If an Iraqi police captain by the name of Jamil Hussein exists, there is no convincing evidence of it - and that means the Associated Press has a journalistic scandal on its hands that will fester until the AP deals with it properly.
This controversy and the AP's handling of it call into question the credibility, integrity, and smarts of one of the world's biggest, most influential, most respected news organizations, the New York-based Associated Press.
Don't look for Tom Brokaw to turn up in an "Army Strong" ad anytime soon . . .
Brokaw will praise President Ford in the eulogy he will deliver later today. But it was the former NBC anchor in a much more familiar role -- that of criticizing a Republican administration -- on this morning's "Today." Along the way, he did his best to dampen enthusiasm among potential military recruits.
Discussing the execution of Saddam and the possibility of a surge, Brokaw opined:
"The manner in which Saddam Hussein was executed reveals the essential truths about Iraq: that this is a deeply divided country along tribal lines. Andthe idea that we're going to impose the rule of law and democracy there by putting in more troops now will seem to most people,especially those families that may be sending somebody there, like a folly. And a lot of families, and I think a lot of people who are raising their hands to join the armed services are wondering 'I'm giving my life for that?'"
sic: thus; so. Used to indicate that a quoted passage, especially one containing an error or unconventional spelling, has been retained in its original form or written intentionally. - Answers.com definition
Adding religious insult to mortal injury in its coverage of the 3000th US service-person to die in Iraq, ABC seemed to suggest that there was something odd or erroneous in the expression of a traditional belief in the afterlife.
Today's "Good Morning America" focused on the death of Army Specialist Dustin Donica of Texas, believed to be that 3000th serviceman lost in Iraq. Narrating the segment, ABC's Jonathan Karl stated: "The MySpace page he left behind bears the tributes of those whose lives he touched." The screen then displayed the message [shown larger-than-normal here for clarity's sake] from one of those friends:
"You were one of my best friends and I'll never forget you. All my prayers go to your family and I'll see you again." (sic)
The NY Times (HT Hot Air; scroll down, and look on left; direct link to pic is here; pic below is from my host's hard drive) has in a sense outdone CNN by giving Saddam the look of a charismatic, and from all appearances beloved, leader:
One suspects that this is just a warm-up for Castro when his time comes.
Well, this morning comes a report from a certified MSM source lending credence to W's assertion. NBC's Richard Engel, who nobody would confuse with a Bush administration defender and who only yesterday was deploring the execution of Saddam as "primitive and vindictive," appeared on this morning's "Today" to discuss the aftermath of Saddam's death.
Asked host Lester Holt: "Lots of concern that there would be a violent response to the execution from Saddam loyalists, supporters. What has the reaction been so far?"
The passing of President Ford has New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof fantasizing about the ignominy that President Bush's obituary will heap on him for his handling of Iraq. In what Kristof claims to be "the holiday spirit," he offers W ten suggestions to rescue his legacy. After all, what says "holiday spirit" more than dreaming about someone's death?
You can read all ten suggestions here if you've anted up to the Times, but for those loath to lard the Times' coffers, let me focus on two of Kristof's recommendations:
"Seriously engage Iraq’s nastier neighbors, including Iran and Syria, and renounce permanent military bases in Iraq. None of that will solve the mess in Iraq. But these steps will suggest that you are belatedly trying to listen and are willing to give diplomacy a chance."
We haven't listened to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Sure we have: he wants to develop nuclear weapons and erase Israel from the map. For starters. And just why should we renounce the prospect of bases giving us the ability to defend American interests in the most volatile region of the world?
Tom Brokaw took the occasion of the ceremonies attending the death of President Ford to take shots at the foreign policy of both Presidents Ford and Reagan. Speaking with Chris Matthews on MSNBC during the 6 PM ET hour, Brokaw observed: "President Ford and Henry Kissinger, fairly I think you can say, were over-infatuated with the Shah of Iran. Iran was an important launching pad for the United States should a war with the Soviet Union break out. It was also the source of great oil [sic], but there was already at that time very strong evidence in Iran that there was an Islamic uprising that eventually overthrew the Shah of Iran."
The Shah fell largely because Jimmy Carter abandoned him. Is Brokaw saying the US should have jumped earlier on Ayatollah Khomenei's bandwagon?
