CyberAlert -- 09/10/2002 -- NBC Trumpets Scott Ridder
NBC Trumpets Scott Ritter; ABC's "Magical" Iraq Solution; Cronkite: Terrorism a "Revolution of the Poor Against the Rich"; Liberal Environmentalism Will Appease Enemies; Reuters Blames U.S.
1) On Monday's NBC Nightly News, Ron Allen in Iraq trumpeted Scott Ritter's credentials: "Today Iraq got more ammunition from an unlikely American ally -- former U.N. weapons inspector and U.S. marine Scott Ritter, leading his own tour to an Iraqi military camp, a base where the U.S. believes Iraq has trained terrorists. But Ritter...claims it's a base for hostage rescue training." FNC's Brit Hume showed how Ritter has done a 180 since 1998 and in the morning, CBS's Jane Clayson at least challenged Ritter when he claimed that Hussein has no interest in acquiring nuclear weapons.
2) Charlie Gibson's Magic Kingdom. The co-host of ABC's Good Morning America kept pressing Defense Secretary Rumsfeld on Monday to provide evidence of Iraq's weapons, leading to this question: "So if inspectors went in tomorrow and somehow found all of his weapons development programs and were able to magically make them go away, that wouldn't be enough?" Rumsfeld retorted: "I don't know why a hypothetical question like that's terribly useful, because it isn't going to happen."
3) Walter Cronkite suggested the U.S. has no one to blame but itself for the terrorist attacks a year ago. Cronkite told CNN's Larry King on Monday night that he believes "very definitely that foreign policy could have caused what has happened," before he asserted that anti-U.S. terrorism is caused by "this great division between the rich and the poor in the world." He warned: "We are suffering from a revolution of the poor and have-nots against the rich and haves and that's us."
4) CBS's Bob Simon suggested our enemies would go away if we would just pursue a liberal environmental agenda. Simon argued on Sunday Morning: "If we were to really live well, and by that I mean: being less greedy, taking better care of our poor and our needy, and stop making impossible demands on our planet's resources, I think we would plunge our enemies into shame. In fact, we'd end up with fewer enemies." Simon yearned for cars that get 40 miles to the gallon, so we wouldn't need any more Saudi oil.
Corrections: The September 9 CyberAlert misstated the name of the ABC News series hosted by Peter Jennings. It is "In Search of America," not "Search for America." The same CyberAlert also mis-attributed the target of a question from Matt Lauer. He asked House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, not Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, this question about arming pilots: "Are you at all worried that this could come back to haunt Congress?"
After obligingly relaying how Iraq says it is only conducting "peaceful research" on "medical" and "pharmaceutical" matters at a facility U.S. intelligence pinpoints as dedicated to nuclear weapons research, NBC News reporter Ron Allen in Iraq treated the claims of former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter as credible.
On Monday's NBC Nightly News, Allen trumpeted Ritter's credentials and recounted one of Ritter's absurd-sounding claims: "Today Iraq got more ammunition from an unlikely American ally -- former U.N. weapons inspector and U.S. marine Scott Ritter, leading his own tour to an Iraqi military camp, a base where the U.S. believes Iraq has trained terrorists. But Ritter, who says he is also an expert in counter-terrorism, claims it's a base for hostage rescue training -- an example, he says, of how the Bush administration is making a case for war that's not based on the facts. He's convinced the U.S. has no reason to go to war."
Who exactly takes hostages in Iraq against the wishes of Saddam Hussein?
FNC's Brit Hume recalled what Ritter said about Iraq in 1998, showing how he's done a 180 on the threat posed by Hussein, a turnabout which could be attributed, the Weekly Standard suggested last year, to Ritter's collaboration with the Iraqi regime on a film.
In the morning on Monday, CBS's Jane Clayson at least challenged Ritter when he claimed that Hussein has no interest in acquiring nuclear weapons.
Allen checked in from Baghdad for the September 9 NBC Nightly News, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
Over video of Allen walking with Ritter, Allen relayed Ritter's claims: "The media tour -- the fifth this month of various plants -- part of Iraq's campaign to prove it is not building illegal weapons. And today Iraq got more ammunition from an unlikely American ally -- former U.N. weapons inspector and U.S. marine Scott Ritter, leading his own tour to an Iraqi military camp, a base where the U.S. believes Iraq has trained terrorists. But Ritter, who says he is also an expert in counter-terrorism, claims it's a base for hostage rescue training -- an example, he says, of how the Bush administration is making a case for war that's not based on the facts. He's convinced the U.S. has no reason to go to war."
