2. Widow on CBS: Bush "Didn't Take Seriously," So Husband Dead
3. MSNBC's Olbermann Sarcastically Mocks Bush on PDB as Too Vague
4. New York Times Stories: "PDB" Meant "Pin Damage on Bush"
5. Newsweek and
Today Ask: "Is Iraq Turning Into Another Vietnam?"
6. Rooney in Column: Soldiers Forced to Iraq by Bad U.S. Economy
CBS's John Roberts on Monday night, citing a Clinton official as authoritative, scolded President Bush for failing to connect the dots and take action based on the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief (PDB), but ABC's Terry Moran related how a former FBI expert on al-Qaeda "says Mr. Bush was poorly served by the sketchy briefing."
"The White House portrayed the document as little more than a history lesson on Bin Laden's intentions, but it did outline current al-Qaeda activity," Roberts asserted on the April 12 CBS Evening News. Roberts led into a soundbite from Robert Benjamin of Clinton's National Security Council staff: "While there was nothing specific as to time and place, counter-terrorism experts say it should have raised a deafening alarm at the White House."
Roberts lectured: "And there were plenty of dots, say former intelligence officials, the White House failed to connect to the August 6th memo," before concluding with a self-fulfilling prophecy: "White House officials were hoping the release of the once-secret memo would put to rest any questions about why President Bush didn't see a greater threat. Instead, it has only raised new ones."
Over on Monday's World News Tonight on ABC, however, Terry Moran came at the PDB from the opposite direction. "A 28-year veteran of the FBI, who was one of the bureau's lead investigators of al-Qaeda, says Mr. Bush was poorly served by the sketchy briefing."
For a picture of Cloonan, see: www.wishtv.com
Roberts began: "It was a public relations gamble the President hoped would pay off big time, releasing the super-secret memo he was briefed on a month before the 9/11 attacks."
Benjamin has a political agenda hostile to Bush policy, a quick Google search conformed. "Condi's Phony History: Sorry, Dr. Rice, postwar Germany was nothing like Iraq," read the headline over a piece in Slate last August: slate.msn.com
A couple of weeks ago he penned an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times defending Dick Clarke: www.latimes.com
And it turns out that he's a former journalist himself. His bio on the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Web site offers this bit of background: "Before entering the government, Benjamin was Berlin bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal. He has been a foreign correspondent and staff writer for Time magazine." See: www.csis.org
For the full text of the August 6, 2001 PDB, as distributed by the AP and posted by Yahoo: news.yahoo.com
CBS's The Early Show on Monday continued the pattern of network morning shows highlighting 9-11 families hostile to the Bush administration as the program dedicated a full story to how a couple of them think "more should have been done" with the information in the August 6, 2001 PDB.
CBS reporter Michelle Miller relayed how one widow, Monica Gabrielle, claimed her husband "might have escaped the 76th floor of the South Tower, she says, if key facts in the August 6th, memo were released to the public" and a daughter, of a woman who stayed in her World Trade Center office after the first plane struck the other tower, insisted she "might have made a different decision as well if she didn't think it was an accident." Miller featured Gabrielle denouncing Bush: "Apparently, he didn't take this seriously, because my husband is dead."
Back when some family members with a political agenda complained about the Bush campaign TV ads with fleeting scenes from 9/11, Gabrielle was out in front, the very first person quoted in the very first story with the anti-Bush ad agenda, the March 4 New York Daily News: "'It's a slap in the face of the murders of 3,000 people,' said Monica Gabrielle, whose husband died in the twin tower attacks. 'It is unconscionable.' Gabrielle and several other family members said the injury was compounded by Bush's refusal to testify in open session before the 9/11 commission." For the Daily News story: www.nydailynews.com
CyberAlert reported at the time: The Bush campaign may have $100 million to spend, but the Kerry team has the news media as part of its base, a reality demonstrated on Thursday, a day John Kerry took off and didn't even campaign. Based on a single news story in the New York Daily News quoting a single firefighter and a few members of families with 9-11 victims, the morning and evening shows on ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC, as well as CNBC and MSNBC in prime time, picked up the charge that new Bush campaign TV ads, which very briefly show images from 9-11, somehow improperly exploit that day for political gain. In the morning, Karen Hughes was quizzed about it and in the evening the supposed "controversy" led or was the number two story on every evening newscast. ABC's Diane Sawyer, CBS's Harry Smith and CNN's Soledad O'Brien and Paula Zahn highlighted how the "firefighters union" protested the ad, but failed to point out how that union long ago endorsed John Kerry. For the March 5 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
Back to the CBS Early Show claims that bin Laden targeting American was unknown to the public, the World Trade Center was hit by terrorism eight years earlier, so anyone in the building should well have known about the threat of terrorism, to say nothing of how every al-Qaeda attack on U.S. interests over the years had received great publicity.
