Saturday, September 30, 2006

Playing Politics with the NIE

The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is a document prepared for the President and other key government officials. It is the consensus opinion of 16 intelligence agencies, and it represents the working hypotheses of the United States Government.

On Saturday, September 23rd, the New York Times reported on a then-secret NIE, as follows:
A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.
This put Dubya in an awkward place. He has been telling us how well things are going, and that the war in Iraq is essential to the overall war on terror. Iraq, he tells us, the central front and now we learn that the intelligence community believes that we are losing the war on that front. Again, from the NIE:
“The war in Iraq has made the terrorist threat worse by providing a focal point for an entire American message that has contributed to the spread and decentralization of Islamic radicalism around the globe. The Iraq war has diverted untold resources from efforts to protect Americans from terrorism and weakened the nation militarily.”
As usual, the White House reaction was to ignore the reality and instead address the P.R. problem. As Billy Crystal might say, “it is better to look marvelous, than to be marvelous.”

King George made a speech in which he commented on the fact that the leak of the NIE was “an indication that we’re getting close to an election.” Speaking at a White House news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Dubya angrily called the leak a political act intended to affect the upcoming midterm elections. “[H]ere we are, coming down the stretch in an election campaign, and it’s on the front page of your newspapers. Isn’t that interesting? Somebody has taken it upon themselves to leak classified information for political purposes,” he said, (forgetting for the moment that a singular subject takes a singular verb.)

There’s nothing new in the Bush party attacking the messenger. Indeed, that is standard fare for this pack of liars. But it is noteworthy nevertheless because it reveals the mindset of the party of Bush. Fundamentally, they do not believe in democracy.

You see, democracy depends on an informed electorate. It presupposes that there is wisdom in the combined judgment of the many. It has faith in people to make good decisions when they know the facts.

King George the Incompetent doesn’t believe any of this. He regards the leaking of information as subversive of democracy because when people collectively making informed, fact based decisions, well, it isn’t always the decisions that the faith based foreign policy community endorses. Give the people information? Nah! Let them eat cake!

All of this would be bad enough, but wait: it gets worse. Remember Bob Woodward? As I said about him Dick Armitage is a Poor Excuse, “Bob Woodward was [formerly] into the whole Fourth Estate as a check on government abuse of power. Now, he’s more into the kissing administration asses to get the scoop, and if necessary keeping the outing of Valerie Wilson on the q.t. to suck up to his handlers.”

Predictably, that sort of behavior made him a darling of the Bush White House. Sure, he was no Judith Miller, but still, he did make the case for the Bushies better than anyone else had. Presumably, it gave him unprecedented access to the people in the White House. Until now. The New York Times (!) broke the story of Washington Post poster boy Bob Woodward’s new book, State of Denial. Here’s the lede:
The White House ignored an urgent warning in September 2003 from a top Iraq adviser who said that thousands of additional American troops were desperately needed to quell the insurgency there, according to a new book by Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reporter and author. The book describes a White House riven by dysfunction and division over the war.

The warning is described in “State of Denial,” scheduled for publication on Monday by Simon & Schuster. The book says President Bush’s top advisers were often at odds among themselves, and sometimes were barely on speaking terms, but shared a tendency to dismiss as too pessimistic assessments from American commanders and others about the situation in Iraq.
I could point out that King George has told us over and over again that he would listen to his commanders and if they ask for troops he will give them what they wanted. But to do so, I would in effect be pointing out the fact that George W. Bush is a liar.

Of course, Woodward does that in the new book. Here’s Dan Froomkin from a editorial, “Is Woodward calling Bush a liar?”
CBS News reports: “Veteran Washington reporter Bob Woodward tells Mike Wallace that the Bush administration has not told the truth regarding the level of violence, especially against U.S. troops, in Iraq. He also reveals key intelligence that predicts the insurgency will grow worse next year. . . .

“According to Woodward, insurgent attacks against coalition troops occur, on average, every 15 minutes, a shocking fact the administration has kept secret. . . .

“The situation is getting much worse, says Woodward, despite what the White House and the Pentagon are saying in public. ‘The truth is that the assessment by intelligence experts is that next year, 2007, is going to get worse and, in public, you have the president and you have the Pentagon [saying], ‘Oh, no, things are going to get better,’ he tells Wallace. ‘Now there's public, and then there's private. But what did they do with the private? They stamp it secret. No one is supposed to know,’ says Woodward.”
George Bush might say, “Here we are, coming down the stretch in an election campaign, and it’s on the front page of your newspapers.” I wonder: Will he also accuse Bob Woodward of playing politics?

