Charlie Rose's 18-second news brief on Thursday's CBS This Morning is the sole Big Three network mention so far of the Obama administration's decision to review the cases of dozens of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay in preparation for the possible release. Both ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today ignored this latest development in the ongoing controversy over the Islamist detainees at the U.S. military base.
Rose cited a report from the Miami Herald's Carol Rosenberg during the brief, and noted that the Defense Department also recently appointed a new special envoy for the closure of the detention camp: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Saturday evening, a friend suggested that I watch the midnight rerun of Judge Jeanine Pirro's Fox News program for her interview segment with a Democrat and a Republican about this weekend's closing of 22 embassies overseas in response to terrorist threats.
Ryan Clayton was the Democrat whose arguments blaming George W. Bush's administration for the current level of threats in the Middle East were so weak that he was reduced to childishly reminding viewers that 9/11 happened on George W. Bush's watch (as if we didn't know, and as if eight years of previous Clinton administration weakness were irrelevant). Clayton has an interesting history, which I will note at the end of this post. The Judge Jeanine segment follows the jump.
Code Pink's Media Benjamin managed to break into another presidential event on Thursday, namely Barack Obama's speech at the National Defense University. The topic was "U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy," meaning that the administration's aversion to the T-word seems to be diminishing as the damaging scandal-related news continues to pour in.
Readers will see that Benjamin was relatively civil towards Obama. In fact, Kathleen Hennessey and Christi Parsons at the Los Angeles Times wrote the following: "Rather than dismiss Benjamin as a heckler, the president engaged her, asking her to let him explain but also pausing to listen as she continued to talk while security closed in around her." That behavior is in direct contrast to how she behaved last decade during the Bush administration -- something never mentioned in any coverage of Thursday's speech I found. The full exchange with Obama followed by a recounting of what made Benjamin an overnight sensation in Sepetmber 2002, follow the jump.
Jay Leno continued his humorous attacks on the White House Friday.
In a series of opening monologue jokes targeting Barack Obama, the NBC Tonight Show host said of the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay, “If he really wants to close it, turn it into a government-funded solar power company. The doors will be shut in a month.”
In a way you have to hand it to Krystal Ball. The former Democratic congressional candidate-turned-MSNBC co-host is always hard at work spinning for the Obama administration, come what may. Appearing on Thursday's Politics Nation, the co-host of MSNBC’s The Cycle raved about President Obama’s May 23 national security speech, claiming the president is “reining in his own power,” a “remarkable and incredibly unusual” move.
Ball fawned over the president’s speech to host Al Sharpton, claiming he “put the steps in place” to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, before offering this proclamation about Obama’s executive power:
CNN's Christiane Amanpour and Jeffrey Toobin continued to push for Guantanamo Bay to be closed on Thursday's 10 p.m. ET hour of Anderson Cooper 360. "It's just not American," Amanpour insisted.
Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent, knocked the "roughty-toughty Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld decided no Geneva Conventions" for the detainees. Toobin, CNN's senior legal analyst, challenged the law passed by Congress mandating that Guantanamo be kept open. "That doesn't mean it was right," he said of its bipartisan passage. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Insisting that Guantanamo Bay has become a recruitment tool for future terrorists and must be closed, CNN's Christiane Amanpour arrogantly scoffed at opinions to the contrary on Wednesday's special edition of Anderson Cooper 360.
Amanpour knocked Rudy Giuliani's concern of "I can't imagine where you would put these people," by jeering, "Come on." Later on, when The Blaze TV anchor Amy Holmes argued that "Jihadists have a laundry list of resentments against the West" and that the Guantanamo hunger strikes are not their prime motives for attacking the U.S., Amanpour condescended, "Oh no, we're just talking facts here now, Amy." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
More potential jihadist attacks against American civilians in the wake of the Boston bombings? Not worthy of further attention from Rachel Maddow. Instead, Maddow is more concerned with that "real crisis" down at Guantanamo, of prisoners starving themselves.