MRC analyst Brian Boyd caught the one-sided story, which led the 7:30am half hour on the April 12 program. Julie Chen set it up: "As we mentioned, a secret presidential briefing on al Qaeda was made public by the White House this weekend. President Bush says the pre-9/11 memo said nothing specific about an upcoming attack on America. But as CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller reports, some families of 9/11 victims believe more should have been done."
Miller began: "For Monica Gabrielle there's no silver bullet in the presidential brief that indicates whether the Bush administration knew attacks were imminent but-" After a bite from Gabrielle, Miller picked up: "Monica's husband, Richard, might have escaped the 76th floor of the South Tower, she says, if key facts in the August 6th, memo were released to the public. Terri McGovern says her mom, Anne, who stayed at her desk after the North Tower was struck might have made a different decision as well if she didn't think it was an accident....McGovern says the document contradicts what the National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, told the commission last week."
Now doubt with the help of the news media eager to tear down the Bush administration with little interest in what occurred in the eight years of the Clinton administration.
The April 12 CyberAlert reported: The media on Thursday and Friday provided an imbalanced forum to a very small number of 9-11 families who have an anti-Bush political agenda, with the same few family members appearing again and again in story after story and interview after interview. Several belong to groups with a political agenda, such as September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and Voices of September 11th, affiliations which were not noted by the networks or in a Reuters story which featured four critics of Bush, but not one backer. Before an interview segment on Friday's Good Morning America with two Bush-bashing 9-11 activists, ABC's Robin Roberts acknowledged that "there are those who support the President" and proceeded to give Debra Burlingame a three-second soundbite. A World News Tonight story featured six anti-Bush family members up against one Bush defender. See: www.mediaresearch.org
"Mr. Bush again says the intelligence was not solid enough to act upon" in the August 6, 2001 PDB, "raising the question," MSNBC's Keith Olbermann sarcastically remarked on Monday night, "the intelligence about Iraq was?" Olbermann proceeded to mock Bush's stance on the PDB: "His administration thus seemingly on the verge of resembling the old joke about the man who loses his wallet on a city street at night. A policeman finds him searching for it under a street lamp and asks, 'Is this where you lost it?' And the man replies, 'No, I lost it over there in the dark.' The policeman says, 'Then, why are you looking under the street lamp?' And the man answers, 'Because it's not so dark over here.'"
Olbermann teased at the top of the April 12 Countdown, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "The President's daily briefing about the August 2001 President's daily briefing. Mr. Bush again says the intelligence was not solid enough to act upon, raising the question: 'The intelligence about Iraq was?'"
Olbermann then opened the hour-long 8pm and 12am EDT program by arguing that the capture of an American in Iraq employed by Halliburton represents the "convergence" of three campaign issues:
Arriving at story number three for the night, Olbermann mocked President Bush's claim that the PDB was to vague to act on, intoning:
From the MRC's TimesWatch.org Web site: Several New York Times stories over the Easter weekend and Monday hit Bush for allegedly missing clues to 9-11 in the famous August 6, 2001 "President's Daily Briefing" (PDB), the two-page classified briefing document given to Bush 36 days before 9-11. That's despite the now-declassified memo's distinct lack of detail.
Below is a reprint of the April 12 posting about New York Times coverage of the PDB release, by TimesWatch.org Editor Clay Waters, which he headlined: "Where 'PDB' Means 'Pin Damage on Bush.'" (TimesWatch.org is dedicated to documenting the liberal political agenda of the New York Times.) The excerpt:
On Sunday, Philip Shenon penned "Panel Plans to Document the Breadth of Lost Opportunities." Taking talking points from anti-Bush official Richard Clarke, Shenon wrote that the former counterterrorism director thought the Bushies "cared little about terrorist threats before Sept. 11."
