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CyberAlert -- 10/09/2001 -- U.S. Food Drops Just Propaganda

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U.S. Food Drops Just Propaganda; Tough Words from James Woods; Tax Cuts Ruin Bi-Partisanship; ABC's Anti-Missile and Israel Comments

1) ABC's Peter Jennings chose on Monday night to highlight how the food and medicine drops into Afghanistan are "not popular with everyone" as one group "described it today as military propaganda designed to justify the bombing."

2) Dan Rather ended the Monday CBS Evening News with a patriotic message about accepting the deaths of U.S. servicemen in "a war forced upon us." As for fears of another terrorist attack, he maintained: "This will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave."

3) Actor James Woods urged massive retaliation: "Simple logic tells you that if somebody wants you dead you have one course of action: To get them deader sooner." He approvingly proposed that "if this had happened to the Russians, about three major cities in the Middle East would have been parking lots in twenty minutes."

4) Since "many in the Pentagon consider a nuclear missile attack by a rogue nation...to be among the least likely threats facing our country," while bio-terrorism "is near the top of that list," Ted Koppel concluded Friday's Nightline: "Maybe we should talk a little about those billions of dollars and how they should be spent -- against the most or the least likely threat?"

5) Some Israel-blaming from ABC's Terry Moran as he referred to "Israeli policies of occupation, settlement, and reprisal" and demanded at Friday's White House press briefing: "But in understanding the phenomenon of terrorism in order to combat it, are Israel's policies part of the problem?"

6) Conservative policies ruin bi-partisanship. A Los Angeles Times reporter on PBS: "Is there a possibility that President Bush's new proposal for another $60 billion in tax cuts, is that in a sense moving us away from" bi-partisanship? A Washington Post headline: "GOP Call for Tax Cuts Renews Party Divide."

7) Was Dr. Al-Hazmi, the San Antonio doctor held for questioning, treated professionally and fairly while in FBI custody, as he told ABC's Nightline, or was he, as Newsweek reported, "a target for physical abuse" who was "routinely kicked...in the small of his back" by FBI agents?

8) In describing the work of editorial cartoonist "Herblock," who passed away, neither Peter Jennings or Tom Brokaw employed the word liberal. Jennings admired his coining of "McCarthyism," calling it one of "his many contributions to the political dialogue in the country."

9) Letterman's "Top Ten Signs Your Dog Is Possessed By the Ghost of Abraham Lincoln."


Correction. The October 5 CyberAlert quoted Bryant Gumbel as complaining to a guest: "You're soft peddling your words this morning." That should have read "soft-pedaling."

1

The food and medicine drops are "not popular with everyone," ABC's Peter Jennings claimed Monday night as he decided to highlight how a group "described it today as military propaganda designed to justify the bombing."

After the lead story on Monday's World News Tonight about the U.S. bombing and food drop operation, Jennings gratuitously added something else he considered newsworthy:
"One other item about these food and medicine drops. They're not popular with everyone. The international relief organization Doctors without Borders, which won the Nobel Peace Prize for relief work, described it today as military propaganda designed to justify the bombing. The Bush Administration points out it also has committed $300 million in other aid. It's a question, ultimately, of getting it there."

2

In contrast to the U.S. as the bad guys theme broached by Jennings, CBS's Dan Rather realized Monday night that the war was "forced upon us" as he delivered a patriotic message about accepting the deaths of members of the armed forces and remaining "the home of the brave" only so long as we "remain the land of the free."

At the end of Monday's hour-long CBS Evening News, Rather exhorted:
"After a second wave of U.S. aerial bombardment in the Afghan night, the America mind runs on two tracks: First, our thoughts and our love are with our warrior men and woman, our sons and our daughters, bothers and sisters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers over there. We see them at work and we are reassured by their professionalism and skill. We know some may come back in flag-draped caskets, but we reluctantly and sadly accept that as a reality of a war forced upon us. Less familiar to Americans are concerns of protecting home and hearth here. Our worst fears tell us that the enemy within could strike again. On a day when President Bush swore-in the first Director of Homeland Security in our history, thoughts turn to the words of the late newsman Elmer Davis: 'This will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.'"

3

Some tough talk from one Hollywood star. In an interview shown on Monday's Entertainment Tonight, actor James Woods, who conceded "I'm sort of not your average liberal Hollywood bear," asserted that "simple logic tells you that if somebody wants you dead you have one course of action: To get them deader sooner." Woods approvingly suggested that "if this had happened to the Russians, about three major cities in the Middle East would have been parking lots in twenty minutes" and "and they wouldn't have worried about the consequences because there would not have been any because the remaining terrorist states would have said 'we get the message.'"

