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The Top 10 Stories (and Non-Stories) of 2005 By: Ben Johnson
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, December 30, 2005


Every day, news organizations choose which stories to highlight in their news coverage and which to omit. In their coverage of hard news, the media inevitably trumpets meaningless, skewed, or false stories, while overlooking news items of vital importance – and this year was no exception.

TOP TEN OVERREPORTED STORIES OF 2005

 

10. The Passion of Mary Mapes

 

Mary Mapes, you’ll recall, is the former CBS employee who produced the now-infamous “60 Minutes II” story about President Bush’s National Guard service based on forged documents just days before the 2004 election. She accepted the phony “Vietnam-era memos” from a longtime Bush family foe, Bill Burkett, and attempted to contact John Kerry’s presidential campaign on his behalf. After the memos were discredited by “bloggers in their pajamas,” she and Rather engaged in what CBS-appointed investigators called a “rigid and blind” defense of their authenticity. Three months after the story aired, CBS finally fired Mapes and three others.

 

The newly unemployed Mapes instantly labeled herself a “scapegoat,” saying the network brass was “motivated by corporate and political considerations – ratings rather than journalism.” Then, she disappeared for awhile, only to come raging back with – surprise! – a book to sell.

 

In November, she emerged with Truth and Duty, a memoir alliteratively subtitled “The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power.” Her interviewers did not blink as Mapes told their audience she still believes the National Guard story is true and that the forged documents are legit. “No one has proved that the documents were not authentic,” she told ABC News. (No one has ever proven a negative, Mary.) Moreover, she claims she did not have to prove the documents were authentic before making them the centerpiece of a nationally televised story about the president a week before the presidential election. And she certainly “did not have it in for George Bush” – heavens, no. She even told reporters she is still trying to find the elusive proof that will vindicate the documents, and her inexcusable conduct. Maybe someday she’ll find her missing link. Maybe someday O.J. will find the real killer.

 

9. Tom DeLay's Indictment

 

Next to President Bush, Karl Rove, and Dick Cheney, no one is as universally hated by the Left as Tom DeLay. When a left-wing prosecutor with a history of indicting his enemies charged Tom DeLay with the vaguest, most nebulous campaign finance violation known to man (far more vague than, say, shaking down Buddhist monks), the media rolled out the cameras. The prosecutor’s indictment was fairly thin – it omits anything in the way of evidence of wrongdoing. Presumably, that would spoil the trial. Nonetheless, the media gave it saturation coverage, because it fits the Left’s “culture of corruption” theme. Even if no conviction ever results, the indictment itself accomplished what the Left wanted: thanks to a rule adopted by House Republicans (and not by Democrats), anyone charged with a crime must resign his leadership position. The Left got a two-fer: it took out one of its most effective legislative enemies and got to file one more frivolous lawsuit. One can never prejudge a case, and it may well be Rep. DeLay is guilty. So far, it looks like The Hammer got screwed.

 

8. Jimmy Carter’s Opinion (On Anything)

 

Jimmy Carter released Our Endangered Values this fall, and it has already become one of the top-selling books of the year. No wonder: gauging the media coverage, one would think Moses had delivered another tablet of stone. Most of the headlines focused on Carter’s newfound belief that the Democratic Party was too associated with abortion and his opposition to partial birth abortion, which, oddly enough, are not in the book. After the preliminaries, the interviewers allowed Carter to get to the real theme of OEV: a rambling diatribe equating Southern Baptists, the Pope, “Neo-conservatives,” and anyone who supports the war in Iraq or capitalism with Dixie lynch mobs and the Ayatollah. (No, I’m not exaggerating.) He claims we were lied into a war in which U.S. troops “decided to violate” the Geneva Conventions and “torture” detainees, because they saw Arabs as “subhuman.” Then he showed his keen grasp of the War on Terror, writing, “The fact is that, unlike during other times of national threat or crisis, the United States of America is not at war.” (Emphasis his.) He gives advice on how to deal with Iran’s nuclear mullahs – who wouldn’t be in Iran in the first place if it weren’t for him. He advises Bush on how to deal with nuclear North Korea – which wouldn’t be a threat if it weren’t for his 1994 intervention. He discusses ways to lower gas prices – which were higher during his presidency than they are today. Jimmy Carter is the worst president of the 20th century, perhaps the worst president ever. He has no business giving anyone advice on anything, period.