If future media critics ever want a quintessential example of the Maddow show, they could do worse than watch her program from April 30, 2013. And after cringing through it, they'll want a bleach bath. (Video clip after page break)
While NBC's chief White House correspondent and political director Chuck Todd pressed President Obama during a Tuesday news conference on the possibility of ObamaCare being a "train wreck," the network coverage of the presser completely avoided any mention of the question, instead seizing on Obama being pressured from the left to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.
Anchor Brian Williams lead off Tuesday's Nightly News by declaring: "The hunger strike at Guantanamo that's now gotten so bad prisoners are being force fed, as the President faces tough questions." Introducing a report on the topic, Williams lectured: "We don't get to see them or know their names, and most Americans actually prefer not to spend a whole lot of time thinking about the men who've been rounded up as enemy combatants and imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba."
During a Tuesday press conference at the White House, CBS's Bill Plante channeled his colleague Bob Schieffer's 2009 "open sore" pronouncement about Guantanamo Bay as he asked President Obama about an ongoing hunger strike among many of the detainees there. Plante hinted at sympathy for the prisoners as he wondered, "Is it any surprise, really, that they would prefer death rather than – have no end in sight to their confinement?"
The correspondent's leading question allowed the President to revisit the issue and call for the closure of the facility, just over three months after his administration closed the office tasked with shuttering the prison camp [audio available here; video below the jump]:
New York Times legal reporter Charlie Savage displayed a novel angle on terrorist recidivism in his story on recent outbreaks of violence among the terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay: "Despair Drives U.S. Detainees To Stage Revolt." (Is your heart breaking yet?) Savage wrote on Thursday's front page:
But the relative calm on display to visiting reporters last week was deceiving. Days earlier, guards had raided Camp Six and locked down protesting prisoners who had blocked security cameras, forbidding them to congregate in a communal area. A hunger strike is now in its third month, with 93 prisoners considered to be participating -- more than half the inmates and twice the number before the raid.
Shane and his headline writer harped on the "nonpartisan" nature of the Constitution Project, despite the fact that it clearly leans left, as a scan of the group's priorities (not to mention the personal remarks of its very own president in the Times itself) reveals.
This is CNN, where terror detainees at Guantanamo get better press treatment than social conservatives defending traditional marriage.
On Monday afternoon, CNN's Suzanne Malveaux and Michael Holmes both touted an op-ed by a Guantanamo prisoner titled "Gitmo Is Killing Me," where he tells of his hunger strike and complains of being force-fed, while held without trial for 11 years. Malveaux hailed it as a "powerful piece" and Holmes questioned U.S. hypocrisy on human rights:
MSNBC’s newest liberal darling Chris Hayes has just been given a promotion, going from weekend anchor to host of his own primetime show, All In w/ Chris Hayes. So how does he celebrate? By arguing that Guantanamo detainees should be paid restitution and allowed to live in the United States, with a path, ultimately to citizenship, of course.
In an article posted on MSNBC.com, Hayes criticized Guantanamo Bay’s continued existence in a piece entitled, “Time for radical action on Guantanamo.” Hayes, who railed against Obama’s failure to keep his promise to close the prison in Cuba, argues that:
The dozens of men who have been cleared by the United States government for release should be released immediately, should be paid restitution, and offered legal residence in the United States.
It's always interesting when liberals disagree on something because each one believes he or she is always 100 percent correct on any issue, a stance that often leads to fiery confrontations and personal attacks.
The latest example of this concept is the angry Twitter debate between Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith and Talking Points Memo founder Josh Marshall over an article entitled “7 Things Democrats Would Have Freaked Out About if Bush Had Done Them.”
Barack Obama's State Department on Monday announced that it will close the office dedicated to shutting down Guantanamo Bay. According to the New York Times, this means that the President "does not currently see the closing of the prison as a realistic priority, despite repeated statements that [the administration] still intends to do so." Yet, all three network newscasts on Monday night and the morning shows on Tuesday skipped the revelation.
