December 3, 2005

Featuring: Congressman David Obey (D-WI), Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), Ranking Member, Committee on Financial Services Congressman David Price (D-NC), Member, Committee on Appropriations Congressman Tom Allen (D-ME), Member, Committee on Energy and Commerce Norm Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute; Coauthor, Broken Branch Moderated by: Scott Lilly, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress Growing public concern about government policies ranging from disaster relief to prescription drugs, the war in Iraq and mounting budget deficits are also raising questions about the process the government is using to make policy decisions. The recent string of revelations about misconduct of officials in both the legislative and executive branches has further heightened concern about how public business is now being conducted. Four prominent members of the U.S. House of Representatives who have spent their careers looking not only for the best policies but also for ways to improve the way Congress makes policies have come together around a set of reforms in House Rules to limit the influence of lobbyists, increase fiscal responsibility, curb abuses of power, end the 2 day work week, allow members to know what is in the legislation they are voting on before they cast their votes and allow full and open debate in conference committees where much of the real work of legislating takes place. They will unveil their package of institutional reforms for the first time at a luncheon panel discussion held at the Center for American Progress on Monday, December 5, 2005. Norman Ornstein, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of the forthcoming book Broken Branch, and Scott Lilly, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, will join them. A symposium held last August by the Center for American Progress and the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University highlighted the shifting relationship between the Congress and the Executive Branch and the declining role of the House of Representatives as a forum for debate and consideration of the major issues facing the American people. Observations offered over the course of the symposium included: "the centralization of power in the White House is antithetical to the very nature of the system of government we live under and the failure of the Congress to insist on and enforce by any means necessary its authority is a serious threat to the continued functioning of the very system that has kept America free for more than two centuries…what is needed is serious surgery: the Congress needs a backbone." Mickey Edwards, former Republican Congressman from Oklahoma There "is a sharp decline in the deliberative process at almost every level. The nature of the schedule, the way in which committees and floor procedure have played out, a lack of interest in working through legislation so that you get good legislation even if it takes a little longer…a decline in respect for regular order." Norm Ornstein, Resident Scholar American Enterprise Institute We have an "Invisible Congress." Andrew Rudalevige, Author, "The New Imperial Presidency" "Committee hearings have become sort of PR events." Walter Pincus, Reporter, Washington Post
Categories: News

On the November 27 broadcast of Inside Washington, a program produced by Washington, D.C., TV station WJLA, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer claimed that a bipartisan presidential commission concluded that "not a scintilla of evidence" existed showing that the Bush administration withheld intelligence from Congress that may have undermined the case for war in Iraq. Krauthammer also claimed that the commission's report concluded that any information received by the president, but not by Congress, "was far more indicting of Saddam and of the existence of weapons of mass destruction [WMD]." In fact, the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, chaired by former Sen. Charles Robb (D-VA) and Reagan appointee Judge Laurence H. Silberman, did not examine whether the administration withheld information from Congress.

Further, Krauthammer's claim that the Robb-Silberman report concluded that information available only to Bush presented a stronger case for the existence of WMDs in Iraq refers only to one section of the report dealing with the Presidential Daily Briefings (PDBs). But the PDBs were only one of several intelligence sources that the White House received, but Congress did not, as Media Matters for America has documented. Further, the Robb-Silberman Commission did not conduct a full investigation of the PDBs and reached no conclusions about what information they contained that was not provided to Congress. Rather, the report merely examined how a limited sample of the documents reflected flawed intelligence-gathering at the CIA. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) has called for the CIA to release to the Senate Intelligence Committee PDBs referring to Iraq and dating from when Bush took office through the start of the war. Kennedy wants the briefings for the second phase of the committee's investigation into whether the White House manipulated intelligence in the buildup to the war.

During a discussion about a November 20 Washington Post op-ed by former Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) detailing conflicting intelligence in the lead-up to war, Krauthammer responded to National Public Radio legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg's assertion that information had been withheld from Congress by claiming that the Robb-Silberman report "concluded precisely the opposite -- that there was not a scintilla of evidence of that."

In fact, the Robb-Silberman report never examined the administration's use or provision of intelligence, so there was no "opposite" conclusion for it to reach. As The Washington Post noted in a November 12 article, upon releasing the report in March, Silberman said: "Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry."

