On the day after President Bush announced a troop surge in Iraq, CNN chose to commemorate an odd "anniversary." As of January 11, it has now been five years since the first terrorist suspects arrived at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The cable network’s "Your World Today" program used this date to highlight the "allegations of mistreatment amounting to torture" at the facility. On Thursday, the hour-long show featured two segments and a news brief on the subject, all heavily focusing on how the camp could be shut down, not whether it should be closed. After an intro piece on the history of the camp, anchor Hala Gorani interviewed Human Rights Watch Executive Director Ken Roth and began her questioning with this loaded lead-in:
Hala Gorani: "Well, Human Rights Watch says detaining hundreds of men without charge at Guantanamo has been a legal and political debacle of historic proportions. But what can human rights groups do to shut the facility down or put pressure on governments? Human Rights Watch executive director Ken Roth joins us now live from Washington. That was a quote from you, ‘a legal and political debacle of historic proportions,’ Ken. Did you imagine in 2001, that in 2007 Guantanamo Bay would still be operating?"
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin appeared on Thursday’s "Early Show" to discuss President Bush’s new strategy for Iraq, and, as one would expect, Senator Durbin was highly critical of the plan. However, it wasn’t anything that Durbin or "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith said that was attention grabbing, but the information CBS provided under Mr. Durbin’s name that was perplexing. For example, CBS informed viewers that the senior Senator from Illinois supports the presidential ambitions of his junior colleague, Barack Obama. Other tidbits of information provided by CBS included that Mr. Durbin is in his second term in the Senate and that "Time" rated him as one of the Senate’s ten most effective members.
Appearing on this morning's Imus show, Chris Matthews [file photo] painted a portrait of a bloodthirsty VP Cheney.
Matthews: "I don't think we should get deeper and deeper into the sands of Arabia with more troops. I think these decisions to keep going forward, which is what he’s doing, is getting us into a quicksand situation where the more you struggle, the more you sink. I think that's where we're headed and it‘s because of his ideology, because of the neocons who have grabbed his arm again, this guy Fred Kagan has grabbed hold of him [the president] again and they've using [retired General] Jack Keane to do it, and they’re working through Cheney, of course, who always wants to kill, and they’ve dragged us back into the same mentality that we're looking for any reason to strike, and I think that's the way he is towards Iran right now."
Appearing on this morning's "Early Show," CBS Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan lit into President Bush's Iraq plan. Harry Smith opened the exchange: "the question of the morning is, can Prime Minister Maliki's government hold up its end of the bargain?"
Replied the South-African born, French-educated Logan: "That's a very good question, because most people agree that this whole plan depends on the Maliki government living up to their promises. Very, very few people in Baghdad believe that Maliki is willing or able to do this. And what you're looking at is essentially a government where all signs point to a sectarian government pursuing a sectarian agenda. And so when Maliki says he's going to act against the militias the Sunnis simply just don't believe him."
Could Meredith Vieira be emerging as one of the morning shows' most incisive inquisitioners? As we noted here, Katie Couric's replacement at "Today" recently gave Ted Kennedy a rather rough going-over regarding his legislative proposal to require the president to obtain congressional approval for a surge.
This morning, she took on the hitherto untouchable Barack Obama. And while her tone and line of questioning were not disrespectful, neither was there any hint of the kind of MSM cheerleading that the junior senator from IL has no doubt come to expect.
Before we get to Vieira's questions, take a good look at the screencap. By his super-serious mien and the marble-pillared setting he chose for the interview, Obama was clearly trying to project the image of a ready-for-prime-time Commander-in-Chief. Call him "Stone Cold Barack Obama."
While there's never been much doubt as to where Norah O'Donnell stands politically, I've never heard her express a political position in such unmistakably personal terms as she did this afternoon on Tucker Carlson's MSNBC show. Said Norah, discussing the President's imminent announcement of a surge:
"The President has chosen a military solution to the sectarian violence. As Brownback said today, and an increasing number of Democrats, it should be a political solution."
When Tucker countered that the military is traditionally used for the express purpose of ultimately achieving a political solution, Norah again expressed her own view: "Perhaps when there's a clear enemy. But in this case there's not really an enemy. We're in the middle of a civil war between Sunnis and Shias."