Woodward will be on 60 Minutes tomorrow. Be sure to watch ...

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Just the facts, ma'am.

George Bush is one of the luckiest men in the history of the world. He has fallen into one pit of manure after another throughout his life, and he always comes up smelling like roses. And so it was with 9-11 at least until this week.

George Bush came into office, having lost the popular vote, and having narrowly avoided having the Florida votes counted, which would have resulted in him losing the vote in the Electoral College.

Until 9-11 his major policy initiative had been a gobbledygook position on stem-cell research that pleased no one completely but did effectively relegate the United States to the second tier in biological research.

And then came 9-11, which was one leg of what Bush called the “trifecta.” Bush was cool, calm and collected, so much so that he was able to finish a book he had been working on, My Pet Goat. Then he appeared on a rubble heap in New York City with a bullhorn, at a time when the nation was reeling in shock and in need of a leader to rally around.

Instinctively, the American people understood that the attack was intended to undermine our confidence in the leadership, and the response was an out-pouring of good will toward everything identified as representative of America. This was very good for manufacturers of flags and lapel pins. But it was really, really good for the President’s approval ratings.

There was, and to a lesser extent still is, a hard core of people who will support the President no matter what. Some of these people are just hard-core Republicans. Some are hard-core ‘my-president-right-or-wrong’ types. And some are just plain morons. At the risk of stating the obvious, there's some overlap.

There is also a large number of people who do not follow or care very much about politics. These people felt the out-pouring of good will toward the President, and never had a chance to revisit the issue in lo, these five years. Some of these people are hooked on right wing talk radio, and therefore, appear indistinguishable from the aforementioned "just plain morons."

No matter how you categorize them, there are still about 40% of the population who approve of the way George Bush is doing his job, in spite of the fact that everything he has touched has turned to turd. And that is why I say he is one of the luckiest men on earth.

Until now. As I reported here, Bill Clinton has showed us how to talk about the fact that the Bush administration failed miserably in job #1, namely, protecting the country from outside attacks.

Here’s a taste from a transcript that appears on Think Progress.
CLINTON: …And I think it’s very interesting that all the conservative Republicans, who now say I didn’t do enough, claimed that I was too obsessed with bin Laden. All of President Bush’s neo-cons thought I was too obsessed with bin Laden. They had no meetings on bin Laden for nine months after I left office. All the right-wingers who now say I didn’t do enough said I did too much — same people.

WALLACE: Do you think you did enough, sir?

CLINTON: No, because I didn’t get him.


CLINTON: But at least I tried. That’s the difference in me and some, including all the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try. They did not try. I tried.

So I tried and failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke, who got demoted.
As you can well imagine, the White House couldn’t let that stand. Instead, they sent out Dr. Condi Rice, who had been the National Security Advisor whose total disregard of the Presidential Daily Briefing “Bin Laden determined to strike within the United States” resulted in her being promoted to Secretary of State. She denied Clinton's claim in the television interview that the Bush administration had not aggressively pursued al-Qaida before the attacks of 2001.

“What we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years. The notion somehow for eight months the Bush administration sat there and didn't do that is just flatly false, and I think the 9/11 commission understood that.”

Rice also took exception to Clinton's statement that he “left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy” for incoming officials when he left office.

“We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al-Qaida,” she told the newspaper, which is owned by News Corp., the company that owns Fox News Channel.

So who’s telling the truth? To help you decide, I refer you to a column by William Rivers Pitt, over on, entitled Clinton, 9/11 and the Facts and published on August 30, 2006. Here’s an excerpt:
Roger Cressy, National Security Council senior director for counterterrorism in the period 1999-2001, responded to these allegations [that Clinton did not do enough to capture Bin Ladin] in an article for the Washington Times in 2003. “Mr. Clinton approved every request made of him by the CIA and the U.S. military involving using force against bin Laden and al-Qaeda,” wrote Cressy. “As President Bush well knows, bin Laden was and remains very good at staying hidden. The current administration faces many of the same challenges. Confusing the American people with misinformation and distortions will not generate the support we need to come together as a nation and defeat our terrorist enemies.”

