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Pundit Pap for March 2, 2003
Shaikh your moneymaker!
Al Qaeda mass murder mastermind nabbed as weekend defies the General Law of News Cycles
by the Pundit Pap Team

Mar. 2, 2003, 2 PM -- NEW YORK (APJP) -- News is not supposed to behave this way. Major stories are supposed to be signed, sealed and delivered by 3 PM Friday (Eastern Standard Time, of course) so that the Washington bureaus of the big three networks, CNN and FOX News can get their act together for the Sunday morning shows.

Well, this turned out to be a major "fuhgedaboudit" weekend for that rule: Pakistani authorities and US justice and intelligence agencies managed to capture one of the key players in the Al Qaeda faux-Islamic crime organization: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. As we go to press, CNN is reporting that Khalid, the chief operations officer of Osama bin Laden's gang of thugs, is in American custody at an undisclosed location.

Meanwhile, following the Sunday pundit travesties, in Baghdad, Iraq's senior UN inspections observer just completed a press conference announcing that a number of chemical weapons delivery devices had been discovered and slated for destruction, along with more Al Samoud missiles -- this following increasingly bellicose blather from Bush Junior and his gang of chickenhawks.

Here's a little of what we saw:

 

FAUX News Sunday

Players:
Tony Snow, wisecracking ultraconservative master of the biased but fast-paced interview
Superstar Democrat Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-DE) and
Pat "Who the hell is this guy?" Roberts (R-KS)

Tony Snow, who looked and sounded double-latté chipper this Sunday morning, launched almost immediately into his interview with the obscure Sen. Pat Roberts who we cannot recall ever having seen on the Sunday rubber-pundit circuit, first asking how big the arrest of Khalid is. Roberts' response: "Big... he's the kingfish... this is a giant step back for Al Qaeda."

Roberts explained that Khalid is the ops manager of Al Qaeda -- and with him out of the picture, this "sends a message to the terror organization" (read: they will run and hide), and Al Qaeda's "spring offensive" is in disarray.

"Spring offensive." Hmm. We've heard hints about planned Al Qaeda attacks -- but nothing specific. Why? Is Roberts telling us that our good friends in the West Wing and office of Homeland Paranoia Maintenance don't want to be wholly candid about what they know about plans for terror attacks on American interests?

Roberts refused to say where Khalid was or how he is being questioned (but indicated he is way in the loop); Brit Hume pointed out that two of Khalid's sons are also in custody. The first portion of the interview became surprisingly repetitive and redundant, though Roberts did get a chance to say he told Pakistani President Musharraf he is a "hero." (For what? Getting nuke technology from Kim Jong-Il? I swear, with "friends' like Musharraf...)

Tony focused on Roberts having said, "Look out, Al Qaeda." Roberts would give no details as to what specifically he meant (for obvious reasons -- wouldn't be prudent for him to say, "Well, the plan is to knock on Osama's front door and say 'Candygram!'", because we know Osama can't resist that chocolaty goodness..."), but did indicate that there is some sort of other operation in progress.

But Roberts lost all credibility when he claimed that Saddam is working with Al Qaeda and then brought up that abandoned "camp" in North Iraq (which is, Roberts somehow forgot to mention, OUT of Saddam's control -- for all intents and purposes, Saddam only controls about a third of "his" turf). Roberts claimed the camp has been identified as a terrorist training area and is a "poison center."

Huh? That assessment is contrary to other evidence that has been uncovered there, and as mentioned above, the camp is not exactly in an area under Saddam's control.

Brit "Mister Warmth (Not!)" Hume then confronted Roberts about a report in the UK paper The Observer concerning a bugging operation targeting diplomats and members of the UN Security Council. Hume was trying to spin this embarrassing, amateurish and now exposed dirty tricks operation as some sort of "standard but tough" exercise by US intelligence. Roberts thereupon admitted the situation is in effect being covered up in the form of a closed Senate Intelligence Committee meeting.

Tony tried to make a lot out of a Moonie Times article that reported Iraqi soldiers defecting. Roberts related the more important news: they are regulars and not Saddam's elite military units.