 

7. John Roberts’ Federalist Society Membership

 

“Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Federalist Society?” This burning question had the Washington press corps all aflutter shortly after President Bush named John Roberts to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court. (He later chose to name Roberts as the replacement for deceased Chief Justice William Rehnquist.) The Washington Post alone ran roughly a dozen prominent stories on Roberts’ alleged membership in the dreaded organization. First, the Post, and the media generally, reported he was a member. Then it stated this membership was “misstated”; in fact, WaPo reporter James V. Grimaldi wrote Roberts “is not and never has been a member of the Federalist Society.” Days later the Post reported on the front page that his name was, in fact, listed as on the membership roster of the FedSoc for the 1997-98 year…before reporting in the second half of the story that he was not, actually, in fact, a member during that time, anyway. They think.

 

This membership was vital to the Left due to the dark intentions they ascribe to the Federalist Society, a center-right group of legal scholars that often invites center-left legal experts to address its meetings. After much consternation, the Washington Post ultimately disclosed (on July 29, p. A21) that the Federal Society does not “explicitly support a particular policy agenda beyond its ideas for limiting the power of government and emphasizing that the courts should ‘say what the law is, not what it should be.’” Thank goodness the entire Washington journalistic establishment is keeping an eye on its members, when they can figure out who they are.

 

6. Jane Fonda’s “Apology”

 

Jane Fonda made her latest “apology” this spring, coinciding with the release of her latest film and her autobiography. The media proclaimed that she had atoned, Tookie Williams-like, for her 1972 trip to Vietnam and expressed heartfelt repentance. The reality was something much different. In My Life So Far, she writes, “I do not regret that I went. My only regret about the trip was that I was photographed in a North Vietnamese antiaircraft gun site.” This wasn’t an apology and wasn’t even a new non-apology. In 2000, she told Oprah Winfrey, “I will go to my grave regretting the photograph of me in antiaircraft [gun], which looks like I was trying to shoot at American planes.” Thirty years ago, Jane Fonda took a trip to a hostile power in the middle of a war, broadcast Communist propaganda, demoralized POWs in face-to-face meetings, and accused the United States of false atrocities both abroad and for years after her return. This brings her no remorse. She’s merely sorry she was dumb enough to pose for an indisputable, long-lasting, photographic, media-friendly reminder of her quasi-treasonous behavior. This is akin to Bill Clinton saying he wishes he’d aimed away from the blue dress.

 

5. Koran Desecration and “Torture”

 

From Dick Durbin, to Ted Kennedy, to Jimmy Carter, to Amnesty International, false claims of “torture” became the Left’s mantra this year. Most effective of these was a Newsweek story reporting Guantanamo Bay guards “flushed a holy book [the Koran] down the toilet.” The story, which later proved to be false, touched off riots throughout the Muslim Street, leading to the deaths of 16 Muslims and the injuries of 100 more.

 

Koran desecration, though, was small potatoes compared to the Left’s rhetorical default. Dick Durbin compared U.S. troops to Nazis and Pol Pot. Amnesty International called Gitmo “the gulag of our time.” U.S. Advocacy Director Wendy Patten of Human Rights Watch called it “the Bermuda Triangle of human rights.” And Center for Constitutional Rights President Michael Ratner said Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez has his hands deep in the blood of the conspiracy of torture in this country. (Got that?) These allegations were beamed into millions of Muslim homes by al-Jazeera. Neither Terror-TV nor its U.S. counterparts gave much coverage to Lt. Gen. Randall “Mark” Schmidt and Brig. Gen. John Furlow’s testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee: “No torture occurred.”

 

4. Wiretapping Terrorists

 

In the last of a string of leaks revealing the president’s classified anti-terrorism policies, New York Times reporter James Risen revealed that the Bush administration did not always procure a warrant before wiretapping al-Qaeda terrorists who spoke to contacts in America. Risen held the story until the release of his new book, which, as a serendipity, also happened to be the Friday the Senate debated renewing key provisions of the Patriot Act. The Left immediately claimed this was “unprecedented.” DNC Chair Howard Dean  said, Americans need a president who will keep them safe and enforce the law. We don't need a Big Brother.” Sen. Barbara Boxer asked a team of presidential scholars if now would be the right time to file articles of impeachment. But as it turns out, federal law, court precedents, and a string of executive orders signed by Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter give the president the authority to gather “foreign intelligence” sans court warrant – and anyone acting on behalf of a “foreign power” (like al-Qaeda) is fair game. And according to a Rasmussen poll released this morning, 64 percent of Americans – including 51 percent of Democrats – support the president’s actions. After claiming Bush failed to “connect the dots,” now the media and the Left (but then I repeat myself) say the president is doing too much to keep America safe.