Measures taken by the Clinton administration to thwart international terrorism and bin Laden's network were historic, unprecedented and, sadly, not followed up on. Consider the steps offered by Clinton's 1996 omnibus anti-terror legislation, the pricetag for which stood at $1.097 billion. The following is a partial list of the initiatives offered by the Clinton anti-terrorism bill:
  • Screen Checked Baggage: $91.1 million

  • Screen Carry-On Baggage: $37.8 million

  • Passenger Profiling: $10 million

  • Screener Training: $5.3 million

  • Screen Passengers (portals) and Document Scanners: $1 million

  • Deploying Existing Technology to Inspect International Air Cargo: $31.4

  • Provide Additional Air/Counterterrorism Security: $26.6 million

  • Explosives Detection Training: $1.8 million

  • Augment FAA Security Research: $20 million

  • Customs Service: Explosives and Radiation Detection Equipment at Ports: $2.2 million

  • Anti-Terrorism Assistance to Foreign Governments: $2 million

  • Capacity to Collect and Assemble Explosives Data: $2.1 million

  • Improve Domestic Intelligence: $38.9 million

  • Critical Incident Response Teams for Post-Blast Deployment: $7.2 million

  • Additional Security for Federal Facilities: $6.7 million

  • Firefighter/Emergency Services Financial Assistance: $2.7 million

  • Public Building and Museum Security: $7.3 million

  • Improve Technology to Prevent Nuclear Smuggling: $8 million

  • Critical Incident Response Facility: $2 million

  • Counter-Terrorism Fund: $35 million

  • Explosives Intelligence and Support Systems: $14.2 million

  • Office of Emergency Preparedness: $5.8 million

  • The Clinton administration poured more than a billion dollars into counterterrorism activities across the entire spectrum of the intelligence community, into the protection of critical infrastructure, into massive federal stockpiling of antidotes and vaccines to prepare for a possible bioterror attack, into a reorganization of the intelligence community itself. Within the National Security Council, “threat meetings” were held three times a week to assess looming conspiracies. His National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, prepared a voluminous dossier on al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, actively tracking them across the planet. Clinton raised the issue of terrorism in virtually every important speech he gave in the last three years of his tenure.

    Clinton’s dire public warnings about the threat posed by terrorism, and the actions taken to thwart it, went completely unreported by the media, which was far more concerned with stained dresses and baseless Drudge Report rumors. When the administration did act militarily against bin Laden and his terrorist network, the actions were dismissed by partisans within the media and Congress as scandalous “wag the dog” tactics. The news networks actually broadcast clips of the movie “Wag the Dog” while reporting on his warnings, to accentuate the idea that everything the administration said was contrived fakery.

    In Congress, Clinton was thwarted by the reactionary conservative majority in virtually every attempt he made to pass legislation that would attack al-Qaeda and terrorism. His 1996 omnibus terror bill, which included many of the anti-terror measures we now take for granted after September 11, was withered almost to the point of uselessness by attacks from the right; Senators Jesse Helms and Trent Lott were openly dismissive of the threats Clinton spoke of.

    Specifically, Clinton wanted to attack the financial underpinnings of the al-Qaeda network by banning American companies and individuals from dealing with foreign banks and financial institutions that al-Qaeda was using for its money-laundering operations. Texas Senator Phil Gramm, chairman of the Banking Committee, gutted the portions of Clinton's bill dealing with this matter, calling them “totalitarian.”

    In fact, Gramm was compelled to kill the bill because his most devoted patrons, the Enron Corporation and its criminal executives in Houston, were using those same terrorist financial networks to launder their own dirty money and rip off the Enron stockholders. It should also be noted that Gramm’s wife, Wendy, sat on the Enron Board of Directors.

    Just before departing office, Clinton managed to make a deal with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to have some twenty nations close tax havens used by al-Qaeda. His term ended before the deal was sealed, and the incoming Bush administration acted immediately to destroy the agreement.

    According to Time magazine, in an article entitled “Banking on Secrecy” published in October of 2001, Bush economic advisors Larry Lindsey and R. Glenn Hubbard were urged by think tanks like the Center for Freedom and Prosperity to opt out of the coalition Clinton had formed. The conservative Heritage Foundation lobbied Bush’s Treasury Secretary, Paul O'Neill, to do the same.

    In the end, the lobbyists got what they wanted, and the Bush administration pulled out of the plan. The Time article stated, “Without the world's financial superpower, the biggest effort in years to rid the world’s financial system of dirty money was short-circuited.”

    A mission statement from the internal FBI Strategic Plan, dated 5/8/98, describes the FBI’s Tier One priority as ‘counterterrorism.’ The FBI, under the Clinton administration, was making counterterrorism its highest priority. The official annual budget goals memo from Attorney General Janet Reno to department heads, dated 4/6/2000, detailed how counterterrorism was her top priority for the Department of Justice. In the second paragraph, she states, “In the near term as well as the future, cybercrime and counterterrorism are going to be the most challenging threats in the criminal justice area. Nowhere is the need for an up-to-date human and technical infrastructure more critical.”
    Contrast this with the official annual budget goals memo from Attorney General John Ashcroft, dated 5/10/2001. Out of seven strategic goals described, not one mentions counterterrorism. An internal draft of the Department of Justice’s plans to revamp the official DoJ Strategic Plan, dated 8/9/2001, describes Ashcroft’s new priorities. The areas Ashcroft wished to focus on were highlighted in yellow. Specifically highlighted by Ashcroft were domestic violent crime and drug trafficking prevention. Item 1.3, entitled “Combat terrorist activities by developing maximum intelligence and investigative capability,” was not highlighted.