Woods took the terrorist attacks quite personally since before they occurred he was on an American Airlines Boston to Los Angeles flight on which he thought several Middle Eastern men were acting suspiciously. Before September 11 he had reported to the FBI what he saw occur with his fellow first class passengers and is now convinced his flight was a test run for their operation.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight's Jann Carl completed before the U.S. response on Sunday, Woods urged on any U.S. retaliation:
"I'm sort of not your average liberal Hollywood bear here so, you know, this is just a personal opinion but I happen to think right now that this is a war that we're now engaged in with the single most ruthless and cunning enemy that we have ever encountered because it's the first enemy we've ever had who doesn't mind if he is destroyed along with us. And he has no agenda other than our complete and utter and total destruction. It's 'we want you eradicated from the face of the Earth.' Well, simple logic tells you that if somebody wants you dead you have one course of action: To get them deader sooner."

Woods also argued: "If this had happened to the Russians, about three major cities in the Middle East would have been parking lots in twenty minutes. They would have been molten green glass, not a single thing would have lived there for 250,000 years and they wouldn't have worried about the consequences because there would not have been any because the remaining terrorist states would have said 'we get the message.'"

If the name James Woods does not conjure a visual image, go to the Internet Movie Database's page on him for a photo and listing of his many movie roles: http://us.imdb.com/Name?Woods,+James

4

Ted Koppel closed his Friday night Nightline "Town Meeting" on the threat of bio-terrorism with a lecture about how money is being misspent on missile defense. Koppel maintained that "many in the Pentagon consider a nuclear missile attack by a rogue nation...to be among the least likely threats facing our country," while bio-terrorism "is near the top of that list." So, he asserted, "maybe we should talk a little about those billions of dollars and how they should be spent -- against the most or the least likely threat?"

The 90-minute Nightline on October 5 emanated from the Red Cross headquarters in Washington, DC. After the discussion on the threat of biological and chemical terrorism, Koppel wrapped up:
"I have a brief closing thought. This administration was, and I think, remains ready to spend nearly $10 billion next year alone on the initial development of a missile defense system. This, in spite of the fact that many in the Pentagon consider a nuclear missile attack by a rogue nation against the United States to be among the least likely threats facing our country. Bio-terrorism, on the other hand, is near the top of that list. The purpose of town meetings like this one tonight is not to frighten but to inform. Maybe we should talk a little about those billions of dollars and how they should be spent -- against the most or the least likely threat? To make that sort of decision intelligently, we don't need reassuring platitudes, especially at times like these. We need facts."

Why does spending on external threats have to be zero sum? The terrorist attacks showed that our enemies will stop at nothing and so will use nuclear missiles as soon as they are able. Koppel is correct, however, in pointing out the need for more defense against other types of threats. But why not think outside the box and instead of reallocating missile defense money, how about some new thinking about all the other billions the government spends on many programs which are not so nearly important as homeland defense?

5

Some Israel-blaming from ABC News White House reporter Terry Moran as he referred to "Israeli policies of occupation, settlement, and reprisal and U.S. support for those policies" and demanded at Friday's White House press briefing: "But in understanding the phenomenon of terrorism in order to combat it, are Israel's policies part of the problem?"

Osama Bin Laden and his Jewish-hating cohorts list Israel as among their grievances, but Israel is the only democracy in the region and any change in U.S. policy would only reward Bin Laden and Palestinian terrorists for their attack on the U.S. Nonetheless, Moran pressed White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, as taken down by MRC analyst Ken Shepherd:
"Does the President believe that terrorists around the world get support, succor, funding in part because of Israeli policies of occupation, settlement, and reprisal and U.S. support for those policies? And as part of the campaign against terrorism, does the President believe those policies and U.S. support for them must change?"

Moran followed up: "But in understanding the phenomenon of terrorism in order to combat it, are Israel's policies part of the problem?"

I thought Israel's tough line on Palestinian terrorism was now a model the U.S. was adopting?

Moran even tried a third time to get Fleischer to say what he wanted: "Have the events of September 11th brought more urgency or changed the U.S., the administration's approach to the peace process in the Middle East?"

6

The spirit of bi-partisanship was broken by President Bush when he proposed a tax cut, a Los Angeles Times reporter and a Washington Post news story suggested over the weekend as another Washington Post story carried the headline, "Bush's Jobless Aid Plan Assailed: Critics Call Funding Inadequate and Cite Impact on Children."

