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CBS Cites Clinton Official to Say Bush Missed PDB's "Alarm" --4/13/2004


1. CBS Cites Clinton Official to Say Bush Missed PDB's "Alarm"
CBS's John Roberts on Monday night, citing a Clinton official as authoritative, scolded President Bush for failing to connect the dots and take action based on the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief (PDB), but ABC's Terry Moran related how a former FBI expert on al-Qaeda "says Mr. Bush was poorly served by the sketchy briefing." In contrast, Roberts insisted: "While there was nothing specific as to time and place, counter-terrorism experts say it should have raised a deafening alarm at the White House." Roberts lectured: "And there were plenty of dots, say former intelligence officials, the White House failed to connect to the August 6th memo."

2. Widow on CBS: Bush "Didn't Take Seriously," So Husband Dead
CBS's The Early Show on Monday continued the pattern of network morning shows highlighting 9-11 families hostile to the Bush administration as the program dedicated a full story to how a couple of them think "more should have been done" with the information in the August 6, 2001 PDB. CBS reporter Michelle Miller relayed how one widow claimed her husband "might have escaped the 76th floor of the South Tower, she says, if key facts in the August 6th, memo were released to the public" and a daughter, of a woman who stayed in her World Trade Center office after the first plane struck the other tower, insisted she "might have made a different decision as well if she didn't think it was an accident." Miller featured the widow denouncing Bush: "He didn't take this seriously, because my husband is dead."

3. MSNBC's Olbermann Sarcastically Mocks Bush on PDB as Too Vague
"Mr. Bush again says the intelligence was not solid enough to act upon" in the August 6, 2001 PDB, "raising the question," MSNBC's Keith Olbermann sarcastically remarked on Monday night, "the intelligence about Iraq was?" Olbermann proceeded to mock Bush's stance on the PDB: "His administration thus seemingly on the verge of resembling the old joke about the man who loses his wallet on a city street at night. A policeman finds him searching for it under a street lamp and asks, 'Is this where you lost it?' And the man replies, 'No, I lost it over there in the dark.' The policeman says, 'Then, why are you looking under the street lamp?' And the man answers, 'Because it's not so dark over here.'"

4. New York Times Stories: "PDB" Meant "Pin Damage on Bush"
From the MRC's TimesWatch.org Web site: Several New York Times stories over the Easter weekend and Monday hit Bush for allegedly missing clues to 9-11 in the famous August 6, 2001 "President's Daily Briefing" (PDB), the two-page classified briefing document given to Bush 36 days before 9-11. That's despite the now-declassified memo's distinct lack of detail. In the NY Times, PDB Meant "Pin Damage on Bush."

5. Newsweek and Today Ask: "Is Iraq Turning Into Another Vietnam?"
More suggestions that Iraq is another Vietnam. "Up next, could Iraq turn into another Vietnam? Our military expert answers that question and more," CBS's Hannah Storm touted on last Thursday's Early Show. On Monday, Today co-host Lester Holt set up a segment with Newsweek's Evan Thomas about the magazine's matching cover story this week: "Is Iraq turning into another Vietnam?" Holt and Thomas proceeded to discuss the supposed similarities or whether Lebanon might be a better comparison.

6. Rooney in Column: Soldiers Forced to Iraq by Bad U.S. Economy
"Our soldiers in Iraq aren't heroes," read the Buffalo News headline over a syndicated column by CBS's Andy Rooney carried in the paper on Monday. "We should not bestow the mantle of heroism on all of them for simply being where we sent them," Rooney argued, since "most are victims, not heroes." Indeed, he contended that though "we speak of them as if they volunteered to risk their lives to save ours," in fact "there isn't much voluntary about what most of them have done" since "during the last few years, when millions of jobs disappeared, many young people, desperate for some income, enlisted in the Army."


CBS Cites Clinton Official to Say Bush
Missed PDB's "Alarm"

CBS's John Roberts CBS's John Roberts on Monday night, citing a Clinton official as authoritative, scolded President Bush for failing to connect the dots and take action based on the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief (PDB), but ABC's Terry Moran related how a former FBI expert on al-Qaeda "says Mr. Bush was poorly served by the sketchy briefing."