 

3. Two Words: Cindy Sheehan

 

Remember when the mainstream media still portrayed Cindy as an apolitical, grief-stricken mother? The Media Research Center does. She stood in a ditch outside President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, so she could get a second meeting with him in order to ask “why you killed my son” – who re-enlisted and volunteered to go into the battle that killed him – and to demand an immediate, unilateral withdrawal from Iraq. FrontPage Magazine’s reporters soon revealed that she believed America is a genocidal country, Iraqi jihadists are “freedom fighters,” and the Jews killed her kid. She hugged Al Sharpton the same weekend she allowed white supremacists to protest with her group at Camp Casey. (The Minutemen turned away Klansmen from their activities, but Cindy got a free pass.) She accused the producers of “Nightline” of lying about the contents of an e-mail she sent them. She pretended her phone went dead when reporters asked tough questions. She started meeting with Congressmen and targeting electoral opponents. Even after we exposed her as Ward Churchill without the degree, Time magazine named her one of its “Person of the Year – People Who Mattered.”

 

2. Bush’s “Negligence” during Hurricane Katrina

 

Nothing plummeted President Bush’s approval ratings like his perceived incompetence in responding to Hurricane Katrina. The Left quickly pounced on this perception with full rhetorical excess. Sidney Blumenthal, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and environmental expert Cindy Sheehan blamed Katrina on President Bush’s “killing” environmental policies. Jesse Jackson quipped post-Hurricane New Orleans looks like “the hull of a slave ship.” Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-LA, said if she saw Bush, “I might likely have to punch him. Literally.”

 

However, it turns out there was greater blame for state and local officials. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin did not follow his city’s emergency plan, leaving 205 buses and perhaps a greater number of large transit vehicles drowned in a flooded parking lot. He was too busy taking to the airwaves, telling the feds, “Get off your asses.” Clinton-friendly Governor Kathleen Blanco did not properly authorize federal intervention, and she apparently spent more time e-mailing her aides about what to wear on TV than she did trying to find a solution. Outside a certain cable news network, these details went largely unreported, and their negligence was ascribed to our commander-in-chief. The media again managed to report that perhaps 10,000 bodies were swimming in the toxic soup burying New Orleans; that evacuees were shooting at aid workers; and that the Superdome had devolved into an animalistic “Clockwork Orange.” Even poor Geraldo Rivera got demonized by the New York Times’ coverage. These mistakes were not all innocent; they discouraged humanitarian organizations from getting involved out of fear for their lives. All of this reflected negatively on the president and on America, and, once again, all of it turned out to be false. (Noting a trend?)

 

1. The Libby Indictment

 

The Left’s Holy Grail was also the most overreported story of 2005. After a year-long row over who “outed” a none-too-secret CIA agent, Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald broke leftists’ hearts everywhere by not indicting Karl Rove. Instead, he concluded whoever disclosed Valerie Plame’s identity to Robert Novak had committed no crime and indicted the little-known I. Lewis “Scooter” Libbey for the same crime Martha Stewart committed (in his case allegedly lying to investigators about the details of this non-crime). Washington Post undeserved legend Bob Woodward quickly raised significant questions about the prosecutor’s understanding of the case, though not about the substance of the charge.

 

Making lemonade out of lemons, the Left has treated this like Watergate and the My Lai massacre rolled into one, yet most Americans still think “Scooter” is one of the Muppets. Chris Matthews still leads every program with the latest “exciting” developments. (Lulling his audience to sleep is the only way to make sure they sit through Keith Olbermann.) Ultimately, the American people do not care if an unknown aide allegedly lied to federal agents about who first told him of the employment of a CIA agent who was married to the man who investigated the Niger uranium story and said he didn’t find evidence of Saddam trying to buy yellowcake now but said he did find evidence of that charge then….

 

The American people don’t think this reflects a devious president. Those who know about Plame and hubby Joseph Wilson understand someone “outed” them into a lifetime of petty stardom on the Left.

