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....
Via FishbowlNY, we learn that actor Richard Dreyfuss is currently studying civics and democracy at the University of Oxford (following in the footsteps of Bill Clinton?), and he's grown hopping mad at media bias: the pro-Bush kind. It has been "sacrificing accuracy and impartiality for sensationalism and instant gratification."
He "expressed alarm that a few big media corporations control most of the news the general public has access to. Dreyfuss, who is a longtime political activist, has also campaigned for peace in the Middle East and lent his support to a campaign calling for the impeachment of US President George W. Bush." Dreyfuss is then quoted at length, or perhaps in short bursts:
The BBC was told by a commission it hired to not avoid using the word "terrorism" when discussing the Israeli-Palestinian issue. But the panel also said there was no bias in the BBC's reporting on the issue.
The BBC should not be afraid to use the word 'terrorism' in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a independent report commissioned by the corporation said today.
The report, which was ordered by the BBC governors from a panel of five independent figures last October to assess the contentious issue, found there was no evidence of "systematic" bias within the corporation.
'Today' had two 9/11 family members on as guests this morning to react to yesterday's jury determination of life in prison rather than the death penalty for Zacarias Moussaoui. That the family member who expressed general support for the process was relatively unknown, whereas the bitter Bush-administration critic, Kristin Breitweiser, is a household commodity, is indicative of MSM coverage in the years since 9/11.
Ironically, it was the family member that was disappointed in the verdict who expressed pride in America and the process, whereas Breitweiser, who got the verdict she preferred, remained bitter.
First to speak was Hamilton Peterson, who lost his father and step-mother on United 93. Katie Couric opened by asking him why he believes Moussaoui should have received the death penalty. Consider Peterson's response:
Imagine you're a US Senator. A citizen has just suggested that a former CIA Director and named FBI agents merit the death penalty as much as convicted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui. Do you:
A. condemn such an outrageous comment? B. move on to another topic? C. congratulate the citizen for making "an absolutely accurate point"?
If you're Joe Biden [D-DE], the answer, incredibly, is 'C'.
Here's how it went down. In a 'Hardball' devoted to reactions to today's jury decision giving life in prison to Moussaoui, both Rudy Giuliani and Biden had expressed regret that Moussaoui hadn't been given the death penalty, in light of the fact that he knew of but failed to disclose the 9/11 plot.
On Tuesday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann attacked the Bush administration over the leak of Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA agent, implying that the President has "done more to help terrorists and rogue states than hurt them," as he linked Plame's work on WMD to the current standoff with Iran. But Olbermann had previously not expressed worries about threats to national security from other leakers, instead referring to them as "whistleblowers," including those who leaked the CIA's use of secret prisons in Europe, and the existence of the controversial NSA spying program.
Olbermann opened the Tuesday May 2 Countdown show: "The irony was already inescapable and infuriating. In the middle of a war that started over nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, the administration of President George W. Bush was willing to destroy the cover of a secret American agent on the trail of actual weapons of mass destruction in order to deflect criticism over how badly it had fouled up or puffed up its wobbly evidence about phony weapons of mass destruction." (Complete transcript follows)
As picked up by the DrudgeReport, an AFP dispatch from Greece on Tuesday recounted how left-wing actor Tim Robbins, “at a news conference in Athens promoting his stage version of George Orwell's 1984,” blasted President Bush's policies and the news media for ignoring Bush's supposed crimes. “We have right now a media that is willfully ignoring the high crimes and misdemeanors of the President of the United States," Robbins charged. He lamented that “Clinton lied about a blowjob, and got impeached by the media and Congress," while Bush “got us into the [Iraq] war based on lies that he knew were lies....yet no one in the media is calling for impeachment."
The un-bylined May 2 AFP dispatch from Athens added that “Robbins pointed out similarities between current U.S. policies on terrorism and the authoritarian society described by Orwell” in his 1984 novel: “'Unfortunately, the book and the play is more relevant now than it ever has been,' he said. '(It) talks about continuous warfare as a means to control the Western economy, and as a way to control rebel elements within society through the use of fear, constant fear.'" Citing the “renditioning of innocent people without trial,” Robbins asserted: “This is exactly what Orwell was talking about when he spoke of thought crimes." (With link to video of earlier call for Bush's impeachment)
I linked to a Wall Street Journal editorial
about the elite media's double standard on leaks, especially how leaks
to the New York Times and Washington Post that damaged the Bush admin's
anti-terrorism efforts are awarded prizes while syndicated columnist
Robert Novak is condemned for revealing the occupation of an outspoken
Bush critic. Today, the Journal prints a letter from NYT executive
editor Bill Keller which responds to some of the editorial's charges.
