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Nets Lend Credibility to 'Bombshell' Iraq Deception Allegations --8/6/2008


1. Nets Lend Credibility to 'Bombshell' Iraq Deception Allegations
CBS, NBC, MSNBC and CNN all jumped Tuesday to publicize the claims in a new book by a left-wing journalist, Ron Suskind, that President Bush knew before the war Iraq had no WMD and that to justify the war the administration forged a letter to prove a connection between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaeda. In the morning, NBC's Today showcased an "exclusive" interview with Suskind as Meredith Vieira trumpeted the "new bombshell book that claims the White House deliberately misled the American public about the case for war in Iraq. The author, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist." CBS's Early Show ran a full story and Wolf Blitzer made it his lead on CNN's The Situation Room. In the evening, the NBC Nightly News aired a full report while MSNBC's Countdown, not surprisingly, led with Keith Olbermann's "cable exclusive" with Suskind on what MSNBC described on screen as "WAR CRIME." NBC anchor Brian Williams saw "gasoline" being "thrown on a fire that's never really gone out," as if the media aren't pouring it, as he asserted "journalist Ron Suskind claims he has new evidence to show the case was more than a failure of intelligence -- it was, he writes, an out and out deception."

2. Today Plugs Author Who Calls Pre-War Runup 'Worse Than Watergate'
NBC's Meredith Vieira, at the top of Tuesday's Today show, greeted viewers with the following teaser and jarring charge: "A scathing new book from a Pulitzer-prize winning reporter that claims the Bush administration's case for war in Iraq wasn't a mistake but deliberate deception. His claim? It is worse than Watergate. But the White House says it's absurd and gutter journalism. The man at the center of it all joins us for an exclusive interview." She set up the segment by stressing his credibility: "And now to that new bombshell book that claims the White House deliberately misled the American public about the case for war in Iraq. The author, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist."

3. Cafferty Highlights Viewer Who Wants Bush 'Executed for Treason'
Deciding to showcase the allegations in Ron Suskind's new book which "says President Bush committed an impeachable offense" by ordering "the CIA to forge a letter to bolster his case for the war in Iraq," CNN's Jack Cafferty posed as one of his "Cafferty File" questions on Tuesday: "What does it mean, do you suppose, if the White House did, in fact, order the CIA to forge a letter in order to bolster its case for the war in Iraq?" (Anchor Wolf Blitzer marveled: "We're just hearing now, Jack, that there may be an effort in the Congress to now go ahead and have some hearings on this explosive, explosive charge.") All the responses Cafferty highlighted later in the hour presumed the accuracy of Suskind's claims and condemned President Bush, including "Kirk," who asserted: "If true, then Bush, Cheney, et cetera deserved to be clapped in irons, held for trial and executed for treason."

4. Matt Lauer from Beijing: Chinese Happier than Americans
In a pre-taped segment aired on Tuesday's Today show in China, delivered from the Forbidden City in Beijing, NBC's Matt Lauer pointed out a poll that showed the Chinese are happier than Americans and repeated his line from the day before that protestors could be seen as "party crashers." During an interview with NBC News China analyst, Joshua Cooper Ramo, Lauer observed: "There's a recent poll that said some very high percentage of the people in China are happy with their lot in life. Something around 80 percent. You compare that to polls in the United States that say only about 25 percent of Americans are, what's the root of their happiness here?" Then a little later in the segment the Today co-host, repeating an earlier worry he made on Monday's program, declared the average Chinese citizen would disapprove of any protests: "And the average citizen who may, in principle, agree with the ideology of a protest, might that person, at this particular time say, 'No you're not gonna spoil our party, it's inappropriate?'"


Nets Lend Credibility to 'Bombshell'
Iraq Deception Allegations

CBS, NBC, MSNBC and CNN all jumped Tuesday to publicize the claims in a new book by a left-wing journalist, Ron Suskind, that President Bush knew before the war Iraq had no WMD and that to justify the war the administration forged a letter to prove a connection between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaeda. The journalists were unfazed by denials from former CIA Director George Tenet, which they dutifully cited, nor the fact the letter couldn't have impacted the public before the war since it didn't become public until nine months into the war.

