Thursday, June 28, 2007

The last journalist in Washington, DC

Glenn Greenwald posts a short interview with Helen Thomas, who appears to be the only reporter in Washington these days with any balls... ironic, isn't it?

Of course, she's been treated shamelessly by this shameless administration - a respected veteran White House correspondent moved to the back row of the press gallery in a schoolyard show of pique that is all too expected from these petty tyrants. Her crime? Insisting on asking real questions and refusing to get on the March To A Just War bandwagon.

But Helen is one of those people who seem to gain a little more stature every time some lesser minion tries to put her in her place. That's a talent that you earn through one quality and one quality only - integrity.

She is still asking the real questions. White House Press Briefing, June 20, 2007:

Q: A study shows that Iraq is the second-most unstable country in the world. Do we have anything to do with that?

MR. SNOW: Do we have anything to do with that? Yes, I saw the study --

Q: -- the killing?

MR. SNOW: We don't -- I'm not sure I got the --

Q: I'm talking about Petraeus, also, intensifying -- is he trying to build a kill record before September?

MR. SNOW: No. No. In point of fact, Helen, if you take a look at the record of the last two months, the people who have been trying to put together the kill record are al Qaeda. Go to the mosques --

Q: Is everybody who resists our occupation a terrorist?

MR. SNOW: Do you think somebody who goes in and blows up 50 people in a mosque is resisting occupation?

Q: What have we done for five years?

MR. SNOW: What we have been trying to do is to work with folks to deal with a highly volatile situation in Iraq in the wake of a murderous regime --

Q: We've killed thousands of people, tens of thousands --

MR. SNOW: Many have died, and hundreds of thousands died under the previous regime. This is a place that has too long been wracked by violence. And the fact that in fighting --

Q: We're not supposed to be comparing, are we?

MR. SNOW: Unfortunately, if we fought evil guys who simply would say, you caught us, we're evil, we give up, we'll be good -- that would be great, that would be wonderful.

Q: Everybody isn't evil who fights for his land.

MR. SNOW: A lot of the people we're talking about, Helen, aren't fighting for their land, because it's not their land. They don't even come from Iraq.

Q: Are we fighting Iraqis, inherently, in their own country?

MR. SNOW: Are we fighting Iraqis inherently? I think if you take a look at what General Petraeus is saying, is that increasingly Iraqis are joining with us to defend their country from the onslaught of outside fighters, whether they be from al Qaeda or Iran.

Q: Good, but we have to admit we're killing a lot of Iraqis who are against our presence.

MR. SNOW: I'm not sure. I mean, that requires the kind of canvas of those who have died that I'm not capable of doing.
Molly Ivins is gone. God help us when Helen Thomas retires.

ronnie

Labels: ,

17 Comments:

Anonymous Rob Wynne said...

Glenn Greenwald posts a short interview with Helen Thomas, who appears to be the only reporter in Washington these days with any balls... ironic, isn't it?

They're Richard Nixon's Press Secretary's. She keeps them in a jar in her purse.

Great lady.

8:08 AM  
Anonymous Dann said...

She traded her brains to get 'em. Right around the time when she stopped being a journalist and started being an advocate for the other side.

Regards,
Dann

10:41 AM  
Blogger Brent McKee said...

I do love how some people on the Right come out of the woodwork when you mention someone like Helen Thomas - if you're not for us you deserve only ridicule. She has of course been vilified by the American Right with the charge led by Anne Coulter who frequently refers to Thomas as "that old Arab" (Helen Thomas is of Lebanese descent). There's a word for women like Coulter, but to quote The Women "It's not used in high society...outside of a kennel."

Speaking of Anne Coulter, you may remember Lydia Cornell (but probably not). She was in the TV Too Close For Comfort where she played the stereotypical "dumb blonde." She's anything but. She's had a number of run-ins with Coulter, one of which culminated with Coulter posting Cornell's home phone number on the Internet in an article she wrote. Anyway, Cornell has a blog you might be interested in:

http://www.lydiacornell.com/blog.html

Well worth I look I think.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Xtreme English said...

good for you, mckee!!! i never know wot to say to right-wing commenters on ronniecat's posts--other than STFU. it needs someone much more articulate than me. thanks!!

