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From a reporter looking

From a reporter looking into the press restrictions story ...

i've followed your postings about alleged censorship re katrina coverage ... however, other than the williams post & yesterday's FEMA "order" re dead photos, i can't find other instances of officials impeding reporters as they cover aftermath .... i just checked with NBC, CNN and Fox News, and they all say they haven't heard anything about authorities interfering with reporters' work .... have you any new evidence? i'm interested in writing about this topic, if i can find enough evidence that authorities may have attempted to curb journalists ....

We're both looking for more info. If you have it, let us know.

AP A grand jury

AP: "A grand jury has indicted a political action committee formed by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and a Texas business group in connection with 2002 legislative campaign contributions."

I guess its pretty

I guess it's pretty much just piling on at this point. But FEMA Director Michael D. Brown turns out to be -- hard to believe -- an even bigger hack than we thought. According to this article (sub.req.), he basically gave up the practice of law fifteen years or so before he got the job as General Counsel of FEMA, despite saying on his bio that he'd practiced for twenty years.

(ed.note: This is an edited version of the original post.)

A Request. Weve already

A Request.

We've already gotten a stack of submissions and additions for our timeline project. So please, keep them coming.

But I have another request.

As we discussed last night, there are now clear signs of an administration attempt to invoke a press blackout on what is happening within the disaster zone.

With thousands of bodies under the water in New Orleans, I will not be so myopic as to say that this is the story to focus on. In fact, though, it's close. Because if the attempt succeeds the public will lose the ability to know the facts about what happened in this tragic episode -- the facts about what happened, how it happened, why it happened. As I said last night, having failed to ameliorate the tragedy as it occurred, the administration now seems dead-set on sanitizing and concealing the details of what transpired.

So, if you see press reports of bans on press access of any kind, please send them in to us. Second, if you're a reporter on the scene -- or anyone on the scene who has relevant information, for that matter -- and you have more details you can share about what's happening, please send them in. Your anonymity will be assured.

Give to worthy charities

Give to worthy charities, like for instance, my reelection campaign.

From the Dallas Morning News ...

Gov. Rick Perry, in hurricane relief tours around the state, in news releases and on his official state Web site, has urged Texans to contribute to three groups: the Red Cross, Salvation Army and the OneStar Foundation.

The last of those is a volunteer-coordinating effort founded by Mr. Perry. His prominent promotion of his own foundation has prompted some to question whether the governor is trying to benefit politically from the outpouring of sympathy and good works in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"One thing about politicians, you can never overestimate their shamelessness," said Fred Lewis, director of Campaigns for People, a group that favors greater disclosure of political donations and limits on the influence of large donors.

Mr. Perry created OneStar as a nonprofit charitable organization in January 2004 to coordinate faith-based initiatives and promote volunteerism. Its chief executive is Susan Weddington, who left the state Republican Party chairmanship to run the organization.

What a guy <$NoAd$> ...

(ed.note: Thanks to TPM Reader DK for the tip.)

At first the evidence

At first the evidence was scattered and anecdotal. But now it's pretty clear that a key aim of the Bush administration's takeover of the NOLA situation is to cut off press access to report the story.

First, there were the FEMA orders barring members of the press from photographing anything to do with the recovery of the bodies of the dead.

Perhaps there could be guidelines about photographs which in any way clearly identified the deceased. No one wants to get first confirmation of the death of a loved one by seeing their body on the nightly news. But a blanket ban serves only to prevent the public from knowing what really happened last week. And the right of FEMA or any branch of the federal government for that matter to issue such a ban on American soil seems highly dubious to me. It's one thing with military casualties: the military operates under its own legal code and not under normal civilian rules. But this is happening on American soil. This isn't a war zone. Nor is it any longer a situation where police or National Guard troops are in the midst of retaking control from mobs or looters. This is a recovery from a natural disaster.

Now comes this post from Brian Williams, which suggests a general effort to bar reporters from access to many of the key points in the city.

Take a moment to note what's happening here: these are the marks of repressive government, which mixes inefficiency with authoritarianism. The crew that couldn't get key aid on the scene in time last week is coming in in force now. And one of the key missions appears to be cutting off public information about what's happening in the city.

This is a domestic, natural disaster. Absent specific cases where members of the press would interfere or get in the way of some particular clean up operation, or perhaps demolition work, there is simply no reason why credentialed members of the press should not be able to cover everything that is happening in that city.

Think about it.