You just have to love the way that Murdoch, Ailes and FOX News do their best to get at least one mention of the fascist Moonie rag into each and every edition of FOX News Sunday -- as if it gives the paper more "credibility" beyond fringe ditto-tangs and knee-jerk right wingnuts that need the misleading "newspaper' to bolster their warped world view.

Tony shifted topics -- to North Korea. And Roberts interrupted Tony's question, saying it is about time there were concern over Kim Jong-Il's conduct, namely missile tests and restarting nuclear reactors (well, well, a sign of some sanity from this right-wing senator). Roberts thinks the tin-pot despot the we love to call "Li'l Kim" is playing the nuke card "because it's the only card he has to play" -- but Roberts opposes direct talks (forget what we just said about sanity). Roberts related a tale of himself and other senators trying to arrange a third-party grain sale with North Korea, "but all we got back is rhetoric." Diplomatic talks, he concluded, do not work.

Oh, come on, Roberts! What a cop-out. Let them vent their doctrinal hot air -- after all, Chimpy W. McWarWoody's wrecking crew do the very same thing when they are dealing with those obstructionist, irrelevant appeasers... ahem, excuse me, diplomats from major European powers.

When Hume mentioned that Estrada was being filibustered, Roberts bellyached like an angst-ridden adolescent, claiming that "suddenly" (yeah, sure) there is a standard of needing sixty votes to pass judicial nominees -- and then said that Democrats are in lockstep (oh, yeah -- and GOPers aren't?). Roberts whined that "the other side has not been genteel' (as if the Smirk White House is being decorous, inclusive or willing to compromise) and said, "It's got my dander up."

Well, cry me a river, Roberts. YOUR party blocked qualified, moderate Clinton appointees. Smirk tries to foist a hard-righter who is concealing his ideology and agenda. You should get your dander up about the extremist nominees and the extremist Monkey Boy doing the nominating -- but then, you're an extremist yourself. So sixty votes are needed to pass judicial nominees? That's not such a bad idea in a closely-divided Senate, if only to ensure that something approaching mainstream candidates are appointed -- and to guarantee that Snippy stops nominating extremists as political payback for services rendered to Famiglia Bush.

Tony's next guest was Sen. Joe Biden -- no peacenik, but also the sort of FNS guest Tony does not mind spanking him. Tony tried to make hay of Turkey's refusal to allow US military personnel to use Turkey as a staging area against Iraq; Biden pointed out that the underlying problem is one Islamist party in Turkey mucking up the process. Tony immediately changed tack in the face of this niggling detail, asking if Smirk should pull his bribe... er, generous offer of foreign aid. Biden said yes -- and reminded Tony that there are alternatives to using Turkey for military staging , but it does hurt our ability to act as an interlocutor between the Kurds and a new Iraqi regime and also changes the equation with respect to what should be done the day after Saddam is gone. Biden elaborated: Kurdish Iraq operates as an independent entity already.

A shame he didn't point out that that so-called "poison factory" is in or near one of these Kurdish-controlled regions.

Tony tried to chide Democrats for saying that Smirk has not paid enough attention to Al Qaeda -- but Biden blasted the notion by saying that Khalid was living in plain daylight in a fundamentalist-controlled area of Pakistan. If there were 200,000 US troops in Afghanistan, suggested Biden, the equation (i.e., progress in the so-called "war on terror") might be very different now. So we should have had more troops in Afghanistan? Biden said yes, pointing to the destabilizing politics of Islamists in the region -- and, he added in another swipe at the shortsighted isolationism of Smirk and friends, there should have been a stronger presence in Pacific Asia, pointing to North Korea becoming a "plutonium factory".

When talk turned to Iraq, Biden said that Saddam is in fact going slow, and destroying four Al Samoud missile is not enough. Should we go it alone with Iraq? Not unless we get nine votes and no veto from the UNSC, said Biden -- who then said that setting up a new government in Iraq is an enormous undertaking, and that can be a very difficult balancing act. Tony suggested that some UN members can be bought, and Biden agreed, but he wants to see the Chinese, Germans and French stop grandstanding -- but that, said Biden, has more to do with the US poking other nations in the eye, for example Smirk trashing the ABM Treaty (ouch!). The French care a great deal about the Palestinians, but should show they care about Iraqis -- and Biden called on the French to spell out a date when Saddam must complete compliance.