Following the Democratic definition of what policies are not allowed in a bi-partisan atmosphere, on Friday's Washington Week on PBS Doyle McManus, Washington Bureau Chief of the Los Angeles Times, put the burden on Bush for breaking the code of cooperation. After Washington Post reporter Juliet Eilperin marveled at the spirit of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill, McManus lamented:
"The question I have Julie is, is there a possibility that President Bush's new proposal for another $60 billion in tax cuts, is that in a sense moving us away from that kind of bi-partisanship toward one where Democrats are going to feel free to say, 'Look, you're just using this as an excuse for tax cuts'?"
Eilperin gently shot him down: "A bit, but its's also he's also doing it in the context that everyone knows that there have to be more tax cuts, and so in that way it's not quite as divisive as it might appear at first blush."

"Everyone knows there have to be more tax cuts." Except her own newspaper.

The next morning, the Saturday Washington Post ran this headline across the top of page A9: "GOP Call for Tax Cuts Renews Party Divide." The subhead: "Bush and Democrats at Odds on Ingredients of Economic Stimulus Package."

On the facing page, A8, October 6 Washington Post readers were greeted with this headline: "Bush's Jobless Aid Plan Assailed." The subhead: "Critics Call Funding Inadequate and Cite Impact on Children." Edward Walsh and Ceci Connolly began their story:
"President Bush's plan to help workers who lost their jobs as a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks came under sharp criticism yesterday from liberal advocacy groups and some Democrats in Congress, who charged that the proposed aid level was inadequate and that the plan could end up helping unemployed adults at the expense of poor children.
"The strongest criticism of the Bush plan was aimed at a proposal to use $11 billion from the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to expand health insurance coverage to low-income Americans, especially workers who have lost their jobs. The $11 billion could be spent to provide health insurance coverage for adults, not just children in low-income families, the original purpose of the program.
"Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a health care advocacy group, said the $11 billion was not 'sitting around' waiting to be spent but was earmarked for use by the states to provide health insurance coverage to poor children."

In addition to failing to specifically tag Families USA as liberal, the Post reporting duo didn't even offer a euphemistic description of another liberal group:
"Two other aspects of the Bush plan, announced by the president Thursday, came under fire yesterday. Bush said the administration will provide $3 billion in emergency grants for income support and to subsidize health care premium costs for the unemployed.
"Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said $3 billion 'is laughable as an amount to deal with all of these things.'"

Amazing how only President Bush's conservative proposals ruin bi-partisanship while liberal Democratic rejection of them and advocacy of liberal policies does not. The U.S. retaliatory military action on Sunday came just in time as the media were beginning to revert to their old ways.

7

Was Dr. Al-Hazmi treated professionally and fairly while in FBI custody, as he told ABC's Nightline, or was he, as Newsweek reported, "a target for physical abuse" who was "routinely kicked...in the small of his back" by FBI agents?

The two news outlets, the MRC's Rich Noyes noticed, delivered quite contrasting assessments of how the FBI treated the San Antonio doctor who shares the same name as one of the terrorists and so was held for questioning for about a week and a half following the September 11 attacks.

On the September 28 Nightline, Chris Bury reported: "Here in this country the new normal also means the FBI has rounded up hundreds of people and detained them, including a Saudi Arabian doctor living in San Antonio, released just Monday. He had been handcuffed and hauled to jail for nearly two weeks primarily because he shares a name with two of the hijackers, a name he says is as common in his country as Smith is here."

Bury asked: "Tell us a little bit about what the interrogation was like. You spent nearly two weeks in detention. What was like, what was that like over a period of days?"
Dr. Al-Hazmi had no complaints about how the FBI treated him: "Well, the FBI officials, they conducted themselves in a professional manner and I would say, given the circumstances and the unusual situation, my treatment was fair."
Bury: "At what point did the prosecutors or the FBI tell you that they thought you--you might be clear and what point did they let you know that perhaps you were not a material witness?"
Al-Hazmi: "Well, my lawyer, Sean O'Shea, he arranged a meeting between me and him and FBI and the prosecutor, I believe. That was Sunday late afternoon, early evening time, and we sat and I answered all of their questions and to their satisfaction and that was the end of story."