 

 

THE TOP TEN UNDERREPORTED STORIES

 

10. The Economy

 

FrontPage Magazine rarely covers economic issues, but it is one of the untrumpeted stories of 2005 that the economy did surprisingly well. GDP has grown by 3.3-to-4.1 percent over the last three quarters, headed toward an annual growth rate near four percent. Unemployment is lower than during the Clinton administration. Thanks to falling gas prices, inflation is down sharply. In November, the Consumer Price Index had its biggest drop in 56 years. Prices last fell this steeply during the Truman administration. This decrease is expected to convince the Federal Reserve Board to halt its program to raise interest rates by its standard quarter-percent increments. Despite these data, consumers felt squeezed through most of the year through a combination of high gas prices and poor media coverage (a strange contrast from 1992, when CNN acknowledged the end of the recession the day after the election – and chalked it up to the election of Bill Clinton.) The impact is finally beginning to be felt, as consumer confidence is high. With economic growth this robust, despite the impact of Hurricane Katrina, one can hold out hope for a Happy New Year.

 

9. Bush Gets it on the Border (Sort Of) 

 

At every media appearance I make, at every call-in radio program anywhere in the country, the topic eliciting the greatest unease is the president’s lax enforcement of our immigration laws on the southern border. After four years of championing an amnesty “guest worker” plan, President Bush is showing he finally got the message that Americans don’t want amnesty; they want action. They’re tired of going to sleep at night knowing more terrorists could potentially cross our border with Mexico than cross Iraq’s borders with Iran and Syria combined. Led by the initiatives of Rep. Tom Tancredo, the law enforcement activities of local officers like Allen County (Ohio) Sheriff Dan Beck, the Minutemen, and a groundswell of opposition from the American heartland, President Bush has decided to “decouple” tougher border enforcement from his D.O.A. guest worker program. Dept. of Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff has announced the Border Patrol will end its longstanding “catch and release” policy, in which illegal immigrants were arrested, given a court date, and set free. (Needless to say, the vast majority never show.) In all, 120,000 out of the 160,000 illegals arrested in fiscal year 2005 were so released, some of them violent felons who have or will commit felonies in the United States. This is the program the president has moved to end. Now, border officials will have a say in whether an illegal is deported

 

There are still significant problems with the Secure Border Initiative. If an illegal alien gets 100 miles beyond the border and stays free for two weeks, he has to be given a court date, starting the process all over again. But this is, at least, a first step toward closing our porous border and keeping our nation safe.

 

8. Academic Freedom on the March

 

Although a string of academic outrages continues unabated around the country, and although our critics still mischaracterize a free speech measure as a restriction on free speech, the battle for academic freedom has made great strides in 2005.

 

The latest step is the Buckeye State. Inter-University Council of Ohio adopted an Academic Bill of Rights in October. This will commit the universities to the principles of academic freedom, protect students from viewpoint discrimination, and set up a grievance procedure when its principles are violated. This victory follows on the heels of David Horowitz’s testimony before the Ohio State Senate in March.

 

In July, Pennsylvania passed a resolution launching an investigation to “examine, study and inform” lawmakers about the climate on campus. Despite the opposition of every teachers union in the area – especially the AAUP – the measure passed 111-87. A month later, they invited David Horowitz to testify on its behalf.

 

In all, 11 states and countless universities around the country are considering ABOR.

 

7. Hurricanes Don’t Discriminate by Race

 

If anything, the “mainstream” media insisted, Hurricane Katrina taught us the intractable plight of minorities in the United States. Before their very eyes, Americans saw a large black city devastated by nature, mayoral neglect, and the strictures of poverty. The media instructed that the hurricane somehow proved America had failed to live up to its promise, that blacks were disproportionately victimized by Katrina because they were first victimized by America. Newsweek provided the standard eulogy:

 

It takes a catastrophe like Katrina to strip away the old evasions, hypocrisies and not-so-benign neglect. For the moment, at least, Americans are ready to fix their restless gaze on enduring problems of poverty, race and class that have escaped their attention.

 

Blacks picked up the message. Rap “artist” Kanye West famously, fatuously told NBC, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson claimed race was a factor in President Bush’s response. Their spiritual equal, Louis Farrakhan, claimed white devils dynamited one of the dams (which is just what they would do).

