“I think Mr. ElBaradei, frankly, is wrong.” So said

Dick Cheney

on Meet the Press in March 2003, on the cusp of the US invasion of Iraq. Four years, one war and a Nobel Peace Prize later,

Mohamed ElBaradei

has most emphatically been proven right. Cheney, Judith Miller, Ahmad Chalabi, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, the

Washington Post

and the

Wall Street Journal

were, frankly, wrong. There were no WMDs in Iraq; the infamous aluminum tubes were duds; the Niger documents were a forgery. As director of the IAEA, ElBaradei testified to all this in the run-up to war. For insisting on the virtue of diplomacy, he was condemned in the press for abusing his “technical position” and making “a public fuss.”

History repeats itself: now that ElBaradei has negotiated an inspections agreement with Iran and opposed the “crazies” who want to “go and bomb Iran,” the press has launched another smear campaign. ElBaradei is a “rogue regulator” who “considers himself above his position as a U.N. civil servant,” opines the Post. He is an “accommodating Egyptian” with “pro-Iranian machinations,” warns the Journal. Even the chastened

New York Times

–which recognizes ElBaradei as “everyone’s best hope”–repeats the Administration line that he has inappropriately become a “world policy-maker, an advocate.” The obvious lesson from 2003–that it was the neocons who politicized inspections in Iraq, to ruinous effect, while the inspectors rightly resisted–seems to have been lost.


John Frohnmayer

knows how the Bushes operate. Scion of a prominent Oregon Republican family with a long history of supporting the arts and the GOP, he was George H.W. Bush’s chair of the National Endowment for the Arts during the early ’90s culture wars. Caught in the cross-fire, Frohnmayer defended the First Amendment rights of some artists, notably

Robert Mapplethorpe

, and enraged the religious right; his decision to veto grants to the NEA 4–

Holly Hughes


Karen Finley


Tim Miller


John Fleck

–angered the cultural left. Ultimately bounced from the NEA post by the elder Bush, Frohnmayer wrote a fine book, Leaving Town Alive, then slipped into relative obscurity–until September 12, when he announced an independent challenge to GOP

Senator Gordon Smith

. Now firmly on the side of the Constitution, Frohnmayer opened his campaign with a denunciation of presidential signing statements and the general lawlessness of the latest Bush presidency. “In defiance of the Constitution, President Bush has signed laws and then said he won’t enforce them, or that he will take on himself the judicial function of interpreting them,” declared the lawyer. “We must respond to [this] constitutional demolition. If he is not impeached, the same constitutional abuse is available to the next Administration.” Frohnmayer is just as worried about the Democrats. “Everyone in Congress–Democrat and Republican–is chickening out on this issue,” he says. “They are choosing partisan advantage, as they see it, over honoring their oath of office to support the Constitution.”   JOHN NICHOLS


According to the Institute for Policy Studies and financial reporter Michael Brush, CEOs at top defense contractors have seen annual pay raises of 200 to 688 percent since 9/11. The average annual salary for a CEO at a top defense contracting firm is now more than $12 million. Some earn more than twice that amount. Last year,

Nicholas Chabraja

(General Dynamics) and

David Lesar

(Halliburton) raked in more than $32 million and $30 million, respectively. It would take a top general in the military sixty-six years and nine weeks to earn as much as the average, and 170 years, forty-two weeks and five days to earn as much as Chabraja.


Justice comes late to the Jena Six, but at least it’s coming.

Mychal Bell

, the 17-year-old who was charged with attempted murder for his role in a fight, was released from jail September 27. He went home one week after thousands of civil rights activists–led by

Jesse Jackson


Al Sharpton

–marched through Jena in protest, and one day after District Attorney Reed Walters abandoned his effort to try Bell as an adult. Bell is now heading to juvenile court, backed by an all-star defense; the other five defendants are also awaiting trial.

The case of the Jena Six–in which noose-hangers, white-on-black aggression and an all-white jury were excused while black students’ sneakers were considered lethal weapons–has clearly been a “teachable moment for America,” as Hillary Clinton put it. It has awakened a new generation to serious racial disparities in the justice system and to the heavy toll young black men are paying in an era of mass imprisonment. Unfortunately, this new campaign may be a long one. In the days following the march, Justice Department officials declined to prosecute the noose-hanging as a hate crime, and prominent scholars

Orlando Patterson


Richard Thompson Ford

issued contrarian attacks on the Jena Six and black Americans generally. If this sort of backlash continues to predominate, Jena’s “teachable moment” may expire, and the incarceration rate of African-Americans–now at nearly six times that of whites–will keep rising unabated.   MARK SORKIN

FACEBOOKED: Finally, every serious presidential contender has an official profile on the social networking site Thus we know the following:

Rudy Giuliani

likes opera and

Dennis Kucinich

likes Willie Nelson. Giuliani is reading Testimony by Nicolas Sarkozy. Unlike every other candidate,

Hillary Clinton

lists neither her gender nor her “relationship status.”

Mike Gravel

‘s favorite quotes are by Thomas Jefferson (one) and himself (three). He enjoys watching The Lives of Others.

John Edwards

has posted 341 photos of himself and is a member of the groups John Edwards Is Good! and A Woman’s place is in the House…and the Senate!!!!

Barack Obama

likes One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Mitt Romney

likes “horseback riding with my wife” and “winning the war against the jihadists.” Neither Romney nor

Fred Thompson

lists a religion.

John McCain

attends North Phoenix Baptist Church; his favorite book: For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Ron Paul

‘s status is “asking for your donation to end the third quarter! Use the project code SRP388 when you donate.”   PETER C. BAKER