Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Click here to return to the browser-optimized version of this page. This article can be found on the web at http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060703/crispinmiller The Death of News by MARK CRISPIN MILLER [from the July 3, 2006 issue] Ten years ago, when we first focused national attention on the dangers of the US media cartel, the situation was already grim, although in retrospect it may seem better than it really was. In the spring of 1996 Fox News was only a conspiracy (which broke a few months later). CNN belonged to Turner Broadcasting, which hadn't yet been gobbled by Time Warner (although it would be just a few months later); Viacom had not yet bought CBS News (although it would in 1999, before they later parted ways); and, as the Telecommunications Act had been passed only months earlier, local radio had not yet largely disappeared from the United States (although it was obviously vanishing). One could still somewhat plausibly assert, as many did, that warnings of a major civic crisis were unfounded, overblown or premature, as there was little evidence of widespread corporate censorship, and so we were a long way from the sort of journalistic meltdown that The Nation had predicted. Thus was the growing threat of media concentration treated much like global warming, which, back then, was also slighted as a "controversial" issue ("the experts" being allegedly at odds about it), and one whose consequences, at their worst, were surely centuries away--a catastrophic blunder, as the past decade has made entirely clear to every sane American. Now, as the oceans rise and simmer and the polar bears go under, only theocratic nuts keep quibbling with the inconvenient truth of global warming. And now, likewise, few journalists are quite so willing to defend the Fourth Estate, which under Bush & Co. has fallen to new depths. Although its history is far from glorious, the US press has never been as bad as it is now; and so we rarely hear, from any serious reporters, those blithe claims that all is well (or no worse than it ever was). Contrary to the counterclaims in 1996, there was, as The Nation noted then, copious hard evidence of corporate meddling with the news, and also, even more important, lots of subtler evidence of reportorial self-censorship throughout the media cartel. And yet what stood out as egregious back then seems pretty tame today, now that the press consistently tunes out or plays down the biggest news, while hyping trivialities, or, if it covers a disaster, does so only fleetingly and without "pointing fingers." (New Orleans is now forgotten.) The press that went hoarse over Monica Lewinsky's dress is largely silent on the Bush regime's subversion of the Constitution; its open violation of the laws here and abroad; its global use of torture; its vast surveillance program(s); its covert propaganda foreign and domestic; its flagrant cronyism; its suicidal military, economic and environmental policies; and its careful placement of the federal establishment into the hands of Christianist extremists. Whether it's such tawdry fare as Jeffrey Gannon's many overnights at Bush's house, or graver matters like the Patriot Act, or the persistent questions about 9/11, or the President's imperial "signing statements" or--most staggering of all--the ever-growing evidence of coast-to-coast election fraud by Bush & Co., the press has failed in its constitutional obligation to keep us well informed about the doings of our government. In short, our very lives and liberty are at unprecedented risk because our press has long since disappeared into "the media"--a mammoth antidemocratic oligopoly that is far more responsive to its owners, big shareholders and good buddies in the government than it is to the rest of us, the people of this country. Surely other factors too have helped wipe out the news: an institutional overreliance on official sources; the reportorial star system, with its corruptive salaries and honoraria, and all those opportunities to hobnob with important criminals; the propaganda drive against "the liberal media"; the stupefying influence of TV, which has dragged much of the print world into its too-speedy orbit; etc. The fundamental reason for the disappearance of the news, however, is the media cartel itself. Fixated on the bottom line, it cuts the costs of real reporting while overplaying cheap crapola; and in its endless drive for more, it is an ally of the very junta whose high crimes and misdemeanors it should be exposing to the rest of us. It is past time, therefore, to go beyond the charting and analysis of media ownership, to boycotts, strikes and protests of the media cartel itself.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Dick DeVos In perhaps the stupidest election-year partisan attack ever, the Democratic Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, was criticized last month for ordering flags flown at half-staff to honor American soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. While this may seem absurd to... um... everyone with a brain, apparently there exists a small number of flag-fetishists in Michigan who believe it "cheapens the gesture" if the flag is lowered to half-staff for insignificant nobodies like the men and women who are making the ultimate sacrifice for this country.Perhaps sensing a unique opportunity to pander to the semi-retarded troop-hater vote, Granholm's opponent in the 2006 campaign, Dick DeVos (R-Amway), joined in the partisan attack against Granholm and said through a campaign aide that he would reverse the flag-lowering policy, because "lowering the flag has typically been reserved for heads of state." Isn't that special. Apparently DeVos feels so strongly about "supporting the troops" that he'll gladly slap them in the face if he thinks it'll score him some cheap political points. And if it doesn't score him some cheap political points? Well, he's not too proud to flip-flop. Facing an outcry from patriotic Americans from across the state, DeVos felt it necessary to "clarify" his position. In a letter to the Detroit Free Press, he said that flying the flag at half-mast "is the least we can do to honor those who have given their lives for the sake of our freedom." Way to go... Dick.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Overselling Terror By Robert ParryJune 9, 2006 The killing of Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq and the arrest of 17 suspects in an alleged terror plot in Canada have buoyed George W. Bush’s political prospects by refocusing America’s attention again on the terror threat, much as the orange color-coded warnings did from 2002 until Election 2004. But the recent developments in Iraq and Canada have obscured other new evidence that points toward a very different reality: that the Islamic terror threat was never as severe as Bush made it out to be after the 9/11 attacks and that it has been fading ever since. While Bush has sought to frighten the American people with apocalyptic visions of Islamic terrorists establishing an empire that “spans from Spain to Indonesia,” the new intelligence data actually reveals al-Qaeda as a largely dissipated force that now exists more as an inspiration to violence than as an organized movement. Indeed, since 9/11, with Osama bin-Laden on the run and many other al-Qaeda leaders captured or killed, leading theoreticians of Islamic terror have jettisoned the idea of a tightly organized movement that could take territory or even mount coordinated attacks. Instead, these strategists have been reduced to encouraging scattered acts of crude violence by home-grown terror cells that can manage to scrape together their own resources, make their own plans and launch attacks far less sophisticated than those on 9/11. While still capable of some horrific acts of violence, like the Madrid train bombings in 2004 or the London subway bombings in 2005, these self-motivated cells would seem to represent more of a police challenge than a justification for putting the U.S. government onto a perpetual war footing with a President exercising total – or “plenary” – authority. In fact, it could be argued that the excesses of Bush’s “war on terror” – the invasion of Iraq, the Abu Ghraib prison abuses, alleged torture at Guantanamo Bay and secret CIA prisons – have become the central organizing tool and the chief motivating force for the emerging shape of Islamic terrorism. Captured Theorist U.S. and other Western intelligence agencies have been aware of this altered structure of the Islamic terror threat for the past couple of years and have developed detailed knowledge since the capture of terror theorist Mustafa Setmariam Nasar in October 2005. Nasar “has turned out to be a prize catch, a man who is not a bomb-maker or operational planner but one of the jihad movement’s prime theorists for the post-Sept. 11, 2001, world,” the Washington Post reported in a little-noted article in May 2006. Nasar’s masterwork was a 1,600-page treatise entitled “The Call for Global Islamic Resistance,” which has been circulating on the Internet for about 18 months, the Post reported. Nasar’s manifesto urged self-sustaining cells to engage in resistance against the West with organizational links kept to an absolute minimum. “The enemy is strong and powerful, we are weak and poor, the war duration is going to be long and the best way to fight it is in a revolutionary jihad way for the sake of Allah,” wrote Nasar, a 47-year-old Spanish-Syrian citizen who was captured in the city of Quetta, Pakistan and has since been questioned by various Western intelligence agencies. [Washington Post, May, 23, 2006] While Nasar’s theories and other intelligence discoveries suggest that Islamic terror will remain a sporadic problem into the future, the information also puts that danger into perspective and suggests that some calibration of the Western counterterrorism strategies could be helpful in reducing the risk even more. In contrast to the alarmist warnings from Bush about the construction of a global terrorist empire, the current strategy of the Islamic terrorists appears to be mostly defensive in nature. The attacks in Spain and London, for instance, targeted nations that were participating in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Spain has since withdrawn its troops, but Great Britain remains engaged in the conflict and there have been no follow-up attacks since the July 7, 2005, suicide bombings that were carried out by four Muslim youths, mostly long-time residents from the industrial region around Leeds. The 17 Canadian Muslims, including five juveniles, were arrested in early June 2006 on charges of plotting a series of bombings in Ontario that also allegedly were motivated by anger over Western military action in an Islamic nation. Canada has deployed 2,300 soldiers to the conflict in Afghanistan. Zawahiri’s Letter Other documents purportedly captured from terrorists in Iraq further reinforce this image of a struggling movement that is fueled by the fury felt by individual Muslims over the U.S. invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. For instance, a captured 6,000-word letter purportedly sent by al-Qaeda’s second-in-command Ayman Zawahiri to Zarqawi on July 9, 2005, revealed a weakened organization worried that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq might cause many of its foreign jihadists to lay down their arms and go home. According to the letter, as released by U.S. intelligence, Zawahiri hoped that after U.S. forces left Iraq, al-Qaeda's contingent could hold out in some Sunni enclaves and keep the jihadists in line by promising the eventual creation of a “caliphate” in an area along the Mediterranean Sea to Egypt, known as the Lavant. But the “Zawahiri letter” recognized the weakness of al-Qaeda’s position, especially if the U.S. military suddenly withdrew. Not only might al-Qaeda find itself