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Miklaszewski Relays Gripe Son Killing Used "Too Heavy Firepower" --7/24/2003


1. Miklaszewski Relays Gripe Son Killing Used "Too Heavy Firepower"
Just can't win/the media always find a negative angle on good news, part one. In reporting on the killing of Uday and Qusay Hussein, on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News Jim Miklaszewski griped about how "there are questions today why the U.S. military used such heavy firepower to take down a few lightly armed men." But his complaint about overkill in firepower came after he recounted how the U.S. forces escalated their weaponry to overcome the resistance as the four men in the house opened fire and injured three soldiers, prompting the U.S. servicemen to "pound the house with rockets, grenades and heavy machine gun fire while helicopter gun ships fire rockets through the roof." Yet, in Miklaszweski's own term, "unbelievably" those inside continued to shoot back.

2. Will We Follow Geneva Convention? Weren't Killings a "Failure"?
Just can't win/the media always find a negative angle on good news, part two. At the White House press briefing on Wednesday, ABC's Terry Moran wanted to know if President Bush felt "bound" by the Geneva Convention rule that the dead are "honorably interred...according to the rites of the religion to which they belong." A few hours earlier in Iraq, international reporters grilled U.S. Army General Ricardo Sanchez about why the lightly armed Uday and Qusay were not waited out so they could be taken alive and questioned. One reporter insisted the operation represented "a failure" because "you didn't use commandos to come and surprise them both." CNN's Aaron Brown also wanted to know: "Why not wait 'em out, starve 'em out? Try and take 'em alive?"

3. AP: Bush Hasn't "Bothered" to Enforce Assassination Prohibition
Just can't win/the media always find a negative angle on good news, part three. Odai and Qusai Hussein, as the AP spells their first names, are the lucky beneficiaries of the fact "that the Bush administration has not bothered to enforce the prohibition" on "political assassinations," AP reporter George Gedda asserted in the lead of a July 23 story. "Odai, Qusai Deaths Go Against U.S. Ban," announced the AP's headline.

4. A Good News Day, But NBC's Katie Couric Stresses the Negative
Just can't win/the media always find a negative angle on good news, part four. The best news in weeks, if not since the taking of Baghdad three months ago, came out of Iraq on Tuesday with the announcement of the killing of Saddam Hussein's two henchmen sons, second only to Saddam himself in brutality and instilling fear, but Katie Couric led Wednesday's Today by pairing the news with how the good news was "tempered" by how "two more American soldiers have been ambushed and killed today." In contrast, ABC's Good Morning America led by trumpeting the good news of the killings ("a triumphant day for President Bush") as well as Jessica Lynch's return to her hometown.

5. CBS on Celebratory Gunfire: "Some of It...Most Certainly Anger"
Just can't win/the media always find a negative angle on good news, part five. Of the gunfire in Baghdad after the killing of Uday and Qusay, "some of it was most certainly" in "anger," insisted CBS's Byron Pitts in the capital city. His assertion on the Wednesday Early Show followed a Tuesday Evening News contribution in which he expressed confusion over whether the gunfire was prompted by "anger or jubilation."

6. "There is an Ocean of Blood on the Hands" of Blair and Bush
"There is an ocean of blood on the hands of Tony Blair and George Bush," Boston Globe columnist James Carroll declared on Tuesday. Carroll accused the Bush administration with committing "war crimes" as he spewed: "The traditional ethic declares that a war of aggression is inherently unjust and that every civilian death caused by such a war is murder. More than 50 air raids, each with more than 30 Iraqi civilian fatalities, each expressly approved by Rumsfeld. Absolutely terrible tragedies, every one. And also -- more evident by the day -- every one a war crime."

7. ABC: GOP Takeover in CA in Conflict with State's Best Interests?
An ABCNews.com plug for Wednesday's Nightline on the recall effort against California Governor Gray Davis, a Democrat, promised the show would explore this question: "Was this recall effort a Republican tactic to win over California, or is this the best thing for the state?" As if the two possibilities are in conflict?


