The Sweetness and Light blog says the AP has been biased in its pictures of the confirmation hearing of Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden to head the CIA.
Not content to subliminally associate General Hayden with eavesdropping via a plethora of photographs of him with microphones, the DNC's Associated Press ratchets up its agit-prop by making him look like a doofus:
It should come as no surprise that CNN.com briefly used this picture for its frontpage.
Leslie Cauley, the USA Today reporter who last week “broke” the news that three major U.S. telecommunications companies were assisting the National Security Agency in building a database to more easily track any communications by potential terrorists, is listed as a donor to former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, according to a search of The Center for Responsive Politics Web site, www.opensecrets.org
A search found a listing for "writer and journalist" Leslie Cauley, indicating she gave $2,000 to Gephardt on June 30, 2003, when Gephardt was running for the Democratic presidential nomination. And that seems not to be her only tie to Democratic politics (see Update below)
BellSouth Corp. has sent a letter to USA Today and the newspaper's parent company, Gannett, demanding the retraction of a story which said the phone company shared its customers calling records with a federal spy agency, according to a Thursday report in the online edition of the Wall Street Journal. The letter demanded that the newspaper retract the "faults and unsubstantiated statements" in the May 11 article, which said BellSouth and some of its rivals shared bulk calling data with the National Security Agency, the Journal said. The story ignited a firestorm about government intrusion into consumer privacy and led to lawsuits against BellSouth, Verizon Communications Inc., and AT&T Inc. A phone call to BellSouth wasn't immediately returned. End of Story
Stunning news from Expatica's German edition (bolds are mine; because of its brevity, the entire report is included here):
Germans say al-Qaeda no longer organizing strikes
18 May 2006
DUESSELDORF - Al-Qaeda's hierarchy in western Europe has vanished and the terrorist network's leadership has largely ceased direct management of attacks, a senior German police intelligence officer told a trial court this week.
She said the al-Qaeda leadership now mainly relied on video and internet proclamations to inspire Islamists in the western world to act on their own.
Germany's BKA federal crime agency had no evidence of Islamists swearing an oath of loyalty to Osama bin Laden since 2001 to become al-Qaeda members. The only terrorist to have done so since that date was Abu-Musab al-Sarqawi, the Jordanian who mounts attacks in Iraq.
In this morning's special "Situation Room" covering General Michael Hayden's confirmation hearings for his appointment as CIA Director, CNN national security correspondent David Ensor said that Hayden could expect questions "about really the most fundamental point for a top intelligence officer. This one, who's been so loyal to the president, when the chips are down and the intelligence doesn't fit what the president wants it to fit, will he speak truth to power?"
Speak truth to power? That vague, usually meaningless catchphrase is a favorite of many liberals. Dan Rather speaks truth to power. Cynthia McKinney speaks truth to power. John Kerry speaks truth to power. And now CNN national security correspondent David Ensor anticipated questions about speaking truth to power.
Part-Time Pundit says "another drive-by media attempt to discredit" Bush and claim the Republicans "are trying to usher in a new era of fascism has fallen flat on its face."
Claims by USA Today using sources with “direct knowledge of the program” that the NSA has been collecting massive databases of phone calls don’t appear to match with the records of two of the three apparent participants, Verizon and Bell South....
Once again, we are faced with an “objective” journalistic medium that didn’t do enough footwork to verify the claims that were made before it splashed them on the front page and riled the population. The irony is that it appears the population would support such a database if it existed.
I'm sorry, but this really makes me furious. Reuters, after five years and Osama Bin Laden's videotaped admission, still uses locutions like this to decribe the 9/11 attacks:
U.S. authorities have said five al Qaeda hijackers seized control of American Airlines Flight 77, a flight from Washington Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia bound for Los Angeles, and flew it into the Pentagon.
Tuesday's CBS Evening News devoted a story to how all three phone companies -- BellSouth, Verizon and AT&T -- denied they supplied the NSA with massive records of numbers called by their customers, as charged in a Thursday front page USA Today story which led to an ongoing media firestorm. Verizon, for instance, maintained: “Contrary to the media reports, Verizon was not asked by NSA to provide, nor did Verizon provide customer phone records.” NBC Nightly News ran a story on the denials by BellSouth and Verizon. But ABC's World News Tonight didn't utter a syllable about the denials which undermine the media's obsession of the last six days.
