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Saturday, January 18, 2003

Saturday with Colbert

Tony Adragna
Last week Colbert King wrote about Roscoe Grant Jr. and his employment as deputy director of the Child Support Enforcement division of the D.C. Corporation Counsel's Office. Colbert explains why Grant's occupation is such a tragic irony.

Today's subject is D.C. Police Capt. Hassan Rauf. Rather, that's ex- D.C. Police Capt. Hassan Rauf — he resigned after pleading guilty to second-degree theft in a scheme to defraud D.C. taxpayers via approving "paid administrative leave" for one of his officers who was ostensibly taking a course of law enforcement training, but was in fact going on vacation to Las Vegas
Twelve months later, however, and notwithstanding the police department's dim view of Rauf, the ex-captain was back on the District of Columbia's payroll. What's more, he had returned to the ranks of D.C. law enforcement. This time, however, Rauf had set up shop in the D.C. Corporation Counsel's Office with the title of "investigator" in, what else -- the Child Support Enforcement division.
'Nuff said...

QP Saturday

Will Vehrs
Tony, I'll be accused once more of being a Glenn Reynolds toadie, but I join you in noting and applauding Instapundit's new MSNBC venture.

During my last few weeks in the wilderness, I had the occasion to check out many of the sites that depend on Glenn as a foil--sites that dismiss him as "Professor Insta-Cracker." Those proud lefty-liberals, in stark contrast to Professor Reynolds, offer almost no diversity of opinion, and extend virtually no respect whatsoever to contrary viewpoints. Many don't even provide links to Glenn or sites with even a tinge of conservative viewpoints. If I am a Glenn Reynlds toadie, then I proudly wear that mantle, because Glenn dares to give alternative views their due and honestly acknowledges that he might not always be right. His enormous and well-deserved popularity is, in my opinion, a function of his restless intellect and charming modesty.

Today, Glenn makes it to the editorial pages of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. They praise one of his "pro-gun" posts. Glenn's broad interpretation and strong defense of the Second Amendment drives his critics crazy. This is one Instapundit passion that I don't share. While I generally agree with him, I just have no interest in guns and rarely feel moved to defend pro-gun positions. I defer to those much more passionate and eloquent.

One subject that does arouse my passion is the current affirmative action debate, currently centered around the University of Michigan's policies. Last night's Shields and Brooks was an excellent discussion of the politics and substance of the affirmative action debate. David Brooks, as usual, had sharp insights about both the specifics and, for him, the larger issue of college admissions policies. Surprisingly, Mark Shields was not a vigorous defender of affirmative action. Perhaps that's because it is almost indefensible that any member of three racial groups automatically gets 20 points at the University of Michigan--more points than a compelling essay, more points than a perfect test score. There is plenty to debate about affirmative action, but that aspect of Michigan's admission policy is clearly out of bounds. I haven't found anyone who defends those numbers--they change the subject.

One subject supporters of affirmative action roll out is the "legacy" preference--four points to the children of alumni. I don't agree with that scoring, either, but note how much larger a racial preference is than a legacy preferance. They also point to preferences for athletes. I don't agree with reduced standards for athletes, but many African-Americans benefit from those preferences. Does that matter?

I recognize that college admissions must be a subjective process, but those areas of subjectivity should be debated honestly without cries of "racism."

Friday, January 17, 2003
Updated 6:30 PM

If Glenn Could Patent It, Would He?

Tony Adragna
My belated notation of — the latest addition to the InstaEmpire — is also opportunity for me to comment on an issue where my idealism confronts the necessity for practicality. What gives rise to this opportunity is Glenn's Jan 16 item on "COPYRIGHTS AND CREATIVITY".

Glenn looks at the Supreme Court decision in Eldred v. Reno and writes, "While many people are unhappy with the Intellectual Property implications of this decision, its most striking aspect is the strict constructionists’ abandonment of the principles of limited government." I agree — not that my agreement matters — with Glenn's assessment of "its most striking aspect" so far as Supreme Court jurisprudence is concerned. However, I'm one of the "many" who is more concerned about the "Intellectual Property implications" of the Act of Congress that Eldred upholds.

