Bloggers frown at the clergy-abuse settlement in Los Angeles, vet the new National Intelligence Estimate, and wax skeptical about President Bush's new Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
Sins of the fathers: The Los Angeles Archdiocese reached a $660 million settlement with 508 claimants who had alleged abuse at the hands of priests. The settlement brings the American Catholic Church's clergy abuse-related settlements to more than $2 billion. Most bloggers don't think it goes far enough.
"[W]here are these men that are nothing less than pedophiles and WHY haven't they been turned over to the police for prosecution?" asks conservative Little Ole Lady. "The very fact that the Catholic Church has a history of and continues to hide these men leaves me in serious doubt of this Church."
Attorney-blogger Michael in Norfolk issues an ultimatum: "If Cardinal Mahoney has any integrity left, he will now resign, as should EVERY priest, bishop, cardinal and, if applicable, Pope, who participated in any way in the cover up of these horrendous crimes." But at Roman Catholic Blog, Orange County-based "Thomistic" urges caution in doling out reparations: "I'm of the mind that settlements should be made on a case by case basis, and only after releasing all records pertinent to those cases so as to prevent people from taking advantage of the Church by making false allegations against priests and religious."
The whole situation saddens D.C. pastor Carol Howard Merritt at Tribal Church, who has worked with victims of clergy abuse: "I find myself grieving with the victims. And, for some reason, grieving for the church as well. Maybe that's because the church is not just an institution, it's made up of people. And I know that we have a long, dark path we have to trudge through before we can find our way out."
At The Huffington Post, comedian Bill Maher notes that the church is selling off property to pay the settlement. "[W]hich reminded me, oh yeah, the Catholic Church owns more property out here than Bob Hope did -- and why? Oh, yeah, because it's a business -- and not just a business, really, the greatest business in the world, in that, like all religions, it's selling an invisible product."
Read more about the settlement.
They'll be back: A newly declassified National Intelligence Estimate reports that al-Qaida will attempt to use its contacts in Iraq to launch an attack on U.S. soil. It also warns of attacks by Hezbollah as well as non-Muslim groups.
"It makes the likelihood of a complete withdrawal less likely," writes Ed Morrissey at conservative Captain's Quarters, weighing the implications. "[T]he US has to keep pressure on [al-Qaida in Iraq] to prevent them from gaining enough strength to launch attacks here. It could, though, allow Congress to press for an AQI-only policy in Iraq, where the American military presence in Iraq gets reduced and redeployed to the Sunni areas only to fight AQI."
Liberal Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly's Political Animal figures the whole report is a setup for the final paragraph, which stresses the need for "how best to identify indicators of terrorist activity in the midst of legitimate interactions." "Translation: we need more surveillance capability, more data mining capability, more federal control, and expansions of the Patriot Act that lower the bar for searches and seizures. That's my guess, anyway. But maybe I'm just being paranoid."
At ABC News' The Blotter, investigative correspondent Brian Ross quotes former White House official Richard Clarke on what was left out of the report: Whereas the 2006 NIE said that the U.S. had managed to weaken al-Qaida, Clarke says, "[t]hat's no longer the case in 2007, and you have to read between the lines to understand how we have lost ground."
The New York Sun reported Tuesday that the NIE includes a section about al-Qaida leaders meeting regularly in Iran. Bradford Plumer at the New Republic's The Plank wonders why that part wasn't declassified: "It's possible that there was too much disagreement over what the Iran finding actually meant to make it public." Liberal Jonathan Stein at Mother Jones' MoJoBlog calls warnings of attacks by Hezbollah "critically important, particularly because it is a subtle warning about Cheney and Co.'s saber-rattling about Iran. If we attack Iran, or even appear to pose a 'direct threat' to Iran, we can expect a violent reaction from radical Shiite groups across the world. … A war with Iran could have thousands of fronts, including some here at home."
Read more about the new NIE.
Oslo 2.0: On Tuesday, President Bush announced plans to bring together Israeli and Palestinian leaders and their Arab neighbors for an international peace conference this fall. He also said the United States would give $80 million to Mahmoud Abbas to help the Palestinian Authority bolster security.
Solider-turned-peace-activist Michael Westmoreland-White at Levellers calls the announcement "good news" but remains skeptical: "It seems that every recent U.S. President, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and now, Bush II, makes an effort to nurture a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking as they come toward the end of their time in office. Having become a lame duck in domestic politics, the presidents seek to leave a legacy of dramatic peacemaking."
"YAWN!" is the reaction of liberal Richard Silverstein at Tikun Olam. He upbraids Bush for isolating Hamas: "None of us like Hamas much. But thinking you can negotiate peace with only one part of the Palestinian people would be like trying to negotiate the future of the United States after the Civil War while pretending the Confederate States (i.e. the South) didn't exist. It simply won't work."
Israel supporter Meryl Yourish doubts anything will come of it: "Let us note that terrorism has never stopped, the Palestinians refuse to acknowledge the Jewish origin of the Temple Mount, and the 'right of return' is still on the Palestinian table. This conference will do nothing but give W. a photo op."
Read more about the conference.