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Truth Trickles Out: Unit Cited in Question to Rumsfeld Had Armor --12/22/2004


1. Truth Trickles Out: Unit Cited in Question to Rumsfeld Had Armor
The truth trickles out. "It now appears that the premise of the question that caused an uproar around Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was, so to speak, off base," FNC's Brit Hume noted Tuesday night in reminding viewers how two weeks ago National Guardsman "Thomas Wilson said to Rumsfeld, quote, 'our vehicles are not armored, we do not have proper armament vehicles to carry with us north,' into Iraq." But, Hume relayed, "according to senior Army officers, about 800 of the 830 vehicles in Wilson's Army regiment, the 278th Calvary, had already been up-armored" at the time of his widely publicized question. Some Hearst newspapers reported that fact last week and since then it has trickled up the media stream into NewsMax, the Washington Times and FNC, but not the other networks or major newspapers.

2. Washington Post's Milbank Confuses CNN's King with CBS's Roberts
All white guys look alike? Or, it's confusing to cover a press conference by just reading the transcript? In a Tuesday Washington Post sidebar article about President Bush's Monday news conference, "The President's Grand Elusion," reporter Dana Milbank took Bush to task for "his evasive maneuvers" and how Bush "employed the full range of artful dodges." But in recounting one of Bush's "dodges," Milbank attributed a question, about Social Security, to CNN's John King when, in fact, it was posed by CBS's John Roberts. The "Corrections" box in Wednesday's Washington Post made no mention of the error.

3. Washington Post Buys Slate.com Where Nearly All Voted for Kerry
In acquiring Microsoft's Slate.com on Tuesday, the Washington Post bought a Web magazine at which nearly every editor and reporter voted for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. Slate.com headlined an October 26 article about a survey of their own staff: "At this magazine, it's Kerry by a landslide!" In 2000, 12 of the 13 in the top editorial positions voted for Gore, with the 13th going not for Bush but the libertarian. In both years, the Democrat earned the vote of Slate's current Editor, Jacob Weisberg, a former Newsweek reporter.

4. FNC Notes ABC's Deceptive Use of Activists to Attack Rumsfeld
You read it here first. On Tuesday night, FNC's Brit Hume picked up on the Monday CyberAlert item about how ABC News deceivingly portrayed two relatives the network showcased to denounce Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, for using an auto-pen machine to sign condolence letters, as typical members of military families when both are dedicated Bush and Rumsfeld haters with political axes to grind.


Truth Trickles Out: Unit Cited in Question
to Rumsfeld Had Armor

The truth trickles out. "It now appears that the premise of the question that caused an uproar around Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was, so to speak, off base," FNC's Brit Hume noted Tuesday night in reminding viewers how two weeks ago National Guardsman "Thomas Wilson said to Rumsfeld, quote, 'our vehicles are not armored, we do not have proper armament vehicles to carry with us north,' into Iraq." But, Hume relayed, "according to senior Army officers, about 800 of the 830 vehicles in Wilson's Army regiment, the 278th Calvary, had already been up-armored" at the time of his widely publicized question. Some Hearst newspapers reported that fact last week and since then it has trickled up the media stream into NewsMax, the Washington Times and FNC, but not the other networks or major newspapers.

CBS's Dan Rather The night of the December 15 Pentagon briefing on the armor situation, CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather was oblivious to the revelation as he delivered this short item which repeated the National Guardsman's charge: "The U.S. Army said today it will spend more than $4 billion in the next few months in a belated effort to ensure that all its vehicles in Iraq have armor to protect troops inside. The promise came one week after a soldier complained to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld about having to scrounge in trash heaps for makeshift armor."

At that briefing, Army Major General Stephen Speakes, U.S. Army G-8, Force Development, also noted that the remaining vehicles in the Tennessee's National Guard unit were up-armored within 24 hours of the question being posed. Other networks ran clips of Speakes' explanation of the levels of armor and how they are applied, but nothing on the premise of the question which Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter Edward Lee Pitts boasted of placing with the National Guardsman.

In his e-mail back to his editors after the event in Kuwait, Pitts leveled the charge about armor in recounting that in talking with members of the Guard unit with which he was embedded, "before hand we worked on questions to ask Rumsfeld about the appalling lack of armor their vehicles going into combat have. While waiting for the VIP, I went and found the Sgt. in charge of the microphone for the question and answer session and made sure he knew to get my guys out of the crowd."

