Wednesday, February 3, 2010

CBS Evening News

Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports, denied reports Wednesday that “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric is facing a salary cut when her contract expires.
“I have not had any thought to change Katie’s role, Katie’s salary, anything to do with it,” McManus told POLITICO by phone from Miami, where he’s gearing up for Sunday’s Super Bowl on CBS.
McManus said that Couric “has well over a year to go” on her contract — reportedly worth $15 million a year — and that “it has not even been a subject of discussion.”
The network, he said, is “focused on putting on the best newscast.”
Since Couric took over the anchor desk, her newscast has won several prestigious journalism prizes, including the Edward R. Murrow Award and duPont award from Columbia University's Journalism School.

That's from Michael Calderone at Politico. I think Couric does a fine job today but I also think all the experimenting was never understood.

The show started out with a bad reputation and people have never acknowledged that. They want to play "Cronkie!" There are people who never saw him as the anchor -- many who weren't even born when he anchored. And he was part of a reputation that Dan Rather furthered.

No, not the reputation for 'great news.' They were part of the reputation that CBS news is soft on Democrats and tough on Republicans.

Dan Rather saw George H.W. Bush score points on him in a live interview and he wouldn't have been able to do that (I believe we're in 1988) if the reputation wasn't already out there.

And of course Freaky Dan ended it with that report on Bully Boy Bush's lack of service in the military.

And I'm not going to defend that report because I feel like I've defended it, I feel like Mary Mapes (the producer) has defended it. I feel like a huge number of us on the left have defended that 2004 report . . . and that everyone has . . . except Dan Rather.

Who can't attack now because he always has pending legislation. And couldn't attack then because he was news anchor and thought (stupidly) that CBS would let him keep his job.

Why do we have to repeatedly defend the report Dan Rather presented when Rather won't do it himself?

Regardless, that further fueled the right's suspicion.

Into all of that, Katie Couric comes.

That's why they monkeyed with the formula at the start: They were trying to send a message that it was a new show.

And that's why they had Rush Limbaugh on. They had others on as well and were trying to promote a free speech zone (or as much as commercial TV will ever allow) and that didn't work because everyone glommed on Limbaugh's one commentary -- they acted as though he was on every episode when he only gave commentary once.

All of that was trying to say, "This isn't the same show." And the show was in the toilet before Katie came on board.

There was the dogpile on Katie Couric that never ended and it started before she was the anchor. A lot of people forget that but she was ripped apart long before she ever sat down as anchor.

If your memory has failed you, you can read Ava and C.I.'s "TV: Katie Was a Cheerleader" which they wrote before Couric had ever done her first CBS Evening News. They wrote that because the attacks were already so bad. You really need to read that if you don't remember those attacks because it was pretty embarrassing. In fact, you could argue the left's attacks on Katie Couric were a dry run for the attacks on Hillary Clinton two years later.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snaphsot:"

Wednesday, February 3, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq is slammed with another deadly blast, the Iraq Inquiry may be hitting the road (that is not a joke), sexual assaults get some attention from the US Congress, election news out of Iraq, and more.

