2. CNN: Museum "Plundered Under the Very Noses of U.S. Troops"
3. Fidel Castro's Fresh Round of Repression: Bush Drove Him to It
4. ABC on New Threat to Iraqis: Christians Bearing Food
5. "Top Ten Reasons I am Proud to Be an American"
Blame America not the culprits, example 1: Germ release at a Baghdad health center. Peter Jennings opened Thursday's World News Tonight by citing "the deadly germs gone missing" and blaming the U.S. military for it: "The laboratory in Baghdad that the U.S. left unguarded."
ABC reporter Brian Ross in Baghdad relayed how "lab scientists are angry at the U.S. for failing to protect the facility" and complained that "the U.S. Marines on guard today at the Ministry of Health's central public health laboratory were sent in only after Iraqi scientists reported the dangerous materials -- including black fever, cholera, AIDS, and polio -- had been removed by looters, a serious public health concern." But on CNN a couple of hours earlier, Christiane Amanpour pointed out that the ominous list of diseases were incorrectly listed by a misinformed chemist and "the lab's biologist came out to correct her, saying they don't have AIDS or cholera or black fever," though they did have hepatitis and polio."
After his opening tease, Jennings began the April 17 World News Tonight by stressing an ominous example of "the lack of security" in Baghdad:
Ross confirmed, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "That's right, Peter. In fact, the lab was left unguarded despite the fact it had been under close scrutiny by UN weapons inspectors. The U.S. Marines on guard today at the Ministry of Health's central public health laboratory were sent in only after Iraqi scientists reported the dangerous materials -- including black fever, cholera, AIDS, and polio -- had been removed by looters, a serious public health concern."
Ross doesn't know either, judging by how another reporter on scene contradicted his list of diseases. At about 4:30pm EDT on Thursday, CNN carried a piece by Christiane Amanpour on the looting of the same facility: "At Iraq's central public health lab, urgent hand-scrawled warnings on the gate: 'pollution,' 'biohazard,' 'danger.' In the courtyard, vials, syringes and papers strewn around by looters."
Amanpour noted: "At first, Dr. Rasa Alaq gave alarming warnings of looted viruses, like AIDS, cholera, black fever, polio and hepatitis, she said. But Alaq is a chemist. And, later, the lab's biologist came out to correct her, saying they don't have AIDS or cholera or black fever, but they were concerned about the following."
Blame America not the culprits, example 2: Looting of Iraq's Baghdad Museum. "Two of the Bush administration's cultural advisors in Iraq have now resigned," Peter Jennings intoned on Thursday's World News Tonight. "They were frustrated by the failure of U.S. forces to prevent the pillage of Iraq's national museum," Jennings relayed in setting up an entire story examining "the variety of places the U.S. has not been protecting."
Over on CNN's NewsNight, Aaron Brown raised "one of the greatest cultural disasters in recent Middle Eastern history: the looting of priceless Iraqi artifacts dating back thousands of years" and contended, "There has been intense focus on one question: Did the United States do enough to prevent the theft?"
Jim Bitterman mockingly recalled how "one of the most treasured collections of antiquities had been plundered under the very noses of U.S. troops." Reporting from a UNESCO meeting in Paris, Bitterman obligingly passed along how "some were furious with the United States for not protecting antiquities in Iraq and not preventing the arson and pillage of Baghdad's national library."
Though Bitterman gave one sentence to how "U.S. officials said their priorities were to win the war and minimize the loss of life," he undermined that with a venal suggestion about U.S. interests: "But critics here point out, their priorities also apparently included protecting hundreds of oil wells scattered across Iraq and the Oil Ministry building in Baghdad, ahead of protecting the Baghdad Museum and other cultural sites."
Bitterman failed to note the environmental disaster burning oil wells would have caused, a point environmentalists surely would have denounced the U.S. for allowing to happen, and that making Iraq's oil industry functional is vital to Iraqis getting money to pay for everything, including museums.
