Person of the Year, this year, of all years…
– So who will Time’s Person of the Year be? You can expect the usual controversy: Will the bad guy be the guy? Would they consider bin Laden? Yes, they’ll consider him. Time’s managing editor said so today. Sometimes, Time does pick the bad guy for impact: because that guy had the most impact on the year and because the story has impact itself. But they’ve played that card before. So I’ll bet they won’t do that this year. Back when I worked at the company, I remember that they really did take great care to consider all the candidates and the reasons for each one; it’s quite a deliberative process. I was at People then and when we picked the 25 Most Intriguing, it was less deliberative and more of a long, loud lunch. (If I were there this year, I’d be arguing to break the formula and pick 25 American Heroes!) Anyway, you know that Christmas is coming when it’s time to speculate with your friends on the Person of the Year and so we provide that service here on this interactive Internet: the unscientific, meaningless, but fun poll: Vote at the right.
– The Times of India says our first battlefield casualty, the CIA’s Mike Spann, may have inadvertantly caused the prison uprising that cost him his life:
Even as the CIA saluted its slain colleague, the first American fatality in Afghanistan, “American hero” Johnny ëMikeí Spann, who died in the prison revolt, British journalists in Mazar-i-Sharif have begun reporting that Spann was less an innocent victim than the one who allegedly provoked the riot….
On Wednesday night, the BBCís authoritative domestic television programme Newsnight interviewed Oliver August, correspondent for The Times, London, in Mazar-i-Sharif, who said that Spann and his CIA colleague, Dave, were thought to have set off the violence by aggressively interrogating foreign Taliban prisoners and asking, “Why did you come to Afghanistan?”. August said their questions were answered by one prisoner jumping forward and announcing, “Weíre here to kill you”.
The Guardianís Mazar-i-Sharif correspondent said the CIA “operatives had apparently failed on entering the fort to observe the first rule of espionage: keep a low profile”.
The Timesís August said Spann subsequently pulled his gun and his CIA colleague shot three prisoners dead in cold blood before losing control over the situation.
Spann was then “kicked, beaten and bitten to death,” the journalists said, in an account of the ferocity of the violence that lasted four days, leaving more than 500 people dead and the fort littered with “bodies, shrapnel and shell casings”.
How the buildings collapsed
– CBS says a miracle saved people at the Pentagon: “Even though 125 people were killed in the Pentagon on Sept.11, there was something miraculous about that day. The plane obliterated the first and part of the second floor, but the third, fourth and fifth floors remained suspended in midair for 35 minutes. Hundreds of people escaped. How is that possible?… In an astonishing stroke of luck, the terrorists had hit the only section of the Pentagon designed to resist a terrorist attack.”
– And engineers find what made 7 World Trade Center collapse hours after 1 and 2: diesel fuel stored for emergency generators: “Experts said no building like it, a modern, steel-reinforced high-rise, had ever collapsed because of an uncontrolled fire, and engineers have been trying to figure out exactly what happened and whether they should be worried about other buildings like it around the country.”
Civil rights? Maybe later
– I keep worrying that I should be worried about civil rights — but I’m not. Same for most Americans. A Post/ABC poll says: “Six in 10 agree with President Bush that suspected terrorists should be tried in special military tribunals and not in U.S. criminal courts… Seven in 10 Americans believe the government is doing enough to protect the civil rights of suspected terrorists. An equally large majority believe the government is sufficiently guarding the rights of Arab Americans and American Muslims as well as noncitizens from Arab and Muslim countries.”
– Via Lake Effect, the official presidential order on military tribunals for terrorists: “Having fully considered the magnitude of the potential deaths, injuries, and property destruction that would result from potential acts of terrorism against the United States, and the probability that such acts will occur, I have determined that an extraordinary emergency exists for national defense purposes, that this emergency constitutes an urgent and compelling government interest, and that issuance of this order is necessary to meet the emergency.”
– Bin Laden on trial tonight (on Court TV): Times story.
– Pesky anthrax spores won’t sit still for investigators — they keep floating into the air.
– Afghan woman killed when airlifted humanitarian supplies drop on her house. [via Rantburg]
– Turkey would consider backing Iraq strikes under the right circumstances.
– Geraldo in Kunduz: video.
– Charlotte Church, the kid singer with the eerie voice (but no soul, I’ve always said) complains that New Yorkers are self-absorbed about 9/11. Harumph.