In other words, what follows is from an officially released May 30, 2004 interview of Nancy Pelosi by Tim Russert. At the time, what Pelosi said was blessed by the party, and what she said is that there should be more troops in Iraq (bolds are mine):
"Thank God for blogs," said White House Press Secretary Tony Snow this afternoon, commenting on the Bush administration's communications efforts. The comment came in the course of a conference call for bloggers conducted this afternoon by Snow and Brett McGurk [pictured here], the National Security Council's Director for Iraq, giving a preview of President Bush's speech of tonight on Iraq. I had the opportunity to participate on behalf on NewsBusters.
Snow described the problem with the traditional media - generously I would say - not in terms of bias but as a function of the "if it bleeds it leads" tendency.
Snow indicated that he reads the blogs represented in the conference call. It's clear that the White House views blogs, NewsBusters among them, as playing an important role in cutting through the MSM clutter. Snow also described the frustration of military people in Iraq with media coverage that does not comport with the reality they experience in the field. Snow predicted that service people would begin using their own video cameras and sites such as YouTube and LiveLeak to get the word out. Along those lines, I can say that one of the most empowering aspects of my recent trip to Iraq was the ability to put video up on NewsBusters, at times within an hour of events in the field, as with this report on a training exercise of Iraqi soldiers on the Euphrates river in Anbar province.
Among the encouraging details emerging from the conference call:
UPI is wagging its finger at U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez via a group of "Arab leaders" who are warning the government "to fight anti-Arab bigotry." The whole UPI "report" is nothing but the warnings of these so-called leaders about how filled with bigotry the USA is and how the government must fight it.
With all this hooplah, one would imagine that Arabs are being attacked, mistreated and discriminated against all across the country at an alarming rate. Arab "leader" James Zogby even makes the claim that the government must "reverse this disturbing and increasingly accepted trend of anti-Arab and Muslim bias".
Where has Maxine Waters been? It wasn't until she turned up on Tucker Carlson's show this afternoon that I realized how long it's been. Now there is one fun lady. The Representative from California proved the perfect foil, helping Carlson score some wicked points at Nancy Pelosi's expense.
Carlson's fundamental question, and I think it's a good one, is, given that Dems ran and were elected on an anti-war platform, why are they apparently about to go along with the surge? The unstated answer is that they've made a cynical political calculation that it's in their interest to demagogue the issue rather than lead.
Here's how it went down:
Waters: "I certainly, do not trust the President of the United States to lay out a case that is believable . . . I don't trust him. I don't believe him, I won't be supporting it, for sure."
Carlson: "But [Pelosi's] naive enough to believe him. I think I understand the point you're making."
Is there no bridge too far for Joe Scarborough to cross in defending charges of liberal bias against his NBC/MSNBC employers? On last night's Scarborough Country, Joe adopted a position so sycophantish, even Keith Olbermann might have been embarrassed by it.
Scarborough suggested that NBC News had done the right thing in assembling a panel on the Iraq surge composed exclusively of experts hostile to the President Bush's proposal. Scarborough's suggestion came in the course of a segment on Bill O'Reilly's revealing interview with Andrea Mitchell last week, during which he confronted her on NBC's liberal bias. Video: Real (4.3MB) or Windows (5MB) PlusMP3 (795 KB)
It was the worst of times, it was the best of times on this morning's "Today." Throughout the show's long opening segment on Iraq, and regardless of the visuals: from David Gregory to President Bush, troops on the ground, Nancy Pelosi, Gordon Smith, etc., the screen graphic continued to skeptically ask "Lost Cause?"
So when Meredith Vieira began her subsequent interview of Ted Kennedy, there was every reason to expect her to lob softballs to the senator on the legislation he's introducing requiring Pres. Bush to obtain specific congressional authorization of a surge.
Perhaps the strident liberalism of Rosie O’Donnell and Joy Behar is emboldening Barbara Walters? On the Monday edition of "The View," the ABC journalist insisted that America went to war with Iraq without knowing the facts. Walters made her assertion follwing comments from the liberal O’Donnell, who touted the fact that she wore a "No War" t-shirt prior to the 2003 invasion, and co-host Behar’s claim that "they [the Bush administration] lied to us!" The veteran correspondent responded to these statements by sounding like more of an activist and less of a journalist:
Barbara Walters: "We didn't have the facts at that time."