For more on the Pitts question, see the December 10 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

For his e-mail in its entirety, as posted by Romenesko on the Poynter Institute site: poynter.org

For the transcript of the December 15 DOD session, "Special Defense Department Briefing on Uparmoring HMMWV," see: www.defenselink.mil

Hume seemingly picked up the disclosure from Greg Pierce's December 21 "Inside Politics" column, which cited a NewsMax.com article:

Army Maj. Gen. Stephen Speakes...."According to the Maryville, Tenn., Daily Times -- a rival to Pitts' paper -- Army Maj. Gen. Stephen Speakes and Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson said during last week's Pentagon briefing that routine pre-deployment preparations before proceeding to Iraq included adding protective armor plates to the last 20 vehicles of the Tennessee-based 278th Regimental Combat Team's 830 vehicles.

"'When the question was asked, 20 vehicles remained to be up-armored at that point,' Gen. Speakes said, in comments completely ignored by the major media.

"'We completed those 20 vehicles in the next day,' he said. 'In other words, we completed all the armoring within 24 hours of the time the question was asked,' Gen. Speakes added.

"The eye-opening revelations by Gen. Speakes and Gen. Sorenson first gained national exposure on FreeRepublic.com late Friday."

END of Excerpt

For Pierce's weekday column: www.washingtontimes.com

For the Sunday, December 19 NewsMax.com article, "Rumsfeld's Questioner Wrong About Unit's Armor," attributed to "Carl Limbacher and NewsMax.com staff," go to: www.newsmax.com

In fact, that Friday Maryville newspaper article was not original and was attributed to "wire services": www.thedailytimes.com

Hearst Newspapers reporter Stewart Powell deserves the credit for first recounting what Speakes revealed deep into the December 15 briefing. I checked a bunch of Hearst papers for the story and couldn't find it in several, but did locate it in the December 16 Beaumont Enterprise. An excerpt from, "Unit's armor finished up after query of Rumsfeld," the story by Powell who works out of Hearst's Washington bureau:

Within 24 hours after a low-ranking soldier challenged Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about armor shortages in Iraq, protective armor had been added to every vehicle in the soldier's unit, senior Army officers said Wednesday.

Army Maj. Gen. Stephen Speakes and Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson, senior members of the Army's combat systems development and acquisition team at the Pentagon, said protective armor plates were added to the last 20 vehicles of the Tennessee-based 278th Regimental Combat Team's 830 vehicles shortly after the confrontation with Rumsfeld.

The generals said it was part of routine, pre-deployment preparations in Kuwait before the unit proceeded into Iraq.

"When the question was asked, 20 vehicles remained to be up-armored at that point," Speakes told a Pentagon briefing. "We completed those 20 vehicles in the next day....In other words, we completed all the armoring within 24 hours of the time the question was asked."...

Speakes said Wilson might not have known that the Army was working under "an existing program" to add armor to the last of the unit's vehicles when he questioned Rumsfeld. By the time Wilson's unit headed into Iraq, Speakes said it had 252 vehicles with bolt-on armor plate produced as $7,000-to-$11,000 add-on kits in the United States and shipped to Kuwait for installation.

Another 459 vehicles had less protective, locally fabricated armor plate installed by GIs in Kuwait -- armor known to GIs as "hillbilly armor." Wilson's question referred to that type of ad hoc armor. The unit picked up another 119 armored Humvees upon arrival in Iraq that had been left behind by departing combat units, Speakes said....

END of Excerpt

For the December 16 Beaumont Enterprise article in full: www.southeasttexaslive.com

Washington Post's Milbank Confuses CNN's
King with CBS's Roberts

Washington Post's Dana Milbank All white guys look alike? Or, it's confusing to cover a press conference by just reading the transcript? In a Tuesday Washington Post sidebar article about President Bush's Monday news conference, "The President's Grand Elusion," reporter Dana Milbank took Bush to task for "his evasive maneuvers" and how Bush "employed the full range of artful dodges." But in recounting one of Bush's "dodges," Milbank attributed a question, about Social Security, to CNN's John King when, in fact, it was posed by CBS's John Roberts. The "Corrections" box in Wednesday's Washington Post made no mention of the error.

The MRC's Rich Noyes caught these paragraphs in the December 21 story which carried the "White House Memo" slug:
"When the subject turned to Social Security, the President made clear that questions about his views on the subject were strictly out of bounds -- as when CNN's John King asked why Bush wasn't talking about 'tough measures' such as raising the retirement age or cutting benefits.
"'Now the temptation is going to be, by well-meaning people such as yourself, John, and others here as we run up to the issue, to get me to negotiate with myself in public,' Bush said. Saying he was trying to 'condition' reporters, he added: 'I'm not going to negotiate with myself and I will negotiate at the appropriate time with the law writers, and so thank you for trying.'"