"The White House portrayed the document as little more than a history lesson on Bin Laden's intentions, but it did outline current al-Qaeda activity," Roberts asserted on the April 12 CBS Evening News. Roberts led into a soundbite from Robert Benjamin of Clinton's National Security Council staff: "While there was nothing specific as to time and place, counter-terrorism experts say it should have raised a deafening alarm at the White House."

Roberts lectured: "And there were plenty of dots, say former intelligence officials, the White House failed to connect to the August 6th memo," before concluding with a self-fulfilling prophecy: "White House officials were hoping the release of the once-secret memo would put to rest any questions about why President Bush didn't see a greater threat. Instead, it has only raised new ones."

Over on Monday's World News Tonight on ABC, however, Terry Moran came at the PDB from the opposite direction. "A 28-year veteran of the FBI, who was one of the bureau's lead investigators of al-Qaeda, says Mr. Bush was poorly served by the sketchy briefing."
Jack Cloonan, former FBI agent: "There was a great more information out there. I know personally that there was a great deal more of factual information that should have been reported."
Moran: "One glaring omission according to that FBI veteran: Mr. Bush was never told that Ayman Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant, had been in the U.S. twice to meet with an al-Qaeda cell in California."

For a picture of Cloonan, see: www.wishtv.com

Or: abcnews.go.com

Now, the April 12 CBS Evening News story in full, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth. Dan Rather introduced it with a reference to the upcoming Tuesday night presidential press conference: "You can count on the President also getting questions about the CIA memo he received just five weeks before the 9/11 attacks, a memo he made public, under pressure, over the Easter weekend. CBS's John Roberts reports what that memo says and what President Bush says it means."

Roberts began: "It was a public relations gamble the President hoped would pay off big time, releasing the super-secret memo he was briefed on a month before the 9/11 attacks."
George W. Bush, at press conference with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Crawford, Texas: "There was nothing in the, in this report to me that said, 'Oh, by the way, we've got intelligence that says something is about to happen in America.'"
Roberts contended: "The White House portrayed the document as little more than a history lesson on Bin Laden's intentions, but it did outline current al-Qaeda activity 'consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.' The FBI, it said, was 'conducting approximately 70 full field investigations it considers Bin Laden-related,' including a May 2001 tip that 'a group of Bin Laden supporters was in the U.S. planning attacks with explosives.' While there was nothing specific as to time and place, counter-terrorism experts say it should have raised a deafening alarm at the White House."
Daniel Benjamin, former Clinton counter-terrorism official: "This memo was about sending the White House a message the threat is more urgent than you have taken it thus far. This is a real danger. Bin Laden wants to strike in the U.S."
Roberts: "And there were plenty of dots, say former intelligence officials, the White House failed to connect to the August 6th memo. Not a month earlier, missile batteries were brought in to protect the G-8 Summit in Genoa from airborne attack. Add to that, earlier intelligence reports al-Qaeda might try to crash an aircraft into the CIA or the Eiffel Tower. Yet the administration was concerned only about traditional hijackings."
Benjamin: "It would seem strange to me to just talk about hijackings. Al-Qaeda doesn't take hostages. Al-Qaeda kills people."
Roberts: "With the central plank of his re-election strategy under even more scrutiny, President Bush for the first time this week suggested, well, maybe the intelligence he received wasn't complete."
Bush: "And that's why I, you know, I think the hearings are good things, particularly when they address any weaknesses in the system."
Roberts concluded: "White House officials were hoping the release of the once-secret memo would put to rest any questions about why President Bush didn't see a greater threat. Instead, it has only raised new ones."

Benjamin has a political agenda hostile to Bush policy, a quick Google search conformed. "Condi's Phony History: Sorry, Dr. Rice, postwar Germany was nothing like Iraq," read the headline over a piece in Slate last August: slate.msn.com

A couple of weeks ago he penned an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times defending Dick Clarke: www.latimes.com

The Democratic National Committee was so impressed with the piece that they posted it on their Web site: www.democrats.com

And it turns out that he's a former journalist himself. His bio on the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Web site offers this bit of background: "Before entering the government, Benjamin was Berlin bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal. He has been a foreign correspondent and staff writer for Time magazine." See: www.csis.org

For the full text of the August 6, 2001 PDB, as distributed by the AP and posted by Yahoo: news.yahoo.com

Widow on CBS: Bush "Didn't Take Seriously,"
So Husband Dead

CBS's The Early Show on Monday continued the pattern of network morning shows highlighting 9-11 families hostile to the Bush administration as the program dedicated a full story to how a couple of them think "more should have been done" with the information in the August 6, 2001 PDB.