9:37 PM  
Blogger Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

If there are refutations to Thomas' statements, Snow sure didn't know them. After reading ronnie's excerpt i thought, 'Poor guy is too sick and not up to the job.' Then i read the whole thing. He was fine, he'd done his homework, he gave intelligent clear answers to the stem cell q's, but then Thomas turned him into a stammering idiot.

What this has to do with whether Thomas is an advocate or a journalist is: Questioning can only get us closer to the truth either way. The B.AD. will be exposed as a travesty, or it will refute Thomas' statements with facts that blow those questions, and her POV, out of the water. (crickets chirping)

Either way, the purpose of journalism will be served, so i'd call her a journalist.

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Dann said...

She's a journalist. She's supposed to ask questions, not make statements.

She had no new information. All she was doing was asking questions/making statements that she has asked/made a thousand times before and apparently somehow expected to get a different answer this time around.

What sort of question is:

"I'm talking about Petraeus, also, intensifying -- is he trying to build a kill record before September?"

And perhaps if she was up on the most recent developments, she'd know that this question:

"Is everybody who resists our occupation a terrorist?"

....is a steaming pile as the legally elected representative government of Iraq voted to ask us to stay.

Ms. Thomas could simply ask "Is [fill in adminstration figure's name] evil?" once a day and it would have the same relavance to the real world as the rest of her questions.

Tony Snow is a nice guy. Nice guys aren't rude to old ladies displaying the early stages of senility.

2:03 AM  
Anonymous Sister said...

There's being a reporter, and then there's being rude and ignorant. In my correspondance class, we learned it's very poor work to badger someone and not even allow them to answer the questions posted to them. If she wants to make a point, she should learn some simple manners first.

6:02 PM  
Blogger ronnie said...

ronnie said...
Dann,
Tony Snow isn't a "nice guy". He's the front-room liar for an administration which has sent 3,000 Americans and I don't know how many other NATO soldiers to their death based on bald-faced lies which they knew to be lies that they told us, who have turned one of a number of unhappy little dictatorships into the "2nd most unstable place on earth", and who continue to spy on their own citizens with impunity, while secretly deporting the citizens of other countries, such as Maher Arar, to foreign countries to be tortured.

I can respect my political foes even when I disagree with them. To say that Thomas "traded her brains" is pretty petty when she is clearly an intelligent woman and has been one of the finest journalists of her generation.

As for, "Is everybody who resists our occupation a terrorist?", I'd like to hear an answer to that question. Do you have one? I notice that now the White House has started reporting that everyone they kill is not only a terrorist but an "Al Quaida terrorist". O RLY? And they know this how, all of a sudden? You know as well as I do that the change in terminology is because more and more of the resistance to them is local and home-grown, and they're trying to deflect that.

He shouldn't be questioned, he should be roast over a spit.

Sis, we're in a war here. These bastards are not answering the questions and Helen Thomas is one of a tiny handful of people even asking them. Manners? You don't worry about manners when you're trying to get answers to why your citizens are coming home in boxes for nothing because of lies (Iraq had WMD, Saddam funded Al Quaida, Iraq had a sophisticated nuclear program - all outright lies they knew were lies) and thousands of Iraqi civilians continue to die. Can you imagine the daily misery that life in Iraq is now? Shouldn't somebody be asking rude and ignorant questions on their behalf?

This gang have ridden far too long on people being scared to be seen as rude and ignorant post 9-11 and demand answers about a phony, unwinnable "War on Terror". Tony Snow isn't fit to lick Helen Thomas's boot. And yet she can't get a single answer out of him, which is why she keeps re-asking the questions. Deflect, deflect, deflect.

They should've had the manners not to put the most senior White House Correspondent in the back row of the press gallery (she'd sat front-center, because of her seniority, for years) because she had the balls to ask about all the things that smelled wrong about this clusterfuck in Iraq in the first place.