Instead, anchor Elizabeth Vargas announced: “We begin with President Bush and the growing dissatisfaction in this country with the job he is doing. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that the President's approval now stands at just 33 percent, tying a 25-year low. George Stephanopoulos soon inserted a Vietnam comparison as he explained: "Everything President Bush says and does is seen through the filter of Iraq and the American people are judging it a failure. Look at these poll numbers: 59 percent call the war in Iraq a mistake. It took several more years back in the 1970s, far deeper into the Vietnam war, for the American people to reach that same judgment about Vietnam.” (Transcripts follow)
Here is the most insincere question a liberal TV news star can ask: How can President Bush turn around his poll numbers? Imagine how they would have reacted if Rush Limbaugh had pretended to worry how Bill Clinton was going to turn around his fortunes. The media’s crocodile tears are not even laughable, just nauseating. Pushing down the president’s approval rating seems to be their daily task.
The newest manufactured brouhaha – over the National Security Agency creating a database of phone records to track terrorist phone patterns -- was just the latest in a long string of stories trumped up to make Bush look not just incorrect, but dictatorial, even evil. USA Today hyped the story, and the media pack lapped it up, but it failed the first test of newsworthiness: is it new? No. USA Today’s scoop was mostly a retelling of what the New York Times reported last Christmas Eve, that the phone companies had given the NSA "access to streams of international and domestic communications."
Did USA Today skew their poll results of the NSA phone collection scandal? It sure looks that way. As Brent Baker has already reported, On May 12, ABC News and The Washington Post conducted a poll to find out whether Americans support the NSA’s collection of phone call records. They asked this question:
"It's been reported that the National Security Agency has been collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. It then analyzes calling patterns in an effort to identify possible terrorism suspects, without listening to or recording the conversations. Would you consider this an acceptable or unacceptable way for the federal government to investigate terrorism? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?"
ABC chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross, along with colleague Richard Esposito, reported at “The Blotter” blog on Monday that they have been informed by a “senior federal law enforcement official” that their phone calls are being monitored to identify confidential sources: “‘It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick,’ the source told us in an in-person conversation.”
The blog continued: “Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.”
Why do Ross and Esposito believe they are being targeted? “Our reports on the CIA's secret prisons in Romania and Poland were known to have upset CIA officials. The CIA asked for an FBI investigation of leaks of classified information following those reports.” And: “People questioned by the FBI about leaks of intelligence information say the CIA was also disturbed by ABC News reports that revealed the use of CIA predator missiles inside Pakistan.”
Yet, Ross and Esposito confirmed what the administration has claimed about this program that is contrary to a recent USA Today cover story and most drive-by media reports on the subject:
Mumin Salih writes in Islam Watch, a blog of ex-Muslims, that the Arab satellite news channel Al-Jazeera was given legitimacy by the West when American and British politicians "joined the race with their desire to appear on this channel to address the Arab people." The Western media has not helped, either, who "are engaged in a mission of self-flagellation and self-blaming for all the faults in the world including the terror crimes."
Since its launch in 1995, Aljazeera followed a consistent anti-American policy. Its clever editing and broadcasting made the un-informed and gullible audience think of Aljazeera as an impartial news channel. At the same time it was directing the minds of that simple audience to its mindset of thinking. This mindset is normally an anti American one. Even when America sided with the Muslims of former Yougoslavia and intervened for their protection, the channel could not hide its position vis-à-vis Milosevic, the Serbian leader who was seen as a friend and ally by the Iraqi dictator. The Iraqi leader awarded Milosevic with the highest Iraqi Medal!
Aljazeera came to be known to the west after the terrorists’ attacks on 9/11 and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. By then, its alliances with Taliban, Alqaeda and Saddam were difficult to hide. Their reporters were given previliges by those terrorist organizations not given to any one else. Aljazeera’s news footages were broadcast everywhere by western channels providing Aljazeera with free worldwide publicity.
If I'm to believe The New York Times, former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio is a hero for not allowing the National Security Agency to have records of phone calls:
Mr. Nacchio learned that no warrant had been granted and that there was a "disinclination on the part of the authorities to use any legal process," said the lawyer, Herbert J. Stern. As a result, the statement said, Mr. Nacchio concluded that "the requests violated the privacy requirements of the Telecommunications Act."
..... Qwest was the only phone company to turn down requests from the security agency for phone records as part of a program to compile a vast database of numbers and other information on virtually all domestic calls. The program's scope was first described in an article published on Thursday by USA Today that led to an outpouring of demands for information from Congressional Republicans and Democrats. The article said that AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon had agreed to provide the information to the security agency.