CBS reporter Michelle Miller relayed how one widow, Monica Gabrielle, claimed her husband "might have escaped the 76th floor of the South Tower, she says, if key facts in the August 6th, memo were released to the public" and a daughter, of a woman who stayed in her World Trade Center office after the first plane struck the other tower, insisted she "might have made a different decision as well if she didn't think it was an accident." Miller featured Gabrielle denouncing Bush: "Apparently, he didn't take this seriously, because my husband is dead."

Back when some family members with a political agenda complained about the Bush campaign TV ads with fleeting scenes from 9/11, Gabrielle was out in front, the very first person quoted in the very first story with the anti-Bush ad agenda, the March 4 New York Daily News: "'It's a slap in the face of the murders of 3,000 people,' said Monica Gabrielle, whose husband died in the twin tower attacks. 'It is unconscionable.' Gabrielle and several other family members said the injury was compounded by Bush's refusal to testify in open session before the 9/11 commission." For the Daily News story: www.nydailynews.com

CyberAlert reported at the time: The Bush campaign may have $100 million to spend, but the Kerry team has the news media as part of its base, a reality demonstrated on Thursday, a day John Kerry took off and didn't even campaign. Based on a single news story in the New York Daily News quoting a single firefighter and a few members of families with 9-11 victims, the morning and evening shows on ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC, as well as CNBC and MSNBC in prime time, picked up the charge that new Bush campaign TV ads, which very briefly show images from 9-11, somehow improperly exploit that day for political gain. In the morning, Karen Hughes was quizzed about it and in the evening the supposed "controversy" led or was the number two story on every evening newscast. ABC's Diane Sawyer, CBS's Harry Smith and CNN's Soledad O'Brien and Paula Zahn highlighted how the "firefighters union" protested the ad, but failed to point out how that union long ago endorsed John Kerry. For the March 5 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

Back to the CBS Early Show claims that bin Laden targeting American was unknown to the public, the World Trade Center was hit by terrorism eight years earlier, so anyone in the building should well have known about the threat of terrorism, to say nothing of how every al-Qaeda attack on U.S. interests over the years had received great publicity.

MRC analyst Brian Boyd caught the one-sided story, which led the 7:30am half hour on the April 12 program. Julie Chen set it up: "As we mentioned, a secret presidential briefing on al Qaeda was made public by the White House this weekend. President Bush says the pre-9/11 memo said nothing specific about an upcoming attack on America. But as CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller reports, some families of 9/11 victims believe more should have been done."

Miller began: "For Monica Gabrielle there's no silver bullet in the presidential brief that indicates whether the Bush administration knew attacks were imminent but-" After a bite from Gabrielle, Miller picked up: "Monica's husband, Richard, might have escaped the 76th floor of the South Tower, she says, if key facts in the August 6th, memo were released to the public. Terri McGovern says her mom, Anne, who stayed at her desk after the North Tower was struck might have made a different decision as well if she didn't think it was an accident....McGovern says the document contradicts what the National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, told the commission last week."
Rice: "It did not warn of attacks inside the United States. It was historical information-"
Miller: "Now many of the families of the 9/11 victims simply want to know what the President did with what he knew."
Gabrielle: "Apparently, he didn't take this seriously, because my husband is dead."
Miller: "It was pressure from the 9/11 families that ultimately forced the hand of the Bush administration on two key issues last week: allowing the National Security Advisor to testify before the commission and the historic release of classified security information to the public. And they say they'll keep the pressure on."

Now doubt with the help of the news media eager to tear down the Bush administration with little interest in what occurred in the eight years of the Clinton administration.

