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A Modest Roundup of (Im)pertinent Media about the Current Administration

"Unhip, Unhip Al Hurra." Say you're occupying a medium-sized country in a turbulent part of the world but you don't like what that region's mass media is saying about you. What to do? Fund your own satellite-TV station! Writing for Slate (Feb. 20), Ed Finn surveys Middle Eastern reaction to the first week of Al Hurra ("the free one"), the U.S. government's latest attempt to use words and pictures to sway the opinions of a public that remains largely unhappy with its actions and policies in Iraq and Israel. (slate.msn.com/id/2095806/)


"Scientists Say Administration Distorts Facts." Misrepresenting scientific consensus on global warming; censoring at least one report on climate change; manipulating findings on power-plant mercury emissions; suppressing information on condom use -- when it comes to distorting scientific facts, the Bush administration collects 'em all. So say more than 60 respected scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, who issued a statement decrying what they see as the White House's subordination of facts to policy goals. James Glanz reports in The New York Times (Feb. 19). (www.nytimes.com/2004/02/19/politics/19RESE.html)


"Contract Sport." Ignore the $150,000 in annual deferred compensation; forget about the stock options worth in excess of $18 million. Because maybe you don't care, after all, what oil-and-gas behemoth Halliburton is doing for its former CEO, Vice President Dick Cheney. But what's Cheney doing for the company that's become, largely without the hassle of competitive bidding, the government's largest contractor in occupied Iraq? The New Yorker's Jane Mayer (Feb. 16 & 23) traces Cheney's extensive and lucrative ties to Halliburton and his (it's not too much to say historic) role in handing huge chunks of the American defense complex over to private industries like the one he once ran. (www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?040216fa_fact)


"CIA Struggles to Spy in Iraq, Afghanistan." If American counterterrorism and rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq don't seem to be proceeding quite according to plan, here's one explanation: The CIA station in Iraq, that agency's largest post ever, has had three top officers in less than a year, report Los Angeles Times staffers Greg Miller and Bob Drogin (Feb. 20). What's more, speakers of Arabic and other qualified personnel are in such short supply that the CIA must increasingly rely on green recruits, called-back retirees, translators and even soldiers in an effort to get its difficult job done. (www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-cia20feb20,1,4570519.story?coll=la-home-headlines)