Incredibly, the article makes no mention of a "little" problem Mr. Nacchio is facing these days:
House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Michigan) wrote an op-ed in Saturday’s Los Angeles Times that should be must reading for all Americans, especially those that believe the leaking of national security information is actually a good thing if it helps your party regain power. In it, Hoekstra practically attacked USA Today for its recent front-page article concerning the National Security Agency collecting domestic phone records:
“WE ARE IN the first war of the Information Age, and we have a critical advantage over our enemy: We are far better at gathering intelligence. It's an advantage we must utilize, and it's keeping us safe. But every time classified national security information is leaked, our ability to gather information on those who would do us harm is eroded.”
Hoekstra continued: “We suffered a setback Thursday when USA Today ran a front-page story alleging that the National Security Agency was collecting domestic phone records. This article hurt our efforts to protect Americans by giving the enemy valuable insights into the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which has been focused like a laser beam on Al Qaeda and its known associates.”
Hoekstra then stepped forward to defend the actions of the NSA and the president:
If you're not outraged by the NSA program that monitors phone-calling patterns, you're probably . . . too dumb to understand its implications. That, in a nutshell, and I do mean nutshell, was Ellen Ratner's argument on this morning's 'Long & the Short of It' segment on Fox & Friends Weekend. Oh, well, that - and opening our borders with Mexico.
Host Julian Phillips [who expressed his personal opposition to the NSA program] put it to Ratner that "most Americans don't care about this. They say the NSA should do that to keep our security intact."
"Until some neighbor who might work at a spy agency gets their phone records and starts spewing it around town that somebody is talking to somebody or divorce records get subpoenaed or something like that. You know, most people don't understand the impact of how bad this really is."
ABC's Elizabeth Vargas and George Stephanopoulos reported Friday night that lawmakers opposed to the NSA's program, which collects phone numbers dialed, were “surprised” that by two-to-one Americans consider the effort an “acceptable” anti-terrorism program. But given the media's hyperbolic negative reaction to the supposed “Big Brother” program, which spread into a second day on Friday, it's Vargas and Stephanopoulos -- along with the rest of the mainstream media -- who should be embarrassed by news judgment so out of touch with the public.
“An ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that Americans overwhelmingly support the surveillance of phone records as a way to protect them against a potential terrorist strike,” Vargas reported as she cued up George Stephanopoulos by relaying how “some lawmakers were taken by surprise by this widespread public support for the program." Stephanopoulos echoed: "That's right, Elizabeth. When I was speaking to opponents of the program today they were really surprised that more Americans didn't share their outrage.” (Those "opponents" are presumably in politics, but I'm sure the same could be said for journalists.) Stephanopoulos further marveled at how “two-thirds of Americans wouldn't be bothered, even if the NSA was collecting their own phone records.” (ABC transcript, plus brief quotes from CBS and NBC on Friday night, follow)
A quick note to drive-by journalists about NSA illegallycollecting telephone records without first obtaining a warrant.
U.S. Supreme Court SMITH v. MARYLAND, 442 U.S. 735 (1979) No. 78-5374. Argued March 28, 1979. Decided June 20, 1979.
The telephone company, at police request, installed at its central offices a pen register to record the numbers dialed from the telephone at petitioner's home. Held: The installation and use of the pen register was not a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, and hence no warrant was required. Pp. 739-746.
Breitbart April Tax Revenue 2nd-Highest in History It marked the largest one-month receipt total since the government collected $332 billion in revenue in April 2001
See that? Tax cuts = more tax revenue. So the only logical reason to complain about "tax cuts for the rich" is that you really want the economy to tank or that you don't really care about getting the most tax money you can but rather you hate that others are doing so well and want to punish them.
Hey Big Media, don't punish others just because you chose a profession that doesn't pay squat. In fact, you should go after your CEOs who take food out of your mouths with multi-million dollar retirement packages (that sounds familiar.)
As Rich Noyes pointed out yesterday, the morning shows jumped on the "USA Today" story about the NSA having phone records of ordinary Americans. This morning, CBS’s "The Early Show" continued with the coverage, and used the story to revive one of their favorite terms, "Domestic Spying." In covering this story this morning, co-host Harry Smith interviewed Delaware Senator Joe Biden, a critic of the NSA program, and asked softball questions. With the exception of 2 short clips of President Bush and 1 clip of General Michael Hayden, the President’s nominee to be CIA Director, viewers did not hear from any supporters of the NSA’s actions.
Harry Smith opened the broadcast with the following tease:
"Good morning I’m Harry Smith. The heat turns up again on the domestic spy scandal as members of Congress call for an investigation into a report that the government collected the phone records of millions of Americans. We'll have the latest."