Nightline on Thursday night was dedicated to the looting of the museum, who did it and how it was allowed to occur.
Earlier, Jennings set up an April 17 World News Tonight story: "As we've reported, so many places that maybe should have been guarded in Iraq were not. Two of the Bush administration's cultural advisors in Iraq have now resigned. They were frustrated by the failure of U.S. forces to prevent the pillage of Iraq's national museum. It appears that professional thieves may also have been involved in the looting during which priceless treasures were stolen. ABC's Martha Raddatz reports tonight on the variety of places the U.S. has not been protecting."
Raddatz began: "In Baghdad today, U.S. Marines took charge of what's left of a looted bank, hauling away bags of cash for safe keeping. Could the Americans have done more to protect the hospitals that have been ransacked, the museums that have been looted, the ministries where valuable intelligence documents have been trashed? The former director of operations at the Pentagon says the speed of the regime's collapse made it difficult."
That reference to Rumsfeld's disagreement with the "allowed" term picked up on his retort to Tim Russert. As recounted in the April 14 CyberAlert, when Russert wanted to know "how did we allow" an Iraqi "museum to be looted?", Rumsfeld marveled at Russert's gall: "'How did we allow?' Now, that's really a wonderful, amazing statement." Details in the April 14, 2003 CyberAlert.
CNN anchor Aaron Brown introduced Bitterman's story on NewsNight: "It's been called one of the greatest cultural disasters in recent Middle Eastern history: the looting of priceless Iraqi artifacts dating back thousands of years. There has been intense focus on one question: Did the United States do enough to prevent the theft? Today, experts from around the globe gathered in Paris to look at another question as well. Is there any way, any way at all, to get back the treasure?"
From Paris, in a piece which also aired a couple of hours earlier at the top of Paula Zahn's 8pm EDT hour, Jim Bitterman asserted over video of a few looters being chased away by a museum worker: "These are the pictures that shocked and angered historians and archaeologists around the world: a curator of the Baghdad Museum discovering that one of the most treasured collections of antiquities had been plundered under the very noses of U.S. troops. The curator and a TV crew even caught some of the looters red-handed. But on their own, they were unable to stop them.
Bitterman concluded with this admonition: "And several of the experts say now that, with the U.S. in charge in Iraq, it has full responsibility for the safekeeping of Iraq's cultural treasures. Any further damage, said one, would be totally inexcusable."
As should be blaming the U.S. military for what others did.
Blame America not the culprits, or in this case the culprit, example 3: Fidel Castro's fresh round of repression in Cuba. "Rising Dissent, U.S. Pressure Led to Cuba Repression," announced the headline over a Reuters story on Wednesday, as if Castro had nothing to do with it.
In this week's Time magazine, after noting how last week 78 dissidents and independent journalists in Cuba were sentenced "to as much as 27 years in prison" and "three men who tried to hijack a ferry to Florida earlier this month were summarily executed," Tim Padgett asked: "What set off Castro's fury?" The answer: George W. Bush. Padgett contended: "Those close to his inner circle say he feels insulted by the U.S." for not rewarding him for softening "his anti-Yanqui vitriol" and allowing "Jimmy Carter to visit and speak out for democratic change." In spite of that, "the Bush administration has delayed Congress' anti-embargo legislation indefinitely."
James Taranto's "Best of the
Web" column highlighted the April 16 Reuters headline over a story by Anthony Boadle in Havana who relayed Cuban paranoia:
An excerpt from the Reuters dispatch:
Growing internal dissent and concern that the Bush administration could turn its sights on Cuba after Iraq led the Communist government to unleash the worst political repression in decades, officials and experts said on Wednesday.
In less than a month, Cuba arrested 75 opponents of President Fidel Castro's one-party state and jailed them with terms of up to 28 years, dealing a devastating blow to the island's nascent opposition movement.
Last week three men who hijacked a Havana Bay ferry in a failed bid to reach the United States were executed by firing squad.
The executions shocked European governments that have tried for years to coax Cuba toward democratic change with a policy of engagement through trade, investment and aid....
Diplomatic observers said the dissident movement was too small to pose a threat to the Cuban government, and it was the open support the dissidents were getting from Cuba's long-time ideological foe, the United States, that prompted the massive crackdown.
The Bush administration's decision to go to war in Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein contributed to the Cuban resolve to stamp out a budding opposition, experts believe.
"The Cubans saw it as a signal that the United States was determined to throw its weight around and to blow away anyone it doesn't like through the unilateral use of force," said Wayne Smith, a former American diplomat in Havana.
Cuban authorities charged the arrested dissidents with conspiring against their country with U.S. diplomats, calling them a "Fifth Column" and "mercenaries" at the service of a foreign power.
At a demonstration in the heart of the anti-Castro Cuban exile neighborhood in Miami two weeks ago, a banner that said "Iraq Now, Cuba Later" alarmed officials in Havana.
"With an aggressive right-wing administration in Washington, we had to put some order here," a Cuban government official told Reuters. He said concern about U.S. intentions in Cuba had not been so high since the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis.
"We could not allow a Fifth Column that would destroy us. The survival of the revolution is at stake," he said.
The official said Cuban authorities believed President Bush (news - web sites) was capable of anything to please Cuban exiles in Florida, a key state for his re-election....
END of Excerpt
Read the entire story as posted on story.news.yahoo.com.
"What Set Off Castro?" read the headline over a short "Notebook" item up front in the April 21 Time magazine brought to my attention by the MRC's Tim Graham. An excerpt from the item by Tim Padgett:
....What set off Castro's fury? Those close to his inner circle say he feels insulted by the U.S. -- and unusually nervous. In hopes that the U.S. would relax its 41-year-old economic embargo, Castro, 76, had begun to soften his anti-Yanqui vitriol. Last year he even allowed Jimmy Carter to visit and speak out for democratic change. But the Bush Administration has delayed Congress' anti-embargo legislation indefinitely. At the same time, a bona fide dissident movement has been growing on the island. "These [dissidents] are just employees of Bush's efforts to maintain his criminal economic blockade," says a Cuban official -- although their indictments reveal crimes often no more serious than owning a fax machine. Executions in Cuba, while infrequent, aren't unusual for noncapital crimes. Rights advocates are worried that more may be in the offing.
END of Excerpt
Read the item in its entirety as posted on www.time.com.
ABC has discovered something more dangerous to Iraqis than U.S. troops who fail to protect their treasures and safeguard their stores of deadly germs: Christians who come bearing food.
Check out this promo for Friday's World News Tonight aired on Thursday's broadcast: "Tomorrow: As American religious groups bring food and aid to Iraqi families, will they also bring their religious views? Could this create new tensions? Watch World News Tonight."
But at least Iraqis will be healthy enough to have such concerns, assuming they are as threatened by it as Peter Jennings.
From the April 17 Late Show with David Letterman, as announced by ten members of the 6-22nd Movement Control Team from Fort Eustis, Virginia, the "Top Ten Reasons I am Proud to Be an American."
10. "Besides Switzerland, we're the only country to have a cheese named after us"
9. "We have 49 awesome states...and Delaware"
8. "All our great Presidents have been American"
7. "I don't see Yao Ming playing basketball in Belgium"
6. "Our flag is one of the stripiest"
5. "America has more Regises per capita than any other nation on earth"
4. "If the French don't like us, we must be doing something right"
2. "You'll notice the U.S. judges on 'American Idol' are very polite. The British one's the jerk"
1. "It's where all my stuff is"
#4 earned the most applause.
> On the panel tonight on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher at 11:30pm EDT/PDT: Dennis Miller and Ann Coulter.
-- Brent Baker