In the morning, NBC's Today showcased an "exclusive" interview with Suskind as Meredith Vieira trumpeted the "new bombshell book that claims the White House deliberately misled the American public about the case for war in Iraq. The author, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist." (See #2 below) CBS's Early Show ran a full story and Wolf Blitzer made it his lead on CNN's The Situation Room.

In the evening, the NBC Nightly News aired a full report while MSNBC's Countdown, not surprisingly, led with Keith Olbermann's "cable exclusive" with Suskind on what MSNBC described on screen as "WAR CRIME" -- followed by John Dean on the imagined prosecutorial implications. NBC anchor Brian Williams saw "gasoline" being "thrown on a fire that's never really gone out," as if the media aren't pouring it: "Tonight, gasoline has been thrown on a fire that's never really gone out. The accusation that the Bush administration badly misled the American public about the case for war with Iraq. In a new book, journalist Ron Suskind claims he has new evidence to show the case was more than a failure of intelligence -- it was, he writes, an out and out deception."

David Gregory proceeded to recount "the strongest accusation against this President, that he misled the American people about the case for war in Iraq" as well as the "explosive charge" that "the White House ordered the CIA to write a fake letter."

Blitzer, who will have Suskind on his program Wednesday, opened the first (4 PM EDT) hour of Tuesday's The Situation Room: "Shocking allegations about the President's determination to invade Iraq. A brand new book claims the White House forged a key piece of evidence and turned a blind eye to another. This hour, the book's bombshells and the administration's adamant denials."

Unmentioned by Olbermann: That the book, 'The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism,' is published by HarperCollins, owned by the evil right-winger Rupert Murdoch.

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes undermined Suskind's allegations as he observed, on the magazine's blog: "Ron Suskind has written another book. It's getting lots of attention. And the main charge is almost certainly false -- which is the same thing that happened the last time Ron Suskind wrote a book."

Hayes proposed: "To believe Suskind's account...you would have to believe: 1) that the Bush administration ordered the CIA, in writing, to forge a letter that was a rather obvious hoax; 2) that the CIA, hostile to the Bush administration and leaking against it at every turn, eagerly complied."

ABC's Good Morning America and World News had the good news judgment -- at least on Tuesday -- to not hype and give plausibility to the book's charges.

On Tuesday's Early Show, the MRC's Kyle Drennen noticed, news reader Russ Mitchell set up a full story: "A new book out this morning accuses the White House of trying to manipulate the intelligence used to support the war in Iraq. CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante has more. Bill good morning to you."

From the White House, Plante began: "Morning to you, Russ. The book, by author Ron Suskind, charges that the Bush White House ordered up a fake letter from Saddam Hussein's chief of intelligence linking Iraq with the 9/11 attack and with an ongoing nuclear program, neither of which was true..."

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the story on the Tuesday, August 5 NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Tonight, gasoline has been thrown on a fire that's never really gone out. The accusation that the Bush administration badly misled the American public about the case for war with Iraq. In a new book, journalist Ron Suskind claims he has new evidence to show the case was more than a failure of intelligence -- it was, he writes, an out and out deception. Our chief White House correspondent David Gregory has more.

DAVID GREGORY: It is the strongest accusation against this President, that he misled the American people about the case for war in Iraq.
GEORGE W. BUSH, October 7, 2002: We cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun. It could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.
GREGORY: In his new book, "The Way of the World," journalist Ron Suskind argues there was evidence before the war that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. The source, Iraq's intelligence chief, Tahir Jaheel Habbush, who Suskind writes first met with British intelligence early in 2003, months before the invasion was launched.
RON SUSKIND, THE WAY OF THE WORLD: He clearly is offering the kind of evidence, the kind of testimony as to the mind of Saddam Hussein, as to the fact that there's no WMD.
GREGORY: Why didn't the administration heed the warnings?
SUSKIND: The President wants to go to war from the very first National Security Council meeting of his presidency. It was always a matter of how do we make the case.
GREGORY: Then-CIA director George Tenet said today the author is wrong. In a statement, Tenet insists that Habbush was considered unreliable. He, quote, "failed to persuade his British interlocutors that he had anything new to offer in the way of intelligence." There is another explosive charge in the book. In order to bolster the connection between al-Qaeda and Iraq, Suskind says the White House ordered the CIA to write a fake letter from the Iraqi intelligence chief, Habbush, claiming that 9/11 ring leader Mohammad Atta trained in Iraq prior to September 11. Tonight, the White House calls that allegation absurd, and denies, as the President has repeatedly, ever misleading the public about the need for war. David Gregory, NBC News, Washington.