According to the May 12 Today show, if you’re an "ordinary" American, you should be afraid of the President’s "snooping." Using the time honored media tradition of word repetition, the NBC program sought to portray the NSA’s gathering of phone numbers as highly sinister. In a report that aired at 7:07AM EDT, reporter Kelly O’Donnell stated that the phone records of "ordinary citizens" were compiled. In the 8AM hour, Ann Curry reported that the phone information of "millions of ordinary Americans" had been compiled. An hour later she again announced that those "ordinary Americans" had been targeted. Get it? It’s the average citizens who ought to be worried.
On Friday, Good Morning America devoted its first three stories to the collection of phone numbers by the National Security Agency. GMA reporters portrayed the news as creating a "firestorm of controversy" and as hitting Capitol Hill "like a ton of bricks." Yet the white-hot criticism was all coming from liberal Democrats during an election year. And as an ABC poll found, by two to one Americans think the program is justified.
Diane Sawyer introduced the first story, "But let's begin now with those 200 million Americans who may have had their phone calls tracked by the NSA. It has touched off a firestorm of controversy in Washington, pitting privacy against the war on terror. But ABC's Kate Snow and George Stephanopoulos have been covering this story from all angles for us. And we begin with Kate, who's in our Time Square studios here."
The Denver Post reports that among Joe Nacchio's other problems, he was the first Qwest CEO to refuse to help the NSA analyze phone records in the pursuit & deconstruction of terrorist networks. Even as,
"This is a case where (Qwest) showed some independence and courage," said Phil Weiser, a University of Colorado law professor who specializes in telecommunications issues.
In 2002 he chaired the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, a group of industry executives who advised President Bush. He also chaired the Network Reliability and Interoperability Council, an advisory panel on emergency communications networks and homeland security to the Federal Communications Commission.
One thing is certain: the people within the government leaking the existence of secret anti-terror programs to the press are trying to hurt the president politically. Chris Matthews believes they have been more successful in achieving that goal with the recent leak of the phone data collection program than they were with the terrorist surveillance program leak.
On this morning's Today show, Matt Lauer asked Matthews: "Will there be a huge political fallout? Americans are evenly split on the domestic program [i.e., the terrorist surveillance progam]. Do you see this as the same situation?"
"No. Nobody can imagine being on the telephone with an Al Qaeda agent but they can imagine privacy matters.
During today's 4pm EDT hour of CNN's The Situation Room, Jack Cafferty expressed his "outrage" over the revelation that the National Security Agency has been compiling a national database of phone records from AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth. Referring to Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter’s demand that the phone companies testify before Congress regarding this issue, Cafferty angrily stated that Specter could be the one preventing the United States from becoming a "full-blown dictatorship."
Wolf Blitzer: "Let’s get some words of wisdom from Jack Cafferty. He’s in New York right now. Jack?"
Jack Cafferty: "I don’t know about wisdom, but you’ll get a little outrage. We better all hope nothing happens to Arlen Specter, the Republican head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, cause he might be all that’s standing between us and a full-blown dictatorship in this country. He’s vowed to question these phone company executives about volunteering to provide the government with my telephone records and yours and tens of millions of other Americans. Shortly after 9/11, AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth began providing the super-secret NSA with information on phone calls of millions of our citizens. All part of the war on terror, President Bush says. Why don’t you go find Osama bin Laden and seal the country’s borders and start inspecting the containers that come into our ports?"
Seismic! Shocking! Startling! A bombshell!! That’s how the ABC, CBS and NBC morning shows described a front-page story in today’s (Thursday’s) USA Today that breathlessly touted how “NSA has massive database of Americans’ phone calls.” Like the TV coverage, USA Today’s story insinuated that the existence of the database was a major violation of Americans’ privacy rights and evidence that the President was lying last December when he described the NSA’s eavesdropping on suspected terrorist communications as limited and targeted.
Today’s article does not allege that any calls are listened in on. Indeed, as USA Today describes it, the program seems like a thoroughly innocuous database of the same information that appears on your phone bill, but with your name, address and other personal information removed. Given that another government agency — the IRS — maintains information on American citizens’ employment, banking, investments, mortgages, charitable contributions and even any declared medical expenses, this hardly seems like a major assault on personal liberty.
And for all of the hype, there may not even be much “news” here. Last December 24, a few days after they spilled the beans about the NSA terrorist surveillance program, New York Times reporters Eric Lichtblau and James Risen disclosed how U.S. phone companies were helping the NSA by giving them “access to streams of domestic and international communications.”
