In an attempt to re-litigate the past, MSNBC contributor Cenk Uygur indicted former President George W. Bush for war crimes.
Bellowing today from his regular perch on late afternoon Dylan Ratigan Show, Uygur mischaracterized the 43rd President's position on the waterboarding of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as "go ahead and torture him basically" before demanding that Bush be prosecuted for allegedly violating Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.
"Now it seems to me we have a confession here of a war crime and a clear violation of international and United States law," proclaimed Uygur. "President George W. Bush should go to jail for at least 10 years."
The alleged "confession" Uygur referred to is an excerpt from Bush's new memoir, Decision Points, in which the former commander-in-chief reaffirms his decision to condone the use of waterboarding as an enhanced-interrogation technique for suspected terrorists.
Appearing as a guest on Friday’s Countdown show, MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe – formerly of Newsweek – referred to the debunked story that was retracted by Newsweek in May 2005 which had incorrectly claimed that American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had flushed a Koran down a toilet to intimidate Muslim prisoners. But Wolffe did not inform viewers that the story was untrue as he accused conservatives of a double standard for criticizing Newsweek’s inaccurate Koran desecration story from 2005 while not being aggressive enough in condemning Pastor Terry Jones’s declaration that he would burn the Koran on September 11. Wolffe:
I'm struck all the time with this story about the experience of those of us who worked in Newsweek – not the least of whom is Mike Isikoff now at NBC News who wrote a story about the abuse of the Koran in Guantanamo Bay, and there were riots and people died and the overwhelming torrent of abuse from conservative, the echo chamber, more than elected officials I think, certainly from conservative media, was that Newsweek had lied and people died. That's what they said.
Newsweek’s erroneous story inspired riots and a significant number of deaths in 2005 before it was retracted by the magazine, although, as previously documented by the MRC, Newsweek buried its retraction.
Those are the two most prevalent words uttered or typed on this tragically historic day.
For many, September 11, 2001, was a day that will forever be seared into the minds of those who were witness. On that day, the nation was awoken by a harsh reality that some people want nothing more than to destroy our freedom, our way of life. It was a day that 19 hijackers, four airplanes, two towers, and one deranged ideology brought the threat of terrorism to the forefront in our country.
But a mere nine years after 9/11, has the leadership of this nation, both administrative and media related, already forgotten?
Yesterday, on the eve of the anniversary of 9/11, the President of the United States of America had the tone deaf audacity to ignore the concept of time and place, choosing to defend the building of the Ground Zero victory mosque. In his news conference, President Obama said that the proposed New York City mosque has run up against the "extraordinary sensitivities around 9/11." In other words, he hears the sensitivities, he simply does not care.
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
With the recently announced end of Fox's hit series "24," many liberal pundits are parading the show as a false depiction of the notion that "torture works." Contrary to their accusations, the Jack Bauer interrogation methods bear exactly zero resemblance to any actual interrogation techniques used by American military, law enforcement, or intelligence agents.
"On '24,' torture saves lives," the New York Times's Brian Stelter writes, disapprovingly. James Poniewozik, writing on a Time Magazine blog, attributes the show's supposed approval of harsh interrogations to the "conservative politics of co-creator Joel Surnow."
Any American who has serious doubts that our military and intelligence officials would allow interrogators to, say, directly threaten the lives of a terrorist's family (let alone inflict tremendous physical pain) to elicit information has a better grasp of interrogation techniques -- and the integrity of our men and women in uniform -- than most of the liberal media.
Doing work the Associated Press refused to do -- or more specifically, providing context the AP refused to provide -- Sweetness & Light's indefatigable blogger Steve Gilbert gave readers the back story behind the order by U.S. District Judge James Robertson (pictured at right) to release Guantanamo Bay detainee Mohamedou Ould Salahi. Salahi is said to have, in the words of the wire service's Pete Yost, "provided advice to three of the Sept. 11 hijackers."