    There is the internal FBI budget request for 2003 to the Department of Justice, dated late August 2001. This was not the FBI's total budget request, but was instead restricted only to the areas where the FBI specifically requested increases over the previous year’s budget. In this request, the FBI specifically asked for, among other things, 54 translators to transcribe the backlog of intelligence gathered, 248 counterterrorism agents and support staff, and 200 professional intelligence researchers. The FBI had repeatedly stated that it had a serious backlog of intelligence data it has gathered, but could not process the data because it did not have the staff to analyze or translate it into usable information. Again, this was August 2001.

    The official Department of Justice budget request from Attorney General Ashcroft to OMB Director Mitch Daniels is dated September 10, 2001. This document specifically highlights only the programs slated for above-baseline increases or below-baseline cuts. Ashcroft outlined the programs he was trying to cut. Specifically, Ashcroft was planning to ignore the FBI's specific requests for more translators, counterintelligence agents and researchers. It additionally shows Ashcroft was trying to cut funding for counterterrorism efforts, grants and other homeland defense programs before the 9/11 attacks.
    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Monday, September 25, 2006

    Big Dawg shows us how it’s done!

    The internets are abuzz with comments and opinions regarding Bill Clinton having wiped the smirk off of Chris Wallace’s face on Faux news. If you missed it, you can catch it here. Basically, the President was invited on to Faux news to talk about the Clinton Global Initiative. Instead, he was asked a couple of questions about it and then, according to Chris Wallace, “I asked what I thought was a non-confrontational question about whether he could have done more to ‘connect the dots and really go after al Qaeda.’”

    Of course, that’s according to Chris Wallace. Now, who are you going to believe, Chris Wallace or your lying ears? If you listen to the tape, or read the transcript you will see that the actual question sounded more like this:
    WALLACE: Why didn’t you do more to put Bin Laden and al Qaeda out of business when you were President? There’s a new book out which I suspect you’ve read called the Looming Tower. And it talks about how the fact that when you pulled troops out of Somalia in 1993, Bin Laden said “I have seen the frailty and the weakness and the cowardice of US troops.” Then there was the bombing of the embassies in Africa and the attack on the USS Cole.


    WALLACE: …may I just finish the question sir. And after the attack, the book says, Bin Laden separated his leaders because he expected an attack and there was no response. I understand that hindsight is 20/20.

    CLINTON: No let’s talk about…

    WALLACE: …but the question is why didn’t you do more, connect the dots and put them out of business?
    Okay, so Chris Wallace is lying when he says that he asked a non-confrontational question. But lying by FOX News hosts is hardly the stuff of “Stop the presses!”

    What was new and different was this. It was the first time that a prominent Democrat called a spade a goddam shovel. This is the message that Dems have to learn to articulate: Republicans can’t be trusted to wage the war on terror. They are too incompetent, too corrupt, too ideological, and they have proven that they are not up to the task by 5 years King George W not "thinking too much" about Osama bin Ladin.

    The Neo-Cons have confabulated the war in Iraq with the so-called “War on Terror.” Incredible though it may seem, the general population gives them almost passing grades on the fighting terrorism. Bill Clinton is, if not the first, certainly the most prominent, and the most articulate to explain that these buffoons have fouled up the war on terrorism so bad, that every last one of us is less safe now than he or she was on January 20, 2001.

    Fighting terrorism is the Republican party’s strongest suit, even though, as the Huffington Post reports: “The National Intelligence Estimate, a classified report containing a consensus view of the 16 governmental spy agencies, states that the Iraq war has worsened the threat of terrorism across the globe.”

    The Republicans went after Kerry and Gore on their strongest suit, as they did against Max Cleland. And they lied about it every inch of the way. You would think Dems could go after them on their strongest suit, since to do so would merely involve telling the truth. And especially since Bill Clinton just showed us how it’s done!

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    A former governor of Texas

    Rest in peace, Ann Richards.

    In 1988, she famously said of George Herbert Walker Bush, 41, “Poor George, he can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” One of the improbable achievements of his son is that he makes the old man sound like a regular Demosthenes.