Miklaszewski Relays Gripe Son Killing
Used "Too Heavy Firepower"

Just can't win/the media always find a negative angle on good news, part one. In reporting on the killing of Uday and Qusay Hussein, on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News Jim Miklaszewski griped about how "there are questions today why the U.S. military used such heavy firepower to take down a few lightly armed men. And did the U.S. lose valuable intelligence when they killed Saddam's sons?"

But Miklaszewski's complaint about overkill in firepower came after he recounted how the U.S. forces escalated their firepower to overcome the resistance as the four men in the house opened fire and injured three soldiers, prompting the U.S. servicemen to "pound the house with rockets, grenades and heavy machine gun fire while helicopter gun ships fire rockets through the roof." Yet, in Miklaszweski's own term, "unbelievably" those inside continued to shoot back, "so at 1 o'clock the Americans fire ten anti-tank TOW missiles....But somehow Qusay's son, Mustafah, survives. As U.S. troops approach, he opens fire. The Americans shoot back..."

From the Pentagon on the July 23 NBC Nightly News, Miklaszewski ran through the sequence of events. Miklaszewski reported how the troops entered the house, found Uday, Qusay, a bodyguard and Qusay's 14-year-old son in a safe room "surrounded by double-thick bullet-proof glass. The four opened fire, wounding three soldiers. The Americans retreat and call in bigger guns. Over the next three hours U.S. troops pound the house with rockets, grenades and heavy machine gun fire while helicopter gun ships fire rockets through the roof. Unbelievably, those barricaded inside are still shooting back. So at 1 o'clock the Americans fire ten anti-tank TOW missiles finally killing Uday, Qusay and he bodyguard....But somehow Qusay's son, Mustafah, survives. As U.S. troops approach, he opens fire. The Americans shoot back, killing the 14-year-old.
"But there are questions today why the U.S. military used such heavy firepower to take down a few lightly armed men. And did the U.S. lose valuable intelligence when they killed Saddam's sons? General Rick Sanchez says the Hussein brothers were not willing to surrender and U.S. forces could not let them escape."

Miklaszewski then ran a short soundbite from Sanchez at his news briefing.

Will We Follow Geneva Convention? Weren't
Killings a "Failure"?

Terry Moran Just can't win/the media always find a negative angle on good news, part two. At the White House press briefing on Wednesday ABC's Terry Moran wanted to know if President Bush felt "bound" by the Geneva Convention rule that the dead are "honorably interred...according to the rites of the religion to which they belong."

A few hours earlier in Iraq, international reporters grilled U.S. Army General Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of the Iraqi operation, about why the lightly armed Uday and Qusay were not waited out so they could be taken alive and questioned. One reporter insisted the operation represented "a failure" because "you didn't use commandos to come and surprise them both." That reporter also fretted about the killing of "the child of Qusay."

And on Tuesday's NewsNight, CNN's Aaron Brown wanted to know: "Why not wait 'em out, starve 'em out? Try and take 'em alive as opposed to engaging in this gun battle? Once they had 'em surrounded and cornered, they weren't going anywhere."

-- At the White House press briefing, ABC's Terry Moran, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed, pressed Press Secretary Scott McClellan: "Article 17 of the Geneva Conventions requires countries at war to, quote, 'ensure that the dead are honorably interred, if possible, according to the rites of the religion to which they belong.' Does the President, as Commander-in-Chief, believe that the United States is bound by that, when it comes to the bodies of Uday and Qusay Hussein?"
McClellan, stumped by the wacky question: "Terry, I'd have to look at the specific. I'm just not familiar enough with it to respond to that question right now."

-- Some of the questions at the briefing in Iraq, by General Ricardo Sanchez, on the killing of Uday and Qusay, as tracked down by MRC analyst Patrick Gregory:

# Ibraham Hayat: "I would like to ask you, don't you regret the fact that you couldn't get Uday and Qusay alive? It would have been probably the source of a lot of information you would have got from them both. Also, wasn't it a failure in a way because you didn't use commandos to come and surprise them both? You conducted the operation in the very traditional way. How would you describe it? All these attacks preparation was only to surround five probably or four people who are armed with light weapons. And also what about the child of Qusay?"