On Monday's Rick's List, CNN's Rick Sanchez painted Ann Coulter and CPAC as "hardline." Sanchez also implied that the CPAC attendees were hypocritically cheering Dick Cheney: "I invited Ann Coulter, who exemplifies the hardline spirit of CPAC...and asked her why anti-spend conservatives meeting there...would give a standing ovation to a former vice president whose administration ran up the deficit" [audio clip available here].
The CNN anchor revisited his Friday interview of Coulter 13 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour (Noel Sheppard exposed Sanchez's slanted interview of Coulter): "Do you remember last week when former Vice President Dick Cheney got the loudest ovation at CPAC? So I invited Ann Coulter, who exemplifies the hardline spirit of CPAC, I believe, and I asked her why anti-spend conservatives meeting there at CPAC would give a standing ovation to a former vice president whose administration ran up the deficit to $1.2 trillion, even though they were handed a surplus. I thought it was a fair question."
On Monday’s Rick’s List program on CNN, Slate’s Fred Kaplan attacked Republicans for politicizing national security, accused the GOP of being in an alternate reality, and blasted Sarah Palin for “talking...complete and utter nonsense.” Kaplan also wrote off the tea parties as not a “mass movement,” and, along with anchor Rick Sanchez, accused Palin of forwarding “anti-intellectualism.”
The Slate national security columnist, who is also a former correspondent for the Boston Globe, appeared as a guest during the last ten minutes of Sanchez’s program, just before the top of the 5 pm Eastern hour. Before introducing Kaplan, the CNN anchor set up the discussion by referencing the political debate over the granting of Miranda rights to attempted airline bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab after his Christmastime arrest. Sanchez first asked the Slate writer, “Who’s doing the politicizing here?”
Marc Thiessen, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush and author of "Courting Disaster," blasted Christiane Amanpour for comparing American interrogation techniques to what the Khmer Rouge did in Cambodia after the Vietnam War.
Appearing on CNN International Wednesday, Thiessen took issue with Amanpour's April 2008 piece "Scream Bloody Murder" in which she made the case that waterboarding was similar to what the Khmer Rouge did in the '70s.
"[T]here have been so many misstatements told about the enhanced interrogation techniques, comparing them to the Spanish Inquisition, to the Khmer Rouge," said Thiessen. "And I have to tell you, Christiane, you're one of the people who have spread these mistruths."
This led to quite an exchange between the two (video of the entire 24-minute segment embedded below the fold with full transcript, fireworks start at 6:00):
The media has frequently made the deplorable decision to present prisoners at Guantanamo Bay as innocent choir boys, wrapped up in the evil that is a U.S. prison system run by blood thirsty prison guards. Such is the case of a recent piece by the BBC, covering a love-fest reunion between the former Guantanamo guard who has seen the light, repenting for his evil ways, and two ex-inmates whose only goal in Afghanistan back in 2001 was to provide aid work, sight see, and smoke dope.
The BBC interview with the three individuals - former prison guard Brandon Neely and former inmates Ruhal Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul - asks the question: "But what were the pair doing in Afghanistan in 2001?"
In an interview on Fox News Channel’s Studio B on Wednesday, New York Congressman Peter King criticized President Obama for his “race to close Guantanamo,” prompting host Shepard Smith to parrot left-wing talking points on the subject: “[Obama] said that gave us a black eye around the world and studies seem to suggest that’s exactly what it did.”
King went on to staunchly defend the military prison: “I think we should not be giving in just because the terrorists say that Gitmo is a recruiting agent. So is our support of Israel. Does that mean we shouldn’t support Israel?” Smith skeptically replied: “You’re not equating the two, are you Congressman?” He then wondered: “Why is this political football being thrown around so much in the middle of all this?”
Smith later ranted: “Of all the important things to talk this just where we keep these people who want us dead, why do we spend time even talking about it? Why do people care?... In Cuba, we shoved them off to another country and stuck them on the end of an island and given the nation a black eye, if you believe – if you believe President Obama.” King pointed out Smith’s bias: “I think only a person that’s incredibly naive would say that we got – that we deserve that black eye. We got it because elements in the media and elements in the Democratic Party kept parroting that line.” In reply, Smith could be heard off camera sighing in disgust: “Ugh.”