A longer excerpt from the blog post quoted above from Stephen Hayes:

....In his new book, Suskind claims that the White House ordered the CIA to forge a document reporting that Mohammad Atta had trained in Iraq in the summer of 2001, and that the CIA did so. On its face the claim is suspect, as anyone who has been paying even casual attention to White House-CIA relations over the past several years understands that the relationship has been frosty. The CIA resisted even minor requests from the White House regarding Iraq and terrorism -- including one instance in which the agency refused, for months, to label as "al Qaeda" the al Qaeda operatives in Baghdad in 2002. The Agency insisted on calling them "Egyptian Islamic Jihad" operatives despite the fact that EIJ and al Qaeda had formally merged years earlier and that EIJ had been the trunk of the al Qaeda tree for more than a decade. So this same CIA that for months resisted the more accurate description of these operatives in order to deny the Bush administration a political argument is suddenly acting on White House orders to forge documents? Um, that's unlikely.

And then there are the specifics of the forged document. The letter has Mohammad Atta training in Iraq at a time when he was shuttling back and forth between the U.S. and Spain. There are still gaps in the government's timeline on Atta's whereabouts, but not gaps that would allow him to go through serious "training" in Iraq for any extended period of time. And according to the original report on the letter, the missive not only included the report that Atta trained in Iraq but also advanced claims that al Qaeda operatives facilitated a shipment from Niger to Iraq. So this letter purports to provide evidence on two of the most contentious issues of the war...in three pages. It was clear to me, without ever laying eyes on it, that it was not only a hoax but a really bad hoax. It was so bad, in fact, that I never even made any phone calls to White House or CIA sources to check it out. (I recall laughing about it with one White House source over lunch.)

To believe Suskind's account, then, you would have to believe: 1) that the Bush administration ordered the CIA, in writing, to forge a letter that was a rather obvious hoax; 2) that the CIA, hostile to the Bush administration and leaking against it at every turn, eagerly complied.

Politico's Mike Allen, who broke the story, reported that Suskind "claims that such an operation, part of 'false pretenses' for war, would apparently constitute illegal White House use of the CIA to influence a domestic audience, an arguably impeachable offense."

Sounds damning. But it's hard to take the country to war on such "false pretenses" in March 2003 when the first report of the letter's contents doesn't appear until December 2003. And if the Bush administration went to the trouble of manufacturing such evidence isn't it likely they would have used it? That never happened....

END of Excerpt

For the blog post in full: www.weeklystandard.com

Suskind's Web site: www.ronsuskind.com

Today Plugs Author Who Calls Pre-War
Runup 'Worse Than Watergate'

NBC's Meredith Vieira, at the top of Tuesday's Today show, greeted viewers with the following teaser and jarring charge: "A scathing new book from a Pulitzer-prize winning reporter that claims the Bush administration's case for war in Iraq wasn't a mistake but deliberate deception. His claim? It is worse than Watergate. But the White House says it's absurd and gutter journalism. The man at the center of it all joins us for an exclusive interview." She set up the segment by stressing his credibility: "And now to that new bombshell book that claims the White House deliberately misled the American public about the case for war in Iraq. The author, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist."

Vieira, in the 7am half-hour interviewed journalist/author Ron Suskind about his new book, The Way of the World, and his claim that the Bush administration ordered the CIA to forge a letter that would link Iraq and al Qaeda. While Vieira and David Gregory did cite denials from former CIA Director George Tenet and Condoleezza Rice no Suskind critic appeared, live on the air, to debate him. In fact Vieira, at the end of the interview, noted that Suskind will be on Wednesday's Today as well.

[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Tuesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The following is a complete transcript of the Gregory set-up piece, followed by the full Vieira interview with Suskind as it aired on the August 5 Today show:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: Also ahead a scathing new book from a Pulitzer-prize winning reporter that claims the Bush administration's case for war in Iraq wasn't a mistake but deliberate deception. His claim? It is worse than Watergate. But the White House says it's absurd and gutter journalism. The man at the center of it all joins us for an exclusive interview.