surrounded by hostile forces, but many of the jihadists might be inclined to call it quits. The “Zawahiri letter” floated the “idea” of an Islamic caliphate “only to stress … that the mujahedeen must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq, and then lay down their weapons, and silence the fighting zeal.” In other words, assuming U.S. intelligence is correct that the letter was written by Zawahiri, al-Qaeda saw promoting the dream of an unlikely “caliphate” as a needed sales pitch to keep the jihadists from returning to their everyday lives once the Americans departed Iraq. The letter also pictured al-Qaeda as a struggling organization under financial and political duress, not a movement plotting global domination. Al-Qaeda’s leaders were so short of funds that they asked their embattled operatives in Iraq to send $100,000 to relieve a cash squeeze, according to the letter. Zarqawi’s Army Despite the Bush administration’s longstanding efforts to make Zarqawi the terrifying poster boy of the Iraqi insurgency, U.S. intelligence knew that Zarqawi’s al-Qaeda contingent of foreign fighters represented only a small percentage of the armed resistance to U.S. and allied forces in Iraq. Most intelligence assessments put the size of this foreign jihadist force at only a few thousand fighters, or around 5 percent of the overall Iraqi insurgency. In 2005, a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a conservative Washington-based think tank, said the number of foreign fighters was “well below 10 percent, and may well be closer to 4 percent to 6 percent.” [See CSIS’s “Saudi Militants in Iraq,” Sept. 19, 2005] A former U.S. official with access to intelligence on the Iraqi insurgency cited similar numbers in an interview with the New York Times, estimating that 95 percent of the insurgents are Iraqis. [NYT, Oct. 15, 2005] Also, suggesting that the international threat from Islamic terrorists was less severe than Bush let on was the historical fact that Muslim nations succeeded, again and again, in suppressing radical movements as long as Western powers stayed out of the way. In an Oct. 6, 2005, speech, Bush inadvertently underscored this point when he noted that “over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Jordan for potential takeover.” Bush could have added Algeria to the list of countries that faced a radical Islamic threat. But the bottom line to all these cases was that the radicals were defeated, explaining why so many of al-Qaeda’s leaders are exiles. Osama bin-Laden is a Saudi; Zawahiri is an Egyptian; Zarqawi was a Jordanian. In the late 1990s, bin-Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders were even banished from the Sudan, forcing them to flee to remote Afghanistan. Hitler/Stalin Bush, however, has offered his own chilling vision of al-Qaeda’s global power. In that Oct. 6, 2005, speech, Bush asserted that Muslim extremists intended to use Iraq as a base to “establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia” and thus would isolate and strategically defeat the United States. The disparity between the intelligence data about al-Qaeda’s weaknesses and Bush’s claims about the group’s extraordinary prowess suggests that Bush is still exaggerating the threat posed by his Islamic enemies, much as he hyped allegations of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify invading Iraq in March 2003. Just as he roused American fears with images of “mushroom clouds” from hypothetical Iraqi nuclear bombs, Bush now appears to be presenting an off-the-charts worst-case scenario about the threat from Islamic extremism. In that same speech, Bush likened al-Qaeda leaders to historic tyrants, such as Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, suggesting that anyone opposed to the Iraq War was inviting slaughter on a massive scale. But there are few indications that al-Qaeda’s leaders – believed to be holed up in the mountains along the Pakistani-Afghan border – represent that level of threat. Instead, Bush’s intent appears to be to use a never-ending hyped-up threat of Islamic terrorism as the organizing principle for a new authoritarian form of government in the United States. By keeping Americans scared, he and his advisers believe they can exert virtually unlimited power inside the United States without significant opposition. Bush’s strategy also might have a circular quality to it. As long as he cites the threat of Islamic terrorism, he can maintain enough political support to keep U.S. troops in Iraq and continue the operation of the Guantanamo Bay prison. That, in turn, will keep young Muslims riled up and thus increase the likelihood of sporadic violence in the months ahead. That will further stoke the fears inside the United States and let Bush consolidate his authoritarian powers even more. So, the ultimate danger from al-Qaeda and any home-grown spin-offs may not be from the violence that they can inflict but from their status as the bogeymen who can scare the American people into surrendering the democratic Republic envisioned by the Founders.
How to be a Conservative Pundit in Three Easy Traits Why the right sorts its defenders by age, sex, and color. By Ezra Klein, UCLATuesday May 10, 2005 “I’m proud I’m a virgin. I’m glad I’m a virgin. I don’t even mind talking about it. So maybe you wonder: Why am I a virgin? It’s actually very simple. I am a virgin because I choose to wait until I get married.”-Ben Ferguson Ben Ferguson, the proud virgin in the above quote, is “America’s Youngest Talk Radio Host” and author of the plaintively, pleadingly titled It’s My America, Too. An unnaturally cherubic 22-year-old with little regard for liberals and lots of airtime in which to tell you about it, Ferguson has been riding the airwaves in some capacity or another since the ripe young age of 13, when right-wing radio host Ken Hamblin gave the kid a weekly call-in slot on his Denver-based program and made him one of the country’s best heard young voices. It’s now nine years later, and Ferguson has his own guests, not to mention his own show. Impressive kid, but who is he? A proud product of home schooling, Ferguson is a charmingly parochial 20-something who attributes his success to time spent in Mom’s minivan. “[W]hile other kids were stuck in boring classrooms, staring at the walls or ripping apart their paper, piece by piece,” Ferguson was firmly planted in the passenger’s seat, listening to Limbaugh in the family Windstar. Ferguson is, further, deeply religious, disgusted by popular culture, in favor of family, in favor of school prayer, and would generally do a great job at dinner with your grandparents (unless they’re America-hating commies). The funny thing is, Ferguson’s background isn’t unique. In the rarified world of young conservative punditry, it’s no less than archetypal. Joining him in prodigy-hood is Kyle Williams, a home-schooled, deeply religious 14-year-old columnist/author with a stunning mastery of conservative talking points and an unending storehouse of cultural disgust, and Ben Shapiro, a home-schooled orthodox Jew who found UCLA so packed with hardship and adversity that he wrote a column on it for the school paper, a syndicated column on it for conservative papers, and the just-published Brainwashed, a book on all the lefty academicians trying to trick students into tattooing Mao onto their buttocks. A quick round on Nexis shows that these three boast numerous appearances on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, which, for two writers and a radio broadcaster, marks the multimedia ubiquity that transforms a political savant into a true pundit. And they, just like your retired generals and legal consultants, are called in when their expertise is applicable. From reading the transcripts, typical subjects are being young (Ben, Ben and Kyle), being really young (Kyle), being offended by popular culture (Ben, Ben, and Kyle), being offended by college (Ben S.), being offended by liberals (Ben, Ben and Kyle) and why liberals offend other people their age, too (Ben, Ben, and Kyle). But having these three represent their generation is like learning about international diplomacy from Don Rumsfeld; the gurus know not of what they speak. The young folk the conservative message machine trots out to speak for Generation Y are not exactly representative members. In 2003, 2.2% of students were home-schooled. Religion, though judged important by 34% of high-schoolers, has less to do with piety for them and more to do with youth groups (read: snowboarding and roller-hockey weekends). As Dale Buss wrote in The Wall Street Journal, “The hard numbers say … that, while they may profess the faith and indeed love Jesus, the vast majority of Christian teenagers in this country actually hold beliefs fundamentally antithetical to the creed.” And the demographic driving Jay-Z and Ashlee Simpson (and downloading, watching, and re-watching Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction”) lacks the monstrous disdain Ben, Ben and Kyle hold for pop culture. So why are these the personalities trotted out whenever the conversation turns youthful? And how did these three get the permanent slots, while they face off against an ever-rotating cast of young lefties, culled from wherever a desperate producer can find them? (I was once invited on to CNN/FN to talk about the youth vote. The invitation came in a frantic e-mail the morning of the show; the car, dispatched as soon as I responded to the e-mail, arrived 10 minutes before the segment, and I breathlessly entered the argument just as it ended.) It’s possible, I guess, that they are true prodigies whose remarkable talents have earned them premature success. But doesn’t it seem just a wee bit unlikely that all three members of this successful trio would be conservative, home-schooled, deeply religious and disdainful of pop culture? In fact, the repetition of this rare combination of traits suggests that they, in fact, are the reasons for the unlikely prominence of Ben, Ben and Kyle. These are dream children—living, breathing, maybe even guitar-playing rebuttals to the hostile relationship Republicans are reputed to have with the young. They fit a detailed mold and can be trotted out to cover the conservative flank each time jihad is declared on rap music or Maxim or SpongeBob SquarePants. When it’s old white guys rationalizing the cultural broadsides, they just seem out-of-touch and paternalistic. But if Ben Shapiro is out there, if rap’s target demographic is brandishing a pitchfork and joining the mob, then it’ll throw enough confusion into the argument that the helpless liberal will be lost trying to figure out who he’s fighting for. In fact, Ben, Ben, and Kyle fit a distinct pattern in conservative media representation. Indeed, leveraging one’s demographic birthright to help the conservative cause is a rich and respected tactic for getting noticed by the Republican Noise Machine. Take Michelle Malkin (please!), an Asian woman who wrote a book defending the internment of other Asian-Americans during World War II and now frequents Fox News demanding a sensible assessment of whether Arabs should undergo similar treatment for the duration of the War on Terror. That Asian internment was warranted isn’t exactly a majority viewpoint, but never mind. Take Ward Connerly, a black pundit who springs forth with jack-in-the-box regularity each time the right trains its guns on affirmative action. And while we’re doing Ward, we can’t forget his partner-in-crime Linda Chavez, a Latina whose primary interest appears to be, yes, assaulting affirmative action. Take Phyllis Schlafly, the woman who led the effort to kill the Equal Rights Amendment, a little constitutional edit that, if ratified, would’ve enshrined gender equality as the immutable law of the land. In a party that captures a minority of woman, African-Americans, Asians, and Hispanics, it’s statistically stunning for these racially (or, in Schlafly’s case, sexually) charged