The Times may have taken it too far this time. I would think more than a few in the Manhattan wine-and-cheese set, even those who oppose the war, will be astute enough to substitute the name "Osama bin Laden" and his "orchestration of the 9/11 attacks" for "Saddam Hussein" and his "vile and unforgivable atrocities" in the Times' Friday editorial. Here are a couple of easy examples:
This morning's "Today" show characterized the execution of Saddam Hussein with a multiplicity of negative terms. According to NBC reporter Richard Engel, reporting from Baghdad:
"The Iraqi government is now going to great lengths to say that this execution was carried out with the utmost respect for human rights; that it was a very organized, precise event. However, interviews that we've conducted with witnesses, judges and other people who attended and followed all the proceedings say it was much more emotional and chaotic."
Continued Engel: "The execution was primitive and vindictive. "
Engel stated that the site of the execution was one of Saddam's most notorious intelligence headquarters in Baghdad, where Shia radicals were executed, "Shia from the same party now leading the Iraqi government." As video of Prime Minister Maliki, a Shia, flashed on the screen, Engel concluded: "today was their revenge."
Just deserts were dished out to one Saddam Hussein last night. Few deserved it more than he.
There is no reason for me to recount his many crimes against humanity here, but it is a good thing he has paid for his evil -- and paid with his life.
That is all that needs to be said about that...
But, in reading the AP's story by Abdul-Zahra, something else comes to the fore that is vexing to anyone looking for truth in the media. Of course, truth is always in short supply from our friends at al-AP, but with Abdul-Zahra's report we see a constant misuse of the English language.
Not surprisingly, all three morning shows featured the Bob Woodward interview with recently deceased former President Gerald Ford, in which Ford criticized the Bush administration for its decision to go to war with Iraq. Good Morning America and the Today show were the most eager to showcase Ford’s critique of the administration, broadcasting full reports and featuring audio clips from the interview during the 7am half hour, while CBS’ Early Show relegated the story to a brief anchor-read at 7:35 am.
On ABC, anchor Robin Roberts, substitute co-host George Stephanopoulos, and reporter Claire Shipman seemed disappointed that the former president had not come forward publicly with his criticism prior to his death, saying that it could have made a difference in the U.S.’s decision to go to war:
WorldNetDaily reported yesterday on the discovery of a State Department document released earlier this year (Here it is, converted to an HTML doc by yours truly for easy reference). State acknowledges, apparently for the first time, something that Scott at Powerline (here and here) demonstrated definitively more than three years ago from other available evidence.
The admission is that State has known for decades that the late Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the head of Fatah, plotted and supervised the 1973 murders of three diplomats: two from the United States (Cleo Noel and George Curtis), and one from Belgium (Guy Eid) who was apparently in the wrong place at the wrong time, in Khartoum, The Sudan.
The Khartoum operation was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval of Yasir Arafat ..... Fatah representatives based in Khartoum partcipated in the attack, using a Fatah vehicle to transport the terrorists to the Saudi Arabian Embassy.
You just knew it. "Today" was going to find a way to use the death of President Ford to take a shot at George Bush. You had to wait till the very end of the first half-hour, but sure enough, it came. The preceding twenty minutes had been a respectful review of the life of the 38th president. And after all, if there is one Republican president it's not too hard for the MSM to like, it was Ford, who replaced the hated Richard Nixon. Tom Brokaw even admitted that, in retrospect, Ford had made the right decision in pardoning Nixon.
But then came Ann Curry. Her mild demeanor can obscure one of the more baldly partisan hearts. Speaking with NBC consultant and presidential historian Michael Beschloss about Ford's handling of the Watergate aftermath Curry observed:
"I can't help but think we are now in troubled times as a nation. Very different, but still troubled times. Are there any lessons to be taken away, on this day when we mourn former President Gerald Ford, as we look to the future that still looks very murky."
..... On Saturday, the Security Council voted unanimously to impose sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, increasing international pressure on the government to prove that it is not trying to make nuclear weapons.
..... Iran insists its nuclear program is intended to produce energy, but the U.S. and European nations suspect its ultimate goal is the production of weapons.
That's "funny." Here's an AP story from December 11 by Alicia Chang, AP Science writer, about potential global cooling that might occur as the result of a nuclear war that says:
To a lover in the thrall of blissful delirium, there is nothing that doesn't relate to his beloved. Frank Rich is the morose mirror image. Not a leaf falls but that it reminds him of Iraq and the perfidy of the Bush administration. The ostensible topic of Rich's sub-req NY Times column of this morning was Time magazine's solipsistic choice of "you" as person of the year. What this has to do with Iraq might not be apparent to you. But you're not Frank Rich.