Iraq has been slammed with another bombing resulting in mass fatalities today.
Yousif Bassil and CNN report a Karbala motorcycle bombing has claimed 20 lives and left at least one-hundred-and-seventeen people wounded. Tom Bonnet (Sky News) notes that, "Women and children were among the dead after the explosives-packed vehicle blasted through the crowd on the outskirts of Kerbala, 68 miles south of Baghdad." Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) cites Iraq's al-Iraqiya TV's report that the bombing took place "near the Institute of Art" and says the death toll and wounded numbers are coming from the Ministry of the Interior. Al Jazeera says the motorcycle bombing was actually a suicide bomber on a motorcycle and quotes Saad al-Muttalibi ("an adviser to the Iraqi council of ministers") stating, "The security forces need to be more proactive and more aggressive in fighting these Wahhabi groups. The prime minister [Nouri al-Maliki] hands are completely tied, putting him in a very weak position to question his ministers and hold them accountable for their misconduct." Leila Fadel and Qais Mizher (Washington Post) report, "At 11 a.m. Wednesday, a parked motorcycle loaded with explosives detonated, ripping through a crowd of walking pilgrims on the city's northeast perimeter, a source from the Ministry of the Interior in Baghdad said. [. . .] The scene of the carnage, near the Technical Institute, remained blocked off Wednesday afternoon. Vehicles were stopped on the outskirts of the city and pilgrims walked the rest of the way." Citing police sources, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the death toll is 21 and the number wounded 128. Issa notes that some say it was a parked car, Muhanad Mohammed, Sami al-Jumaili, Ahmed Rasheed, Aseel Kami, Jack Kimball and Michael Christie (Reuters) note that others say the bomb was in a cart the motorcycle pulled.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left three people wounded, a second Baghdad roadside bombing resulted in three people being injured, a Twereej bicycle bombing left twenty-two people injured and, dropping back to Tuesday for all that follows, a Hamdaniyah roadside bombing left four people injured and a Mosul bombing (homemade grenade) wounded one police officer and one bystander. Reuters notes a Tuesday night Kerbala sticky bombing ("attached to a military vehicle") which claimed 3 lives and left twenty-one people injured.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul home invasion in which 1 person was killed. Reuters notes 1 police officer shot dead in Kirkuk.

Al Jazeera's Riz Khan yesterday, the issue of the elections were addressed with Riz Khan asking, "How free and fair is an election when a government bans certain people from running? Iraq goes to the polls on March the 7th but has barred more than 500 candidates which could ultimately plunge the country into chaos, even civil war." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reports today that the government has managed to avert "a political crisis of its own making" as a result of the ban being overturned today "by a panel of seven judges". The Economist calls it "Best news in weeks." Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) explains, "The decision now opens the way for full-fledged campaigning to begin, as scheduled, on February 7. It wasn't immediately clear how many of the banned candidates would accept the compromise decision, or how the decision might affect the election outcome itself." Scott Peterson (Christian Science Monitor) adds, "But if the ruling stands, there's a catch: those blacklisted will still be subject to investigation after the vote for past ties to the regime of Saddam Hussein." And what would happen then? Caroline Alexander and Kadhim Ajrash (Bloomberg News) observe, "Election Commission official Hamdia al-Husseini told Agence France-Presse that those later found to have links to the Baath Party would be 'eliminated.'" Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports, "The ruling enraged the architect of the blacklist, Ali Faisal al-Lami, who is a close aide of the head of the former ­de-Ba'athification Commission, Ahmed Chalabi. That commission, which was a signature body of the post-Saddam Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), evolved into a contentious group known as the Accountability and Justice Commission." And to clear up a nasty rumor, there is no known sex tape of Ahmed Chalabi and his boy pal Ali al-Lami being distributed in Basra. Absolutely not. Nasty, hurtful rumors. Unless a tape should surface. Ammar Karim (AFP) notes, "Chalabi, who has close ties to Iran, was appointed deputy prime minister after the invasion but intelligence he provided in support of those claims in the run-up to war later turned out to be flawed and he subsequently fell out of favour with Washington." The decision is still being studied and Al Jazeera notes Saleh al-Mutlaq, of the sectarian National Dialogue Party and who was one of the banned, "declined to give an immediate comment." al-Mutlaq did have a comment on Chalabi when he appeared yesterday on Al Jazeera.

Riz Khan: Let me ask you then how you regard the role of Ahmed Chalabi who's the head of the de-Ba'athification commission? I mean, he's, uh, is he conducting a witch hunt? Is he trying to basically exclude those he doesn't like, his political enemies? Is he arbitarily picking those he doesn't want taking part in the election here?