My idealism informs a principled objection that I share with Dr. Franklin. In his autobigraphy Franklin tells of his1742 invention
In order of time, I should have mentioned before, that having, in 1742, invented an open stove for the better warming of rooms, and at the same time saving fuel, as the fresh air admitted was warmed in entering, I made a present of the model to Mr. Robert Grace, one of my early friends, who, having an iron-furnace, found the casting of the plates for these stoves a profitable thing, as they were growing in demand.

To promote that demand, I wrote and published a pamphlet, entitled "An Account of the new-invented Pennsylvania Fireplaces; wherein their Construction and Manner of Operation is particularly explained; their Advantages above every other Method of warming Rooms demonstrated; and all Objections that have been raised against the Use of them answered and obviated," etc.

This pamphlet had a good effect. Gov'r. Thomas was so pleas'd with the construction of this stove, as described in it, that he offered to give me a patent for the sole vending of them for a term of years; but I declin'd it from a principle which has ever weighed with me on such occasions, viz., That, as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.[all emphasis added]
But, the practical necessity of patents is evidenced in Franklin's next paragraph. The London ironmonger got no dispute from Franklin on what is the theft of Franklin's idea, and I won't try to contrive such an argument, because Franklin in fact gave away his idea. But, I can make a principled argument that individuals ought be fairly compensated for their work — whether that work is the production of self-owned & created intellectual property, or making widgets for Gizmos R Us. Just as we have labor laws that protect the individuals' right to not have their labor stolen by Gizmos R Us, patent & copyright laws are needed to ensure the same sorts of protections for creators of intellectual property.

And Franklin could not but agree that protecting the interests of inventors does promote new invention. For, though Franklin had "no desire of profiting by patents", the "exclusive right" does make possible innovation that might not otherwise be so — allowing for the recouping of costs — and provides a "profit" incentive to those, unlike myself & Dr. Franklin, not so disposed to offering of themselves "freely and generously." On balance, the greater good produced by more invention provides a rational defense of "exclusive rights" that Franklin would probably find agreement with.

While I would like to see more free sharing, I don't think it ought be compelled by anything other than that to which Franklin makes his appeal — an individual's own conscience.

So far I've written only a defense of protecting intellectual property, so what's my problem with Eldred? Because, in the words of Justice Breyer's dissent, "[...] unless the [Copyright/Patent] Clause is construed to embody such a categorical rule [prohibiting retroactive extensions],Congress may extend existing monopoly privileges ad infinitum under the majority ’s analysis." Indeed, it seems to me that Congress & The Court have lost sight of the the purpose of limiting IP protections — to move these properties into the public domain as soon as possible...

Update: In my haste to publish the above, I mis-attribted the above citation — it is actually from Justice Stevens' dissent. Also, since I hadn't yet read Justice Breyer's dissent I missed a citation more on-point to my attempt at balancing private & public interests. Breyer writes
[...] I would find that the statute lacks the constitutionally necessary rational support (1) if the significant benefits that it bestows are private, not public; (2) if it threatens seriously to undermine the expressive values that the Copyright Clause embodies; and (3) if it cannot find justification in any significant Clause-related objective. Where, after examination of the statute, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, even to dispute these characterizations, Congress’ “choice is clearly wrong.” Helvering v. Davis, 301 U.S. 619, 640 (1937)
Whether there's any public benefit to extending the scope of time during which copyright protections obtain is a debatable point. But, that the current rubric grants "significant benefits that [...] are private, not public" is indisputable. Breyer goes on to cite Madison on Monoplies
Madison noted that the Constitution had “limited them to two cases, the authors of Books, and of useful inventions.” Madison on Monopolies 756. He thought that in those two cases monopoly is justified because it amounts to “compensation for” an actual community “benefit” and because the monopoly is “temporary”–the term originally being 14 years (once renewable). Ibid. Madison concluded that “under that limitation a sufficient recompence and encouragement may be given.” Ibid. But he warned in general that monopolies must be “guarded with strictness agst abuse.” Ibid
So, we've got a Clause with the primary objective of "stimulat[ing] artistic creativity for the general public good" [Breyer citing Twentieth Century Music Corp. v. Aiken, 422 U.S. 151] but providing for "compensation". I'm with Breyer here.

