CyberAlert -- 09/05/2002 -- Bush Iraq Predicament Own Fault
Bush Iraq Predicament Own Fault; Iraq No Different Than Israel; NY Times Compounds Its Kissinger Distortion; Raines: Critics Biased; Ashcroft = Gestapo; Reuters: Anti-Human Rights War on Terror
1) Peter Jennings blamed the Bush administration's advocacy of war for its predicament: "This business of attacking Iraq has been promoted so vigorously by some members of his administration, and running into such opposition, the President is now obliged to work harder at convincing people at what he wants is the right thing." NBC's Lisa Myers highlighted how both GOP "moderate" Senator Susan Collins and "conservative" Senator Thad Cochran oppose Bush's policy. And CBS characterized John McCain as opposed to Bush's policy, while ABC and NBC listed him as a backer.
2) Ariel Sharon as dangerous as Saddam Hussein? Helen Thomas harangued White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer on Wednesday afternoon about whether President Bush had presented congressional leaders with any evidence that Iraq is on "the verge" of having nuclear weapons, "or any other thing that would really be different than what Israel has today?"
3) Three weeks after their mis-reporting of Henry Kissinger as amongst Republicans opposed to going to war against Iraq, in an "Editor's Note" on Wednesday the New York Times finally admitted that one of their stories "listed Mr. Kissinger incorrectly among Republicans who were warning outright against a war." The note, however, falsely insisted that Kissinger "most centrally" said in his op-ed piece "that removing Mr. Hussein from power -- Mr. Bush's justification for war -- was not an appropriate goal."
4) New York Times Executive Editor Howell Raines claimed those who say his paper is biased against Bush's Iraq policy are making the accusations "for ideological reasons." He charged on the PBS NewsHour: "When you look at what the conservative columnists are saying, they're expressing a perception of opinion, and they're the best witness on it." Raines sees everything through a Vietnam prism: "I'm hearing a lot of echoes of the early '60s, when people were saying it was unpatriotic to report the debate over Vietnam."
5) John Ashcroft equated with the Gestapo by Newsweek's Evan Thomas. On Inside Washington, he suggested why Germans weren't more aggressive in pursuing terrorists: "The German prosecutorial system was pretty laid back and didn't want to be John Ashcroft, you know they didn't want to be the SS, they had that worry there, no Gestapos." A week earlier, NPR's Nina Totenberg took a shot at Ashcroft after claiming the Clinton team deserves "some credit" for admitting the errors which led a secret court to reject Ashcroft's request for broader power in pursuing terrorists.
6) The caption on a Reuters photo, distributed on September 3, of a picture of Ground Zero taken in March: "Recovery and debris removal work continues at the site of the World Trade Center known as 'ground zero' in New York, March 25, 2002. Human rights around the world have been a casualty of the U.S. 'war on terror' since September 11. REUTERS/Peter Morgan."
NBC's Lisa Myers declared that Bush couldn't now win congressional approval: "Key Senators agree that the President faces a tough, up hill battle here. They say if a vote were held today the President probably would not win a majority of support in either party." She went on to highlight how both Republican "moderate" Senator Susan Collins and "conservative" Senator Thad Cochran oppose Bush's policy.
While ABC and NBC identified Senator John McCain as a backer of Bush's policy, CBS's John Roberts characterized him as an opponent: "Democrats who met the President, and Republican John McCain said today, they'd prefer the diplomatic route first." NBC's Lisa Myers tagged the "maverick" McCain as "key ally" for Bush on Iraq.
Jennings led the September 4 World News Tonight: "We're going to begin in Washington tonight where the President said today he will ask for Congress's approval before attacking Iraq and he will make his case to the United Nations. The Congress doesn't know yet precisely what the President will ask for, but this business of attacking Iraq has been promoted so vigorously by some members of his administration, and running into such opposition, the President is now obliged to work harder at convincing people at what he wants is the right thing."
Terry Moran went on to portray McCain as a in sync with Bush: "On the White House driveway Republicans and Democrats praised Mr. Bush's decision to seek congressional approval for any military action."
But over on the CBS Evening News, John Roberts suggested McCain wasn't in line with Bush: "Democrats who met the President, and Republican John McCain said today, they'd prefer the diplomatic route first."
NBC Nightly News had Lisa Myers highlight congressional opposition, especially amongst Republicans: "Tom, key Senators agree that the President faces a tough, up hill battle here. They say if a vote were held today the President probably would not win a majority of support in either party."
Myers proceeded to stress how "moderate" Senator Susan Collins found "considerable anxiety" about Iraq at home in Maine and so she doesn't want any pre-emptive action, and "conservative Republican Thad Cochran" is "also unconvinced. He wants facts on the urgency of the threat." Myers also highlighted the opposition of Democratic Senator John Kerry, though she did offer a label for him.
Myers referred to McCain as a "key ally" of Bush's: "Still, Presidents usually find a way to win these fights. And here the President has time to make his case. Today he dispatched Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to brief the Senate behind closed doors. And a key ally: Maverick John McCain."
Thomas sarcastically asked: "Has any other nation defied U.N. resolutions, and have we decided to go to war against them?"
MRC analyst Ken Shepherd caught the exchange, carried by the cable news networks shortly before 1pm EDT, between Fleischer and the former UPI reporter who now toils for Hearst.
Thomas demanded: "Beyond his opinion that the world will be better off [with Saddam Hussein out of power], did he present any concrete evidence of Iraq on the verge of nuclear planning, nuclear bombs, or any other thing that would really be different than what Israel has today?"
