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ABC Denounces "Illegal Interrogation Techniques" at Guantanamo --6/16/2005


1. ABC Denounces "Illegal Interrogation Techniques" at Guantanamo
In what the network touted as an "ABC News Exclusive," Wednesday's World News Tonight devoted a full story to two-year-old memos, which in the words of anchor Charles Gibson, "indicate interrogation techniques at Guantanamo might be illegal." Terry Moran quoted from one Navy lawyer's memo and then how "a Navy psychologist observing the interrogation of Mohammed al-Qahtani, dubbed 'the twentieth hijacker,' warned that the tactics used against him revealed 'a tendency to become increasingly more aggressive without having any definitive boundary.'" Earlier, at the White House briefing, referring to the Geneva Convention, Moran demanded that Scott McClellan respond to how "it says, no physical or mental torture. Is dropping water on the head, keeping them up all night, making them stand, is that consistent with your laws? It is consistent with the Geneva Convention, saying no physical or mental torture?" Left unsaid: al-Qaeda never agreed to the Geneva Convention's rules.

2. Salivating for Hillary vs McCain in 2008: "Oh! Pray for It!"
NBC's Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell are salivating over a potential Hillary Clinton versus John McCain presidential race in 2008. Either way, the media would get a President they admire. On last weekend's Chris Matthews Show, carried mostly on NBC stations, Mitchell oozed: "I think that would be such a great race!" Matthews then effused: "Oh! Pray for it! Bread and butter. Wouldn't that be the greatest? McCain against Hillary." with audio and video

3. Brokaw Chides Attitude Toward World, Urges We Love "Mother Earth"
Delivering the commencement address Sunday at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw seemed to put on Americans some of the blame for Arab/Muslim rage as he asserted that "we cannot wish away the complex set of conditions that fuel a rage across a broad band of the globe" and chastised Americans: "Many of them...love our culture and speak our language but we show, in their eyes, no interest in returning the favor." He argued: "We must see the ancient Arab culture as something other than just a pipeline from their natural riches to our insatiable appetite for energy." Brokaw contended that improvements to America "much more often from the center," over the right or left, as he yearned for a place "where there is no room for ideological bullies." But then he forwarded some ideological extremism himself: "If we fail to love our mother -- Mother Earth. It will do us little good to achieve peace on earth if Earth becomes a dead planet."

4. Kudos to CBS for Showing Chinese Brutality, Noting Gun Control
Kudos to CBS News for using the availability of video, an excuse for car chase video on cable news channels, to show an instance of Chinese communist brutality as they attacked and murdered Chinese citizens standing up for land rights. CBS obtained the home video from the Washington Post which carried a story in Wednesday's paper, and CBS's Barry Petersen, who narrated the video shown on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, pointed out "one reason for believing the government is involved: Guns are strictly controlled in China, and the attackers had guns."


ABC Denounces "Illegal Interrogation
Techniques" at Guantanamo

Terry Moran In what the network touted as an "ABC News Exclusive," Wednesday's World News Tonight devoted a full story to two-year-old memos, which in the words of anchor Charles Gibson, "indicate interrogation techniques at Guantanamo might be illegal." Terry Moran quoted from one Navy lawyer's memo and then how "a Navy psychologist observing the interrogation of Mohammed al-Qahtani, dubbed 'the twentieth hijacker,' warned that the tactics used against him revealed 'a tendency to become increasingly more aggressive without having any definitive boundary.'" Earlier, at the White House briefing, referring to the Geneva Convention, Moran demanded that Scott McClellan respond to how "it says, no physical or mental torture. Is dropping water on the head, keeping them up all night, making them stand, is that consistent with your laws? It is consistent with the Geneva Convention, saying no physical or mental torture?" Left unsaid: al-Qaeda never agreed to the Geneva Convention's rules.

All the networks aired stories Wednesday night on the Senate hearing on Guantanamo, but ABC went a step further. Gibson teased the June 15 World News Tonight: "An ABC News exclusive: Inside the Pentagon, senior officials concerned that aggressive interrogations of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay might be illegal."

After the lead story on the Terri Schiavo autopsy, Gibson got to Guantanamo: "We turn next to the controversy over the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Two developments: ABC News has obtained notes and documents indicating Pentagon officials have worried in the past that interrogation techniques at Guantanamo might be illegal. And today on Capitol Hill, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings to express concern about what is going on there right now. We'll start with the hearing and ABC's Linda Douglass."