[7:09am]
MEREDITH VIEIRA: And now to that new bombshell book that claims the White House deliberately misled the American public about the case for war in Iraq. The author, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist. We're gonna talk to Ron Suskind in a moment. But first NBC's chief White House correspondent David Gregory has more. David, good morning to you
[On screen headline: "Bombshell Book, Did White House Mislead America To War?"]
DAVID GREGORY: Good morning, Meredith. This book pulls no punches, claiming that President Bush knew that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction but ordered the invasion anyway. It is a controversial look at administration decision making but the former director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, telling NBC News, that the charge against the President, is quote, "Just wrong." It is the lingering question about the war. If the President knew then what he knows now, would he have ordered the invasion of Iraq in the first place?
GEORGE W. BUSH: Facing clear evidence of peril we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun, that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.
GREGORY: But in his new book, The Way of the World, journalist Ron Suskind claims there was a smoking gun of a much different kind, Saddam's own intelligence chief Tahir Jalik Habbush. Suskind reports that in early 2003, in secret meetings with British intelligence, Habbush revealed that Iraq, in fact, did not have weapons of mass destruction. That information was passed on to the CIA. Suskind claims the President wasn't interested in information that contradicted the case for war. After the President was told about Habbush, Suskind quotes Mr. Bush telling an aide, "Why don't they ask him to give us something we can use to help us make our case?" Suskind writes that Mr. Bush later dismissed Habbush and cut off the channel of communication to the Iraqi intelligence chief. The book makes another incendiary charge. In order to bolster the connection between al-Qaeda and Iraq, the White House ordered the CIA to write a fake letter from the Iraqi intelligence chief, Habbush, claiming that 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta trained in Iraq, prior to September 11th. This book follows a series of accounts that question whether the administration manipulated pre-war intelligence and otherwise misled the country to justify going to war. It's a charge officials deny.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: But the one thing that does get under my skin is the notion that we somehow just wanted to go to war. Nobody wanted to go to war. Nobody wants to go to war.
GREGORY: CIA Director Tenet, in a statement insists that, that former Iraqi intelligence chief Habbush, did not provide the kind of intelligence that Suskind claims he did, saying that he was, "unreliable." As to the letter that is reported in the book, one intelligence official, at the time, confirms that it did exist but cannot say who actually ordered it. Intelligence officials do, however, insist that the CIA never believed in a link between al Qaeda and Iraq prior to 9/11. As for the White House this morning, they're dismissing this book as "gutter journalism." And they deny that they ever ordered a forged letter. Meredith?

