AP: Death Count of Innocent Civilian Casualties Is Inflated

And now the most compelling two minutes in televsion, the latest from the political grapevine.

The Associated Press is taking issue with estimates that place the number of innocent civilian casualties caused by the United States in the Afghan war in the thousands. The AP says it has examined records, visited bombsites, and interviewed eyewitnesses and officials, and places the death count somewhere in the “mid hundreds.” The wire service says that one reason for the inflated estimates was that the Taliban, according to Afghan journalists, "systematically  doctored reports of civilian deaths to push their estimate to 1,500 in the first three weeks of the war."

Senator Ernest Hollings, who earlier falsely said several Bush administration officials including Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill were connected to Enron, has apparently been caught in another factual mistake. The 84-year-old South Carolina Democrat charged over the weekend that his Senate Democratic colleague Dianne Feinstein of California had been unable to talk to Vice President Cheney about energy policy at a time when Enron officials did have access to Cheney. The White House has now produced this picture of an energy policy meeting last March and there was Dianne Feinstein, said the White House, talking to Cheney weeks before he spoke to Enron.

Bill and Hillary Clinton have reacted through spokespersons to that House subcommittee report, which said they made off with about twice as much stuff from the White House than they reported on their gift disclosure forms. A House government reform subcommittee said the Clintons took everything from furniture to neckties to jewelry to a silver necklace that were either not reported or underestimated in value. The Clinton's offices each released statements denying any improper reporting but not denying any of the gifts.

Eighth graders at Mission Junior High School in Mission, Texas, got a lesson yesterday on the trade-off between national security and civil liberties when they were searched at random by police officers at school. The whole thing was intended to be educational but one puzzled student was detained after police found a box cutter on him. It turned out to have been planted by the school principal.