Congress itself agrees with Breyer's argument on "primary purpose", as is noted in a quote from H. R. Rep. No. 100—609, p. 17 (1988)
“Under the U.S. Constitution, the primary objective of copyright law is not to reward the author, but rather to secure for the public the benefits derived from the authors’ labors. By giving authors an incentive to create, the public benefits in two ways: when the original expression is created and . . . when the limited term . . . expires and the creation is added to the public domain.”
Nor does the majority opinion in Eldred opine anything else on the purpose of the Copyright Clause. But, this is where the majority opinion notes Congress doing something it oughtn't be doing, but doesn't say it oughtn't be doing it, and upholds the enactment. From the majority
By extending the baseline United States copyright term, Congress sought to ensure that American authors would receive the same copyright protection in Europe as their European counterparts.The CTEA may also provide greater incentive for American and other authors to create and disseminate their work in the United States. Additionally, Congress passed the CTEA in light of demographic, economic, and technological changes, and rationally credited projections that longer terms would encourage copyright holders to invest in the restoration and public distribution of their works.
The enactment was primarily about providing a benefit to the authors, while there "may" be some public good that comes of granting authors "greater incentive", and, by the way, we'd like to "encourage copyright holders to invest [their own time & money] in the restoration and public distribution of their works", which we wouldn't need "encourage" if the work was already in the public domain after some reasonable amount of time lapsed during which the author recieved "compensation" for the labor.

Franklin's principle is just so much easier to follow...

Thursday, January 16, 2003
Updated 6:40 PM

Incredibility Meets Implausibility

Tony Adragna
Let me give this one last go at my bit of unconventional wisdom in re what the administration has been up to on North Korea.

I'll first clarify my thinking by noting my agreement with critics who cite "mis-steps" by the Bush administration. The administration's error in judgement [my own subjective opinion] begins at that bit of rhetorical excess — the "Axis of Evil" speech — that, despite its truthfulness, would've been better left unsaid. Many who agree with my opinion on this point would disagree with citing it as the "begin" — they trace the "begin" to the administration's deprecation of the '94 agreement and refusal to build something better onto it. Problem is that they're wrong.

Certainly the Bush Campaign spent much time deprecating the '94 agreement and the Clinton aproach. And there is still within the administration, and its party, a "camp" that leans toward less diplomacy & more action and a more confrontational approach to North Korea. But, what has been the administration's policy? Critics and supporters of Mr. Bush might be surprised to find that since June '01 — not but 5 months into his presidency — he has been pursuing what is in essence the prior administration's policy and looks to the "goals" of South Korea's government
I have directed my national security team to undertake serious discussions with North Korea on a broad agenda to include: improved implementation of the Agreed Framework relating to North Korea's nuclear activities; verifiable constraints on North Korea's missile programs and a ban on its missile exports; and a less threatening conventional military posture.

We will pursue these discussions in the context of a comprehensive approach to North Korea which will seek to encourage progress toward North-South reconciliation, peace on the Korean peninsula, a constructive relationship with the United States, and greater stability in the region. These are the goals South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung and I discussed during his visit here last March. I look forward to working with him.
Then, in July '01 Testimony before the Subcommittee on East Asia and the Pacific, House Committee on International Relations, Charles L. Pritchard, Special Envoy for Negotiations With the D.P.R.K. and U.S. Representative to KEDO, said
In the week following the President's announcement of our policy review conclusions, I transmitted to my North Korean counterpart, Vice Minister Kim Gye Gwan, our interest in meeting for bilateral talks. We set no preconditions, and I deferred to Vice Minister Kim to select a date and venue. Our interest is not to get bogged down in procedural matters but rather to discuss issues of concern and offer North Korea the opportunity to demonstrate the seriousness of its stated desire for improved relations with the United States.

While North Korea has not offered a direct answer to our offer of talks, they have acknowledged the President's June 6 statement and have not rejected it. They have complained that we are trying to dictate the agenda and that we have left out issues they deem important. We have told the North Koreans that we have not set preconditions for our talks with North Korea, and we are willing to discuss all issues. However, the appropriate way for us to hold our discussions is by meeting for formal talks, not by exchanging statements through our media channels. We are working through what we refer to as the New York channel to move the process forward.
And I can go on citing instances where the administration uttered variations on the same theme, but to no avail. The North Koreans alternately complained — as they did at the July 13, '01 agenda-setting meeting in New York — that the U.S. is acting in bad faith, or they do something stupid to set back attempts at improving relations 'til conditions meet their criteria — that is, 'til they've ripened a crisis that's got everybody worried 'bout worst case outcomes.