The April 12 CyberAlert reported: The media on Thursday and Friday provided an imbalanced forum to a very small number of 9-11 families who have an anti-Bush political agenda, with the same few family members appearing again and again in story after story and interview after interview. Several belong to groups with a political agenda, such as September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and Voices of September 11th, affiliations which were not noted by the networks or in a Reuters story which featured four critics of Bush, but not one backer. Before an interview segment on Friday's Good Morning America with two Bush-bashing 9-11 activists, ABC's Robin Roberts acknowledged that "there are those who support the President" and proceeded to give Debra Burlingame a three-second soundbite. A World News Tonight story featured six anti-Bush family members up against one Bush defender. See: www.mediaresearch.org

MSNBC's Olbermann Sarcastically Mocks
Bush on PDB as Too Vague

"Mr. Bush again says the intelligence was not solid enough to act upon" in the August 6, 2001 PDB, "raising the question," MSNBC's Keith Olbermann sarcastically remarked on Monday night, "the intelligence about Iraq was?" Olbermann proceeded to mock Bush's stance on the PDB: "His administration thus seemingly on the verge of resembling the old joke about the man who loses his wallet on a city street at night. A policeman finds him searching for it under a street lamp and asks, 'Is this where you lost it?' And the man replies, 'No, I lost it over there in the dark.' The policeman says, 'Then, why are you looking under the street lamp?' And the man answers, 'Because it's not so dark over here.'"

Olbermann teased at the top of the April 12 Countdown, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "The President's daily briefing about the August 2001 President's daily briefing. Mr. Bush again says the intelligence was not solid enough to act upon, raising the question: 'The intelligence about Iraq was?'"

Olbermann then opened the hour-long 8pm and 12am EDT program by arguing that the capture of an American in Iraq employed by Halliburton represents the "convergence" of three campaign issues:
"Good evening. It's the economy, stupid -- and Iraq. Our fifth story on the Countdown tonight, amid the fear and uncertainty of the family of a Mississippi dairy farmer is the unlikely convergence of two of the foremost issues not only in the country but also in the presidential campaign already under way. Best available information is that Thomas Hamill is still captive, a victim of abduction by Iraqi insurgents. He was in Iraq only because the economy had hurt his family-owned dairy last fall. Hamill, the dairy in debt, his wife recovering from heart surgery, sold out and instead signed a one-year contract to drive fuel trucks in Iraq for the company Kellogg, Brown and Root. KBR is a Halliburton subsidiary. So if you want to see the convergence of not two, but three campaign issues in one man's tragedy, there is your third."

Arriving at story number three for the night, Olbermann mocked President Bush's claim that the PDB was to vague to act on, intoning:
"At this time tomorrow, the President will be giving the twelfth solo press conference of his administration, his first since the capture of Saddam Hussein. That is not the anticipated mood for tomorrow night's assembly. Our third story tonight, the President again saying today there was nothing in the daily briefing he received on August 6, 2001, that told him, quote, 'Oh, by the way, we've got intelligence that says something is about to happen in America.' His administration thus seemingly on the verge of resembling the old joke about the man who loses his wallet on a city street at night. A policeman finds him searching for it under a street lamp and asks, 'Is this where you lost it?' And the man replies, 'No, I lost it over there in the dark.' The policeman says, 'Then, why are you looking under the street lamp?' And the man answers, 'Because it's not so dark over here.' The President's daily briefing for August 6, 2001, was finally released unceremoniously at 5:45 on a Saturday evening during a holiday weekend. Suddenly, the object of so much speculation was available for all to read with just a few words blacked out to protect foreign intelligence services.
"Tonight, though, the Associated Press reporting that the day after the President received that PDB, another memo with the same title, 'Bin Laden Intent to Strike in United States,' was distributed as a senior executive intelligence brief. Except this memo excluded the information about the then-current threats and investigations. Those in government who read it did not get to read what President Bush had, that there was evidence of possible al-Qaeda activity inside this country."

New York Times Stories: "PDB" Meant "Pin
Damage on Bush"

From the MRC's TimesWatch.org Web site: Several New York Times stories over the Easter weekend and Monday hit Bush for allegedly missing clues to 9-11 in the famous August 6, 2001 "President's Daily Briefing" (PDB), the two-page classified briefing document given to Bush 36 days before 9-11. That's despite the now-declassified memo's distinct lack of detail.

Below is a reprint of the April 12 posting about New York Times coverage of the PDB release, by TimesWatch.org Editor Clay Waters, which he headlined: "Where 'PDB' Means 'Pin Damage on Bush.'" (TimesWatch.org is dedicated to documenting the liberal political agenda of the New York Times.) The excerpt:

On Sunday, Philip Shenon penned "Panel Plans to Document the Breadth of Lost Opportunities." Taking talking points from anti-Bush official Richard Clarke, Shenon wrote that the former counterterrorism director thought the Bushies "cared little about terrorist threats before Sept. 11."

Shenon wrote: "Richard A. Clarke, President Bush's former counterterrorism director...said in a new book and in testimony to the panel that President Bush and his top aides cared little about terrorist threats before Sept. 11. Had they cared, he asserts, the government might have had a chance to tie together what now seem to have been obvious clues available to the government in late 2000 and early 2001 that Al Qaeda was about to attack in America. At least some of the clues were presented directly to President Bush on Aug. 6, 2001, when he received an intelligence briefing on Qaeda threats in the United States."

Also on Sunday, intelligence reporter Douglas Jehl penned "A Warning, but Clear?" It too opened with a hard sell of the PDB briefing Bush received on August 6, 2001: "In a single 17-sentence document, the intelligence briefing delivered to President Bush in August 2001 spells out the who, hints at the what and points toward the where of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that followed 36 days later. Whether its disclosure does lasting damage to Mr. Bush's presidency and re-election prospects may depend on whether the White House succeeds in persuading Americans that, as a whole, its significance adds up to less than a sum of those parts."

Here are those "parts" of the PDB referenced by reporter Jehl -- from the last three paragraphs of the document:

"We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a...service in 1998 saying that bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of 'Blind Sheik' Omar Abdel Rahman and other U.S.-held extremists.
"Nevertheless, F.B.I. information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.
"The F.B.I. is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the U.S. that it considers bin Laden-related. C.I.A. and the F.B.I. are investigating a call to our embassy in the U.A.E. in May saying that a group of bin Laden supporters was in the U.S. planning attacks with explosives."

Note how uncorroborated and vague the actual evidence is, and how little it provided in the way of the "clues" described by reporter Shenon in his Sunday piece.

Jehl's article continued: "In deciding to release the portion of the daily briefing document, something no previous White House has ever done, Mr. Bush and his advisers were clearly attuned to the potential political damage that had been caused as its contents began to leak out following Ms. Rice's testimony on Thursday. In taking the step, White House officials seemed determined to head off the protests before accounts in the Sunday morning newspapers and on talk shows inflicted another round of damage....With the disclosure of the Aug. 6 document, however, the specific, contemporary nature of what it contained will almost certainly confront the White House with more questions asking 'what if?' Of the specific, contemporary information, the most tantalizing may be the May 15 warning to the American Embassy in the United Arab Emirates, 'saying that a group of Bin Laden supporters was in the U.S. planning attacks with explosives.'"

The UAE call, while intriguing, is by no means "specific," particularly in post 9-11 hindsight. After all, no explosives were involved in the 9/11 attacks, and the PDB makes no mention of suicide bombing, giving credence to the White House notion that there was no "actionable intelligence" in the briefing that pointed to 9/11.

Eric Lichtblau and David Sanger contributed the paper's lead story on Saturday, headlined: "August '01 Brief Is Said To Warn Of Attack Plans -- Contradicts White House." But as the actual memo shows, there were no specific "attack plans," only hints.

Still, Lichtblau and Sanger pumped the vague details of the PDB and claimed the White House to be caught in a "contradiction": "President Bush was told more than a month before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that supporters of Osama bin Laden planned an attack within the United States with explosives and wanted to hijack airplanes, a government official said Friday....The disclosure appears to contradict the White House's repeated assertions that the briefing the president received about the Qaeda threat was 'historical' in nature and that the White House had little reason to suspect a Qaeda attack within American borders."

Finally, Adam Nagourney and Philip Shenon's lead story for Monday was headlined: "Bush Says Brief On Qaeda Threat Was Not Specific."

