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."
Far from condemning a CIA officials damaging leak of classified information about ongoing efforts to prevent terrorism, on the Sunday morning interview shows, three panelists -- a former network White House correspondent, a newspaper and radio veteran and a current network anchor -- hailed Mary McCarthy, the CIA staffer fired last week for telling the Washington Post's Dana Priest about secret prisons in Eastern Europe. ABC's Sam Donaldson heralded the revelations as “a victory for the American people" and compared her actions to those sitting at lunch counters in the 1960s, NPR's Juan Williams trumpeted her “right to speak” and her “act of conscience” and CBS's Bob Schieffer characterized the prisons as what “scares” him and claimed the “CIA fired an agent for hanging out” with a reporter. (Transcripts follow.)
There is no doubt that the leak of classified information concerning possible CIA prisons in Europe by CIA analyst Mary McCarthy has harmed U.S. national security and put our relationships with European allies on the line. Regardless of these facts, however, on today's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Sen. John Kerry said he was "glad" McCarthy "told the truth."
STEPHANOPOULOS: On another -- on another front, excuse me, CIA official Mary McCarthy lost her job this week for disclosing classified information according to the CIA probably about a WASHINGTON POST story which reveal revealed the existence of secret prisons in Europe. A lot of different views. Senator Pat Roberts praised action but some former CIA officers described Mary McCarthy as a sacrificial lamb acting in the finest American tradition by revealing human rights violations. What's your view?
On the public-access TV show I host, 'Right Angle', the topic this past week was immigration. A Cornell campus radical expressed the view that not only should our borders be completely open, but that we shouldn't screen immigrants for criminal history or even . . . for being known Al-Qaeda members.
Now, if the radical making these sophomoric suggestions isn't quite a sophomore - he's in fact a grad student - perhaps some slack can be cut him as he continues to live, largely divorced from reality, within the liberal cocoon of the ivy-league tower.
The same defense cannot be offered to explain away the equally churlish remarks that Dave Rossie serves up week after week. Rossie is associate editor of the Gannett newspaper, the Binghamton [NY] Press & Sun Bulletin. In addition to his editing duties, Rossie writes a syndicated weekly column that, in its juvenile tone, reads like something worthy of an over-the-top 10th grader.
[Text and video include a vulgarity] Another fresh episode of The Sopranos, HBO's series about a New Jersey Mob boss and his family, will air tonight (Sunday), and that reminded me of a left-wing shot at President Bush's anti-terrorism policies, which aired on last Sunday's edition. Daughter “Meadow Soprano,” played by Jamie-Lynn Sigler, is a volunteer at a legal aid clinic where she meets an Afghan family whose son was arrested. "The government is just completely fucking this family over," she later complains while sitting next to her boyfriend “Finn” at the kitchen counter of her parent's home, adding: "The FBI snatched their son off the street like we're some Third World dictatorship." When her younger brother suggests that maybe the guy is a terrorist, she angrily retorts: "9/11, 9/11. Bush is using it as an excuse to erode our constitutional protections and you're falling for it!" (A little more dialogue follows.)
I've been as riveted as any
self-respecting blogger by this week's revelations about the CIA's Mary
McCarthy, whose leak to the Washington Post's Dana Priest about foreign terrorist
detention centers earned the former a pink slip plus possible criminal
charges but the latter a Pulitzer. It now appears that McCarthy was a
fairly enthusiastic contributor to Democratic causes including some guy
named John Kerry (start with Tom Maguire for details). (Update: An attorney for Cobb says McCarthy denies being the source for the story, or leaking any classified information. This contradicts what the CIA said. As Drudge says, Developing.)
Liberals who believe both Fox News and CNN have become cheerleaders for the war in Iraq may have another alternative: Al Jazeera International.
The Rocky Mountain News reports that the nascent English-language channel has finally found at least one carrier in the U.S. who is willing to put the channel in its lineup.
EchoStar's Dish Network is the only cable or satellite operator in the U.S. publicly willing to consider carrying controversial Arab news channel Al Jazeera's planned English-language spinoff.