 

The facts tell another story, and not just about Farrakhan’s conspiracy theory. The official statistics of the Louisiana Dept. of Health and Hospitals reveals Hurricane Katrina was not racist. The majority of the hurricane’s victims were not black, and blacks were less likely to die as a result of those injuries than whites.

 

These statistics have not made a dent in the national media. They would disturb the emotional tapestry they have weaved. It would threaten the Left’s ability to connect with “values voters” by pushing its agenda in the name of God. (The Left still believes the nation trusts it on poverty issues, despite its abysmal record as the dominant power in every inner city for more than a generation.) None of this would be possible if it wasn’t all Whitey’s fault. For the Left, facts continue, in James Burnham’s phrase, to “lurk rather obscurely in the background, coloring the rhetoric and adding a certain emotive glow.”

 

6. Prominent Leftists’ Utter Hypocrisy

 

Did you know Michael Moore owns stock in Halliburton? That anti-capitalist Noam Chomsky has managed to shelter much of his income from taxation? That environmentalist crusader Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has blocked eco-friendly energy plans near his familial estate and regularly burns more jet fuel than a pack of SUVs? Peter Schweizer verifies what many of us had long suspected in his illuminating new book, Do As I Say (Not As I Do). These are the facts that should immediately spring to mind any time Moore, Kennedy, Chomsky, or others are cited as heroes and champions of the common man, on college campuses or by your leftist friends.

 

Michael Moore has made a rather unconvincing case that Schweizer is not telling the truth – Moore said, “See, that's like a great comedy line. I know it's not true – I mean, I've never owned a share of stock in my life,” then changed the subject – but we now know better. Buy Schweizer’s book, and you’ll know the truth, too.

 

5. Able Danger

 

Rep. Curt Weldon staked much of his credibility on the knowledge that the 9/11 Commission buried one of the most important facts it had discovered in the course of its highly public deliberations: federal agents had identified 9/11 mastermind Mohammed Atta and three of his fellow hijackers as members of an al-Qaeda cell located in New York City (codenamed “Brooklyn”) in 1999, two years prior to 9/11. Weldon noted with exasperation that this information had been delivered to the 9/11 Commission in at least two separate briefings, possibly three.

 

The Pentagon cast doubt on his statements. 9/11 Commission spokesman Al Felzenberg said, “The name ‘Atta’ or a terrorist cell would have gone to the top of the radar screen if it had been mentioned.” Former Congressman and commissioner Lee Hamilton, D-IN, agreed: “The September 11 commission did not learn of any U.S. government knowledge prior to 9/11 of surveillance of Mohammed Atta or of his cell. Had we learned of it obviously it would’ve been a major focus of our investigation.” Then independent witnesses came forward to corroborate Rep. Weldon’s assertions. The New York Times noted just a few days later, “Mr. Felzenberg said the uniformed officer who briefed two staff members in July 2004 had indeed mentioned Mr. Atta,” and Hamilton, too, “readjusted” his initial comments.

 

The Commission finally admitted they omitted mention of Atta, because that evidence did not match their preconceived timeline. Specifically, it would lend credence to statements by the Czech Republic linking Atta (and hence al-Qaeda) to Iraqi covert intelligence operatives.

 

The possibility that there is a tie between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein is important of itself, but the fact that the 9/11 Commission – called to investigate how federal agents failed to prevent the worst terrorist attack on American soil – would ignore the most important aide to that end, exclude it from their report, and lie about ever hearing it, should serve as an indictment of how useless the commission was.

 

4. Muslim Rape Spree

 

The media reported the recent riots in Australia as an Aussie bout of anti-immigrant racism. They did not report that the underlying hostility toward Muslims in general and Lebanese Muslims in particular stemmed from a growing and ugly trend in all areas of Islamist immigration: Muslim rape, often by more than one perpetrator. “MSK,” a high-profile Pakistani rapist who assaulted four girls, some in their early teens, told the court since his victims weren’t decked out in Muslim garb, “I’m not doing anything wrong.”

 

These offenses occur by the hundreds in his native Pakistan: more than 400 disciplinary gang rapes in 2000 alone.

 

In the spirit of multiculturalism, these newcomers have brought their rich and glorious traditions with them. In some areas of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, Muslim immigrants account for 65-85 percent of all rapists. French girl and gang rape victim Samira Bellil has written a book about the prevalence of gang rape within the immigrant ghettoes. Girls who do not comport themselves according to Shari’a law – including native Europeans not wearing the burqa – are “sluts” who deserve to be raped. In one Muslim slum, perhaps as many as 88 men raped a 13-year-old girl over the course of several months.