Saleh al-Mutlaq: Ahmed Chalabi deceived the whole world and deceived the United States and convinced them some, some years ago that there was mass destruction equipment in Iraq. And he led, I mean he convinced the United States to go -- to invade Iraq. And now he's also leading a project to destroy Iraq again -- to destroy Iraq by letting people lose hope in this political process and go to the violence again. To bring us back to the first square. So Ahmed Chalabi is a very dangerous person. Ahmed Chalabi is wanted by the Jordanian government and if the United States is serious enough, they should remove the cover from him and then he will be taken by -- he will, he will be in jail for the rest of his life because he's been wanted by the law. But unfortunately he's being protected in this country. Ahmed Chalabi is not doing his own agenda but an outside agenda which he is the agent to do it in Iraq and nobody is stopping him from this-this decision.

The de-Ba'athification policy was implemented by Paul Bremer and he states (no reason to doubt him -- despite Colin Powell's whispers to the press) that he did so at the direction of the White House. Paul Bremer is mentiioned in the
Iraq Inquiry more than any other American (that includes Bush, Tommy Franks, Condi Rice, Blot Powell and all the rest). After the start of the illegal war, in May of 2003, Tony Blair named Ann Clwyd to be England's special envoy on human rights to Iraq. We'll jump in at this section of her testimony today where she is speaking about the job and what she brought to the job.

But obviously I saw it -- because of my contact with Iraqis over the years, you know, I now knew people that were in government in Iraq, like the President Jalal Talabani, like Latif Rashid, the Water Resources Minister, Hoshyar Zerbari, the Foreign Minister, and many, many others who had been members of CARDRI and who had support INDICT, Hamid Al-Bayati and others. So I felt that I did have a particular friendship with those Iraqis and that, if I could help in improving the culture of the perception of human rights in Iraq, that really that should be one of the main issues, because obviously, you know, a country that has been absued for 35 years, human rights is not a phrase that trips lightly over the lips. So I felt -- and I still feel actually -- it takes a long time to change those perceptions -- it can't be done in a short time -- and so I started -- I also -- originally, detention issues was not in my terms of reference, but I did argue that they should be, because, you know, I knew that what happened to people in detention needed an outside voice to actually blow the whistle on occasions, and so there was some resistance but eventually it was put into my terms of reference. So, of course, I started visiting prisons, I talked a lot to Americans, because the Americans were sharing the same building in Baghdad at that time and Mr Bremer was in charge of the operation there and the British were there and so we talked about some of these issues. One of the first things that struck me was -- because, again, because of my friendship with Iraqis, one of my Iraqi friends had [been] a General in Saddam's army. He was now in a staff college, but he was a General, and immediately after 2003, my friend rang me up and he said, "Do you know what is happening with the military? Because there are lots of the military that my brother knows who would help the British. There are 50 to 100 senior Iraqi officers who are ready to help the coalition." Well, obviously, I passed that information on. But, you know, the army wasn't there anymore, but they were queuing up in very hot weather for their pensions, for their stipends, and I discovered that the man -- the brother of my friend had been queuing up every day for two weeks, and he was a senior, you know, army officer, and yet had nevr got to the front of the queue. He said -- I spoke to him eventually, and he said to me, you know, "If they want to humiliate us, this is the way of doing it." [. . .] So I was telling the Americans and the British but the Americans were mainly in charge in Baghdad and so I would go straight to Bremer and tell Bremer what was going on and he argued with me. He said, "Oh, nonsense, all the -- you know, the senior people have received their pensions". So I said, "Well, they haven't". So I gave him the name and address of the person I was talking about, and somebody went away and came back half an hour later and said, "Sorry, they must have slipped through the net". Well, I think many people slipped through the net actually, senior people, who could have been used in those early stages to help the coalition and wanted to help the coalition.

At the end of Clwyd's testiomony, Chair John Chilcot declared of Iraq: "We do hope very much to visit. We can't commit yet. To visit Iraq before our Inquiry is complete."

We'll come back to today but right now,
yesterday, Clare Short testified to the Iraq Inquiry and covering the Inquiry in this community last night were Mike ("Tony Blair gets served"), Stan ("Grab bag") and Elaine ("Clare Short at the Inquiry"). One of the few US outlets to regularly devote attention to the Inquiry is The Pacifica Evening News which airs on KPFA and KPFK (as well as other stations) from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. each Monday through Friday.