Even on Dish, Al Jazeera's attempt to provide an alternative to Western news outlets like BBC World and CNN International isn't likely to appear on any of the satellite-TV operator's popular programming tiers.
"We have several offers and options under consideration, including with EchoStar, but have not yet signed anything," said Rana Jazayerli, a Washington-based spokeswoman for the news channel. "We will make our plans public after we have finalized."
On Friday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann plugged the Rolling Stone cover story by historian Sean Wilentz which argued that George W. Bush may be the worst President ever, citing the opinions of over 400 historians. As he introduced his interview with Wilentz, Olbermann sympathetically referred to the recently fired CIA employee who leaked classified information on the agency's use of secret prisons in Europe in the War on Terrorism, calling her a "whistleblower," and asked the question: "President Bush, whose administration is now firing, perhaps prosecuting whistleblowers, is he simply the worst?"
While introducing the segment, Olbermann listed several of Wilentz's attacks against Bush without challenging their validity, including accusations of "fabricated evidence" of WMD, a "retro fiscal policy" of "massive tax cuts" for the wealthy that "racked up monstrous deficits," and a criticism citing an unnamed Republican strategist who claimed that the Republican Party is "the first religious party in U.S. history." Olbermann, who perennially makes comparisons between George Orwell's novel 1984 and the Bush administration, managed to work in yet another reference to Orwell as he ended the interview mocking the administration's use of the term "pre-9/11 thinking," charging that Bush would accuse Wilentz and the other historians of being "guilty of pre-9/11 thinking, as George Orwell might have said." (Transcript follows)
At least one leading mainstream journalists isn't too happy about the revelation Friday that on Thursday the CIA fired an official who admitted being the leaker of top secret information about CIA prisons overseas used to hold al-Qaeda suspects. Bob Schieffer didn't withhold his personal opinion from his newscast as he introduced a CBS Evening News story by asserting that “it is no secret that the current administration does not like its people hanging out with news reporters without permission” and he described the firing as “a first -- a dubious first, to be sure.”
Citing the Washington Post story on the then-secret prisons and the New York Times article disclosing terrorist surveillance efforts, both of which won Pulitzer Prizes on Monday, NPR's Nina Totenberg declared on Inside Washington that nefarious Bush administration practices justified the decision to reward the two newspapers: "It's a good thing that they won for those intelligence stories because the Bush administration is investigating now and is threatening to subpoena and conceivably jail those reporters. So I think it's important that those stories be rewarded as something important to have done." (Transcripts follow.)
TV Newser says Rob Reynolds, a former reporter for CNBC, CNN and NBC, has been hired by Al Jazeera International, the new English-language channel that is having trouble finding a U.S. carrier. Perhaps cable companies are worried about a mass exodus of conservative viewers if they sign on with Al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera International has hired former CNBCer Rob Reynolds to be senior Washington correspondent. Here's his bio. Reynolds has worked in Moscow for NBC and London for CNN. He was shown the door at CNBC in February.
There's still no firm word on when the channel will launch, Gail Shister reports. AJI rep Rana Jazayerli said "we expect to be fully ready for a global launch sometime soon," but didn't say what "sometime soon" means.
After hearing that Sami Al-Arian confessed to a dirty laundry list of terrorism related activities, I was eager to see how the liberal St. Petersburg Times would handle the story. Today they posted an editorial about "The Real Al-Arian," writing about all the horrible things he has done and lies he told. But is that an accurate account of the role the Times played in defending him? Maybe when you consider it is a newspaper that employs a former ACLU director as a columnist and has a Huffinton Post contributor for a reporter and an F.B.I. wiretap exposing a Times reporter acting as Al-Arian's media coach.
With the benefit of this hindsight, hindsight that the rest of us had little problem seeing in foresight, let's take a look at some past quotes. One has to wonder why a huge newspaper with vast resources couldn't see what the rest of us saw so easily.
Robyn Blumner: "...[USF President] Genshaft's stated intention to fire tenured computer science professor Sami Al-Arian due to the swirl of controversy over his activist Islamist views. Here Genshaft cannot deflect blame for besmirching the university's reputation. She made the call, and it's once again the wrong one for academic freedom and free speech...