issues to all find their conservative fulcrums in a member of the affected group. But it’s also good politics. Color-coding your defenders saves a lot of trouble, as the charges of discrimination that might sink a racially charged proposal fall flat when the initiative’s defender has the correct skin tone. It stands to reason that the proposal can’t be too bad for the affected group, or why would that person be on TV defending it? Similarly, no woman, presumably, would defend something that’s bad for her gender, and no young person would fight for what most of his generation opposes. And yet the ranks of conservative pundits swell with advocates whose primary purpose seems to be using their demographic birthright to defuse criticism of offensive policies. So don’t fault Ben, Ben, and Kyle for their odd upbringings and unlikely prominence – their rare combination of youthful looks and throwback sensibilities are the precise attributes that allow them to advocate and oppose where older, stodgier Republicans dare not tread, just like Linda, Ward, and Michelle use their race to go where white Republicans cannot. As a friend of mine once noted, if these folks didn’t exist, Republicans would have to invent them. In fact, I think they did. Ezra Klein is a junior at UCLA. He does have a blog, it’s at http://ezraklein.typepad.com. He does not work for the school newspaper. Which leaves him time to respond to your e-mails: email@example.com. Illustration: Matt Bors -------- CommentsLeave a comment about this article below. For more discussion, visit our community page and sign up for your own Campus Progress blog! So … if all conservatives were old and white and male, you would say: see, all conservatives are old and white and male, and feel smug and self-righteous. But they’re not. So what to do? Slyly suggest that people like Michelle Malkin and Ward Connerly are only prominent because of their race. Racism has pretty much retreated into the corners in modern America. And one of those corners is a liberal one.— Doug - May 17, 06:59 AM - # —Racism has pretty much retreated into the corners in modern America. And one of those corners is a liberal one.—What a fantasy world you live in Doug. Race is an issue here and now. I have distant family from the south that won’t drink Coke because it is ni##er pop. They say Seattle is racist because we don’t have to live with “them people”. I have a friend that didn’t get served in an eastern Washington restaurant because she was a minority. I’ve experienced descrimination myself. It’s there and it’s real. Pull your head out of your a**.— Timetheos - May 17, 04:51 PM - # He didn’t “slyly” suggest anything. He just gave the facts about the token minorities in the repub party. For most part, the repubs/conservatives ARE white, male and old. BTW, just to jog your memory a little – all the southern (white) democrats who opposed the civil rights act ended up in the republican party. For a conservative apologist its rather dangerous to suggest anything about racism in America – the old adage about stones and glass houses come to mind ;-)— Trish - May 17, 05:01 PM - # If there’s anything Republicans excel at, it’s projection.— renato - May 17, 07:08 PM - # It’s not projection. It’s calculated. ‘Projection’ is a subconscious desire to assign one’s own problems to others. What’s going on in the Republican party is not subconscious. Their goal, as Klein points out, is to befuddle their opponents into powerlessness.— Enoch Root - May 22, 02:37 AM - # Not all the racists. Byrd and Hollings are still with the Dems. And…and…well, the rest of ‘em switched sides. Johnson predicted that his civil rights legislation would lose the Dems the south for a generation. So far, it’s been two.— Rick - May 22, 01:07 PM - # Wait, Doug, my uncle is severely mentally handicapped, yet even he could tell you that some conservatives are female, that some our young, and that some are non-white. A five year old would know that. There are certainly more than a billion conservatives in the world- it would be quite bizarre if not one of them were white, female, or young. So your hypothetical is absurd. It is like starting a discussion “If every single fan of punk music, without a single exception, were under the age of sixty…”
It's been a couple of weeks since the blonde shemale attacked the widows of 9.11 claiming they were happy to see their husbands being roasted alive because of the pay day they will get from writing books and appearing in tv ads. Here's my take about this whole situation, first who gives a damn what Ann Coulter has to say? This is a woman who claimed Max Cleland blew himself up in Vietnam so he can run for senator in Georgia yeah who needed those two legs and arm when you can be a senator in Georgia hell can I lose two legs and a arm to be a senator there too? This is the same woman who said her only sorry thing about Timmy McVeigh that he didn't blow up the New York Times building and going back couple of years this is the same woman who said we should invade Muslim countries kill their leaders and convert the people there to Christians. Ann Coulter is a twisted right winger who accuses liberals of things she either done her self or she's doing right at this minute, in all honestly I feel bad for Ann I wouldn't want to be a woman knocking on 50, with no kids, no husband hell not even a boyfriend and be a woman with a Adam's apple that would make most men green with envy. I tell you the sin the Jersey Girls done in the eyes of Ann Coulter and her defenders they asked for some accountability from their president... nothing more nothing less, they pushed for the 9.11 comission and the Bush White House fought tooth and nail against it. And they supported John Kerry because they knew this White House had no interest in finding out what really happen that day and how to prevent another one from happening, in Bush's America the right has shown if you're critical or demand some accountability this gives the right a green light to attack, attack and attack the people who dare to voice a different opinion about their guy.
Savage called Iraqi witnesses of alleged Haditha massacre "vermin" and "scum," proclaimed detained Marines are American "POWs" http://mediamatters.org/items/200606090010 On the June 7 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, Michael Savage labeled as "vermin" and "scum" Iraqi civilians who have accused U.S. Marines of slaughtering innocent civilians in Haditha, Iraq, and claimed that the Marines being held in connection with the alleged Haditha massacre are "POWs [prisoners of war] ... being held in America by their own government." Savage continued: "Hell is going to break loose if they're not allowed out of those shackles." Furthermore, Savage attacked Time magazine reporter Tim McGirk, CNN host Wolf Blitzer, and Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA), who have commented on the alleged massacre, saying that they belong in "shackles." Savage's comments came during a conversation with a caller to his radio program who identified himself as the father of a Marine being held in connection with the Haditha incident. Savage also asserted that the military's detention of the accused Marines "would be the equivalent of German civilians accusing Americans of atrocities, and the military taking the side of the German civilians during the war against Hitler." He further claimed that the Marines "are being treated almost the same way as prisoners were treated in the Hanoi Hilton, with the exception of overt torture. Thus far, they haven't been hung from hooks yet to break their shoulders to make them confess." Savage also asserted: "I want you to start calling these men POWs. Michael Savage said it first, but not last. I am the point man on this." Commenting on McGirk, who first reported on the Haditha story in March, Savage stated: "He is an enemy agent. He should be in shackles." Savage then expanded his attack to Blitzer and Murtha, stating that "[i]f I were running things" they would also be "in shackles," and that Savage would "make them prove that they're not working for the enemy." From the June 7 broadcast of Talk Radio Network's Savage Nation: SAVAGE: Seattle, Washington, [caller]. You're up on the Savage Nation. Go ahead, please. CALLER: Hi, Michael, I'm the father of another one of the men in shackles at Camp Pendleton brig. In fact, I've met [a previous caller] before, when they returned from Iraq the last time. And I just wanted to let you know that we are all hurting very much, but what we've come to realize is that these accusations by the enemy are nothing but another weapon in their arsenal. They've discovered how the American military, the American government, and even the jailers in the brig react to these kind of accusations. And unlike the former brig jailer that you had on earlier, there are no charges, there is nothing but an investigation, these men are being treated like criminals, like convicted criminals of serial murder, and they have not even been charged. The investi -- SAVAGE: No, I know that. I know this is a witch-hunt, and I know George Bush and [Secretary of Defense] Donald Rumsfeld could stop it. [...] SAVAGE: I guarantee you we're not going to leave our POWs [prisoners of war] behind. Now, do you agree with my analogy that your son is one of the POWs of this war? CALLER: Absolutely. I hadn't heard it put that way until I turned your show on today at the top of the show, but -- SAVAGE: Look, I'm telling you, I can see things in a way people can't -- others can't see them. They are POWs, only the shock is they're being held in America by their own government. [...] SAVAGE: Do they know that millions of Americans are rooting for them and working for them? Does your son know that there's a gigantic support network that's going to make hell -- hell is going to break loose if they don't let your son out of those shackles. [...] SAVAGE: And all these accusations originated with the enemy themselves, is that correct? CALLER: That is correct. One hundred -- SAVAGE: It's all coming from the Iraqi scum -- and I'm gonna say it like it is, the vermin we're fighting. The vermin we're fighting are accusing our Marines, and our Marines are now in the brig wearing shackles. I've never heard this, [caller]. This would be the equivalent of German civilians accusing Americans of atrocities, and the military taking the side of the German civilians during the war against Hitler. That's exactly what's going on here. It's unheard of. How could George Bush get away with this, [caller]? I'm sorry, you probably won't say what I need to say. Why is Rumsfeld hiding in Vietnam? Isn't he the man who could stop this mistreatment of your son right now? [...] SAVAGE: He [McGirk] is an enemy agent. He should be arrested; he should be in shackles. He should be in shackles. Tim McGirk, who wrote this story putting our men in shackles, is the one, if I were running things, he'd be in shackles; Wolf Blitzer would be in shackles; Jack Murtha would be in shackles. I'd make them prove that they're not working for the enemy. I'd make them prove that they're not working for the enemy, taking the enemy's word on everything and putting our poor boys behind bars. [...] SAVAGE: I want you to start calling these men POWs. Michael Savage said it first, but not last. I am the point man on this, just as I was on so many other things. They are prisoners of war. Unfortunately, they're not bring held in a -- I mean, unfortunately. Unfortunately, they are being held in our own prisons, our own military prisons. They are POWs. They are being treated almost the same way as our prisoners were treated in the Hanoi Hilton, with the exception of overt torture. Thus far, they haven't been hung from hooks yet to break their shoulders to make them confess. Thank God that the Geneva Convention is being followed in Camp Pendleton. Thank god only 29% of the population follows these punk asses arm chair warriors.