(Incidentally if you watch a lot of White House press conferences, you'll see that the cross-talk and cutting each other off is not at all unique to Thomas, and is more a result of the format - a bit like a Canadian press scrum - than a formal sit-down interview.)

I think that sums up my feelings nicely :) Continue discussing amongst yourselves.

6:34 PM  
Blogger Sherwood Harrington said...

I would express my wholehearted agreement with what ronnie just said, adding only, "WOO-HOO!! You GO, girl!" but I live south of the border and don't want to run the risk of having my hard drive confiscated. That's where all my pictures of my dogs are, after all.

9:04 PM  
Blogger ronnie said...

Sherwood,
Like the master print of Michael Moore's "Sicko", you could send a backup to Canada for safekeeping. I know of one Canadian household which would volunteer to store your files :)

9:40 PM  
Anonymous Dann said...

Hoo, boy. Where to start...

With respect to Ms. Thomas, I'm sorry but her behavior is the basis of my assertion. Her lips are the first time I have heard the words "kill record" with respect to any campaign in the larger war against terrorism. One should be forgiven for suggesting that rather than attempting to discover news, she is instead trying to create it.

As for "Is everybody who resists our occupation a terrorist?", here's my response. No.

That being said, what is the objective of the largely Sunni former regime elements? What is the objective of the Iranian funded and equipped Shiite militias? Is it to liberate the people of Iraq from an oppressor? Is it to foster and support democracy? Is it to defend the rights of the ordinary Iraqi citizen?

Or is it to install or re-install some murderous regime? Is it to create a theocratic state in the image of Iran or Afghanistan under the Taliban? Do we really want to hand Iraq over to people that purposefully bomb innocent civilians?

The coalition's purpose for remaining in Iraq is to give the majority of moderate Iraqis the opportunity to build a government that can sustain itself while embracing western democratic values. Values that the vast majority of Iraqis have embraced by virtue of the successful national elections.

I think you are correct. We are in a war. One not of our choosing. One that was foisted upon us by extremists.

Leaving Iraq prematurely will not reduce deaths in that country. It will increase them. It will not support the moderate Muslims and their attempts at democracy. It will undermine them.

Most importantly, it will not halt the growth of fundamentalist extremism. It will fan those flames of hatred until the Middle East is consumed in a conflagration the size of which dwarfs that which has passed thus far.

Regardless of how we got there, the fact remains that leaving before the job is finished will not make anything better. It will make many things worse.

Regards,
Dann

12:10 AM  
Blogger ronnie said...

With respect to Ms. Thomas, I'm sorry but her behavior is the basis of my assertion. Her lips are the first time I have heard the words "kill record" with respect to any campaign in the larger war against terrorism. One should be forgiven for suggesting that rather than attempting to discover news, she is instead trying to create it.

She is asking about "kill records" because the US military has begun announcing numbers of "Al Quaida terrorists" killed in firefights. This is a quiet reversal of a policy, designed to limit comparisons with Vietnam, that stipulated they did not do so. That is news.

I heard a Canadian general asked by a reporter a few weeks ago how many Taliban fighters had been killed after a particular engagement. He replied, "The Canadian military does not report body counts. The US military does, but that is decision that they have made and we do not do that." That's what first got me noticing the trend - and its reversal from reports in the first years of the war. Helen Thomas was getting at something with that question. Are the numbers of dead bodies now to be our measure of success in Iraq?

As for "Is everybody who resists our occupation a terrorist?", here's my response. No.

That being said, what is the objective of the largely Sunni former regime elements?


The right, for a collective which refused to entertain the prospect that this would devolve into a civil war, are now certainly fascinated with the minutae of who will make up its players -- largely in support of the argument that we can't leave.

Of course, the corollary is that since the factions are never, ever going away, but that the number of radicals has been increased exponentially by the occupation, we must, I presume, accept that the US is never, ever going to be able to leave Iraq. Ever.

The coalition's purpose for remaining in Iraq is to give the majority of moderate Iraqis the opportunity to build a government that can sustain itself while embracing western democratic values. Values that the vast majority of Iraqis have embraced by virtue of the successful national elections.