When Douglass finished, Gibson intoned: "And next, the documents and notes obtained exclusively by ABC News, which indicate interrogation techniques at Guantanamo might be illegal. Here's ABC's Terry Moran."

Moran began, as corrected against the closed-captioning by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "The interrogation techniques used at Guantanamo Bay in 2002 triggered concerns among senior Pentagon officials that they could face criminal prosecution under U.S. anti-torture laws. Notes from a series of meetings at the Pentagon in early 2003, obtained by ABC News, show that Alberto Mora, general counsel of the Navy, warned that they might be breaking the law. January 10, 2003, a meeting with William Haynes, the Pentagon's top lawyer, and others. According to the notes, Mora was concerned that [picture and text on screen] 'use of coercive techniques has military, legal, and political implication,' 'has international implication,' and 'exposes us to liability and criminal prosecution.' Alberto Mora's deep concerns about interrogations at Guantanamo have been known, but not his warning that top officials could go to prison. March 8, 2003, another meeting where the notes show the group of top Pentagon lawyers appears to have concluded that 'we need a presidential letter approving the use of the controversial interrogation techniques to cover those who may be called upon to use them.' No such letter was issued. Today, the White House insisted that tactics used at Guantanamo Bay are now and have been legal."
Scott McClellan, White House Spokesman: "All interrogation techniques that have been approved are lawful and consistent with our obligations."
Moran: "In another internal memo obtained by ABC News, a Navy psychologist observing the interrogation of Mohammed al-Qahtani, dubbed 'the twentieth hijacker,' warned that the tactics used against him revealed [text on screen] 'a tendency to become increasingly more aggressive without having a [on screen included word 'definitive' which Moran skipped] boundary.' Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld declared that whatever the methods, interrogating Al-Qahtani had produced results."
Donald Rumsfeld: "Qahtani and other detainees have provided valuable information, including insights into al-Qaeda planning for September 11th, including recruiting and logistics."
Moran: "Human rights lawyers say Mora was right to raise objections to what his superiors were doing."
Deborah Pearlstein, Human Rights First: "It's clear that individuals who engage in abusive treatment of this nature may be criminally liable for the conduct that they engage in. And so if I were one of the troops who was being asked to conduct interrogations using these techniques, I would certainly want to ask my lawyer whether or not he thought this was actually legal."
Moran concluded: "The upshot of all this was that Secretary Rumsfeld dialed back in early 2003, strictly limiting the use of the most aggressive interrogation techniques, such as forcing detainees into stress positions for long periods of time, or sleep deprivation."

So, two years ago any potential problem was resolved. Shouldn't that have been Moran's lead?

Earlier, Moran seems to have had quizzed White House Press Secretary Scott McClennan about being too harsh to terrorists. I say "seems" since the transcript does not provide names, but this exchange, at the very end of the June 15 session, includes the soundbite from McClellan which Moran put in his story.