Let's see how Rich managed to make the connection with some annotated excerpts:
"Like Time today, Life in the late 1960s was a middle-of-the-road publishing fixture sent into an identity crisis by the cultural revolution that coincided with a calamitous war."
As bad as Vietnam was for us, it was much worse for the millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians who were killed by the dictators who took over once we pulled out.
Last week it was George Clooney, with some timely cheerleading from ABC's Kate Snow, making the case for intervention in Darfur. Today, those bellicose boys of the Boston Globe jump on the Great Liberal War-in-Darfur bandwagon.
In its editorial of this morning, the Globe lambastes "the great powers" for failing to take "effective action" to stop the killing and for "refusing to rescue the men, women, and children who are marked for death in the coming year."
An absolutely extraordinary discussion occurred on Thursday’s “Special Report” concerning the role of the media in wartime, and what the change in press coverage in the past sixty years has meant for the nation. Tastefully setting the table, host Brit Hume showed a clip of Clear Glass Productions' satirical film depicting how today’s liberal media would have covered World War II had this current iteration been around in the '40s (hysterical trailer of the film available here, video of Special Report segment here, hat tip to NB member Blonde):
ANNOUNCER: According to Pentagon sources, this now brings the official total of Americans killed overseas to 250,000. Congresswoman and House leader Ancy Lagosi took time out from her reelection campaign to mark the occasion.
REP ANCY LAGOSI: 250,000 of our finest coming home in wooden boxes, for what? To support a lie. What has Germany and Italy got to do with Pearl Harbor?
LAGOSI: That's right, nothing.
CROWD: Roosevelt lied, millions died. Roosevelt lied, millions died.
Chris Matthews's apparently inexorable plunge off the Olbermann end of the pool continued on Thursday's Hardball.
Matthews [seen in file photo] discussed the Scooter Libby trial with Newsweek investigative reporter Michael Isikoff and former associate independent counsel Scott Fredericksen. Matthews put it to Isikoff that the case against Libby is "open and shut," a conclusion that Isikoff declined to endorse.
Fredericksen stated that, to the contrary, there are many defenses available to Libby and that "you've got the Vice-President coming in to testify for him . . . you've got a darn good defense."
As Fredericksen continued to sketch a defense, Matthews interjected:
A classic MSM damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't moment on this morning's "Today". Tim Russert declared that when it comes to his surge-or-not-to-surge decision on Iraq, President Bush is in "a lose-lose situation."
According to Russert, if the president proceeds with the surge, the Dem-controlled Congress will hold hearings with experts "and they will give the president a very difficult time on the surge capacity."
Continued Tim: "On the other hand, if the president decides not to go forward with the surge of American troops, many members of his conservative base, particularly the neo-conservatives who have been supporting this war, will be agitated with him."
It goes without saying that if you're the Commander-in-Chief, among the first people whose criticism you'd want to take into account would be . . . Hollywood movie stars. At least, that would seem to be Chris Matthews's opinion.
New York Senator Hillary Clinton appeared on Wednesday’s The View to discuss politics and the re-release of her book, It Takes a Village. While there was some cheerleading for the 2008 Democratic presidential frontrunner by co-hosts Joy Behar and Rosie O’Donnell, for the most part, there seemed to be a great deal of restraint on all sides during Clinton’s two segments. Asked about a potential run for the White House, Clinton again said she was thinking about it "trying to sort all this out." On the war in Iraq, Clinton only got one challenging question in regards to her support of a "phased redeployment," from co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck:
Senator Hillary Clinton: "....So, if it's not going to change the mission, if it's not going to be a different strategy, I don't see where putting more troops will make a difference."
Elisabeth Hasselbeck: "Do you think pulling them out too early will–would equate to–sometimes I think of it as, you know, not finishing all of your antibiotics. Okay, there’s a problem there."
Hasselbeck: "So if you pull out too early, will that create more chaos?"
Somebody needs a hug. Asked by David Gregory on this morning's "Today" whether his dismal poll numbers would deter a presidential run, Kerry responded: "Not in the least. You know, most of those other people haven't had several hundred million dollars worth of negative framing against them."
Aw-w-w. Love Hillary or hate her, but I'd say that over the last 12 years a penny or two's worth of "negative framing" has been laid on her. Yet according to the poll NBC displayed she has a more than 3:1 lead over Kerry.
