With an “Uncle Sam Is Watching You” graphic on screen, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann opened Friday night's Countdown by exaggerating the threat of the federal request for Google records to check the exposure of pornography to children and, of course, the NSA “spying”policy. “If you Googled it, the government wants to know about it,” Olbermann warned, “and if you made a phone call or sent an e-mail that was monitored by the NSA without court approval, the government wants you to know it feels its actions were plenty legal.” Olbermann reported: “President Bush starts taking his domestic spying defense tour on the road. How about we all Google the name George Orwell?” Olbermann proceeded to describe the public relations events as a “big brother PR blitz” with “President Bush heading back to the National Security Agency for another visit next week on Wednesday, all part of the administration's latest push to convince everybody else that the President has the constitutional power to order all the spying, with none of the bothersome warrants, that he wants.”
Citing the administration's contention that only those who had contact with terrorist-affiliated people were monitored, Olbermann charged, while interviewing Craig Crawford, that “there has been a lot of condescension from the administration over the years since the election, but honestly, do they think everybody here is a 6-year-old idiot?" Olbermann went on to complain about Karl Rove's “post 9/11 mindsets drivel." Olbermann also quoted the Justice Department's contention that the 9/11 congressional resolution “places the President at the zenith of his powers” and asked: “Is there is somebody in the White House saying, 'look, it's to our advantage to make the President look as much like either a Superhero or would-be dictator as possible?'” (Transcript follows.)
The folks at the Grey Lady again can't seem to wrap their noggins around the fact that the NSA program is tapping international calls made from this country, AND calls that come in from other countries.
What is so hard to grasp here? Terrorism is a clandestine business. Should we be calling the terrorists we're monitoring to let them know they are being monitored? Have there been any wrongful deaths, convictions or violations in connection with the NSA program? No. Do the American people support it? Yes.
Savor this morsel, from the NYT political pundit / terrorism analyst / foreign policy opinion leader / surveillance expert Eric Lichtblau :
Exiled Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden is seen in this April 1998 file photo in Afghanistan. Al-Jazeera aired an audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2006, saying al-Qaida is making preparations for attacks in the United States but offering a truce to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan. (AP Photo)
Just as our intelligence experts' parsing of the OBL tape may uncover hidden clues, so does a careful deconstruction of comments this morning by Katie Couric yield important insights into her MSM mindset.
Couric was interviewing Peter Bergen, British author of "The Osama Bin Laden I Know." At one point, Katie had this to say:
"He talks about President Bush in the tape and he says he's foolish for ignoring the poll numbers that indicate the American people want him to pull out of Iraq. How do you think he's keeping abreast of all this. It's sort of odd, isn't it? Is he just paying attention to Al-Jazeera? It's not as if he's reading the New York Times, is it?"
Just before reading e-mailed responses to his “Cafferty Files” question of the 4pm EST hour on Thursday afternoon's The Situation Room on CNN, “How important is the new Osama bin Laden tape?", Jack Cafferty proposed a conspiracy existed in the timing, one meant to help Bush justify his NSA wiretapping: “The last time we got a tape from Osama bin Laden was right before the 2004 presidential election. Now here we are, four days away from hearings starting in Washington into the wiretapping of America's telephones without bothering to get a court order or a warrant, and up pops another tape from Osama bin Laden. Coincidence? Who knows.” One viewer endorsed Cafferty's conspiracy theory: “It seems suspicious. Every time the Republicans get into trouble, bin Laden sends a tape. Is it possible bin Laden's working out of the White House?” Earlier, Cafferty took a shot at President Bush's decision to invade Iraq: “The thought of this mutant hanging out in a cave somewhere and sending taped threats to the American people makes me angry. Why wasn't this guy taken care of before we went wandering off into Iraq?” (Transcripts follow.)
Harry Belafonte recently compared George W. Bush and the architects of the Iraq war to those who planned the terrorist attacks of 9/11. In a speech on Sunday, January 15, he said:
"Killing is our easiest tool....It is an act that has driven fear and terror into the hearts of the American people. What is the essential difference in quality of our humanity for those who would do the cruel and tragic deed of flying an airplane into a building and killing 3,000 innocent Americans and those who would lie and lead the nation into a war that has killed hundreds of thousands? Excuse me, fellow citizens, if the line for me becomes a little blurred."
