Mojo - August 2007

Amidst Devastation, Ex-Peruvian Dictator Might Walk

| Tue Aug. 21, 2007 7:53 PM EDT

So when is the best time for an ex-Peruvian dictator to have an extradition hearing in front of Chile's full Supreme Court? While Peru is recovering from a devastating 8.0 earthquake that has killed more than 500 civilians.

Today, Chile's Supreme Court is convening to decide the fate of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori. He is wanted in Peru for human rights violations he committed while leading a so-called "war on terror" against two insurgencies in Peru between 1990 and 2000. Fujimori's capture and extradition process has been long and twisted. Many Peruvian officials and human rights organizations want his head for the atrocities he oversaw, but many suspect that Peru's current President, Alan Garcia—although you wouldn't know from all his government's posturing over the extradition—would rather Fujimori escape justice and return to Japan, where he lived in exile for nearly five years. To pass his conservative economic legislation, Garcia's dealings with the Fujimoristas in Peru's congress came with an implicit quid pro quo—the Fujimoristas want Fujimori to escape trial.

So while Peruvians are distracted by a natural disaster, Fujimori's final extradition hearing is conveniently taking place months before anyone predicted it would. The Chilean Supreme Court has been dragging its feet for the last year, ratcheting up tensions inside Peru.

Earlier this month, I bet Fujimori would be home for Christmas, but it looks like he could be home well before Thanksgiving.

—Rafael Valero

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Breaking: Report Reveals CIA Failures Before 9/11

| Tue Aug. 21, 2007 7:32 PM EDT

From the Los Angeles Times:

The CIA never developed an overall strategy for confronting Al Qaeda and let precious expertise and resources go unused in the years leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks, according to an internal investigation...

Some key findings:

  • The CIA failed to spend all its funding for counter-terrorism, even while agency officials expressed concern about the growing threat of terrorism and asked for increased funding.
  • The CIA let its battles with other agencies get in the way of its efforts.
  • The report points to overall incompetence rather than any smoking gun.

The CIA has tried to suppress its own report for more than two years.

Read more on the CIA's role in 9/11 here.

RudyCare! Is Useless!

| Tue Aug. 21, 2007 2:59 PM EDT

I overreached in my blog post earlier today when I said that the Republican presidential candidates don't have plans on any of the issues. Rudy Giuliani has a health care plan, it's just counterproductive and dumb.

A Big Thank You

| Tue Aug. 21, 2007 11:38 AM EDT

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who has supported the campaign to open Mother Jones' new Washington, D.C., news bureau and expand our Investigative Team. The campaign is still rolling, and we'll keep you posted as we close in on our goal of raising $60,000.

For those who contributed at a level that qualifies you for our prize drawing, the drawing will be held within the next several days, and we'll notify the winners by email. To everyone who has made a donation, regardless of the dollar amount, we are grateful for your generosity and inspired by your confidence that there's an important place inside the Beltway for this brand of independent, investigative journalism.

I hope you'll check back regularly with motherjones.com and Mother Jones magazine—you'll be able to see your investment at work.

While the deadline for our prize drawing has passed, you can still help our D.C. campaign with a tax-deductible gift to the Mother Jones Investigative Fund. For any gift of $45 or more, you'll receive a one-year subscription to Mother Jones magazine (new or renewal).

Again, thanks for your generous support. We'll make every dollar count.

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Jay Harris
President & Publisher

Fred Thompson in Hot FEC Water

| Tue Aug. 21, 2007 10:27 AM EDT

There are rules that govern how presidential candidates and their campaigns can act. And it turns out, if you try to circumvent those rules by refusing to officially declare your candidacy, but you travel the country campaigning anyway, you are in violation of the law.

That's the hard lesson currently being learned by Fred Thompson, or as you know him, the big, bald guy that is supposedly the next Reagan but is actually just really, really lazy. A liberal blogger has filed a complaint against Thompson with the Federal Elections Commission.

