The New York Times offered a distorted glimpse into the prison at Guantanamo Bay and the Bush administration's treatment of suspected terrorists in a series of reports published on Sunday and Monday.
Scouring hundreds of leaked military documents, Times reporters used emotionally-charged phrases and cherry-picked anecdotes to paint an unflattering picture of the facility that has jailed hundreds of enemy combatants captured in the War on Terror.
Chrystia Freeland has called the US prison system an "American Gulag Archipelago." The Global Editor-at-Large of Reuters made her comment during today's Dylan Ratigan show on MSNBC.
The context was a discussion of the recent WikiLeaks document dump about Gitmo, but Freeland was clearly speaking of the domestic US prison system, not our military prisons. Ratigan picked up on her theme, saying we could cut our prison costs in half if marijuana were legalized.
Of all the reasons to send our people to fight and die in Afghanistan, spending $2 billion per week in the process, Howard Dean has managed to come up with perhaps the worst: feminism.
On today's Morning Joe, Dean explained that "the whole reason" he used to support President Obama's waging of the Afghanistan war was that leaving the country would plunge its women back into "the Stone Age." But now that Afghan President Karzai has showed insufficient support for women's right in Dean's eyes, it's time to get out.
Former Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez is expected to be a Democratic contender in the Texas 2012 Senate race. However, when Politico's Mike Allen brought news of his probable candidacy to MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Monday, he omitted the fact that Sanchez commanded the U.S. ground forces in Iraq while the infamous abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison took place.
Sanchez, when he retired from the Army in November of 2006, told a local paper that the Abu Ghraib scandal was "the sole reason" he was forced to retire. The scandal occurred in the summer and fall of 2003, and involved humiliations, beatings, and sexual abuse of prisoners at the hands of U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. Sanchez was the commander of coalition forces in Iraq during that time.
New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller’s latest Sunday magazine column, “Team America,” asks in the subhead: “Less than a decade after invading Iraq, the U.S. has rediscovered its missionary spirit. Should we be troubled by this?” Keller is not completely on board with Obama on what’s shaping up as “regime change” in Libya. But he also claimed that as editor he doesn’t take stands for or against wars, whether they are “old” wars in Iraq or “new ones in Libya.” A 2007 speech suggests differently. Keller wrote on Sunday:
Eight years ago, when I was an Op-Ed columnist for this paper, I aligned myself with something I called the I-Can’t-Believe-I’m-a-Hawk Club -- baby boomers whose distrust of foreign intervention, forged during the bloody mess of Vietnam, was tempered by the noble rescue of Bosnia and Kosovo, leading to a grudging sympathy for the invasion of Iraq. I’m sure the Bush administration did not need permission from the East Coast pundit chorus to go to war, but it was a high-water mark of the missionary impulse.
As editor of The Times, I don’t take stands for or against wars, old ones in Iraq or new ones in Libya, lest my opinions be mistaken for the guiding doctrine of our news coverage. But it’s fair to say the experience of Iraq and Afghanistan underscores the value of a certain humility about our ability to shape history.
Robert Redford's "The Conspirator" is a thinly-veiled political allegory warning against the danger of trying terrorists in military tribunals. And that's why his movie about the military trial of Lincoln assassination conspirator Mary Surratt is problematic.
That's not me talking, that's Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday in her April 15 movie review:
Cenk Uygur can't figure out why accused Army leaker Bradley Manning isn't being treated like a "hero". Seriously.
Uygur's guest on his MSNBC show this evening was P.J. Crowley, the former State Department spokesman who was forced out of his post for publicly criticizing the treatment of Manning while in detention awaiting trial.
Cenk whined as to why Manning isn't being accorded the "hero" treatment that Daniel Ellsberg received from some for his leak of the Pentagon Papers back in the Vietnam day. But P.J. presumably surprised Cenk, strongly supporting the prosecution of Manning, saying he "caused damage to the United States and our interests around that world," and that his "prosecution is quite necessary."
Just hours before a last-minute deal was struck between Republicans and Democrats to prevent a government shutdown, CNN's Eliot Spitzer did some politicking of his own on Friday's "In the Arena."
The former Democrat governor of New York interviewed the wife of an army private and delved into the family's medical and financial information – a rather awkward spectacle – all to make the case against a government shutdown and cast a bad light on House Speaker Boehner's position on budget cuts.