# Another reporter followed up, leading to this humorous exchange: "General, I'd like to try and see if you could address more of the first question which we had from our colleague at the front. The Americans are specialists at surrounding places, keeping people in them, holding up for a week, if necessary, to make them surrender. These guys only had, it appears, AK-47s, and you had an immense amount of firepower. Surely, the possibility of the immense amount of information they could have given coalition forces, not to mention the trials that they could be put on for war crimes, held out a much greater possibility of victory for you, if you could have surrounded that house and just sat there until they came out, even if they were prepared to keep shooting."
Sanchez: "Sir, that is speculation. Next-"
Reporter: "No, sir, it's an operational question. Surely, you must have considered this much more seriously than you're suggesting."
Sanchez: "Yes. It was considered and we chose the course of action that we took."
Reporter: "Why, sir?"
Sanchez: "Next question, please."

-- CNN's Aaron Brown posed this question on the July 22 NewsNight to Brigadier General David Grange, U.S. Army retired, as picked up by the MRC's Ken Shepherd: "Let me ask this. Not to be unduly provocative. Why not wait 'em out, starve 'em out? Try and take 'em alive as opposed to engaging in this gun battle? Once they had 'em surrounded and cornered, they weren't going anywhere."
Grange: "Yeah, I'm not sure, Aaron, that they knew 100 percent who was in the building. I mean, that's what the report is and I'm not sure that the report from the Iraqi that gave the information to the coalition forces, if that was vetted by other sources at all. And they tried to go in in a smaller force manner to probably take these people prisoner. And then when they found out that it was barricaded and that they'd probably lose American lives, the on-scene commander made the decision to tear down those defenses and in so doing, kill the people inside."

AP: Bush Hasn't "Bothered" to Enforce
Assassination Prohibition

Just can't win/the media always find a negative angle on good news, part three. Odai and Qusai Hussein, as the AP spells their first names, are the lucky beneficiaries of the fact "that the Bush administration has not bothered to enforce the prohibition" on "political assassinations," AP reporter George Gedda asserted in the lead of a July 23 story. FNC's Brit Hume, on his show Wednesday night, highlighted how the veteran of the AP's Washington bureau began a July 23 story.

"Odai, Qusai Deaths Go Against U.S. Ban," announced the headline over the noontime dispatch as posted by Yahoo.

An excerpt:

WASHINGTON -- In theory, pursuing with intent to kill violates a long-standing policy banning political assassination. It was the misfortune of Saddam Hussein's sons, Odai and Qusai, that the Bush administration has not bothered to enforce the prohibition....

Officials said people inside the villa opened fire first -- but left little doubt what the U.S. troops hoped to accomplish.

"We remain focused on finding, fixing, killing or capturing all members of the high-value target list," Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of coalition troops in Iraq, announcing the deaths of Odai and Qusai.

The ban has been overlooked so often in recent years that some wonder why the administration doesn't simply declare the measure null and void.

Earlier this week, the U.S. administrator for Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, stated in unusually candid terms the administration's disregard for the assassination ban. Appearing on NBC TV's "Meet the Press," Bremer said U.S. officials presumed that Saddam was still alive and that American forces were trying to kill him.

"The sooner we can either kill him or capture him, the better," Bremer said. Often in the past, officials resorted to winks and nods or other circumlocutions when asked about U.S. actions that gave the appearance of homicidal intent.

Consider President Reagan's response when he was asked whether the bombing of Moammar Gadhafi's residence in 1986 constituted an effort to kill the Libyan leader.

"I don't think any of us would have shed tears if that had happened," Reagan said. Over the past five years, U.S.-sponsored assassination attempts have been on the increase. Targets have included Osama bin Laden, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic among others.

Former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said before the start of the Iraq war that the assassination ban would not apply once hostilities broke out....

The ban on assassinations, spelled out in an executive order signed by President Ford in 1976 and reinforced by Presidents Carter and Reagan, made no distinction between wartime and peacetime. There are no loop holes; no matter how awful the leader, he could not be a U.S. target either directly or by a hired hand....

