Bush's Response to Terror Threats: Either Passive Or Politicized - May 27, 2004 - TimesWatch.org

Times Watch for May 27, 2004

Bush's Response to Terror Threats: Either Passive Or Politicized

Bush just can't win. First the Times jumps on him for not acting on the vague President's Daily Briefing of August 6, 2001, just over a month before 9-11.

Yet when the administration does speak out on the terror threat, the NYT immediately questions the political timing, as tipped off by the headline to a Thursday's story: "As Ashcroft Warns of Qaeda Plan to Attack U.S., Some Question the Threat and Its Timing." (Mostly Kerry-connected Democratic interest groups, it turns out.)

Also, while the Washington Post puts the story on the front page, the Times buries it on A16.

By the third paragraph, reporters Richard Stevenson and Eric Lichtblau are already casting aspersions on the Justice Department's warning: "But some intelligence officials, terrorism experts-and to some extent even Mr. Ashcroft's own F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III-offered a more tempered assessment, saying, 'For the next few weeks we have reason to believe there is a heightened threat to the U.S. interests around the world.' And some opponents of President Bush, including police and firefighter union leaders aligned with Senator John Kerry, the expected Democratic presidential candidate, said the timing of the announcement appeared intended in part to distract attention from Mr. Bush's sagging poll numbers and problems in Iraq."

For the rest of Stevenson and Lichtblau on Ashcroft, click here.

" Al Qaeda | John Ashcroft | Eric Lichtblau | Richard Stevenson | Terrorism

More Reminders of Abu Ghraib

The release of transcripts from Henry Kissinger's 60's-era phone conversations leads to a seemingly inevitable Abu Ghraib reference in the fourth paragraph of Elizabeth Becker's story, "Kissinger Tapes Describe Crises, War and Stark Photos of Abuse."

Becker writes for Thursday's front page: "A transcript of this 1969 telephone conversation, with its uncanny echoes of the Iraq war and the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, at least in the fact of the photographs, if not in the severity of the wrongdoing, was released on Wednesday by the National Archives as part of 20,000 pages of records of Mr. Kissinger's telephone conversations."

For the rest of Becker's story on the Kissinger transcripts, click here.

" Abu Ghraib | Elizabeth Becker | Iraq War | Henry Kissinger | Prisoners

Abu Ghraib "Abuse" Under Both U.S. and Saddam

Yet another sloppy comparison between the behavior of some American soldiers and that of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime can be found in Elisabeth Bumiller's Thursday reaction piece from the Pentagon to Bush's call to raze Abu Ghraib prison: "It was toward the end of the speech that Mr. Bush suddenly pledged that the United States would pay to build a new prison in Baghdad, relocate Abu Ghraib detainees there and then, if the new Iraqi government agreed, demolish what has become a notorious symbol of abuse by both Saddam Hussein and American soldiers."

Was there really no difference between what American soldiers did to Iraqi suspects and the torture and killing Hussein dealt out to civilians?

For the rest of Bumiller on Bush's prison pledge, click here.

" Abu Ghraib | Elisabeth Bumiller | George W. Bush | Iraq War | Prisoners

More Left-Wing Che Clich"s

Larry Rohter reports from Buenos Aires on Argentina's tiresome Che Guevara chic in "Che Today? More Easy Rider Than Revolutionary."

Rohter writes from Guevara's home country: "Che Guevara is widely remembered today as a revolutionary figure; to some a heroic, Christ-like martyr, to others the embodiment of a failed ideology. To still others, he is just a commercialized emblem on a T-shirt. But for Latin Americans just now coming of age, yet another image of Che is starting to emerge: the romantic and tragic young adventurer who has as much in common with Jack Kerouac or James Dean as with Fidel Castro."

Rohter leaves out one group: Those who consider him a bloodthirsty Communist militant. As author Lawrence Osborne notes in the New York Observer: "Che was known inside the revolution as a strict disciplinarian, ready to sign death warrants and mete out sundry brutalities."Guevara"s early Stalinism had implications for his lifelong public attitudes and actions. What appealed to him in Marx, Stalin and the young Mussolini, after all, was a strain of visionary apocalypse, of globalized conflict, which effortlessly opened the door to jejune gangsterism."

This doesn't deter Rohter, who ignores that aspect of Che to gush: "The phenomenon began a decade ago with the publication of his long-suppressed memoir known in English as 'The Motorcycle Diaries,' which has become a cult favorite among Latin American college students and young intellectuals. But it is being catapulted ahead now by the release this month of a Latin American-made film version of the book, enthusiastically received both in the region and last week at Cannes."

For the rest of Rohter on Che chic, click here.

" Communism | Cuba | Che Guevara | Larry Rohter

Blandly Regurgitating Gore's Manhattan Meltdown

James Barron listens to Al Gore's extremist anti-Bush rant at New York University and is apparently not put out by Gore's vicious harangue. Though the speech was cosponsored by the left-wing anti-Bush group MoveOn, Barron fails to label the group as such.

Barron blandly recites Gore's attacks while leaving off some of the more extreme elements of Gore's speech, as when Gore accuses the Bush administration of "establishing an American gulag" at Abu Ghraib (has Gore been reading Frank Rich?) and Gore's shout: "How dare the incompetent and willful members of this Bush/Cheney administration humiliate our nation and our people in the eyes of the world and in the conscience of our own people. How dare they subject us to such dishonor and disgrace. How dare they drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud of Saddam Hussein's torture prison."

The strongest words Barron can find to describe the ex vice-president's speech are "a broad-gauge attack."

Contrast Barron's insouciance in the face of Gore's anti-Bush assault with campaign reporter Adam Nagourney's hypersensitivity from March regarding rather mild Bush criticism of opponent John Kerry: "With a fierce campaign of attacks led by President Bush, an orchestrated barrage of criticism by Republican elected officials and an imminent sweep of hard-hitting television advertisements, the White House is moving with unusual speed and force to try to discredit John Kerry, the president's likely Democratic challenger."

What awful things did Bush say about Kerry? According to Nagourney, "he said Mr. Kerry had 'been in Washington long enough to take both sides on just about every issue.' On Monday, Mr. Bush reached back nine years to single out for criticism a proposal by Mr. Kerry to cut spending on intelligence, the kind of very directed attack that is unusual to hear from a president eight months before Election Day."

Not exactly "American gulag" type rhetoric.

For the rest of Barron's coverage of Gore's NYU speech, click here.

" James Barron | George W. Bush | Al Gore | Adam Nagourney