The night before NBC’s Today show on Friday had an “exclusive” with Karl Rove to plug his new book, ‘Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight’ in which he assured readers President George W. Bush did not “lie us into war,” the NBC Nightly News led by giving him a brush back, regurgitating the arguments the Bush administration went to war in Iraq for illegitimate reasons. Anchor Brian Williams framed his top story:
It will go down in history among the events that shaped our times, the decision by President George W. Bush to go to war in Iraq after the United States had been attacked on 9/11 with no direct connection between the two. The United States has paid a heavy price for the war, which will be seven years old later this month. That's a year longer than all of World War II....The Iraq war is back in the news tonight because of new violence there, just like the old days, and because of a new take on the war from an old hand in the Bush operation, Karl Rove.”
Andrea Mitchell recounted how Rove “says if not for the threat of weapons of mass destruction, there probably would have been no Iraq war,” but “since no such weapons existed, Rove asks, ‘So, then, did Bush lie us into war?’ His answer: ‘Absolutely not..”
But, she countered, “others say President Bush had decided to go to war long before the U.N. could evaluate the evidence. As early as July 2002, former State Department official Richard Haass writes, Condoleezza Rice ‘brushed away’ his ‘concerns’ about Iraq, ‘saying the President had made up his mind,’” and then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair was told in a memo: “It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin.”
“Despite persistent violence and a critical election coming up, President Obama hardly ever mentions the war in Iraq,” Joseph Curl reports in today’s Washington Times, and the news media are largely aiding in this neglect. Curl discloses that “the last time a White House reporter asked about the Iraq war was June 26,” while ABC, CBS and NBC aired just 80 minutes of coverage in all of 2009.
The near-media blackout means that the success of President Bush’s “surge” policy in 2007 — a policy opposed by President Obama and Vice President Biden when both were presidential candidates and ridiculed by the networks as a "Lost Cause" — has gone virtually unreported in the past year. This week’s Newsweek is an exception, with a big Iraq War cover story declaring “Victory at Last.”
On Wednesday's Morning Joe on MSNBC, host Joe Scarborough pointed out the cover of the latest edition of Newsweek magazine, which proclaimed "Victory At Last; The Emergence of A Democratic Iraq" and featured a picture of President George W. Bush walking the deck of an aircraft carrier. However, the image of Newsweek that appeared on screen cropped out President Bush's face entirely (h/t George Miller).
The magazine cover showed Bush on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln in 2003, after making his "Mission Accomplished" speech following the successful invasion of Iraq. While Newsweek cropped the picture to include half of Bush's body and face, MSNBC further cropped the image to leave only the arm of the former president visible (See original Newsweek cover below).
One of Scarborough's guests, Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass, reacted to Newsweek's declaration of victory in Iraq: "Too positive....For sure. We're going to take months to see a new government formed and we don't know how well the new government's going to operate....Too soon to take out the champagne, if ever." Show co-host Mika Brzezinski added: "Still a lot of controversy as to why we went in."
At The Corner on NRO, former Bush speechwriter Peter Wehner greeted the new "Victory at Last" Iraq cover story in Newsweek by throwing a hardball back at Iraq pessimists in the media, like Time’s Joe Klein and Tom Ricks of The Washington Post, who insisted the Iraq war was a "fiasco" and the surge was ridiculous:
Those like Joe Klein and Tom Ricks, who claimed the Iraq war was "probably the biggest foreign policy mistake in American history" (Klein's words) and "the biggest mistake in the history of American foreign policy" (Ricks's words), were wrong. Ricks went so far as to say in 2009 that "I think staying in Iraq is immoral."
Now, if we had followed the counsel of Klein and Ricks and not implemented the surge, their predictions might have been closer to the mark. (Bush's decision was one of "adolescent petulance" and "the decision to surge was made unilaterally, without adequate respect for history or military doctrine," Klein wrote on April 5, 2007.) As it is, if the positive trajectory of events continue and Iraq does end up reshaping the political culture of the Arab Middle East, the Iraq war will, on balance, have advanced American interests in the region.
Words never spoken before by a CBS News journalist: “Do you think also that George Bush would also need a little thanks for that? I mean, does he share in the credit or not?” That very unusual quest to credit former President Bush came from Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation, since even for him Vice President Joe Biden’s claim -- “Iraq, I think, is going to be one of the great achievements of this administration” -- was too much. Cuing up a retort from former VP Dick Cheney on ABC’s This Week aired just over an hour earlier, Schieffer challenged Biden:
You said the other night to Larry King in an interview that you thought Iraq could be one of the “great achievements” of this administration. And I must say a lot of people, when you said that, said their response was “what?” This administration didn’t have very much to do with Iraq and your friend, Dick Cheney, had a thought about that, as well. So let’s listen to this.”
