Democracy

Glock Shock in Iraq (Or, What the Lincoln Group Did Last Year With Your $19 Million)

Willem Marx, a recent graduate from Oxford, dreamed of becoming a foreign correspondent. He applied for an internship in which he would "pitch story ideas" and "interact with the local media" in Iraq. That's how the U.S. government-funded Lincoln Group advertised it. Sent off to Baghdad with virtually no training, Marx was soon packing a loaded Glock and helping buy good press for America--$3 million in cash in his apartment safe and another $16 million coming for "news," PR and advertising.

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$1,000 bounty: How do your members of Congress spend their day?

Our friends over at the Sunlight Network kicked off their Punch Clock Campaign today, which is offering a $1,000 "bounty" to any citizen who can get a member of Congress (or $250 for their challenger) to publicly post their daily schedule on the Internet. It's an intriguing new twist on the citizen muckraking model exemplified by the blogger campaign to reveal the senators that placed a secret hold on the earmark transparency bill.

They've already gotten one response, from Texan Alvis Yardley, who says that Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) is refusing to release his calendar due to "national security concerns"—despite the fact that the pledge only asks for the previous day's calendar. Guess we can't let the terrorists know where Carter was yesterday.

Update: Congress vs. the President

A few weeks ago, we first posted on the subject of presidential signing statements. At that time, we issued a challenge to all the citizen journalists out there to help us pin down the positions of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sen. Arlen Specter's (R-Pa.) Presidential Signing Statements Act, where the bill currently resides. The bill would grant Congress the right to file suit in order to determine the constitutionality of signing statements.

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