After playing the father's good-bye message to his own family as he was leaving for Iraq, Spitzer thought that "John Boehner would cry if he saw that, no doubt," making an extra jab at the House Speaker's emotional temperament. "That's what he should be crying about, those army families not getting paid," Spitzer added for good measure.
Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist, newly minted war-monger. On March 24 the Iraq war dove claimed the U.S. was being welcomed as liberators in Libya. On Sunday he applauded what the column’s text box admitted was “our inconsistent intervention in Libya,” headlined with a bleeding-heart plea: “Is It Better to Save No One?” He even called for "aSWAT team of Libyans and coalition forces" to swoop down and seize Qaddafi for trial in The Hague.
Critics from left and right are jumping all over President Obama for his Libyan intervention, arguing that we don’t have an exit plan, that he hasn’t articulated a grand strategy, that our objectives are fuzzy, that Islamists could gain strength. And those critics are all right.
But let’s back up a moment and recognize a larger point: Mr. Obama and other world leaders did something truly extraordinary, wonderful and rare: they ordered a humanitarian intervention that saved thousands of lives and that even Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s closest aides seem to think will lead to his ouster.
NPR's Dina Temple-Raston touted Attorney General Eric Holder's reluctance to give detainees at Guantanamo Bay military trials during a segment on Monday's All Things Considered. Temple-Raston and host Michele Norris only featured sound bites from the Justice Department head, omitting clips from supporters of the military tribunals.
Norris began by noting the Obama administration's "major reversal" in their decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other 9/11 suspects in military court. After playing a clip from Attorney General Holder's recent press conference, where he announced the move, the host turned to the correspondent and recounted how " in late 2009...Holder announced that these five conspirators will be tried in New York City in a civilian trial. So today's decision officially reverses that."
Temple-Raston, who conducted a sting operation against U.S. border agents earlier in 2011 by wearing a headscarf and posing as Muslim woman, mainly acted as stenographer for the attorney general, though she did acknowledge the mismanagement of the rollout for the civilian trials plan:
In the past several weeks, events outside the United States have commanded as much of Mr. Obama’s attention as the nation’s domestic concerns. The upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa have provided a fresh reminder that the Oval Office is occupied by the nation’s commander in chief.
That alone might not be enough to displace the economy as the No. 1 issue for Mr. Obama. But as the president’s top advisers survey the field of potential Republican rivals in 2012, one other fact is glaring: Almost none of them have any serious foreign policy credentials.
During Monday's "Morning Joe," Time's Mark Halperin and co-host Mika Brzezinski helpfully provided some spin for the White House to borrow as President Obama finishes his prepared remarks for Monday evening's address to the nation on the events in Libya.
President Obama has received sharp criticism for his foreign policy concerning Egypt and Libya, but Halperin threw cold water on that, calling Obama's strategy "extremely deft in a very tough situation." Brzezinski agreed with his premise, adding that his "deft" handling is also in accord with promises he previously made.
"He's pro-democracy, right? He's anti-violence. He's anti-unilateral U.S. intervention," Halperin noted of Obama, trying to connect his current policy with the peacemaker he claimed to be as a presidential candidate.
(Video below the jump. Comments begin at the 12:30 mark.)
Was Hillary Clinton defending the Secretary of Defense . . . or jerking him back into line?
It was a stunning power play. On Meet The Press this morning, after Defense Secretary Bob Gates conceded that Libya is not a "vital interest" of the United States--but before he could complete his comments--Hillary cut him off. She launched into a minute-and-forty-second monologue seeking to justify US military involvement in Libya.
Gates had to sit and take it . . . and never got to say another word.
Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, the Libyan rebel leader, has said jihadists who fought against allied troops in Iraq are on the front lines of the battle against Muammar Gaddafi's regime.
So how will the U.S. press deal with this hot potato?
In the lead-up to the Iraq War, the media "hammered Bush" about getting congressional approval, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell noted on last night's "Hannity" during the "Media Mash" segment. Yet such scrutiny has been missing in President Obama's actions on Libya, he noted.
What's more, the media have failed to press Obama on violating his own standards on presidential use of military force:
Well, it is official. The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, has asked the Norwegian Nobel Committee to take back President Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize owing to Obama's missile strikes in Libya. The head of Russia's Liberal Democratic Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, also has weighed in, and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is really in a snit. This is the best news Col. Moammar Gadhafi has had in weeks.
