Previewing the President's speech tonight, NBC's Matt Lauer invited on Karl Rove, on Tuesday's Today show, and pressed the former White House senior adviser if the reason Afghanistan still required the U.S.'s attention is because the previous administration "took its eye off the ball in Afghanistan," and "concentrated too heavily on Iraq." Rove hit back, accusing Lauer and Bush administration critics of "revisionism." And later, when Lauer questioned if there were enough "resources" to counter the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan Rove fired back that any one in the Obama administration was in no position to criticize:
"Well look, first of all, they, resources were sent as they were needed, but I would remind you this, President Obama is in no position whatsoever to criticize what President Bush did. Because in 2007, President Obama, then a member of the United States Senate, voted against war funding for Iraq and Afghanistan. If this was so vital, then why did he not speak out? He was chairman of a committee overseeing NATO. He could have easily called a hearing to say, ‘I'm concerned about this issue.' He did not."
The following a complete transcript of the interview as it was aired on the December 1, Today show:
In the past several days, FNC has given attention to the plight of three Navy SEALs who helped capture one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq – a man named Ahmed Hashim Abed who is believed to have planned the savage murder of four Blackwater security guards in Fallujah in 2004. Due to accusations of prisoner abuse by Abed, these American troops are now facing the possibility of court-martial. On Wednesday’s Special Report with Bret Baier, correspondent Steve Centanni began his report:
It was March of 2004. Fallujah was a hotbed of insurgent activity. Four Blackwater contractors were ambushed and killed. Their bodies were mutilated and burned, then dragged through the streets and hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River. The man believed to have planned that attack, Ahmed Hashim Abed ... had long evaded capture. But when a team of Navy SEALs finally did catch up with him in September of this year, they weren't hailed as heroes. Instead, three of them were brought up on charges.
Fox and Friends also raised the story Wednesday morning, and Thursday’s show delved further into the matter as former JAG officer and defense attorney Tom Kenniff appeared as a guest and argued that the accusations of abuse are consistent with al-Qaeda’s practice of advising its members to level false accusations of abuse against American troops if captured. Kenniff:
It's a night and day difference between the media's scrutiny of former President George W. Bush and the current command-in-chief, President Barack Obama. And the coverage of three Navy SEALs now facing a court martial that captured one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq, who allegedly was the mastermind of the murder of four Blackwater contractors in Fallujah in 2004, is proof.
John Scott, host of "Fox News Watch" noted this story on the show's Nov. 28 episode and asked why there hasn't been more coverage about it.
"Pretty outrageous story came out, in my view, this week," Scott said. "These three Navy SEALs who were involved in capturing one of the most wanted bad guys in Iraq - the guy supposedly responsible for planning the execution of those four Blackwater contractors. The SEALs are now facing charges because the guy somehow wound up with a bloody lip. Is the media paying attention?"
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, New York Daily News Washington correspondent James Meek related President Obama’s visit to the graves of Iraq and Afghanistan war dead at Arlington National Cemetery: “Now, cynics may say this was just an Obama photo-op. But they weren’t there looking him in the eye. I saw a man fully carrying the heavy burden of command on a weighty day.”
In an article Meeks wrote for the Daily News on Thursday, he used harsher terms to denounce any “cynics” critical of Obama’s visit: “If they’d been standing in my boots looking him in the eye, they would have surely choked on their bile. His presence in Section 60 convinced me that he now carries the heavy burden of command.” To use such a personal experience to promote the current administration and attack critics seems rather cynical.
In the Sunday Morning piece, Meek almost poetically described the President’s appearance at the section of the cemetery reserved for Iraq and Afghanistan war dead: “I was in Section 60 that morning when he made an unscheduled stop before huddling with his war council on sending more GIs into harm’s way. In a bone-chilling drizzle, he and the First Lady walked through the rows of gleaming white headstones. I saw the President embrace grieving widows, mothers, and battle buddies tending to the graves of loved ones. He asked about each one.”