Ted Rall, the cartoonist that hates President Bush and the military, decries the January 13 “massacre” in Pakistan while claiming that the United States is committing “murder by mistake”. In his Jan 17 op-ed, “Death From Above: US Drone Planes Have a Nearly Perfect Record of Failure”, Rall states that the Hellfire Missiles “slammed into three local jewelers’ houses” and killed “at least 22 innocent civilians, including five women and five children.” He neglects to mention that the #2 Al Qaeda terrorist was supposed to be dining with the “jewelers”. He also neglects to mention that stories are now coming out that 3, possibly more, Al Qaeda terrorists are believed to have been killed in the air strike, including the bomb making mastermind, Abu Khabab al-Masri.
The broadcast network evening newscasts on Tuesday night refrained from applying any ideological tag to the far-left group of lawyers, who represent terror suspects at Guantanamo and elsewhere, which filed a lawsuit against the NSA's program to eavesdrop on communications between terrorists abroad and people inside the U.S., but none hesitated to place a conservative label on those opposed to Oregon's assisted-suicide law (which the Supreme Court upheld). The network reporters avoided labeling the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which was founded by the radical-left William Kunstler, and whose President, Michael Ratner, declared last month: “Every American should be in political rebellion against the criminals now running this country."
On CBS, Wyatt Andrews related how, in ruling against the assisted-suicide law, former Attorney General John Ashcroft “was answering to conservatives pushing the Bush administration to protect life.” Andrews added: "This ruling also brought the first big case vote by the new chief justice, John Roberts, who sided with the conservative minority." But, without any labeling, John Roberts reported how “the NSA spying program was branded a violation of the Constitution by two civil liberties groups.” ABC's Lisa Stark pointed out how “the court's two most conservative members, Scalia and Thomas, disagreed” with the majority ruling. Anchor Bob Woodruff, however, had teased the newscast: "Two major civil rights groups sue to shut down the Bush administration's secret eavesdropping program." Pierre Thomas made those suing seem innocuous, relaying how the “attorneys, along with authors, scholars and Muslim support groups, claim unauthorized government eavesdropping will limit their ability to do their jobs." Over on NBC, Pete Williams noted how “Christian conservatives today called the ruling dangerous,” yet anchor Brian Williams announced how “today, civil rights lawyers filed the first lawsuit to challenge the government's program of monitoring the overseas phone calls of some Americans." (Transcripts follow.)
According to Ellis Henican, the "I-word [is] even being mentioned on Capitol Hill." Henican, a Fox News analyst and Newsday columnist, appeared on the January 17th edition of Fox and Friends at 6:18AM EST. He excitedly referenced an impeachment mention during Arlen Specter’s January 15th appearance on ABC's This Week. Henican described Arlen Specter as "a Republican, incidentally, who doesn’t want the President to break the law." It might be helpful to know what Specter actually said. George Stephanopoulos did ask the senator, at 9:07AM EST, what would be the remedy if the President broke the law. Specter replied:
"Well, the remedy could be a variety of things. A president, and I’m not suggesting remotely that there is any basis, but your asking, really, theory, what’s the remedy, impeachment is the remedy. After impeachment you can have a criminal prosecution. But the principal remedy under our society is to pay a political price." (Emphasis added)
The demonstrators' signs read "Withdraw the Terrorist US Army", so naturally I assumed it was a DNC event, perhaps with John Kerry and Al Gore leading the way. But no, turns out that for the second day running the Today show devoted an extended first segment to the attempted strike on Zawahiri and the harm it might have done to our relations with Pakistan.
Katie Couric introduced the piece, labeling it "collateral damage in the war on terror," and noting "one thing is for sure, the attack killed women and children and has put a strain on the relationship between the US and this key ally."
NBC and ABC on Monday night gave time to short items on Al Gore's charge, leveled during a morning speech, that President Bush's “domestic surveillance” means he “has been breaking the law repeatedly and insistently." And MSNBC's Countdown led with it as host Keith Olbermann showcased a clip of Gore with his allegation before Olbermann insisted: "Just more old-fashioned partisanship? Not when it's Bob Barr joining Gore in the same complaint about NSA spying. Not when it's Arlen Specter calling for a full investigation." Seeing great import in the Gore-Barr alliance, Olbermann ruminated about how “the creations of the last two serious third political parties in this country define the cliche politics makes strange bedfellows.” Seemingly suggesting a potential repeat scenario, Olbermann recalled how in 1854 Republicans “started as a third party with disaffected Democrats abandoning their own sitting President and the Whigs, who had been in office until a year earlier, deserting en masse, putting aside their personal hatreds to create a one-issue party against slavery.”
