And now the most engrossing two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine:
The U.S. government disclosed today that last year it requested and won approval for more secret wiretaps and searches of suspected terrorists than ever before. The Associated Press says 1,228 such warrants and wiretaps were requested and approved last year, compared with 934 the year before. The government is not claiming a connection but these statistics come one day after the State Department (search) said terrorist attacks have dropped to their lowest level since 1969, about the time modern terrorism first surfaced. The department says there were 199 attacks by "international terrorists" in 2002, compared with 355 the previous year, a 44-percent decline.
Able or Not?
Israeli intelligence officials are saying that Abu Mazen, the new Palestinian (search) prime minister who earlier this week publicly promised to take down terrorism, has neither the intention nor the capability to do so. The Ha'aretz Daily quotes military sources as saying Mazen is "barely a third of the new political framework. The other two-thirds are Yasser Arafat and the terror organization, which continue to support terrorism." One senior military intelligence officer sarcastically told The Ha'aretz Daily that "at most" Mazen will be able to get terrorists to agree "not to commit attacks between 2 and 4 in the afternoon."
Joyous German Journalists
The San Francisco Chronicle's reporter in Germany (search) says the German media are "having a field day" with German politicians' "wildly inaccurate pronouncements" about the Iraq war. For example, Wolfgang Thierse, German Social Democratic parliamentary president, said the number of casualties in the war would reach into the "millions." Environmental Minister Juergen Trittin predicted as many as 400,000 people would die. And German Green Party Co-Chair Angelike Beer said the war "will result in the explosion of the near and Middle East."
Barking Up the Wrong Tree?
Finally, the Gordon family of Carmichael, Calif., near Sacramento says Lucille Marie Gordon will not be showing up for jury duty in response to the second summons she has received in a year. The problem is that Lucille Marie, better known as Lucy, is a dog, a brown Labrador retriever. When the family explained this to the local jury authorities, they were told that proof of that would need to be supplied. How about bringing Lucy to the courthouse to prove she's a dog? Sorry, said the officials, only seeing eye dogs allowed inside. And if no proof were presented, they said, a bench warrant for Lucy's arrest would be issued.