In challenging Totenberg's assertion, Krauthammer also claimed that the Robb-Silberman report concluded that "the information that the president received was far more indicting of Saddam and of the existence of weapons of mass destruction than the information that the Congress received, and Congress came to precisely the same conclusion."

The only section of the report that indicated any difference between intelligence received by the Bush administration and by Congress, however, was an indication that the PDBs and Senior Executive Intelligence Briefs (SEIBs) contained information not "markedly different" from that contained in the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) presented to Congress. The report described the PDBs and SEIBs as "more alarmist and less nuanced than the NIE," creating "an impression of many corroborating reports where in fact there were very few sources."

Krauthammer's assertion echoed a November 15 White House press release that sought to refute, by pointing to the same section of the Robb-Silberman report, a New York Times editorial published the same day; the editorial asserted: "Congress had nothing close to the president's access to intelligence."

Presumably because the commission was not tasked with investigating the Bush administration's use of intelligence, it did not consider the mounting evidence that the administration did in fact withhold and distort prewar intelligence. The report did not address sources that provided the administration with their own intelligence assessments, such as then-undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith's Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, or a Defense Intelligence Agency report that questioned intelligence hyping Saddam Hussein's ties to Al Qaeda. On April 27, 2004, The New York Times reported plans by the Senate Intelligence Committee to investigate whether Feith's operation "exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq to justify the war" by circumventing the CIA and providing its own analysis of raw intelligence reports to lawmakers. And as the Los Angeles Times reported on November 7, though the Defense Intelligence Agency provided the White House and the CIA with a February 2002 report concluding that intelligence provided by a detained Al Qaeda operative was "intentionally misleading," members of the Bush administration nevertheless continued to cite information supplied by the detainee when presenting the case for a connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda. According to Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, the DIA report was not provided to members of Congress.

Moreover, while it is clearly false that the Robb-Silberman investigation settled the question of whether Congress saw the same intelligence as President Bush, even Krauthammer's more specific claim that the investigation found that the PDBs and SEIBs provided Bush with no more intelligence than Congress received is problematic.

The report discusses the PDBs only within the context of evaluating the ways in which they generally reflect flawed intelligence-gathering. As the commission indicated, it examined "a limited cross-section of this product." The report contains no definitive statement about all of the PDBs available to the president and their comparison with intelligence provided to Congress. A full analysis that would produce such a statement has not been performed.

Indeed, as recently as November 22, National Journal contributor Murray Waas reported that a newly discovered PDB from September 21, 2001, advised the president of "no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the [9-11] attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda." Waas reported that "according to highly placed government officials, little evidence has come to light [since the PDB given the president shortly after the attacks] to contradict the CIA's original conclusion that no collaborative relationship existed between Iraq and Al Qaeda." Waas cited congressional sources as saying that the existence of the PDB was not disclosed to the Senate Intelligence Committee until the summer of 2004.

As The Washington Post reported on November 19, Sen. Kennedy has called for an expansive release of PDBs by the CIA as part of the second phase of the Intelligence Committee's investigation into pre-war intelligence, which will address the question of whether members of the Bush administration misrepresented intelligence when making the case for war.

From the November 27 broadcast of WJLA's Inside Washington:

TOTENBERG: There is a difference between manipulating intelligence to back up your pre-conceived notion that there are weapons of mass destruction and ignoring all the countervailing indicia that come from the intelligence community, from lots of other places, and just cherry-picking the stuff you want. You don't have to actually believe that you're lying, but you are abdicating your responsibility as the president, the vice president, the top officials, when you do that because you are misrepresenting -- perhaps not deliberately -- what the real situation is.

GORDON PETERSON (host): Charles, did you read what Senator Bob Graham had to say about the intelligence this week?


PETERSON: He said that in fact the whole story had not been told by this administration -- that he had access to intelligence that a lot of people don't have access to.

KRAUTHAMMER: And did he tell us what that hidden information was?

TOTENBERG: He said -- he said --

KRAUTHAMMER: Isn't that exactly Joe McCarthy's technique?

TOTENBERG: No, he said very --


KRAUTHAMMER: Tell us what this secret information is.