NBC anchor Brian Williams relayed how “Gore made some of the toughest charges yet from a prominent Democrat. He called for an independent investigation of the NSA spy program which he called a threat to the very structure of our government." After a clip of Gore's declaration, “What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law [rising applause] repeatedly and insistently," Williams offered no contrary view and then passed along how "Al Gore noted that he gave the speech on Martin Luther King Day because Dr. King himself had been a victim of illegal domestic spying by the FBI." But in holding the FBI accountable for the “spying,” Williams obscured who was behind it: Liberal heroes Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy. ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas at least pointed out that while “Gore called for an independent counsel to investigate the program,” it's a policy “which the administration has said is, in fact, legal." (Transcripts follow.)
A Saturday New York Times editorial, “A Home for the Drawing Center,” celebrates the fact that a left-wing museum, originally to be located at Ground Zero, has found a new home in Manhattan, and accuses opponents of the project of opposing free speech.
“The Drawing Center, of course, was once part of other plans to rebuild Lower Manhattan. It was going to inhabit a planned cultural center at ground zero, until, in a memorable spasm of apparently unscripted patriotism, Gov. George Pataki made it impossible for the center to remain. If nothing else, the battle over culture at ground zero made it perfectly clear that Governor Pataki favors free speech, but only if it takes place in another part of town.”
Winston Churchill was once quoted as saying that "a fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject." Whether it's an actual Churchill quote or not, I'm not certain. I am certain, however, that it's an apt description of the Associated Press. They are, and have been, obsessed with the Bush administration's war on terrorism, and have repeatedly gone out of their way to drag in unrelated items to use as clubs against the Bush administration. I tire of writing that "the AP is at it again," but the AP is at it again.
Just a heads up for a great piece on the New York Times’ latest entry into the “liberal phony photo-journalism posing as editorial content” category.
Kudos to Thomas Lifson of The American Thinker who has busted the Old Grey Lady once again:
Is a fake staged photo fit to print? What if it staged in a way that makes the US forces fighting the War on Terror look cruel and ineffective? The evidence argues that yes, it can run, and in a prominent position - at least in the case of the New York Times website.
Once might be excused as an aberration. Twice signals a troubling trend.
On Saturday, Julian Phillips - the over-promoted host of Fox & Friends Weekend - downplayed the threat posed by Iran's nuclear ambitions. He implied that there was limited cause for concern since Iran has agreed to allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to carry out surprise inspections of its nuclear sites with as little as two hours notice.
On Sunday, Phillips was back at it . His guest was Barry Schweid, senior diplomatic correspondent for AP and a Fox News contributor. And once again, Phillips trotted out his pet theory:
"They agreed to protocols with the UN in 2003 for snap inspections in two hours or less. Why are these inspections not enough?"
In the aftermath of a U.S. air strike in Pakistan targeting Osama bin Laden's righthand man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, ABC's World News Tonight played up Pakistani anger at America over the operation on its Saturday January 14 show. Anchor Dan Harris prominently featured Pakistani "outrage and condemnation" at the attack and introduced reporter John Yang's piece on the subject intoning that "there is most definitely a reaction in Pakistan, and it's an angry one." ABC also downplayed the importance of killing the senior al-Qaeda member, with Yang calling a potential kill a "largely symbolic victory."
With the words "Attack Condemned" featured on-screen, Harris teased the January 14 show: "Taking aim at al-Qaeda's number two man: The U.S. government doesn't know yet whether it hit its target, but in Pakistan tonight, this attack is provoking outrage and condemnation." After leading with a story on the CDC's warning on drug-resistant flu strains, Harris set up reporter John Yang to focus on Pakistani anger toward the U.S., ending his introduction by noting that "there is most definitely a reaction in Pakistan, and it's an angry one." While Harris read his introduction, the words "Attack Condemned" again appeared, this time in the background, above a photograph of targeted al-Qaeda leader Zawahiri.
You know the Ted, Chuck & Joe Show flopped when even Chris Matthews accuses the Dems of "buffoonery" in the Alito hearings. Yet that is exactly what Matthews did in his appearance on this morning's Today show:
"I don't think any points were scored by the Democrats. There was a lot of buffoonery by Democratic senators."