Joy Behar: "That's right."
Walters: "We did not have the facts. And it is true that we have not seen– We have– We- The most brutal pictures we saw were the pictures of Saddam Hussein being hanged. We have not seen some of, some of the terribleness that have happened to our men and women. And I do think, and if you look at the polls, that the tide is turning. What the answer is, nobody seems to know."
Eleanor Clift of Newsweek asserted on this past weekend’s McLaughlin Group that John Negroponte was moving from the role of Director of National Intelligence to become the number two man at the State Department because Vice President Cheney and President Bush wanted a yes man in the intelligence position who would "support their desire to make war with Iran." Clift also portrayed Vice President Cheney as a bully on intelligence matters as she claimed that had Negroponte remained the Director of National Intelligence, "he’d spend the next two years agreeing with Dick Cheney that we have to wage war with Iran, or he’d be pushing back unsuccessfully."
Yet in her indictment of the President and Vice President over wanting war with Iran, Clift neither condemned any of Iran’s provocative actions, nor did she mention paths the Bush administration is pursuing to avoid war, such as working through the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions.
George W. Bush is less overtly religious in his public pronouncements than many of his presidential predecessors. Yet the MSM often portrays him as a zealot who sees himself on a mission from God.
Pundit Norm Ornstein perpetuated the stereotype on this morning's "Good Morning America". ABC senior national correspondent Jake Tapper narrated a segment on Pres. Bush's impending announcement of a surge of troops into Iraq. The thrust was that W is making his decision despite bi-partisan opposition. Not only are virtually all Dems opposed, but, as Tapper put it, "even some Republicans are expressing serious doubts about the proposed surge." To that effect, an excerpt was played of Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell's appearance on yesterday's Fox News Sunday stating: "I think there will be some who will and some who won't [support the surge]."
Chronicle staff writer, Robert Collier, wants the US to "negotiate" with the radical, Islamist, terrorists and the old guard Saddamists that are vexing Iraq's attempts to move into the 21st century preventing them in their laudable attempt to build a nation answerable to Iraqis of every stripe.
"U.S. must negotiate with insurgents and militias, experts say", Collier breathlessly informs us. His "experts", though, leave much to be desired for reliability.
Collier seems to think the insurgents and terror outfits should be treated as if they are merely interested parties, as if they were the same kind of political party or faction we are used to in the west. Someone has not taken the time to inform Mr. Collier about exactly what these factions want in the Middle East, sadly.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's nuclear ambitions; his flouting of the recent unanimous UN Security Council resolution to stop his march toward acquiring nuclear weapons; his repeated vows to wipe Israel off the map and his various threats to the US, including at least one to achieve "a world without America"?;
Israel's possible plans to defend itself and eliminate Iran's nuclear program?
If you're NBC, the choice is clear: the answer is #2. Consider the editorializing that crept in the news item NBC's Amy Rohbach "news" item on this morning's "Today."
With President Bush presumably about to announce a surge of troops into Iraq, what better time for CNN to run a segment . . . likely to put a damper on recruiting? In theory, there was nothing wrong with a segment aired at 10:30 ET this morning, geared to providing useful information to potential recruits. As discussed during CNN host TJ Holmes' interview of Gina Cavallaro of the Military Times [owned by Gannett, the folks who bring you the liberal USA Today], recruits do need to understand that they are entering into a contract with the military, that they have bargaining power, that it's possible to negotiate, that it's wise to get things in writing, etc.
Well and good. But all that information was provided against the backdrop of a recurring theme: that recruiters are likely to distort or even lie to potential recruits.
Holmes introduced the segment this way: "Between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, military recruiters are feeling more pressure to meet their goals. They are overstating the benefits of enlisting right now, is the word. What should you know before your son or daughter signs on the dotted line?"
Holmes' first question to Cavallaro: "The [recruits] you talk to who were just getting into it or have been in for a little bit, do you hear much saying they didn't really know what they were getting to? Did their impressions turn out to be true once they were enlisted?"