Fleischer: "I don't think it's fair to compare. Let me, let me go through something here for you. On September 22, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran, starting an eight year war in which Iraq employed chemical weapons against Iranian troops and ballistic missiles against Iranian cities. In February 1988, Iraq forcibly relocated Kurdish civilians from their home villages, killing an estimated 50,000 to 180,000 Kurds...."
Fleischer offered a long list of inappropriate Iraqi military actions since the 1980s, concluding: "These were the findings that Congress made that President Clinton signed into law as part of the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act. This is what Congress found that led to the overwhelming vote for regime change in the Congress. These were their findings at that time. Since then, we know that America is even more vulnerable because of September 11th."
Thomas sarcastically remarked: "Has any other nation defied U.N. resolutions, and have we decided to go to war against them?"
The note, however, insisted that Kissinger "most centrally" said in his op-ed piece "that removing Mr. Hussein from power -- Mr. Bush's justification for war -- was not an appropriate goal." In fact, the Times is wrong on both counts.
As Brit Hume pointed out on his FNC show on Wednesday evening: "In fact, Kissinger never said any such thing. What he said was that toppling Saddam quote 'should be subordinated in American declaratory policy to the need to eliminate weapons of mass destruction,' end quote." And eliminating Iraq's weapons has always been Bush's goal.
The September 4 "Editors' Note" in full:
A front-page article on Aug. 16 and one on Aug. 17 reported on divisions among Republicans over President Bush's high-profile planning for a possible war with Iraq. The articles cited comments by former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and by Brent Scowcroft, the first President Bush's national security adviser, among others.
The Aug. 16 article described Mr. Kissinger's expressed concerns about the need for building an international coalition before waging war and his doubts about the Bush administration's plan to make "regime change" the center pole of its policy. But it should have made a clearer distinction between his views and those of Mr. Scowcroft and other Republicans with more categorical objections to a military attack. The second article listed Mr. Kissinger incorrectly among Republicans who were warning outright against a war.
Republicans are in fact divided, both over the way Mr. Bush is preparing for the possibility of war and over whether the United States should attack Iraq. Mr. Scowcroft wrote in a recent opinion article that he opposes an attack because it could undermine or destroy a global antiterror campaign and might also set off attacks by Iraq against Israel or lead to a wider regional war.
The Times's Aug. 16 article was based in part on a syndicated opinion article published by Mr. Kissinger on Aug. 12 in The Washington Post and other newspapers. In it, he said that a war was justifiable. But he said that Mr. Bush must first do more diplomatic consultation and political preparation for military action, and that before ordering an attack the administration should try to force an inspection routine on Iraq.
Most centrally, Mr. Kissinger said that removing Mr. Hussein from power -- Mr. Bush's justification for war -- was not an appropriate goal. He said an attack on Iraq should be directed toward a more limited aim, eradicating weapons of mass destruction.
END Reprint of Editors' Note, which is online at:
In his "Best of the Web" column for OpinionJournal.com, (www.opinionjournal.com/best ), James Taranto critiqued the new take from the Times:
Taranto also tracked down where you can read Kissinger's mid-August piece online:
(The Houston Chronicle link listed in a previous CyberAlert no longer works.)
For a rundown of the original misleading New York Times stories, see this item in the August 19 CyberAlert:
Raines also revealed how he sees everything through a Vietnam prism: "I'm hearing a lot of echoes of the early '60s, when people were saying it was unpatriotic to report the debate over Vietnam."
Of course, Raines was being disingenuous since critics are not saying it's unpatriotic to accurately report the debate over Iraq policy, but that the New York Times is distorting that debate.
During a roundtable on the September 3 NewsHour of liberal media figures, including Raines, CNN's Aaron Brown and CBS News President Andrew Heyward, Raines told PBS's Terence Smith:
Smith asked: "Speaking of Iraq, Howell, you personally, and the New York Times, has been accused of campaigning against military intervention in Iraq in its news columns. First of all, how do you, how do you plead to that charge made largely by conservative columnists, and secondly, what does the debate reveal to you?"
Then ask questions. Don't distort the debate by mischaracterizing positions.
The NewsHour has posted a transcript of the discussion: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/media/july-dec02/impact_9-3.html
Referring to news that, pre-9/11, German authorities had been monitoring an Al Qaeda group, on the August 31 Inside Washington Thomas argued:
Back on the August 24 Inside Washington Totenberg forwarded the positive spin on the misdeeds of Janet Reno's Justice Department: "The court asked for an investigation of how this could be. There's still been no answers. You have to give the Clinton administration some credit for quote 'confessing' errors. They were the ones who brought this to the attention of the court."
For more about this story, see the August 26 CyberAlert:
OpinionJournal.com's "Best of the Web" on Wednesday highlighted the caption, which appeared on Yahoo! for a Reuters photo, distributed on September 3, of a picture of Ground Zero taken in March:
The photo is one of many on a page of daily photos from Reuters:
Direct address for the photo with the caption in question:
It was still there when I last looked, but I can't guarantee they might not have removed or changed it by the time you check. Also, it's a bit too convoluted to explain here, and I've forgotten the specifics anyway, but depending on how you access the photo it carries either a long or short caption. The longer one, to which the above link goes, has the full caption.
Just when you thought the media were going to offer a few days free of America-bashing as September 11 approaches, Reuters has adopted as fact the European Left's anti-U.S. attitude. -- Brent Baker