Thursday, June 28, 2007
Big Media Continues to Allow Republicans to LIE with impunity. Fred Thompson continues to LIE to the American Public.
Since April 2007, ABC Radio Networks has featured a daily commentary from former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN), titled the "Fred Thompson Report." ABC Radio launched the "Fred Thompson Report" amid growing speculation that Thompson would run for president in 2008. When asked if he would run on the March 11 broadcast of Fox News Sunday, Thompson told host Chris Wallace: "I'm just going to wait and see what happens, as I say. I'm going to have my own thoughts about what's necessary to get the job done, be successful in doing it." Thompson's aides have since strongly indicated that he will, in fact, seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, claiming that Thompson has raised several million dollars and even suggesting the date of his official announcement. Thompson told the Associated Press on June 26: "You're either running or not running. I think the steps we're taking are pretty obvious." Nevertheless, ABC Radio continues to host his daily commentaries.
A Media Matters for America review of Thompson's commentaries for ABC Radio Networks revealed that he has repeatedly advanced conservative misinformation on a variety of issues. Recordings and transcripts of each "report" are available on ABCRadioNetworks.com.
Tax cuts and juvenile homicide
In his June 22 commentary, Thompson claimed that the Bush tax cuts have "been so good for our country in so many ways," adding: "Prosperity is a wonderful thing in many ways. When societies have strong economies, people voluntarily take care of all kinds of problems, and the quality of life improves for everybody. This may be particularly true for children." Thompson offered an example of the way in which the "prosperity" he attributed to the Bush tax cuts has benefited children:
THOMPSON: Since 1993, according to Justice Department statistics, the juvenile homicide rate was cut in half. For kids between the ages of 14 and 17, the reduction was even greater. The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System shows child abuse declined by 43 percent and childhood sexual abuse by almost half. Sexual assaults against adolescents dropped by more than two thirds and aggravated assaults by almost 75 percent.
This is dramatically good news, especially for children and their parents. And the reasons behind these improvements in the lives of American children are linked to economic growth.
The irony is that we got these improvements in our children's lives from a strong economy driven by tax cuts.
According to Justice Department statistics, however, the drop in the juvenile homicide rate occurred almost entirely between 1993 and 2000 -- during the Clinton presidency, and before the Bush tax cuts. The homicide victimization rate per 100,000 population for children ages 14-17 in 1993 was 12.1 and dropped every following year to 4.8 in 2000. After 2000, the rate decreased to 4.3 in 2003, rising to 4.6 in 2004. Similarly, the homicide offending rate per 100,000 population for children ages 14-17 was 31.3 in 1993, and dipped every following year to 9.5 in 2000. After 2000, it lowered to 8.8 in 2003, then rose to 9.1 in 2004.
In his June 6 commentary, Thompson referred to the sentencing of former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to 30 months in prison as "the last in a series of acts that has resulted in a shocking injustice -- one created by and enabled by federal officials." Libby was convicted of perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements during the federal investigation into the leak of former CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity. Thompson said of the Plame investigation:
THOMPSON: Nevertheless, the CIA demanded that the Department of Justice investigate the leak of her name. Not surprisingly, the fact that the CIA was making such a request was leaked. This put pressure on the DOJ. The DOJ, in turn, promptly caved to the media and congressional pressure to appoint a Special Counsel to investigate the Plame leak. However, there were two glaring problems for anyone with a sense of justice, or who may have gone to law school for one semester.
The Justice Department and the new Special Counsel knew that:
1.) The leaking of Valerie Plame's name didn't constitute a crime because she was not a "covered person" under the relative criminal statue and,
2.) They already knew the name of the leaker: State Department official Richard Armitage.
Yet small matters such as these do not matter much to Justice Department officials trying to cover their own fanny, or to a newly minted Special Prosecutor with a reputation to make and members of the media to satisfy.
U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed Special Counsel by the Justice Department on December 30, 2003, and charged with investigating the Plame leak. Thompson's claim that the Justice Department or Fitzgerald "knew" before that time that the "leaking of Valerie Plame's name did not constitute a crime because she was not a 'covered person' under the relative criminal statue" -- presumably the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) -- is contradicted by a sentencing memorandum filed on May 25, in which Fitzgerald asserted that "[i]t was clear from very early in the investigation that Ms. Wilson qualified under the relevant statute (Title 50, United States Code, Section 421) as a covert agent whose identity had been disclosed by public officials, including Mr. Libby, to the press."
Moreover, in a May 29 filing, Fitzgerald included an "unclassified summary" of Plame's CIA employment, which established that she had headed a counterproliferation operation focused on Iraq and had traveled overseas in an undercover capacity in the five years prior to the disclosure of her identity. From the document:
On 1 January 2002, Valerie Wilson was working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as an operations officer in the Directorate of Operations (DO). She was assigned to the Counterproliferation Division (CPD) at CIA Headquarters, where she served as the Chief of a CPD component with responsibility for weapons proliferation issues related to Iraq.