TOTENBERG: He very specifically said that there was a lot of information that was left out of what was given to Congress, including the highest-ranking intelligence committee people. And that based on the information that they had, the assessments that they made were less -- were less valid.

KRAUTHAMMER: They were not --


JOHN HARWOOD (Wall Street Journal national political editor): And he was responding to --

KRAUTHAMMER: Bob Graham --


HARWOOD: -- hawk who all along has been against this war as a diversion against the war on terrorism.

KRAUTHAMMER: Bob Graham is also a Democrat, and the Silberman-Robb Commission, which is not Democratic or Republican, concluded precisely the opposite -- that there was not a scintilla of evidence of that, and that in fact the information that the president received was far more indicting of Saddam and of the existence of weapons of mass destruction than the information that the Congress received, and the Congress came to precisely the same conclusion.

Categories: News
The Alliance Invites You to Attend a Breakfast Forum on... "High School Achievement Forum on the New Teacher Center's Six Key Strategies for Teachers of English Language Learners."
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During a November 30 discussion about politics and religion on Christian Broadcasting Network's The 700 Club, which featured Fox News' John Gibson, host Pat Robertson stated: "[I]f you haven't got a Democratic nominee who can be called 'Bubba' [an apparent reference to former President Bill Clinton], you're not going to get him in office. You're not going to get a New England liberal, no way! Black folks aren't going to vote for people like that."

In fact, exit polling data for the 2004 presidential election indicated that of the African Americans who voted, 88 percent cast their ballots for Democratic candidate Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA).

From the November 30 edition of Christian Broadcasting Network's The 700 Club:

GIBSON: I have said it before, so I don't think I'm getting into any trouble for saying it today. I think one of the reasons Kerry lost is that Christian liberals felt that the hostility expressed by the Democratic Party toward Christians made them uncomfortable. African-Americans did not turn out to vote for Kerry as they were expected to. Christian liberals of the Eastern seaboard didn't turn out as they were expected to, and I've always said, look, if you got [Democratic National Committee chairman] Howard Dean going around complaining about right-wing evangelicals, other Christians are going to say, hmmm, this makes me a little uncomfortable to hear that kind of talk.

ROBERTSON: Well, I just think it's really -- if you haven't got a Democratic nominee who can be called "Bubba," you're not going to get him in office.


ROBERTSON: You're not going to get a New England liberal, no way!

GIBSON: Well --

ROBERTSON: Black folks aren't going to vote for people like that. They're just not going to do it!

Categories: News

Throughout his promotion of his book The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought (Sentinel, October 2005), Fox News host John Gibson has remained vague about exactly who he believes is orchestrating the alleged attack on Christmas beyond the "liberals" in the book's title. For instance, as Media Matters for America documented, during an appearance on the October 20 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Gibson limited his criticism of those supposedly undermining Christmas to "liberals." O'Reilly, on the other hand, was compelled to narrow the focus of their offensive: "I think you made a mistake by saying it's [the "war on Christmas"] a liberal plot," O'Reilly told Gibson. "It's the far left. It's the loony left, the Kool-Aid secular progressive ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] America-haters. That's who's doing this."

Gibson was more pointed, however, during a November 17 appearance on Janet Parshall's nationally syndicated radio program. During a discussion about the alleged "war on Christmas," Gibson suggested that people "following the wrong religion" were not reciprocating the tolerance afforded to them by "the majority religion -- Christianity." He also said that as long as adherents of minority religions "are civil and they behave," Christians will tolerate them "without causing any trouble" -- a view endorsed by Parshall.

From the November 17 edition of Salem Radio Network's Janet Parshall's America:

GIBSON: The whole point of this is that the tradition, the religious tradition of this country is tolerance, and that the same sense of tolerance that's been granted by the majority to the minority over the years ought to go the other way too. Minorities ought to have the same sense of tolerance about the majority religion -- Christianity -- that they've been granted about their religions over the years.

PARSHALL: Exactly. John, I have to tell you, let me linger for a minute on that word "tolerance." Because first of all, the people who like to promulgate that concept are the worst violators. They cannot tolerate Christianity, as an example.

GIBSON: Absolutely. I know -- I know that.

