Afghan Warlord Feared Teaming Up With Qaeda and Taliban: “Remnants of Al Qaeda and the senior leadership of the Taliban are trying to build ties to a warlord, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, with the goal of attacking American-led forces and undermining the interim government in Kabul, senior American and British military officials here said today.” Asked if the US would go after Hekmatyar, a senior military official simply reminded reporters that his commander-in-chief had said ‘that if you are supporting these organizations, you are against us’. There is evidence that the CIA had tried — and failed — to assassinate him with a missile from a pilotless drone several weeks ago. NY Times

A couple from Howard Kurtz: Journalists See An Alarming Trend In Terror Warnings:

“Journalists say the Bush administration has been pushing the recent spate of scary stories about possible new terrorist attacks.

“Right now they’re putting out all these warnings to change the subject from what was known prior to September 11 to what is known now,” says CBS’s national security correspondent, David Martin.” .”

Sept. 11th Blame Game Intensifying:

“It’s come to this: finger-pointing about the finger-pointing.

That is, an argument over whether the Democrats are or are not benefiting from their attacks on the White House for mishandling intelligence before Sept. 11.

Only in Washington could a debate about the most vicious terrorist attack in American history turn into partisan score-keepingWashington Post

Hoover Redux:

F.B.I. Given Broader Authority to Monitor the Public

The Justice Department said today that it would immediately loosen restrictions on the F.B.I., giving the bureau broad new powers to go after terrorists without violating the United States Constitution.

Rules That Limited F.B.I. Domestic Spying Were Rooted in Earlier Era, Not in Law

Smile, you’re on candid camera — permitting the FBI to monitor the internet is one of the central features of the new rules.

With the substitution of the Internet for the newsstand, that is essentially what Attorney General John Ashcroft now proposes to allow the Federal Bureau of Investigation to do.

If the Supreme Court was unwilling to bar a similar practice in 1972, there is little reason to think a challenge would succeed today.

Indeed, the restrictions under which the F.B.I. has operated for three decades were self-imposed. Congressional pressure, lawsuits, scandals and a public outcry played a role in the bureau’s vow to limit domestic surveillance to situations in which criminal conduct was suspected. But the restrictions were not enforceable in court and were grounded in what might be called constitutional values, rather than actual law.

Civil libertarians largely acknowledge that the Justice Department is free to revise its own guidelines, but they say that the knowledge that political activity is being monitored by the government will chill the kinds of unrestrained discussions that are central to American democracy, with no appreciable benefits. NY Times

Shortlist for annual Turner Prize for art is published: “The nominees announced Thursday for the $30,000 annual award are Fiona Banner, Liam Gillick, Keith Tyson and Catherine Yass, all Britons. In keeping with the Turner Prize’s taste for the avant-garde, all are conceptual artists working with a range of unusual media. The prize has regularly been criticized for overlooking more conventional art forms. Some of the more unusual entries in recent years have included a soiled bed, a pickled cow and an elephant dung painting. This year, as in recent years, there was no painter among the finalists.” National Post

On this day of the ceremonial end to the cleanup and recovery at the World Trade Center site, I sat down with this moving, painful chronicle of the final 102 minutes of the WTC from last Sunday’s New York Times, compiled from 157 accounts from survivors and friends’ and relatives’ accounts of last phone and email contacts with those lost in the attack. I would not be surprised if this is old news for you, and if it had been blinked to by numerous other weblogs last week while I was away, but I couldn’t let it pass, brutally uncomfortable as it is to take in.