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”:
The Associated Press reported that American singer Harry Belafonte, as part of a delegation visiting Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez that included actor Danny Glover and Princeton University scholar Cornel West, publicly stated that President Bush is “the greatest terrorist in the world.”
“‘No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush says, we're here to tell you: Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people … support your revolution,’ Belafonte told Chavez during the broadcast.”
Tom DeLay’s ouster from the House leadership is the “one good thing that's come out” of the Abramoff scandal, CBS’s Andy Rooney declared Friday night during a live appearance on CNN’s Larry King Live. Asked by King about “the tapping of phones in the interest of national security,” Rooney called it “a disgrace, an absolute disgrace. And how the President has convinced himself or how the Vice President has convinced the President that this is a good thing to do, in the interests of American security, it's a disgrace." But when King suggested that “you think it's despots that do that in times of,” before King got to the word “war,” Rooney rejected King’s characterization of Bush: “Yes, they certainly do. I'm not willing to call President Bush a despot.” Rooney went on to regret how Bush gets bad information: “I don't know where he gets his information, but I don't think it's very good."
NBC’s Tim Russert invited the New York Times reporter who broke the NSA eavesdropping story three weeks ago onto “Meet the Press” this morning. Despite the obvious controversial nature of the guest and the subject matter, Russert asked no truly compelling or interrogative questions of James Risen, and, as a result, produced an interview that not only didn’t challenge Risen about the fortuitous timing of the article’s release, but also offered the viewer no new information concerning this matter.
For instance, Russert chose to ask Risen:
MR. RUSSERT: Amid much speculation as to why the The New York Times held this story, you had written it, you had finished it, you knew it was—what reflected what your reporting had shown. It may have played a role in the election of 2004 if it had been published in October. Why was it held?
However, here’s a list of potentially more provocative and important questions that Russert chose not to ask his controversial guest:
In her most recent Human Events column titled 'This Is Why We Don't Trust Democrats With National Security', Ann Coulter relates that "The Democratic Party has decided to express indignation at the idea that an American citizen who happens to be a member of al Qaeda is not allowed to have a private conversation with Osama bin Laden," adding that "If they run on that in 2008, it could be the first time in history a Republican president takes even the District of Columbia."
Once again Miss Coulter has managed to hit the nail squarely on the head, so to speak, just as she's done so many times in the past. Indeed, how suicidal do you have to be, both politically and actually, to argue that President Bush doesn't have the right to order the interception of communications between individuals in the U.S. and known terrorists overseas unless, as Congressional Democrats require, he first asks some lawyer in a black robe for permission?
Did the NSA, the government's international communications monitoring arm, spy on CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour? Lots of lefty blogs are upset about the possibility (see the Moderate Voice's listing of them).
Apparently, the fuss started with a transcript of an "NBC Nightly News" interview with New York Times reporter James Risen, according to NBC, accidentally included a question and answer that was not broadcast:
MITCHELL: You don't have any information, for instance, that a very prominent journalist, Christiane Amanpour, might have been eavesdropped upon?
RISEN: No, no I hadn't heard that.
After the story broke, the NSA said to CNN that it had not spied on Amanpour, marking one of the first times the agency has responded to a story broken by blogs.
There's a media story here for sure, but is there a political one? Michelle Malkin argues no considering the alleged spying likely occurred entirely outside the U.S. and thus was not illegal.
On January 4, FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume aired a segment that discussed Hollywood’s portrayal of terrorism. The story, airing at 6:38PM, featured a quote from George Clooney, star and producer of "Syriana." The clip appeared to be from the movie’s press junket. Fox News reporter William La Jeunesse stated that "'Syriana' is based on the true story of a CIA operative sent to assassinate Saddam Hussein." He adds:
"But in the hands of actor/producer George Clooney, the story changes Saddam into an benevolent Arab prince. And Hezbollah saves the agent's life. Americans are shown to be greedy and corrupt, while suicide bombers are presented as freedom fighters." Real Player or Windows Media
Harvey Silvergate writes that although the Bush administration is trying to go after those in the government who leaked the wiretap story to the New York Times, the government could just as easily indict those who work for the paper itself.
A variety of federal statutes, from the Espionage Act on down, give Bush ample means to prosecute the Times reporters who got the scoop, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, as well as the staff editors who facilitated publication. Even Executive Editor Bill Keller and Publisher Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger Jr., could become targets — a startling possibility, just the threat of which would serve as a deterrent to the entire Fourth Estate.
Silvergate himself is no fan of Bush and says the Times revealed "reckless conduct" by the White House.
CBS’s Harry Smith on Wednesday’s “The Early Show” saluted New York Times reporter James Risen, who in a December 16 front-page article exposed an ongoing National Security Agency (NSA) intelligence-gathering operation aimed at thwarting al Qaeda attacks in the U.S., and whose new book, “State of War,” amplifies his concerns with the way the U.S. government has pursued the war on terror.
Shortly after 7:30 this morning, Smith touted his upcoming interview with Risen, advertising him as “the author of a new book the Bush administration does not want you to read.” A few minutes later, he introduced Risen by asserting that the NSA’s surveillance program “has shocked many Americans.” Smith used sinister language to describe the NSA program:
The New York Times evidently sensed a need to respond to last week’s announcement of a Justice Department investigation into who leaked to Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau for their December 16 scoop on surveillance of terror suspects in the U.S.
Wednesday’s editorial, “On the Subject of Leaks”, attempts to explain how one set of leaks (Plame’s identity as a CIA employee) was very bad, possibly criminal, and certainly worthy of investigation, while another set of leaks (uncovering the Bush administration’s surveillance of terror suspects without warrants) was a noble and patriotic deed that shouldn't be questioned. It's rough going for the paper, and basic logic doesn’t fare well either.
Intelligence reporter James Risen co-wrote the Times’ December 16 front-page scoop about government spying on terror suspects in the U.S. without first obtaining search warrants. As was later revealed by Drudge (but not by the Times), the story seemed rather conveniently timed to coincide with his upcoming book, “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration”).
Risen’s book is out now, and Katie Couric interviewed him for the Today show Tuesday morning, where he said of his many anonymous sources:
“…many of these people had grown up in the environment of knowing that in order to get to listen in on Americans you had to get a court order and they saw something was happening in which that was not being done. That there were, that the courts were being skirted, the Congress, that the laws had not been changed. And they believed that for whatever reason the Bush administration was skirting the law. Now that'll be something that we can all debate about whether or not they did skirt the law? But that was the reason the people came forward. They believed that something was going wrong."
It’s been more than two weeks since the New York Times broke the National Security Agency eavesdropping story, and despite a media barrage on this subject, it appears the nation doesn’t feel the Bush administration is doing anything wrong. A survey released by Rasmussen Reports last week identified:
“Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans believe the National Security Agency (NSA) should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that just 23% disagree.”
Despite the media’s efforts to paint a picture that this program is something newly hatched by the current administration, Americans aren’t buying it:
Katie Couric's just-completed interview with NY Times Reporter James Risen, who broke the NSA surveillance story and is now publishing his book on the matter, 'State of War,' offered a window on the MSM view of the matter. For her questioning of Risen, give a gentlelady's 'C' to Couric, who earned the bulk of her grade by asking:
"Did [the leakers] have any sympathy or understanding about this new climate this country finds itself in and the criticism the Bush administration took prior to 9/11 for not putting the pieces together and figuring out that a terrorist attack was imminent? In other words, did they acknowledge that tough times may call for tough measures?"
Who needs a publicist to promote your book when the AP will do it for free? The AP is shilling for James Risen's new book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. In an article titled, "CIA Ignored Info Iraq Had no WMD", posted on yahoo.com, the AP states that the book "describes secret operations of the Bush Administration's war on terror". The articles cites an instance of the CIA sending an Iraqi-American MD to Iraq to talk to her brother about Iraq's nuclear weapons programs. Despite reports of a nuclear weapons program that ended years before, the article reports "In October 2002, a month after the doctor's trip to Baghdad, the U.S intelligence community issued a National Intelligence Estimate that concluded Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program". According to the article, "New York Times reporter James Risen uses the anecdote to illustrate how the CIA ignored information that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction.