In an interview published November 11 at Salon.com, titled, "Woody Harrelson on war, death, LBJ and Obama," by Andrew O'Hehir, actor Woody Harrelson, who stars in the new film, The Messenger, recounts his conspiracy theory that America invaded Afghanistan not because of the 9/11 attacks, but because Chevron wanted to overthrow the Taliban and build an oil pipeline. Harrelson:
The guys from Chevron went in and met with the Taliban and realized those guys just weren't in control enough. That's why they wanted to oust them. Otherwise it's an absurd concept: You're going to war because a guy from some other country, a Saudi, is living somewhere in the mountains?
Harrelson, known for being anti-capitalism, continued: "It's a foreign policy gone way wrong. But that's how it always is. American foreign policy has always been not about spreading democracy, but about spreading capitalism."
He also made known his concerns that Barack Obama could become another LBJ because of an unwillingness to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, and opined that while JFK was "one of our last great Presidents," Jimmy Carter "was pretty great, too."
Thursday’s off-lead story by James Glanz and Walter Gibbs is on recent revelations that Peter Galbraith, an “unpaid adviser to the Kurds” who has influenced Democratic policymakers like former senator (now Vice President) Joe Biden and Sen. John Kerry, stands to make millions from his closeness to the Kurds and a Norwegian oil company.
Given the typical Times sympathies for anti-war and leftish “blood for oil” arguments, the Times couldn’t ignore the story, and indeed provides a lot of new damning details -- but also has one enormous gaffe that lets Vice President Biden off the hook.
On last night's "Rachel Maddow Show", the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh commended President Obama for taking the reins in Afghanistan. Hersh stated that Presidents must decide their own war strategies. But in the early stages of the war in Iraq, Hersh was a leading critic of similar actions by the Bush administration. Hersh's hypocrisy suggests he is more concerned with the political implications of military policy than strategic ones.
"Lincoln did not let McClellan write a report on how to win a war against the South," Hersh told Maddow, in reference to Gen. George McClellan, initially the top general for the Union during the Civil War. Hersh was offering a historical perspective on why Presidents should not rely on military commanders to form strategy--McClellan was a disastrous general, after all (video embedded below the fold).
Forget Ford Hood and investigating the so-called "terror" connections of Nidal Hasan.
Yours truly has come across something the current crowd running our government might see as even more sinister. The Obama administration, the FBI, the Justice Department, and, most importantly, the White House's speech police simply have to get on this right away.
You see, General David Petraeus visited the Air Force Academy last week and may have uttered a word once thought to have been stricken from all speeches and discussions relating to military matters.
Interviewing Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith cited a cause of the shooting at Ft. Hood: “...the Iraq war, the escalation in number of cases of post traumatic stress disorder...the more people go back to these fields, these theaters of war, either in Iraq or Afghanistan, it multiplies the incidence of these kinds of things occurring.”
Smith went on to ask Shinseki: “Is the Army and is the Veterans Administration really equipped to deal with this flood of a problem?” The VA secretary responded: “Veterans Affairs employs 19,000 mental health professionals to address things like PTSD and TBI and depression. And some of the other mental health issues that come up from time to time with exposing people to the high stress, high dangers associated with combat.” The shooter, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, never served in combat nor had post traumatic stress disorder.
As reports of the Fort Hood shooting began to pour in yesterday, numerous news outlets neglected to mention that the shooter is a Muslim. Either the potential import of this fact was completely lost on these journalists, or they omitted the shooter's Muslim affiliations out of a concern for political correctness.
CBS and NBC both omitted the shooter's faith in their East Coast feeds last night, as reported by Brent Baker. The Los Angeles Times left key facts out of its report, published at 9:46 EST (which has since been edited), even though other other media outlets had reported them. Among these was that shooter Nidal Malik Hasan was Muslim, and that he had previously expressed on an Internet forum affinity for suicide bombers.
The Associated Press reported at 8:15 EST that Hasan had "come to the attention" of Army officials at least six months ago for these Internet posts.
Is Chris Matthews feeling pressure to keep up with the Olbermanns when it comes to flinging invective at conservatives? On this evening's Hardball, discussing Dick Cheney's statement—-made at a dinner at which he received an award—that Pres. Obama is dithering on Afghanistan, an apparently incensed Matthews spluttered [unexpurgated in the original]:
"What G--D--- award . . . are they giving these guys?"
Though its $1.4 trillion red-ink result was mostly known well ahead of its final issuance, the Treasury Department either conveniently got its year-end accounting work done in time for a Friday afternoon release of the final Monthly Treasury Statement, or held it until that time. Last year's report was released on Wednesday, October 15.
The final statement shows receipts of $2.105 trillion, "outlays" of $3.522 trillion, and a "deficit" of $1.417 trillion. That is $962 billion higher that last year's "deficit" of $455 billion.
The terms "outlays" and "deficit" are in quotes for reasons I will explain in this post.
There is good news and bad news about the reporting on the results by the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger. The good news is that after at least three months of obsessing over how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were contributing to the massive increase in this year's "deficit" compared to fiscal 2008 when they have been almost completely if not totally irrelevant (here, here, and here at NewsBusters; here, here, and here at BizzyBlog), Crutsinger correctly dropped them from the discussion. Of course, that means he was repeatedly wrong to cite those wars or even defense spending as a whole as a contributing factor in the first place. But don't wait by the phone for Martin's apology.
For the second night, CBS devoted time in its “Afghanistan: The Road Ahead” series -- which consumed the entirety of Tuesday's CBS Evening News -- to stressing how the decision to go into Iraq undermined success in Afghanistan. Lara Logan, CBS's chief foreign correspondent, rued “the U.S. allowed Osama bin Laden to escape from the Tora Bora mountains” and then, in endorsing the view she credited to “many,” she contended:
What many here see as the gravest error of all: Afghans were wary as the U.S. turned its attention to invading Iraq. And they were right. Everything from reconstruction and aid to the fight itself suffered as the U.S. shifted its resources and its focus away from Afghanistan and the commitment it had made to the Afghan people. Not surprisingly, Afghan support for the war began to fade.
Unaddressed: President Barack Obama is wavering on that commitment since he's now resisting General Stanley McChrystal's recommendation for a big troop increase to protect the Afghan population from the Taliban while Vice President Joe Biden is advocating an air strike-centered approach which will leave Afghan citizens in danger.
So while chuckleheads like Jesse Jackson and Senator Roland Burris hilariously blame George Bush for Chicago losing the 2016 Olympics, whiny columnists like Mike Lupica are up in arms that conservatives might be gloating over President Obama’s big screw-up. Apparently laughing at all this is somehow anti-American, because Obama is our President, and he was doing this for all of us.
You know… kind of like when Bush was trying win a war in Iraq – and all those left wingers stood behind him.
And that’s my first point: The right has every right to gloat over Obama’s humiliation, because, thankfully, NO ONE DIED.
On Monday's CBS Evening News, Katie Couric delivered a “How We Got Here” review of Afghanistan after eight years of U.S. troops on the ground, culminating with Couric conveying as fact -- based on the view of Clinton administration Secretary of State Madeleine Albright -- the relatively simplistic liberal critique of how Iraq distracted the U.S. from the more important battle in Afghanistan.
“With Hamid Karzai in place as the interim leader of Afghanistan, the drum beat of war moved west to Iraq,” Couric recalled in using the loaded “drum beat of war” language, leading intoAlbright's scolding of former President Bush: “The problem was that he took his eye off the ball and linked two things that didn't go together, which is al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden and so things got much worse.” Couric pounded home the point: “By October of 2006, there were 148,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and just 21,000 in Afghanistan.”