Reporting Zarqawi's death, broadcast, cable and major newspaper reports failed to note Bush administration's reported refusal to eliminate him before Iraq war http://mediamatters.org/items/200606090009 A Media Matters for America review of extensive broadcast reporting on June 8 on the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the self-proclaimed Al Qaeda leader in Iraq, found that the three cable networks, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, as well as nightly news reports on NBC, CBS, and ABC, made no reference to widespread reports from 2004 that the Bush administration had as many as three opportunities to eliminate Zarqawi and his terrorist training camp prior to the Iraq war, but elected to wait because killing Zarqawi "could undercut its case for war against Saddam [Hussein]," in the words of NBC News chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski. Articles in The Washington Post, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal published June 9 also omitted that information, although The New York Times ran an op-ed in its June 9 edition that noted, "It has been reported that twice the administration passed on the opportunity to attack his camp in the Kurdish area of Iraq, evidently believing that it would detract from the more important goal of toppling Saddam Hussein." In addition, White House press secretary Tony Snow received no questions from reporters about those alleged forgone opportunities during Snow's 50-minute White House press briefing on June 8, in which the press corps and Snow focused exclusively on Zarqawi's death. As The Carpetbagger Report weblog noted on June 8, in a March 2, 2004, report, NBC News outlined the administration's repeated failures to eliminate Zarqawi. According to NBC News, in June 2002, the Pentagon identified Zarqawi at a weapons production facility in Kirma, Iraq, and drew up "airtight" plans to use cruise missiles and air strikes to eliminate the terrorist leader; the plan was reportedly "debated to death" in the National Security Council. Then, in response to "intelligence [that] showed Zarqawi was planning to use ricin in terrorist attacks in Europe," the Pentagon again submitted plans for an air strike in October 2002 -- but again the administration refused. In January 2003, at the height of the administration's push for the invasion of Iraq, British police reportedly arrested a group of terror suspects in London connected to the ricin camp in Kirma, and the Pentagon submitted its third attack plan for eliminating Zarqawi. But, as NBC News reported, by that time, "Zarqawi and many of his followers were gone": Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi's operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam. The United States did attack the camp at Kirma at the beginning of the war, but it was too late -- Zarqawi and many of his followers were gone. "Here's a case where they waited, they waited too long and now we're suffering as a result inside Iraq," [former National Security Council member Roger] Cressey added. Parts of the NBC News report were subsequently confirmed by The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), which noted that, as the post-Saddam insurgency grew increasingly violent, questions were raised about why the administration failed to strike at Zarqawi's camp given that President Bush had said "he relentlessly would pursue and attack fleeing al Qaeda fighters regardless of where they went to hide." The Journal also reported that military officials considered the intelligence on his whereabouts "sound" and "one of the best targets we ever had." Later, Washington Monthly's Political Animal weblog author Kevin Drum noted that the reports of several instances in which the Pentagon submitted strike plans against Zarqawi to the White House before the war were confirmed by an on-the-record statement by former CIA officer Michael Scheuer, who directed the agency's unit assigned to tracking Osama bin Laden. In the June 9 op-ed on Zarqawi, Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, co-authors of The Next Attack: The Failure of the War on Terror and a Strategy for Getting it Right (Times Books, October 2005) and senior fellows at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Council on Foreign Relations, respectively, noted: Top military intelligence officials knew he was in Iraq and traveling around the country before the United States invasion, but they did not fully recognize that he was preparing for an insurgency. The Bush administration found it more useful to point to Mr. Zarqawi as a link between the regime of Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, which, at the time, he was not. It has been reported that twice the administration passed on the opportunity to attack his camp in the Kurdish area of Iraq, evidently believing that it would detract from the more important goal of toppling Saddam Hussein. Nevertheless, the newspaper's own news reporting and editorial on Zarqawi did not acknowledge those opportunities. Ignoring evidence that the United States could have eliminated Zarqawi years ago, cable news reports largely focused on Zarqawi's role in the Iraq insurgency after the fall of Saddam's regime in their June 8 coverage. Miklaszewski, who wrote the original NBC News report on the missed opportunities, appeared on MSNBC's Imus in the Morning to discuss Zarqawi's death, but made no mention of his own earlier reporting. Following Imus, MSNBC News Live (daily, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET) covered the story throughout the morning, but, again, did not mention Miklaszewski's 2004 report. Similarly, on June 8, Fox & Friends and Fox News Live made no mention of the failure to capitalize on the Pentagon's attempts to launch air strikes against Zarqawi. On Fox & Friends, anchor Brian Kilmeade recounted a brief history of Zarqawi, including Zarqawi's move to northern Iraq prior to the start of the war, but did not mention any of the Pentagon's plans to eliminate him during that time. Afternoon and prime-time programs on Fox News also reported extensively on Zarqawi's death, but did not note any of the prewar opportunities to eliminate him.* CNN devoted several segments to the story on June 8, including one on Zarqawi's "chilling resume" by London-based senior international correspondent Nic Robertson during the 11 a.m. ET hour of CNN Live Today. Robertson's report noted Zarqawi's connection to the London ricin plot, and that, beginning in July 2004, the Bush administration offered a $25 million reward for information leading to his capture. But Robertson omitted any mention of reports that the administration passed up opportunities to kill him to avoid undercutting its case for war. Earlier, on American Morning, anchor Miles O'Brien had interviewed CNN correspondent John Vause and noted: "There have been several opportunities [to eliminate Zarqawi], including one case where Zarqawi was actually held by coalition forces. They didn't know who he was." O'Brien also touted Zarqawi's death: "[N]ot only was it a decapitation, but it was also a very crippling blow to the mid- and lower-level aspects of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and a significant blow to that component of the insurgency that the U.S. military is contending with there. Several June 8 reports on National Public Radio's Morning Edition likewise omitted mention of those missed opportunities, but did note that Zarqawi was held at one point in Fallujah, Iraq, by the Iraqi military before being released when he was not properly identified, but did not report on the opportunities the administration had to kill him before the war. A separate report on Zarqawi's legacy merely noted that "U.S. intelligence services had tracked Zarqawi for years, starting well before the war in Iraq." In yet another report, entitled "Bush Closely Followed Zarqawi Chase," NPR White House correspondent David Greene noted that Bush has "been talking about [Zarqawi] in speech after speech -- his interest in Zarqawi was well known," but made no mention of the NBC News report. * Review of Fox News on June 8, coverage from 6 a.m. to noon ET; Factiva transcripts for afternoon and primetime coverage beginning at 4 p.m. From the June 8 edition of CNN's American Morning: O'BRIEN: John, let's talk about the attempts to get Zarqawi in the past. There have been several opportunities, including one case where Zarqawi was actually held by coalition forces. They didn't know who he was. A lot of people have been saying, including the foreign minister who we spoke with just a little while ago, that that videotape, which was released in April, might have been a significant lead for those that were pursuing Zarqawi. VAUSE: Well, by looking at that videotape, we understand from Jordanian officials that they managed to piece together precisely where Zarqawi may have been hiding, and from there, that led to intelligence and tips from the local residents. And they pieced all of this together, managed to work out that Zarqawi was in this one particular area of Baghdad. A lot of that information, as we heard from the foreign minister on American Morning just a short time ago, a lot of that information, a lot of clues coming from that particular videotape. It -- at the time, some suggested that Zarqawi was getting overconfident, that this was reckless. Others suggested that because he'd lost so many close aides that he was on the run, that the coalition forces had him -- had him up against the ropes, that he really had to release this video, had to show his face, show him in all those poses with the automatic weapons and looking like some kind of military commander pointing at maps and that kind of thing, he needed to do that to bolster his image to win more support. But it appears now that that could have been in fact that video which led to his downfall. [...] O'BRIEN: It sounds like what happened here was not only was it a decapitation, but it was also a very crippling blow to the mid- and lower-level aspects of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and a significant blow to that component of the insurgency that the U.S. military is contending with there. From the June 8 edition of CNN Live Today: CAROL LIN (anchor): A martyr, a monster -- two completely opposing views being used to describe Abu Musab al-Zarqawi this morning as news of his death spreads. CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson gives us a look at al-Zarqawi's chilling resume. ROBERTSON: Iraq was where Zarqawi made a name for himself. In less than a year, murdering his way to be one of the most wanted terror suspects in the world linked to Osama bin Laden. JONATHAN STEVENSON (terrorism analyst): Zarqawi has -- has emerged as a player, a global player in the Al Qaeda network, having recently been formally, in a way, anointed as bin Laden's