John Hamilton: Former British Minister Clare Short accused Tony Blair of lying over the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and stifling discussion in the Cabinet in the run up to the war. Short is a long time critic of Blair who served as International Development Secretary in his government. She disputed evidence the former prime minister gave last week to an inquiry into the war. Short voted of the 2003 invasion but quit Blair's government shortly afterwards because she said Blair had conned her into thinking the UN would play a lead war in post-war Iraq. Speaking today before the Chilcot Inquiry, which is examining Britain's role in the war and its aftermath, Short accused the former Attorney General Peter Goldsmith of not telling the Cabinet of his doubts about the illegality of the war nor that senior Foreign Office lawyers believed it would be illegal without a second UN resolution on Iraq.

Clare Short: I think for the Attorney General to come and say there's an unequivocal legal authority to go to war was misleading. And I must say, I never saw myself as a traditionalist but I was stunned by it because of what was in the media about the view of the international lawyers but I thought "This is the Attorney General coming just in the teeth of war, to the Cabinet, it must be right." And I think he was misleading us.

John Hamilton: Goldsmith has said he initially doubted the war's legality and only concluded it would be lawful without such a resolution a week before the invasion -- days before the Cabinet was briefed. Short told the Inquiry today she believed Goldsmith had been pressured by Blair -- something that both men deny -- but she had no direct evidence to back this up. Last Friday, Blair defended his decision to go to war telling the Inquiry that Saddam Hussein had posed a threat to the world and had to be disarmed or removed. He said there had been substantive discussions with senior ministers in the Cabinet but Short told the Inquiry that she had been excluded from talks and that Blair had not wanted Iraq discussed in the Cabinet because he was afraid of leaks to the media .
Clare Short: There was never a meeting that said: "What's the problem, what are we trying to achieve? What are our military, diplomatic options?" We never had that coherent discussion of what it is that the problem is and what it was that the government was trying to achieve and what our bottom lines were. Never.

John Hamilton: Short accused Blair of being frantic to support the United States and said claims the French would have vetoed any second UN resolution in authorizing military action had been untrue.

We're stopping there, not because Hamilton's made a mistake (they did a fine job as usual in covering the Inquiry) but because we are short on space and we can move over to Elfyn Llwyd on Clare Short's assertion that Blair was frantic to support the US.
Tomas Livingstone (Wales News) reports MP Elfyn Llwyd has stated that the the 2002 Crawford ranch meeting is where Blair and Bush agreed to go to war -- no hesistations, no ifs, just to go to war. He tells Livingstone that a memo exists noting this agreement and that he will gladly testify before the Inquiry eitehr in private or in person.

On Clare Short, you can refer to
Iain Martin (Wall St. Journal -- he doesn't like Short and doesn't believe her, he's been covering the Inquiry regularly so we will link to him), Simon Hooper and CNN, Jason Beattie (Daily Mail -- always an outstanding job of coverage by Beattie), Iraq Inquiry Blogger offers thoughts here, Rosa Prince (Irish Independent via Independent of London), David Brown (Times of London), John F. Burns (New York Times), Philip Williams (AM which airs on Australia's ABC) and Mark Hennessy (Irish Times). If someone was omitted (especially someone requesting to be included), I either forgot or made a judgment call that you do not matter. Which is one reporter we'll be noting in a bit (not naming, not linking to) and which is one web site that wants a link but is too damn lazy to blog about the Inquiry so they post a paragraph of John F. Burns' report and then say 'read the rest at the New York Times'. Honestly, the Gabor sisters worked harder so I think we should all lay off comparing you know who to a Gabor sister.

The Inquiry continued today.
Channel 4 News' Iraq Inquiry Blogger gives this run down of the witnesses: "Sir Kevin Tebbit returns for a brief spin to round off evidence about his period as MoD Permanent Secretary 2001-05. Dr John Reid has served many different government briefs but attends today as Secretary of State for Defence 2005-06, effectively completing our MoD card-hand after Geoff Hoon, John Hutton & Des Browne. And Ann Clywd worked as the prime minister's (or rather prime ministers') special envoy to Iraq from 2003-09." Video and transcript options for the three witnesses here. Channel 4 News' Iraq Inquiry Blogger live blogged today's hearing at Twitter and Sky News' Glen Oglaza live blogged John Reid's testimony.