    Was that her most memorable quote from that convention? Maybe, but she also offered a memorable salute to the achievements of women, reminding her worldwide audience, “Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.”

    She was governor for one term, losing her re-election bid to George W. Bush.

    The same George W. Bush had his own memorable quote about the fair sex over at the Republican National Convention in 1988. A Hartford Courant reporter asked him about what he and his father talked about when they weren't talking about politics.

    Pussy,” Dubya replied.

    As Casey Stengel would say, you can look it up.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Friday, September 08, 2006

    Who is behind the revisionist history, “The Path to 9/11”

    The following article, Discover the Secret Right-Wing Network Behind ABC’s 9/11 Deception, previously appeared in its entirety on The Huffington Post’s column “Eat the Press,” under the byline, Max Blumenthal, and on his blog.

    Less than 72 hours before ABC's “The Path to 9/11” is scheduled to air, the network is suddenly under siege. On Tuesday, ABC was forced to concede that “The Path to 9/11” is “a dramatization, not a documentary.” The film deceptively invents scenes to depict former President Bill Clinton's handling of the Al Qaeda threat.

    Now, ABC claims to be is editing those false sequences to satisfy critics so the show can go on -- even if it still remains a gross distortion of history. And as it does so, ABC advances the illusion that the deceptive nature of “The Path to 9/11” is an honest mistake committed by a hardworking but admittedly fumbling team of well-intentioned Hollywood professionals who wanted nothing less than to entertain America. But this is another Big Lie.

    In fact, “The Path to 9/11” is produced and promoted by a well-honed propaganda operation consisting of a network of little-known right-wingers working from within Hollywood to counter its supposedly liberal bias. This is the network within the ABC network. Its godfather is far right activist David Horowitz, who has worked for more than a decade to establish a right-wing presence in Hollywood and to discredit mainstream film and TV production. On this project, he is working with a secretive evangelical religious right group founded by The Path to 9/11’s director David Cunningham that proclaims its goal to “transform Hollywood” in line with its messianic vision.

    Before The Path to 9/11 entered the production stage, Disney/ABC contracted David Cunningham as the film’s director. Cunningham is no ordinary Hollywood journeyman. He is in fact the son of Loren Cunningham, founder of the right-wing evangelical group Youth With A Mission (YWAM). The young Cunningham helped found an auxiliary of his father's group called The Film Institute (TFI), which, according to its mission statement, is “dedicated to a Godly transformation and revolution TO and THROUGH the Film and Television industry.” As part of TFI's long-term strategy, Cunningham helped place interns from Youth With A Mission's "global training network" in film industry jobs “so that they can begin to impact and transform Hollywood from the inside out,” according to a YWAM report.

    Last June, Cunningham’s TFI announced it was producing its first film, mysteriously titled “Untitled History Project.” “TFI's first project is a doozy,” a newsletter to YWAM members read. “Simply being referred to as: The Untitled History Project, it is already being called the television event of the decade and not one second has been put to film yet. Talk about great expectations!” (A web edition of the newsletter was mysteriously deleted yesterday but has been cached on Google at the link above).

    The following month, on July 28, the New York Post reported that ABC was filming a mini-series “under a shroud of secrecy” about the 9/11 attacks. “At the moment, ABC officials are calling the miniseries ‘Untitled Commission Report’ and producers refer to it as the ‘Untitled History Project,’” the Post noted.

    Early on, Cunningham had recruited a young Iranian-American screenwriter named Cyrus Nowrasteh to write the script of his secretive “Untitled” film. Not only is Nowrasteh an outspoken conservative, he is also a fervent member of the emerging network of right-wing people burrowing into the film industry with ulterior sectarian political and religious agendas, like Cunningham.

    Nowrasteh's conservatism was on display when he appeared as a featured speaker at the Liberty Film Festival (LFF), an annual event founded in 2004 to premier and promote conservative-themed films supposedly too “politically incorrect” to gain acceptance at mainstream film festivals. This June, while The Path to 9/11 was being filmed, LFF founders Govindini Murty and Jason Apuzzo -- both friends of Nowrasteh -- announced they were “partnering” with right-wing activist David Horowitz. Indeed, the 2006 LFF is listed as “A Program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center.”

    Since the inauguration of Bill Clinton in 1992, Horowitz has labored to create a network of politically active conservatives in Hollywood. His Hollywood nest centers around his Wednesday Morning Club, a weekly meet-and-greet session for Left Coast conservatives that has been graced with speeches by the likes of Newt Gingrich, Victor Davis Hanson and Christopher Hitchens. The group’s headquarters are at the offices of Horowitz’s Center for the Study of Popular Culture, a “think tank” bankrolled for years with millions by right-wing sugardaddies like eccentric far right billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife. (Scaife financed the Arkansas Project, a $2.3 million dirty tricks operation that included paying sources for negative stories about Bill Clinton that turned out to be false.)