Unsurprisingly, Keller makes no mention of the Valerie Plame Wilson
matter, a scandal which his paper's news and editorial pages have
overhyped since its inception. Instead, he focuses exclusively on leaks
which he does find not only acceptable but praiseworthy, that is the
disclosure that the U.S. may secretly be imprisoning suspected
terrorists (leaked to the Washington Post), and that Americans said to
be communicating internationally with terrorists are being spied on by
the NSA (leaked to the New York Times).
Keller bristles at the Journal's suggestion that the Times's and Post's sources are partisans:
Jennifer Harper reports in the Washington Times about an Arizona State University study of 300 al Qaeda statements, letters and other papers. The study was conducted by the university's Consortium for Strategic Communication and a Defense Department .
Says the director of the consortium, Steven Corman, "People are surprised the jihadis think of the media as a weapon."
His study analyzed almost 300 al Qaeda statements, letters and other documents, many of them captured during U.S. military actions in the Middle East and recently declassified by the Pentagon.
You can’t miss it on television or radio. There are even some newspaper reports of the cry... “Too Soon...Too Soon!”
All accounts are referring to the release of the new motion picture “United 93”, a graphic portrait of the events which unfolded on September 11, 2001. This motion picture is mainly from the perspective of those who were aboard the fourth aircraft on that fatal day and how they responded to the highjackers. The hijacking of United 93 and the unprovoked attacks upon the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were more than the equivalent of the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. They were the events, which triggered our War Against Islamic Terrorism.
During those first weeks following the attacks we were a united country. There was a seriousness of tone on radio and television. The newspapers lauded those responding to a call to arms. Flags appeared on buildings and were flown from car antennas. Patriotic songs were written.
The Washington Post lived up to its typical pattern in coverage of economic good news Saturday morning. The fastest economic growth in several years was banished to D-1 again. While the Post put two bad-news-for-Bush stories on Iraq and terrorism on page 1, it put victories against al-Qaeda in Iraq on page A-10.
On D-1, the Post story acknowledged "Economic Growth Surges to 4.8%." Fred Barbash and Bill Brubaker noted "It was the hottest annualized pace for the gross domestic product in 2 and a half years." That news wasn't even mentioned on the front page. The "Inside" box touted two other, less stunning Business items from D-1:
-- "Pentagon Halts Clearances: High demand and a budget shortfall are blamed for putting security checks for 3,000 contractors on hold."
National Public Radio offers a natural book-buying audience for ultraliberal Sen. Ted Kennedy as he sells his new tome, titled "America Back On Track." On yesterday's nationally syndicated "Diane Rehm Show," NPR reporter Andrea Seabrook sat in for Rehm. The show should have been called "The Senate Floor," since Kennedy's answers routinely went beyond two minutes and started sounding like floor speeches, as Seabrook deferentially waited for Kennedy to come up for air.
For example, Seabrook's second question was simple: "How did America get off track?" Kennedy offered a windy two-minute attack/answer about George Bush and Karl Rove's "politics of fear," as well as darkness, division, and personal destruction, just to round it out:
In his Washington Post column today, David Broder takes on the government-press relationship, but predictably, only the government side is evaluated. In Broder's eyes, it's suspicious government vs. idealistic press corps:
This is a troubling case for those of us in journalism. Our view is that it's the government's responsibility to keep its secrets secret and that it's our responsibility to ferret out information so the public is aware of the actions being taken in its name...But we also know that administrations of both parties tend to restrict information -- and that the only way for the public to learn of questionable policies or actions is for conscientious individuals to break that official code of silence.
MediaBistro runs an email from NYT Executive Editor Bill Keller sent to liberal journalist Murray Waas, in which Keller claims the Bush adminstration is "declaring war at home on the values they profess to be promoting abroad."
"I'm not sure journalists fully appreciate the threat confronting us -- The Times in the eavesdropping case, the Post for its CIA prison stories, and everyone else who has tried to look behind the war on terror. Maybe we're suffering a bit of subpoena fatigue. Maybe some people are a little intimidated by the way the White House plays the soft-on-terror card.
"Whatever the reason, I worry that we're not as worried as we should be. No president likes reporters sniffing after his secrets, but most come to realize that accountability is the price of power in our democracy. Some officials in this administration, and their more vociferous cheerleaders, seem to have a special animus towards reporters doing their jobs. There's sometimes a vindictive tone in way they talk about dragging reporters before grand juries and in the hints that reporters who look too hard into the public's business risk being branded traitors. I don't know how far action will follow rhetoric, but some days it sounds like the administration is declaring war at home on the values they profess to be promoting abroad."