So, how do we break the diplomatic impasse? We go to North Korea, but only one item on our agenda matters: Confronting North Korea on their HEU program. We expect a denial, but at least we've broached the issue, and we can start talking from there with the leverage of international pressure against North Korea on our side. But, we didn't expect an admission and "what're you gonna do 'bout it" from North Korea — there's where we got sacked. The fall-back position was a knee-jerk return to "no negotiations" and calls for isolation, but that wasn't where the administration set out to when it charted its course back in October.

Efforts at getting us back on track are going to look wobbly — you've got to steer several different headings to get back to where you want to be. If it looks improvised, that's because it probably is — nobody planned on having to take this path...

Update: Washington Post Staff Writer Glenn Kessler's analysis adds some weight to my "recap" and some of what I wrote above
For the first 18 months of the administration, advocates of isolating North Korea clashed with those pushing for engagement. The engagement camp, led by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, appeared to have finally won the argument just when officials in July received conclusive evidence of a clandestine North Korean program to enrich uranium. Despite the intelligence, Powell went ahead with a brief meeting with the North Korean foreign minister at a conference in Brunei on July 31.

Powell, in an interview at the State Department last week, said he decided to meet with the North Korean foreign minister because "one, I wanted to go ahead, and two, at some point we were going to have to tell them that we knew." He only alluded to North Korea's secret project in the 15-minute conversation. "I told him we wanted to engage, but he had to understand we had to move forward," and both sides had to put everything on the table for discussion, Powell said.

Yet the discovery of the uranium project emboldened those seeking to isolate North Korea, because they said it confirmed North Korea could not be trusted. Key officials pressed for a U.S. delegation headed to North Korea after Powell's meeting to simply inform North Korea that the Agreed Framework was dead. The debate delayed any trip until October. When confronted with the evidence, Pyongyang unexpectedly confirmed it, U.S. officials say, prompting the crisis.

Robert L. Gallucci, dean of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and the chief negotiator of the Agreed Framework, believes that, given North Korea's collapsing economy, the Bush administration is in a potentially strong position and "has a good chance of achieving some or all of its objectives." But, he added, "you don't know what is possible with North Korea unless you talk to them."

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Could Mr. Bush Have "Engineered"...(cont.)

Tony Adragna
How plausible is the scenario I laid out below? Let me recap my thesis:
Mr. Bush wants to talk with the North Koreans about their HEU program, and has been trying to get to the table for awhile. Mr. Bush knows that the "talks" are going to involve some kind of quid pro quo — the only question is which side of the "pro" we end up on. But, to even hint at negotiating with the North Koreans brings Mr. Bush a heap of trouble with defense "hawks". So, what does Mr. Bush do? — He brings the "crisis" forward by confronting North Korea with evidence of their HEU program. This accomplishes three things: a) gets us to the table on North Koreas non-compliance, b) does so in a that way mitigates criticism from within Mr. Bush's own party, and c) pre-empts North Korean "engineering" in such a way that increases our chances of ending up on the right of the "pro".
I find evidence for this "wants to talk" not only in the administration's tendency toward diplomacy, notwithstanding contrarian rhetoric, but also in that as late as August 29, '02 we have a statement from John R. Bolton, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, saying
During his visit in February to South Korea, President Bush made our intentions clear. He stipulated that we have no intention of invading North Korea. Rather, he said, "We’re prepared to talk with the North about steps that would lead to a better future, a future that is more hopeful and less threatening." We continue to stand by this offer of dialogue -- anytime, anyplace.[emphasis added]
But, what's got me convinced that Amb. Kelly's October trip to North Korea was a bit of maneuvering meant to reclaim the initiative in diplomacy, rather than an attempt at pushing the "hawk"ish line? Well, look at what else was going on during the August '02 to October '02 time-frame — the dabate on how to handle Iraq. We ended up at the U.N. and coercive diplomacy.