Moran?: "Scott, on Guantanamo Bay, understanding that you're saying -- well, but the Geneva Convention does not apply to the prisoners there, looking at part three, section one, article 17, it talks about prisoners of war, but there's also, in the third paragraph, the first five words, 'each party to a conflict.' So I'm trying to figure out -- to understand where you are. "Conflict" with people, meaning not soldiers or soldiers, that's still something -- that still covers those people that you have in Guantanamo Bay, correct? Even if you try to say it's not war."
McClellan: "I don't know how many times we've walked through how we came to the decision we did and why the President made the determination he did. Secretary Rumsfeld went back through it yesterday. You can go back and look at the information we put out back in 2002 that addressed this. These are individuals that do not represent a nation, they do not wear a uniform. There are reasons why we came to the conclusion they are not a party to the Geneva Convention. And the President made the determination that they were enemy combatants.
"That doesn't change the way we treat detainees. Our military upholds high standards and the values and laws that we hold dear. And the detainees at Guantanamo Bay are being treated humanely and they are being treated in a way that is consistent with the Geneva conventions, as we have pointed out. They are being provided meals, clothing, medical care; they are being treated very humanely. That's the way the United States military operates. If there are individuals that act contrary to the military's standards and our own laws and values, then they are held accountable, and they have been held accountable."
Moran?: "Okay, but the line has been obscured between the Geneva Convention and your law. But you're saying they've been treated humanely. The Geneva Convention, even in this article, article 17, it talks about each party to a conflict, okay. And then going down a couple paragraphs, it says, no physical or mental torture. Is dropping water on the head, keeping them up all night, making them stand, is that consistent with your laws? It is consistent with the Geneva Convention, saying no physical or mental torture, but-"
McClellan: "I talked about this the other day, about all interrogation techniques that have been approved are lawful and consistent with our obligations. That was pointed out in a briefing a year ago here at the White House, a briefing with the White House counsel, with the Department of Defense counsel and his deputy, and the deputy head of Army intelligence. And they walked everybody through this.
"Now, I think one of the individuals you may be referencing is a gentleman named Mr. Kahtani. Mr. Kahtani was someone that we believe intended to be one of the hijackers on September 11th. Those attacks killed 3,000 innocent civilians. This is a very dangerous individual who has provided us with valuable intelligence. And so I would encourage you to go back and look at the briefing that took place a year ago, and that walked you all through all these very issues, because these questions have been addressed.
"And in terms of individuals who have taken actions that are contrary to our military standards and to our own values and laws, let's talk about that for a second, because I want to point that out. We've had some 525,000 people serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or at Guantanamo Bay, men and women in uniform who are committed to not only upholding our values and laws, but helping to advance freedom around the world and give people rights that they have not had previously.
"And so I think you have to look at the overall context here. And I take strong exception to any characterizations that try to diminish what our military is doing, and the standards and values that they adhere to, because the 99 percent plus of our men and women in uniform who are serving and sacrificing in defense of freedom are also making sure that those laws and those values and those standards are upheld."
Moan?: "But Scott, you-"
McClellan: "Thank you."
Moran?: "No, no, no, Scott-"
McClellan: "Thank you."

For the transcript in full of the press briefing: www.whitehouse.gov

Salivating for Hillary vs McCain in 2008:
"Oh! Pray for It!"

NBC's Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell are salivating over a potential Hillary Clinton versus John McCain presidential race in 2008. Either way, the media would get a President they admire. On last weekend's Chris Matthews Show, carried mostly on NBC stations, Mitchell oozed: "I think that would be such a great race!" Matthews then effused: "Oh! Pray for it! Bread and butter. Wouldn't that be the greatest? McCain against Hillary."
Listen to MP3 audio clip
Text of clip + audio archive

The MRC's Geoff Dickens caught this exchange on the June 12 edition of the syndicated Chris Matthews Show, from the midst of a discussion about the intellect of various politicians, a topic prompted by the revelation that George W. Bush earned a slightly higher grade point average at Yale than did John F. Kerry:

Matthews: "Okay Hillary Clinton did great at school, she spoke at her class graduation, she's one of the smartest kids in the class. John McCain, one of the least academic at Annapolis. What's that tell us?"
Joe Klein, Time: "It tells us that it'll be an interesting match-up between the two of them."
Mitchell: "I think that would be such a great race!"
Matthews: "Oh! Pray for it! Bread and butter. Wouldn't that be the greatest? McCain against Hillary."
Mitchell: "One of the things about Hillary is that she, I think has perfected the art, even though she's the smartest kid in the class, of not appearing that way. She can reach out to people when you see her out there campaigning."

Brokaw Chides Attitude Toward World,
Urges We Love "Mother Earth"

Delivering the commencement address Sunday at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw seemed to put on Americans some of the blame for Arab/Muslim rage as he asserted that "we cannot wish away the complex set of conditions that fuel a rage across a broad band of the globe" and chastised Americans: "Many of them...love our culture and speak our language but we show, in their eyes, no interest in returning the favor." He argued: "We must see the ancient Arab culture as something other than just a pipeline from their natural riches to our insatiable appetite for energy." Brokaw contended that improvements to America "much more often from the center," over the right or left, as he yearned for a place "where there is no room for ideological bullies." But then he forwarded some ideological extremism himself: "If we fail to love our mother -- Mother Earth. It will do us little good to achieve peace on earth if earth becomes a dead planet."

He elaborated: "Eschew excess and embrace moderation in your consumption habits. Sackcloth and kelp soup are not required, but the Buddhist reminder of the need to live lightly on the earth is a helpful guide to the daily habits and needs of us all."

The MRC's Tim Graham alerted me to the posting of the prepared text of Brokaw's June 12 remarks. An excerpt:

....[L]et's assign your class a marker -- and explore the consequences. The marker, of course, is 9/11, 2001 -- the terrorist attack on America, the worst single assault in this nation's history. You are the class of 9/11. You had the dizzying experience of entering college as your country was entering a shooting war, as a clash of cultures and ideals was altering political, economic and spiritual landscapes far beyond these leafy environs.