PARSHALL: And number two, I have to tell you, I don't know when they held this election and decided that tolerance was a transcendent value. I serve a god who, with a finger of fire, wrote, he will have no other gods before him. And he doesn't tolerate sin, which is why he sent his son to the cross, but all of a sudden now, we jump up and down and celebrate the idea of tolerance. I think tolerance means accommodation, but it doesn't necessarily mean acquiescence or wholehearted acceptance.

GIBSON: No, no, no. If you figure that -- listen, we get a little theological here, and it's probably a bit over my head, but I would think if somebody is going to be -- have to answer for following the wrong religion, they're not going to have to answer to me. We know who they're going to have to answer to.


GIBSON: And that's fine. Let 'em. But in the meantime, as long as they're civil and behave, we tolerate the presence of other religions around us without causing trouble, and I think most Americans are fine with that tradition.

PARSHALL: I agree.

GIBSON: In other words, they'd like it in return.

Categories: News

On the November 30 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Bill O'Reilly continued his campaign to promote use of the holiday greeting "Merry Christmas" in retail stores. His effort to combat retail stores he believes are replacing "Merry Christmas" with the nondenominational "Happy Holidays" is part of his broader mission "to rescue" the Christmas holiday from "secular progressives."

To lead the segment, Cavuto aired O'Reilly's November 28 advice to corporate America that "[e]very company in America should be on its knees thanking Jesus for being born." O'Reilly then estimated that 15 percent of the country was not Christian and, of those, "maybe 1 percent are totally insane ... They're the ones who are offended." When Cavuto countered that some businesses were trying to be more inclusive, O'Reilly rebuked, "This is insulting to Christian America."

O'Reilly recently advanced his theory that an organized "secular progressive" movement is implementing a "very secret plan" against Christianity in America. He reiterated his concern -- which he previously discussed on the November 18 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor -- about the secular progressive agenda:

O'REILLY: [T]hey [secular progressives] don't want any message of spirituality or Judeo-Christian tradition because that stands in the way of gay marriage, legalized drugs, euthanasia, all of the greatest hits on the secular progressive play card.

O'Reilly then pointed to progressive financier George Soros as "the moneyman behind it" and declared, "I say, fight back."

From the November 30 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: Well, you know, on Monday night my colleague Bill O'Reilly said something so simple, controversial, but so dead-on accurate. I want you to listen to this. Take a look.

O'REILLY [video clip]: Every company in America should be on their knees thanking Jesus for being born. Without Christmas, most American businesses would be far less profitable. More than enough reason for business to be screaming "Merry Christmas."


O'REILLY: Well, it's absurd. This is so insane, I don't think of anything -- I've seen anything this stupid in the 30 years I've been in this business. Here you have a national public holiday signed into law by Ulysses S. Grant in 1870. Christmas, all right? Federal holiday, everybody gets off, no mail delivered, everybody shuts down. Federal holiday. Why is it there? To honor a philosopher, Jesus. Whose philosophy was part of the foundation of our country. All of this is indisputable. Can't dispute it. OK? A man was born, his name is Jesus, he had a philosophy, the philosophy was incorporated by the Founding Fathers to make up the United States of America, U.S. Grant signs into law the holiday, Christmas. Now, we have people who are offended by that. Well, tough, right? Tough. Some people are offended by fingernails; I'm not pulling mine out. So I'm feeling -- I'm offended by everything you do, we're not firing you. OK? Offended? Too bad. But then --

CAVUTO: But the point is with companies -- they may have a lot to be grateful for.

O'REILLY: You have to let me warm up.

CAVUTO: 'Cause you seem to be going off track.

O'REILLY: Well, I'm not. Then the business community says we don't want to offend anybody, so we're not going to say "Merry Christmas." We're going to say "Happy Holidays, all right? That offends millions of Christians, see? Eighty-five percent of the country calls itself Christian. Fifteen percent of the country -- you figure these people could do the math if they're CEOs. Eighty-five percent Christian; they are into Christmas, OK? That's their big day. Fifteen percent aren't. Now of those 15 percent, maybe 1 percent are totally insane. They're nuts. They're the ones who are offended. So what it comes down to is that these CEOs and big companies -- big companies, like Wal-Mart, Sears, KMart -- will not say "Merry Christmas" in their stores or advertising to cater to 1 percent of Americans who are insane.

CAVUTO: Is it more for Wal-Mart? Because they're everywhere; they're in China, they're in Hong Kong -- maybe they're wondering, well, you know, the percentages even change when you go global --

O'REILLY: They don't have to say "Merry Christmas" in China, OK? They can say whatever they say in China, "Happy Winter." All right? "We like pandas." Say whatever you want. This is America. This is the big commercial holiday. You're not going to acknowledge the holiday? Then I'm not shopping there. And that's what the bottom line is here. The backlash is building, building, building, and these retailers are going to find out as Federated [Department Stores Inc.] found out last year -- that's Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Burdines. They didn't say it last year. This year Federated is saying it, so they took a hit.

CAVUTO: So, do you think -- right -- do you think there's a connection between Wal-Mart saying, you know, maybe our sales might not be up to snuff and this position they're taking on Christmas?

O'REILLY: Look, I like the Wal-Mart guys. I'm not a Wal-Mart basher. I think that they serve a tremendous service to this country by giving people with not a lot of money an opportunity to buy stuff. If their CEO was standing right here, I'd say, "You're insane." You're losing good will, OK? There's no reason to do this, because all they have to do, Neil, is say "Merry Christmas," "Happy Holidays," "Happy Hanukkah," "Happy Kwanzaa." Their store is big enough to have those banners all over the place. You telling me it's not big enough? You can have it all. Christians aren't going to be mad if you say "Happy Hanukkah" or "Happy Kwanzaa," as long as you acknowledge what it's all about, the federal holiday of Christmas. If you don't, then Christians start to say, "You don't like us. You're anti-Christian, you have an anti-Christian bias."

CAVUTO: You don't buy the take that they're trying to be inclusive or the companies that have that position are?

O'REILLY: This is insulting to Christian America. It's insulting. This is driven by secular progressives --

CAVUTO: The Jews and Muslims say it's insulting to keep the Christmas.

O'REILLY: I say that Muslims are less than 1 percent of the population, and Jews are less than 3 percent of the population. They're entitled to their opinion, they're entitled to their opinion and they are entitled not to shop in places that say "Merry Christmas," just as I'm entitled not to shop in places that don't. That's what I say. But the bottom line on this is this: Secular progressives which are driving this movement, OK, don't want Christmas. They don't want it as a federal holiday, they don't want any message of spirituality or Judeo-Christian tradition because that stands in the way of gay marriage, legalized drugs, euthanasia, all of the greatest hits on the secular progressive play card. If they can succeed in getting religion out of the public arena --

CAVUTO: Who's "they?"

O'REILLY: George Soros. He's the moneyman behind it. It's a philosophy. Go on the websites and look at it. It's there. It's a secular, progressive --

CAVUTO: It has come to this --

O'REILLY: They're afraid. They've been intimidated, but I say, fight back.

Categories: News

On the December 1 edition of CNN's Live From..., CNN correspondent Deborah Feyerick conflated being "pro-military" with being pro-war while discussing the comments Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) made on October 10, 2002, regarding her vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq.

From the December 1 edition of CNN's Live From...:

CLINTON: Any vote that might lead to war should be hard. But I cast it with conviction.

FEYERICK: That was then. Senator Hillary Clinton, voting to authorize the war in Iraq, positioning herself as a pro-military Democrat.

Feyerick's statement falsely suggests that being "pro-war" and "pro-military" are the same thing -- and that being "anti-war" is the same as being "anti-military."

Media Matters has previously noted that news outlets tended to describe Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) as a "pro-military Democrat," which falsely implies that most Democrats are not "pro-military."

Categories: News

On the November 30 broadcast of National Public Radio's All Things Considered, NPR Pentagon correspondent John Hendren reported that the Department of Defense is allegedly drafting positively themed newspaper articles "that emphasize U.S. and Iraqi military victories, progress on reconstruction, and instances of Iraqis resisting insurgents." The Defense Department allegedly hired consultants to translate those articles into Arabic and paid Iraqi newspapers to publish them. The report quoted Daniel Goure -- identified by Hendren as a military analyst -- noting that "Goure is with the Lexington Institute; an Arlington, Virginia, think tank." The report did not mention that the Lexington Institute is an organization that "believes in limiting the role of the federal government to those functions explicitly stated or implicitly defined by the Constitution," or that Goure is in fact its vice president. The report also failed to mention that Goure has connections to the Pentagon and the Bush administration: He worked in the Defense Department from 1991 to 1993 and again in 2001 as part of the Department of Defense Transition Team.

Given the story's failure to identify the Lexington Institute, it follows, of course, that NPR also failed to ask Goure, an ostensible proponent of limited government, why he was defending the use of taxpayer money to create and place articles that tout its purported successes in Iraq.

From the November 30 NPR report by Hendren, who identified his source only as a consultant working with the Pentagon:

HENDREN: The consultant says newspaper editors in Iraq often acknowledge that they're aware that the U.S. government is planting the stories, noting that writers don't usually give money for their pieces, they ask for it. Some military analysts say it's not clear the military is doing anything wrong. Dan Goure is with the Lexington Institute; an Arlington, Virginia think-tank:

GOURE: It was not lying. The stories were generally correct. It happened to be a point of view. They were not all balanced, but not every story by any newspaper is a balanced statement.

NPR said nothing further about the Lexington Institute or its mission statement endorsing limited government:

The Lexington Institute believes in limiting the role of the federal government to those functions explicitly stated or implicitly defined by the Constitution. The Institute therefore actively opposes the unnecessary intrusion of the federal government into the commerce and culture of the nation, and strives to find nongovernmental, market-based solutions to public-policy challenges. We believe a dynamic private sector is the greatest engine for social progress and economic prosperity.

According to -- an organization that "tracks the impact of conservative philanthropy on the media" -- the Lexington Institute has received more than $900,000 in grants from conservatives or limited-government proponents such as the F.M. Kirby Foundation, Inc. The organization "believe[s] that private philanthropy, at its best, if provided compassionately and prudently, encourages self-reliance and diminishes government's role."

Other news outlets have described the Lexington Institute as "conservative." A November 14 Boston Globe article by Bryan Bender quoted "Loren Thompson, chief executive officer of the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va., a conservative think tank." A June 11 Newsday article by Craig Gordon also quoted Thompson, identifying him as "a Pentagon adviser and executive director of the Lexington Institute, a conservative think tank."

NPR also failed to identify Goure as a former Defense Department employee with connections to the Bush administration. His Lexington Institute biography notes that Goure "was a member of the 2001 Department of Defense Transition Team." He "spent two years in the U.S. Government as the director of the Office of Strategic Competitiveness in the Office of the Secretary of Defense." Although his Lexington biography does not indicate it, Goure served as director of the Office of Strategic Competitiveness under Cheney during the George H.W. Bush administration. A September 2, 1993, Cleveland Plain-Dealer article noted that Goure "retired this year as director of the Pentagon's Office of Strategic Competitiveness."

Categories: News

In his November 30 column, Los Angeles Times columnist Max Boot criticized the "excuses" put forth by Democratic lawmakers who have questioned the basis for the Iraq war and the Bush administration's handling of the conflict. He claimed that Democrats now "want to run up the white flag" because they "only wanted to do something if the cost would be miniscule" and because they expected the war to be a "cakewalk." But Boot entirely ignored that it was Bush administration officials who, in the weeks and months prior to the invasion, promised a cheap and easy victory -- indeed, even a "cakewalk."

In the column, Boot accused the Democrats of "defeatism" and criticized them for expecting the cost of the war to be minimal:

Just a few years ago, it seemed as if the Democrats had finally kicked the post-Vietnam, peace-at-any-price syndrome. Before the invasion of Iraq, leading Democrats sounded hawkish in demanding action to deal with what Kerry called the "particularly grievous threat" posed by Saddam Hussein. But it seems that they only wanted to do something if the cost would be minuscule. Now that the war has turned out to be a lot harder than anticipated, the Democrats want to run up the white flag.