On Tuesday's edition of "Fresh Air," the daily one-hour interview show on National Public Radio, airing on hundreds of NPR affiliates across the country, host Terry Gross interviewed Paul Weitz, director of the new Bush-mocking movie "American Dreamz." Gross helped Weitz to explain his point that "dreams are sometimes delusions," like democracy in Iraq. Weitz expressed sorrow that John Kerry lost to Bush in 2004 because "he was able to look at both sides of an issue, which seems to be the hallmark of intelligence."
Weitz began by suggesting his movie was a way of dealing with how America has been paralyzed by irrational fear since 9/11, so paralyzed it's almost impossible to have a rational thought in George Bush's America:
Max Boot, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes in the LA Times that this year's Pulitzer prizes "reflect a startling degree of animus toward the commander in chief in wartime."
On June 7, 1942, shortly after the Battle of Midway, the Chicago Tribune carried a scoop: "Navy Had Word of Jap Plan to Strike at Sea." The story, written by a correspondent who had seen intelligence reports left in an officer's cabin, reported that the U.S. knew in advance the composition of the Japanese fleet. It didn't say where this information came from, but senior officers privy to the U.S. success in breaking Japanese codes were apoplectic at this security breach. The Justice Department convened a grand jury to consider whether to charge the Tribune and its flamboyant owner, editor and publisher, Col. Robert McCormick, with a violation of the Espionage Act of 1917.
The New York Sun has blown a little sunshine up the back end of the St. Petersburg Times with an editorial praising the Times for admitting when they are wrong, in this case about Sami Al-Arian:
One of the hallmarks of integrity is the willingness, when one is wrong, to admit it. An admirable example was set by the St. Petersburg Times, a Florida newspaper that had reacted defensively... on the news that a terrorist cell had been operating out of the University of South Florida. The St. Petersburg Times's coverage and editorial line had tilted more sympathetic to a professor, Sami Al-Arian, who had claimed his case was a matter of academic freedom. But after a federal judge accepted a guilty plea from Al-Arian to the federal charge of conspiring to assist Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist organization that specializes in targeting Israeli and American civilians, the St. Petersburg Times uncorked a whale of an editorial.
The truth is that the St. Petersburg Times never admitted it was wrong in that "whale of an editorial." All they did was finally lay out the truth; that Sami Al-Arian was a bad character. If there is some admission to being on the wrong side of history in their "whale of an editorial," I'm missing it. Maybe the New York Sun could point that part out to us. I've yet to read anything in the St. Petersburg Times about how they probably shouldn't have allowed their reporter to act as a media coach to Al-Arian. How sad is this anyway, that newspapers have to praise other newspapers for finally telling the truth about a subject?
Every St. Petersburg Times editorial is a whale of a tale, they shouldn't be praised for finally being forced into admit the truth, especially when they fail to admit their shortcomings and biases.
On Tuesday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann raised the term "new McCarthyism," as he accused the Bush administration of engaging in a "witch hunt" against leakers "it does not find politically expedient." Olbermann referred to the "Red Scare witch hunt of the 1950s" during which Senator Joseph McCarthy went after communist sympathizers, as the Countdown host formed a pun on the famous Senator's name and the name of recently fired CIA analyst Mary McCarthy, whom on Friday he had sympathetically referred to as a "whistleblower," on grounds she leaked classified information about secret prisons in Europe being used in the War on Terrorism. Olbermann then brought aboard a former employee of Mary McCarthy, former CIA officer Larry Johnson, to defend Ms. McCarthy and attack the Bush administration. (Transcript follows)
The recent unveiling of the Pulitzer Prizes had more of the same politicized whiff that the Oscars oozed earlier this year. Merit is taking a back seat now to "edginess" in both the news and entertainment media. "Speaking truth to power" is in vogue, even if it’s not true and even if it’s not in the public interest.
The roster of Pulitzer winners had an unmistakeable get-Bush smell to them, especially Dana Priest’s exposing secret prisons in Europe for terrorists in the Washington Post, and James Risen’s and Eric Lichtblau’s NSA-surveillance exposure in the New York Times. The Pulitzers have a prize for Public Service, but these leaks in the War on Terror might better deserve an award for Public Endangerment. As Bill Bennett put it, many Americans think it’s odd that on these stories, "the leaker can be prosecuted, but the person who wrote it down, told every citizen about it, and told every enemy of every citizen of this country gets a Pulitzer Prize."
Fired CIA leaker Mary McCarthy gave money to Joe Sestak, the Democrat in the race for a Pennsylvania U.S. House seat. The Republican incumbent, Congressman Curt Weldon, says Sestak should return the money.
