Toby Ziegler Defended

There’s one person who does not believe that Toby Ziegler would have leaked that classified information on The West Wing and continues to defend him. Richard Schiff, who played Toby Ziegler discussed the final season of the show in an interview in The Independent:

Spencer’s death was the nadir in a difficult endgame for Schiff and The West Wing. His episodes, and many of his colleagues’, were cut – “Purely a financial decision,” he says. “We were expensive actors.” He felt let down by the scriptwriters.

“I was sad for the show,” he says. “I hated my storyline. Toby would never in 10 million years have betrayed the president in that fashion [in the seventh series, Toby is indicted for leaking classified information]. Even if he had, there would have been seven episodes’ worth of fights before he did it… In the end, the only way I could make sense of my story was to come up with my own story – that Toby was covering for someone else. That, at least, made sense to me.”

So, who was Toby covering for? “I don’t think I should ever reveal that.”

Posted in Television. Tags: . 1 Comment »

Frontline To Show How The Bush Administration Spun The War

AP reports that Frontline will be showing a four part series on the news media entitled Newswar, starting on February 13. The series will start with a look at the Bush administration’s manipulation of the media in the run up to the war:

The first hour of the four-part series does a splendid job of untangling the snarl of events that began in early 2003 with the Bush administration’s successful drive to win support from the public, and the media, for invading Iraq.

Airing Tuesday on PBS at 9 p.m. EST (check local listings), “Secrets, Sources & Spin” lays out how the government peddled its point of view to major media outlets by planting confidential tips that supported administration claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Such tips sparked stories which the government then cited as bolstering its claim.

Few in the media broke this information loop at the time, nor managed to uncover what became obvious only after the invasion: There were no WMDs.

“The way that the press was sold and spun … and just fooled by the White House in the run-up to the war represents more than just a missed story,” media analyst Jay Rosen says in the film. “How can one say that we have a watchdog press after a performance like that?”

Posted in George Bush, Iraq, News Media. Tags: . No Comments »

Washington Post Issues Correction to Story on Pentagon IG Report

The Washington Post has issued a correction to a story I quoted from earlier:

Correction to This Article
A Feb. 9 front-page article about the Pentagon inspector general’s report regarding the office of former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith incorrectly attributed quotations to that report. References to Feith’s office producing “reporting of dubious quality or reliability” and that the office “was predisposed to finding a significant relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda” were from a report issued by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) in Oct. 2004. Similarly, the quotes stating that Feith’s office drew on “both reliable and unreliable reporting” to produce a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq “that was much stronger than that assessed by the IC [Intelligence Community] and more in accord with the policy views of senior officials in the Administration” were also from Levin’s report. The article also stated that the intelligence provided by Feith’s office supported the political views of senior administration officials, a conclusion that the inspector general’s report did not draw.The two reports employ similar language to characterize the activities of Feith’s office: Levin’s report refers to an “alternative intelligence assessment process” developed in that office, while the inspector general’s report states that the office “developed, produced, and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al Qaida relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community, to senior decision-makers.” The inspector general’s report further states that Feith’s briefing to the White House in 2002 “undercuts the Intelligence Community” and “did draw conclusions that were not fully supported by the available intelligence.”

Hat tip to Hot Air, where I first found out about this correction. Obviously we should correct any errors caused by attributing conclusions about the report made by Carl Levin to the Pentagon’s Inspector General. I can also see that anyone on Hot Air’s side regarding support of the war would welcome anything which reduces the impact of this article, considering how much it harms their case–even after the corrections are made. While the report is less harmful to the Bush administration with the removal of Levin’s interpretations, the essential fact that they manipulated inteligence to serve their political purposes remains clear. As Baloon Juice points out:

I will state, however, that at this point it is a virtual certainty that EVERY time an opportunity was made available to portray intelligence in a certain light, it was done. The document dumps ofthe past few years, the revelations during the Libby trial, bits and pieces of investigative journalism here and there make this pretty clear. Additionally, this administration would then downplay any criticism of those portrayals or attack those questioning them. I fully expect the spin machines to pitch a fit about this IG report. After all, Carl Levin’s name was mentioned, so it must be liberal bias.

Facing South also presents other evidence that the intelligence was cooked.

Gore Dodges Question on Possible Run

From Politcal Radar:

ABC News’ David Chalian Reports: “Outside America he is perceived as a prophet,” Sir Richard Branson said of former Vice President Gore on Friday’s edition of CBS’ “Early Show.”

When asked if he could better create change on the issue of global warming from inside the White House, Gore reminded Harry Smith that he “worked in the White House for 8 years” and learned that what is needed more than anything else to move the issue forward is to change public opinion and that is what his current campaign is all about.

Gore also never directly answered Smith’s question about whether or not he intends to announce a presidential campaign at the Oscars.

“Well, I,” said Gore, “no, I’m not announcing anything today other than the fact that I admire Sir Richard Branson’s decision to put this prize up.”

Debbie Schlussel Hates Sean “Vanity” As Much As She Hates Atheists and Muslims

I’ve been critical of Debbie Schlussel for her slurs on Barack Obama’s name and for her atheist-bashing on CNN earlier in the week. We’ve had different views on 24. I even agreed with her once before with her dismissal of Mel Gibson’s apology. Now she has taken on a much better target, Sean Hannity, apparently renamed Vanity. Schlussel is accusing Hannity, oops, Vanity of plagiarizing her work. If Schlussel is going to wage a jihad against Vanity and bring other conservative bloggers into it I wish her luck.

Red State Has a Dream

When one has a dream which is scary it is called a nightmare. Is there a word for a dream that is both a nightmare but also hilariously funny? Red State dares to dream of its ideal ticket, both on policy and a ticket they think can win in 2008. Believe it or not: Donald Rumsfeld and John Bolton.