Could it be that Mr. Bush intended something along the same line vis a vis North Korea: First turning everybody's attention to a problem, then pushing the international community to deal with that problem, and only then — after making clear how serious we consider the problem — offering to engage in a bit of coercive diplomacy?

I know it strains credibility to suppose the Mr. Bush set this whole thing up, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong. I'd like to believe I'm correct, because the alternative is that the administration either didn't have a plan, or is changing its plans under pressure — neither of those two choices is acceptable...

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

What's Hitchen's Got Against Clinton?

Tony Adragna
I think Hitchens is correct in arguing that the Iraq Liberation Act was "evasion" where we need "invasion" Where I think Hitchens is being quite smart is in implicating Clinton — Hitchens' disparaging use of " the Clinton era" and "the Clinton period" — and Democrats "Sens. Lieberman and Kerrey (the Nebraska one)" as responsible for the "evasion".

Hitchens ought read the Congressional Record. I did, and here's what I found.

The legislation in question — the Iraq Liberation Act — was introduced in the House of Representatives Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman (R - NY). When Mr. Gilman (R - NY) introduced the bill he said
Some suggest that our nation should go to war and rid the Persian Gulf of the threat posed by Saddam. We may yet be compelled to do so, but before we put American lives at risk in that far away land, we have a duty to explore the alternatives. One alternative is to assist freedom-loving Iraquis.
When the House again took up the matter, Mr. Gilman (R - NY) reiterated
The dilemma of current U.S. policy is dramatically illustrated by the events we have witnessed this past year. In January and February, our Nation was on the verge of launching massive military strikes against Iraq in order to compel Saddam to afford U.N. weapons inspectors access to certain sites that he had declared off-limits. Our Nation stood down after U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Anan brokered a deal in which Saddam promised to behave better in the future. But, our leaders said, if Saddam violates his agreement with Kofi Anan, we will retaliate swiftly and massively.

After spending over $1 billion to build up U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf earlier this year, those additional forces were slowly drawn down and brought home. And then, of course, Saddam reneged on his commitments once again.

Today is the 61st day without U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq. The situation as regards weapons inspections is far worse today than it was back in January and February when our Nation was threatening military action.

One of the reasons our Nation did not undertake military action in February, and one of the reasons our leaders are not today delivering on their threats of swift and massive retaliation, is that the kind of military action they have in mind just might not work. Certainly we can inflict massive damage on Saddam with air strikes. But what if he simply absorbs the damage and continues to defy the U.N.?

As things stand today, we would have only three alternatives in such a situation. First, we could forge ahead with our air strikes, bouncing the rubble in Baghdad, but increasingly making it appear to the world that we are the aggressor, not Saddam. Second, we could mount a second invasion of Iraq by U.S. ground forces. Or, third, we could admit failure and give up.

Of course, none of these alternatives have been considered acceptable. And so today we find our Nation paralyzed by indecision. Saddam has never before been in such clear violation of his international obligations. Our government has never before been so obviously unwilling to do anything about it.

The purpose of the Iraq Liberation Act is to try to break this logjam. It creates a fourth alternative, an alternative that meets both our short-term and our longer-term requirements with regard to Iraq. In the short term, we need to be able to bring more effective pressure to bear on Saddam in order to force him to comply with his international obligations. In the longer term, we need to remove his regime from power
Mr. Rohrabacher, definitely no Clinton supporter, said of the bill, "This resolution is exactly the right formula, and we should have used it long ago."

When the House bill [versus the Senate version, which was never enacted] was called up by unanimous consent in the Senate, Mr. Helms claimed co-sponsorship and said
This bill will begin the long-overdue process of ousting Saddam. It will not send in U.S. troops or commit American forces in any way. Rather, it harkens back to the successes of the Reagan doctrine, enlisting the very people who are suffering most under Saddam's yoke to fight the battle against him
Further, original co-sponsors of the Senate version were
Sen Kerrey, J. Robert - 9/29/1998
Sen McCain, John - 9/29/1998
Sen Lieberman, Joseph I. - 9/29/1998
Sen Helms, Jesse - 9/29/1998
Sen Shelby, Richard C. - 9/29/1998
Sen Brownback, Sam - 9/29/1998
Sen Kyl, Jon - 9/29/1998
Let's see, the two Democrats and five Republicans.

So, how is it that the "evasion" had something to do with Mr. Clinton? And how does Hitchens square his intimations vis a vis Clinton in light of the fact that 'twas Clinton who argued for military intervention — the bombing campaign in Dec '98, and the Kosovo intervention — over the objections of Republicans?

Could Mr. Bush Have "Engineered"
the Current "Crisis"?

Tony Adragna
I've ever been critical of the Bush administration's rhetoric — mostly because I see it as counter-productive, but also because in deed the administration tends toward more nuance than "clarity". Could the administration's dealing with North Korea be actually more shaded than appears?

I think the answer is, Yes! At least, that's the only way I can make sense of some things. For instance, on October 16, 2002 we get a statement from Richard Boucher, Spokesman for the U.S. State Department
Earlier this month, senior U.S. officials traveled to North Korea to begin talks on a wide range of issues. During those talks, Assistant Secretary James A. Kelly and his delegation advised the North Koreans that we had recently acquired information that indicates that North Korea has a program to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons in violation of the Agreed Framework and other agreements. North Korean officials acknowledged that they have such a program. The North Koreans attempted to blame the United States and said that they considered the Agreed Framework nullified. Assistant Secretary Kelly pointed out that North Korea had been embarked on this program for several years.[emphasis added]
Problem is that, unless there was some new evidence being presented, we've known about North Korea "seeking centrifuge-related materials in large quantities to support a uranium enrichment program" for a lot longer than "recent" to October 2002. An October 1999 North Korea Advisory Group - Final Report noted, "There is significant evidence that undeclared nuclear weapons development activity continues, including efforts to acquire uranium enrichment technologies..." Prior to that report, on March 11, 1999 Bill Gertz of The Washington Times published a story reporting
North Korea is working on uranium enrichment techniques and will be able to produce fuel for nuclear weapons in six years or less, according to a U.S. intelligence report.

The program involves a North Korean trading company that recently sought to buy enrichment technology from a Japanese manufacturer, and connections between North Korea and Pakistan, according to a Department of Energy intelligence report made available to The Washington Times.

According to the report, the technology sought by Pyongyang is a clear sign that North Korea, known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), "is in the early stages of a uranium enrichment capability."

"On the basis of Pakistan's progress with a similar technology, we estimate that the DPRK is at least six years from the production of [highly enriched uranium], even if it has a viable centrifuge design," the report said. "On the other hand, with significant technical support from other countries, such as Pakistan, the time frame would be decreased by several years."[copy available for fee at NewsLibrary Search Results]
So, why is this situation a "crisis" of-a-sudden in October 2002?

I think the answer is that the Bush administration needed this "crisis" to come to a head just as much as the North Koreans needed the same. It's never been easy to justify negotiating with the North Korean regime, not just for the Bush administration. Looking back at how the Agreed Framework came about it's evident that we didn't get there via an overly accomodating Clinton administration — it took a "crisis". But, did we ever plan on not negotiating when the crisis ripened?

As much as we'd prefer sanctions, or a military threat to force compliance, neither of these options are realistic — there exists no broad support for them in either the international community or the U.S. polity. Support for sanctions may broaden if North Korea doesn't move toward compliance, but how broad determines how effective sanctions would be, and there are lots of reason to be pessimistic on the utility of sanctions. For all of the Bush administration's looking for a new approach to relations with North Korea we're still stuck with only one viable option — negotiations.

But, how do we get to negotiations without seeming to be "soft" on North Korea? The answer is, we don't go to the table 'til North Korea has engineered a "crisis" where our diplomacy can focus on getting concessions from North Korea. Notwithstanding Mr. Bush's "Axis of Evil" speech, the time for just such a "crisis" was fast approaching — the Agreed Framework timetable put completion of at least one reactor in 2003, but conditioned on things North Korea never got around to doing. In my opinion, confronting of North Korea with evidence of their HEU(highly enriched uranium) project was an attempt to pre-empt North Korea on their "crisis" making. To what end?

Not to avoid a "crisis", but to move it forward so that we'd start getting some action on North Korea's HEU program before they've a chance to start actually producing weapons grade material. I can think of a few reasons why Mr. Bush should've held off on confronting North Korea, but pre-empting their "crisis" is the only explanation that makes sense to me on the question "why now?"