VIEIRA: Alright David Gregory, thanks very much. Ron Suskind is the author of The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism. Ron, good morning to you.
RON SUSKIND: Nice to see you.
VIEIRA: Nice to see you. Your book is full of some very serious charges that the White House deliberately misled the American public. In the book you call it, "One of the great lies in modern American political history." That it ignored intelligence from the chief, chief of intelligence in Iraq, that there were no weapons of mass destruction. So how were you able to confirm all of these elements?
SUSKIND: Well you know the, I've done this sort of thing for a while and in here the way it worked is there were off-the-record sources who laid out the story and then I went to people actually involved. They were freed up because they're not the original source, if you will, to sort of talk about the context. What they felt, what they did. People actually involved. And of course they're all through the book, on the record, talking about how it all worked.
VIEIRA: But why were they willing to talk now, Ron?
SUSKIND: Well you know a lot of them had been walking around with this lump in their chest for a couple of years, five years now. And because they're essentially free, they're not the source, the original source, they said, "Look why, why hide now? Let's trust the truth."
VIEIRA: You know you talk about the smoking gun evidence, that the White House tried to manipulate the intelligence. That it ignored this intelligence chief from Iraq, Habbush. But they had a lot of information that they were gathering at the time, some of it contradicting what he was saying. So what convinced you that he was a more reliable source than anyone else?
SUSKIND: Well at this late date, in this administration, people are finally saying, "Let's step up in sunlight." And I lay out, step by step, how there was really very little in the way of the case, actually, at the point when Habbush pops up in early January of 2003 and says there are no WMD. And, and beyond that Meredith he went through, in the meetings in January with the British intelligence chief, he went through the mind of Saddam Hussein. Why he's acting the way he did, all the things that came out later.
VIEIRA: Yeah but you heard David Gregory, just say the British intelligence eventually wrote him off, said he was not reliable.
SUSKIND: Well that's not exactly the way it worked. And, and in the book you'll see people who were involved in it, talking about the debate. And it was quite a fierce debate at the very highest levels of the government that is Habbush reliable? What's he saying? How can we check it? And a lot of people, at the end of the day, said it was hard for him to prove the negative, that what he said were no weapons, were actually not there. That's hard to do.
VIEIRA: You know you say that this is worse than Watergate in, in large part because of this letter that you claim the White House ordered the CIA to forge, that would link Iraq with 9/11, Mohamed Atta and with al-Qaeda. And CIA agents, that you quote in the book, agree that there was a letter-
SUSKIND: Sure.
VIEIRA: -but what has convinced you that the White House was behind it? What evidence do you have that the White House ordered it?
SUSKIND: Well the CIA folks involved, in the book, and others talk about George coming back, Tenet, coming back from the White House with the assignment, on White House stationary, and turning to the CIA operatives, who are professionals, saying, "You may not like this but here's our next mission." And they carried it through, step by step, all the way to the finish. And, and ultimately people even talked about it, after the fact. It was a dark day for the CIA. It was the kind of thing where they said, "Look this is not our charge, we're not here to carry forward a political mandate," which is clearly what this was, to, to solve a political problem in America. And it was a cause of great grievance inside of the Agency.
VIEIRA: But you heard what Tenet said. We asked for a statement from him-
SUSKIND: Yeah.
VIEIRA: -and this is what he said, "There was no such order from the White House to me nor, to the best of my knowledge, was anyone from CIA ever involved in any such effort. It is well established that, at my direction, CIA resisted efforts on the part of some in the administration to paint a picture of Iraq-al Qaeda connections that went beyond the evidence. The notion that I would suddenly reverse our stance and have created and planted false evidence that was contrary to our own beliefs is ridiculous." He calls it "ridiculous."
SUSKIND: Well you know this is, I think, part of George's memory issue. He's dealt with this before in front of Congressional investigators and others.
VIEIRA: You don't think he'd remember this letter?
SUSKIND: Well he seems not to remember it and, you know, that's at least what he claims. And the fact is a lot of people know about this. I know about it from my last book. And so, in this book Meredith, instead of going to George I went to all the people around George, close to George who remember because they were involved in the, in the thing and they remember what George says to them.
VIEIRA: You stand by everything in the book Ron?
SUSKIND: Well it's all on the record, it's not off the record. It's on the record, it's in the book. And people can read it for themselves.
VIEIRA: Alright we're gonna continue this conversation tomorrow. Thanks for joining us here in New York.
SUSKIND: My pleasure.
VIEIRA: The book is The Way of the World.

Cafferty Highlights Viewer Who Wants
Bush 'Executed for Treason'

Deciding to showcase the allegations in Ron Suskind's new book which "says President Bush committed an impeachable offense" by ordering "the CIA to forge a letter to bolster his case for the war in Iraq," CNN's Jack Cafferty posed as one of his "Cafferty File" questions on Tuesday: "What does it mean, do you suppose, if the White House did, in fact, order the CIA to forge a letter in order to bolster its case for the war in Iraq?" (Anchor Wolf Blitzer marveled: "We're just hearing now, Jack, that there may be an effort in the Congress to now go ahead and have some hearings on this explosive, explosive charge.")

All the responses Cafferty highlighted later in the hour presumed the accuracy of Suskind's claims and condemned President Bush, including "Kirk," who asserted: "If true, then Bush, Cheney, et cetera deserved to be clapped in irons, held for trial and executed for treason."

Cafferty also read aloud the complaint from Tom in Boston that "it means we should be ashamed as Americans. Bill Clinton was impeached for not being honest about his sexual indiscretion," but Bush gets away "scot-free." Joanne in Maine declared: "George Bush is not only the worst President in the history of this country he's also the biggest criminal." A Canadien, "Ron from Winnipeg," lectured those in the lower 48: "To put it simply, the Bush administration made you all out for fools then proved themselves right. How you ever reelected this bum, is beyond me. Good luck."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Item #1 above, "Nets Lend Credibility to 'Bombshell' Iraq Deception Allegations," noted how Wolf Blitzer opened the first (4 PM EDT) hour of Tuesday's The Situation Room just an hour before the "Cafferty File" on the same topic: "Shocking allegations about the President's determination to invade Iraq. A brand new book claims the White House forged a key piece of evidence and turned a blind eye to another. This hour, the book's bombshells and the administration's adamant denials."