The end of the story until an October 3 Newsweek "Web exclusive" by Ellise Pierce. She maintained: "Al-Hazmi was put under 'administrative arrest' and taken to the FBI office in San Antonio. There, agents questioned him about the whereabouts of his five brothers and three sisters. Around 4pm that day, he was allowed to call a lawyer, and he telephoned his wife to let her know that he was all right. It was the last time that he would speak to her for 11 days.
"That evening, Al-Hazmi was put in jail in nearby Comal County. Suffering from bronchitis, he asked for an antibiotic, but received only Tylenol. His eyeglasses, used to correct his severe nearsightedness, were confiscated and never returned. Two days later, he was transported to the Immigration and Naturalization Services building in San Antonio, where he was fingerprinted again and had his photographs taken. 'I kept asking them to let me call my lawyer,' he says, 'but they wouldn't let me. 'Maybe in one hour. Maybe at 4.' The whole day went like this.
"Al-Hazmi still didn't know why he was being held.
"On Friday, Sept. 14, Al-Hazmi -- his 5-foot-4, 110-pound body now in shackles -- was driven to the airport. Hours later, he arrived at New York's John F. Kennedy International, where dozens of U.S. Marshals stood on the runway with automatic rifles in their arms. 'I knew things were getting worse,' he says. His hunch was correct. At the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, Al-Hazmi says he became a target for physical abuse. He says that FBI agents routinely kicked him in the small of his back, shouting at him, while asking him his name. (The FBI has said they have 'no information of any such allegation.')"

For the entire Newsweek story, go to: http://www.msnbc.com/news/637609.asp

8

Herbert Block, the editorial cartoonist for the Washington Post since the Hoover presidency, passed away on Sunday at age 91. But in describing his work and legacy, neither Peter Jennings or Tom Brokaw on Monday night employed the word "liberal" for his almost-always anti-conservative drawings. Jennings called his coining of the term "McCarthyism" one of "his many contributions to the political dialogue in the country" while Tom Brokaw gushed: "He was a great champion of civil liberties." (The CBS Evening News did not note his passing.)

Similarly, the Washington Post obituary avoided the word liberal in delivering a rosy assessment of his politics: "He took the side of the have-nots of the world against the haves. He favored civil rights and candor in government. He distrusted all efforts to curb constitutional rights. He believed in the values underlying democracy: freedom, justice, equality."

Peter Jennings announced on the October 8 World News Tonight: "The political cartoonist Herbert Block has died. 'Herblock' as he signed his drawings. They were an essential feature of the Washington Post for more than 50 years. He coined the term 'McCarthyism' in the 1950s. It was among his many contributions to the political dialogue in the country. He started working just before the Great Depression and he never retired. Herblock was 91."

Over on the NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw stated: "For more that fifty years he set the standard for American political cartoonists with a tough, right to the point style that exposed the political and personal flaws of the powerful, whatever their party. He was a great champion of civil liberties and, in the newsroom, everyone's favorite surrogate uncle."

In a front page story in the October 8 Washington Post, J.Y. Smith offered this review of Herblock's politics:
"He chronicled every President from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush. He coined the term 'McCarthyism' for the smear tactics of Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy, the red-baiting Wisconsin Republican who was eventually censured by the Senate. His drawings of a fat and patient humanoid A-bomb encapsulated the menace of nuclear weapons.
"He took the side of the have-nots of the world against the haves. He favored civil rights and candor in government. He distrusted all efforts to curb constitutional rights. He believed in the values underlying democracy: freedom, justice, equality.
"Some of his earlier cartoons seem topical even today. He favored campaign finance reform, environmental protection and gun control decades before they became part of the nation's political agenda. A former cigarette smoker himself, he was a critic of the tobacco industry even before he quit."

For a look at Herblock's career and a sampling of his cartoons over the decades, go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/metro/specials/herblock/index.html

9

On whimsical note, and as a sign of comedy-writer creativity in trying to find something to make fun of when usual targets are off-limits, from the October 5 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Signs Your Dog Is Possessed By the Ghost of Abraham Lincoln." Copyright 2001 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. Only chases cars with Illinois license plates
9. Wags his tail excitedly when there's a Lincoln Day sale at The Wiz
8. His face is covered with fur, except right under his nose
7. Two dogs in sunglasses and ear pieces follow him around
6. He's the only dog in neighborhood wearing stovepipe muzzle
5. Damned if he didn't build himself a log cabin doghouse
4. Your dog loves chicken (a little-known fact -- Abraham Lincoln loved chicken)
3. You ask Miss Cleo whether your dog is possessed by Lincoln, she says, "Uh...yes"
2. Always honest about taking a leak on the rug
1. He hates the theater

For non-Northeasterners, The Wiz is a chain of TV/Video/Audio stores.

-- Brent Baker


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