For whatever reason, Matthews was on his most 'fair & balanced' behavior. For example, in discussing Pres. Bush's joint appearance with German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday, Matthews described Merkel's predecessor, the left-wing Gerhard Schroeder, as "very obnoxious," having taken "one cheap shot after another at us" and exploited our tribulations in Iraq for his own political gain.
On Friday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann questioned whether the leaking of an FBI investigation of terror suspects who tried to buy untraceable cell phones from Target and Wal-Mart stores was timed to bolster the administration's case for its controversial NSA wiretapping program. The Countdown host, who has a history of questioning whether the Bush administration politically times terror alerts to distract attention from events embarassing to the administration (see NewsBusters postings covering his Oct. 11 and Oct. 12 shows for details), made known his latest suspicions: "Reassure me it only looks too convenient to be believed." While interviewing Time magazine's Mike Allen, Olbermann proclaimed that "the administration sure gets a lot of these breaks. Their position is challenged, and then suddenly there is a hazy story about something that seems to at least tangentially justify that position."
Olbermann relayed to the audience that the recent leak by FBI sources, first reported by ABC News, regarding the arrests of terror suspects who had bought mass quantities of untraceable, disposable cell phones coincides with the NSA whistleblower who "suggests the illicit tapping of American phones is thousands of times larger and thousands of times less focused than the President claims." Olbermann reasoned that the story, if true, "makes the wiretapping look like a good idea and its leakers look like they've already helped terrorists outsmart the eavesdropping."
At an event attended by Hillary Clinton, Harry Belafonte said that President Bush has begun to "suspend our Constitution" and that doing so is an "act of terror." The pop singer made these comments after giving a speech at a children’s charity dinner. The exchange was reported on the January 13th edition of Fox and Friends, at 7:08AM EST. Co-hosts Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade and E.D. Hill began by discussing Mr. Belafonte’s earlier comments, where he referred to the President as "the greatest terrorist in the world." (Noel Sheppard reported this story for Newsbusters.) Ms. Hill set up the new Belafonte statements by saying, "You know what we did? We sent someone from Fox News Channel to go find out if that’s what he really meant to say." Mr. Belafonte told FNC:
While Ted Koppel is signing up with NPR and the New York Times, another veteran of his classic "Nightline" has found a new gig. Reporter Dave Marash is signing up with the English-language version of al-Jazeera. As Newsday's Verne Gay reports this morning, Marash insists that despite al-Jazeera's reputation as a mouthpiece for al Qaeda terrorists, "conventional and, dare I say, informed opinion is that the channel is thoroughly respected."
Dave Marash, the veteran "Nightline" correspondent who left the program late last year, has landed at Al-Jazeera International, the new English-language news channel that will be spun off from Al-Jazeera later this spring....
On the Thursday January 12 CBS Evening News, anchor Bob Schieffer let slip to the audience that he already considers the Bush administration's controversial NSA wiretapping program to be "illegal," even though this issue is in dispute.
Correspondent Mika Brzezinski filed an unrelated story about phone record availability, which conveyed that anyone can purchase another person's cell phone records without that person's permission, and whether there should be government protection for the privacy of cell phone subscribers. After the story's completion, Schieffer quipped that the government could just buy people's phone records instead of doing "illegal eavesdropping":
Bob Schieffer: "Well, thank you very much, Mika. I mean, maybe the government doesn't need to do this illegal eavesdropping. They could just buy it."
Over at the American Thinker, William Tate has a good post on how the New York Times, which is currently scourging the Bush Administration over concerns it's "abusing" surveillance powers, blythely ignored evidence of greater "abuse" of such powers by the Clinton Administration. Here's an excerpt from the conclusion:
[D]uring the Clinton Administration, evidence existed (all of the information used in this article was available at the time) that: an invasive, extensive domestic eavesdropping program was aimed at every U.S. citizen; intelligence agencies were using allies to circumvent constitutional restrictions; and the administration was selling at least some secret intelligence for political donations.
These revelations were met by the New York Times and others in the mainstream media by the sound of one hand clapping. Now, reports that the Bush Administration approved electronic eavesdropping, strictly limited to international communications, of a relative handful of suspected terrorists have created a media frenzy in the Times and elsewhere.
In a new column just posted at MSNBC.com, Newsweek’s Michael Hirsh offered some truly defamatory comments concerning America’s current president. In fact, much of this article could have been written by Harry Belafonte.