Speaking with Republican New York Congressman Peter King on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: “Congressman, here you are a Republican talking about everything that’s wrong and everything that went wrong....Tom Kean, who was the co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission said quote,‘we should dismiss the partisan bickering over the security failures over this issue.”
Rodriguez went on to place the blame for partisanship on the Republican side of the aisle as she asked: “Do you agree and do you say to your colleagues let’s try to support the President here and get to the bottom of the real issue?” King replied: “I have never made one partisan statement on terrorism since that day....I will give the President credit when I think he’s right. But on the other hand, when mistakes are being made, I think it’s my obligation to speak out because this issue is so vital to all Americans.”
Unlike CBS and NBC, ABC on Wednesday night reported on criticism from the right of how President Barack Obama is addressing terrorism, but correspondent David Wright tried to discredit the critics' points by reacting with astonishment and sarcastic snipes. Astonishment: “Do you really feel like President Obama has made the country less safe?”
Sarcasm: Rebutting former Bush speech writer Marc Thiessen's bewilderment (“Why are we taking a terrorist who just tried to bring down a plane and telling him, 'You have the right to remain silent'? That's insane”), Wright disparaged the point with an extreme exaggeration of the alternative which reflected the left's caricature of the pre-Obama policy: “So you say water-board him, torture him?” (Wright did at least allow Thiessen to explain: “You don't have to water-board him and torture him. You have to question him.”)
Without pointing out how President Obama described Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as “an isolated extremist,” a “suspect” and a “passenger” who “allegedly” tried to ignite an explosive device, Wright recited former VP Dick Cheney's comment that President Obama “seems to think if we get rid of the worlds ‘War on Terror,’ we won't be at war” and then countered by reading the White House's retort, “We are at war. The difference is this: President Obama doesn't need to beat his chest to prove it.”
Managing Editor's Note: The following is a reprint of Michael Moriarty's original December 14 post to Big Hollywood. Moriarty, you may recall, played a prosecutor in the first few seasons of the long-running NBC drama "Law and Order."
Well, I think I’ve been fairly calm and forgiving of "Law and Order" for about fifteen years. Living outside of the U.S. has certainly helped in more ways than one. Out of sight, out of mind. "Law and Order" has, for years, been just a press of the remote away from non-existence.
However, recent events have "Law and Order" just begging for my reassessment. I hardly expected my old television series to be the clown act that leads the American viewing audience into an increasingly predictable pile of hard left propaganda.
CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen is a long-time critic of the Bush administration, enhanced interrogation techniques, military tribunals, Gitmo, and many aspects of the government's prosecution of the war on terror. For general background, see Cohen's CBS News blog "Court Watch." It is, therefore, no surprise at all to see Cohen defending the propriety of the upcoming New York City terror trials.
Two-and-a-half years before Army Major Nidal Hasan, a Muslim medical doctor, murdered 13 at Fort Hood in Texas in what more-and-more looks like a jihadist terrorist attack given his anti-American rants and ties to Islamic extremists, ABC's since-canceled Boston Legal drama ridiculed the idea a doctor could be a terrorist.
A scene in the episode first aired on Tuesday, May 8, 2007 -- meant to show the silliness and incompetence of the military for detaining obviously innocent men -- concluded with a released terror suspect being asked in courtroom about a colleague who had committed suicide to avoid the mistreatment: “Was your friend a terrorist?” The man replied with these words, dripping with disgust, which dramatically ended the scene: “No, he was a doctor.”
Late Wednesday afternoon, MSNBC's David Shuster and Chris Matthews made clear their agreement with the message of a new ad from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) which ridicules former Vice President Dick Cheney's past judgments and thus proclaims him “WRONG” on the value of enhanced interrogation techniques, with Shuster declaring “he deserves” the “brutal ad” which makes, Matthews decided, an “obvious” and “undeniable” point.