Now, we've known all along that Biden is s bit of a hawk on the Iraq mess -- but Biden is also handing "Old Europe" some very useful ammo here in the form suggesting the very sort of declarations from "Old Europe" that will in fact slow the plunge toward war.

On the matter of the nomination of Miguel Estrada to an appeals court that is stalled in the Senate, Biden said he's voted no on only 16 of over 1000 judges -- and accused Smirk of packing the courts with right-wing extremists, and Estrada of not answering fundamental questions about Constitutional interpretation. So what does Tony respond with? Hamilton and Federalist 77 on "character and qualification." So Biden talked about Estrada's lack of qualification.

Ouch!

At the break, we changed the channel to...

Defeat the Press
Iraq and Roll

Players:
Tim Russert, rotund Democrat-hater
Lindsey Graham (R-SC), hypocrite Senate stooge for the Bush family
former Rep. Tom Andrews, director of Win Without War

Tim started MTP by saying that the CIA (note no reference to the FBI) had led the operation that captured Khalid. NBC correspondent Pete Williams said that Khalid knows details of past and planned Al Qaeda operations that not even Osama knows, and has operational expertise in chemical and even primitive nuclear weapons. Tim said that Khalid reportedly slit Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl's throat. Pete said that Khalid will be interrogated, the FBI has also confiscated a computer, possibly Khalid's, and that he was arrested on his birthday. Pete said that Khalid is a likely source for leads as to where Osama is -- and his capture disrupts Al Qaeda's communications.

Then Tim welcomed Graham and Andrews for a dull bit of bloviation. Tim mentioned the destruction of Saddam's Al Samoud's missiles, and Graham sounded like he was reading from Karl Rove's script, immediately claiming that Saddam had failed to account for chemical and biological weapons: "He has not... he has not... he has not... regime change... housed Al Qaeda murderers... Zirkhawi had his leg amputated in Baghdad... aid and comfort... he is lying."

Lyin' Lindsey was "on message" with the expected Bushit -- but he somehow neglected to mention that Saddam is as likely threatened by these Islamists as America, and he may have no choice but to "cooperate" to keep them off his back.

Andrews slammed Saddam -- and then slammed Smirk's lust for war. Andrews had Graham grimacing as he pointed out that UN inspectors took out more WMDs than the US military did in Desert Storm, and further reminded Tim and Lindsey that UN chief inspector Hans Blix said that significant progress is being made. Why the need for a destabilizing war when inspections are working? Tim said Saddam has waited 12 years -- why is he starting now? Andrews gave an answer you'll never hear from Smirk sycophants: "He has no choice." Andrews then went into the cost of occupying Iraq -- 1.3 TRILLION bucks, a guarantee for instant recession.

Graham whined -- first blurting out something about 12 years and 17 resolutions, saying Saddam is a liar; then about WMDs (as if the US doesn't do the same thing -- and how many UN resolutions has the US blithely ignored, Graham?). Graham said that Saddam is arming terrorists -- but offered no proof to bolster the claim. Graham bragged about protecting Germany against "commy'nism" as a soldier -- then called German Chancellor Schröder an "appeaser" -- then gave a "guarantee" that regime change would allow Iraqis to "taste freedom" (dream on, Lindsey -- tell that to women in Afghanistan still under the scourge of quasi-Taliban fiefdoms). Lindsey also called the French "appeasers", and falsely said they are the "odd men out" in Europe. (Oh, I guess Turkey bitch-slapping the stationing of our troops makes them an odd man in?) How do you answer all the questions about the costs? Graham said Iraqis would be free, and actually looking at the complex issue of ethnic groups in Iraq and the region is "arrogance" -- and it would stop Al Qaeda from using Iraq.

Is Graham kidding? We've been in Afghanistan for over a year and still Islamists control many parts of the nation and deny people civil liberties. And what is so "arrogant" about asking the complex questions about how ethnic rivalries and hatreds might play out under a hypothetical regime change/ Are you scared that if they were aware of the subtleties and difficulties of ethnic friction, average Americans might have some serious questions about Smirk's little feud with Saddam?