Shenon wrote: "Richard A. Clarke, President Bush's former counterterrorism director...said in a new book and in testimony to the panel that President Bush and his top aides cared little about terrorist threats before Sept. 11. Had they cared, he asserts, the government might have had a chance to tie together what now seem to have been obvious clues available to the government in late 2000 and early 2001 that Al Qaeda was about to attack in America. At least some of the clues were presented directly to President Bush on Aug. 6, 2001, when he received an intelligence briefing on Qaeda threats in the United States."
Also on Sunday, intelligence reporter Douglas Jehl penned "A Warning, but Clear?" It too opened with a hard sell of the PDB briefing Bush received on August 6, 2001: "In a single 17-sentence document, the intelligence briefing delivered to President Bush in August 2001 spells out the who, hints at the what and points toward the where of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that followed 36 days later. Whether its disclosure does lasting damage to Mr. Bush's presidency and re-election prospects may depend on whether the White House succeeds in persuading Americans that, as a whole, its significance adds up to less than a sum of those parts."
Here are those "parts" of the PDB referenced by reporter Jehl -- from the last three paragraphs of the document:
"We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a...service in 1998 saying that bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of 'Blind Sheik' Omar Abdel Rahman and other U.S.-held extremists.
Note how uncorroborated and vague the actual evidence is, and how little it provided in the way of the "clues" described by reporter Shenon in his Sunday piece.
Jehl's article continued: "In deciding to release the portion of the daily briefing document, something no previous White House has ever done, Mr. Bush and his advisers were clearly attuned to the potential political damage that had been caused as its contents began to leak out following Ms. Rice's testimony on Thursday. In taking the step, White House officials seemed determined to head off the protests before accounts in the Sunday morning newspapers and on talk shows inflicted another round of damage....With the disclosure of the Aug. 6 document, however, the specific, contemporary nature of what it contained will almost certainly confront the White House with more questions asking 'what if?' Of the specific, contemporary information, the most tantalizing may be the May 15 warning to the American Embassy in the United Arab Emirates, 'saying that a group of Bin Laden supporters was in the U.S. planning attacks with explosives.'"
The UAE call, while intriguing, is by no means "specific," particularly in post 9-11 hindsight. After all, no explosives were involved in the 9/11 attacks, and the PDB makes no mention of suicide bombing, giving credence to the White House notion that there was no "actionable intelligence" in the briefing that pointed to 9/11.
Eric Lichtblau and David Sanger contributed the paper's lead story on Saturday, headlined: "August '01 Brief Is Said To Warn Of Attack Plans -- Contradicts White House." But as the actual memo shows, there were no specific "attack plans," only hints.
Still, Lichtblau and Sanger pumped the vague details of the PDB and claimed the White House to be caught in a "contradiction": "President Bush was told more than a month before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that supporters of Osama bin Laden planned an attack within the United States with explosives and wanted to hijack airplanes, a government official said Friday....The disclosure appears to contradict the White House's repeated assertions that the briefing the president received about the Qaeda threat was 'historical' in nature and that the White House had little reason to suspect a Qaeda attack within American borders."
Finally, Adam Nagourney and Philip Shenon's lead story for Monday was headlined: "Bush Says Brief On Qaeda Threat Was Not Specific."
Yet they portrayed Bush on the defensive, claiming the PDF was "threatening the central pillar" of his reelection campaign: "Mr. Bush's remarks came after a week in which the president had remained largely out of view, even as violence was escalating in Iraq and as his terrorism policies were being challenged. His comments were part of a White House effort to quell the storm about the briefing he received on Aug. 6, 2001. Democrats and Republicans said on Sunday that the release of the document -- combined with images of American bloodshed and the disorder in Iraq--was threatening the central pillar of the president's re-election campaign, his record on managing national security."
END of Reprint
For links to all of the cited New York Times stories, check the TimesWatch.org posting of this article: www.timeswatch.org
More suggestions that Iraq is another Vietnam. "Up next, could Iraq turn into another Vietnam? Our military expert answers that question and more," CBS's Hannah Storm touted on last Thursday's Early Show. On Monday, Today co-host Lester Holt set up a segment with Newsweek's Evan Thomas about the magazine's matching cover story this week: "Is Iraq turning into another Vietnam?" Holt and Thomas proceeded to discuss the supposed similarities or whether Lebanon might be a better comparison.