Giving free publicity to the TV ad supposedly scheduled to begin airing Thursday on cable channels, just before 5 PM EDT MSNBC played part of the ad and Hardball viewers were treated to the entire 30 seconds about a half hour later. With “WRONG” on screen, the ad features a clip of Cheney asserting what was conventional wisdom at the time: “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.” Then, with “HE'S STILL WRONG” on screen, viewers hear Cheney maintain “the enhanced interrogation techniques were absolutely essential.” The ad ends with:
ABC's Brian Ross and NBC's Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday night each listed some al Qaeda plots uncovered via CIA interrogations, but both balked when it came to vindicating former Vice President Dick Cheney on whether “enhanced interrogation techniques” (EITs) led to information which prevented attacks.
“Nowhere in the reports...does the CIA ever draw a direct connection between the valuable information and the specific use of harsh tactics,” Ross declared on World News in citing reports Cheney requested be released. NBC's Andrea Mitchell cited only Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and related how “administration officials say there is no way to know whether the same information could have be obtained from him without waterboarding or whether he would have given it up sooner had he been handled differently.”
On FNC, however, The Weekly Standard's Steve Hayes, quoting from the just-released 2004 report by CIA Inspector General John Helgerson, pointed out how even it noted regarding Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, the terrorist behind the USS Cole attack, “following the use of EIT's, he provided information about his most current operational planning as opposed to the historical information he provided before the use of the EIT's.” Hayes asserted: “I mean, it doesn't get clearer than that. So we can debate the morality, we can debate whether this was torture. We can't debate any longer about whether this was effective.”
Early in Saturday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Jeff Glor reported: "Tonight there are new allegations of torture by the CIA. Newsweek magazine is reporting that a secret 2004 report reveals that interrogators used mock executions to intimidate prisoners."
Glor went on to talk to Newsweek reporter Mark Hosenball, who claimed: "And in the case of one detainee that we know about, somebody named Abdel-Rahman al Nashiri, who was an alleged architect of the USS Cole bombing, this report alleges that at some point CIA interrogators, whether contractors or CIA staff officers, brandished a gun in front of this guy in an effort to frighten him and also took a power drill in front of him and turn turned it on and went ‘bzzz,’ implying therefore that they were going to use it on him."
Meanwhile, neither the Saturday nor Friday Evening News programs made any mention of reports that ACLU attorneys defending Guantanamo detainees illegally showed terror suspects photos of CIA personnel in an effort to implicate interrogators in acts of torture. On Friday, the Washington Post reported: "The Justice Department recently questioned military defense attorneys at Guantanamo Bay about whether photographs of CIA personnel, including covert officers, were unlawfully provided to detainees charged with organizing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to sources familiar with the investigation."
HBO's Real Sports promised a look at an “inspirational therapeutic program” in which wounded warriors are able to go diving in the “pristine” coral reefs off of the Guantanamo Bay detention camps in Cuba, but Bryant Gumbel and correspondent Jon Frankel couldn't resist piling on left-wing cliches about “one of the most controversial places on Earth,” “the most infamous military base in the world” where “the heat here, this month, will reach a hundred degrees, [and] the glare of world criticism is even hotter” since “Gitmo is notorious for the detention camps put here after 9/11.”
Frankel, a veteran of CBS, ABC and NBC, wasn't done as he explained the detention camps were “put here by the Bush administration on the notion that this place is not America after all and thus not under the purview of U.S. law. The result: Hostile detainees on the inside and international anger from without.”
For once I was close to agreeing with Rachel Maddow of MSNBC. Then she had to ruin it by reverting to herself.