You're one to talk about arrogance, Graham -- and we haven't even mentioned your hypocritical fishing expedition for "trouser trout in Lake Clinton" or your own efforts to conceal your private life.

Tim gave Graham a lot of time to ramble and whine -- mostly in a vain effort to try to make viewers believe that all Americans are 100% behind their troops when they go to war.

Can you say Vietnam, Lindsey?

Tim asked why, if he thinks Iraq is trying to deceive inspectors, we should continue with inspections -- bringing up the possibility that Saddam had or has nukes. Andrews said that inspections work. Yes, Saddam cannot be trusted -- and no one is talking about appeasing Saddam Hussein (Graham tried to cut in, but Andrews essentially told him to put a sock in it), and said there has been NO public risk-benefits-cost analysis, and said that the effort to "buy off Turkey was rejected. We need support if we are to occupy an Arab country in a hostile region for a decade -- and NOBODY on Team Smirk is telling us anything about these issues.

Graham admitted there will be a cost, but there will be a benefit -- then said something stupid: if we don't overthrow Saddam, we will LOSE our freedoms.

And Tim rode Graham on Smirk's silence over the cost of war with Iraq, suggesting it would kill Social Security. Graham said that it's been done -- then backtracked, saying nobody knows what it will cost.

Then Graham tried the "women couldn't got to school in Afghanistan -- now they can" gambit.

That's just not true, Lindsey -- hard-line Muslim fundamentalists are stopping it in many areas of Afghanistan. Andrews should have jumped all over Graham about this lie -- but instead focused on intelligence analysis showing that an invasion of Iraq will boost Al Qaeda and other Islamist extremists groups' enrollment (Graham didn't look too happy at mention of that little nugget). Andrews blasted Smirk and his advisors for putting Americans at risk and playing into Osama's hand. Tim said, "But after 12 years we don't know where the [WMD material] is." Andrews said. "Look at yesterday. Destroyed missiles. We are making progress."

Tim then tried to have it both ways -- using a propaganda paper controlled by that "liar" Saddam that reports that protests against war give Saddam aid and comfort. Again, Andrews failed to call Tim on this hypocrisy -- but he did a good job of saying that this is not what protesters intend, and again blasted the stonewalling of the Smirk Crew on war costs. Graham tried in vain to say that an invasion of Iraq would not help Osama -- and if we invade, we will find where ALL of the WMDs are (yeah, right). He then blasted the American antiwar activists in Baghdad for committing"treason."

We don't agree -- we think they are being naive and outright stupid, and would have better focused their efforts on staying in their home countries and making their voices heard. But treason? Bushit.

Graham launched into a long "screw the UN, war is inevitable" rant -- and Andrews replied by saying that taking over a sovereign country in a hostile region requires the support of the international community -- and that same goes for the war against terror groups. Smirk owes America the facts. Graham said that Congress has already voted.

We tuned out as "celebrity debate" between the very smart Mike Farrell and the very cunning "Hollywood Fred" Thompson began.

-- JJ Balzer

 

Face The Nabobs
Putting words in Dean's mouth? Cut the nattering. Bob!

Players: Bob Schieffer, in an unusually crabby mood
Dana Priest, Bob's pundit moll
Gov. Howard Dean (D-VT), candidate for president

Bob Schieffer had Democratic Presidential contender Howard Dean on for a session of what passes these days for "tough" questions -- and CBS trotted out its newest hire, a former general who gives us his "expertise" on war.

Bob explained in the opening that they intend to have all the Democratic candidates on at some time, no doubt to stem the torrent of screaming right wingers who would no doubt flood them with vile letters at the thought of actually giving a Democrat a forum at all.

Howard Dean was "grilled" by both Schieffer and Dana Priest of the now horrible Washington Post. It's so unfortunate that what passes for journalism now is not thoughtful, tough, and valid questioning, but a constant effort to somehow bamboozle a guest into at least the appearance of contradiction, tricking them into saying something which can be blown up into a mini-scandal -- or the prize plum of all, getting them to admit to actually holding some liberal values.

Schieffer got off badly by suggesting in his question that Democrats were somehow anti-intelligence agencies and wanted to cut their funding, yet one of the grand poohbahs of Al Qaeda was recently arrested in Pakistan, in what Schieffer described as a "major intelligence coup."