Our occupation has ensured that the number of moderate Iraqis - that is, if your definition of "moderate" is "not seriously interested in murdering Iraqis of other factions or NATO soldiers" - becomes smaller daily. The scenario you describe is sheer fantasy.

I think you are correct. We are in a war. One not of our choosing. One that was foisted upon us by extremists.

Another outright lie of the Bush administration. If the US was fighting the war you correctly note was "foisted on us by extremists", they would've gone into Afghanistan like Satan come to claim his own and not given up until they had Bin Laden in chains and humiliated before his network. Instead, they took a side trip to their real destination - going after "the guy that tried to kill my Dad".

Who in Iraq, pray, foisted war on the US? (I am going to be forced to dock you points if you try again to pretend that Hussein supported al-Quaida financially, which the 9/11 Report specifically found to be untrue.)

Leaving Iraq prematurely will not reduce deaths in that country. It will increase them. It will not support the moderate Muslims and their attempts at democracy. It will undermine them.

I was of this mindset ("you broke it - you fix it") until I began to realize that the US's presence in the country continues to do so much damage that the best thing it can do is to leave now. Every single day more and more young Iraqis and Muslims have reason to hate the US. The occupation of Iraq is a terrorist-creating machine, and the US leaving - and letting the inevitable bloodbath occur and be done with - is starting to look like the only option for not making things worse. I am ashamed that it has come to that.

Most importantly, it will not halt the growth of fundamentalist extremism. It will fan those flames of hatred until the Middle East is consumed in a conflagration the size of which dwarfs that which has passed thus far.

Incorrect - see above. The US presence is the fan.

Regardless of how we got there, the fact remains that leaving before the job is finished will not make anything better. It will make many things worse.

The sad thing is that you believe the lies of this administration to the point where you believe that "the job" of democratizing Iraq, western-style, can be "finished" through a hated occupation that breeds new suicide bombers, in Iraq and overseas (see UK) every single day.

As always, I appreciate the civility of your debate. I hope my anger does not express itself as in any way being directed at you; but I do hate the fact that this administration's lies and manipulations can be convincing enough to completely fool someone as fundamentally decent and intelligent as you.

ronnie

4:44 PM  
Blogger ronnie said...

PS Rob, I have neglected to mention that your comment literally made me laugh out loud.

Brent, thanks a million for the introduction to Lydia Cornell. She is now on my must-read list.

ronnie

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Dann said...

Hooboy....

1, A, First and foremost, thanks for your kind conclusion of your last comment. I can sense your frustration as expressed in your later post. I don't mean to cause you any undue stress. If I am, then just tell me to knock it off. I can just as easily make snarks about Canada putting all Canadian holidays a few days before the American versions just to make us Yanks look like copycats. [grin] Christmas on the 3rd of December. Who'd a thunk it!

- Ms. Thomas and "kill records". Then she should have asked the entirely reasonable question as to the reasoning behind the change in policy instead of slurring a gentleman with a sterling military career that is attempting to move towards a solution to the problem.

- US presence and "the fan". Part of the past problem is that the coalition was trying to minimize casualties [generally a good thing] but were doing so at the price of operational effectiveness. IMO, that combat configuration [lots of forces behind walls] WAS inflammatory. It had the dual purpose of yielding the field to the terrorists/insurgents while irritating the much larger moderate population.

Since leaving those fortified compounds behind and engaging both the enemy and the Iraqis, the number of Iraqi deaths has gone down and the number of safe havens for terrorists has gone way down. Someone once noted that it takes on average about 10 years to defeat an insurgency. Part of that it learning [or re-learning] the tactics that work best to undermine the insurgency. Another part of it is that sometimes it takes that long for people to get tired of fighting.

I would suggest that you take a look at Michael Yon's site and read some of his dispatches. From his perspective, the surge is working. Also from his perspective, Al Qa'ida wore out its welcome among the Iraqis some time ago. As a result, many of the native insurgent groups are flipping over to work with the coalition to drive out foreign terrorists and stabilize their respective regions in Iraq.

It is waaayyy too soon to tell if the surge will have the desired result.