Viewers then heard corroboration from John Nagle, President of the liberal-leaning Center for a New American Security where Albright sits on the Board of Directors. Nagle asserted: “We gave the Taliban time to re-group, chased them out of Afghanistan, they re-grouped in Pakistan and now the years of neglect are coming back to haunt us.” Couric concluded with how President Obama is following through on his pledge to fix the misjudgment: “Making good on a campaign promise, President Obama called for a troop increase in Afghanistan, bringing the number of U.S. forces there to a record 68,000.”
During the Bush administration, journalists and liberal politicians were up in arms against a Defense Department policy that forbade the photographing of caskets coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. Now that we have a Democrat as a commander in chief, however, the caskets are old news, and are getting little to no coverage.
Critics of the Bush Administration's policy of refusing to allow the photographing of caskets returning from the battlefield claimed that the Pentagon was attempting to hide the true cost of war from the American public to maintain support for the war efforts.
A lawsuit in April 2005 forced the release of hundreds of such photos. University of Delaware professor Ralph Begleiter, who brought the suit against the administration, citing the Freedom of Information Act, said of his victory that it was "an important victory for the American people, for the families of troops killed in the line of duty during wartime and for the honor of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country."
He added that the decision would "make it difficult, if not impossible, for any U.S. government in the future to hide the human cost of war from the American people."
As Byron York notes in today's Washington Examiner,
In April of this year, the Obama administration lifted the press ban, which had been in place since the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Media outlets rushed to cover the first arrival of a fallen U.S. serviceman, and many photographers came back for the second arrival, and then the third.
But after that, the impassioned advocates of showing the true human cost of war grew tired of the story. Fewer and fewer photographers showed up. "It's really fallen off," says Lt. Joe Winter, spokesman for the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where all war dead are received. "The flurry of interest has subsided."
On Sept. 2, when the casket bearing the body of Marine Lance Cpl. David Hall, of Elyria, Ohio, arrived at Dover, there was just one news outlet -- the Associated Press -- there to record it. The situation was pretty much the same when caskets arrived on Sept. 5, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16, 22, 23 and 26. There has been no television coverage at all in September.
The journalists that rushed to show the country what two wars really can cost, and the pols that ceaselessly defended them, are silent now the country has an agreeable (liberal) president. That Obama allows the photographing of caskets seems to have taken all of the spice out of it. Coverage at Dover Air Force Base was seemingly more about Bush's policy of forbidding coverage of the return of fallen warriors than it was about the warriors themselves, as so many claimed.
So far this month, 38 American troops have been killed in Afghanistan. For all of 2009, the number is 220 -- more than any other single year and more than died in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 combined.
With casualties mounting, the debate over U.S. policy in Afghanistan is sharp and heated. The number of arrivals at Dover is increasing. But the journalists who once clamored to show the true human cost of war are nowhere to be found.
On Friday’s Newsroom, CNN’s Rick Sanchez correctly pointed out that a full-page color ad by the Fox News Channel incorrectly claimed that his network missed the massive September 12 Tea Party rally in Washington, DC, but went on to paper over CNN’s own double-standard on covering left-wing protests versus conservative protests. Sanchez also accused Fox News of trying to “promote” the Tea Parties.
During the segment, which began 13 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour, the CNN anchor seemed to be perturbed by Fox News’s ad, which ran in the Washington Post on Friday with one main line: “How did ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and CNN miss this story?” Sanchez led with a direct attack on the ad: “If you watch this show every day...you know that I usually don’t suffer fools gladly, especially when it comes to the fools who perpetuate falsehoods. Well today, thousands of you flipped through the pages of the Washington Post, only to come across a lie so bold and so upsetting that frankly, I’m not just going to sit here in silence and allow my craft or my news operation to be unfairly maligned, because enough is enough. And, yes, I’m talking to you, Fox News.”