Cavallaro took it from there: "I hear people saying, 'my recruiter lied to me. I'm not where I said I would be. I didn't know I would be in Korea for a year.' You definitely hear those things."
After a run of sordid beauty-queen stories, it doesn't get much more refreshing -- or inspiring -- than this. A beauty queen lays aside her crown not because of scandal but . . . to serve her country. Meet Jessica Gaulke, who has given up her crown as Minnesota's Queen of the Lakes because her National Guard unit has been activated. Jessica is scheduled for training at Fort Hood, TX and then deployment to Iraq.
The story gets even more dramatic. In the course of her interview by NBC's Natalie Morales on this morning's "Today," Jessica announced that a week from now she will be marrying her fiance.
"Today" generally played the story in positive terms as the graphic it displayed during much of the interview, "Brave Beauty", suggests. Still, Morales couldn't help but inject NBC's official line on the war into the interview:
"Do you have any reservations about going there, especially as you see how it's basically escalated into civil war there?"
How do you know when things have jumped ugly at Hardball? When host Chris Matthews himself has to jump in to separate the warring parties, even warning a Dem consultant to lay off the ad hominems.
Bob Shrum is always spoiling for a fight. In contrast, Ron Christie is normally mild-mannered and affable. But the former aide to Pres. Bush and VP Cheney had definitely eaten his Wheaties this afternoon.
The video portrays things beyond my poor power of description, but the fur began to fly when Shrum accused Christie of using talking points. Things went downhill from there.
I'd say Christie landed the single most-telling blow of the evening. Shrum gave him an opening, calling for the cut-off of funding for the Iraq war at a date certain, claiming "this is how we've always ended wars. We honored Gerald Ford last week for helping to end the war in Vietnam. And that's how it was ended - the funding was cut off."
Christie pounced: "Now you're going to tell me that's how we end wars? We actually end wars when we achieve our objectives that we've set militarily."
On a recent episode of rightANGLE, a current-affairs TV talk show I host, I had the opportunity to interview Charles "Cully" Stimson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs. While Stimson has responsibility for detainees world-wide, much of our discussion focused on those held at Guantanamo Bay -- Gitmo.
Observed Stimson: "We've had over 2,000 journalists visit Gitmo. People who go and see it for themselves realize it's almost Alice in Wonderland - down is up and up is down. The caricature of Guantanamo is exactly the opposite of the reality of Guantanamo. Detainees at Gitmo are treated humanely, in accordance with Common Article Three of the Geneva Convention."
A groundbreaking study of 1,946 male veterans of World War II and Korea suggests that vets with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are at greater risk of heart attacks as they age.
The conclusion: war is bad for your health.
Wow. Wonder how much taxpayer money was wasted on THAT study!?
At least our veteran's aren't so stupid that they wouldn't have been able to know it all upfront, without a "study".
"It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out," said John Oliveira of New Bedford, Mass., a former Navy public affairs officer and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now, I certainly don't want to make light of the problems of coping that our veterans confront upon returning from war. Robert E. Lee once said that it is good that war is so horrible or we'd get too fond of it and he knew whereof he spoke.
People are vastly different and, whereas some may never experience much discomfort or anguish from their war service, others are bothered with the mental images for the rest of their lives. And we, as a society, should be observant and responsive to the needs of our returning heroes even as they advance into old age.
And here I thought Chris Matthews reserved his hardballs for his guests, not his colleagues . . .
To use one of Imus's favorite phrases, there are "tension conventions" breaking out all over MSNBC today. Earlier, I noted the shots Andrea Mitchell took at Nancy Pelosi over her "unseemly, imperial" celebrations marking her ascension to the speakership.
Later, things got a bit ugly between Chris Matthews Matt Lauer over the funding of the war in Iraq. It was a very rare display of real anger between fellow members of the NBC/MSNBC stable. Alluding to President Bush's speech of yesterday calling for the Democrats to avoid the kind of politics that will lead to stalemates, Lauer asked Matthews:
"What kind of stalemate are we going to see over Iraq in Congress?"
In apparent pursuit of their status as the chief news source for Islam in the west, the AP published a puff piece about how wonderful it is for young Americans to participate in the Muslim practice of the Hajj -- a required pilgrimage to Mecca.