    With the LFF now under Horowitz’s control, his political machine began drumming up support for Cunningham and Nowrasteh’s “Untitled” project, which finally was revealed in late summer as “The Path to 9/11.” Horowitz's PR blitz began with an August 16 interview with Nowrasteh on his FrontPageMag webzine. In the interview, Nowrasteh foreshadowed the film’s assault on Clinton's record on fighting terror. “The 9/11 report details the Clinton's administration’s response -- or lack of response -- to Al Qaeda and how this emboldened Bin Laden to keep attacking American interests,” Nowrasteh told FrontPageMag's Jamie Glazov. “There simply was no response. Nothing.”

    A week later, ABC hosted LFF co-founder Murty and several other conservative operatives at an advance screening of The Path to 9/11. (While ABC provided 900 DVDs of the film to conservatives, Clinton administration officials and objective reviewers from mainstream outlets were denied them.) Murty returned with a glowing review for FrontPageMag that emphasized the film's partisan nature. “‘The Path to 9/11’ is one of the best, most intelligent, most pro-American miniseries I’ve ever seen on TV, and conservatives should support it and promote it as vigorously as possible,” Murty wrote. As a result of the special access granted by ABC, Murty’s article was the first published review of The Path to 9/11, preceding those by the New York Times and LA Times by more than a week.

    Murty followed her review with a blast email to conservative websites such as Liberty Post and Free Republic on September 1 urging their readers to throw their weight behind ABC’s mini-series. “Please do everything you can to spread the word about this excellent miniseries,” Murty wrote, “so that ‘The Path to 9/11’ gets the highest ratings possible when it airs on September 10 & 11! If this show gets huge ratings, then ABC will be more likely to produce pro-American movies and TV shows in the future!”

    Murty's efforts were supported by Appuzo, who handles LFF's heavily-trafficked blog, Libertas. Appuzo was instrumental in marketing The Path to 9/11 to conservatives, writing in a blog post on September 2, Make no mistake about what this film does, among other things: it places the question of the Clinton Administration’s culpability for the 9/11 attacks front and center... Bravo to Cyrus Nowrasteh and David Cunningham for creating this gritty, stylish and gripping piece of entertainment.”

    When a group of leading Senate Democrats sent a letter to ABC CEO Robert Iger urging him to cancel The Path to 9/11 because of its glaring factual errors and distortions, Apuzzo launched a retaliatory campaign to paint the Democrats as foes of free speech. “Here at LIBERTAS we urge the public to make noise over this, and to demand that Democrats back down,” he wrote on September 7th. “What is at stake is nothing short of the 1st Amendment.”

    At FrontPageMag, Horowitz singled out Nowrasteh as the victim. The attacks by former president Bill Clinton, former Clinton Administration officials and Democratic US senators on Cyrus Nowrasteh’s ABC mini-series “The Path to 9/11” are easily the gravest and most brazen and damaging governmental attacks on the civil liberties of ordinary Americans since 9/11,” Horowitz declared.

    Now, as discussion grows over the false character of The Path to 9/11, the right-wing network that brought it to fruition is ratcheting up its PR efforts. Murty will appear tonight on CNN’s Glenn Beck show and The Situation Room, according to Libertas in order to respond to “the major disinformation campaign now being run by Democrats to block the truth about what actually happened during the Clinton years.”

    While this network claims its success and postures as the true victims, the ABC network suffers a PR catastrophe. It's almost as though it was complacent about an attack on its reputation by a band of political terrorists.

    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    The Path to 9/11 and other atrocities


    The ABC television network is a cog in the Walt Disney empire. On the fifth anniversary of 9/11 the network plans to broadcast a two-night mini-series, which is a shameless attempt to re-write history. It was written by right-wing extremists to blame Clinton for 9/11, and to benefit the Republican ‘we have nothing to sell but fear itself’ crowd as we approach what may be the most important election in American history.

    Here’s how ABC is touting the show:
    On September 11, 2001 the world stood still as terrorists used four planes as lethal weapons against innocent Americans. The 9/11 Commission was formed to determine how such an attack could happen, and its report documents the trail from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to the tragedy of that autumn morning. The bipartisan commission effort created a comprehensive record of events and provides valuable insight into what must be done to protect the nation in the future.