END of Excerpt

For the AP story in its entirety: story.news.yahoo.com

A Good News Day, But NBC's Katie Couric
Stresses the Negative

Just can't win/the media always find a negative angle on good news, part four. The best news in weeks, if not since the taking of Baghdad three months ago, came out of Iraq on Tuesday with the announcement of the killing of Saddam Hussein's two henchmen sons, second only to Saddam himself in brutality and instilling fear, but Katie Couric led Wednesday's Today by pairing the news with how "two more American soldiers have been ambushed and killed today."

In contrast, ABC's Good Morning America led by trumpeting the good news of the killings ("a triumphant day for President Bush") as well as Jessica Lynch's return to her hometown.

Couric opened the July 23 Today on NBC: "Good morning. Saddam's sons, Uday and Qusay Hussein, are dead, but the violence in Iraq goes on. Two more American soldiers have been ambushed and killed today, Wednesday July the 23rd, 2003."

After the top of the show theme music and announcement, Couric continued, as taken down by MRC intern Susan Vaughan: "And welcome to Today on this Wednesday morning everyone I'm Katie Couric."
Matt Lauer: "And I'm Matt Lauer. The coalition forces had good intelligence; they were acting on a tip on Tuesday in the northern city of Mosul there was a ferocious firefight and in the end Qusay and Uday were dead."
Couric: "That's right and while President Bush will be in the Rose Garden this morning presumably to praise the troops and boost morale in the wake of the incident, it will be tempered by the ongoing attacks on American troops. As we said, two more soldiers were killed in ambushes this morning; more than forty have been killed since May 1st. Also this morning an Arab satellite network is broadcasting a tape said to be the voice of Saddam recorded just two days ago. We'll talk with two experts about what might happen next in Iraq. Meanwhile for one soldier it was home sweet home. Private Jessica Lynch was warmly welcomed back to her hometown of Palestine, West Virginia on Tuesday. We'll get an inside look at how the day unfolded for her from a cousin who was at her side."

Over on ABC, Charles Gibson stayed positive in opening Good Morning America: "This morning in Iraq U.S. officials set to release the death photos to prove to Iraqis that Saddam Hussein's two sons are dead. Also this morning, in West Virginia Jessica Lynch settles in back home as friends and neighbors marvel at her courage, her poise and that new ring she's wearing from the man she loves...."

Gibson soon added: "After two weeks of criticism over his going to war and the reasons for going to war, finally, a triumphant day for President Bush."

But NBC won't even give him a day.

CBS on Celebratory Gunfire: "Some of
It...Most Certainly Anger"

Just can't win/the media always find a negative angle on good news, part five. Of the gunfire in Baghdad after the killing of Uday and Qusay, "some of it was most certainly" in "anger," insisted CBS's Byron Pitts in the capital city. His assertion on the Wednesday Early Show followed a Tuesday Evening News contribution in which he expressed confusion over whether the gunfire was prompted by "anger or jubilation."

The July 23 CyberAlert recounted: Reporters in Baghdad for ABC and NBC believed the firing off of guns in the capital city reflected happiness over news of the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons at the hands of U.S. soldiers, but CBS's Byron Pitts wasn't so sure. "It rained bullets in Baghdad as the city celebrated," asserted ABC's Jeffrey Kofman. NBC's Tom Aspell found: "Gunfire in Baghdad tonight -- celebration as word spread that Saddam Hussein's two sons are dead." But Pitts expressed confusion on the July 22 Evening News.

As he crouched behind a railing, he relayed: "Tonight the sky over Baghdad is live with gunfire. We're on the roof of our hotel where often times the shots have been loud and close. This all started about the time the news began to spread that Saddam Hussein's two sons might have been killed by U.S. forces. We're not certain if these are shots of anger or jubilation or a combination of both."

Fast forward to Wednesday, July 23, and MRC analyst Brian Boyd noticed how on the Early Show Pitts was sure "some of it was most certainly anger." He checked in from Baghdad: "Behind their father, the Hussein brothers were the most powerful and feared men in all of Iraq. By nightfall Tuesday, news of their death had spread to Baghdad where the skyline lit up with gunfire, a traditional sign of celebration here, but in this case, some of it was most certainly anger."

