Prison Terms

What is going on at Guantanamo Bay? While the Bush administration has made a few missteps in its war on terrorism, its decision to send some captured Taliban and Al Qaeda members to the U.S. naval base in Cuba--and its refusal to grant them prisoner-of-war (POW) status--has become a public relations fiasco. "The U.S. is placing these people in legal limbo," complains Amnesty International. "They deny they are prisoners of war, while at the same time failing to provide them with the most basic protections of any person deprived of their liberty." Even the British are upset.

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Correspondence

UNITED FRONT TO THE EDITORS: In his January 28 article, "After the Fall" THE NEW REPUBLIC'S Lawrence F. Kaplan impugns virtually every Washington official save the president for not agreeing that we must quickly remove Saddam Hussein. Leave aside the obvious point that most Americans agree we must not get distracted from the unfinished business of bringing to justice Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar and destroying Al Qaeda and the Taliban. But Kaplan also elects to ignore the unmistakable fact that there already exists broad and deep consensus that Saddam must go.

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Good Fences

The bearded Hezbollah man, arms folded and half-smiling, stood alone at the border fence on his daily vigil, just across from the Israeli army outpost called Tziporen. Beside him was a large metal sign imprinted with photographs of dead Israeli and South Lebanese Army soldiers--including a severed head--and the taunt in Hebrew, "Sharon, don't forget your soldiers are still in Lebanon," a reference to three Israeli soldiers kidnapped in the fall of 2000, whom the army believes didn't survive. I moved toward the fence to get a closer view but was stopped by an Israeli officer.

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Bone to Pick

George W. Bush and Ted Kennedy were aboard Air Force One last month, flying back to Washington from Boston--where they had just celebrated the signing of Bush's education bill--when the president gave the Massachusetts senator a dog bone. It wasn't just any canine biscuit. On it the president had scrawled a message to Kennedy's black Portuguese water dog, the senatorial pooch who was a constant presence during the yearlong education-bill negotiations: "To Splash, Great job on education.

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Under-Cut

Representative Sam Graves surely considers himself important to the Bush administration. A Republican freshman from the Kansas City, Missouri, area, Graves has been a good conservative soldier during his first year in the House. And, given that he was elected with just 51 percent of the vote and is considered highly vulnerable this fall, the White House should want to help him. So Graves was presumably nonplussed when the administration singled out one of his few legislative accomplishments for ridicule earlier this month.

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Down Home

America's success has long depended on the success of immigrant families. Just this month the Census Bureau reported that one in five Americans were either born in a foreign country or have a parent who was. And some of these immigrant families are soaring as never before: Urban school honor rolls swell with immigrant children; immigrant adults wield unprecedented power in universities, government, and business; immigrants own 40 percent of technology companies in Silicon Valley. That's the bright side of the story.

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Sorority Row

Tuscaloosa, Alabama On the first day of sorority rush last September, Melody Twilley woke up and could not find her lavender nail polish. This constituted a bit of an emergency. The night before, Twilley, an 18-year-old student at the University of Alabama, had borrowed a blue and purple slip dress with spaghetti straps from one of her roommates; the lavender nail polish, in her opinion, was essential to completing the outfit. She tore her room apart, emptying drawers and scattering papers, and after half an hour found the polish.

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Recount

It's hard to think of a fiscal argument that's been refuted as quickly and spectacularly as the one President Bush made on behalf of his tax cut last year. (Sure, in 1993 just about every Republican economist and politician argued that President Clinton's tax hike would destroy the economy, but that prediction took several years to be disproved, by which time almost everybody had forgotten about it.) Just six months ago Bush insisted we could pass a huge tax cut, save the entire Social Security surplus, increase military spending, and fund new domestic programs--and still leave aside plenty of

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Modest Proposal

The Supreme Court has not yet indicated how it will respond to September 11, but the judicial philosophy that the conservative majority had embraced before the Twin Towers fell seems hard to sustain in a new and anxious age. The conservatives had planted their flag on principles of federalism and states' rights; today both parties appreciate the need for a national response to international terror. The conservatives had displayed contempt for Congress as a policy-making body; today Congress enjoys renewed public respect.

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It's Christmas, festive season of goodwill, time of sparkling delight for the little ones, and... argggghhhhhhh, how many hundred chores left? For parents of young kids, the run-up to Christmas is the most exhausting period of the year. A dozen large boxes of decorations and lights to string. Two trees in our household, plus miniatures for each kid's room. The Tyranny of the Presents: dozens of relatives are present-qualified in our extended family group, and each of the five of us gives an average of 2.5 gifts to each, meaning uncountable gifts to buy or make.

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