Also of value are Michael Totten, J.D. Johannes, and the list of milblogger's on J.D.'s site.

If all I ever got was the news as presented by CBC, CNN, FoxNews, NYTimes, etc., then I might share your perspective.

[Of course stopping by my place once in a while might lead to news you can use from time to time as well.][grin]

- The larger problem exists within the rough boundary of northeastern Africa on the west; Syria, Iran, and Afghanistan on the north; Afghanistan and Pakistan on the east; and Saudi Arabia on the south. Every country within that area is part of the problem of Islamic extremism. Some, like Kuwait, Bahrain, and the UAE, are dominated by moderates that don't tolerate that sort of thing.

The rest are either dictatorships or theocracies that maintain their hold on power by demanding that their respective populations remain poor and powerless and then blame those conditions on the US. They use support for terrorism as a sort of relief valve. IMO, that condition MUST change. And we can't change it from this side of the Atlantic.

I could go on, but I don't want to be pesterful. Thanks again for being a gracious host to ne'er-do-wells such as myself.

Regards,
Dann

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Sister said...

Well, as I have said before, sadly, you and I don't see eye to eye on the whole Afghanistan - maybe because until I was 17 I was going to enter the Army but health reasons kept me out. But disagreeing is fine too, as long as no one is nasty about it. And sadly, that's what I see. I find the whole thing confusing, because I have 5 friends over in Afghanistan that feel they should be there, that say they ARE helping, especially the women getting women's rights. I find it confusing that these wars are going on, and no one is consulting the actual ones there. I dunno. But I feel, deep in my heart, that being nasty about it doesn't win you any brownie points. When I hear someone talking the way that reporter was talking, I tend to turn off the TV, whereas if I hear someone debating the war with all their heart, but being polite about it, I tend to listen. These people don't realize they're not helping their cause. They're coming off as bullies, ane the only ones listening are those who already feel the same way. This reporter should stop preaching to the preachers.
Please keep in mind I'm not talking about Iraq. That's a whole other kettle of fish.

6:08 PM  
Blogger ronnie said...

Hey Sis,
I appreciate the follow-up.

I think you may be mis-remembering things. You and I never disagreed on Afghanistan; you said that you supported the invasion of Iraq (which seems to have changed) and that's what you and I were in disagreement about while you were visiting.

I supported the action in Afghanistan because a) that's where Bin Laden supposedly was and b) of what the Taliban was doing to women. In fact I was part of womens' groups lobbying action on the Taliban long BEFORE September 11!

As of now I have moved from "supportive" of the Afghanistan mission to "ambivalent". (My support for the forces serving there is unconditional and unwavering.) The problem there is "mission drift" - they were sent to rebuild a nation and instead are fighting a shooting war, and shouldn't somebody at least ask Canadians if that's what we want them doing? Because it's not what we understood we were signing on for, initially.

But Iraq is an unmitigated disaster and that's what Thomas was addressing. I would probably disapprove of someone having that same conversation with Harper about Afghanistan. But it was entirely appropriate given the context.

But it's well past time for Harper to put the mission in Afghanistan to a parliamentary vote, because the mission has drifted badly and we need to decide whether we are being fair to those soldiers by leaving them there.

ronnie

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Dann said...

As of now I have moved from "supportive" of the Afghanistan mission to "ambivalent". (My support for the forces serving there is unconditional and unwavering.) The problem there is "mission drift" - they were sent to rebuild a nation and instead are fighting a shooting war, and shouldn't somebody at least ask Canadians if that's what we want them doing? Because it's not what we understood we were signing on for, initially.

Curiously, there was a story last Thursday night on our local NPR station about the shift in Canadian attitudes about Afghanistan. It sounded like 2009 or 2010 would be the end of the Canadian mission precisely because of what Ronnie said above.

The only problem is that the coalition in Afghanistan doesn't have the option of either fighting the Taliban or rebuilding the country. Not fighting the Taliban will erode Afghan support for rebuilding. Not rebuilding the country will validate the Taliban's claims about the west and western interests.

The only option is to both with all that we have.

Regards,
Dann

2:27 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home