Boot characterized such expectations on the part of Democrats as unrealistic and misguided. But it was the Bush administration that repeatedly promoted low cost estimates for the Iraq war. For example, on the October 4, 2002, edition of CNBC's Business Center, then-White House economic adviser Glen Hubbard claimed that "costs of any such intervention would be very small." In January 2003, then-White House budget director Mitch Daniels predicted the total appropriations for the war would "be in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion." In March 2003, he asserted the conflict would "not require sustained aid." Further, The New York Times reported on February 28, 2003, that then-deputy secretary of defense Paul D. Wolfowitz had "dismissed articles in several newspapers this week asserting that Pentagon budget specialists put the cost of war and reconstruction at $60 billion to $95 billion in this fiscal year."

In the weeks after the war began, Bush administration officials continued to offer highly optimistic cost projections. On the April 23, 2003, edition of ABC's Nightline, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator Andrew S. Natsios stated that the cost of reconstruction would not exceed $1.7 billion. "The rest of the rebuilding of Iraq will be done by other countries who have already made pledges ... and Iraqi oil revenues," he said. "The American part of this will be $1.7 billion. We have no plans for any further -- on funding for this."

In fact, an October 2005 report by the Congressional Research Service concluded that the U.S. government had, so far, appropriated $251 billion for the war in Iraq.

In his column, Boot also castigated Democrats for believing the war would be a "cakewalk":

The Democrats' other excuse is that they never imagined that Bush would bollix up post-invasion planning as badly as he did. It's true that the president blundered, but it's not as if things usually go smoothly in the chaos of conflict. In any case, it's doubtful that the war would have been a cakewalk even if we had been better prepared.

In fact, senior Bush administration officials and advisers predicted an easy victory on numerous occasions prior to the invasion of Iraq. On the December 6, 2001, edition of CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, former U.S. arms control director Kenneth Adelman -- a member of the Defense Policy Board, a Pentagon advisory panel to which he was appointed by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld -- actually used the word "cakewalk" in predicting the results of the Iraq intervention:

ADELMAN: I don't agree that you need an enormous number of American troops. I think that reviewing the bidding, that you look at what Saddam Hussein did in 1991. He was not a great fighter. His army is down to one-third than it was before, and I think it would be a cakewalk.

Adelman repeated the claim in a February 13, 2002, Washington Post op-ed headlined "Cakewalk In Iraq." Adelman wrote: "I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk."

At a February 7, 2002, townhall meeting, Rumsfeld said the war "could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months." And on the March 26, 2003, edition of NBC's Meet the Press -- mere days before the war began -- Vice President Dick Cheney predicted, "We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators." He further stated on the March 16, 2003, edition of CBS' Face the Nation, "I think it will go relatively quickly ... [in] weeks rather than months."

Media Matters for America has documented other examples of Boot misinforming his readers on the subject of Iraq (see here and here).

Categories: News

One day after Media Matters for America noted that the Fox News online store labeled its ornaments "Holiday" ornaments -- including one with The O'Reilly Factor logo -- the items have been renamed "Christmas" ornaments, and references to "your holiday tree" now refer to "your Christmas tree."

Fox News hosts Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson have criticized what they consider a secular "war on Christmas," and O'Reilly has specifically railed against use of the term "holiday tree" instead of "Christmas tree."

Fox News' use of "Holiday" in the ornament names was first documented by the weblog Daily Kos.



Categories: News
Esther Kaplan, author of a book about George Bush and the Christian Right, talks about the Evangelicals' new messiah: Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.
Source: AlterNet
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Not all anti-abortionists kill people. But all share a histrionic view of themselves as heroic rescuers aligned against Godless fornicators.
Source: AlterNet
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With his campaign to end poverty, John Edwards has shed his Clinton Lite image. But he still faces an uphill battle to win back the presidency for the Dems.
Source: AlterNet
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Isn't it time to give the Iraqis a chance to see if they can do better -- on their own?
Source: AlterNet
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A glimpse at Williams' thug past shows much about the legions of young black men like him.
Source: AlterNet
Categories: News
Why did Woodward, supposedly the preeminent investigative reporter of our time, miss the biggest story of our time?
Source: AlterNet
Categories: News
With more socially and environmentally conscious options in coffee shops and supermarkets, consumers can be sure their cups of joe aren't actually cups of woe.
Source: AlterNet
Categories: News
Full of uncomfortable truths about American racism, Sarah Silverman's Jesus is Magic would benefit from a bit more structure and a bit less of a 'bigot, doodie, fuck spree.'
Source: AlterNet
Categories: News