Such silence stands in contrast to the adulation Obama received in January of 2009 after the new president announced his intention to close the facility. On January 22, 2009, then-World News anchor Charles Gibson enthused, "The new President says America is taking the moral high ground in making the country safer." On the January 23, 2009 CBS Evening News, Bob Schieffer parroted, "He will close Guantanamo prison and outlaw torture. He has told the world that we will practice what we preach."
If you thought President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder had given up on closing Guantanamo Bay and bringing jihadists to American soil, think again. Two troubling developments on the Gitmo front should have every American on edge.
The first White House maneuver took place in October, while much of the public and the media were preoccupied with election news. On Oct. 2, Obama's cash-strapped Illinois pals announced that the federal government bought out the Thomson Correctional Center in western Illinois for $165 million. According to Watchdog.org, a recent appraisal put the value of the facility at $220 million.
Fox News reported moments ago that the leader of last week's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, may have been Sufian bin Qumu who was released from the detention center in Guantanamo Bay in 2007.
The New York Times reported April 24, 2011, on the release of a prisoner named Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda bin Qumu that appears to be the same man:
Ballasy, an alumnus of the MRC's CNSNews.com, caught up with King after the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner. The CBS This Morning anchor listed several areas where the chief executive apparently kept his promises: "He talked about health care. He talked about Osama bin Laden. He talked about 'don't ask, don't tell.' He's done everything that he said he was doing to do." Of course, the President also promised to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center for terror suspects during the 2008 campaign, but broke that pledge in 2011.
A new Washington Post/ABC News poll with a striking finding has New York Times Editorial Page editor Andrew Rosenthal in dismay: 53 percent of self-described liberal Democrats support keeping Guantanamo Bay open. Does this mean their previous virulent opposition was not based on concern for civil liberties, but was just partisan Bush-hatred? Of course not.
Rosenthal’s Thursday morning post “Hurray for Guantanamo Bay” ignored that clear Democratic hypocrisy while making excuses for President Obama. Apparently it’s all the fault of Republicans in Congress. (Left-wing civil liberties advocate Glenn Greenwald strongly disagreed in a March 2011 op-ed for Salon.) Rosenthal wrote:
In a 10-paragraph January 11 Battleland blog post marking the 10th anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, Time magazine's Mark Thompson called the prison "the persistent headache that pretty much all Americans would like to go away."
Thompson failed to back up the claim with polling data, however, which actually runs squarely against his claim.
At the Associated Press on Friday, reporter Jim Kuhnhenn provided yet another reason why characterizing the wire service as The Administration's Press is perfectly appropriate.
In wake of President Obama's use of a "signing statement" objecting on constitutional grounds to congressionally-imposed "restrictions on his ability to transfer detainees from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States," Kuhnhenn wrote that presidential candidate Obama "promised to make his application (of) the (signing statement) tool more transparent." No he didn't, Jim; as will be shown, he promised not to use them. Kuhnhenn's first three paragraphs, plus two later ones describing another signing statement matter, ran thusly (also note how the term "signing statement" was kept out of the story's headline):
On Sunday's Meet the Press, host David Gregory grilled Michele Bachmann about her advocating the reinstatement of waterboarding terror suspects: "...you understand that puts you at odds with most of the generals, okay? The former Republican nominee of your party John McCain, General Colin Powell, you realize you're on the opposite end of what they believe. Do you not trust them and their views?"
Gregory provided no source for his proclamation that "most of the generals" in the military oppose waterboarding as an interrogation tactic. Bachmann fired back: "But I'm on the same side as Vice President Cheney on this issue, and others, as well. Because, again, what we're looking at is what will save American lives."
It really has been amazing watching dovish media members who were perpetually complaining about the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay and the enhanced interrogation of its residents when George W. Bush was president now cheering the assassination of United States citizen turned terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki.