NBC at least followed up with a piece from Andrea Mitchell about evidence of Hussein's quest to obtain nuclear capability.
During the panel segment on Monday's edition of Special Report with Brit Hume, FNC viewers saw the text on screen for what Ritter believed just four years ago.
-- Ritter on August 28, 1998: "Iraq retains the capability to launch a chemical strike."
-- Ritter on August 30, 1998: "Six months is a very reasonable time scale for Iraq to resume weapons capabilities...If people do not change course, the end result will be that Iraq will be able to retain these capabilities."
In a piece in the November 19, 2001 Weekly Standard, "Saddam Hussein's American Apologist: The strange career of former U.N. arms inspector Scott Ritter," Stephen Hayes suggested a reason for Ritter's change of heart:
Hayes recalled Ritter's concern about the danger posed by Iraq expressed as late as the end of 1998: "All inspections stopped in December 1998. That same month, in an article written for the New Republic, Ritter again warned of the continuing Iraqi threat, this time in much greater detail. 'Even today, Iraq is not nearly disarmed,' he maintained. 'Based on highly credible intelligence, UNSCOM [the U.N. weapons inspectors] suspects that Iraq still has biological agents like anthrax, botulinum toxin, and clostridium perfringens in sufficient quantity to fill several dozen bombs and ballistic missile warheads, as well as the means to continue manufacturing these deadly agents. Iraq probably retains several tons of the highly toxic VX substance, as well as sarin nerve gas and mustard gas....'"
For the Hayes piece in full: http://www.weeklystandard.com/content/public/articles/000/000/000/524dplvk.asp
Ritter appeared via satellite on Monday's The Early Show on CBS. Jane Clayson set up the segment noted by MRC analyst Brian Boyd:
Clayson challenged him: "You say it's absurd, but let's look at the evidence. What about Iraq's recent tests of ballistic missiles, and you know this report over the weekend that Iraq has made several attempts to buy several thousand aluminum tubes that would be used to enrich uranium and create nuclear weapons. Is there any doubt in your mind that Saddam Hussein would love to get his hands on a nuclear weapon?"
Clayson pointed out: "You haven't been to Iraq in four years and Secretary of State Colin Powell says you are no longer 'in the intelligence chain,' so how can you be so certain that Saddam Hussein doesn't have or soon will have nuclear capabilities?"
Charlie Gibson's Magic Kingdom. When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld pointed out to Gibson, on Monday's Good Morning America broadcast live from the Pentagon, that regime change in Iraq has been the U.S. government's policy since the Clinton years, an
exasperated Gibson retorted:
Rumsfeld, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, soon made fun of the preposterous hypothetical: "The world would be a lot safer place if, as you say, it all magically happened, but I don't know why a hypothetical question like that's terribly useful, because it isn't going to happen."
The exchange on the September 9 GMA came after Gibson repeatedly pressed for the administration to do more to prove what it claims about Iraq. Some of the questions and exchanges:
-- "But do you think Americans are prepared to send sons and daughters to war on the belief that he might have nuclear weapons?"
-- Gibson: "One of the seminal moments of my life was when John Kennedy went on television and showed satellite photos of Soviet missiles on Cuban soil. Isn't it going to take, and do you have that kind of direct evidence to get Americans to support the war?"
-- "But you can't go to war without American public support, and I'm asking don't you need that kind of direct evidence or do you have it to get the American public support or to get a coalition put together?"
-- "Why not, under the criteria we've established, go after Iran? They, we know, have weapons of mass destruction. They, we know, have taken care and harbored terrorists. Why not go after them?"
-- "So is the goal to disarm Saddam Hussein or is it regime change?"
Blame America First. The 9-11 attacks were our own fault, former CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite contended on Monday's Larry King Live on CNN, because we hog so much of the world's wealth while many are destitute.
Applying liberal logic which seeks to blame the U.S. for all the world's ills, Cronkite declared: "We are suffering from a revolution of the poor and have-nots against the rich and haves and that's us."
In fact, the al Qaeda terrorists were hardly poor and the vast majority of the world's poor do not support terrorism. The common elements amongst those targeting the U.S. is Islamic extremism and nation's without respect for individual liberty.
Cronkite's liberal ranting came about 45 minutes into the live September 9 interview tied to the 9-11 anniversary.
King prompted Cronkite by wondering about "foreign policy's affect on what might have caused 9-11?"
That set off Cronkite: "Yes, I think very definitely that foreign policy could have caused what has happened."
Yes, it's all our fault and Osama bin Laden is just trying to help the world's downtrodden improve themselves.