For Milbank's piece in full: www.washingtonpost.com

While Bush referred to "John," he was addressing John Roberts, not John King. The MRC's Ken Shepherd tracked down the questions posed back-to-back by both during the 10:30am EST session on Monday.

CNN's John King The question CNN's John King really posed: "You mentioned that meeting with General Abizaid and General Casey. One of their complaints now, and a complaint we have heard dating back more than a year ago, even to when combat was under way in Iraq, is what some call meddling, interference from Syria and Iran. People coming across the border. People going back across the border. Sometimes money. Now they say meddling in the political process. What specifically is the problem now, in your view? And there are some who watch this and see a series of complaints from the administration, but they say, 'Will there ever be consequences?'"

CBS's John Roberts Next, CBS's John Roberts actually asked the question Milbank attributed to King: "You've made Social Security reform the top of your domestic agenda for a second term. You've been talking extensively about the benefits of private accounts. But by most estimations, private accounts may leave something for young workers at the end, but wouldn't do much to solve the overall financial problem with Social Security. And I'm just wondering, as you're promoting these private accounts, why aren't you talking about some of the tough measures that may have to be taken to preserve the solvency of Social Security, such as increasing the retirement age, cutting benefits or means testing for Social Security?"

Despite Milbank's inability to distinguish between King and Roberts, he appeared on Monday's Hardball to deliver the same complaint, about Bush's evasions, which formed his Tuesday article.

Washington Post Buys Slate.com Where
Nearly All Voted for Kerry

In acquiring Microsoft's Slate.com on Tuesday, the Washington Post bought a Web magazine at which nearly every editor and reporter voted for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. Slate.com headlined an October 26 article about a survey of their own staff: "At this magazine, it's Kerry by a landslide!" In 2000, 12 of the 13 in the top editorial positions voted for Gore, with the 13th going not for Bush but the libertarian. In both years, the Democrat earned the vote of Slate's current Editor, Jacob Weisberg, a former Newsweek reporter.

In reporting on the purchase which will make Slate part of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz noted on Wednesday that the Post plans to keep Slate's staff intact: "In announcing a deal to acquire Slate from Microsoft Corp. for an undisclosed sum, said to be in the millions of dollars, Post executives said they would keep Jacob Weisberg as editor and most of the 30-person staff."

Kurtz later acknowledged the lack of ideological diversity at Slate: "A week before the election, nearly all its editorial staffers, including Weisberg, disclosed that they were voting for John Kerry over President Bush." And it doesn't look as if the Post will increase diversity: "Asked if he was worried about editorial interference from the new owner, Weisberg invoked the name of The Post Co.'s chief executive. 'Don Graham and everyone else we've dealt with at The Post Co. made very clear they wanted to buy Slate because they like the magazine the way it is,' he said. 'I don't think readers are going to notice much difference.'"

For Kurtz's December 22 article in full: www.washingtonpost.com

But will the Post continue to allow Slate to disclose the political preferences of its staff when the Post has never come clean with its readers?

The October 26 Slate posting listed these staffers as among those planning to cast their ballot for John Kerry, selected names in alphabetical order:

- Phillip Carter, military and legal affairs writer
- Bryan Curtis, Deputy Culture Editor
- Mickey Kaus, contributor
- Josh Levin, Assistant Editor
- Scott Moore, General Manager of the MSN News and Information Division
- Timothy Noah, Senior Writer [In the 1980s Noah reported for the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek and U.S. News]
- Meghan O'Rourke, Culture Editor
- Jill Hunter Pellettieri, Assistant Editor
- David Plotz, Deputy Editor
- William Saletan, Chief Political Correspondent
- Chris Suellentrop, Deputy Washington Bureau Chief
- June Thomas, West Coast Editor
- Julia Turner, Assistant Editor
- Jacob Weisberg, Editor

Weisberg's explanation of his vote revealed it was driven by disgust with Bush:
"I remain totally unimpressed by John Kerry. Outside of his opposition to the death penalty, I've never seen him demonstrate any real political courage. His baby steps in the direction of reform liberalism during the 1990s were all followed by hasty retreats. His Senate vote against the 1991 Gulf War demonstrates an instinctive aversion to the use of American force, even when it's clearly justified. Kerry's major policy proposals in this campaign range from implausible to ill-conceived. He has no real idea what to do differently in Iraq. His health-care plan costs too much to be practical and conflicts with his commitment to reducing the deficit. At a personal level, he strikes me as the kind of windbag that can only emerge when a naturally pompous and self-regarding person marinates for two decades inside the U.S. Senate. If elected, Kerry would probably be a mediocre, unloved president on the order of Jimmy Carter. And I won't have a second's regret about voting for him. Kerry's failings are minuscule when weighed against the massive damage to America's standing in the world, our economic future, and our civic institutions that would likely result from a second Bush term."