“In fact, [Iranian President] Ahmadinejad, who has piled idiocy upon idiocy in a series of offensive remarks that have alarmed the world, has achieved a truly amazing feat. He has made George W. Bush look like a statesman.”
As MRC colleague Brent Baker reported, former National Security Agency official Russell Tice unveiled himself on ABC News last night as one of the sources for last month’s New York Times scoop on the National Security Agency’s terrorist surveillance program.
Stephen Spruiell at National Review Online predicted something like this last week, asking: “If Tice turns out to be one of the NY Times' anonymous sources for its NSA stories, didn't the Times readers deserve to know that its information came from a potentially unbalanced ex-employee with an ax to grind?”
Spruiell is referring to the fact that Tice lost his job after the NSA revoked his security clearances, citing psychological concerns."
As we detailed here, on yesterday's Today show Matt Lauer yesterday blurted out in the midst of an interview "let's face it, [Alito] is an ultra-conservative."
If that weren't slur enough in the liberal mindset, Dem strategist James Carville continued the assault on this morning's Today, accusing Alito of being: "completely enamored and impressed with power."
Carville and consulting sidekick Paul Begala were in to chew the fat with Katie Couric over the Alito hearings and the pair's new book, "Take it Back," their prescription for reforming the Democrat party and the country at large.
A leitmotif of the interview was Katie Couric's exasperation with Democrats. Exasperation at Dem failure to sufficiently rake Alito over the coals, exasperation at Dems for ignoring the Carville-Begala bromides for recapturing power.
In the latest issue of The Weekly Standard there is an interesting article by Stephen F. Hayes titled “Saddam’s Terror Training Camps”. In it the author reports the former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein... “Trained thousands of radical Islamic terrorists from the region at camps in Iraq over four years immediately preceding the U.S. invasion, according to documents and photographs recovered by the U.S. military in postwar Iraq.”
Now this can’t possibly be correct. The mainstream media and the liberal left have repeatedly told us there were no terrorists in Iraq and it was only the United States involvement in mid-east that brought terrorists into the country. This is the stock statement when anything on the matter is broadcast or placed in print. It would be difficult indeed, to find an article in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times or the New York Times that makes those contrary statements penned by Stephen Hayes.
Call me overly suspicious, but the story of 16-year-old Farris Hassan traveling to Iraq on a whim strikes me as unbelievable. The Florida teen of Iraqi descent was all over the news in December when he apparently took off without telling his family and headed to Iraq to see what all the fuss was about. Hassan was able to finance his plane ticket to Kuwait with money he earned trading stocks on the Internet.
All the media coverage portrayed Hassan as a naïve young man who simply wanted to, in his own words, "experience…the same hardships ordinary Iraqis experience everyday." In an essay written by Hassan and e-mailed to his teacher from Kuwait, he seemed to have pro-American views and he spoke passionately about the need to defeat the terrorists in Iraq. He was also interested in a career in journalism and after taking a course in "immersion journalism," he made the decision to go to Iraq. In the process, he found himself smack dab in the middle of a war zone.
Amid all the media-fueled angst over the Bush administration’s “domestic spying” program — a word formula chosen to make the National Security Agency’s monitoring of terrorist communications seem as if ordinary Americans were the target, not the beneficiary — today’s Wall Street Journal reminds us that real domestic spying took place not that long ago, during liberals’ Golden Age, the 1960s.
As federal judge Laurence Silberman revealed in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last July, the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover “had allowed — even offered — the bureau to be used by presidents for nakedly political purposes. I have always thought that the most heinous act in which a democratic government can engage is to use its law enforcement machinery for political ends.”
The magazine to the stars, Variety, called the New York Times’ James Risen a “journalistic hero.” In an article about the problems that Risen’s new book, "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration," might pose for the Times, Variety reporter Michael Learmonth began by offering great praise for the author: “After years of entanglement with Judith Miller, the New York Times can celebrate a true journalistic hero in James Risen, the reporter who uncovered the NSA eavesdropping story.”
“The book also indicates Iraq had abandoned its nuclear weapons program shortly after the first Gulf War, but that information was ignored by the neocons selling an invasion of Iraq. Those on the selling end of the equation had the ear of Miller, whose W.M.D. stories got most of the headlines when it mattered.”
Learmonth concluded by expressing concern for the future of this new “hero”: