Two Manifestos

Sorry to bring you this article by Roger Cohen five days after it appeared in The International Herald Tribune, of which he is editor. Before moving to Paris, Cohen was foreign editor of The New York Times. And, although we don't now see his wisdom and skills in the Times regularly, people around the world read it in the Trib. This article is about "A manifesto from the left too sensible to ignore." It is called the Euston Manifesto, written by Brits and put out last March. It has been simmering in Britain ever since.



Sorry to be a downer, but this NPR report on Jose Padilla is easily one of the more disturbing things I've read all day. Padilla, as we've learned, has basically gone insane during his time in U.S. military custody, after four years of stress positions and "total sensory deprivation." But here's the government's defense: The government maintains that whatever happened to Padilla during his detention is irrelevant, since no information obtained during that time is being used in the criminal case against him. Er... so there was real no point in holding him indefinitely, without charges?


I didn't think even hard-core conservatives were still clinging to this line about Iraq, but here was Sean Hannity on Fox last night. Hannity refers to guest Brent Bozell but is primarily berating his "left-wing" guest, Mark Levine, a war critic: The guys that are on the ground, the guys that are fighting, the guys that are risking their lives, overwhelmingly say--and, Brent [Bozell], you chronicle this as well or better than anybody--that the media is not telling the true story. Look, we've had elections, three of them. People risked their lives to vote....


by Michael Kazin Gerald Ford would indeed have been generous and statesmanlike if he'd pardoned those who broke the draft laws at the same time as he pardoned Nixon. But he also would have split his party and perhaps lost his chance to win the 1976 nomination--particularly against Reagan, whose political base despised the anti-war movement. At any rate, I still think the Nixon pardon was a mistake. Granted, presidents should not undergo prosecution while they're still in office. But why should they be immune once they leave it?


According to ABC News, British officials are convinced London will suffer a terrorist attack over the holidays. ("It will be a miracle" if there is no attack, an American official tells Brian Ross.) But no one else is running with the story, not even the anything-goes UK Sun. What gives? Here's hoping Ross has bad sources--but he often doesn't. --Michael Crowley

Maybe you didn't notice it on the weekend. But I posted a small item, "Ahmadinejad and Genocide", on The Spine. It was about a Friday morning meeting in New York at which I spoke that was also addressed by Alan Dershowitz, the former Canadian minister of justice Irwin Cotler, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, Congressman Charlie Rangel and Professor Ruth Wedgewood, a very learned legal scholar at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.


There's a new Republican name circulating in the White House 2008 conversation: former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating. I see National Review's hotwired Jonathan Martin is taking it seriously. And Keating, a devout anti-abortion Catholic, does offer some attractive post-9/11 credentials: He's a former F.B.I. agent, for instance, and, in a sort of mini-Giuliani fashion, presided during the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Keating is so impressive to fellow Republicans, in fact, that he was almost George W. Bush's running mate and, later, Bush's first attorney general. Almost. --Michael Crowley

Just Don't Blog About It

There's plenty that's appalling in today's front-page New York Times story, about a U.S. military vet working as a whistleblower for the FBI who got picked up mistakenly, tossed in a cell and blasted with fluorescent lights and heavy-metal music, and detained for three months on "secret" charges without being allowed an attorney. But even given the context, I thought this passage at the end stuck out: On his way out, Mr. Vance said: "They asked me if I was intending to write a book, would I talk to the press, would I be thinking of getting an attorney.


With John McCain now on the verge of taking ownership of the president's Iraq policy, however unintentionally, it will be interesting to see whether the rest of the GOP field can exploit his position on the issue. So far, I've only noticed an adjustment from Sam Brownback, the '08 contender who is perhaps closest to my heart. In recent interviews, Brownback has suggested that the current level of U.S. involvement can't be sustained, and that partition might be the way forward.


On Language

I thought this NYT article about Fadwa Hamdan--a Muslim woman originally from Jordan who, at the age of 39, enlisted in the U.S. Army to become an Arabic translator--was fascinating, as it showed how the military gave Hamdan the self-confidence to overcome some of the handicaps she experienced as a woman due to her faith and her family. But the end of the piece is pretty unexpected--and disturbing.