Holt set up the April 12 segment, which the M.C.'s Geoff Dickens brought to my attention: "Let's further explore that question. Is Iraq turning into another Vietnam? It's the question Newsweek magazine asks in its current issue titled, 'The Vietnam Factor.' Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas wrote the cover story. Evan, good morning to you."
For the cover story in the April 19 Newsweek, "The Vietnam Factor: How this war compares -- and how it doesn't," see: www.msnbc.msn.com
Previous CyberAlert item on analogies to Vietnam, from the April 8 edition: CBS's Dan Rather and ABC's Peter Jennings did their best on Wednesday night to advance Senator Ted Kennedy's notion that Iraq is "Bush's Vietnam," though neither mentioned the Senator as they raised the comparison to the earlier quagmire. Rather treated the allegation of the enemy as newsworthy as he announced at the top of the CBS Evening News: "In Najaf, the militant Shiite cleric Al-Sadr echoed the refrain Iraq could become quote, 'another Vietnam' for America." Over on ABC's World News Tonight, Jennings sat down with two retired military leaders and when one noted that though the U.S. military is superior, it cannot eliminate the threat from an insurgency, Jennings jumped in: "Well that sounds like Vietnam." See: www.mediaresearch.org
"Our soldiers in Iraq aren't heroes," read the Buffalo News headline over a syndicated column by CBS's Andy Rooney carried in the paper on Monday. "We should not bestow the mantle of heroism on all of them for simply being where we sent them," Rooney argued, since "most are victims, not heroes." Indeed, he contended that though "we speak of them as if they volunteered to risk their lives to save ours," in fact "there isn't much voluntary about what most of them have done" since "during the last few years, when millions of jobs disappeared, many young people, desperate for some income, enlisted in the Army."
An excerpt from Rooney's Tribune Media Services column published in Monday's Buffalo News, which was highlighted by the DrudgeReport ( www.drudgereport.com )
Most of the reporting from Iraq is about death and destruction. We don't learn much about what our soldiers in Iraq are thinking or doing. There's no Ernie Pyle to tell us, and, if there were, the military would make it difficult or impossible for him to let us know.
It would be interesting to have a reporter ask a group of our soldiers in Iraq to answer five questions and see the results:...
2. Are you doing what America set out to do to make Iraq a democracy, or have we failed so badly that we should pack up and get out before more of you are killed?...
Treating soldiers fighting their war as brave heroes is an old civilian trick designed to keep the soldiers at it. But you can be sure our soldiers in Iraq are not all brave heroes gladly risking their lives for us sitting comfortably back here at home....
We pin medals on their chests to keep them going. We speak of them as if they volunteered to risk their lives to save ours, but there isn't much voluntary about what most of them have done. A relatively small number are professional soldiers. During the last few years, when millions of jobs disappeared, many young people, desperate for some income, enlisted in the Army. About 40 percent of our soldiers in Iraq enlisted in the National Guard or the Army Reserve to pick up some extra money and never thought they'd be called on to fight. They want to come home....
We must support our soldiers in Iraq because it's our fault they're risking their lives there. However, we should not bestow the mantle of heroism on all of them for simply being where we sent them. Most are victims, not heroes.
America's intentions are honorable. I believe that, and we must find a way of making the rest of the world believe it. We want to do the right thing. We care about the rest of the world. President Bush's intentions were honorable when he took us into Iraq. They were not well thought out but honorable.
Bush's determination to make the evidence fit the action he took, which it does not, has made things look worse. We pay lip service to the virtues of openness and honesty, but for some reason, we too often act as though there was a better way of handling a bad situation than by being absolutely open and honest.
END of Excerpt
For the column in full: www.buffalonews.com
# To accommodate President Bush's 8:30pm EDT press conference tonight (Tuesday), the four broadcast networks are all killing an hour of prime time programming so that they can hand off to affiliates for local news at the regular 10pm or 11pm EDT (9pm or 10pm CDT) time. This means a bunch a scheduled shows will not air tonight, not even in the Mountain or Pacific time zones where Bush will be done long before prime time starts. For a EDT rundown, as reported in today's Washington Post: www.washingtonpost.com
-- Brent Baker