News in Brief

The always funny and thought-provoking Arianna Huffington weighs in on the Bush State of the Union Controversy:

When faced with using explosive but highly questionable charges in vital presentations leading up to a possible preemptive war, both Powell and Tenet gave the information they were handed a thorough going over before ultimately rejecting it. But not the commander in chief. Apparently, he just took whatever he was handed, and happily offered it up to the world. He was, therefore, little more than the guy in the presidential suit, mindlessly speaking the words that others had debated and polished and twisted and finally agreed he would say. And then when the uranium hit the fan, our stand-up-guy president decided that the buck actually stops with George Tenet.

Could someone please explain to me why the federal government is bailing out the major US air carriers when Southwest Airlines continues to post record profits? What is Southwest doing that the big guys aren't?
Southwest, the only major U.S. carrier to report consistent profits since the Sept. 11 attacks, said it would boost capacity by 6 percent to 7 percent next year and forecast a higher third-quarter profit than a year ago. Its larger rivals, meanwhile, are deferring aircraft deliveries and relying on U.S. government aid to offset huge losses.

Can someone tell me, was Dr. David Kelley the suicidal type? And doesn't slashing your wrists and taking painkillers seem a little excessive?
Dr Kelly, a Ministry of Defence expert who has been named by the BBC as the source for controversial reports concerning last September's dossier on Iraq, apparently committed suicide last week, two days after appearing before the House of Commons foreign affairs select committee.

Dr Kelly's body was found in woods near his Oxfordshire home on Friday. He had apparently committed suicide the previous day by slashing his wrists and taking powerful painkillers.

Lord Hutton described Dr Kelly's death as "tragic", saying it had "brought such great sorrow to his wife and children".

I recall Enron Vice Chairman Cliff Baxter resigning on May 2, 2001, only to be found in his car on January 25, 2002, with a bullet in his head, not long before he would testify to Congress. "Suicides" like Kelly's and Baxter's are awfully convenient when they eliminate the key witness's testimony.
Police won't talk while the case is open, so CBS News asked two experts - independent coroner Cyril Wecht and former homicide detective Bill Wagner - to review the reports. While suicide appears likely, both experts say the documents make it impossible to discount foul play.

Asked why he couldn't rule out murder, Wagner said, "because murder can be made to look like a suicide. ... Someone who is knowledgeable about forensics can very well have the ability to stage a murder, commit a murder and stage it to look as if it was a suicide, understanding what the police are going to be looking for."

The experts found several things highly unusual. First the peculiar ammunition: not regular bullets but something called "rat-shot".

"This kind of ammunition cannot be easily or readily traced back to the gun from which it was fired," explained Wecht.

"It's not as frequently used by people for any reason. It's not the type of ammunition one finds in guns - it has a specific purpose: shooting at snakes and rodents in order to get a distribution pattern of the small pellets contained within the nose portion of the bullet. It's not something that a person is likely to have and to use if they intended to kill themselves," said Wecht.

Other unanswered questions include mysterious wounds on one hand and unexplained shards of glass in Baxter's shirt. All reasons to look deeper to rule out murder.

But Wagner says glaring police errors may make it harder to close the books on the Baxter case.

First, nobody wrapped the hands to preserve evidence.

"When the body did finally arrive for the autopsy, the hands hadn't even been bagged," said Wagner.

"I'm just amazed frankly that the hands were not bagged," Wecht said.

"From what I've seen looking at the vehicle, it doesn't appear they even fingerprinted it," continued Wagner.

"The police narrative is vague for this type of investigation. It's important to get a timeline of the events that took place through the course of investigation - that appears to be lacking in the original report from the crime scene. Without that, without being able to piece together what was done when, it's very difficult to understand the events that took place and how they unfolded from that report," said Wagner.

The gun and other evidence were moved before photos were taken. The body was moved as well. There's a puzzling mention of blood outside the car from someone laying Baxter on the ground.

Wagner says that only should have happened if rescuers pulled him out to revive him. But even that scenario doesn't add up - the body is back in the car when the funeral home arrives "and that's something that is not explained in the police reports," said Wagner.

"I think there were some very important things omitted from the original investigation report that should have been included in it. I would like to have known what were the first couple things the Fire Department did to treat the victim allegedly as he was sitting in the car and from that point how did they change the initial crime scene. What was moved? Did they remove the body from the vehicle? It's actually unclear how they treated the actual scene," Wagner said.

Incredibly, even though an autopsy is required by law, none was ordered. By the time that decision was reversed, Baxter's body was being processed at a funeral home.

Speaking of secrets and lies, BBC America is airing "War Spin: Jessica Lynch," a documentary which
accuses official Washington (including the White House) of deliberately twisting facts about events in Iraq. More than that, "War Spin: Jessica Lynch" -- which airs on the BBC America cable channel -- says most of the journalists who covered the ground war three months ago essentially aided the Pentagon's pro-war stance (as the Pentagon had hoped) because the journalists were so dependent on U.S. and British military sources.

If you're in an activist mood, contact your Representative and tell them you support House Resolution 2625, "To establish the Independent Commission on Intelligence about Iraq."