A fine example of this hypocrisy occurred on HBO's "Real Time" Friday when the host who just last year supported a civilian trial for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed applauded Awlaki's murder while encouraging his audience to join in the merriment (video follows with transcript and commentary, vulgarity warning):
Tina Brown seems to be very conflicted about her opinion of Dick Cheney.
After telling the "Morning Joe" panel the former Vice President is a "wrecking ball" who "seems to be totally in denial still about Iraq," the Daily Beast-Newsweek editor said moments later, "He's been validated by Obama" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
A controversial article from Harper's Magazine, which won the National Magazine Awards' prize for reporting, what many consider the Pulitzer Prize for magazines, continues to be plagued by accusations of factual inaccuracy. A Monday article from AdWeek further suggested that the award had more to do with the issue's politics than the article's merits.
The piece, which suggests a possible conspiracy in covering up murders of inmates at Guantanamo Bay, was supplied wholesale to the folks at Harper's, who went to press despite a lack of hard sourcing for the story. In fact, the evidence undergirding it was apparently so thin that even the hard-left New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh, who has crusaded against a number of prominent elements of the war on terrorism, including Guantanamo, would not touch it.
President Barack Obama's Ground Zero visit yesterday was "pitch perfect," according to former Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, despite reports that the commander-in-chief was rude and dismissive toward at least one American who lost a family member on Sept. 11, 2001.
On the May 6 edition of "Morning Joe," MSNBC anchor Willie Geist asked Meacham to characterize the significance of Obama's visit to the site where more than 3,000 people were slaughtered in an attack planned by deceased al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
"I thought it was pitch perfect in the sense of it was not about him," intoned Meacham, who now occasionally writes for Time magazine. "It was not the grand speech; it was him doing a kind of human interaction with the folks."
The New York Times quickly moved to quash suggestions that “enhanced interrogation” like waterboarding may have yielded useful intelligence in the killing of Osama bin Laden. Moving to protect the paper’s ideologicalinvestment that such methods are both brutal and ineffective was Wednesday’s front-page defense by Scott Shane and Charlie Savage, “Harsh Methods Of Questioning Debated Again.”
The reporters seems awfully assured, based on vague and contradictory information, in their attempt to discredit the idea that "brutal interrogations" (a phrase at the top of the article's first sentence) and "torture" like waterboarding may have yielded useful intelligence. They also ignored C.I.A. director Leon Panetta's admission to anchor Brian Williams on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News after the anchor asked him if waterboarding helped obtain information that led to bin Laden: "I think some of the detainees clearly were, you know-they used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of these detainees."
Did brutal interrogations produce the crucial intelligence that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden?
Tuesday’s lead New York Times editorial thumped President Obama on the back for the targeted killing of Osama bin Laden, calling the president “a strong and measured leader.” In contrast, the two mentions of President Bush, who pursued Bin Laden aggressively, were both negative. The editors also tried to shoo away the pesky fact that the tip that led to Osama bin Laden’s killing came from a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, the island prison the paper has worked so hard to close down over the years, contradicting its own reporting in the process.
Leadership matters enormously, and President Obama has shown that he is a strong and measured leader. His declaration on Sunday night that “justice has been done” was devoid of triumphalism. His vow that the country will “remain vigilant at home and abroad” was an important reminder that the danger has not passed. His affirmation that the “United States is not and never will be at war with Islam” sent an essential message to the Muslim world, where hopes for democracy are rising but old hatreds, and leaders who exploit them, are still powerful.
Mr. Obama rightly affirmed that this country will be “relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies” — but “true to the values that make us who we are.” Maintaining that balance is never easy, and this administration has strayed, but not as often or as damagingly as the Bush team did. Much will be made of the fact that the original tip came from detainees at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. There is no evidence that good intelligence like this was the result of secret detentions or abuse and torture. Everything suggests the opposite.