You found sanctuary here at Dartmouth on this green and the comforting certainty that if you played by the rules, this important passage in your life would be successfully concluded in four years.

Alas, there is not a comparable orderliness about the other passage, the rough ride resulting from the horrific events of 9-11. We, as a nation, wherever we live, whatever we believe, wherever we've been educated, whatever we do -- we're still working our way across open water, forced to navigate by the stars as the old navigational charts now are of little use.

Our destination remains uncertain. Some seas have been rougher than we expected them to be. Certain forecasts proved to be perilously wrong. Unexpected currents keep pushing us close to dangerous shoals or in directions not of our choosing. It is time, as they say at sea, for all hands to be on deck, for this is a common journey and it requires common effort and the collective wisdom of crew and passengers alike.

Your individual hopes and dreams will be seriously compromised if the ship of state is allowed to drift on a hazardous course. We cannot pretend that simply because there has not been another 9-11 the world is as it once was. We are not yet near the end of an epic struggle between the Western ideal of rule of law, tolerance, pluralism and modernity and the advocates of a jihad vision of Islam.

We cannot wish away the complex set of conditions that fuel a rage across a broad band of the globe where too many young men and women your age are caught in a crossfire of claims on their faith and another way of life playing out on the wider screens that reflect the images of our world -- a world of unveiled women, material excess, secular joy disconnected from their lives of deprivation and uncertainty.

These young men and women are not incidental to the world that you are entering. They are the fastest growing population in a world already over-crowded, especially in that part of the globe where self-determination remains at best a work in progress. Or at best, a faint rumor or a distant promise.

Many of them, as I know from my recent travels there again just this spring, love our culture and speak our language but we show, in their eyes, no interest in returning the favor. Too many of them love the idea of America but hate our government, envy our freedoms and deeply resent what they see as our sense of entitlement, our determination to tell them how to live their lives. The worst among them had to be punished and the fight goes on, but no army can conquer them all or force them to change.

So as you leave here in pursuit of your dreams, try to imagine theirs. Stand tall. Don't apologize for what you have or what you believe in, but get to know what they don't have, and why.

Take the lead in establishing a common ground between generations, a common ground of appreciation and understanding, a shared destiny of self-determination and economic opportunity -- and racial equality.

I'm humbled by the presence that I'm in here today with these honorary degree recipients. One of them is an old friend, Andrew Young. I was a young reporter in the 1960s and when I was graduating from the University of South Dakota it was a far different world for black Americans than it is now thanks largely to the courage of Dr. Young, and Dr. King and all the others. Black Americans were still riding at the back of the bus and forced to go to separate restrooms and drink from separate water fountains. They were denigrated every day about their fundamental human values, they were not allowed to vote, and they certainly couldn't dream that one day they would have a man among them who would be the UN ambassador to the United States or twice mayor of Atlanta.

Now we must look beyond our own borders and take that same call. We must see the ancient Arab culture as something other than just a pipeline from their natural riches to our insatiable appetite for energy. This is a place to begin, but fair warning, it will be hard work -- challenging, stimulating, frustrating, dangerous, and hard. For this common ground cannot be found in a piece of software, it is not hidden in the settings on your toolbar. There is no delete button for intolerance, no insert button for understanding. This new technology that so defines your generation is a transformational tool but as a tool really must be an extension of your head and your heart.

It will do us little good to wire the world if we limit our vision. It will do us little good to wire the world if we short-circuit our souls.

No, the world that you inherit now requires personal, hands-on, be-brave, speak-out courage. We, as the most powerful military, industrial, political super-power ever imagined, require citizens who understand that patriotism means to love your country and to always believe that it can be improved -- and that improvement comes not just from the far right or from the far left, but much more often from the center. From the arena of public debate and participating, where ideology always has a place, but where there is no room for ideological bullies.

Our best efforts will be for naught if we fail on another front. If we fail to love our mother - Mother Earth. It will do us little good to achieve peace on earth if earth becomes a dead planet.

So as you leave here -- I hope with a renewed sense of citizenship and passion for immersing yourself in the human struggles that define our time -- remember as well that individually and collectively you're also stewards of the air we breathe, the water that we drink, wild lands and creatures large and small.

