Morning Report 11/11/05
Blondes Have More Funds

But only because one of them is the vise president's daughter, and the other is Wolfie's gal pal

liz-cheney,-shaha-riza-50mi.jpg

Harkavy

It should be clear by now that even the fight game is clean compared with the White House's game.

While Vise President Dick Cheney's lightweight title-holder, George W. Bush, shadow-boxed with celebs at the Medal of Freedom ceremonies Wednesday, Cheney's secretary, Condi Rice, was working on other feints.

As the New York Times more or less reports this morning, the Bush regime is pumping $50 million into an agitprop scheme run by Cheney's non-gay daughter, who works in the State Department. Once again, the Times is being duped and is duping its readers. For one thing, Steven R. Weisman's story says this with a straight face:

    "In many ways we're seeing that veil of fear is lifting," said Elizabeth Cheney, the State Department's official in charge of promoting democracy in the Middle East and the vice president's daughter. "We're seeing something very real happening across the region in terms of progress toward opening up societies, opening up political systems and economic systems."

What the paper doesn't say is that this is the project that World Bank chieftain Paul Wolfowitz sent his girlfriend, Shaha Ali Riza, over to the State Department to work on. I broke the news on September 22 of that creepy pairing of Cheney's daughter and Wolfie's gal pal. The least the Times could have done was mention that Riza is involved.

Insiders at the World Bank now tell me that Riza, a World Bank employee, is not only still getting paid by the bank but that she got a "non-competitive promotion" the day she left the bank in mid-September on "external assignment" to State.

And now she gets to play around with $50 million on some half-assed scheme to slop some cheery pastels on our tortured Middle East policies.

At least the Times's Weisman pointed this out about the Cheney cabal's scheme, which is called the Foundation for the Future:

    Other officials, speaking anonymously to avoid being seen as undermining the effort to promote democracy, say the record has been disappointing, particularly in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, two of the United States' most important Middle East allies. What can often sound like preaching from American officials has not helped the cause, they say.

You can tell the Times's editors are particularly gun-shy these days, what with Judy Miller having just gotten the bum's rush — the paper says she "resigned." I mean, the story's explanation for why Weisman used anonymous sources is hilariously stilted: so his sources could "avoid being seen as undermining the effort to promote democracy."

In the first place, it's highly debatable whether this public-relations scheme run by Cheney's daughter and Wolfowitz's girlfriend is really an "effort to promote democracy." In the second place, the Times's headline is ludicrous:

    U.S. Starts Semi-Independent Forum for Mideast Democracy

A "semi-independent forum" for "democracy"? That makes a lot of sense.

It's bad enough that Liz Cheney's pop wants to torture people. But now a formerly great newspaper is torturing syntax? That's going too far.

As for Wolfowitz himself, he's bound to be ensnared in the Plamegate probe. As I pointed out yesterday, his gunsel Doug Feith provided specious "intelligence" back in November 2003 to help the vise president bolster the Bush regime's claim that the unjustified invasion of Iraq was justified.

To keep an eye on Wolfie, check out Wolfowitz Watch, from the estimable watchdog with the bland name, the Bank Information Center.

And for humor, keep an eye on our secretary of the state, Condi Rice. Defending U.S. treatment of "detainees," Rice told a group of American Bar Association international-law types on November 9:

    For the United States, an essential element of the rule of law has always been and still remains law among nations. We have always respected our international legal obligations and we have led the world in developing new international law.

Please. We're not that punch-drunk.

But we're not staggering as much as the Iraqis. Thursday morning's suicide bombing in Baghdead was bad enough, killing more than a score — but who's counting? — and the future is even more bleak after the deadly bombing on Wednesday in Jordan.

Another vote in Iraq is coming up soon — national elections are scheduled for December 15 — and keep in mind, as I noted on the last Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, that Jordan was the safest spot for international observers for the previous Iraqi elections. Jordan is also where Iraqi troops are trained and where much of the business of Iraq is being conducted, because Iraq itself is too unsafe.

Jordan is no paradise. In fact, with the violence now spreading in earnest across its turbulent border with Iraq, Jordan is hardly likely to be peaceful. As if it ever was. The Hashemite Kingdom is No. 2 in the world in the per-capita export of conventional arms, right behind Sweden. (Don't worry. We're still No. 1 in overall dollars made from selling weapons.)

More danger in the Jordan situation: We're not exactly greeted with flowers there either. A majority of Jordanians resent our occupation of Iraq. Even our friggin' admirals have admitted that grim fact to Congress. And that was months ago.

A dark landscape. Good thing we have Cheney's daughter and Wolfie's girlfriend spending $50 million on whitewash.


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