There is an inside joke for the veteran viewers of MSNBC’s morning show, ‘Morning Joe,’ which refers back to a time when Joe Scarborough was in a heated debate with Zbigneiw Brzezinski (Mika’s father) over the behind-the-scenes content of President Clinton’s Camp David accords. The elder Brzezinski grew rather frustrated with being out-shouted by Scarborough, and delivered the following zinger:
“You know, you have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it's almost embarrassing to listen to you.”
This crushing critique could also be applied to today’s appearance of the New York Times’ Sam Tanenhaus, author of 'The Death of Conservatism,' on that same show. Tanenhaus delivered the following two opinions with an admirably straight face:
SAM TANENHAUS: Yeah, and it was interesting to go to the Clinton school and tell the audience there that the last conservative president in America was Bill Clinton.
Somebody really needs to find the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger some OCD therapy. It seems that he has a not-magnificent obsession with the two major theaters of the War on Terror (yeah, I still call it that), and that he seemingly won't be able to conquer it without outside intervention.
In his report on August's federal budget deficit, the AP reporter continued to cite the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as contributors to the increase in the federal budget deficit, when they are in fact virtually if not totally irrelevant. Additionally, he betrayed a critical misunderstanding of how the government has decided to account for "investments" the Treasury Department has made in many financial entities, General Motors, and Chrysler.
This is the third consecutive month for Crutsinger's war-connected crud:
If you rely only on the three major broadcast networks or one of the top major national papers as your news sources, the name "Van Jones" might prompt you to say,"Who?" But, while the media had difficulty reporting on Van Jones the embattled member of the Obama Administration, it had no such trouble covering Van Jones the anti-Iraq War protestor.
Jones, who was President Barack Obama's so-called "green jobs czar" resigned in the middle of the night on Sept. 6 - a Saturday night/Sunday morning on Labor Day weekend. He had for weeks been embroiled in controversy after revelations that he had signed a petition demanding an investigation into whether the 9/11 terrorist attacks were an inside job by the U.S. government, was a self-described communist and had publicly derided Republicans as "a**holes." But the story had gotten little coverage from the mainstream media.
By Friday, after White House Secretary Robert Gibbs would only say that he still was a part of the administration, it was obvious that Jones's resignation was only a matter of time. The 9/11 truther and other evidence accumulated by Glenn Beck, Gateway Pundit, WorldNetDaily, and others was simply overwhelming.
But it seems to me that it would have been more convenient had the White House waited until early Sunday afternoon to announce Jones's resignation. Given the establishment media's near blackout of his past statements and actions, it's likely that the Sunday morning network talk shows would have avoided Jones completely, or would have given the topic very short shrift. A Sunday afternoon resignation would have been much more invisible -- except for something that came out on Saturday evening.
I believe that Jones's resignation may have been moved up by 12 hours or so. That's because on Saturday evening, Scott Johnson at Powerline presented proof that roughly 40 hours after the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred, avowed Communist Jones publicly declared that the U.S. deserved what happened. I'm not kidding.
On a Sunday evening in August four summers ago the NBC Nightly News devoted its “In Depth” segment to how Cindy Sheehan was “single-handedly bringing the Iraq debate to Mr. Bush’s doorstep” with her protest in Crawford, Texas. But Sunday night this year, after Sheehan departed Martha's Vineyard without earning any network media coverage as President Barack Obama's wrapped up his vacation there, NBC's Ron Allen began a story: “Hours before President Obama's vacation ended, he treated his girls to ice cream and candy -- the kind of family time the President said he had in mind for the week on Martha's Vineyard. A chance, friends say, to renew himself.”
A week ago, a MRC Media Reality Check asked: “Will Nets Note Sheehan's Anti-Obama Protest? Media Embraced Cindy Sheehan's Anti-Bush Push in 2005; ABC Anchor Now Says: 'Enough Already.'” (NB posting) The answer: No. Though she spent four days on the island and held an event on Thursday right next to the media set up in the Oak Bluffs School, her anti-Obama efforts were ignored by all the networks (cable too) as well as major newspapers.
Media Embraced Cindy Sheehan's Anti-Bush Push in 2005; ABC Anchor Now Says: "Enough Already"
When Cindy Sheehan arrives on Martha’s Vineyard tomorrow (Tuesday), to protest against President Barack Obama, will the news media be as drawn to her as they were in the summer of 2005 when she was condemning George W. Bush?
Last week, ABC anchor Charles Gibson declared “enough already” when asked on Chicago’s WLS Radio about Sheehan’s plan to travel to Obama’s island vacation spot to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. When she camped near Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch four years ago, that was hardly the view of Gibson and his colleagues. At the time, NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell aptly dubbed her “a media magnet.”
Back then, the networks were eager to publicize her cause from the moment she arrived. Katie Couric, for instance, showcased Sheehan at the top of NBC’s Today show: “A mother’s vigil. Her son died in Iraq. Now this woman is camping outside the Bushes’ Texas ranch and demanding a meeting with the President today, Monday, August 8th, 2005.”
As Noel Sheppard noted earlier today in picking up from the Washington Examiner's Byron York how ABC World News anchor Charles Gibson declared “enough already” when asked on Chicago's WLS Radio (audio) about Cindy Sheehan's plan to travel to President Barack Obama's Martha's Vineyard vacation spot next week to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. York observed how “that's a remarkably different stance from the one Gibson took four years ago” when he was co-host of Good Morning America. Specifically, York recalled:
On August 9, 2005, the ABC anchor conducted an extensive on-air interview with Sheehan. “Cindy Sheehan is her name,” Gibson began. “She says she's not moving until the President meets with her, and I had a chance to speak with her a few minutes ago. Cindy Sheehan, bottom line, what do you hope to accomplish with all this?”
During the next week, Gibson and ABC continued to cover Sheehan. On August 17, 2005, when Sheehan left Crawford, Gibson reported, “We're going to turn next to the standoff that is playing out near President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. Cindy Sheehan, you know, the mother who lost a son in Iraq, is now on the move, but she's still standing her ground. ABC's Geoff Morrell is in Crawford with the details…” The next day, Gibson reported, “All across the country last night, people held candlelight vigils in support of Cindy Sheehan…”
Does the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger moonlight as a Code Pink operative?
There has to be something that explains what I'll call his Iraqnaphobia.
Last month (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the AP reporter erroneously cited the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a "major factor" explaining why "the deficit has widened." In a quick review of the related June 2009 Monthly Treasury Statement, I cited three examples of higher spending in other areas of government that were larger than last year, both in dollar and percentage terms, than the $33 billion, 7% increase in total defense spending. NB commenter Arminius further pointed out that "Our military spending amounts to 5 percent of GDP. Iraq and Afghanistan amount to 15 percent of that 5 percent. Obviously, as Tom notes, larger culprits are responsible for the massive deficit."
It's simply not possible that the two wars can be a "major factor." No matter -- This month, in an otherwise fairly decent report, Crutsinger did it again (bold after title is mine):
With the Obama administration and their friends in the media denouncing the sometimes loud dissent that liberals are facing in town hall meetings on health care, it’s worth recalling how some of those same journalists celebrated the anti-Bush dissenters and denounced what they claimed was the Republican administration’s attempts to stifle dissent.
Back in 2006, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann attacked what he called President Bush’s “portable public chorus” (does President Obama have one of those?) For telling “those who dissent...[that] we are somehow un-American.” PBS’s Bill Moyers in 2003 found it “galling” to see “all those moralistic ideologues in Washington...attacking dissenters as un-American.”
In 2003, Olbermann saluted protests: “It is political dissent that created this country and sustained it and improved it.” But on Friday’s Countdown, Olbermann called the anti-Obama protests “societal sabotage,” determined that the grassroots groups are “fake” and insisted that “the protestors are not interested in hearing any voices other than their own.” (But the anti-Bush protesters were open-minded?)