 

European women and assimilated Muslim immigrants must endure not only the violence of hostile, ethnically motivated gang rape (which is often followed by vicious knife attacks), but they are also told they had it coming, because they are “whores,” “tramps,” and “pigs.”

 

Muslim victims must also know that in many cases, their local imams have endorsed their violators. Coppenhagen-based Mufti Shahid Mehdi told his spiritual flock women without headscarves are “asking for rape.” Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi even teaches rape victims should be punished after they are raped, if they were dressed “immodestly,” writing on the website IslamOnline, “for a rape victim to be absolved from guilt, she must not be the one that opens…her dignity for deflowering” by her dress. Open Borders advocates and multiculturalists should remember: when immigrants “enrich” our nations by moving here, they bring with them more than new cooking and unique dance steps.

 

Rape has long been the silent shame. Gang rape multiplies the trauma, and the shame, several-fold. At last, through these media reports, this outrage is coming to light. May the light of media exposure place the shame where it belongs: the rapists and their enablers posing as men of God.

 

3. The Left Throws in the Towel in Iraq

 

After months of saying they “oppose the war but support the troops,” the antiwar, anti-American Left showed its true colors by saying aloud what we all knew they were thinking: the American military is not competent enough to defeat jihadist terrorists in Iraq.Ted Kennedy rang in the new year by telling the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, “The U.S. military presence has become part of the problem, not part of the solution.Howard Dean wrapped up 2005 by telling San Antonio’s WOAI radio the “idea that we’re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong.” In between, Rep. John Murtha, D-PA, told CNN, “This war cannot be won militarily…cannot be won on the ground. This comes 19 months after he called the war “unwinnable” and added, “We cannot prevail in this war.” (Get the message yet, troops?) Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-NY, in a floor speech recycled as an official press release for all House Democrats, claimed Murtha “spoke for the majority of our country.”

 

Despite all his defeatist talk, Murtha has been universally described as a “hawk.” Unlike other armchair defeatists, John Murtha is not content to speak; he introduced a resolution to make defeat inevitable. Although Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-CA, introduced an immediate withdrawal plan a year ago, her Democratic colleague from Pennsylvania got all the media attention this fall. Murtha’s plan calls for the “redeployment” of all U.S. troops from Iraq within six months (which is about as fast as they could humanly leave). GIs would then be stationed in neighboring countries, the pitch being that American soldiers will be better equipped to respond to jihadist threats inside Iraq from several hundred miles away. Nancy Pelosi and most of the House Democratic Caucus (who helped craft Murtha’s plan before he unveiled it publicly) supported the plan. Then, when given a chance to vote for it, they demurred.

 

However, the timing of the resolution was significant. It came weeks before the latest Iraqi election, in which 70 percent of the Iraqi people (including a majority of Sunnis) participated in the democratic process. This is the first step to Iraq drafting its own constitution, stabilizing its military, and claiming full self-determination. It was the most significant step toward victory. On the eve of that historic vote, the antiwar Left moved to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory out of partisan or ideological zeal. That should remain a top national story.

 

2. The CIA’s War on Bush

 

It all began with Joseph Wilson….

 

Months after Bush uttered his famous “16 words” during his State of the Union address, former Ambassador Joe Wilson claimed he had found no evidence Saddam Hussein had attempted to purchase yellowcake uranium from Niger. Forget for a moment that Wilson is a liar and ask a simpler question: Why was he not asked to sign a confidentiality form about his CIA-sponsored trip (arranged by his wife)? Most CIA excursions require just that.

 

Then Michael Scheuer wrote the book Imperial Hubris, a scathing indictment of the Bush administration’s war on Iraq. (The book was written by “Anonymous,” but Scheuer, too, got a special dispensation from the nation’s spooks to go on televised promotional gigs. It took the media longer to learn the anonymous author of Primary Colors than the name of this CIA agent.) Although everything Scheuer said contradicted his previous public statements, including his bizarre assertion that “the war against al-Qaeda, Saddam Hussein was one of our best allies,” he has not been questioned as to why the CIA would give him liberty to present this particular case to the American people.

