Military

By Matt Vespa | February 7, 2013 | 5:11 PM EST

With this afternoon's Senate confirmation hearings for CIA director nominee John Brennan in view, the February 7 broadcast of Now with Alex Wagner devoted significant attention to the Obama administration's use of armed drones and the recently-leaked DOJ White Paper defending the legitimacy of drone strikes that explicitly targeted American civilians overseas. 

For her part, host Alex Wagner failed to mention Anwar al-Awlaki’s activities as a terrorist operative affiliated with al-Qaeda.  The Now host merely tagged al-Awlaki as an American-born cleric, even though he served as a talent recruiter within the organization and inspired Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hassan.  Al-Awlaki also had contact with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the terrorist who attempted to blow up a passenger airliner on Christmas Day of 2009.  None of that was mentioned on the show. 

By Matt Vespa | February 6, 2013 | 6:33 PM EST

In the wake of the leaked Department of Justice memo detailing the legality of targeted killings by drones on American citizens, the PBS NewsHour found it fitting to have the ACLU defend its position in why these strikes are troubling, and why American-born al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki should’ve been kept alive to plan acts of terror against the United States.

Of course, this is maddening to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.  Liberal publications, like The Nation, detail the dark future of drone warfare, and some anti-drone journalists, like Conor Fierdorsdorff of The Atlantic, have compared Obama to Bush.  However, even with the media either criticizing, or ignoring, this development, last night’s broadcast of the PBS NewsHour didn’t take into account the hypocrisy of liberals who were on the warpath a few years prior after release of Bush memos related to enhanced interrogation techniques.

By Walter E. Williams | February 6, 2013 | 6:33 PM EST

A senior Defense Department official said the ban on women in combat should be lifted because the military's goal is "to provide a level, gender-neutral playing field." I'd like to think the goal of the military should be to have the toughest, meanest fighting force possible. But let's look at "gender-neutral playing field."

The Army's physical fitness test in basic training is a three-event physical performance test used to assess endurance. The minimum requirement for 17- to 21-year-old males is 35 pushups, 47 situps and a two-mile run in 16 minutes, 36 seconds or less. For females of the same age, the minimum requirement is 13 pushups, 47 situps and a 19:42 two-mile run. Why the difference in fitness requirements? "USMC Women in the Service Restrictions Review" found that women, on average, have 20 percent lower aerobic power, 40 percent lower muscle strength, 47 percent less lifting strength and 26 percent slower marching speed than men.

By Mark Finkelstein | February 6, 2013 | 7:41 AM EST

Barack The First? Wow: who would have thought that perhaps the strongest statement yet in condemnation of President Obama's self-arrogated right to kill Americans abroad would have come from Jon Meacham?  Yet on today's Morning Joe, historian Meacham—who knows something about the use and abuse of presidential power—criticized Obama for ignoring the "rule of law" and actually described Obama as acting like "an American king."

Joe Scarborough seconded Meacham's surprising statement, adding that had this come to light under George W. Bush, impeachment would be in the air.  View the video after the jump.

By Mark Finkelstein | February 5, 2013 | 7:38 AM EST

Imagine the apoplectic Precious Perfect Special Comment rage Keith Olbermann [remember him?] would have worked himself into had this memo come to light under W . . .

Unusual candor from Mika Brzezinski and Harold Ford, Jr. on the double standard that exists for Republicans and Democrats.  Discussing on today's Morning Joe the Obama administration memo that has been uncovered authorizing the use of drone strikes to kill U.S. citizens abroad, Mika admitted that there would have been a "huge controversy" if such a memo had surfaced during the Bush administration. Ford said that "Democrats have to think now about how they conducted themselves and the questions they raised about Bush administration tactics." Joe Scarborough flatly declared that had the policy come to light under Bush, it would have been "stopped" by the ensuing outcry. View the video after the jump.

By Mark Finkelstein | February 3, 2013 | 9:40 AM EST

Surprised they didn't opt for the auto da fe analogy . . .