Outlining some of the policy prescriptions behind Walter Cronkite's claim, outlined in #3 above, that terrorism is simply the poor lashing out at the rich in the U.S., on CBS's Sunday Morning reporter Bob Simon suggested our enemies would go away if we would just pursue a liberal environmental agenda.
Simon, a veteran CBS News foreign correspondent who is a regular on 60 Minutes II and a contributor to 60 Minutes, contended on the September 8 show:
Simon's "one concrete example" of something he'd like to see: "If we were to make sure new American cars got 40 miles to the gallon, we wouldn't need any more oil from Saudi Arabia. We could tell the Saudi royals to stuff it until they changed their ways." Simon maintained, "I don't think it would be an enormous sacrifice," but, he seemingly sarcastically added, "if we're not up to it there is another option. We could always send half a million troops back to Saudi Arabia and watch with joyful revenge in our hearts as they hoist American flags over all those wells."
Simon's remarks occurred during a series of "Dispatches" from CBS News reporters on Sunday Morning caught by MRC analyst Brian Boyd. In each, the reporter offered his perspective on a topic area. Simon delivered his comments with a black background behind him as viewers saw only his head.
His piece in full:
For a bio of Simon with a picture of him: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/1999/01/04/60II/main26916.shtml
Back during the Gulf War in 1991 Simon was detained by Iraq for two months.
An update. It wasn't just a Reuters photo, it was an entire Reuters story about how "human rights around the world have been a casualty of the U.S. 'war on terror' since September 11."
The September 5 CyberAlert reported how the caption on a Reuters photo, distributed on September 3, of a picture of Ground Zero taken in March, read: "Recovery and debris removal work continues at the site of the World Trade Center known as 'ground zero' in New York, March 25, 2002. Human rights around the world have been a casualty of the U.S. 'war on terror' since September 11. REUTERS/Peter Morgan."
That was posted last week on Yahoo!, but was since removed.
On Monday, The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reported that Reuters spokeswoman Nancy Bobrowitz "says the caption was a 'mistake' because the information, drawn from an accompanying story, was taken 'out of context.'"
No, it turns out the photo caption writer did an excellent job of summarizing the news story since he simply lifted the first sentence of it, James Taranto noted in Monday's "Best of the Web" column for OpinionJournal.com (www.opinionjournal.com/best).
(The Reuters photo on Yahoo! appeared as part of a gallery of Reuters photos of news of the day and so did not appear with any news story. And the news story, as posted by Yahoo!, is not accompanied by any photo, yet presumably the two were sent as a package to Reuters clients.)
Here's an excerpt from the September 3 Reuters news story Taranto tracked down on the Yahoo! site for Britain and Ireland. "Rights the first victim of 'war on terror,'" announced the headline over the story by Richard Waddington which was datelined Geneva. The excerpt:
Human rights around the world have been a casualty of the U.S. "war on terror" since September 11.
In the year since Muslim extremists flew hijacked planes into New York and Washington, killing some 3,000 people, many Western governments have armed themselves with greater powers of arrest and curtailed the legal rights of detainees as they hunt for accomplices.
The pursuit of the al Qaeda organisation of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, accused of planning the bloodiest attack on the United States since World War Two, has also triggered backlashes against immigration and immigrants and a greater readiness to expel non-citizens, human rights activists say....
In the United States, hundreds of people, mainly of Middle Eastern origin, were rounded up as law enforcement officials sought anybody with possible links to the hijackers....
Declaring itself in a state of war, the administration of President George W. Bush also proposed special military tribunals to try suspected "terrorists".
The announcement sparked an international outcry, with many jurists arguing such courts violated international conventions....
END of Excerpt
For the entirety of the story: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/020903/80/d8q2i.html
Inspired by ABC's upcoming airing of Claire Shipman's interview with a Saddam Hussein mistress, from the September 9 Late Show with David Letterman on CBS, the "Top Ten Saddam Hussein Tips for a Romantic Evening." Late Show Web site: www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow
10. Splash on a little goat's blood
9. Play romantic music to drown out the cries of tortured dissidents
8. Shampoo and condition your mustache
7. Don't be a cheapskate at the movies -- buy the large hummus
6. Have a violinist brought over to your table and executed
5. Show sensitive side by releasing her family from prison
4. "Say it with toxic nerve agents"
3. Sit on porch swing and watch twinkling United States reconnaissance satellites
2. Name a camel after her
1. Ask if she wants "to inspect your biological weapon"
There's something for Scott Ritter to do. -- Brent Baker