 

Then began a series of destabilizing leaks about the Bush administration’s covert policies regarding Homeland Security and War on Terror – revelations that could undercut our security and place our allies at risk. On November 2, Dana Priest of the Washington Post revealed the existence of CIA “black sites,” where suspected terrorists may be questioned harshly. She noted Jordan cooperated in this program; one week to the day later, al-Qaeda bombed Western hotels in Jordan. (a blast that claimed the life of one American citizen, Mustaffa Akkad, the producer of the “Halloween” horror films). Human Rights Watch further specified Romania and Poland were involved, making them prime targets for the jihadists. Consider how Spain, supposedly a first-world nation, responded after one civilian bombing. How would these second-world nations respond to a string of bus bombings in Bucharest or Warsaw?

 

The revelations continued. James Risen exposed how the Bush administration wiretapped the calls of al-Qaeda agents to their American contacts without a warrant. Even U.S. News and World Report revealed the president, again without a warrant, monitored radiation levels at D.C.-area mosques following 9/11 (which might just tip off holy warriors not to store the doomsday device in those locations).

 

Why the leaks? Who is making them? The smart money is on jilted CIA officials angry for being blamed for the intelligence failure in Iraq. It was, after all, CIA Director George Tenet who told President Bush the existence of Iraq’s illegal WMD stockpiles was “a slam dunk.” Now that much of that intelligence has been publicly designated fiction, the CIA may be hitting back.

 

The nation has wasted tremendous time, energy, and treasure investigating the non-crime of outing Valerie Plame. The real investigation – the investigation into who is authorizing these leaks, and if an agency of the federal government is waging a covert war against its president – must commence at once.

 

1. Shhh…We’re Winning in Iraq

 

Despite the media’s attempt to portray Iraq as an interminable struggle devoid of progress, facts on the ground prove two things:

 

  1. American soldiers not only can win the war in Iraq; they are; and
  2. Sunni “insurgents” are now more committed to American victory in Iraq than the American Left.

Despite the Left’s claim that the war is “unwinnable,” Americans are winning the war militarily, politically, and economically. Militarily, U.S. GIs rounded up or killed hundreds of terrorist leaders over the past year, including significant leaders in al-Qaeda.

 

Perhaps the most startling successes in Iraq have been political, a key part of President Bush’s National Strategy for Victory in Iraq. The nation had not had a free election since in a generation. This year, they had three. The most recent election this month, to determine the people who will draft the Iraqi constitution, was the most successful by far. Voter turnout increased from 58 percent in January, to 63 percent in October, and to an estimated 71 percent in December. The major difference is the fact that the Sunni minority, which boycotted the first two elections, chose to lay down their arms and pick up their ballots. The Iraqi Islamic Army, an anti-American milita group, safeguarded the polls in Ramadi. A full 80 percent of Saddam’s home province of Anbar voted. All segments of Iraq are now committed to a democratic, pluralistic future – like it or not.

 

The Left greeted the news with its characteristic dismissal. Sen. John Kerry told Meet the Press the January election had “a kind of legitimacy – I mean, it's hard to say that something is legitimate when a whole portion of the country can’t vote and doesn’t vote.” He added, “No one in the United States should try to overhype this election.”

 

Iraq has progressed on the military front, as well. President Bush has consistently said, “As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down” – and the day Americans may stand down may be on its way. As James Phillips of the Heritage Foundation recently pointed out:

 

The Iraqi Army and security forces grew from just 1 operational battalion in July 2004 to more than 120 today. Over 200,000 trained and equipped Iraqis are now playing an increasingly active role in rooting out insurgents.

 

Socially and economically, Iraq is growing. For 25 years of Saddam’s rule, he maintained an iron grip over the nation’s media: radio, TV, and newspapers (two each). Today, there are hundred of outlets, expressing every conceivable viewpoint. The troubled areas of Mosul and Najaf have been pacified and are now being rebuilt. The economy, too, is improving. Again, Phillips notes:

 

Real GDP is expected to grow 3.7 percent in 2005 and 16 percent in 2006. Iraqi per-capita income has doubled since 2003, according to the World Bank.

 

Schools are being built; tens of thousands of Iraqi teachers are being trained.

 

Oh, and the children they teach no longer have to worry they will spend their recess watching their mother being gang raped before being fed into a plastic shredder.

This, too, could bear repeating on occasion.


Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and co-author, with David Horowitz, of the book Party of Defeat. He is also the author of the books Teresa Heinz Kerry's Radical Gifts (2009) and 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving (2004).


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