U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon called yesterday for Democratic opponent Joe Sestak to return $350 in campaign contributions from Mary O. McCarthy, the CIA investigator fired last week for allegedly leaking classified information to the news media.
Sestak's spokeswoman noted, in reply, that the CIA employee had not been charged with any crime and said she saw no reason for the money to be returned "at this time."
McCarthy, who worked at the National Security Council when Sestak worked there in the 1990s, donated $100 to Sestak on March 1 and $250 on March 11, according to a campaign finance report the Seventh Congressional District candidate filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Add Cokie and Steve Roberts to the growing list of journalists praising the Washington Post and New York Times stories which exposed ongoing secret anti-terrorism efforts and also won Pulitzer Prizes. The latest joint syndicated column by the married couple, ABC News reporter Cokie Roberts and long-time New York Times reporter Steve Roberts who now teaches at George Washington University, championed how the Pulitzer Prizes prove the necessity of newspapers because "they recognize the sort of journalism -- courageous, costly and comprehensive -- that only papers can provide." Specifically, the duo declared: "The biggest story that newspapers unearthed last year was the abuse of power by the Bush administration." The two admiringly cited how "the Post won an award for revealing a system of secret prisons maintained by the CIA in Eastern Europe to interrogate terrorism suspects. The Times disclosed a program of clandestine government eavesdropping that many lawyers have denounced as illegal."
On CNN’s “The Situation Room” Monday, Bill Bennett and Howard Kurtz had an interesting debate over CIA leaks, the leakers, and journalists that report such information (hat tip to Expose the Left with video link to follow). This was an absolutely fabulous discussion between two folks on obviously opposite sides of an important issue facing our nation: should journalists that report leaked military secrets during a time of war receive Pulitzer Prizes or jail sentences?
As one would imagine, Howard Kurtz supported the former: “As a card-carrying journalist, I would draw the line against forcing journalists to reveal their sources, which would totally chill the process of reporting, and potentially, as we saw in the case of Judith Miller, put them in jail, as well.”
Predictably, Bennett didn’t agree:
“It is against the law to publish classified national security information. And that's clearly been done in this case. What a lot of people don't understand, including me, is why when people do that, or in a time of war, all of a sudden it is claimed that they can't be touched. The leaker can be prosecuted, but the person who wrote it down, told every citizen about it, and told every enemy of every citizen of this country gets a Pulitzer Prize.”
What follows is a full transcript of this marvelous discussion, along with a must-see video link courtesy of Ian Schwartz of Expose the Left.
NBC's Andrea Mitchell complained Monday night, on MSNBC's Countdown, about how the CIA's firing of a staffer ostensibly for leaking top secret information to a reporter, will mean CIA officials will no longer have the “courage or the stupidity” to talk to reporters. After relaying how, through friends the fired staffer, Mary McCarthy, had denied being a source for the Washington Post's secret CIA prison story, though she conceded having unauthorized interaction with journalists, Mitchell contended that intimidation of the rest of the staff was the real motivation for firing McCarthy: “The purpose is don't even have lunch with reporters. The purpose is don't have dinner with reporters. Don't pick up the phone if a reporter is calling. It doesn't matter what you say, you're not supposed to have contact with reporters without telling the higher-ups." Maybe the CIA wouldn't have such concerns if they had any faith in journalists to act more responsibly than did the Washington Post's Dana Priest. (Partial transcript follows)
BRIT HUME: That is not an exercise simply of First Amendment rights. This was a violation of her oath and her responsibility.
CHRIS WALLACE: All right. I'm going to...
JUAN WILLIAMS: Let me -- no, let me...
CHRIS WALLACE: No, no, no. No.
WILLIAMS: Let me just quickly respond.
Brit, she took a risk. She was very aware of what she had signed. She is now bearing the cost of having broken that pledge.
WALLACE: So this is an act of conscience?
WILLIAMS: And so in that sense, yes, I do believe it's an act of honor.
WALLACE: And if it's an act of conscience, then why did she do it surreptitiously?
Sunday's off-lead story by David Cloud is on Mary McCarthy, the CIA analyst fired for leaking classified information about suspected terrorists allegedly being held in secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe. It comes under the comforting headline "Colleagues Say C.I.A. Analyst Played by Rules."
"On Thursday, the C.I.A. fired Ms. McCarthy, 61, accusing her of leaking information to reporters about overseas prisons operated by the agency in the years since the Sept. 11 attacks. But despite Ms. McCarthy's independent streak, some colleagues who worked with her at the White House and other offices during her intelligence career say they cannot imagine her as a leaker of classified information."