In the pause that followed this lead up, I found myself asking, "Yes, and --- ? "

The premise of this question is stupid: that being skeptical of the often renegade and ineffectual intelligence agencies is somehow wrong. Why? Because they actually caught a guy after two years? This question is legitimate, but this is what passes for top of the heap TV journalism?

Then the shoe finally dropped. Schieffer's question was, "What do you think about that?"

Hmmm. That's sure incisive.

Dean, to his credit, answered the only way anyone with more than a handful of IQ points to rub together would, "I think it's great." DUH! Dean went on to suggest that the problems in intelligence was that the CIA has been under-funded, and he said he'd increase their funding, citing their failure to do anything to prevent 9-11 and the important role of intelligence in the post-9-11 world.

Then Priest asked another question that makes you scratch your head and ask, "Where the hell did she come up with that?" She asked Dean if he'd support "unorthodox methods" in questioning this guy they just picked up. Again, this was not a serious question, but one designed to be "sexy" and generate controversy.

Dean said that if she meant driving hot bamboo shoots under his fingernails, that would definitely not be acceptable, and noted that we have plenty of other methods of gaining information without resorting to torture.

Schieffer continued down a similar path by asking Dean what he thought of Bush having issued a list of people that the CIA is authorization to assassinate. Dean said as long as the figures are not heads of states, he's cool with it. He believes that this fits under the rule of combat.

Then Priest still dragged on with the FBI questions. Chillingly, she wondered if Dean thinks we need to consider creating a new "homeland domestic security apparatus".

That is truly a scary thought. If that doesn't sound like something straight out of the USSR handbook, nothing does. Thank goodness Dean said that he wouldn't favor something like that, and thinks that the FBI culture needs to change. He thinks the FBI works very poorly with local agencies, and criticized both Louis Freeh and Robert Mueller for not having accomplished anything in reforming the FBI.

Then Bob Schieffer asserted something in his next question that Dean had to jump in and correct. Schieffer said that Dean had, "set yourself apart from some of the other Democratic candidates by saying you simply oppose it." Dean immediately said, "That's not exactly so" He stated that he didn't think there's any strong reason to go into Iraq unilaterally and that they pose no imminent threat. He also said he thought that North Korea's nuclear proliferation was a more serious problem that America needs to deal with right now. He's also against the policy of "preemptive" attacks as it might encourage other countries to follow.

Schieffer struggled to hold on to some credibility by getting downright argumentative with Dean, saying, "Number one, IT IS NOT unilateral, there will be other nations that will go along." Dean simply noted that we're buying off Turkey to the tune of $26 billion when we can't find near that amount to pay for homeland security. "There's something the matter with this president's priorities."

Then sickeningly, Priest jumped in to try to shield Baby Bush from any mean words. She said, "Isn't using the word preemptive a little overblown? We didn't pay the Spanish anything, we didn't pay the Bulgarians anything, there are a dozens of countries that agree with us."

Good Lord! We didn't pay off the Bulgarians? Well, ring all the church bells! Boy, if that's not solid evidence that Bush has massive international support, I don't know what is.

What a sickeningly stupid attempt to spin facts and cover up the fact that Bush has VERY little support -- and those that MAY go along have been bribed and bullied to do so. Buying off countries to go along with your policies just ain't exactly the fact to base your argument of international support on.

Dean patiently explained that Iraq is a regional threat, but no imminent threat to us. And Saddam Hussein should be dealt with through the UN in the context of his regional threat.

Schieffer, clearly in the tank for the Bushies, then tried to put words in Dean's mouth by saying, "Then you're saying, Governor, that under no circumstances should we ever take unilateral action? I mean, do we leave the defense of this country to the United Nations?"

Do you even listen, you twit? Where the hell did Dean even come close to suggesting such a bizarre view? So WHY did you ask that, Bob? Could it be you're just trying to make him look bad? Why?

Dean immediately said, "No, absolutely not! I've never said that, and I don't say that now."

"So under what circumstances?" Bob shot back, in a childish attempt to defend Bush's policy by saying, "Oh, you don't like it? Well I'd like to see YOU do better."