The complaint appears to have real legitimacy, and may result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for Big T. We'll keep you posted.

What's Needed in Coverage of GOP Candidates

| Tue Aug. 21, 2007 10:01 AM EDT

Unlike a lot of people, I don't have a problem with certain kinds of superficial campaign coverage. Take, for example this recent Boston Globe story that analyzed the "Leave it to Beaver" language used by Mitt Romney on the campaign trail.

"Whoop-de-do!" he says of John Edwards's proposal to let Americans save $250 tax-free. "Gosh, I love America," Romney said during one GOP debate. After hitting a long golf drive in one of his campaign videos, he shouts, "Holy moly!"
Romney often sounds as if he has stepped out of a time machine from 1950s suburban America...

Okay, fine. That's not really interesting, but whatever. If a reporter and an editor want to put in the time to dissect this sort of stuff, that's their choice. If you or I, as serious consumers of news, want something more substantive, we can just find it somewhere else. Right?

Wrong! This campaign season, we have not seen the Globe or anyone else publish a dissection of Romney's language one day and a dissection of his Iraq policy the next. No one is paying attention to the complete and utter lack of substantive issue positions from the Republicans. They have no serious ideas on Iraq, on health care, or on climate change — they're running on rhetoric, personality, and resume. The Democrats have all of that, plus incredibly detailed plans for America's most pressing priorities. Until that truth appears in the mainstream media regularly, superficial coverage like the Globe's remains troubling.

One possible exception here, by the way, is the American Prospect, which has written about this once and blogged about it as well. (We've noted it too.)

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Mother Jones Contributing Writer Julia Whitty Speaks in SF Tomorrow

| Mon Aug. 20, 2007 8:07 PM EDT

Bay Area residents: don't miss author, filmmaker, and Mother Jones contributing writer and blogger Julia Whitty ("Gone," May/June 2007). She'll be speaking tomorrow at the California Academy of Sciences about "wonders and warnings from the oceans." Time: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Location: 875 Howard Street, between 4th and 5th Streets. Admission price: $8 for non-members.

Add 'Probable Flooding' to the List of Dangers in Iraq

| Mon Aug. 20, 2007 4:34 PM EDT

Scariest headline of the day comes from Army Times: "Iraqi Dam Expected To Burst, Engulf City, Air Base Any Day."

And they're completely serious. You can read the entire article at the link (it's about Mosul), but here's just one of the many quotes.

Almost every conversation in Mosul — over card games, coffee or even out on patrol — leads to speculation about when the dam will finally go.

Jeepers.

Chamillionaire, Cultural Pundit

| Mon Aug. 20, 2007 2:30 PM EDT

If you're interested in a hip-hop take on faux news, global warming, and America's culture wars, check out Chamillionaire's "Evening News." It's pretty excellent. Chamillionaire, who's always had a lot to say about swearing in rap music (see below), announced earlier this month that he's going cuss-free.

FOX News Fundraises for Giuliani

| Mon Aug. 20, 2007 11:38 AM EDT

Here's your fair and balanced news story of the day. According to the Daily News, Sean Hannity recently introduced Rudy Giuliani at a closed-door, $250-per-head fundraiser in New York City, committing what many at real journalism outfits would call an unpardonable ethical sin. Even for FOX, this blurs the lines between its standard journalism-cum-advocacy and outright advocacy. The defense from FOX's senior vice-president of programming? "Sean is not a journalist — Sean is a conservative commentator." That's true, he's not a journalist. In fact, FOX News talking heads are proudly anti-journalist.

The Hannity-Giuliani nexis should surprise no one. Hannity's crush on Rudy is well-documented.

The Hotline, a political journal, has noted that through July 15, Giuliani had enjoyed 115 minutes of free face time on Fox - more than half of that on "Hannity & Colmes." His airtime on Fox was 25% higher than any other Republican candidate, data show.

Fair. And. Balanced. No doubt about it. If I was Mitt Romney, I'd be pissed.