President Obama, who ordered airstrikes against Libya and then took his wife and the girls on a sightseeing and official junket to South America, probably took little note of the Bolivian's and Russians' actions, but it does show how difficult it is to get "world opinion" behind the use of force, even against a fla fla dictator such as Gadhafi. There is more unease in the "world community." Amr Moussa, the head of the Arab League, at first was for enforcing a "no-fly zone" over Libya. Now he is not so sure. The next thing you know, he will be on Gadhafi's side. World opinion can be volatile.
While a report on ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday referenced 2007 comments from then-Senator Barack Obama against a president taking military action without congressional approval, CBS and NBC both failed to point out President Obama contradicting those earlier statements by failing to seek congressional approval before committing U.S. forces in Libya.
As NewsBusters' Scott Whitlock earlier reported, ABC correspondent Jake Tapper noted during the Tuesday GMA report: "There was a conference call over the weekend in which one Democrat, one liberal Democrat, read a quote from candidate Obama about the need to seek congressional approval before taking military action and the member of Congress said, 'I agree with candidate Obama.'"
On Wednesday's Newsroom, CNN hyped the concerns of psychiatrist Terry Kupers over the imprisonment of Wikileaks suspect Bradley Manning. Kupers labeled Manning's months-long solitary confinement "cruel or inhumane treatment, and by international standards, they constitute torture." The guest also claimed that "nobody has been accused of crimes like Bradley Manning's."
Anchor Carol Costello noted in her introduction to her interview of Kupers (which aired 47 minutes into the 10 am Eastern hour) that "Manning, the man accused of giving Wikileaks classified documents, spent most of the last nine months in solitary confinement. One psychiatrist tells CNN that amounted to torture, and it could have done more harm than good." An on-screen graphic trumpeted this charge: "Wikileaks Suspect 'Tortured': Doc: Months of solitary does permanent damage."
ABC's undercover news show, What Would You Do, on Friday continued to search for examples of bigotry across America. Anchor John Quinones narrated a segment featuring two men pretending to be gay military veterans displaying affection in a New Jersey restaurant.
As cameras rolled, Quinones explained the set-up: "They're holding hands, stroking each other's hair and caressing each other's legs...So what will happen if we throw in our actor Vince, posing as an irritated diner, who's had enough of this PDA?"
An actor, "Vince," interrupted the faux soldiers and complained, "Excuse me. We appreciate your service to the country and everything, but you should respect the uniform a little bit more than that."
At the top of Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Erica Hill proclaimed: "Tough talk. As the violence continues to escalate between rebel forces, and Moammar Qadhafi's military, President Obama sends a clear message." A sound bite was played of Obama calling on Qadhafi to step down on Thursday. In a later report, correspondent Mandy Clark claimed Obama had "drawn his line in the sand."
On the February 24 Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge touted the "very strong words" in the President's first public statement on the crisis. On that same broadcast, Clark claimed that Libyans "...felt encouraged that the President had come out with such strong words. They now feel that the eyes of the international community is upon Qadhafi, and that will force him to hold back on any bombing campaigns or any war crimes that he might commit."
For the second consecutive day, the CBS and NBC evening newscasts failed to devote more than fleeting news briefs to the fatal terror attack against a bus full of US airmen in Germany. ABC, which covered the story in more detail on Wednesday, did not even mention the tragic attack on the Thursday "World News."
Arid Uka, described as a 21-year-old "radical Muslim," opened fire Wednesday on US airmen at Frankfurt Airport, killing two and injuring others, but CBS anchor Katie Couric and NBC anchor Brian Williams spent a scant 30 seconds each on the story during last night's newscasts.
The night of the shooting, neither the CBS "Evening News" nor the NBC "Nightly News" thought the slaying of American servicemen was worthy of more than terse news briefs, although ABC's Diane Sawyer covered the story more thoroughly on "World News."
Given the sacrifices that U.S. sailors and Marines make to serve our country, it hardly seems right to me to force them to go for months on end aboard surface ships without the right to light up a smoke.
But I'm not Mark Thompson.
Today the Time magazine staffer dusted off a convenient but recently-ignored liberal media bogeyman, Big Tobacco:
"President Obama has been taking a truckload of flak from the right for his measured response to the crises embroiling the Middle East," MSNBC's Martin Bashir harumphed as he opened his "Clear the Air" commentary on the March 1 program.
