Iraqi Reconstruction… Wha Happened?

Good eye, CJR’s Gal Beckerman, highlighting a much-overlooked bit of news that appeared in Friday’s USA Today:

The government has slipped a noose around the $21 billion program that, according to the article, was supposed to “fix or build schools, roads, clinics, ports, bridges, government offices, phone networks, power plants and water systems.”

Also in the how-to-blow-a-trillion-bucks department:? Warren Olney discussed estimates that the U.S. will spend over one trillion dollars on the Iraq campaign on PRI’s To the Point (listen).

Post Pundidn’t Plucked

The Washington Post has been highly criticized since launching a biased blog titled “Red America” written by 24-year-old Ben Domenech, the founder of, as his Post profile puts it, the “web’s leading Republican community blog.”

Why the WPI found it necessary to publish a biased blog (by a bigoted author, no less) without even attempting to balance it led many on the left, and later on the right to demand its removal.
Today, we find Jim Brady red-faced as ever, revealing that Domenech is a phony and a plagiarist:

In the past 24 hours, we learned of allegations that Ben Domenech plagiarized material that appeared under his byline in various publications prior to washingtonpost.com contracting with him to write a blog that launched Tuesday.

A former employer of Domenech, the National Journal, has documented the plagiarism charges leading to his resignation. Salon lists several passages that Domenech lifted from its site. Jay Rosen of PressThink encourages the Post to hold an “open competition” on the web for its next blogger, and FishBowl DC is accepting nominations. Marty Kaplan notes President Bush’s own history as a plagiarist.

As part of the Bush Administration’s campaign to label the media as liberal reconstructionists, they hired Domenech as a speech-writer and encouraged plagiarism and deception as a political tool

Plagiarism is among the most classless and lowly crimes. Many are calling for a major shake-up at the Post, on the heels of the lies printed by WaPo’s clueless ombudsman Deborah Howell, her criticism of columnist Dan Froomkin and her mysterious defense this week of Domenech. The revelation that they hired a writer who had previously plagiarized a multitude of material disgraces not only the Post’s reputation, but belittles the high journalistic standards demanded by the blogging community.

Remaining Peace Activist Hostages Released

Less than two weeks after reports of the brutal torture and killing of Tom Fox, the sole American member of the Christian Peacemaker Team that had been held hostage in Iraq since November, the three remaining hostages are being reported as rescued on the streets of Baghdad.

BBC News reports:

One British and two Canadian peace activists held hostage in Iraq have been freed in an operation by multinational forces.Norman Kember, 74, of Pinner, north-west London, was seized in Baghdad with two Canadians and an American in November.

Canadians James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden were also freed in the operation on Thursday.