Much as the folks at Today revel in reporting soaring gas prices and plunging Bush poll numbers, pesky facts - in the form of a recent Bush poll rise - can get in the way.
But that was not about to stop Katie Couric this morning. The Perky One, tan and blonder-than-ever in her return from vacation, explained away Bush's recent poll bump as resulting soley and exclusively from his mea culpas.
Katie's guest was reliable all-purpose talking head Howard Fineman.
"His poll numbers started to tick upward before the holidays, Howard, because it was sort of a more candid, contrite approach on the part of the President. Will he continue the strategy, do you think?"
The New York Times syndicated cancer has an editorial about the NSA spy story that hit some newspapers today. This time they have outsourced the dishonesty to James Bamford, author of The Puzzle Palace, a 23 year old book on the NSA.
For the agency to snoop domestically on American citizens suspected of having terrorist ties, it first must to go to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA, make a showing of probable cause that the target is linked to a terrorist group, and obtain a warrant.
As we all now know, that is flat out untrue. But who even said the calls intercepted were American citizens? This NSA program looks at calls to terror states or terrorist suspects. How does Mr. Bamford and the NYT know the person placing that call is a US citizen rather than a visitor from abroad?
In their heart of hearts, do the liberal media believe we are at war? The answer is a resounding 'no', judging by liberal Newsday columnist Ellis Henican's performance on this morning's Fox & Friends Weekend. Thankfully, fellow Newsday columnist Jim Pinkerton was there to remind his colleague of some cold, hard facts.
The topic was the Justice Department's investigation into the leaks behind the New York Times' publication of the highly-classified program of NSA surveillance of possible Al-Qaeda-related phone calls. Henican appeared utterly unfazed by the way the Times' revelations undermined national security and the fight against terrorism. His overwhelming focus was on the possible infringement of civil liberties. He brushed off the security leak in these terms:
The Chairman Mao book requesting student speaks out to the public through the duped newspaper that is valiantly protecting his fragile identity.
"The fact is that my being panicked about this hole (sic) event led me to unfortunately prop up my story (i.e., fabricate it), for that I have to apologize to you and to my professors. I have spoken to my family about the whole issue and the fact is that they were understandibly (sic) angry. My name has been dishonored within my family and so I will spend the rest of the winter trying to restore even a little bit of it back, at least."
Apparently there is no writing requirement at UMass Dartmouth. As for your dishonored name, you might want to free up the spring too. They're really doing fabulous work with the kids at Darmouth. I'm sure all the doors swing both ways, if my Far Side friends know what I'm talking about.
The newspaper used this for the headline: "When a story is too good to be true" apparently admitting that they wanted Bush to have library stalking gestapo.
The article describes how it happened, too long to reprint here but worth a read if you want to laugh. The reporter didn't even have confirmation of the story from the two main subjects -- the student or Homeland Security -- yet they ran the story anyway. It's the kind of reporting you'd expect from a couple of kids with mom's typewriter.
Once you've seen the conservative columnists on Brokaw and Koppel's "Meet the Press" spot, get a look at what the lefties said in three outraged letters to Editor and Publisher for the old anchor claims that Clinton, too, would have invaded Iraq after 9/11:
Chris Dodson: For example, I would reply, "If Clinton (or Gore) were president, 9/11 would not have happened, therefore, no invasion of Iraq. How? Clinton/Gore keeps Richard Clarke at the 'principal' level, allowing him constant access to cabinet members. 'Chatter' increases through the spring and summer. Clinton/Gore order a 'shaking of the trees,' which nets the Phoenix memo and brings Colleen Rowley's concerns to the highest levels of the FBI. The CIA informs the FBI about the two terrorists in San Diego. They are brought in and the plot is unraveled."