protégé in Iraq. ROBERTSON: In a letter said to be from Zarqawi to bin Laden, intercepted by U.S. forces in Iraq, Zarqawi promised his support if bin Laden approved his plans for starting a civil war in Iraq. He claimed to be the man in the mask minutes later, in this rare video, beheading [American contractor] Nick Berg. He also claimed to be the mastermind behind even bloodier attacks like this one, killing dozens of Shi'a Muslims in their holy city, Karbala. As the death toll at the hands of his Sunni Muslim suicide bombers grew, his group changed their name from Al-Tawhid wal Jihad to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the ancient name for Iraq. But the chilling resume of this 38-year-old Jordanian began long before the war in Iraq -- wanted for the 2002 murder of U.S. diplomat Lawrence Foley in Jordan; linked to chemical weapons plots in Europe. M.J. GOHEL (CEO of the Asia-Pacific Foundation): Al-Zarqawi has been connected to virtually all the dangerous cells which have been operating in Europe: the ricin cell in the U.K., the cell in Germany, also in Italy. ROBERTSON: Even before the war in Iraq, however, Zarqawi had been singled out by the Bush administration as a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime. COLIN POWELL (former Secretary of State): We know of Zarqawi's activities in Baghdad. ROBERTSON: The U.S. put a reward on Zarqawi's head and was on his trail, and had increased the reward to $25 million. Although they once thought they came close to catching him, a massive offensive and a suspected stronghold of Fallujah failed to net him. In that letter to bin Laden, Zarqawi recognized he was a hunted man. "The future has become frightening," he wrote. "Eyes are everywhere." Eyes that finally found Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Nic Robertson, CNN, London. From the June 8 broadcast of NPR's Morning Edition: GREENE: This is the guy who the president has been talking about in speech after speech. His interest in Zarqawi was -- was well known, so for the president's national security adviser, for the secretary of state, for the military to keep him abreast because they knew that they would view this killing if it happened as pretty significant. I don't think it's too unusual, but, that said, the president does like to stay away from the details and, as he often talks about, let the operational decisions to the military. From the June 8 broadcast of Fox & Friends: KILMEADE: Jailed in '99, went over when he was fighting the Soviets. He goes to jail in Jordan. They say, "I have a good idea -- let's give everyone amnesty if you promise not to reek any havoc." Wrong. He goes over to Afghanistan, there are reports that he fought in Tora Bora. That war is over. They lose. He gets out, goes to northern Iraq, forms his own organization, and then when the invasion happens, he starts hitting. Maybe his first big hit was against that U.N. building that woke everyone up to maybe a powerful insurgency that was going to give us a lot of trouble, which we are experiencing right -- today.
On Fox, Coulter further criticized victims -- including Max Cleland and Christopher Reeve -- for using their "personal story": "Just make the argument. Be a man. Step up to the plate." http://mediamatters.org/items/200606090006 In an interview on the June 8 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter defended the inflammatory attacks in her new book on the widows of 9-11 victims -- who she said "enjoy their husbands' deaths" and "revel in their status as celebrities" -- by attacking other people she accused of using their "personal story" to gather support for a political cause. Beyond naming the "Jersey Girls" again, referring to the 9-11 widows who pushed for the establishment of the commission to investigate the attacks -- Coulter also singled out Vietnam war veteran and former Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA), a triple amputee who lost his seat to Republican Saxby Chambliss in the wake of a smear campaign attacking his patriotism, and the late actor Christopher Reeve, whom she criticized for "arguing for stem cell -- embryonic stem-cell research -- not adult stem-cell research." Claiming, "You never see it on the other side" -- that conservatives don't similarly use their "personal stories" as the catalyst for political activism -- Coulter said, "Just make the argument. Be a man. Step up to the plate." Host Neil Cavuto apparently agreed, saying, "To challenge them almost looks sacrilegious." Specifically, Coulter falsely denied that some 9-11 victims' relatives promote President Bush and conservative viewpoints. Coulter said, "To the extent you have had any relatives of 9-11 victims on TV [promoting Republicans or conservative views], you've seen them on one time and it's pretty much in response to the Jersey Girls." In fact, relatives of victims of the attacks repeatedly appeared on television in support of Bush's 2004 re-election campaign and more recently to rally support for other controversial policies, including the administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program. During the opening night of the 2004 Republican National Convention, three relatives of 9-11 victims gave speeches broadcast on national television -- Debra Burlingame, whose brother died in the attacks; and Deena Burnett and Tara Stackpole, who both lost their husbands. On numerous occasions, Burlingame publicly supported Bush's re-election. Following the public disclosure of Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program, Burlingame defended the program in a February 6 New York Post op-ed and in appearances on the April 3 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show and on the January 30 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes. Further, a conservative advocacy group, Progress for America, released an ad in October 2004 in support of Bush's re-election titled "Ashley's Story." In the ad, 16 year-old Ashley Faulkner, whose mother died on 9-11, recounted the story of Bush embracing her at a campaign event. Said Faulkner: "He's the most powerful man in the world and all he wants to do is make sure I'm safe, that I'm OK." Earlier in the interview, Coulter argued that Osama bin Laden is "completely irrelevant" and compared him to an "old celebrity." She also suggested that Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), a vocal critic of the war in Iraq, had not responded to the news of the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. In fact, Murtha had repeatedly appeared on television that afternoon, describing Zarqawi as "a real thorn in the side of the Americans" and calling his death "significant." From the June 8 edition of Your World with Neil Cavuto: CAVUTO: I always think of you -- there are so many other things in the book that did not get proper attention. But maybe given -- COULTER: That's what I think. CAVUTO: -- given today's developments maybe will prove you really prescient. And one is this idea of taking out the terrorists, properly focusing on the role that they play in all of this. What did you make, first of all, of the reaction to this today? COULTER: It was almost, like, the way I would parody some liberals, saying, "Oh, this is just going to stem the -- or, rather, encourage the cycle of violence. They'll resent us. We'll resent them. Can't we just say stop?" That's something I'd say as a joke. CAVUTO: But Nancy Pelosi and others -- and we're going to be running some of the choicer ones -- COULTER: That was Nick Berg's father I was -- CAVUTO: That's right. I saw that. COULTER: The cycle of violence. CAVUTO: Of course, he thinks the president should be impeached, but that's a whole separate story. But the official Democratic argument against this is, "We're glad now, Mr. President, you got focused on Al Qaeda and not this whole Iraq obsession." What did you make of that? COULTER: Oh, that's -- I did not know that's what was said. It's funny how they describe the war on terrorism in the most limited way possible. It apparently consists of catching Osama bin Laden, who's really basically irrelevant at this point. He's like, you know, an old celebrity. You can't really remember -- is he alive or dead? That guy passed away a few years ago. He's completely irrelevant. CAVUTO: But the fact that he could be alive, that's a big deal, right? COULTER: He could be alive, but what's he doing? He's hiding in a cave. Al-Zarqawi was a much bigger enemy than Osama bin Laden at this point. But they want to distinguish everything -- the war in Iraq, al-Zarqawi from -- you know, the war on terror is one thing -- catching Osama Bin Laden -- so that they can complain about every other aspect of the war on terrorism. CAVUTO: You linked the two -- that is the war in Iraq with fighting terrorists -- together. On Page 131 of your book, you said, "We're winning this war and we are winning it because of brave men like Casey Sheehan" -- you're referring to Cindy Sheehan's son -- "who do not decide to throw in the towel every time an American dies. More than 100 Americans died at Lexington Green and Concord. Should we have quit then?" You say the same about the Civil War, you say the same about what seemed to be a quagmire then -- had the daily drill of the media been then and the critics been there, we might have had a different outcomes. COULTER: It's hard to imagine -- the way the media carries on about what is a surprisingly low-casualty war compared to other wars. I mean, it is a war -- that's the operative word. You can't imagine trying to fight World War II with this commotion and carrying on every time a soldier dies. I mean, it might -- CAVUTO: Twenty thousand at Normandy within 48 hours. COULTER: Right, right. I mean, it's stunning what our military has accomplished with as few casualties as they've had. I mean, obviously it breaks everyone's heart because these are our greatest Americans. CAVUTO: But let me get your reaction while I've got you here, Ann. [Sen.] John Kerry [D-MA] reacting to this. I think we have a -- "Our troops have done their job in Iraq. It's time to work with the new Iraqi government to bring our combat troops home by the end of the year." COULTER: Well, at least he's not demanding taking every activity in the war on terrorism as an opportunity to appeal to the French again. That was his last -- the last shibboleth he had going after we captured Saddam. CAVUTO: So you're just dismissing him. COULTER: I think that was his response. "This gives us a great opportunity to appeal to the French." CAVUTO: Do you -- obviously you've been on this book tour and you've gotten some pretty heated reaction. COULTER: Yes. CAVUTO: The Matt Lauer thing should have been a pay-per-view event. But the 9-11 widows thing, which is actually a very small part of your book -- was that over the top? COULTER: No, I don't think so at all. The point -- that is in the chapter on liberal infallibility and, I mean, I think I'm not the only one seething with anger at this technique of the left to send out spokesmen who we're not allowed to respond to. CAVUTO: But what if 9-11 widows -- and I just thought of you to say -- COULTER: It's not 9-11 widows. It's the Jersey Girls. It is four 9-11 widows. CAVUTO: They're widows. They're widows. OK. COULTER: Eighty percent of women are going to be widows at some point. CAVUTO: Fine. But I'm saying, what if it had been around and they had rallied around the president, would you have criticized them? They too would have been political. COULTER: You can't imagine that happening, because it never happens on the other side. To the extent you have had any relatives of 9-11 victims on TV, you've seen them on one time and it's pretty much in response to the Jersey Girls that you've seen some of the other relatives come on and say, "No, no, no. You're not speaking for us." You never see it on the other side. And as I say in that chapter, this isn't the only time. I mean, of course, there's Cindy Sheehan. There's Joe Wilson. Can't respond, can't point out that his wife works at the CIA. There's Max Cleland, there's Murtha. I mean it goes back to Caroline McCarthy, the congressman from Long Island whose husband was shot on the Long Island railroad. It's always -- and Christopher Reeve, arguing for stem-cell -- embryonic stem-cell research -- not adult stem-cell research. CAVUTO: To challenge them almost looks sacrilegious. COULTER: Right, right. They always send in someone who, because of a personal story, we're not allowed to respond to. We don't do that. Just make the argument. Be a man. Step up to the plate. CAVUTO: I read this and I think, "She did this to get a reaction." COULTER: Well, I wrote the whole book to get a reaction. CAVUTO: Right. COULTER: And to get people to read it. But I did know that liberals would say that this book was over the top, that I've gone too far this time, because they say that every time. CAVUTO: But you know -- I know you can dish it out. COULTER: No, I've heard it about a hundred times before. CAVUTO: And you take it when people come at you like this. COULTER: I would have retired by now if I couldn't. They say it every time, that, you know, "This time" -- as if they've been sending me flowers and roses until now -- "This time it's over the line." I did not know what it was going to be. And actually some of my friends had read the book and we were all kind of surprised. CAVUTO: But to that point -- I know you can dish it out. But when so many people come out against you, when everyone is diverse. Today, from [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [D-NY] to [New York] Governor [George] Pataki, a Republican, come out and criticize some comments. Does that hurt you? COULTER: Governor who? Wait, was that the guy who promised to lower our taxes? CAVUTO: A little bit. A little bit, right? COULTER: That Pataki? CAVUTO: All right, I had a feeling I'd get -- COULTER: Well no, you must not have followed my career. I've been through this before. CAVUTO: Well, it's number one on Amazon right now, but do you think this cause of going after terrorism -- taking out Zarqawi today -- actually refocuses people on the real war going on here? Or is it just a short-life thing, much as it was when we got Saddam out of that hole? COULTER: I don't know. I mean, we'll have to see. It's a great day for America. It's a great day for our troops. It's certainly a day to be proud. And I think, whether or not it refocuses people, I do think it's going to change the course of the war. This is a major victory today. I mean, the insurgency has been dealt such an enormous blow -- so much bigger than if this had been Osama's head on a silver platter. CAVUTO: So the praise that you're seeing from the left today -- fainting as it might be -- is just par for the course? COULTER: Yes, yes. Has Murtha spoken yet, by the way? CAVUTO: I don't know, I don't know. The book is Godless, the author is Ann Coulter, it's number one on Amazon. Contact: Ann Coulter firstname.lastname@example.org Contact: Fox News Channel FOX News Channel1-888-369-4762Comments@foxnews.com1211 Avenue of the AmericasNew York, NY 10036 Contact: Your World w/ Neil Cavuto Your World w/ Neil Cavuto
Friday, June 09, 2006
CIA LEAK INVESTIGATION What Ashcroft Was Told By Murray Waas, National Journal© National Journal Group Inc.Thursday, June 8, 2006 Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft continued to oversee the Valerie Plame-CIA leak probe for more than two months in late 2003 after he learned in extensive briefings that FBI agents suspected White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby of trying to mislead the FBI to conceal their roles in the leak, according to government records and interviews. Despite these briefings, which took place between October and December 2003, and despite the fact that senior White House aides might become central to the leak case, Ashcroft did not recuse himself from the matter until December 30, when he allowed the appointment of a special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, to take over the investigation. In late 2003, the attorney general was told that FBI agents suspected White House aides of trying to conceal their roles in leaking Valerie Plame's identity. '); document.write(''); document.write(""); document.write(" "); document.write(''); document.write(''); } //--> According to people with firsthand knowledge of the briefings, senior Justice Department officials told Ashcroft that the FBI had uncovered evidence that Libby, then chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, had misled the bureau about his role in the leaking of Plame's identity to the press. By November, investigators had obtained personal notes of Libby's that indicated he had first learned from Cheney that Plame was a CIA officer. But Libby was insisting in FBI interviews that he had learned Plame's name and identity from journalists. Libby was also telling investigators that when he told reporters that Plame worked for the CIA, he was only passing along an unsubstantiated rumor. Officials also told Ashcroft that investigators did not believe Libby's account, according to sources knowledgeable about the briefings, and that Libby might have lied to the FBI to defend other -- more senior -- administration officials. Ashcroft was told no later than November 2003 that investigators also doubted the accounts that Rove, President George W. Bush's chief political adviser, had given the FBI as to how he, too, learned that Plame was a CIA officer and how he came to disclose that information to columnist Robert Novak. It was Novak who, in a July 14, 2003, syndicated column, outed Plame as a CIA employee, relying on Rove as one of his sources. In a briefing devoted specifically to Rove and Novak, sources said, officials told Ashcroft that investigators believed it was possible that the presidential aide and the columnist had devised a cover story to present to the FBI to make it appear that Rove had not been a source for Novak's column. Ashcroft's decision to continue overseeing the leak investigation through December of 2003 was a sore point among some federal investigators: Rove and Libby were top aides to the president and vice president at the time, and Rove also had been a political consultant to Ashcroft in his senatorial and gubernatorial campaigns. Since the Watergate era, attorneys general have traditionally disqualified themselves from politically sensitive investigations that involve their friends and political associates, or those of the presidents they serve. Stephen Gillers, a professor of legal ethics at New York University, said in an interview that Ashcroft should have recused himself from the Plame probe "once he learned that the people professionally trained to draw these inferences" -- namely, the FBI investigators -- "believed there was substantial reason that Rove and Libby were involved in the leak." Gillers added: "There is always going to be an interim period during which you decide you will recuse or not recuse. But [Ashcroft] should have had an 'aha!' moment when he learned that someone, figuratively, or in this case literally, next door to the president of the United States -- who was Ashcroft's boss -- was under suspicion." Ashcroft declined to comment for this article. But in October 2003, Mark Corallo, then a spokesman for Ashcroft, said in an interview with this reporter that Ashcroft maintained an intense interest in the probe because he considered it imperative to determine who leaked Plame's identity. "The attorney general wants this to be investigated thoroughly and promptly, and to that end, he wants to be informed of the progress of the investigators," Corallo said. Corallo now serves as a spokesman for Rove on the CIA leak case. Current and former Justice officials not directly involved in the case said in interviews for this article, almost without exception, that once senior aides to both the president and vice president came under suspicion, Ashcroft should have recused himself entirely from the case. Ashcroft's Deep Interest Although it has been known that Ashcroft was briefed on the Plame investigation in the months before Fitzgerald was appointed, details of those briefings have not emerged until now. The Justice Department's involvement in the case began with the announcement on September 30, 2003 -- two and a half months after Plame was outed in Novak's column -- that the department was responding to a CIA request to launch an investigation. Plame, who had a covert agency job working on issues of weapons proliferation, was unmasked at a time when the White House was conducting a broad effort, led by Cheney and his staff, to discredit Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. In March 2002, the CIA had sent Wilson to Niger to look into allegations that Saddam Hussein had tried to procure weapons-grade uranium from the African nation. Wilson reported back that he found no factual basis for the allegations. President Bush and other senior administration officials, however, cited the Niger-Iraq connection as one reason for invading Iraq. In the spring of 2003, Wilson was publicly alleging that the Bush administration had misrepresented intelligence information to make its case to go to war with Iraq. Wilson's best-known account of his findings in Niger appeared in a July 6, 2003, New York Times op-ed. Looking to undermine Wilson's credibility, Rove, Libby, and at least one other senior administration official told reporters that Plame had arranged for her husband's CIA-sponsored trip, casting it as nepotism. On September 30, the same day that Justice announced the leak probe, Bush praised the decision: "There's just too many leaks, and if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. If the