Cheney suggested “for them to try to take credit for what’s happened in Iraq strikes me as little strange” and recommended “it ought to go with a healthy dose of ‘thank you, George Bush,’ upfront.”
Conservative talk radio and political blogs all jumped on Vice President Joe Biden’s claim on CNN’s Larry King Live Wednesday night that the successful resolution of the Iraq war “could be one of the great achievements of this administration.” Biden and President Obama, then both Senators, strongly opposed President Bush’s 2007 troop surge that marked the turning point in the war.
On his Thursday show, Rush Limbaugh scoffed that “I was all set to say that I think maybe Obama is dumber than Biden, until I heard that....This is worse than chutzpah, folks. This is insulting everybody’s intelligence.”
But during the 2pm of MSNBC Live on Thursday, anchor Tamron Hall -- noting that "the Right [is] really honing in on this comment" -- sought reassurance from the Huffington Post’s “senior congressional correspondent” Ryan Grim, who insisted that Biden was correct. “If you can have 90,000 troops leave there, and if it were still a stable country, then actually leaving the country would be a great achievement,” Grim declared, adding: “And it would also, it’s worth nothing, be an achievement for the anti-war movement.” [Video at right, audio link here.]
Grim also refused to see any connection between Bush’s troop surge and the resulting drop in violence: “It’s an open question exactly what led to the decrease in violence that coincided with the surge.” And he deplored how conservatives blame Obama for the poor state of the economy, but refuse to let Obama take credit for the success in Iraq: “This is just utter nonsense.”
Bloomberg News managed to pen a full obituary of the late Congressman Jack Murtha today, calling him a "Supporter of Troops" in the headline, without once mentioning his incendiary--and unfounded--claims that a group of Marines had murdered 24 Iraqis in cold blood (h/t Washington Examiner's Mark Hemingway).
Murtha, himself a former Marine, said in 2005 after two dozen Iraqis were killed in the city of Haditha, "there was no firefight, there was no IED that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."
Eight Marines were charged in the killings. Charges against six of them have been dropped, one has been found not-guilty, and the case against the remaining Marine is pending. Murtha was unrepentant about the slanderous accusations he leveled against these Marines. He even compared the Haditha incident to the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War (see video below the fold).
John Murtha, who represented the 12th district of Pennsylvania for 35 years, died Monday. David Stout's obituary in Tuesday's edition of the New York Times, "Representative John P. Murtha Dies at 77; Ex-Marine Was Iraq War Critic," focused on Murtha's influential anti-war turn and "history of hawkishness," but omitted Murtha's smear of the military -- his preemptory claim that Marines in the town of Haditha, Iraq had killed women and children ''in cold blood'' in a November 2005 incident. Of the eight Marines accused, only one still faces possible charges -- the rest were either acquitted or had the charges dropped.
Stout hit the sordid highlights of Murtha's legislative career, including the Abscam scandal, which he survived by the skin of his teeth, turning down money from an undercover FBI agent posing as a sheikh but said would be willing to talk about it later. Stout called it an "awkward moment." But Stout made Murtha's anti-Iraq war position a running theme of the obituary, while not once bringing up Murtha's smear of the Marines at Haditha.
Rather than lie low, Murtha further made himself a target with public comments in the spring of 2006 pressuring the Marine command to investigate allegations of civilian casualties at Haditha, Iraq. This infuriated many Marines, and critics argued that the congressman had become more partisan himself out of loyalty to Pelosi.
But Murtha went beyond pressing for a formal military investigation, which is a legitimate call any congressman could and should make after an incident like Haditha. The former Marine practically declared the Marines at Haditha guilty by saying they have killed "in cold blood."
Watching the media's inability to find relevant investigative news during the Obama era is like watching a bald-headed fellow named Fudd hunting for ‘wabbit'.
Such is the case of the main stream media's complete and utter ignorance involving the administration recently steering a $25 million no-bid contract to a Democratic campaign contributor.
While Fox News reporter James Rosen did an in-depth investigative report (and follow up) on the deal with Checchi & Company - despite working for what the administration considers a non-news network - the entire media establishment had ignored a significant reneging of campaign promises, right up until that deal was canceled.