Saletan, the Chief Political Correspondent, snidely recounted:
"Here's what I wrote about Bush when we disclosed our votes four years ago: 'He's shallow, obtuse, and proud of it. He's disdainful of reflection and indifferent to work....Congress can restrain either of them, but a president can catastrophically botch a foreign policy crisis all by himself. I trust Gore in that situation. I don't trust Bush.
"Looks like I was wrong about Congress."

For the list in full, with justifications from each staffer for their choice: slate.com

An excerpt from the November 7, 2000 CyberAlert Extra:

A media outlet has had the courage to showcase how nearly 100 percent of its senior editorial staff planned to vote for Al Gore. Specifically, 12 of 13 people holding positions above copy editor or editorial assistant, though those lower-lever people were also near-universally in support of Gore. And the 13th guy isn't behind Bush: He's for libertarian Harry Browne.

The voting preferences have been posted by Slate.com about its staff and amongst those boasting support for Gore were Timothy Noah, a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report and one-time Newsweek reporter Jacob Weisberg.

Noah admitted he's a Democrat and argued: "Bush's toxic mixture of privilege, ignorance, and resentment strikes me as far more offensive than Gore's woodenness and occasional condescension." Weisberg denounced Bush: "A Bush presidency might not be a disaster, but it would surely be an embarrassment."

Overall, 76 percent (29) of the 38 Slate.com staff members who agreed to reveal for whom they planned to pull the lever, including contributors and business-side staff, listed Gore as their candidate, 10.5 percent (4) picked Bush, 8 percent (3) supported Nader and 5 percent (2) advocated Browne....

In alphabetical order, here's the list of the 13 top editorial staff members and for whom they plan to vote:

Michael Brus, Assistant Editor: Al Gore
Josh Daniel, Managing Editor: Gore
Jodi Kantor, Associate Editor: Gore
Michael Kinsley, Editor: Gore
Timothy Noah, Senior Writer: Gore
David Plotz, Washington Bureau Chief: Gore
William Saletan, Senior Writer: Gore
Jack Shafer, Deputy Editor: Browne
Scott Shuger, Senior Writer: Gore
Judith Shulevitz, New York Editor: Gore
June Thomas, Copy Chief: Gore
Eliza Truitt, Associate Editor: Gore
Jacob Weisberg, Chief Political Correspondent: Gore

FNC Notes ABC's Deceptive Use of Activists
to Attack Rumsfeld

FNC's Brit Hume You read it here first. On Tuesday night, FNC's Brit Hume picked up on the Monday CyberAlert item about how ABC News deceivingly portrayed two relatives the network showcased to denounce Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, for using an auto-pen machine to sign condolence letters, as typical members of military families when both are dedicated Bush and Rumsfeld haters with political axes to grind.

In the "Grapevine" segment on the December 21 Special Report with Brit Hume, Hume noted:
"ABC News did a report this week on military families upset that Rumsfeld used a machine to sign condolence letters. It quoted two people who lost family members in Iraq, Ivan Medina and Sue Niederer. What ABC News did not mention is that both Medina and Niederer are long-time critics of the Bush administration. Seven months ago, Medina participated in an anti-Rumsfeld protest outside West Point, calling him, quote, 'a liar and a war criminal.' And just three months ago, Niederer interrupted a Bush campaign event in New Jersey, yelling and sporting a shirt that read, quote, 'President Bush: You killed my son.' She was arrested."

The December 20 CyberAlert recounted: In a Sunday night ABC story, the brother and mother of soldiers killed in Iraq denounced Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for having an auto-pen machine sign his letters of condolence. But while World News Tonight/Sunday anchor Terry Moran portrayed the two as representative of how "some military families" are "upset" with Rumsfeld, the two are dedicated Bush and Rumsfeld haters with a political axe to grind. Ivan Medina spoke in June at a pro-Fahrenheit 9/11 publicity event and in May took part in an anti-Rumsfeld protest where he charged: "This government lied to the military soldiers. Bush went to war to settle a family vendetta." Sue Niederer sported a "President Bush: You Killed My Son" T-shirt when she was arrested for disrupting a September speech by First Lady Laura Bush. In an interview with the far-left Counterpunch Web site, she urged harm to President Bush: "I wanted to rip the President's head off. Curse him, yell at him, call him a self-righteous bastard and a lot of other words. I think if I had him in front of me I would shoot him in the groined area."

For that item in full, with still shots from ABC of Medina and Niederer: www.mediaresearch.org


Merry Christmas.


-- Brent Baker