Dean simply stated, "If a country is an imminent threat to the United States, then I believe we have a right to defend ourselves." He went on to say that if we'd known 5 days ahead of time that the people were going to fly airplanes into the WTC, then of course we would have defended ourselves and done everything we could to stop it. If Saddam has a credible nuclear capability, and if he's shown to be giving such weapons to terrorist organizations, then we'd be justified in acting unilaterally, but there's been no good case made for those things. As it stands, Hussein is a regional threat and ought to be dealt with by the UN, but he is not a threat to the US.

Dean continued by noting the two REAL threats to the US, namely, North Korea and al Qaeda -- two problems which aren't being effectively dealt with at all.

Bob quickly moved to go back to pressing his main goal, namely, somehow trying to make Dean look bad on the war. After AGAIN bringing up the fact that Dean has been against going to war with Iraq (Horrors!), Bob actually asked Dean if, once the war began, he'd "continue to oppose it."

Again, what kind of sloppy thinking is this? Some sort of unwritten rule that we all must be mindless lemmings in event of war? And how, Bob, does one oppose the war before it starts, then magically begin to support it once it's begun? Are you really suggesting by your question that those that oppose the war now will be doing something terribly wrong if they simply continue their beliefs once a war has begun?

Is this just rampant insanity or what? Now people are supposed to abandon their beliefs in the event of war? "... or will you continue to oppose it?" Schieffer asks.

Well, gee, no, Bob. I'll just be as gung-ho as I possibly can about it - happy now?

But Bobby knows that it would be very damaging to Dean were he to say that he would continue to oppose the war once it began. So, of course, he has to engage in this dopey behavior.

Dean said a lot depends on the circumstances, but that of course you support the troops in the field. He then went into some pat stump material about his visit to the Parris Island Marine base.

While Howard Dean routinely comes across well, unfortunately he eerily put me in mind of Steve Forbes. For some reason, he appeared stiff and one dimensional, at least visually, and except for robotically moving his head from side to side to face whomever was questioning him, he seemed almost frozen. But his words were not wooden, and he again showed his skill at thinking on his feet.

Schieffer listed off his version of how Saddam has flip-flopped and said he didn't have missiles, then that they wouldn't destroy them, then destroying them, as if that was clear proof that we need a massive war.

Dean tried to calm Bob's fears by saying it's progress, and that Saddam is not a "nice man." But he urged patience, saying that if we win the war through inspections without sending kids there to die, "we're way ahead of the game."

Dean continued, "I wish we had a little more patience in Iraq, and a little less patience with North Korea, and a little more willingness to negotiate in North Korea. We're in the middle of a full-blown crisis in North Korea, and the president refuses to even admit so."

This daring jab at King Bush got Bob downright hostile (and dumb). He responded, "Well are you suggesting we take military action against North Korea?"

Bob, check your hearing aid! Did he say anything even CLOSE to that? What is wrong with these people?

Dean calmly told the hard-of_hearing Schieffer, "No, I'm suggesting we start to talk to them."

Translation: "No Bob, I'm saying what I just said. You should do something about those voices in your head."

Ah, yes. Those voices. They are programmed to immediately leap to the most extreme conclusions imaginable from what a guest says. It happens all the time. Russert is a prime example. If some Democrat says, "Yes, I feel the case against the University of Michigan is unfounded as they don't practice quotas at all," I'd not be surprised to hear one of these monkeys excitedly say, "So you're suggesting that white students should only be allowed into college to fill any open slots remaining after all blacks that want to attend are allowed to enroll for free?"

Well, it's clear that Bob is pissed at anyone who disagrees with Bush. It's clear from this question. To Bob, either you deal with Korea as Bush is doing, which basically means not dealing with it at all other than making a perfect mess out of things, or you stage a massive military invasion. To Bob, there is no in between. You either do nothing, or go to war. This is how freaking twisted the mindset of our leading journalists and pundits have gotten.

And how many times do rational Bush opponents have to patiently explain to these clearly frightened and gullible elites that we will indeed be safe without war, and as a matter of fact, MORE secure?