The Tuesday, August 5 "Cafferty File" segment during the 5 PM EDT hour of CNN's The Situation Room:

JACK CAFFERTY: A new book says President Bush committed an impeachable offense. He ordered the CIA to forge a letter to bolster his case for the war in Iraq. These explosive charges are contained in a new book, "The Way of the World," by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind. He says he spoke on the record with U.S. intelligence officials who said that President Bush was informed in January of 2003 that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. The President's response to this information was reportedly, quote: "F-it. We're going in," unquote.
Three months later, the U.S. invaded Iraq using a forged document as its rationale, says Suskind. He writes: "The White House called on the CIA to concoct this forged letter from the head of the Iraqi intelligence agency to Saddam Hussein. It was backdated" -- the letter -- "to before 9/11 and indicated one of the main hijackers, Mohammed Atta, trained for his deadly mission in Iraq." The phony letter was designed to prove a nonexistent link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
Meanwhile, the head of Iraqi intelligence, who told British intelligence sources that Iraq had no WMD, he was resettled in Jordan with the help of the CIA and paid $5 million in hush money. Suskind called Mr. Bush's actions "one of the greatest lies in modern American political history" and suggests they constitute a crime far worse than Watergate.
The White House pushing back hard. They call Suskind's claims "absurd." They describe his work as "gutter journalism" -- he did win the Pulitzer Prize -- including what the White House calls "wild allegations that no one can verify."
Former CIA Director George Tenet ridicules the credibility of Suskind's sources, as well. He calls the White House directive to forge a letter quote "a complete fabrication," unquote
So here's the question: What does it mean, do you suppose, if the White House did, in fact, order the CIA to forge a letter in order to bolster its case for the war in Iraq?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. You can post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We're just hearing now, Jack, that there may be an effort in the Congress to now go ahead and have some hearings on this explosive, explosive charge. What do you think?
CAFFERTY: I think I'll hold my breath. Impeachment's off the table, remember?
BLITZER: Yes, at least -- all right. You're right.

The replies Cafferty chose to highlight later in the hour:

The question this hour is what does it mean if the White House ordered the CIA to forge a letter in order to bolster its case for the war in Iraq? That's the charge that's made in the new book called "The Way of the World" by the Pulitzer Prize winning author Ron Suskind. Here is some of what you've written. Got a lot of mail on this.
Tom in Boston: "It means we should be ashamed as Americans. Bill Clinton was impeached for not being honest about his sexual indiscretion. George W. Bush misled the Congress and the public about Iraq, condoned the torture of prisoners, authorized illegal electronic surveillance and refused to comply with subpoenas just to name a few and yet he'll walk away scot-free. Times like these make me want to move to New Zealand."
John writes: "Call a special session of Congress to investigate these charges now. To hell with the Olympics. This is the drama America really wants to see. If these charges prove to be true, we show the world that we're willing to impeach a sitting lame duck President and correct our mistakes in public."
Ron from Winnipeg writes: "To put it simply, the Bush administration made you all out for fools then proved themselves right. How you ever reelected this bum, is beyond me. Good luck."
Kirk writes: "If true, then Bush, Cheney, et cetera deserved to be clapped in irons, held for trial and executed for treason."
Joanne in Blaine, Maine writes: "So why am I not surprised? George Bush is not only the worst President in the history of this country he's also the biggest criminal. And he got away with it all. What's wrong with this Congress? He should have been impeached and criminally charged years ago."
Susan writes: "Ah, to be the torch bearer in this crusade. It's time to investigate every minute indiscretion of the Bush administration. Suskind is a well-respected journalist who finally reveals what could be the truth about our invasion of Iraq. If Bush is innocent of forgery, there ought to be no problem with a thorough investigation. Let the games begin."
And Tom in Denver says: "Suskind, Woodward and Clarke and McClellan? How many more books does the American public need before it realizes that this administration has done something terribly wrong?"
If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at CNN.com/CaffertyFile. Look for yours there among hundreds of others.

Cafferty's page: caffertyfile.blogs.cnn.com

Matt Lauer from Beijing: Chinese Happier
than Americans

In a pre-taped segment aired on Tuesday's Today show in China, delivered from the Forbidden City in Beijing, NBC's Matt Lauer pointed out a poll that showed the Chinese are happier than Americans and repeated his line from the day before that protestors could be seen as "party crashers."