SciFi Friday: Homages to Star Wars and Star Trek–The Old Wookie Prisoner Trick

Lost returned, with the best line being Sawyer’s homage to Star Wars: “Don’t be mad just because you got fooled by the old Wookie prisoner trick” as he knocks out one of the others guarding someone they were trying to rescue. (For anyone who might not be familiar, the old Wookie prisoner trick is used when you need to break into a jail to get someone else out. You need one person the guard might trust to bring in others appearing to be prisoners so all can get get close enough to knock out the unsuspecting guard.) Also of interest on this week’s Lost was seeing Juliet’s back story and learning that she, presumably along with the rest of the others, are also on the island against their will. Juliet, and presumably others, is also a relatively recent recruit.

George Takai, now playing Hiro’s father on Heroes, is still navigating NCC-1701. As Mr. Sulu it was the Enterprise. Now its the car in this homage to Star Trek:

This week’s remastered episode of Star Trek is The Doomesday Machine with over one hundred new digital effects.

Variety reports that Dino De Laurentiis is planning to do a remake of Barbarella. The original made a star of Jane Fonda. Will the remake create a new star and war protester?

Flip-Flop Season Has Begun

The 2008 race now has officially begun. Conservatives once again are accusing the expected Democratic opponent of flip-flopping. From Human Events:

Hillary’s contradictions on the war are too numerous and complicated to summarize in single slogan about footwear, as Republicans did against John Kerry in 2004. Her flip-flop collection rivals anything from Imelda Marco’s closet.

Yes, it wouldn’t be an election campaign if Republicans weren’t claiming that the Democrats are flip-flopping. This time, as compared to John Kerry who had a consistent position on the war from the start, requiring opponents to distort his views to claim flip-flopping, there is an element of truth here. Still, I’d rather have Hillary’s recent conversion to opposition to the war than the position of Republicans who have been wrong every step of the way.

Britney Spears vs. A Platoon of Lesbians: The New Face of National Security?

The Bush administration believes we have a new weapon to fight terrorism–Britney Spears music. Robert R. Reilly, former director of the Voice of America thinks that broadcasting ideas would be more effective:

Some, of course, suspect that the United States is consciously attempting to subvert the morals of Arab youth. Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes told columnist Cal Thomas in December that our “view of freedom is sometimes seen as licentiousness. . . . And that is only exacerbated by the movies and the television and some of the music and the lyrics that they see exported from America.” Especially, Hughes might have added, since the BBG, on which she sits as an ex officio member, promotes this very image.

Becoming a caricature of ourselves is bad policy and bad public diplomacy. The job of U.S. international broadcasting is to present, before we are attacked, what much of the world saw only after Sept. 11 — the sacrifice, bravery and piety of the American people — as part of a complete picture. By presenting this aspect of our culture, we might even prevent the miscalculations of those who believe they should attack the United States or can do so with impunity because we are a weak, irreligious, morally corrupt country.

We need radio broadcasting in the “war of ideas,” but it has to deal in ideas to be effective. The “MTV message” is something that commercial broadcasting can do and would do better than government-funded radio. Government broadcasting is needed when the United States must communicate a message to a key audience that that audience otherwise would not hear.

Music may have a role in this kind of broadcast mission, but only if it is part of a larger, idea-based strategy. Where are the ideas that will help us win this war, and why are they not being deployed by all available means to the places that most need to hear them? Isn’t it time to change our tune?

Apparently we must be open to new ways to fight, including use of Britney Spears, in case the enemy develops new tactics, such as a platoon of lesbians:

Yesterday, during hearings on the State Department’s 2008 budget, Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) slammed the U.S. military’s ban on gay servicemembers, saying the Pentagon “seems more afraid of gay people than they are [of] terrorists,” and that if the terrorists were smart, “they’d get a platoon of lesbians to chase us out of Baghdad.”

Who will be the first candidate to challenge the Republicans on the lesbian gap faced by the US military?

Pentagon Report Shows Misleading Intelligence Used to Justify War

A report from the Pentagon’s inspector general provides further evidence that intelligence was manipulated by the Bush administration to justify going to war. The Washington Post reports:

Intelligence provided by former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith to buttress the White House case for invading Iraq included “reporting of dubious quality or reliability” that supported the political views of senior administration officials rather than the conclusions of the intelligence community, according to a report by the Pentagon’s inspector general.

Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, plans further review:

“The bottom line is that intelligence relating to the Iraq-al-Qaeda relationship was manipulated by high-ranking officials in the Department of Defense to support the administration’s decision to invade Iraq,” Levin said yesterday. “The inspector general’s report is a devastating condemnation of inappropriate activities in the DOD policy office that helped take this nation to war.”

Information provided in media accounts give indications that the reports used to justify going to war were not reliable, especially considering the high burden of evidence which should be required before invading a country:

Feith’s office, it said, drew on “both reliable and unreliable” intelligence reports in 2002 to produce a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq “that was much stronger than that assessed by the IC [Intelligence Community] and more in accord with the policy views of senior officials in the Administration.”

It stated that the office produced intelligence assessments “inconsistent” with the U.S. intelligence community consensus, calling those actions “inappropriate” because the assessments purported to be “intelligence products” but were far more conclusive than the consensus view.

Reports do say that these actions were not illegal. Most likely there is no law preventing the preparation of reports at the direction of those higher in the administration. The real question is the responsibility of those who requested such reports and used them to mislead Congress and the country into going to war. The question is not whether this is illegal, but whether it is an impeachable offense. It certainly sounds worse than inappropriate sexual acts in the oval office.

Update: Washington Post Issues Correction to Story on Pentagon IG Report