Monday, January 13, 2003
Update:How 'bout an Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, 1 July Through 31 December 2001
...The North has been seeking centrifuge-related materials in large quantities to support a uranium enrichment program. It also obtained equipment suitable for use in uranium feed and withdrawal systems.

State Supported Santa Fe Summit

Tony Adragna
Margaret Carlson's quip is a good line, but it's also a cheap shot. This isn't about Bill Richardson, and it is about Colin Powell. As Bob Novak noted, "[Sec. Powell] gave the OK to Bill Richardson" for the meeting. In fact, if the report I read is correct...
Three weeks ago, Han contacted his old acquaintance, who was elected in November to be New Mexico's governor. At a White House briefing for governors-elect in late December, Richardson mentioned Han's initiative to a White House official. Last week, Powell called Richardson and told him to set up a meeting.[emphasis added]
... then it can be said that Sec. Powell made the meeting happen.

As for the purported "challenge", I watched Gov. Richardson's remarks as he made them, and his meaning was clear — the matter is for the governments, not Bill Richardson, to resolve.

How 'bout blaming Clinton? Well, in April 2002 the Sate Department said
[...] we are honoring the Agreed Framework, the 1994 D.P.R.K.-U.S. agreement about nuclear facilities and power, and in spite of the difficulties in dealing with North Korea, we are convinced of the correctness of our approach. We are prepared to engage in dialogue with the North Koreans anytime, anywhere, and any place, without conditions, and we urge the North to respond in a positive manner. We hope that the recently announced South-North initiatives develop into a productive dialogue leading to an improved situation on the peninsula and to enhanced contact between a tragically divided people.
So, prior to the "October Surprise" it was "our approach" that included the "Agreed Framework" and " prepared[ness] to engage in dialogue with the North Koreans anytime, anywhere, and any place, without conditions", and we were "convinced of the correctness" of this approach. Even "[a]s recently as last week, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said he gave 'great credit' to the Clinton administration for freezing North Korea's plutonium enrichment program with the 1994 Agreed Framework."

Now, lets "blame Clinton" for being wrong!

When did the "Agreed Framework & Diplomacy" approach become wrong? Was it when we "discovered" the uranium enrichment program in October 2002? I'd go along with that answer, except that according to FAS
North Korea’s secret uranium enrichment program appears to date from 1995 when North Korea and Pakistan reportedly agreed to trade North Korean Nodong missile technology for Pakistani uranium enrichment technology. The Clinton Administration reportedly learned of it in 1998 or 1999, and a Department of Energy report of 1999 cited evidence of the program. In March 2000, President Clinton notified Congress that he was waiving certification that “North Korea is not seeking to develop or acquire the capability to enrich uranium.” The Japanese newspaper, Sankei Shimbun, reported on June 9, 2000, the contents of a “detailed report” from Chinese government sources on a secret North Korean uranium enrichment facility inside North Korea’s Mount Chonma. Reportedly, according to a CIA report to Congress, North Korea attempted in late 2001 to acquire “centrifuge related materials in large quantities to support a uranium enrichment program.”
In other words, we've known evidence of North Korea's uranium enrichment program for a lot longer than "recent" to October 2002. So, where was the Bush administration on U.S. policy re North Korea between January 2001 and October 2002?

Looking for a different approach to North Korea! Has such an animal been found? Nope! What is happening now? The administration is pushing for North Korea to honour its 1994 committment, and engaging in negotiation. Why? Well, what else is there to do...

And, where's been the GOP in criticizing Mr. Bush on putting the screws to North Korea much sooner — congressional Republicans never did like the Agreed Framework.

Can we blow up Yongbyon? You know, a "surgical strike" like the Israelis did at Osiraq. That historical precedent is cited, but I certainly don't see the parallel — Iraq didn'y have 1 million troops sitting on a line 30 miles from Jeruselem.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Doctor Frist, Brother Russert

Will Vehrs
Today's Punditwatch is up, minus a report on This Week, pre-empted by women's college basketball. Senator Frist had trouble with some of Tim Russert's tough questions and Tim Russert had some trouble with Al Sharpton. It's all in there, along with the usual quips and awards.