person violated [the] law, the person will be taken care of. And so I welcome the investigation." In a statement that day, Ashcroft, perhaps sensitive to the fact that he was a political appointee of the president, said that prosecutors and FBI agents "who are and will be handling the investigation are career professionals with extensive experience in handling matters involving sensitive national security information." Ashcroft showed a deep interest in the investigation from its very inception, seeking regular briefings on its progress, according to Corallo, to the congressional testimony of senior Justice officials who briefed the attorney general on the matter, and to interviews with current and former federal law enforcement officials. The briefings for Ashcroft were conducted by Christopher Wray, then the assistant attorney general in charge of the Criminal Division, and John Dion, a 30-year career prosecutor who was the day-to-day supervisor of the investigation. On October 16, about two weeks after the investigation had begun, Ashcroft assured the public, "I believe that we have been making progress that's valuable in this matter." Asked about the possible appointment of a special prosecutor, Ashcroft said, "I have not foreclosed any options in this matter." What the public did not know was that two days earlier, the FBI had interviewed Libby for the first time. It was in that interview that Libby first insisted that in mentioning to reporters -- specifically Matthew Cooper of Time magazine and Judith Miller of The New York Times -- that Plame worked for the CIA, he had been careful to point out that the information was unsubstantiated gossip he had heard from other journalists. Libby also told the FBI that a day or two before he spoke to Cooper and Miller, he was told about Plame by NBC Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert. According to Libby's first FBI interview, which is summarized in the grand jury indictment of Libby that was handed up in October 2005: "During a conversation with Tim Russert on NBC News on July 10 or 11, 2003, Russert asked Libby if Libby was aware that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA; Libby responded to Russert that he did not know that, and Russert replied that all the reporters knew it." On July 12, 2003, Libby spoke with Miller and Cooper, telling them that Plame worked for the CIA. In November 2003, the FBI interviewed Libby a second time, and information derived from that briefing was also passed on to Ashcroft, sources said. Around this same time, FBI agents had obtained Libby's own notes stating that Cheney, not Russert, was the person who told Libby about Plame's CIA connection. Also by then, investigators had obtained other government records and the accounts of other witnesses indicating that Wilson's Niger mission and Plame's possible role in sending her husband to Africa were major preoccupations for the vice president. As the agents interviewed Libby, they showed him his own notes on Cheney's disclosure to him about Plame's CIA job. According to the FBI report cited in Libby's indictment, when Russert supposedly told Libby that Plame worked for the CIA, "Libby was surprised by this statement because, while speaking with Russert, Libby did not recall that he previously had learned about Wilson's wife's employment from the vice president." Although the FBI had not yet been able to interview any of the journalists -- Russert, Cooper, or Miller -- they were skeptical of Libby's account, sources said. Word of their concern was passed up to Ashcroft in a routine briefing on the status of the leak probe. Within, at most, 10 days of the interview with Libby, sources said, Ashcroft was briefed not only on what Libby had told the FBI but also on the evidence that had made FBI agents and prosecutors doubt his story. Later, investigators obtained Libby's handwritten notes that showed that Libby had learned about Plame from Cheney. Wray, the head of the criminal division, and Bruce C. Swartz, a deputy assistant attorney general who oversees criminal investigations involving sensitive national security matters, were later told of the notes' existence and of the investigators' belief that Libby might have been holding back to protect Cheney. It is unclear, however, whether Ashcroft was briefed in detail regarding Cheney before he recused himself from the Plame case. Other papers that the White House later turned over to federal investigators would show that Cheney had been a driving force in encouraging Libby to discredit Wilson's allegations against the Bush administration. Both Libby and Cheney have adamantly denied that the vice president ever encouraged Libby to leak Plame's CIA status to the media. But over time, both Fitzgerald and attorneys for Libby have presented new information in court filings that Cheney was personally involved in the broader effort against Wilson. In papers filed in federal court on May 12, 2006, for example, Fitzgerald noted that Cheney was so upset over Wilson's New York Times op-ed that the vice president made handwritten notes in the margin of a photocopy of the column. Cheney wrote in the margin: "Have they done this sort of thing before? Send an Amb[assador] to answer a question?" referring to the CIA's decision to send a former ambassador, Wilson, on an intelligence fact-finding mission. Cheney also wrote: "Do we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us? Or did his wife send him on a junket?" In his filing, Fitzgerald wrote: "Those annotations support the proposition that publication of the Wilson op-ed acutely focused the attention of the vice president and the defendant -- his chief of staff -- on Mr. Wilson, on assertions made in his article, and on responding to those assertions." It is unclear whether investigators reviewed Cheney's annotations while Ashcroft was overseeing the CIA probe, but sources say that investigators had by then already theorized that Libby might be trying to stymie the FBI. Charles Wolfram, a professor emeritus of legal ethics at Cornell Law School, said the "most distressing" ethical aspect of the case was that Ashcroft continued overseeing the Plame probe even after Cheney's name arose. "This should have been a matter of common sense," Wolfram said. Ashcroft "should have left it to career prosecutors whether or not to go after politically sensitive targets. You can't have Ashcroft investigate the people who appointed him or of his own political party." Unique Hurdles Around the same date that Libby was interviewed, the FBI also questioned Rove for the first time. During that interview, and later in his initial appearance before the grand jury, Rove did not disclose that he had spoken about Plame to Time magazine's Cooper. Ashcroft wasn't briefed about the omission because at that time investigators apparently didn't know that Rove and Cooper had talked on July 9, 2003, just before Novak's column appeared. Rove's failure in the early stages of the CIA leak probe to provide information on his conversation with Cooper about Plame is one of the reasons Rove is still under investigation by Fitzgerald. Although FBI investigators did not know of the Rove-Cooper phone call, they were skeptical about Rove's account of his July conversation with Novak. Both Rove and Novak have since said that Rove was one of "two senior administration officials" cited as sources in Novak's column. According to the accounts of their conversation that both Rove and Novak later gave to investigators, the subject of Wilson's trip to Niger and any role played by Plame came up at the very end of a conversation on an entirely different matter. Rove told the FBI that when Novak mentioned Plame's CIA connection and that she might have played a role in selecting her husband to go to Niger, he (Rove) simply said that he had heard much the same information. According to sources, Novak later told investigators a virtually identical story. Ashcroft was advised during the fall 2003 briefings that investigators had strong doubts about Novak's and Rove's accounts of their July 9 conversation. The investigators were skeptical that Novak would have relied merely on an offhand comment from Rove as the basis for writing his column about Plame. Questioned further, Rove told investigators that he originally heard the information about Plame from a person whose name he could not remember. That person, he said, might have been a journalist, although he was not certain. Rove has also said that he could not recall whether the conversation about Plame took place in person or over the telephone. Rove's version was strikingly similar to the one from Libby, who had also been a source for reporters about Plame. Libby's version to the FBI was that in telling reporters that Plame worked for the CIA and may have played a role in sending Wilson to Niger, he was merely passing on unsubstantiated rumors that he had heard from other reporters. But the indictment of Libby alleges that he lied about this, and instead was told about Plame by Cheney, an undersecretary of State, and at least two other government officials. As National Journal reported recently, investigators further believed -- based on the timing of phone calls between Rove and Novak, and on other evidence -- that the Bush adviser and the columnist may have devised a cover story to conceal Rove's role in leaking information about Plame to Novak. Investigators were so concerned about this possibility that Ashcroft received a briefing specifically on that one topic, according to people familiar with those briefings. Corallo, now a spokesman for Rove, said in a statement: "Karl Rove has never urged anyone directly or indirectly to withhold information from the special counsel or testify falsely." James Hamilton, an attorney for Novak, said he could not comment on the ongoing CIA leak probe. And a spokesperson for Fitzgerald said his office would not comment. As the leak probe progressed through the fall of 2003, Rove's past work as a political adviser to Ashcroft in three of his political campaigns was not the only concern for career Justice Department officials, sources said. Also not lost to some career prosecutors was the fact that a number of Ashcroft's top aides at Justice had come from the Republican National Committee. During the initial stages of the Plame investigation, the RNC was at the forefront of the Bush administration's effort to stymie demands for the appointment of a special prosecutor and to continue the campaign to discredit Wilson. To some career investigators, the RNC appeared to be acting as a proxy for the White House in attempting to thwart the naming of a special prosecutor. David Israelite, who was a deputy chief of staff to Ashcroft, had been the RNC's political director. Barbara Comstock, who was Ashcroft's director of public affairs, had been in charge of the RNC's opposition research department. Corallo, who succeeded Comstock at Justice under Ashcroft, had also worked for the RNC. Currently, Comstock is serving as a spokeswoman for Libby and his legal team as he prepares for trial early next year. In the fall of 2003, senior Justice officials concerned about the investigation faced unique hurdles in seeking Ashcroft's recusal, current and former federal law enforcement officials said in interviews. Wray, head of the Criminal Division, was supervising the investigation. Ordinarily, if he had sought Ashcroft's recusal, ultimate authority over the investigation would have fallen to the deputy attorney general. But that position was then vacant. On October 3, President Bush had nominated James B. Comey, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, to be deputy attorney general. The leak probe was just getting under way, and Comey was awaiting Senate confirmation. Meanwhile, the acting deputy attorney general was Robert D. McCallum, a Yale classmate of Bush's and a lifelong friend of the president and first lady Laura Bush. Bush and McCallum were inducted together into the secret Skull and Bones Society at Yale. If Ashcroft were to recuse himself from the Plame investigation, several current and former officials said in interviews, it was a virtual certainty that McCallum would have had to recuse himself as well, putting Wray in charge of the probe. By seeking Ashcroft's recusal, Wray would in effect have been placing himself in charge of one of the nation's most politically sensitive investigations, without anyone to oversee or supervise him. "He was really in a difficult position," said a former Justice Department official. "If Wray had walked into the AG's office and asked that Ashcroft recuse, Wray would have in effect been making himself the de facto attorney general" in the matter. The official went on to say: "But Ashcroft should have known on his own what to do. He didn't need to be asked. He didn't need to be pushed. He should have just done it." On December 9, 2003, the Senate unanimously confirmed Comey as deputy attorney general. It would not be long before Comey was privately arguing that Ashcroft should step aside and name a special prosecutor. In announcing Ashcroft's recusal and Fitzgerald's appointment on December 30, Comey said that Ashcroft had made the decision: "The attorney general, in an abundance of caution, believed that his recusal was appropriate based on the totality of circumstances and the facts and evidence developed at this stage of the investigation," Comey said. "I agree with that judgment." Asked what might have caused the Fitzgerald appointment, Comey said: "If you were to speculate in print or in the media about particular people, I think that would be unfair to them." Then he added, almost as an afterthought, "We don't want people that we might be interested in to know we're interested in them." -- Previous coverage of pre-war intelligence and the CIA leak investigation from Murray Waas.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Beck on An Inconvenient Truth: "It's like Hitler" http://mediamatters.org/items/200606080005?src=clip200606080005 On the June 7 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck became the latest critic to compare An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary film about former Vice President Al Gore's campaign to raise awareness of global warming, to the Nazis. Beck dismissed many of the conclusions drawn from the documentary, stating, "[W]hen you take a little bit of truth and then you mix it with untruth, or your theory, that's where you get people to believe. ... It's like Hitler. Hitler said a little bit of truth, and then he mixed in 'and it's the Jews' fault.' That's where things get a little troublesome, and that's exactly what's happening" in An Inconvenient Truth. As Media Matters for America has previously noted, Sterling Burnett, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, called the film "propaganda" and added: "You don't go see Joseph Goebbels' films to see the truth about Nazi Germany. You don't want to go see Al Gore's film to see the truth about global warming." From the June 7 broadcast of The Glenn Beck Program: BECK: So, if you look at this chart, you will see the CO2, and it mirrors the temperature. Now, what I find interesting about this chart is CO2 seems to naturally go up by itself. Hmmm, I don't remember those 200,000-year-old cars; I think Henry Ford wasn't around yet. I don't know if Fred Flintstone actually did have a car, but apparently, according to this chart, somebody was driving around in a car or an airplane. Maybe it was Al Gore giving the frickin speech at Stone Age colleges. I'm not sure, but it definitely correlates. Now, what happened where this thing falls apart -- and it won't for most people who go to this movie -- is he then projects what's coming. Again, it's the projection that's the problem. See, when you take a little bit of truth and then you mix it with untruth, or your theory, that's where you get people to believe. You know? It's like Hitler. Hitler said a little bit of truth, and then he mixed in "and it's the Jews' fault." That's where things get a little troublesome, and that's exactly what's happening. Now, if Al Gore's projection is right about the CO2 level going as high as he says it will, then the temperature here on planet Earth will be about 400,000 degrees. We'll be the sun; we'll be the frickin sun. But that's a huge "if." Contact: Glenn Beck Glenn Beck Contact: Glenn Beck Program Glenn Beck Program Contact: Premiere Radio Networks Premiere Radio Networks Premiere Radio Networks, Inc. 15260 Ventura Blvd. 5th Floor Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 Main: (818)377-5300 Fax: (818)377-5333 Toll Free: (800)533-8686 This is little pussy Beck is getting on my last nerve first he attacks Cindy Sheehan by calling her a whore... Now this goon is talking about things he don't have a clue about. I have a question for Beck how many people did he sucked off to get his job
Better late than never: NBC acknowledges Coulter attacks on 9-11 families were "over the line" http://mediamatters.org/items/200606080008 Introducing a June 7 NBC Nightly News report on right-wing pundit Ann Coulter's June 6 appearance on NBC's Today, anchor and managing editor Brian Williams said that controversial comments Coulter made on that show about the widows of victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were "over the line -- the line that is shared by just about everybody because some things, it turns out, are still sacred." Coulter -- who, the Nightly News report stated, "believes everything she says and writes" -- criticized the 9-11 widows on Today for "speak[ing] out using the fact that they're widows" and "using their grief" and "the fact that you lost a husband" to make "a political point while preventing anyone from responding." Coulter's June 6 appearance on Today was, as Media Matters noted, her third appearance on that show in eight months, despite her documented history of false and inflammatory statements, especially against progressives. The Nightly News report also quoted former presidential adviser David Gergen, who said that "it's almost as if [Coulter]'s a figure in a circus" because of "the ugliness of the charge that she's making, the ugliness of the words that she's using that are drawing attention to her." From the June 7 edition of NBC's Nightly News: WILLIAMS: Tonight, we're going to go off the air with a report on civility in American life. The explosion in our media, our deafening national noise level, and our changing mores have made this a much different era in America than the one our parents grew up in. And just when you think it seems like there are no limits on anything, someone comes along and makes a comment that goes over the line -- the line that is shared by just about everybody because some things, it turns out, are still sacred. The story tonight from NBC's Mike Taibbi. TAIBBI: Conservative pundit Ann Coulter was front-page news today for what she's written about some 9-11 widows, that "[t]hese broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities." And for what she said about them to the Today show's Matt Lauer. [begin video clip] LAUER: If you lose a husband, you no longer have the right to have a political point of view? COULTER: No, but don't use the fact that you lost a husband as the basis for your being able to talk about it. [end video clip] TAIBBI: Coulter was on the Today show to push her latest anti-liberal book -- [begin video clip] COULTER: There's an important book that comes out today, Matt. LAUER: What's the name? [end video clip] TAIBBI: -- already an Amazon.com best seller. But the interview kept returning to Coulter's attacks on the 9-11 widows. She called them "harpies" and wondered whether their husbands had been planning to divorce them. From a statement from four of the widows: "[t]here was no joy in watching men that we loved burn alive," "no happiness in telling our children that their fathers were never coming home again. We adored these men and miss them every day." Coulter says she believes everything she says and writes. But had she gone too far? Former White House adviser David Gergen: GERGEN: It's the ugliness of the charge that she's making, the ugliness of the words that she's using that are drawing attention to her. But it's almost as if she's a figure in a circus. And you're saying, "Oh, my God. Can you believe that?" TAIBBI: Still, the tempest was a trigger for a Red-Blue debate today on MSNBC, with criticism for Coulter from both sides. A conservative radio voice -- DOM GIORDANO (radio talk-show host) [video clip]: I think it was shameful what she said, [MSNBC host] Chris [Jansing], but I do think that these widows have attacked President Bush. TAIBBI: -- and a liberal counter voice. SAM GREENFIELD (radio talk-show host) [video clip]: I think she's a sad, pathetic, unhappy person. TAIBBI: All the fallout from a television exchange -- [begin video clip] COULTER: Look, you're getting testy with me. LAUER: No, I'm just -- I think it's a -- I think it's a -- COULTER: Oh! [end video clip] TAIBBI: -- likely to be remembered well beyond the impact of some ill-tempered sentences in print. Mike Taibbi, NBC News, New York. Contact: Ann Coulter email@example.com Contact: NBC NBC News NBC News 30 Rockefeller Plaza New York, N.Y. 10112 Contact: NBC Nightly News What NBC finally admit that Coulter over the top? Jesus that's like saying Charles Manson was a little crazy. These media outlets pee on themselves if you ask them to put on some liberal blogger, Micheal Moore or whomever on the left but they don't mind allowing this flame throwing whore Ann Coulter on their air so she can spew whatever hate that pops in her grape size mind of hers. Contract these little bastards at NBC and tell them what you think