"Measured is my word because it's certainly not one that right-wing pundits have been using," Bashir complained.
Of course the term "measured" implies deliberate calculation and an overarching strategy, whereas the timeline of the Obama administration response to Libya suggests there has been, objectively speaking, some amount of "dithering" by team Obama.
USA Today's Wednesday cover story ("Killings Escalate Piracy Crisis"), has this reference to a quote obtained by the Associated Press:
Killing hostages "has now become part of our rules," said a pirate who identified himself as Muse Abdi in a statement to the Associated Press. "From now on, anyone who tries to rescue the hostages in our hands will only collect dead bodies," Abdi said. "It will never, ever happen that hostages are rescued and we are hauled to prison."
Pretty provocative, right? In fact, it resembles a declaration of war without the rules of war. You might even call it a declaration of t-t-t-t ... terrorism.
The problem is, Abdi's quote is no longer in any story at the Associated Press's home web site, and is rarely present in other Internet news reports.
Update (12:08 p.m. EST): Brewer just made this her question of the day on her MSNBC Live program.
MSNBC's Contessa Brewer injected a bit of liberal commentary to a link she posted Monday morning on her Facebook page.
"You know it's overfunded when even the Pentagon pushes for spending cuts. Why is defense such a sacred cow?" lamented Brewer in a comment posted above a link to a Wall Street Journal article on Obama's fiscal year 2012 budget blueprint.
I don't know, Contessa, maybe because the primary mission of the federal government is defending the nation from foreign enemies?
Tuesday's "Morning Joe" featured guest Daisy Khan, wife of Imam Rauf who tried to establish a mosque two blocks away from the site of the 9/11 terror attacks. The panel praised Khan and her husband as peace-making moderates, and arrogantly questioned why more Americans couldn't accept the mosque at Ground Zero.
"America is the beacon of the world," co-host Mika Brzezinski said echoing Khan's earlier words affirming American freedom. "And yet, we had such a controversy about the community center that you and your husband were trying to start blocks away from Ground Zero," she added, questioning the American "understanding" of the center.
"One of the most depressing things to me was the fact that in 2010, Americans seemed to be less accepting of Muslim Americans than they were even in the months after 9/11," co-host Joe Scarborough lamented from his soapbox. "Why do you think we Americans had such a reaction – again, in New York, a place that's supposed to be the most open-minded and pluralistic?" he asked guest Lesley Jane Seymour, editor-in-chief of More magazine.
Every so often, MSNBC anchor Dylan Ratigan goes on a rhetorical bender that stupefies his guests and defies logic.
On his eponymous program today, Ratigan latched onto conflicting reports concerning the treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was arrested under suspicion of illegally downloading classified military documents and funneling them to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, to assert that the American justice system is akin to that of the Communist Chinese.
"Think about that in the context of 243 days in confinement, 23 hour-a-day lockdown, sleep deprivation," bemoaned Ratigan. "And you think China's bad?"
Ratigan also made repeated references to Guantanamo Bay, implying that Manning is being treated like an enemy combatant.
Before telling a 100 percent falsehood about Reaganomics on HBO's "Real Time," the MSNBC commentator said the Strategic Defense Initiative would never work because you can't shoot a missile out of the sky with another missile (video follows with transcript and commentary):
The Washington Post on Friday took on Seymour Hersh's outlandish conspiracy theory that "neo-conservative" members of Opus Dei and the Knights of Malta inside the military "overthrew the American government" and are waging a "crusade" against Muslims. The newspaper reported that, contrary to Hersh's claims, General Stanley McChrystal was not a member of either organization, and that there was "little evidence of a broad fundamentalist conspiracy within the military."
Writer Paul Farhi began his article, "Hersh rebuked on 'crusaders,'" by stating that the journalist for The New Yorker's "latest revelation is drawing some puzzled reactions and angry denunciations." After recounting Hersh's accusations from his recent speech, that he "advanced the notion that U.S. military forces are directed and dominated by Christian fundamentalist 'crusaders' bent on changing 'mosques into cathedrals'" and his accusations against McChrystal and other members of the special operations community, Farhi continued that there "seem to be a few problems with Hersh's assertions," and quoted from the former general's spokesman: