Clift Suggests Sons Killed to Silence Them on Lack of WMD --7/28/2003
2. CBS Seeks Out Soldier's Mother Who Feels Bush "Betrayed" Her
3. NBC: Handling of Sons "Quite Offensive to Islamic Sensibilities"
4. Negative Reports Out of Iraq Versus Much More Positive Reality
5. CBS & ABC Again Mis-Portray Liberal Activist Seniors as Typical
Uday and Qusay killed to keep them silent on lack of WMD? Newsweek's Eleanor Clift suggested on the McLaughlin Group over the weekend that the in killing Uday and Qusay Hussein, "two intelligence assets who could potentially lead us to the weapons of mass destruction," the Bush administration "surrendered a major opportunity to uncover" those weapons "unless," she added nefariously, "they don't believe those weapons are there."
Later, she equated President Bush's State of the Union line about Iraq "seeking" uranium in Africa with the tape erasure in the Nixon White House: "The 16 words are taking on the aura of the 18-minute gap under a former President."
On the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons, Clift argued: "The way they went sent another message. You don't send in a TOW missile if you want to capture them alive. And these are two intelligence assets who could potentially lead us to the weapons of mass destruction. And the fact that the administration really made very little attempt to take them alive -- they wanted to spare themselves the headache of a trial -- but they also surrendered a major opportunity to uncover the real reason we went to war -- unless they don't believe those weapons are there."
In her weekly MSNBC.com column on Friday, Clift offered a less accusatory version of the same theme, arguing that finding the weapons of mass destruction "would be such a huge win for the administration that you would think they would have gone to greater lengths to take Uday and Qusay alive."
An excerpt from Clift's July 25 column on MSNBC.com:
....The war in Iraq was fought to disarm Saddam, but the way the commanders on the ground went in after Uday and Qusay shows the administration is not serious about finding weapons of mass destruction. These were the two best intelligence assets, short of Saddam, that the administration could capture. U.S. troops offered them a chance to surrender, and then called in a barrage from helicopter gunships. By killing the brothers, the administration saved itself the headache of a trial but lost the opportunity to prove a link with Al Qaeda or solve the mystery of the missing WMD.
I don't necessarily quarrel with the decision. Bringing peace and a new order to Iraq would be harder with Saddam's sons alive. But if the Bush administration really were looking for WMD, these two men were key. It increasingly looks as though the WMD have disappeared. They may be scattered and already in the hands of terrorists. Saddam could have destroyed them before the war, or years earlier, and simply was bluffing to menace his neighbors. Or they could be buried somewhere. Finding them would be such a huge win for the administration that you would think they would have gone to greater lengths to take Uday and Qusay alive....
END of Excerpt
For Clift's piece in full: www.msnbc.com
CBS painted President Bush as just as dishonest as President Clinton. For a Sunday night story, CBS News sought out and showcased the mother of a soldier who proclaimed she's "tired of not being able to believe my President." Her message for Bush: "I trusted you. You betrayed me." Reporter Joie Chen portrayed her as representative of how as soldiers die "day by day" in Iraq, "the concerns, and the doubts, of many of the folks back home grow."
As CBS went back and forth between video of Bush on the aircraft carrier and pictures of those killed in Iraq since then, Chen described the woman and her husband as formerly "ardent Bush supporters" who "now suspect the White House overstated its case to justify the war."
Chen began her July 27 CBS Evening News story by noting how "day by day, as one more U.S. soldier is remembered, as another is lost, the concerns, and the doubts, of many of the folks back home grow."
Chen explained how Bodnar's son, Christopher, is an MP in Baghdad. Eve Bodnar read from one of his letters home: "'I'm kind of scared of my future here because people are being captured and killed.'" She added: "Christopher has been very depressed over there. He says that they, to relieve tension, they scream in their pillow." Christopher's father related how his son has seen things to horrible to describe.
Then, over video switching between Bush on the aircraft carrier and a collage of photos of servicemen who have died in Iraq since that May 1 event, Chen intoned: "The Bodnar's watched as President Bush declared the mission accomplished on May 1st, but they've also watched as almost every day since brings a report of another U.S. soldier killed or wounded in Iraq -- more than one hundred dead, 49 killed in action. Once ardent Bush supporters, the Bodnars now suspect the White House overstated its case to justify the war. They have nagging suspicions about how long this mission is going to take and why the President sent Americans in the first place. Ada Bodnar has a message for him:"
NBC's Richard Engel offered a more sweeping scolding than did other reporters of the U.S. for laying out for video cameras the bodies of Uday and Qusay Hussein. He called the decision "controversial" and insisted "all of this has been quite offensive to Islamic sensibilities here. Muslims are generally buried in a simple white shroud without any embalming process at all."
On Friday's NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw asked Engel in Baghdad: "Richard, as you well know, there's fresh video tonight as well of the bodies of Saddam's two sons after they were cleaned up by Army morticians. We want to warn everybody, the images are still very graphic, but are those new images any more persuasive to the Iraqi people?"
"America is winning the war in Iraq," but CBS's Byron Pitts claimed on Friday night, it "hasn't yet won over her people." In this week's Weekly Standard, however, after accompanying Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz in a trip to Iraq, Stephen Hayes concluded that "most Iraqis are overjoyed about their liberation."
What Hayes found also did not correlate with a Washington Post story which insisted that Iraq is "a country deeply unsure if the military occupation is better than his [Saddam Hussein's] dictatorship."
And on Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume raised with Wolfowitz the disconnect between the "much more optimistic picture of the state of play in Iraq" that he paints and what "anyone reading the front pages of the newspapers and watching news broadcasts in this country would get."
Concluding a July 25 CBS Evening News story from Baghdad, Byron Pitts looked at how, even after seeing videotape of the bodies of Uday and Qusay, many in Iraq still don't believe they are dead because they've been "taught for years to not believe Americans." Pitts then concluded: "So for many here, today's episode with the videotape of Uday and Qusay Hussein, is one more reminder America is winning the war in Iraq, but as of now, hasn't yet won over her people."
In this week's Weekly Standard, however, Stephen Hayes provided a more hopeful picture of Iraqi attitudes toward the U.S. and U.S. soldiers. An excerpt from his story, "Of Prisons and Palaces: Notes from a liberated Iraq," in the August 4/August 11 special summer double week edition of the magazine:
...One might expect a visit to Abu Ghirab would stir reflections on the most profound matters -- the nature of evil, the existence of God. Instead, I could not shake words I'd read in the Washington Post of July 15, 2003, the day before I'd left for Iraq. Reporting on the likelihood of stepped-up attacks on coalition forces on July 17, a national holiday under the previous regime, Kevin Sullivan wrote: "Although Iraq's new Governing Council's first official action was to abolish Hussein-era holidays, July 17 still stands for Saddam in a country deeply unsure if the military occupation is better than his dictatorship."
A country deeply unsure if the military occupation is better than his dictatorship. Could this be true? What about the question put so well in a headline over a column by Michael Kelly in that same newspaper just weeks before his untimely death: "Who Would Choose Tyranny?" Could it be that Iraqis might actually prefer despotism to freedom, so long as the despot was one of their own?
Judging from dozens of interviews with Iraqis, U.S. soldiers, and representatives of humanitarian and aid groups over the course of our trip, the answer is no. Most Iraqis are overjoyed about their liberation. The American troops I spoke with, even those from units that have suffered postwar casualties, said they have received a warm welcome from their hosts. But most surprising were the strong words of praise for postwar Iraq from NGO leaders. If even some of what this delegation heard is true, the reconstruction of Iraq is going much better than reports in the American media suggest.
In Najaf on July 19, Wolfowitz met with the new city council. In this Shiite holy city, as elsewhere throughout the country, Iraqis had a two-part message. "You have done tremendous things for Iraq," said Haydar al Mayalli, the interim governor. "You still have a heavy responsibility towards our country. You have commitments that must be filled to the Iraqi people. And we are grateful that you have opened the door to democracy and freedom."
A local sheikh spoke next. "By destroying the instruments of terrorism and the Baath party, the people of Najaf breathe in relief," he said. He listed infrastructure, electricity, water, and security as Najaf's most pressing needs, before reminding Wolfowitz of the stakes. "The world is watching you to see what you do."
Wolfowitz acknowledged the importance of the transition and complimented those on the council for their participation. "We know that the people of the south -- particularly this city -- have suffered more than others. For their memory, we have an obligation to succeed in the tasks you described. The great cities for Shia Islam are setting a model for democratic Iraq."
The council in Najaf had been in existence for just two weeks. Its 22 members were elected from a larger group assembled from leaders of the brand new professional associations and civic organizations that are springing up, alongside new political parties, unions, and religious groups. It is an encouraging first step.
Similar councils exist in most major cities in Iraq, including Basra, Karbala, Baghdad, Mosul, and Kirkuk. In Kirkuk, an oil-rich city in the north, coalition officials brought together a delegation of 300 local leaders representing each of the religious and ethnic groups in the city. That group then elected an interim council of 30 members, which in turn picked a mayor, a deputy mayor, and three assistant mayors. That was two months ago. Wolfowitz met with the council on July 21.
"I would like to express my thanks to you and George Bush for taking this courageous decision," said Kamal Kirkuki, a Kurdish assistant mayor, "even though some other nations objected and the United Nations did nothing to liberate us from this tyrant."
Here, too, Wolfowitz was greeted with a mix of gratitude and pleas for help. Asked Dr. Amed Nasser Azzo, a council member, "When is it possible to establish media in Iraq to compete with Arab satellite television that agitates for instability in Iraq?"...
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For the piece by Hayes in full: www.weeklystandard.com
Wolfowitz answered: "I think the success stories. It's a country that's not easy to get around in, admittedly, and it's not easy to understand. There's a language problem, to begin with. And I don't want to paint a rosy picture; there are real problems. The security problem is real, and the security problem is making it difficult to solve other problems like getting the power and electricity restored.
In the wake of the House passing a bill on Friday to allow the re-importation of prescription drugs from other nations, CBS and ABC once again showcased liberal, big government spending senior activists, but cast them as just average seniors struggling to afford their prescriptions.
On the July 25 CBS Evening News, over video of a border agent taking small boxes out of a bag and then of video looking out of a bus window, Joie Chen began a story: "It's scenes like these that pushed lawmakers to act, seniors crossing the borders into Canada and Mexico in search of cheaper drugs."
Over on ABC's World News Tonight, Lisa Stark announced, over video of Barbara Kaufman loading her dishwasher: "Barbara Kaufman has high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis. She takes ten bills a day. Kaufman orders them online from Canada to save money."
But who are Quirion and Kaufman? As recounted in the July 15 CyberAlert, a story on CNSNews.com detailed how she's an activist from Maine who has testified on Capitol Hill on behalf of a left-wing group.
And via Google, I found a page with a photo that matches Kaufman and identified her as a "spokesperson" for the Medicare Justice Coalition, "a grassroots, senior consumer coalition, founded by the Minnesota Senior Federation." See: www.mnseniors.net
It turns out, Kaufman is President of the Metropolitan Region for the Minnesota Senior Coalition. See: www.mnseniors.net
According to their Web site, "the goals of the Medicare Justice Coalition are simple:
An excerpt from Kaufman's column in the August 2003 edition of the Minnesota Senior News in which she affirms her advocacy of an expansion of Medicare program run by government and denounces private insurance alternatives forwarded by conservatives:
If you've been reading the paper lately, you know Congress is working on its perennial Medicare prescription drug benefit. While most folks I talk to want a drug benefit included in Medicare, they don't want just any old proposal. People want a program that will benefit them.
It's unfortunate that many features will have limited -- if any -- benefits for the average senior. Programs being discussed appear to be entirely separate from Medicare, offered by a separate insurance company.
It's important to keep a close eye on features of a proposed prescription drug program. Prescriptions are an important a part of medical care and Medicare without a prescription drug program is inadequate. It is failing to meet the needs of seniors.
Criteria established by the Minnesota Senior Federation must be incorporated into any Medicare drug plan to ensure that it provides a meaningful benefit to seniors. It must:
-- provide a defined benefit under Medicare, available to all beneficiaries;
-- be available under both traditional fee-for-service Medicare and Medicare+ Choice managed care;
-- have no gaps in coverage leaving seniors uncovered after they spend a specified amount on prescriptions;
-- have affordable premiums and copays;
-- provide incentives for employers to maintain drug coverage for employees and retirees;
-- provide for negotiation with drug manufacturers for reasonable prescription drug prices; and
-- maintain competition by allowing importation of lower-priced prescription drugs from other industrialized nations....
END of Excerpt
That's online at: www.mnseniors.net
On CBS's favorite senior, Viola Quirion, a repeat recitation from the July 15 CyberAlert of a July 14 story by Marc Morano of the MRC's CNSNews.com, "Networks Blamed for Using Political Activists as Repeat 'Victims.'" The excerpt:
An elderly political activist who was repeatedly portrayed by CBS News as a typical victim of the high cost of prescription drugs, now admits the network "probably" should have disclosed her lobbying interests during her numerous on-air appearances.
Viola Quirion, who favors the Medicare reforms that would provide elderly Americans like herself with a federally subsidized prescription drug plan, might not be considered a typical senior citizen to many people -- given her extensive political lobbying background, which includes advocating on behalf of the Alliance for Retired Persons.
But that's the way she was portrayed by CBS News on at least three occasions since 1999 -- most recently in May of this year.
When asked by CNSNews.com whether CBS News should have identified her as a political activist for reasons of fairness and accuracy, Quirion responded: "Well, probably."
Quirion has testified on Capitol Hill on behalf of the Alliance for Retired Americans. The group's stated goal is to "ensure social and economic justice" by "enroll[ing] and mobiliz[ing] retired union members and other senior and community activists into a nationwide grassroots movement advocating a progressive political and social agenda."
Quirion, who is a member of the Maine Council of Senior Citizens, also participated in the state of Maine's successful legal defense of its drug price control plan. Yet, CBS News never revealed any of Quirion's background when using her as a source in its news stories.
But Quirion maintains that her appearances on CBS News were benign.
"I just got interviewed and answered their questions and that's it," she explained....
In June, the Media Research Center (MRC), the parent organization of CNSNews.com, exposed the practice of network news programs recycling senior citizen activists for health care policy debates. The MRC revealed that both the CBS Evening News and ABC World News Tonight featured senior citizen Eva Baer-Schenkein in two separate broadcasts, two years apart, complaining about different ailments and why the Republican prescription drug plan was inadequate.
....CBS News appears to have repeatedly failed to reveal the backgrounds of its interview subjects, according to a new study conducted by the website, www.RatherBiased.com. The network featured the same seven elderly women 23 times during its coverage of the prescription drug subsidy debate without disclosing the political activist backgrounds of the women, the study alleged....
CBS spokeswoman Sandy Genelius told CNSNews.com that the network would "check it out," referring to the network's repeated use of the same senior citizen activists. However after several days of phone calls and e-mails, Genelius failed to respond to questions for this article.
END of Excerpt
For the article in full: www.cnsnews.com
-- What a coincidence. Two years apart CBS News and ABC News featured the same elderly woman, in news stories about the need for a new prescription drug coverage program in Medicare and the shortcomings of Republican-pushed alternatives, as the poster victim of high prescription prices. See: www.mediaresearch.org
-- Brent Baker