"There is an Ocean of Blood on the Hands"
of Blair and Bush

CyberAlert doesn't normally care much about columnists, but sometimes when they go to extreme extremes it's worth highlighting their hatreds. In Tuesday's Boston Globe, op-ed page columnist James Carroll declared: "There is an ocean of blood on the hands of Tony Blair and George Bush."

Noting how Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had to personally approval any bombing which could kill 30 or more civilians, Carroll accused him and the Bush administration of committing "war crimes." Carroll contended in the piece brought to my attention by the MRC's Rich Noyes: "The traditional ethic declares that a war of aggression is inherently unjust and that every civilian death caused by such a war is murder. More than 50 air raids, each with more than 30 Iraqi civilian fatalities, each expressly approved by Rumsfeld. Absolutely terrible tragedies, every one. And also -- more evident by the day -- every one a war crime."

An excerpt from Carroll's July 22 column, "Was the war necessary?"

Why does the apparent suicide of David Kelly strike such a chord? The British weapons expert found himself in the middle of the controversy over the Bush-Blair hyping of the Saddam Hussein threat....

Kelly gives a name and a face to the fact that the dispute over intelligence manipulated to justify a "preventive war" is a matter of life and death. This is not a mere question of politics anymore, another argument between liberals and conservatives. When told of Kelly's death, Prime Minister Tony Blair called it "an absolutely terrible tragedy." But the burden that broke this man was, at bottom, weight of the absolutely terrible question, Was the British-American war against Iraq necessary?...

The coalition air war commander, Lieutenant General T. Michael Moseley, revealed this weekend that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had to personally sign off on any airstrike "thought likely to result in deaths of more than 30 civilians," as The New York Times reported. "More than 50 such strikes were proposed, and all of them were approved."...

One sees the traditional just war ethic at work: A necessary war can involve the "collateral damage" of civilian deaths -- tragic, but acceptable. But was the war necessary? That question defines the stakes in the dispute over the ways George Bush and Tony Blair misrepresented the prospect of Saddam Hussein with nuclear, biological, and chemical arms. When allied warplanes knowingly and repeatedly attacked targets that would kill significant numbers of civilians, only the urgent effort to prevent Hussein's mass-destructive and imminent aggression could have justified such carnage. But now the proffered rationale of necessity is being shown to have been false. The "preventive war," as it turns out, prevented nothing.

At a press conference in Japan the day after David Kelly's body was found, Tony Blair was asked, "Have you got blood on your hands, prime minister?" Alas, there is an ocean of blood on the hands of Tony Blair and George Bush. Whether shown to be "lying" or not, they shunted aside the ambiguities and uncertainties that characterized the prewar intelligence assessments of Hussein's threat....

Citizens of the United States do not like to think of themselves as wanton killers. No wonder American soldiers in Iraq are openly expressing doubts....The issue is mortal: Was George Bush's new style "preventive" war just another war of aggression, after all?

Tony Blair was asked if he would resign, and at least one prominent Democrat hurled the word impeachment at the President. But the political consequences of this controversy begin to take second place to the moral, and even legal. The traditional ethic declares that a war of aggression is inherently unjust and that every civilian death caused by such a war is murder. More than 50 air raids, each with more than 30 Iraqi civilian fatalities, each expressly approved by Rumsfeld. Absolutely terrible tragedies, every one. And also -- more evident by the day -- every one a war crime.

END of Excerpt

For the column in full: www.boston.com

ABC: GOP Takeover in CA in Conflict with
State's Best Interests?

An ABCNews.com plug for Wednesday's Nightline on the recall effort against California Governor Gray Davis, a Democrat, promised the show would explore this question: "Was this recall effort a Republican tactic to win over California, or is this the best thing for the state?"

As if the two possibilities are in conflict?

The plug in full, which was posted Wednesday night on the Nightline page:
"California Crisis
"Wednesday, July 23
"The state of California is already experiencing major budget cuts. And now may lose it's governor in a recall election. Was this recall effort a Republican tactic to win over California, or is this the best thing for the state?"

That was online on this page: abcnews.go.com

-- Brent Baker