Friday's must-reads


Geraldine Sealey
June 25, 2004 5:00PM (UTC)

Wolfie apologizes for smear of journalists
Paul Wolfowitz has apparently thought better of comments he made this week that part of the administration's public relations problems in Iraq were caused by journalists too scared to leave Baghdad, so "they publish rumors." So far, 34 journalists have been killed covering the Iraq war and many more injured.

The New York Times reports on Wolfowitz' apology yesterday. "In his letter, Mr. Wolfowitz retracted that part of his testimony, writing:

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"'Unfortunately, in meaning to convey my frustration about the erroneous coverage of one particular news story, the statement I made came out much differently than I intended. And while I know reporters understand better than most that sometimes the best of intentions and the most elaborate of preparations can't prevent error, that doesn't for a moment change the seriousness of my mistake or the deep regret I feel that I did not instantly correct the record.'"

More on Big Time's potty-mouth
The Washington Post's version of the Cheney expletive: "'Fuck yourself,' said the man who is a heartbeat from the presidency."

Such strong language! But passions do flare when Dick Cheney defends something so close to his heart: Halliburton.

The spokesman for the F-bomb victim, Sen. Patrick Leahy's staffer, David Carle, yesterday confirmed the brief but fierce exchange, the Post said. "'The vice president seemed to be taking personally the criticism that Senator Leahy and others have leveled against Halliburton's sole-source contracts in Iraq,' Carle said."

"As it happens, the exchange occurred on the same day the Senate passed legislation described as the 'Defense of Decency Act' by 99 to 1. Cheney's office did not deny that the phrase was uttered. His spokesman, Kevin S. Kellems, would say only that this language is not typical of the vice presidential vocabulary. 'Reserving the right to revise and extend my remarks, that doesn't sound like language the vice president would use,' Kellems said, "but there was a frank exchange of views.'"

Bush interviewed in Plame probe
The president was interviewed for more than an hour on Thursday about the Valerie Plame case, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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"The questioning of Bush, among other evidence, suggests that Fitzgerald is close to wrapping up the investigation. Fitzgerald has already questioned Vice President Dick Cheney and White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales. Fitzgerald is also attempting to subpoena reporters to testify before a grand jury about their coverage of the leaks -- a tactic that under Justice Department guidelines is permitted only as a last resort."

"Time magazine and the NBC television network are fighting the subpoena requests, and a hearing is set for July 8 in federal court in Washington."

"This week, the Washington Post reported that one of its reporters had voluntarily answered questions from Fitzgerald about the reporter's telephone conversations with Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, in July. The reporter, Glenn Kessler, said Libby did not mention Plame, Wilson or Wilson's CIA-sponsored trip to Niger in their conversations, according to the Post, which said Kessler agreed to answer questions at Libby's urging. In his recently published memoir, Wilson speculated that Libby was "quite possibly the person who exposed my wife's identity."

Clinton on the issues
We have to point out this interview Joe Conason did with Bill Clinton, found on the cover of Salon today. It's the substantive interview -- on issues, not just sex -- many people have been waiting to read or hear since the Clinton media hype surrounding his book began. Clinton talks about his failure to respond to the Rwandan genocide in time -- particularly timely as another takes shape in Sudan; Al Gore's campaign strategy in 2000; the Valerie Plame leak; how the Bush administration's claim of an al-Qaida-Saddam link was new to him, and more.

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"While he confesses to lapses of wisdom and courage, he cannot quite conceal the sense that almost every day, the extremism and incompetence of the Bush administration make his controversial tenure look better by contrast. After years of mostly refraining from overt criticism of his successor, Clinton evidently feels free to be more candid from now on. If his book tour offers his political adversaries a fresh opportunity to attack him, it also provides him a national platform to speak his mind about them."

"'We were in better shape when I left office than we are now,' he said. He was talking about the number of Americans who lack health insurance -- but the unavoidable inference went much further."

Lewinsky's side of the story
Monica Lewinsky has been quiet about Clinton's book so far, but that's about to change. The AP reports that Lewinsky "says she feels betrayed by Bill Clinton's failure to acknowledge how he destroyed her life in his newly released memoirs."

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"In an interview with British broadcaster ITV to be shown on Friday, the former White House intern best known for her affair with the 42nd U.S. president says she was disappointed at how their relationship is addressed."

"I really didn't expect him to talk in detail about the relationship," she said, according to a partial transcript of the interview provided by ITV. 'But what I was hoping, and did expect was for him to acknowledge and correct the inaccurate and false statements that he, his staff and the (Democratic National Committee) made about me when they were trying to protect the presidency,' she said."

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Clinton said that if he ran into Lewinsky he would "say 'hello' to her and 'I hope you're having a good life.'"

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Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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