During an interview with NBC News China analyst, Joshua Cooper Ramo, Lauer observed: "There's a recent poll that said some very high percentage of the people in China are happy with their lot in life. Something around 80 percent. You compare that to polls in the United States that say only about 25 percent of Americans are, what's the root of their happiness here?"

Then a little later in the segment the Today co-host, repeating an earlier worry he made on Monday's program, declared the average Chinese citizen would disapprove of any protests: "And the average citizen who may, in principle, agree with the ideology of a protest, might that person, at this particular time say, 'No you're not gonna spoil our party, it's inappropriate?'"

[This item, by the MRC's Geoff Dickens, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Incidentally, before the Lauer segment Andrea Mitchell reported, from Washington, on many of China's problems including its treatment of dissidents, its pollution and the government's support of the regimes of Myanmar, Iran and the Sudan.

In China's favor, Mitchell did claim that Beijing "buckled to pressure, ending censorship of the Internet for journalists." However that censorship of journalists seemed to be in effect, when Lauer delivered the following mostly positive and probably minder-approved, August 5, report from the Forbidden City:

MATT LAUER: Joshua Cooper Ramo is an NBC China analyst and a former foreign editor at Time magazine. Joshua good morning to you.
JOSHUA COOPER RAMO: Thanks, pleasure to be here.
LAUER: I want to talk about the people here. There's a recent poll that said some very high percentage of the people in China are happy with their lot in life. Something around 80 percent. You compare that to polls in the United States that say only about 25 percent of Americans are, what's the root of their happiness here?
RAMO: You now Matt I think one of the features of incredible economic growth of the physical transformation of this country in the last 20-25 years has been to give people a real sense of optimism. A sense that things are moving in the right direction. A sense of increasing personal liberty, a sense of increasing opportunity. The flip side of that, by the way, is that the government is very, very concerned when you meet with top leaders here. They're relatively optimistic about the future but it's a cautious optimism.
LAUER: Why don't you look at the last 10 years for me or so, the last decade, and give me a progress report. Where, where has the progress been made here?
RAMO: Well probably the, the most dramatic and obvious progress for everybody has just been the tremendous economic growth. You know you're looking at 10 percent a year economic growth, really since the late 1970s when the process of reform and opening began. Probably the most significant change in the last 10 years though has come with the 17 party Congress, which was in 2002, when we had a new set of leaders come in. And their goal, very much, was to change the economic development of China, away from a model that was focuses on the coasts and heavily resource intensive and very insensitive to the environment to one that is spread out more equally around China and it tries to improve the environment.
LAUER: When, when we, over these next couple of weeks hear criticism leveled at the Chinese government there's a question that's being asked back in the states. How will they react? How might they react to a demonstration, whether it be subtle or dramatic?
RAMO: You know one of the things to understand, when you look at the party here, because the party still really does control the government apparatus is this is not the Soviet Union with some late stage, coma patient Communist Party. They are very aware of all the risks and inside the party there's been a lot of debate about how do you react to protests? There's a camp that says the best thing that could happen would be to let it happen and the world would see that China is tolerant.
LAUER: But is that in their DNA?
RAMO: Well there's another camp inside the party that says it's the best possible moment to crack down hard and show the world how tough China is. And it's not something we'll probably even know the answer to unless and if something happens.
LAUER: And the average citizen who may, in principle, agree with the ideology of a protest, might that person, at this particular time say, "No you're not gonna spoil our party, it's inappropriate?"
RAMO: Yeah and I think it's not just about this time. It's about a very strong sense of Chinese nationhood. You have to remember that this is a place that experience unbelievable social chaos from the time of the Opium Wars in the 1850s until the establishment of modern China in 1949. And then decades of chaos after that. It's left them very sensitive to problems of outside interference and unbelievably reactive when they feel they're insulted.
LAUER: Joshua thanks very much. And I want to tell our viewers that Joshua is gonna be sitting next to me and Bob Costas in the broadcast booth on Friday night. He'll be our analyst for the opening ceremony. And your perspective will be invaluable Joshua. So we look forward to that.
RAMO: My pleasure.

For Lauer's Monday depiction of protestors as "party crashers," check the August 5 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

-- Brent Baker