Yet they portrayed Bush on the defensive, claiming the PDF was "threatening the central pillar" of his reelection campaign: "Mr. Bush's remarks came after a week in which the president had remained largely out of view, even as violence was escalating in Iraq and as his terrorism policies were being challenged. His comments were part of a White House effort to quell the storm about the briefing he received on Aug. 6, 2001. Democrats and Republicans said on Sunday that the release of the document -- combined with images of American bloodshed and the disorder in Iraq--was threatening the central pillar of the president's re-election campaign, his record on managing national security."

END of Reprint

For links to all of the cited New York Times stories, check the TimesWatch.org posting of this article: www.timeswatch.org

Newsweek and Today Ask: "Is Iraq Turning
Into Another Vietnam?"

More suggestions that Iraq is another Vietnam. "Up next, could Iraq turn into another Vietnam? Our military expert answers that question and more," CBS's Hannah Storm touted on last Thursday's Early Show. On Monday, Today co-host Lester Holt set up a segment with Newsweek's Evan Thomas about the magazine's matching cover story this week: "Is Iraq turning into another Vietnam?" Holt and Thomas proceeded to discuss the supposed similarities or whether Lebanon might be a better comparison.

Holt set up the April 12 segment, which the M.C.'s Geoff Dickens brought to my attention: "Let's further explore that question. Is Iraq turning into another Vietnam? It's the question Newsweek magazine asks in its current issue titled, 'The Vietnam Factor.' Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas wrote the cover story. Evan, good morning to you."
Evan Thomas: "Hi, Lester."
Holt: "Hi and let me first begin with a poll in Newsweek in this current issue. 64 percent of those polled last Thursday and Friday said they're concerned that Iraq will become another Vietnam. And I guess for the administration comes the question what is the American perception of Vietnam? Was it a military failure or a political one?"
Thomas: "It was a failure across the board. I mean, I think a lot of people thought that maybe we might have won ultimately, militarily. But it was just something that we couldn't last out. You know it's important to, to note there are big differences here. In Vietnam we lost more than 50,000 people, Iraq so far, 460 or so, killed in action. That's about as many people as we lost in a single week in Vietnam during the worst months of the war. So it's not, it's not Vietnam on the, in, in the sense of the scale."
Holt raised a suggested a specific similarity with Vietnam: "But let's talk about, yeah let's talk though about public perception. 1968, the Tet Offensive. The communist uprising. A military failure for them but the perception here in America was that the U.S. was losing control. Do the events of the last week in Iraq suggest the same thing? Is there that perception in America?"
Thomas agreed: "Yes and I think that's where the comparison is valid. We had this kind of sinking feeling last week that things are spinning out of control. And for anybody, certainly anybody over, about the age of 50 it felt, it was reminiscent of Tet. It reminded us of that kind of sickening feeling, that queasy feeling that we got that we were trapped in something that we hadn't quite expected and that there was no end at sight. There was no, there was no light at the end of the tunnel."
Holt put forward another supposed overlap: "And then we hear that refrain again as we did back in Vietnam, stay the course. But are the national security interests a bit more difficult here than they were in Vietnam? The issue of what happens in Iraq if you were to leave."
Thomas agreed again: "Yes, I mean both wars, in a sense were, were voluntary. We didn't have to go to Vietnam. We didn't have to go to Iraq. But the stakes in Iraq are potentially higher because if Iraq becomes a failed state where terrorists breed. They could come, they could come our way. After all the Viet Cong never attacked New York or Washington. But, but terrorists could come our way, if, if Iraq really does descend into chaos and become a kind of nesting place for terrorists. So potentially the stakes are pretty great and I think the Bush administration realizes that and that's why I think they are determined to stay the course."
Holt: "And Katie and Terry Anderson were talking a moment ago as to whether Lebanon might be a more accurate comparison. You get into that in your cover story, don't you?"
Thomas: "Yes, I mean I think for the short term it is because we're, we're in a potential kidnapping situation. Or not potential, we're in a kidnapping situation. I guess one that could, could get worse. And because Lebanon has a lot of comparisons to Iraq. There's, there's no government, there's no police, there's no authority. It's like a lot of messes. I mean Americans like to go to war when there's a clear cut challenge and when victory is in sight. And Americans can be determined and, and relentless as they were in World War II. But these long term, messy engagements abroad where there's no end in sight and it's a combination of peace-keeping in war we're less comfortable with that. It's really not in our nature. We're really not, we're not natural imperialists. It's messy and confusing, I think, to Americans."