    ABC will present “The Path to 9/11,” a dramatization of the events detailed in The 9/11 Commission Report and other sources, in an epic miniseries event that will air with limited commercial interruption.
    Since that announcement, ABC has determined that the best strategy for airing this disgraceful slander is with no commercials whatsoever. One can conclude that ABC was unable to attract advertisers, but the more cynical among us might wonder if ABC fears the boycotting of advertisers who underwrite revisionist history.

    To spread the word about “The Path to 9/11,” ABC is sending 100,000 high school educators a letter from 9/11 Commission co-chair Tom Keane informing them of the various platforms on which the mini is available.

    ABC and Scholastic have produced an online study guide, according to Variety, the entertainment industry’s magazine. As I write this, MSNBC is reporting that Scholastic has pulled out of the deal.

    Also according to Variety,
    [President of ABC Entertainment] Steve McPherson said by offering the show for free on iTunes and via streaming video on, the network hoped to expose as many people as possible to the findings of the 9/11 Commission, whose report forms the basis of the script.
    By giving it this platform and by dramatizing it, we’ll get more people to get that information,” he said. “We spent $30 million on this and we're putting it on without commercials. How important we think this is speaks for itself.”

    There are sites all over the internet where you can sign on to a letter to ABC urging them not to air this despicable propaganda. My sense tells me that it will not work. Anyone who might sign such a letter is not within the target audience, and ABC Entertainment is already bragging about taking a $30 million bath.

    So, what will work?

    It strikes me that the ABC-Disney(world)-Florida-Bush connection is part of this story. Should there be an organized boycott of Disneyworld explicitly in response to this? On a good day, I have worse ideas than this before breakfast.

    What about boycotting selected corporations that advertise on ABC on September 11th and 12th? ABC is in business to do business. Advertisers need to get the message that advertising on the network of Republican agi-prop is bad mojo. A hundred thousand emails from upset viewers will get the message across. You can’t hit a corporation in the heart, so you must aim for the pocketbook.

    And since ABC Entertainment is in the business of making money, what are they doing giving away a miniseries that cost $30,000,000. For that kind of money they could have given a dollar dividend to each of 30,000,000 shareholders. (Correction: Fiscal results for 2005 showed an 11% increased income compared to the previous year. Add in 30 million, and it would have been a 12% increase.) Folks who invest in Disney have a right to expect that the business will be run, well, like a business. When it is run like a charitable propaganda organ for the Republican Party, the law provides a remedy, viz., a shareholder lawsuit.

    This story is developing quickly. It is now being reported by the L.A. Times that ABC is still in editing mode. (It does make you wonder what the network made available for previews to Rush Limbaugh and his fellow travelers.) In any event, according to the LA times, this is “after leading political figures, many of them Democrats, complained about bias and alleged inaccuracies.” It is also after they network discovered that there was 10 minutes of time that had been set aside for advertising that needs to be filled. Whatever the reason for the rewrite, it enables ABC to say that any criticism of the mini-series is “premature.”

    Stay tuned – to this channel,

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    Dick Armitage is a poor excuse.

    So, what we know so far is that Deputy Secretary of State Dick Armitage was the first source for Bob Novak when he outed Valerie Plame. Here’s what the Washington Post had to say about it:
    It follows that one of the most sensational charges leveled against the Bush White House -- that it orchestrated the leak of Ms. Plame’s identity to ruin her career and thus punish Mr. Wilson -- is untrue.
    This is bizarre thinking, unworthy of the paper that played such a big role in uncovering Watergate. Of course, that was when Bob Woodward was into the whole Fourth Estate as a check on government abuse of power. Now, he’s more into the kissing administration asses to get the scoop, and if necessary keeping the outing of Valerie Wilson on the q.t. to suck up to his handlers.

    The Post’s argument is that Armitage’s name-dropping was just a matter of sharing gossip with Bob Novak. Now, maybe the Post doesn’t know the difference between “gossip” and a secret dossier that was created to discredit Wilson, but you can bet your bippie that Armitage does. But more directly to the point, if it is true that Armitage’s loose lips were just a thoughtless act, how does that discredit the fact that the White House was engaged in a very pre-meditated, coordinated effort to respond to the Wilson article? It doesn’t.

    The White House no longer denies that Karl Rove was pushing the story. Chris Matthews has said, “Karl Rove called [him] up and said that ‘Valerie Plame is fair game.’” Did Scooter Libby give up Valerie Wilson to the press? What we know so far is that his denials got him indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice. We know that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald has alleged, and a grand jury has agreed, that there was a concerted effort in the White House to discredit Wilson in the course of which Valerie Wilson, a protected person, had her identity made public.

    Joe Conason makes the point eloquently in The Observer, but he, too, is missing a crucial ingredient in this cocktail.

