Footnotes of an America United

BRIT HUME, HOST: There were these footnotes to the story of America's war on terror.

The U.S. flag continues to generate controversy. Sears has now ordered that no flags be flown on its service vans -- and no patriotic decals either. A spokesman said flags and decals might obscure drivers' vision. And, besides, the company wants all its 15,000 service vans to look alike. This is the same company that joined FedEx last week in dropping sponsorship of ABC's late-night show "Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher" after Maher said U.S. forces had been -- quote -- "cowardly" in firing missiles from thousands of miles away in recent conflicts.

In Texas, state highway officials ordered flags that town officials had placed on a bridge between the towns of Kemah and Seabrook on the Gulf Coast near Galveston removed. The flags, it was said, violated the state's right-of-way. But local officials refused to move them. And the highway department backed down. And Old Glory is still flying from 28 light poles along that bridge.

CNN has now joined the Reuters News Agency in reluctance to call those who destroyed the World Trade Center and crashed into the Pentagon terrorists. A CNN spokesperson told "The Wall Street Journal" that the network's policy is to -- quote -- "identify people by their actions." Thus, those who flew the planes into the Trade towers and the Pentagon, said the spokeswoman, would be -- quote -- "alleged hijackers," not terrorists, because -- quote -- "CNN cannot convict anybody. Nothing has been judged by a court of law" -- end quote.

A newspaper columnist in Grants Pass, Oregon, has been fired after writing that President Bush was -- quote -- "hiding in a Nebraska hole" in the hours after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Columnist Dan Guthrie wrote that the president had -- quote -- "skedaddled" after the attack and that -- quote -- "most of his aides and Cabinet members split for secret locations, too" -- end quote. The paper denied that that column was the reason for the firing, but the paper's editor wrote an editorial apologizing for the column.