Iraq article for too long.

Okay, back to insider Washington punditry.

I think of all

I think of all the paragraphs appearing in any newspaper anywhere this week, this one from a NYT article on "The Osbournes" has to be the most pitiful and hilarious:

The success of "The Osbournes" has been noted across the television industry with numerous television program executives saying they have been approached by other celebrity and show business figures about creating similar reality shows about their lives. The executives have so far kept those names private, and the only similar shows so far close to being scheduled are both on MTV.

Oh the possibilities.

Was Dick Cheney set

Was Dick Cheney set up? You'll remember that a little while back Vice-President Cheney went to the Middle East to get the region's leaders lined up behind an attack on Iraq. Well, this evening I was talking to a very knowledgeable insider on Middle Eastern affairs, and he said that the State Department had sent out word to folks in the region to give Cheney an earful. Among other things, said my source: "[Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs] Bill Burns met with a prominent Arab ambassador here and he told him, 'Don't tell me your views on Iraq. When he goes there you guys tell him.' So this is the vice president going to the region to hear Arab views and he came back and reported to the president 'The Arabs are not on our side.' They set him up. They set him up."