Maddow was in self-righteous dudgeon on June 9 about news that the Pacific island nation of Palau agreed to accept Uighur detainees from Guantanamo -- for a whopping $200 million --
MADDOW: Well now, today's news, a potential solution. We may be looking at another round of "Survivor: Palau". This time, though, it's the Uighur edition. No decisions have been made yet apparently, but there are talks underway to have Palau accept our 17 woebegotten, innocent Uighur prisoners in exchange for a ton of money. The AP is reporting that the negotiations for Palau to take these 17 guys may involve a promise of as much as $200 million of development aid and budget support and other inducements to sweeten the deal. That would be roughly $10,000 per citizen of Palau. Or looked at it another way, that would be a payment to Palau of $11,764,705 per Uighur.
On Friday's Special Report with Bret Baier, FNC correspondent Jennifer Griffin informed viewers that the Obama administration has once again snubbed the British government, as the administration transferred a group of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the British protectorate of Bermuda without first consulting the British government as protocol requires. Substitute anchor Chris Wallace raised the issue:
Let's talk about the Bermuda part of the story because Bermuda is a British protectorate. We supposedly have a special relationship with the U.K., but we didn't talk to them, we didn't inform them about our deal to put the Uighurs there.
Griffin described the administration's faux pas as "stunning":
FNC's Catherine Herridge traveled to Bermuda to meet the four Chinese Muslim Uighurs just released from Guantanamo Bay and she elicited from them that living in China is worse than life at Guantanamo. Talking to them through an interpreter at their new home, a pink bungalow with a swimming pool, Herridge reported how she “asked which was worse: Life at Gitmo versus China?” The interpreter relayed, over the voices of all of the men talking: “Of course it's China. There's no guarantee for human rights there.”
So, there's a new angle for the media: Guantanamo as a bastion of human rights protections. Not really much of a surprise in contrast to China, but it took a FNC reporter to frame the comparison between a U.S. military-run detention center and a communist nation.
President Obama's popularity amongst Muslims pegged to success at “pulling out of Iraq,” “ending torture” and “closing Guantanamo Bay,” are key to the chances of ending terrorism CBS reporter Lara Logan contended Wednesday night. She concluded her preview of Obama's Thursday speech in Cairo: “Terrorists who are threatened by Obama's popularity amongst Muslims do not want America's President to succeed.”
She earlier defined that “success” as:
The Arab world expects a lot of this President. From pulling out of Iraq, to ending torture, to closing Guantanamo Bay. Failure to achieve all this could be disastrous for Obama. But even worse, if he wasn't trying to reach out to Muslims.
Logan then ran a soundbite of Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif: “I think it would be catastrophic. We have been in a downturn for so long. We're creating beds for terrorism to flourish.” Logan prompted him to agree disaster is ahead if Obama's change from Bush policy does not occur: “Creating beds for terrorism to flourish?” Nazif: “That's true.”
The Politico's Jeanne Cummings, a veteran of the Wall Street Journal, fretted on this weekend's Inside Washington that former Vice President Dick Cheney has “changed this debate in a way that has made it much, much harder to close Guantanamo, which the President is already committed to doing.” So he's done an awful thing in daring to oppose something President Obama is “committed to doing.” Dreadful!
In fact, she soon charged that in complicating Obama's intention to close Guantanamo -- which Obama had announced without any plan for where to place the detainees -- “Cheney really did damage to the effort to keep our country secure by turning this into a political issue. We were going to have to deal with this and to make it a political issue is not helpful. It's just not.”
To which a befuddled columnist Charles Krauthammer retorted by pointing out the overwhelming bi-partisan vote to block the closing: “Cheney is the one who turned it into a political issue? I thought it was a 90-6 vote in the Senate. Just about every Democrat in the Senate-” Cummings jumped in to blame Cheney for turning virtually every Senate Democrat against Obama: “No, Cheney started making political arguments a week ago. That is when you did start to see the tide turn up on Capitol Hill. It was after Cheney started to talk about 'I don't want to be the Member who says I brought a terrorist to a jail in my district.'”