All their questions seem to be on the level of "If killer monkeys with laser beam eyes suddenly emerged from the ocean and start destroying American landmarks, would you do anything about it? What about if the moon suddenly slipped out of orbit and was hurtling towards wealthy people's houses? Would you take any action?" They try to conjure the most frightening scenarios possible and suggest the Democrat is too "wimpy" to deal with it.

Priest continued with the North Korean theme asking Dean, "What happens if that doesn't work and they go on with their nuclear processing? Can you imagine a unilateral pre-emptive strike on North Korea?" Dean replied that we could be forced into that, "if they developed a missile that could reach the west coast of the United States, which they're in the process of doing -- such a missile has been tested on the ground but never fired -- then we'd have a very serious, much more serious problem than we have with Iraq, because then they would become an imminent threat."

"Would you say the same for Iran who has a much more sophisticated nuclear program than Iraq?" asked Priest, and Dean said we have to be very careful with Iran and noted that one of the problems with the Smirk regime is that "[w]e have no oil policy of any kind here other than drill in National Parks. He is beholden to the Saudi's and the Iranians. The Saudis and Iranians are the Syrians are funding most of the terror in the Middle East and the president has not been willing to confront that, partly because we have no oil policy. Absolutely Iran is a very serious problem."

Again, Priest displayed this almost obsession with trying to trick Dean into saying he'd do the same thing that Smirk is trying to pull with Iraq. Priest asked, "So again you could consider pre-emptive strikes against the Iranian nuclear program?"

This is the -- what? -- fifth time they've tried to get him to say he'd launch a unilateral attack on someone? And does she really think he's going to announce that he'll attack Iran if he's elected president? And she's trying to get him to commit to a policy about a situation that is so far purely hypothetical besides. This is how silly they've become.

And for the fifth time Dean had to repeat his easily understood policy. It's like the pundits simply don't even listen to his answers at all! He said, "Look, you never rule anything in or out, but when America is threatened imminently by a foreign power, then we have a right to defend ourselves. I do not believe that's the case in Iraq, but I do believe that could be the situation in North Korea and Iran."

Priest then said that since Dean talks about "imminent" threats, and since Iraq has "small vials that can kill thousands of people", by the time you determined a threat was imminent, wouldn't it be too late by then? At last, a legitimate question. Dean replied by saying that is always a difficult "judgment call", but that Hussein has had these weapons for ten or twelve years now (since receiving much of it from the good old US of A), and that one of the criteria for determining if Iraq were an imminent threat would be if Saddam were to give these weapons to others -- but there's not been a credible case made for that, and if there were, that would constitute an "imminent threat.

Then Schieffer finally just went into full argumentative mode by crankily saying that what troubled Bob about what Dean was saying was "How can you TRUST Saddam Hussein? He's now saying he doesn't HAVE any of these weapons. I mean, his word isn't worth a NICKEL!" Gee, ya think?

Just one last desperate attempt to spread the view that Hussein is going to rain down death and destruction on Georgetown dinner parties at any moment if we don't invade, and that anyone that thinks he can be contained without war isn't doing their part to protect the US.

Dean explained that a person would have to be nuts to trust Hussein (duh!), adding, "We need to continue to put pressure on him, have inspections. Someone suggested increasing inspectors by 300% which I think is a very good suggestion." Dean says we're making progress with Saddam, and he is a liar, but if we don't launch a pre-emptive attack, "we're much better off."

And with that, the segment was over.

Dean acquitted himself well, despite the moronic hammering on trying to get him to tacitly agree that unilateral attack is warranted in some cases, and the dishonest implication that therefore it's warranted against Iraq. But Dean held steady, and patiently repeated his easily understood positions over and over and over for Schieffer and Priest, who typically acted as if they'd not heard a word of his replies.

The second have was taken up by CBS's newest hire from what appears to be the limitless supply of retired military brass (is there any one LEFT in the military?), one Joe Ralston, former NATO commander of Europe. Unfortunately, space and time considerations preclude coverage of that.

-- Dash Riprock


JJ Balzer is a former television news producer. He lives in New York City.

Dash Riprock is a free-lance smart aleck based in Moline, IL Contact him at dashriprockapj@hotmail.com. You'll be glad you did. Maybe.

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