On Wednesday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann cited a Chicago Tribune piece by George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley as he explored whether, as with the Sopranos, you have to "break the law" to "break into the inner circle" of President Bush. Focusing on Bush's nomination of General Michael Hayden to run the CIA, and citing Hayden's role in creating the controversial NSA spying program, Olbermann argued that Bush counts "willingness to thumb his nose at constitutional law" as resume enhancement. The Countdown host then brought aboard Turley to make an unchallenged case that the administration consists of a "rogues' gallery." (Transcript follows)
Check out the screen capture from this morning's Today show. NBC respectfully describes the Iranian head of state - he of the threats, among other things, to wipe Israel off the map - as "President Ahmadinejad." And our own president? He's just "Bush."
Today aired the graphic in the course of Matt Lauer's interview of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Despite mental meanderings in Ahmadinejad's letter that prompted the Wall Street Journal to editorialize this morning about "Crazy Mahmoud", Lauer seemingly attached great significance to the missive, repeatedly pressing Secretary Rice to seize the occasion to open direct talks with the Iranians. In doing so, Lauer was perhaps channeling former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, who just yesterday wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal urging the administration to commence such talks with a view to settling "all issues of mutual concern."
Thanks to our incredible military in Iraq, an April 16 raid in the Yusifiyah area was a mini treasure trove of terrorist documents. According to a release from Centcom...
"Coalition Forces discovered a large amount of documents and videos ranging from plans to critiques including al Qaida in Iraq's strategy in Baghdad, and how the terrorist organization lacks leadership, military capability and Iraqi support."
Of great interest are two documents - "Baghdad Strategy" and "Baghdad State of Affairs". Officials state that while the author of the documents is unknown, he is of significance within the terrorist organization. The full translation was completed on May 3, 2006.
"The policy followed by the brothers in Baghdad is a media oriented policy without a clear comprehensive plan to capture an area or an enemy center. Other word, the significance of the strategy of their work is to show in the media that the American and the government do not control the situation and there is resistance against them. This policy dragged us to the type of operations that are attracted to the media, and we go to the streets from time to time for more possible noisy operations which follow the same direction."
While the media is full of stories of Nancy Pelosi's "Miss Cleo" impression on the future of politics in America and fantasizing about Porter Goss playing poker while smoking a cigar, our brave military are still kicking butt over in Iraq (and Afghanistan). Here's one of the latest from Centcom.mil...
TERRORIST CHEMICAL EXPERT KILLED IN BAGHDAD RAID "Ansar al-Islam member and chemical expert, Ali Wali, was killed May 6th at approximately 1 p.m. during a counterterrorist raid in the Mansur district of Baghdad. Iraqi civilians transported the two bodies to the morgue where Coalition forces later confirmed the identity of the wanted terrorist, Ali Wali.
HBO’s Bill Maher has made some absurd statements on his “Real Time” program in the past. But, this one made during Friday night's installment should offend all Americans regardless of party affiliation.
In a discussion about recently sentenced terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, Maher contended that ExxonMobil’s CEO Lee Raymond failing to warn Americans about global warming was an equal crime as Moussaoui not warning America about 9/11.
Excuse me? What possible connection exists here, Bill?
Now, I imagine you might be thinking that this wasn’t the case, and that surely Maher couldn't possibly have said this. Well, read and/or watch for yourselves (hat tip to Expose the Left with video link to follow). Maher opined to his panel: “But let me ask you this: We put [Moussaoui] in jail because he knew about a pending disaster and failed to alert us. That’s his crime, right?” Maher then answered his own question (rough transcript follows with side chatter edited out):
“He knew about it and didn’t tell anybody. Okay, what about the people who knew about global warming? You know this guy...Isn’t that the same thing? Lee Raymond.”
Michael Kinsley writes in Slate that "journalists sincerely believe" they deserve "constitutional special treatment" when it comes to deciding when to publish classified material. They believe that for Bush to decide when to publish classified material is to give him dictatorial powers. But for them to decide means a victory for the First Amendment.
Many in the media believe that the Constitution contains a "reporter's privilege" to protect the identity of sources in circumstances, like a criminal trial, in which citizens ordinarily can be compelled to produce information or go to jail. The Supreme Court and lower courts have ruled and ruled again that there is no such privilege. And it certainly is not obvious that the First Amendment, which seems to be about the right to speak, actually protects a right not to speak. Yet many in the media not only believe that it does. They believe passionately that it is not merely OK but profoundly noble to follow their own interpretation and ignore the Supreme Court's.
Why must the president obey constitutional interpretations he disagrees with if journalists don't have to? Upholding the Constitution is actually part of his job description. It is not part of theirs....