Anchor Anderson Cooper grilled Dick Cheney’s daughter Liz Cheney on his CNN program on Thursday evening about her father’s defense of the Bush administration’s anti-terror tactics. At one point, he asked, “Is it appropriate, though, for your father, who has had access to high-level intelligence for -- for eight years, to be very publicly waving a flag, saying, we’re much weaker now than ever before? Isn’t that, in fact, emboldening our enemies? Couldn’t you make that argument?”
Cooper later asked the former State Department official, “If a Democrat was doing this in a Republican administration, wouldn’t be the Republicans be saying, this is traitorous?” The anchor also questioned whether the CIA actually took care in implementing its enhanced interrogations: “But -- more than 100 people are known to have died in U.S. custody. Twenty -- I think about 20 of those have been ruled a homicide. I mean, if -- if these were just tightly-controlled things, how come so many people are being murdered in U.S. custody?”
At the top of Friday’s CBS Early Show co-host Julie Chen declared: "New details about that foiled terrorist plot in New York. Are American jails becoming breeding grounds for home-grown terrorists?" In the report that followed, correspondent Kelly Wallace explained: "Three of the suspects are U.S. citizens, all are Muslim. Three of the four are said to be jailhouse converts...One study estimates that as many as 175,000 inmates of American prisons converted to Islam since September 11th."
Despite such a shocking statistic, from a 2007 Indiana State University study, Wallace made no mention of President Obama’s plan to release Islamic fundamentalists from Guantanamo into American prisons. Wallace did feature terrorism expert and former Bush aide Juan Zarate, who observed: "I think what you have here is a volatile admixture of radical religious thought, combined with violent extremism. And within the prison walls it becomes a really dangerous mix." A "mix" that would be made even more dangerous if Guantanamo terrorist suspects were added.
Immediately following Wallace’s report, co-host Harry Smith and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer discussed the dueling national security speeches by President Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney, including the topic of closing Guantanamo. However, neither Smith nor Schieffer referenced the startling report that had just preceded them.
While discussing Thursday’s opposing national security speeches by President Obama and former Vice President Cheney, on Friday’s CBS Early Show, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer acknowledged: "...the fact that the President of the United States had to make this speech, the fact that Congress had turned him down in giving him the money to close Guantanamo, I have to say that on points, I give it to -- to the Vice President on this...Right now I think the Vice President has made his case. And at this point I'd have to say he's winning."
Meanwhile, co-host Harry Smih at least admitted a draw: "I think it behooves everybody who cares a whit about this issue at all, that they go on Youtube, or go online, and read the transcripts of every single word that was uttered. Because both speeches were breathtaking, I think, in their scope, in their pointedness."
While both Smith and Schieffer recognized Cheney’s success at countering Obama on issues like closing Guantanamo Bay, near the end of the segment Schieffer still declared: "I think most people think that Guantanamo is an open sore. That it in many ways it's a recruiting tool for these terrorists." At the same, he acknowledged the newfound difficulty in closing the facility: "But, getting it closed, what do you do with these people? Because, I mean, let's face it, there's some bad dudes down there. And no congressman wants those people brought back in to his home district, even to be put into prison. The President has got to come up with a detailed plan on how he plans to do this."
"Good Morning America" on Friday featured something that has become rare on morning shows, an actual philosophical debate between a strong conservative and a vocal liberal. Liz Cheney, daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, engaged in a shoot-out with MSNBC analyst and former Senate Democratic chief of staff Lawrence O'Donnell over the issue of torture, Guantanamo Bay and keeping America safe. (On MSNBC, Thursday, O'Donnell called Dick Cheney's speech an "abomination.") [Audio available for download here.]
Cuomo did offer this softball to O'Donnell in relation to Barack Obama and the former Vice President's dueling speeches on Thursday: "Enhanced interrogation. Is that just another word for torture and is that the game America should be in?"He then asked O'Donnell, "Is this just another term for torture? Is that what you think is going on here?"But, Cuomo mostly conducted a fair interview, playing traffic cop as the two guests argued their points. He pointedly queried O'Donnell, "Mr. O'Donnell, is the President's instinct to play nice putting us at risk?"