Gary Gibbon (Channel 4 News) reports that Tebbit stated the current Prime Minister of England, Gordon Brown, "guillotined" the military budget when he was serving as chancellor: "Sir Kevin, who was MoD permanent secretary from 1998 to 2005, stressed that defence chiefs saved resources needed for Iraq but admitted the cuts had a long-term impact." Sky News reports he stated, "The Treasury felt that we were using far too much cash and in September 2003 the Chancellor of the day (Mr Brown) instituted a complete guillotine on our settlement. It meant that we had to go in for a very major savings exercise in order to cope with what was effectively a billion reduction year-on-year in our resource." In what would appear to back up that testimony, Francis Elliott, Deborah Haynes and Tom Coghlan (Times of London) report, "Gordon Brown demanded immediate and deep cuts to military spending only six months after the invasion of Iraq, a letter seen by The Times reveals."

Biggest laugh in England today? The reach around between eternal suck up Petey Kyle and his uber dom Alastair Campbell. In the internet version of snowballing, Petey sucks him off and spits it back in Alastair's mouth -- Petey writes that it's awful, just awful (no link to that trash -- and Labour better get it through their heads that apologists like Petey are going to mean death at the polls) how the media's treated poor Tony Blair. He writes it, Alastair reposts it at his vanity blog and then they both Tweet on it. Somebody get those two to the chapel already. No links, they've echoed one another enough. Also of note, a certain reporter for a non-right wing paper, non-Murdoch paper, who repeatedly reports wrong on the Inquiry? Maybe his editors should ask him about his contact with Alastair because Alastair's bragging to Labour Party members that he has said reporter in his pocket. Very few are covering it in the US.
Kelly B. Vlahos (Antiwar) notes some of the silence:
Don't know much about any of this? Not surprising, because the American mainstream media has practically blacked-out the story on this side of the pond. It's amazing, after seven years and a growing reservoir of evidence that the Bush administration deliberately manipulated intelligence and the emotions of the American public to invade Iraq -- for which it had no comprehensive plan to stabilize or reconstruct -- the corporate press is still doing its best impression of the debauched idiots in
The Hangover:
Stu: "Why don't we remember a G**damn thing from last night?"
Phil: "Obviously because we had a great f**king time."
When the press isn't treating us all like morning-after marshmallows who would prefer a cold-compress of Sarah Palin and updates of
The View on the head to a clinical X-ray of how the Bush White House marched our nation into a trillion-dollar war of choice, it takes on a gratingly condescending tone. In fact, the media view jibes quite well with the standard Republican spin: that any criticism or inquiry into party-supported policies from 2001 to 2009 is "looking backward" or "rehashing the past," or worse, "we've been there, done that," when really, no, there hasn't been any "been there, done that," not anything compared to what's going on in London right now.

Turning to Iraq,
Sinan Salaheddin (AP) reports an agreement reached between Iraq and China in which China would "write off 80 percent of Iraq's" $8.5 billion debt. In other agreements Iraq is entering into with other countries, Anne Tang (Xinhua) reports Iraq declares it is willing to turn 46 Jordanian prisoners over to Jordan and notes the Arab Organization for Human Rights, "According to the organization, there are 46 Jordanians jailed in Iraq, of whom many are held with no charges and are either students or traders." While those talks between Iraq and other governments continue, Today's Zaman reports the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, is in Ankara meeting with Turkey's Interior Minister Besir Atalay. Alsumaria TV quotes Odierno stating, "It is important that we develop a common unerstanding of the root causes of violence, so we can assit in determining political, economic and security measures that will contribute to increased security and safety of the Turkish and Iraqi people." Scott Fontaine (The Olympian) reports on increased tensions between US forces and Iranian forces on the Iraqi border.

Yesterday in the US, the Senate Armed Services Committee spent a little over an hour addressing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. All three broadcast networks' evening news covered the story. Some did better than others. We'll note highlights. NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams:Brian Williams: 62 years ago today, President Truman ordered the Defense Secretary to take the needed steps to remove discrimination in the military. He was talking about race. Today the topic was sexual orientation, specifically the Clinton era policy known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- a policy that is now on borrowed time. More on this story from our Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski. Jim Miklaszewski: In a hearing today on Capitol Hill, the nation's top military commander revealed the worst kept secret in the armed services. Adm Mike Mullen: I have served with homosexuals since 1968.Jim Miklaszewski: Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen said it's time to scrap Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the law that prohibits gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military.
Picking up with
ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer:

Martha Raddatz: Lt Dan Choi is a West Point graduate, an Iraq veteran and one of the few Arabic speakers in the military. Like thousands of others, he now faces dismissal from the army for saying publicly that he is gay.Lt Dan Choi: I was living in the closet. Then I realized, no, this is really a violation of the honor code which, on the first day of West Point, we learned: You will not lie or tolerate those who lie. And I believe in that honor code.Martha Raddatz: Lt Choi's case is still pending but he also told us if you're actually thinking about national security first and you're saying that it's okay to fire Arabic speakers because somebody's uncomfortable with gays, then you have your priorities in the wrong place.
And wrapping up with
CBS Evening News with Katie Couric::

David Martin: Today's testimony made clear it will not happen any time soon -- certainly not this year, if at all. For one thing, Gates wants a year to study . . ..Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: What the-the men and women in our armed forces really think about this.David Martin: For another, Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a law enacted by Congress.Senator John McCain: I'm happy to say that we still have a Congress of the United States that would have to pass a law to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. David Martin: Right now with the military fighting two wars, there are not enough votes to repeal.

PBS' NewsHour, like Diane Sawyer, led with the issue while the other two broadcasts buried the story further into the mix. Margaret Warner offered the best report of any of the correspondents. She also offered more variety in her report when quoting from the hearing -- except for Jim, all the above reports had quoted from the opening statements plus Saxby Chambliss -- and why did everyone Click here for transcript as well as audio and video options of Warner's report. We covered the hearing in yesterday's snapshot and other community coverage: Wally was at the hearing and guest blogged at Rebecca's site with "Armed Services Committee, Heroes" and, like Warner, he quoted from Burris -- who probably had the strongest and most moving remarks. Trina focused on Mike Mullen's opening remarks "Senate Armed Services Committee DADT" -- and Trina's take is like David Martin's, nothing's happening. That was our take based on the hearing and based on speaking to a few aids and senators after the hearing. You can especially see that in Kat's "Barack pretends to care about Don't Ask Don't Tell." Marcia takes this issue very personally and quizeed all of us (including Ava) at length before writing about it in "Not doing cartwheels right now."

Today the House Armed Services' Military Personnel Subcomittee held a hearing where the witnesses were Louis V. Iasiello and Brig Gen Sharon K.G. Dunbar of the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military Services and, as noted, the two were present speaking on behalf of the Defense Task Force, not for any branch of the military. Subcommittee Chair Susan Davis called the hearing to order and noted that they held two hearings on this issue last year in addition, she stated:

I do not want to steal the thunder of our witnesses, but there is a recurring theme in their report that needs to be mentioned from the outset while the [Defense] Department has done much in recent years to address sexual assault in the military, much more remains to be done. Thankfully, due to the work of this task force and others, we have a much clearer understanding of the problem. It is important that we make significant improvements to how the Department deals with sexual assault and that we do all we can to avoid inadvertently making things worse in the process. Sexual assault within the ranks is antithetical to the trust and camaraderie that defines military culture. Any sexual assault undermines the moral foundation of our armed forces and does irreparable harm to unit cohesion. Hopefully today's hearing will help us chart a legislative course to make progress in our goal to eliminate sexual assaults in the military.

We'll note this exchange which took place after opening statements.

Subcommittee Chair Susan Davis: One of the recommendations that you've had -- and especially as we move forward -- is to place a sexual assault prevention and response office under the Deputy Secretary of Defense for at least a year and you thought that would give them a chance to kind of aprise what is happening. Our experience has been that they just aren't really in a position to-to be able to do that. It's not the staff -- they're not designed for that kind of oversight. I'm wondering if you've had any additional thoughts about that? If you feel that -- if you looked at that and felt that this was the only way to give this a kind of stature perhaps that we're looking for? There is a concern that they're just not ready to do that. We had an experience as well with oversight of the process at Walter Reed. You know there's really a lot of questions as to whether that's the best place to put this additional responsiblity and for oversight?

Louis V. Iasiello: It was our-our thought as we put forward that recommendation that after 2005, each of the services sort of took off in their own direction trying to answer this issue and trying to confront this issue in the best way possible and we applaud that initiative that each of the services took in sort of taking this forward.but-but what I think I speak for the Task Force membership when I say that we would really like to see a strategic leadership role taken by the SAPRO office at the DoD. That would help to bring together these incredible efforts that we see now from the leadership of the different services. [. . .]

Subcommittee Chair Susan Davis: think what we're just wondering is if a decision was made that perhaps they don't have the ability now, the capacity, to provide the kind of oversight that we're really seeking here, was there some other thoughts about how this might be done? What I think I hear you say very strongly is that you want to have more authority, more oversight and certainly raise the level of -- I'm not sure that the word is competency, I think it's the capacity to deal better and to be seen as an office that really means exactly what it says
here and we're struggling a little bit to sort of define that better

Brig Gen Sharon KG Dunbar: Yes, ma'am, I think the intent behind the recommendation is to provide higher oversight and I think that there are a number of ways to do that. The recommendation was geared to highlight the fact that that oversight is necessary. And so that it one recommendation but there are clearly other ways of doing that. And we indicated in the report one of the areas that we found a shortcoming in was just in the staffing alone of the SAPRO office in order for it to do what is required. And I think when you look at some of the issues that drove that recommendation it stemmed from the under resource nature in terms of staffing the office that, frankly, if you go back to the inception of the office, it was geared more towards response. And now it needs to expand into prevention training and other areas and in order to do that quickly, higher level oversight at a level whether it is the level recommended in the report or elsewhere, we believe is prudent.

Louis V. Iasiello: And if I may, we see it as critically importnat that there be uniformed members as part of that staff. People in uniform. And people that have had the experience of leading and understand. We are also asking for a seasoned JAG officer from one of the military services to be part of that staff and to have a designated Victim Advocate on staff with the expertise to handle the issues at that strategic level.

Subcommittee Chair Susan Davis: I was going to ask if there are professionals and you mention the JAG officer experience level, education level that you feel would contribute greatly to that kind of stature and authority that the -- that it would have. Is there anything in addition to that?

Brig Gen Sharon K.G. Dunbar: Principally the leadership of the office and the recommendation that we make is that it be led by a General Flag Officer or a civilian equivalent.

You can check other community sites tonight for coverage -- Trina, Wally and Kat were at the hearing as well (Kat plans to cover US House Rep Loretta Sanchez). TV notes.
NOW on PBS begins airing Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings):Has the Democratic Party abandoned support of reproductive rights? Next on NOW. To gain their historic control of Congress, Democrats fielded moderate candidates who didn't always follow the party line, especially when it came to abortion. Now that the Democratic Party has the legislative upper hand, are they willing to negotiate away reproductive rights for other political gains? On Friday, February 5 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW goes to Allentown, Pennsylvania to ask: Are abortion rights now in jeopardy at the very hands of the party that has historically protected them? Among those interviewed are pro-life Democratic U.S. Representative Bart Stupak and former DNC Chairman Howard Dean. "If there was a bill on the floor to reverse Roe vs Wade, and says 'life begins at conception,' I would vote for it." Congressman Stupak tells NOW. Jen Boulanger, director of the often-protested Allentown Women's Center, says, "I would expect more from the Democratic Party, to stick to their ideals, not just throw us to the curb." Has the Democratic Party traded principles for power? Next on NOW.

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