While assigned to CPD, Ms. Wilson engaged in temporary duty (TDY) travel overseas on official business. She traveled at least seven times to more than ten countries. When traveling overseas, Ms. Wilson always traveled under a cover identity -- sometimes in true name and sometimes in alias -- but always using cover -- whether official or non-official cover (NOC) -- with no ostensible relationship to the CIA.
At the time of the initial unauthorized disclosure in the media of Ms. Wilson's employment relationship with the CIA on 14 July 2003, Ms. Wilson was a covert CIA employee for whom the CIA was taking affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the United States.
Thompson's claim that the Justice Department and Fitzgerald "already knew the name of the leaker" echoed false claims that Armitage's role in the investigation exonerated Libby and other officials under scrutiny. As Media Matters noted, the fact that Armitage was the original source for columnist Robert D. Novak's original column revealing Plame's identity is not inconsistent with reports that Libby leaked Plame's identity to others before the Novak column -- specifically, to former New York Times reporter Judith Miller. Armitage was first publicly identified as Novak's source for Plame's identity in Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War (Crown, 2006), by Newsweek investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff and The Nation Washington editor David Corn. Armitage confirmed that he was the source for Novak's July 14, 2003, column, which first identified Plame as a CIA operative. In a September 7, 2006, interview with CBS News, Armitage said that he went to the FBI in October 2003 and told investigators he was Novak's source.
In his April 13 commentary, Thompson mocked those who "think that our planet is suffering from a fever," saying:
THOMPSON: Now scientists are telling us that Mars is experiencing its own planetary warming: Martian warming. It seems scientists have noticed recently that quite a few planets in our solar system seem to be heating up a bit, including Pluto.
NASA says the Martian South Pole's ice cap has been shrinking for three summers in a row. Maybe Mars got its fever from earth. If so, I guess Jupiter's caught the same cold, because it's warming up too, like Pluto.
This has led some people, not necessarily scientists, to wonder if Mars and Jupiter, non-signatories to the Kyoto Treaty, are actually inhabited by alien SUV-driving industrialists who run their air-conditioning at 60 degrees and refuse to recycle.
Silly, I know, but I wonder what all those planets, dwarf planets and moons in our SOLAR system have in common. Hmmmm. SOLAR system. Hmmmm. Solar? I wonder. Nah, I guess we shouldn't even be talking about this. The science is absolutely decided. There's a consensus.
Thompson's claims about "Martian warming" echoed what National Geographic described as "one scientist's controversial theory" stipulating that "global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun." As Media Matters noted, National Geographic reported that "Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of the St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia" noted that "2005 data from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey" show "that the carbon dioxide 'ice caps' near Mars's south pole had been diminishing for three summers in a row," and theorized that because warming is occurring naturally on Mars, warming on Earth might also be attributable to natural causes. According to the National Geographic article, "Abdussamatov believes that changes in the sun's heat output can account for almost all the climate changes we see on both planets." The article went on to report that Abdussamatov's theory has "not been well received by other climate scientists," and quoted "Colin Wilson, a planetary physicist at England's Oxford University" saying that Abdussamatov's "views are completely at odds with the mainstream scientific opinion." According to Wilson, they "contradict the extensive evidence presented in the most recent IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report." The article added that "[t]he conventional theory is that climate changes on Mars can be explained primarily by small alterations in the planet's orbit and tilt, not by changes in the sun," and that "most scientists think it is pure coincidence that both planets are between ice ages right now."
THOMPSON: On the issue of Al Qaeda's relationship with Iraq, for example, Tenet said that the CIA had proof of Al Qaeda contact with Saddam's regime; that the regime had provided safe haven for Al Qaeda operatives and that Saddam had provided training assistance for Al Qaeda terrorists. He went on to say that the CIA had no proof that the relationship was operational or that they had any ongoing working relationship -- that it could have been that each side was just using the other. Maybe my recollection is faulty on this, but that doesn't seem to be inconsistent with what folks in the administration said. In other words, there was clearly contact and a relationship, but no one knew exactly what it meant.
In fact, administration officials -- Vice President Dick Cheney in particular -- frequently claimed direct connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda, and often suggested a link between Iraq and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. As Media Matters noted, Cheney suggested that Iraq had been involved in the 9-11 attacks by repeatedly citing a Czech intelligence report that lead 9-11 hijacker Mohammed Atta met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official in April 2001, and claimed on the December 9, 2001, broadcast of Meet the Press that the report was "pretty well confirmed." Cheney continued to push the connection even after the 9-11 Commission concluded that "[w]e do not believe that such a meeting occurred," as The New York Times reported on June 18, 2004. In a June 14, 2004, speech, Cheney said that Saddam "had long established ties with Al Qaeda." The 9-11 Commission, however, found no "collaborative relationship" between Iraq and Al Qaeda.
Posted to the web on Wednesday June 27, 2007 at 1:06 PM EST