Kerry did offer a huge ray of hope, informing us that he's "sitting here in Damascus, trying to figure out how we're going to solve the problems of the Middle East."
On this afternoon's Hardball, the old lawyer's adage rose up and bit Chris Matthews hard: never ask a witness a question to which you don't know the answer. Matthews's guest was retired Marine Corps Major General Arnold Punaro, Chairman of the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves. Matthews's substance and tone left no doubt that he wanted his questions as to the availability of sufficient troops to pacify Baghdad, and the advisability of using Guard and Reserve troops as part of such a "surge," answered in the negative.
Matthews: "Do we have the troops to dramatically increase our complement of troops in Iraq, sir?"
Punaro: "Absolutely. Between our active military and the number of troops we have in the Guard and Reserve, should the Commander-in-Chief, on the advice of the combatant commanders in the field and with the concurrence of the Congress make the decision that we want to increase the size of the force in Iraq, we certainly have the ability to surge those forces."
Yet Another Poser (Mostly) Gets Through the Media 'Filter'
Yesterday, in his story about Rosemarie Jackowski, the "new folk hero" of the antiwar movement, John Curran of the Associated Press quoted a gentlemen who was arrested with Jackowski in a 2003 protest incident in Vermont:
She's not a loony toon by any means," said Andrew Schoerke, 73, a retired U.S. Navy captain who was arrested with her. "She's a very down to earth, sensible, caring person with some very strong convictions."
But what about her "character witness," Mr. Schoerke?
I did a Google Main search on his name in quotes last night. At the time, the very first item (it has moved down since) was A May 19 column by Mr. Schoerke, "Stop Bush's Next War", which he believes to be Iran, and where he is described as follows -- "Andrew Schoerke, United States Naval Reserve Captain (ret.), lives in Shaftsbury, VT and is a member of vermontpeacetrain." At the very least, he's not just another "unlikely peace activist," as Jackowski is described in the headline.
Vermont Peace Train of Bennington is "a 'grassroots' organization formed by residents of Southwest Vermont in order to promote and practicethe non-violent resolution of conflicts." That's career peace activist-speak.
So that made me wonder if Schoerke has been arrested on other occasions. Googling "ex-Navy officer arrested" (not entered in quotes) -- Surprise, surprise (not), at the very first item, this guy's in the "big leagues":
Could multiculturalism be on its way out at the New York Times? Yesterday, one columnist extolled classically Western Hellenic values over those of historical Judaism. Today, another columnist flatly asserts that freedom is "a distinctive product of Western civilization."
In the subscription-required God's Gift, Harvard sociology professor Orlando Patterson criticizes the Bush administration for formulating its Iraq policy on the "erroneous assumption . . . that freedom is a natural part of the human condition."
Continued Patterson: "A basic flaw in the approach of the president and his neoliberal (a k a neoconservative) advisers was their failure to distinguish Western beliefs about freedom from those critical features of it that non-Western peoples were likely to embrace."
Nigerian terrorists got free ink in the Baltimore Sun while the company that employs their victims, Shell Oil, got nothing, not even an acknowledgement from the Sun's reporter that the group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
One country’s terrorist menace is one Baltimore Sun reporter’s insurgency.
In his December 18 article, “Paying the price for resistance,” Sun foreign reporter Scott Calvert gave readers a snapshot of a “violent insurgency that has forced a 20 percent to 25 percent cut” in Nigerian oil exports.
It has been widely speculated that President Bush will call for an increase in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq as part of his new war strategy. Though no changes have been officially announced, ABC's Dan Harris on Good Morning America Monday predicted gloom and doom in terms of public support for the war. Introducing a live report from reporter Jonathan Karl at the Pentagon, Harris prognosticated that this new policy would be 'very unpopular':
Dan Harris: "And now to the expected surge of U.S. troops in Iraq. As Robert Gates is sworn in today as the new defense secretary, thousands more Americans may soon be headed into the war zone. This could be a very unpopular policy, and ABC's Jonathan Karl is standing by at the Pentagon this morning. Jonathan?"
It was such a cheap play to the left-wing peanut gallery that it doesn't even pay to be disgusted. Discussing the "Time" magazine person of the year choice on "The View" this morning, yenta-in-residence Joy Behar blurted out:
"You have to put like a Hitler type. Like you put Donald Rumsfeld there or something."
When some in the audience began to jeer, Behar broke into a huge, mock-surprised smile, as if to say "what's wrong with that?"