Doing his best impersonation of a crystal ball, NewsBuster Tom Blumer correctly foretold the future when he questioned the media response to the story:
"Will the rest of the establishment press risk the tattered remnants of its credibility, follow the White House's suggestion, and ignore the story because it's coming from Fox?"
Based on the two pictures seen at the right, it doesn't exactly take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that the people at the Associated Press who decide on what pictures to use to tease the wire service's assorted video clips are not all favorably inclined towards Tony Blair.
Rather than show a picture of the former UK Prime Minister, the AP chose pics of a demonstrator outside where the inquiry was held.
As of about 8 PM ET, the "Raw Video" feed was still in the rotation and easily accessible at many hosted.ap.org pages carrying an international story. An accessible link to that vid is here at YouTube.
The Washington Post's free Express tabloid found it noteworthy that longtime liberal Fox News host Alan Colmes thinks it's inhumane to execute a man who murdered thousands of innocent men, women, and children in the infamous attack at Halabja:
Is it humane to execute, even if the person being executed committed heinous acts? Ali Hassan al-Majid, a cousin of Saddam Hussein known as “Chemical Ali,” was executed in Iraq. He was sentenced to death last week for the gassing of 5,000 Kurds in 1988.
Is this how dramatic you have to be to demonstrate you're 100 percent opposed to the death penalty in Liberal Land?
Managing Editor's Note: The following was originally published at Greyhawk's Mudville Gazette blog on January 25, 2010.
Wow - growing evidence that multiple identical letters appearing in multiple different newspapers under multiple names implies some sort of astroturf campaign. I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, at this development.
Just wait 'til the even bigger news sites discover this story. I don't have to wonder what will happen - I know - and whoever launched these various letter-writing campaigns should be well aware of what's coming, too. After all, it's happened before, and not long ago... (screen wavers, fades out... and...)
On Thursday’s The O’Reilly Factor, FNC host Bill O’Reilly used the show’s regular "Reality Check" segment to highlight comments made by Hearst columnist Helen Thomas in which she questioned whether terrorists really should be called "terrorists," and seemed to express a view of moral equivalence between the United States and the terrorists with which America is at war.
When asked in an interview with Mediaite what her point was in repeatedly asking Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan at a January 7 press conference why al-Qaeda terrorists are trying to kill Americans, as if to suggest that such behavior was provoked by wrongdoing by the U.S., Thomas responded:
I was trying to find out why, why, what’s, look, we’ve been in this war, eight, nine years, against this so-called terrorism. And I do say "so-called" because in the newspapers, if you read, you read about the militants, you don’t read about us bombing everybody, and never really explaining why, and going into three, four different countries, Middle East, Africa, and so forth. Who are we? And why are we doing this?
On Monday’s The O’Reilly Factor, the FNC host had previously highlighted Thomas’s bizarre exchange with Brennan from January 7:
Regular viewers of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart are accustomed by now to the verbal battles that ensue when Stewart brings conservative guests on his show. The guests usually leave with a bit of egg on their faces, and Stewart comes off as the hard hitting, divisive and sarcastic critic.
But viewers were treated to a rare dose of sincerity and intelligent debate on Monday, when Stewart hosted former legal counsel for the Bush Justice Department John Yoo. Following up on what was a meaningful and intelligent interview Monday night, Stewart apologized to his audience on Tuesday for not being his usual cutthroat self, and daring to discuss issues in a civilized tone.
Yoo and Stewart duked it out for almost 30 minutes (videos below the fold), but the host did not manage to get the better of Yoo, who is now infamous among liberal circles for writing the legal briefs justifying expanded executive powers to combat terrorism under the previous administration.
Stewart ended the segment with a very uncharacteristic--given his tendency to demonize conservatives--call for civility in the public discourse (brief partial transcript after videos):
On Tuesday's The O'Reilly Factor on FNC, during the show's regular "Pinheads and Patriots" segment, host Bill O'Reilly highlighted an example of left-wing hatred from a man who appears to be part of the anti-war left, as O'Reilly showed video of the unidentified "deranged" man who started shouting at former President George H.W. Bush in a Houston restaurant. The heckler used obscenities and called the former President "murderous" and a "Zionist," and blamed him for millions of deaths.