For the cover story in the April 19 Newsweek, "The Vietnam Factor: How this war compares -- and how it doesn't," see: www.msnbc.msn.com

Previous CyberAlert item on analogies to Vietnam, from the April 8 edition: CBS's Dan Rather and ABC's Peter Jennings did their best on Wednesday night to advance Senator Ted Kennedy's notion that Iraq is "Bush's Vietnam," though neither mentioned the Senator as they raised the comparison to the earlier quagmire. Rather treated the allegation of the enemy as newsworthy as he announced at the top of the CBS Evening News: "In Najaf, the militant Shiite cleric Al-Sadr echoed the refrain Iraq could become quote, 'another Vietnam' for America." Over on ABC's World News Tonight, Jennings sat down with two retired military leaders and when one noted that though the U.S. military is superior, it cannot eliminate the threat from an insurgency, Jennings jumped in: "Well that sounds like Vietnam." See: www.mediaresearch.org

Rooney in Column: Soldiers Forced to
Iraq by Bad U.S. Economy

"Our soldiers in Iraq aren't heroes," read the Buffalo News headline over a syndicated column by CBS's Andy Rooney carried in the paper on Monday. "We should not bestow the mantle of heroism on all of them for simply being where we sent them," Rooney argued, since "most are victims, not heroes." Indeed, he contended that though "we speak of them as if they volunteered to risk their lives to save ours," in fact "there isn't much voluntary about what most of them have done" since "during the last few years, when millions of jobs disappeared, many young people, desperate for some income, enlisted in the Army."

An excerpt from Rooney's Tribune Media Services column published in Monday's Buffalo News, which was highlighted by the DrudgeReport ( www.drudgereport.com )

Most of the reporting from Iraq is about death and destruction. We don't learn much about what our soldiers in Iraq are thinking or doing. There's no Ernie Pyle to tell us, and, if there were, the military would make it difficult or impossible for him to let us know.

It would be interesting to have a reporter ask a group of our soldiers in Iraq to answer five questions and see the results:...

2. Are you doing what America set out to do to make Iraq a democracy, or have we failed so badly that we should pack up and get out before more of you are killed?...

Treating soldiers fighting their war as brave heroes is an old civilian trick designed to keep the soldiers at it. But you can be sure our soldiers in Iraq are not all brave heroes gladly risking their lives for us sitting comfortably back here at home....

We pin medals on their chests to keep them going. We speak of them as if they volunteered to risk their lives to save ours, but there isn't much voluntary about what most of them have done. A relatively small number are professional soldiers. During the last few years, when millions of jobs disappeared, many young people, desperate for some income, enlisted in the Army. About 40 percent of our soldiers in Iraq enlisted in the National Guard or the Army Reserve to pick up some extra money and never thought they'd be called on to fight. They want to come home....

We must support our soldiers in Iraq because it's our fault they're risking their lives there. However, we should not bestow the mantle of heroism on all of them for simply being where we sent them. Most are victims, not heroes.

America's intentions are honorable. I believe that, and we must find a way of making the rest of the world believe it. We want to do the right thing. We care about the rest of the world. President Bush's intentions were honorable when he took us into Iraq. They were not well thought out but honorable.

Bush's determination to make the evidence fit the action he took, which it does not, has made things look worse. We pay lip service to the virtues of openness and honesty, but for some reason, we too often act as though there was a better way of handling a bad situation than by being absolutely open and honest.

END of Excerpt

For the column in full: www.buffalonews.com

For the column as posted by Rooney's syndicator, where it carries the headline "Heroes Don't Come Wholesale": www.tmsfeatures.com

For Rooney's page on the CBSNews.com Web site: www.cbsnews.com

# To accommodate President Bush's 8:30pm EDT press conference tonight (Tuesday), the four broadcast networks are all killing an hour of prime time programming so that they can hand off to affiliates for local news at the regular 10pm or 11pm EDT (9pm or 10pm CDT) time. This means a bunch a scheduled shows will not air tonight, not even in the Mountain or Pacific time zones where Bush will be done long before prime time starts. For a EDT rundown, as reported in today's Washington Post: www.washingtonpost.com

-- Brent Baker