On Chris Hayes's MSNBC show this morning, Ali Gharib, editor of the "Open Zion" blog at the Daily Beast, described the questioning of Chuck Hagel at his Senate confirmation hearing as "a Republican purge" and a "Maoist public shaming."  Michael Hastings of the Rolling Stone begged to differ, finding it more reminiscent of "Stalin."  View the video after the jump.

By Ken Shepherd | February 1, 2013 | 12:10 PM EST

Former senator Chuck Hagel's shoddy performance at his confirmation hearing yesterday has not merely been panned by conservative outlets but also liberal ones. For example, in "What Happened to Hagel?", Daily Beast's Ali Gharib concluded that "a proud statesman" appeared "confused and unsure as he took body shots" from skeptical senators, all the while being unable to explain "some version—any version—of the sober views he's put forward over his years as a foreign policy thinker."John Judis of The New Republic complained that "[f]ormer Sen. Chuck Hagel didn’t acquit himself well.... He was equivocal, often unconvincing, and seemed taken aback by questions that had been swirling around the rightwing blogosphere for weeks."

But leave it to the Washington Post to dutifully carry the Obama administration's water. In his page A3 February 1 story, "Hagel sharply attacked at Senate hearing," Ernesto Londono took aim at the GOP for their "withering criticism" of Hagel. Londono conceded that "at times [Hagel] struggled" but insisted that he "nonetheless offered a full-throated endorsement of the United States' alliance with Israel, insisted he has never advocated for unilateral nuclear disarmament and called Iran an existential threat."

By Mark Finkelstein | February 1, 2013 | 9:25 AM EST

Sure, Chuck Hagel might have been a bumbling, stumbling mess at his confirmation hearing yesterday.  But the real story was how awful were the Republicans who questioned him.  That was the collective judgment of today's Morning Joe panel.

For example, so contemptuous was Joe Scarborough of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, that the Morning Joe host announced that he would not even mention him by name.  "Clown show" was the panel's operative phrase for the Republican performance.  Andrea Mitchell, Mika Brzezinski, Mike Barnicle et al. joined in the Republican roasting.  View the video after the jump.

By Mark Finkelstein | January 26, 2013 | 10:05 PM EST

It's hardly a secret.  After all, in a letter to a senior officer, no less than a young Bill Clinton openly admitted that many of his cohort  "loath[ed] the military." Still, it's stunning to hear a modern-day liberal make a similar admission.

On her MSNBC show today, Melissa Harris-Perry stated that the U.S. military is "despised as an engine of war by many progressives."  View the video after the jump.

By Paul Bremmer | January 25, 2013 | 5:29 PM EST

With the recent news that outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has lifted the ban on women serving in front-line combat roles, it is no surprise that CNN is cheering the decision. On Friday’s Starting Point, host Soledad O’Brien attempted to undermine those who disagree with the decision by comparing them to opponents of racial integration of the military during the 1940s. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

Speaking to author Kingsley Browne, who opposes women serving in combat, O’Brien tried to set a clever trap. She read Browne a quote from a man she identified only as “this colonel”:

By Mark Finkelstein | January 25, 2013 | 7:37 AM EST

Joe Scarborough was a voice in the politically-correct wilderness this morning on the subject of women in combat.  On today's Morning Joe, as other panelists voiced unerring if occasionally cautious support for the Pentagon's decision to permit women in combat, Scarborough sounded a stern warning note.

"I'll be damned; if we find out that the Pentagon is lowering standards for politically-correct reasons, then you know what? Then the blood of dead Americans in future battles will be on their hands." View the video after the jump.

By Kyle Drennen | January 23, 2013 | 5:01 PM EST

During a panel discussion on Wednesday's NBC Today, attorney Star Jones and the network's chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman hyperventilated over Britain's Prince Harry revealing in interviews that he killed Taliban fighters during combat in Afghanistan. Jones fretted: "Why do you need to antagonize the Taliban?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]