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Tuesday, January 12, The O'Reilly Factor on FNC:
NBC's Andrea Mitchell, on the syndicated Chris Matthews Show over the weekend, claimed that the United States' wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have not helped in the fight against terrorism, going as far as to say "They've hurt," and "we have inspired more Jihadis against us." Mitchell also played defense for Barack Obama on his terrorism policy as she hailed the President's recent speeches on the issue have been "strong" and "substantive," and "he's now trying to...take the reins and be the CEO," in the fight against al Qaeda. [audio available here]
The following exchanges were aired on the January 10 edition of The Chris Matthews Show:
In the eyes of many in the liberal media, President Obama can do no wrong. If he does, it's not his fault; he is simply a victim of circumstance, or he made the best decision he could given the options. One can tell news items portraying Obama in this light by their descriptions of problems in the passive voice.
Take yesterday's New York Times article by Jackie Calmes, for instance. The piece displays a conspicuous use of the passive voice in the headline: "Promise to Trim Deficit Is Growing Harder to Keep", instead of, say, "Obama's Policies Make Deficit Reduction Unlikely".
The refrain is getting old. When Obama's economic policies caused the debt to skyrocket, and didn't lead to recovery but rather to more federal spending aimed at shoring up the economy, it was because the recession was worse than the administration had planned. Obama's brilliant plans to raise taxes on businesses failed because Congress succumbed to political pressure. Anticipated savings in Iraq were nullified when it turned out winning a war in Afghanistan might actually require significant funding. And Medicare is already being cut to pay for the health care overhaul, so those cuts can't go towards drawing down the deficit. You see, it's never actually Obama's fault.
CBS’s Sunday Morning featured a commentary in which New Yorker magazine staff writer Rebecca Mead looked back at the past decade and hailed the “remarkable...election of a certified intellectual as President” before she cited “unforeseen blights of the era,” listing: “Small plates, Sarah Palin, Chinese dry wall, jeggins.” A fine encapsulation how the New York-based media elite’s view the world.
In her opinion piece tied to confusion over what to call the just-completed decade, she also characterized “the cumulative casualties of war and the infringements of civil liberties that took place under President Bush” as “evidence of at least partial victory” for al-Qaeda.
Mead’s CBS commentary delivered a condensed version of a January 4-dated New Yorker article, “What Do You Call It?,” in which she expressed astonishment John Kerry did not beat George W. Bush and fantasized about a Gore presidency. Mead rued how “the decade saw the unimaginable unfolding” of “the depravities of Abu Ghraib, and, even more shocking, their apparent lack of impact on voters in the 2004 Presidential election.” Plus, she imagined in the magazine:
In the alternate decade of fantasy, President Gore, forever slim and with hairline intact, not only reads those intelligence memos in the summer of 2001 but acts upon them; he also ratifies the Kyoto Protocol and invents something even better than the Internet.
On CNN Newsroom today, anchor Rick Sanchez talked about terrorism with Octavia Nasr, CNN senior editor for Arab Affairs:
SANCHEZ: And good, good, good, good, good, good. You see, this is a point that I'm trying to make, Octavia.
The terrorists weren't in Iraq. We know that now. There was really a small band of them along with the mujahedeen which became al Qaeda in Afghanistan, as we know. But we have known for 10 years now that these really bad terrorists, the guys we really should have been going after a long time ago, are in Yemen. We knew that a long time ago.
The assertion that Iraq was terrorist-free prior to our intervention has become an article of faith for liberals like alleged journalist Sanchez. Yet it conflicts with evidence, including evidence many liberals once found compelling. The Clinton State Department, for example, reported on Patterns of Global Terrorism 1999. Among its findings:
Iraq continued to plan and sponsor international terrorism in 1999. Although Baghdad focused primarily on the anti-regime opposition both at home and abroad, it continued to provide safehaven and support to various terrorist groups. . .
A former war correspondent for CNN is threatening legal action against bloggers who suggest that video of him reporting the first Gulf War from a television studio is "fake news." The video shows Charles Jaco and another correspondent dramatically recounting events from the Persian Gulf, and later shows Jaco and the camera crew joking around in what appears to be a television studio (video embedded below the fold).
"My attorneys intend to act immediately against those of you receiving this who have sent and forwarded these emails accusing me of falsifying coverage," Jaco wrote in a memo to a local blogger who circulated the video via email. He also announced his intention to demand that LiveLink and YouTube remove the video from their respective sites.
On the CBS Evening News on Saturday, correspondent Kimberly Dozier reported on a recent rise in homegrown Islamic extremism in the United States and explored the motivation behind it: “... terrorism experts agree militant Islam is becoming an American problem....the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan make potent recruiting tools. They’re portrayed by the militants as America’s war on Islam.”