    How did it help the White House to out Valerie Plame? The main theories put forward are (1) that it was simply to punish Joe Wilson, (2) it made Wilson look like a girly-man because his wife got him a gig, and (3) by portraying the trip to Africa as a “junket” they could deny that there was any fact-finding mission, at all. None of these make any sense, and it amazes me that they are accepted so uncritically.

    Since The Price of Loyalty, at least, we have known that these are mean bastards in the White House. But would they destroy a CIA secret operative, engaged in learning about Iranian nuclear plans, to punish Joe Wilson, even in light of the damage that it did to ongoing operations by destroying her cover and exposing her contacts? Nah. They could have punished Wilson much more directly, for example, by trumping up some charges against him for revealing his “secret mission.” That would have bankrupted him.

    Did you, dear reader, have the least bit of a negative reaction to Joe Wilson upon hearing that his wife may have played a role in sending him to Africa? Me, neither. It’s absurd to think that as buffoonish as these guys are, they would think, “Hey, once people learn that this former ambassador is married to a sexy spy, who sent him on a secret mission, people are just going to just think he’s a pussy and not pay any attention to him.” And how did it work out for them?

    What about after you learned that when Saddam Hussein threatened to hang Ambassador Wilson, he put a noose on as if it were a necktie, and said, “I wanted Saddam to know that if he was going to hang me, I would bring my own fucking rope.” It was for this that Geo. Herbert Walker Bush called him, “a true American hero.”

    Even if it were a “junket,” so what? Does that undermine the credibility of his findings? Nope. To do that, you have to attack Wilson’s credibility. There was plenty of that, to be sure, but it didn’t necessarily involve the Valerie Wilson connection. Also, notwithstanding the fumigations of the Washington post, none of it stood up.

    When the White House launched the attack on Joe Wilson the war in Iraq was pretty much a done deal. And by the time the war came, the Bushies had acknowledged that the 16 words shouldn’t have been in the State of the Union address, and pretty much dropped the nuclear threat as a cause for the war.

    So why did the White House attack Wilson’s wife? It was for one simple reason: the Bushies knew that Cheney had let King George make a State of the Union speech that he knew was bullshit. It wasn’t about hurting Wilson: it was about protecting Dick Deadeye. And so it was that Rove and Scooter were sent out to make the case that they had no idea about what Joe Wilson didn’t find in Africa.

    It is crucial to understand that Darth Cheney thought that the article had stated that the he had personally sent Wilson to Niger. Wilson never said that, and what he did say was true, to wit: in response to questions raised by the Vice President, the CIA sent him on a mission to Niger. And so, when the veep’s clipping service sent him Wilson’s article, he scribbled some brainstorming ideas on how he can maintain plausible deniability regarding his knowledge of Wilson’s trip. “Was it a junket?” “Is it unusual to send a former ambassador on a trip like this?” You get the idea.

    In order for Big Mitch’s theory to hold, you would want to see some evidence of Dead-eye Dick actually using plausible, but false, statements to deny his knowledge of Wilson’s trip. I posted it here and here:
    This is from [Cheney’s] September 14, 2003 appearance on Meet the Press:

    “I don’t know Joe Wilson. I’ve never met Joe Wilson. A question had arisen. I’d heard a report that the Iraqis had been trying to acquire uranium in Africa, Niger in particular. I get a daily brief on my own each day before I meet with the president to go through the intel. And I ask lots of question. One of the questions I asked at that particular time about this, I said, “What do we know about this?” They take the question. He came back within a day or two and said, “This is all we know. There’s a lot we don’t know,” end of statement. And Joe Wilson—I don’t who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report -- that I ever saw -- when he came back.

    How is that possible? Well, for an answer let’s look again at what Wilson said in the now famous article in the Times:

    Though I did not file a written report, there should be at least four documents in United States government archives confirming my mission. The documents should include the ambassador's report of my debriefing in Niamey, a separate report written by the embassy staff, a C.I.A. report summing up my trip, and a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this may have been delivered orally). While I have not seen any of these reports, I have spent enough time in government to know that this is standard operating procedure.
    You may say that this concern for Dick Cheney’s credibility is rather extreme. And you would be right. But extreme times call for extreme measures. Don’t forget that the bottom line on Joe Wilson’s argument is that the claim that Iraq was trying to obtain nuclear weapons was false, and Cheney knew it. Long ago, a majority of Americans came to the conclusion that if they lied us into a war, they ought to be impeached.

    What happens when you get rid of a criminal vice-president who is the main reason for not impeaching the President of the United States? Ask Spiro Agnew.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”