Now They Tell Us: NYT Confirms Iraq-Al Qaeda Ties - June 25, 2004 -

Times Watch for June 25, 2004

Now They Tell Us: NYT Confirms Iraq-Al Qaeda Ties

Friday's front-page has a scoop by Thom Shanker supporting the Bush administration's contention that there were in fact ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq (no matter what previous Times headlines have implied).

In "Iraqis, Seeking Foes of Saudis, Contacted bin Laden, File Says," Shanker notes: "Contacts between Iraqi intelligence agents and Osama bin Laden when he was in Sudan in the mid-1990's were part of a broad effort by Baghdad to work with organizations opposing the Saudi ruling family, according to a newly disclosed document obtained by the Americans in Iraq." Then, according to the document, "Iraq agreed to rebroadcast anti-Saudi propaganda."

So much for liberal assurances that the fanatical bin Laden was too offended by Saddam Hussein's secular regime to cooperate with him.

But Mickey Kaus at Slate also wonders what the Times knew and when it knew it: "If the New York Times 'was provided"several weeks ago' with that interesting document describing Saddam's Iraq seeking contact with bin Laden-and Iraq subsequently agreeing with Al Qaeda to rebroadcast anti-Saudi propaganda-shouldn't the paper have a) told us about it last week when it was hyping the 9-11 Commission as having reported 'No Qaeda-Iraq Tie;' and b) somehow gotten the word to Gail Collins' editorialists before they wrote their self-righteous bit proclaiming "there was never any evidence of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda'?"

For the rest of Shanker on Iraq-Al Qaeda ties, click here.

" Al Qaeda | Saddam Hussein | Iraq War | Thom Shanker | Terrorism

Kerry Centering Himself?

Robin Toner's slightly stale analysis of John Kerry's positioning for the general election, "Kerry Message Begins Leaning Toward Center," makes the front page, though there's not much news (or new) inside.

She insists: "His message, in part, is a return to the promise of Clintonian centrism: reducing the deficit, spurring economic growth, trying to ease 'the squeeze on middle-class America,' as Mr. Kerry puts it, from things like the cost of health insurance and college tuition....Just as he invokes Mr. Clinton on the economy, Mr. Kerry summons the legacy of John F. Kennedy, Harry S. Truman and Franklin D. Roosevelt when it comes to the United States' role in the world-a kind of muscular internationalism. He pledges an end to a 'go it alone' foreign policy. He is regularly cheered when he talks about a return to the days of alliance building, arguing that alliances make the United States stronger, not weaker."

Kerry of course, wants to be seen as reasonable and centrist (what pol doesn't?), and the Toner article might help in that regard. But she doesn't actually provide much in the way of evidence of a rightward tack on Kerry's part, besides quoting his past approval of welfare reform and touting his "new idea" on health care: "Unlike the ill-fated Clinton plan, the Kerry proposal would not try to reinvent the health care system, but would have the government pick up the cost of the most expensive, catastrophic cases, which he argues would lower the cost of premiums with minimal government involvement."

Kerry's recent push for a minimum wage increase, a musty liberal idea if there ever was one, isn't mentioned.

In another centering move (in Toner's view), Kerry has begun using scripture to criticize Republican heartlessness: "Like any nominee moving toward a general election, Mr. Kerry is increasingly reaching out to voters in the middle. He also increasingly talks about values. Attacking Mr. Bush's budget, Mr. Kerry said last week: 'Scripture tells you where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Let me tell you where my heart is. My heart is with the working families, who built this country.'"

But citing the Bible isn't by definition a rightward shift, as anyone who recalls Jesse Jackson comparing George Bush to Pontius Pilate can attest.

(Incidentally, could a conservative politician get away with invoking Scripture to criticize his liberal opponent without being derided as intolerant?)

For the rest of Toner on Kerry's "shift" to the center, click here.

" George W. Bush | Campaign 2004 | Sen. John Kerry | Labeling Bias | Religion | Robin Toner

"Insufferable Intruders" in the Gaza Strip

Friday's story from the Gaza Strip by new-on-the-beat Joseph Berger, on Jewish settlers being coaxed out of their settlements by Sharon's government, emphasizes the anger of Palestinians: "From the perspective of the 1.3 million Palestinians among whom they live in heavily armed settlements, controlling about 20 percent of the land and forcing numerous stops at military checkpoints, the settlers are insufferable intruders. The Palestinians, too, consider the land of Gaza sacred and theirs alone."

Later Berger reiterates the point: "For Gaza's Palestinians, the Jewish settlers represent a source of humiliation. Mr. Bakshi said [Jewish settlement] Neve Dekalim had been hit by mortar fire 2,000 times. [On Monday a Thai worker at a greenhouse in nearby Kfar Darom was killed by mortar fire.]"

Berger surely isn't suggesting such a terrorist act is some kind of reasonable response to "humiliation"?

For the rest of Berger from the Gaza Strip, click here.

" Joseph Berger | Israel | Palestinians | Settlers