Develop a sense of proportion about your personal and professional needs. Eschew excess and embrace moderation in your consumption habits. Sackcloth and kelp soup are not required, but the Buddhist reminder of the need to live lightly on the earth is a helpful guide to the daily habits and needs of us all.

Become a missionary in this great, common cause -- at home, at work, among friends. What could be more noble or worthwhile than to save a forest, preserve a wilderness, protect a wetlands? To save the world?...

END of Excerpt

For the text in full, as posted by Dartmouth College: www.dartmouth.edu

C-SPAN has been carrying commencement addresses on Saturday night, but has yet to get to those from media figures. I'd be surprised if Brokaw's remarks were not amongst those C-SPAN runs from journalists when they get to that category -- maybe as soon as this Saturday night.

Kudos to CBS for Showing Chinese Brutality,
Noting Gun Control

Kudos to CBS News for using the availability of video, an excuse for car chase video on cable news channels, to show an instance of Chinese communist brutality as they attacked and murdered Chinese citizens standing up for land rights. CBS obtained the home video from the Washington Post which carried a story in Wednesday's paper, and CBS's Barry Petersen, who narrated the video shown on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, pointed out "one reason for believing the government is involved: Guns are strictly controlled in China, and the attackers had guns."

Bob Schieffer set up the June 15 piece: "China's economy is growing rapidly, but most Chinese remain poor, their lives controlled by a government willing to use violence against them. We have some pictures tonight of one such episode. The pictures were taken last weekend 120 miles southwest of Beijing and smuggled out of China. Barry Petersen has the story."

From Tokyo, Petersen narrated over the dark and blurry video of people running around, some explosions and gunfire and someone using a big piece of wood to beat someone down on the ground:
"It is a rare look into the dark side of China: Farmers who built a tent city to hold on to their land attacked by men who may well have been hired by the local government. They killed six farmers and seriously injured a hundred.
"These pictures were taken by one of the farmers who smuggled them out. It is almost unheard of to see pictures like these, armed men firing on farmers, because China's government strictly controls what can be said or seen in incidents like this. The farmers believe the men who attacked them were working on behalf of the local government that had run out of patience in its effort to get control of this land. One reason for believing the government is involved: Guns are strictly controlled in China, and the attackers had guns. When the farmers called local police, it took six hours for authorities to respond.
"There have been numerous reports from across China of situations like this one. What makes this so rare is that it came with pictures, and the pictures made it to the outside world. Despite the assault, the farmers held on to the land. What they fear now is that the attackers will be back. Barry Petersen, CBS News, Tokyo."

"Chinese Peasants Attacked in Land Dispute: At Least 6 Die as Armed Thugs Assault Villagers Opposed to Seizure of Property," read the headline over the June 15 Washington Post article from Philip P. Pan in Shengyou, China. An excerpt:

Hundreds of men armed with shotguns, clubs and pipes on Saturday attacked a group of farmers who were resisting official demands to surrender land to a state-owned power plant, witnesses said. Six farmers were killed and as many as 100 others were seriously injured in one of China's deadliest incidents of rural unrest in years.

The farmers, who had pitched tents and dug foxholes and trenches on the disputed land to prevent the authorities from seizing it, said they suspected the assailants were hired by corrupt local officials. They said scores of villagers were beaten or stabbed and several were shot in the back while fleeing.

Reached by telephone, a spokesman for the provincial government said he could not confirm or discuss the incident. "So far, we've been ordered not to issue any information about it," he said.

Large contingents of police have been posted around Shengyou, about 100 miles southwest of Beijing, but bruised and bandaged residents smuggled a reporter into the village Monday and led him to a vast field littered with abandoned weapons, spent shell casings and bloody rags. They also provided footage of the melee made with a digital video camera.

Despite the attack, the farmers remained defiant and in control of the disputed land. They also occupied the local headquarters of the ruling Communist Party, where they placed the bodies of six of their slain compatriots. A crowd of emotional mourners filled the courtyard outside; hanging over the front gate was a white flag with a word scrawled in black ink: "Injustice."

Residents said party officials abandoned the building and fled town, apparently because they feared they would be blamed for the killings....

Access to firearms is strictly regulated in China, but villagers said the men fired on them with hunting shotguns and flare guns. They also wielded metal pipes fitted with sharp hooks on the end. Because of the preparation, residents suggested the men might have ties to organized crime groups working with local officials....

END of Excerpt

For the Post story in full, as well as a map, picture and the video shown by CBS News: www.washingtonpost.com


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-- Brent Baker