Here is how wonderful and instructive it is...
The 20-year-old American tells his hajj pilgrimage stories ... and saw a man drop dead while circling the Kaaba.
Well, how "inspiring" it is to see a man drop dead at a religious function. Is that the sort of thing that should be praised as a civilized expression of religion?
"Dude, I saw it, the guy had the most peaceful smile on his face," (said) Adil Muschelewicz ... Muschelewicz didn't know the cause of the man's death -- exhaustion maybe, he said -- but it became one of the many powerful religious moments that have shaken him during the trip.
"I looked at his face and I looked at the Kaaba, and it was like he was happy, he'd gotten close to God. It just went boom, like this deep bass line in my heart," he said. "It was so emotional. I was by myself, in this wild place I'd never been before."
The Associated Press released an interesting set of statistics (host link stored for future ref) a couple of days ago that I would suppose were designed to suck away any optimism any fools who still support the mission in Iraq might have (bolds are mine):
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Government officials on Monday reported that 16,273 Iraqi civilians, soldiers and police died violent deaths in 2006, a figure larger than an independent Associated Press count for the year by more than 2,500.
The tabulation by the Iraqi ministries of Health, Defense and Interior, showed that 14,298 civilians, 1,348 police and 627 soldiers were killed in the violence that raged in the country last year.
The Associated Press accounting, gleaned from daily news reports from Baghdad, arrived at a total of 13,738 deaths.
Pretty grim, isn't it? And this is for "violence that raged in the (whole) country."
Man, what a downer. I mean, this is an honest-to-goodness Grade A bona fide quagmire.
Oops -- I started digging into US murder statistics, and what I found made me less depressed about Iraq, and more concerned about the US.
One does not need to look much farther than the Newspapers in the USA to understand why we may lose this war against Islamist fascism and terrorism. At the very least, the Kansas City Star's Mary Sanchez displays her desire to condemn everything American and to make excuses for Muslim terrorists.
Using the "six imams expelled from an airplane" story as a springboard to wag a finger in the face of we ignorant Americans, Sanchez warns that we just don't get it where it concerns distinguishing between "Muslims who are a threat, and those who are not."
Naturally, it isn't the fault of any Muslim, either. No, it's all the fault of those uninformed American Christians.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a corrected version of the original item. Imus's guest was Mike Barnicle. The original item, displayed briefly, incorrectly identified Imus's guest as Chris Matthews. My apologies to Chris Matthews and our readers.
H/t to reader PJG.
Does it get any more foul than this? During the 8 AM ET hour of Don Imus's show this morning he and Mike Barnicle fantasized about how various Republicans would react to being hung on the gallows.
Note: this item was prepared from the closed-caption transcript. It will be reviewed and corrected as appropriate in the course of the morning. Video: Real (3MB) or Windows (3.5MB) PlusMP3 (555KB)
As a former aide to Tip O'Neill, Chris Matthews is accustomed to offering advice to Democratic Speakers of House. With President Bush's announcement of a surge apparently imminent, Chris Matthews made clear his marching orders for Nancy Pelosi this morning: don't fund it.
Interviewed by Meredith Vieira on the "Today" show, Matthews opined:
"She better have, it seems to me, a strong voice about the war. And that's not just putting Jack Murtha out there to lose. And she's gotta get out there and win on this argument. This is going to come down to funding, whether anybody like it or not. The purse strings are now controlled by the Democrats; they cannot abdicate that. They have to choose, whether they're for the president's position with this new escalation that seems to be coming or they're not with him. They can't fall back and tut-tut and hiss the president. They've got to do something about it."
As reported here on Newsbusters the Associated Press is refusing to back down from, nor give satisfactory evidence for, its November report that 6 Iraqi Sunnis were burned alive in sectarian violence, a claim heavily disputed seemingly by everyone but the AP.
The AP based their reports of this grisly violence on the word of a single "witness" they named as Iraqi police captain, Jamail Hussein. Unfortunately for the AP, and despite quite a lot of effort by quite a few people, this captain of Iraqi police cannot be located so that the story can be substantiated. The AP, however, continues to claim that he exists despite the paucity of evidence.
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.