Dozier went on to cite American bigotry as another cause: “Muslim community leaders here say young people are also being driven to extremes by post-9/11 anti-Muslim propaganda like this.” An obscure anti-Muslim video was played as she continued: “And rising incidents of genuine anti-Muslim discrimination. Civil rights complaints have jumped 10 percent in just the past year, according to the Council on American Islamic Relations.”
While using C.A.I.R. as a credible source, Dozier only briefly mentioned the organization’s radical ties: “There’s been tension between the FBI and the Council over alleged links to militant groups which it denies.” She then offered a dismissive statement from C.A.I.R.: “It says U.S. authorities should start using the Muslim community as a resource, not an adversary, to help it police its own.”
Despite all the campaign assurances that he would see the Afghan war effort through, liberals are incensed that Obama is following through on his pledge to, you know, win. The latest lefty to excoriate the president for pursuing America's enemies abroad is veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who today lamented that Obama must now be dubbed a "war president."
"Obama should remember his own battle cry and tell the hawks: 'Yes, we can,' " Thomas wrote today in her syndicated column for Hearst Newspapers. Maybe he should also remember his insistence that Afghanistan "is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity."
And he has remembered those wise words. But his supporters, who flocked to the "good war" cause as way to contrast Democratic national security efforts with the supposedly ill-intentioned Iraq war--and rip on George Bush in the process--have exhausted the political usefulness of Afghanistan, and are now calling for withdrawal.
As part of an ongoing series called Today's Buzziest Stories of the Decade, NBC's Meredith Vieira, on Monday's Today, featured a segment with former Iraq war POW Jessica Lynch, and with it brought back some of the "Buzziest" bias of the decade as Vieira declared Lynch's story was "exaggerated to sell a war hard up for appealing heroes," and described Lynch as a "pawn of the military that was trying to sell, some said, a war to the American public." While the stories of Lynch's ordeal were indeed exaggerated, something Lynch decried in the segment, for Vieira to claim the war was "hard up for appealing heroes," was a gross exaggeration in itself.
As the MRC's Rich Noyes pointed out in his 2005 Special Report, "TV's Bad News Brigade," there were plenty of stories of heroism for the media to tell, that they all too frequently ignored. Interestingly enough Vieira's own colleague, Andrea Mitchell, on April 4, 2005 did mention the story of one "appealing" hero, that of the late Sergeant Paul Smith who earned the Medal of Honor, as Mitchell recounted then:
Comedy Central's Jon Stewart on Wednesday absolutely tore apart President Obama's speech on Afghanistan for being a virtual rehashing of former President George W. Bush's 2007 address concerning a troop surge in Iraq.
In the opening segment of "The Daily Show," Stewart asked, "[I]s 30,000 troops the military equivalent of two Advil?"
From there, Stewart used videoclips to show just how much Obama's speech resembled what Bush said more than two years ago concerning Iraq.
"The Daily Show" host also surprisingly demonstrated how people on both sides of the aisle -- politicians and pundits alike -- hated what Obama had to say (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, h/t Story Balloon):
Writing for Newsweek magazine’s feature on the top ten “startling scoops” of the past ten years, ex-CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather identified the most shocking: “Abu Ghraib has opened our eyes, serving as a dark icon that reminds us our fiercest enemies – hubris, cruelty, and ignorance – wage war from within.”
Rather went on to proclaim that the prisoner abuse scandal “is still the subject of debate and the source of despair, a shadowy gateway to learning how these wrong-headed practices became American policy.”
Early in the brief article, Rather claimed: “Many don’t know that the story aired in the wake of debate and delay. At the time, there were deep fears that all of us would face a blast furnace of criticism for taking on the administration, ‘undermining the troops,’ and possibly exposing our soldiers to fresh anger from the Muslim world.” Rather certainly was not concerned with going after the Bush administration with fraudulent documents later that same year.
Rather defended the decision to break the story by arguing: “It was only the American public that was in the dark, never consulted or considered when these policies were approved. Back then, we all needed awakening to what was being done in our names.” He then alleged more widespread abuses by the U.S. military: “A couple of years earlier, when our team was in Afghanistan, we had heard whispers of abuse underway at Baghram Airport, where Americans were in charge of an unknown number of prisoners. We flat out didn’t believe it. Now we know better.”
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: