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Falla-la-la-la-la-lujah!

Reported by Nancy - December 23, 2004 -

Amidst much bloviating about the attack in Mosul, complete with speculation about another "operation" like Fallujah & not-so-veiled attacks on Rumsfeld, FNL today (12/23) couldn't resist yet more "is Christmas under attack?" non-stories.

In the Mosul/Rumsfeld category were the following items:

At 10:59am (all times ET) Greg Kelly reported on the Mosul bomb, noting that the group (Ansar el Sunnah) that took responsibility for the attack claims that the bomber had worked at the base for 4 months. He showed a clip of a doctor from Landstuhl military hospital in Germany talking about the wounded. Kelly said the problem is "using Iraqi workers." Kelly essentially repeated this report at 12:07pm. Immediately following this, at 11:01am, Brigitte Quinn said a wire service is reporting that 3 Marines have been killed in western Iraq, no details.

At 11:17am, Quinn interviewed Michael O'Hanlon (Brooking Inst) about the attack in Mosul. Quinn opened by asking whether, based on what we now know, we can expect an offensive in Mosul like the one in Fallujah. O'Hanlon said he didn't know, it's hard to find "resistance fighters" because they're immersed in a friendly sympathetic culture. Quinn asked if the bomber was a "double agent" & O'Hanlon said it "looks like that", but it's all speculation now. He said this affects the military everywhere, so there must be a complete review of procedures. Quinn asked if we should rethink going into Fallujah if one of the results is what's happening in Mosul. O'Hanlon said that attacks in Mosul have "been increasing for quite some time, not just the past few weeks", & likened the insurgency to a "cancer eating away at the rest of the country."

At 11:23am, Quinn wondered "can we expect more homicide attacks?" & interviewed Jerrold Post (GWU political psychologist) & Edward Turzanski (national security analyst). Turzanski said "they desperately want to prevent election", "the person who did this attack was never with us, they used us," we were trying to use Iraqis to do the "heavy lifting" of fighting the insurgents. Quinn wondered how you can cope with someone who "slips within the circle of trust." Post didn't respond directly, instead commenting on the use of "suicide bomber" vs "homicide bomber", saying "they" feel it's not suicide, it's "martyrdom" & citing 3 elements contributing to that: 1) a culture that values martyrdom; 2) an org that sees it as a valuable strategy; & 3) alienated individuals. Quinn asked if elections happen, "might violence subside?" Turzanski said "not immediately" & noted that "their intel about our tactics is better than" ours. He said the key is to get Iraqis to do effective military & police work.

At 11:33am Andrew Stack reported from Baghdad about "mopping up" in Fallujah, using F-18s, tanks & artillery. He also mentioned that the Fallujah police chief has resigned, raids netted 43 suspects south of Baghdad, there was a suicide car bomb attack in western Baghdad & suspects have been arrested in the Kerbala car bomb attack. Stack essentially repeated this report at 12:36pm.

At 11:35am, following a clip of Rumsfeld saying he's staying, John Scott interviewed Bill Kristol (Weekly Standard & FNC regular) about Rumsfeld. Kristol said Rumsfeld has "consistently miscalculated" since 4/03, & has given Bush "wrong advice." He said it's "nothing personal" but a "fresh face" is needed. Scott asked what that "fresh face" would tell Bush, send more troops? Kristol said "we have 4.5 million troops, we could increase number of troops in theater, but Rumsfeld is "so committed" to a swift small army that he's "trying to do Bush foreign policy with a Clinton-sized army". Kristol also said we should be having a "substantive" debate about this because "it's silly to pretend all decisions made for the past 18 months have been good." Scott asked whether Rumsfeld bought himself some time. Kristol responded that he thinks it's time to get "fresh faces" but "I've been wrong about Rumsfeld so far". Kristol said that Bush will have to make a decision by Feb & it "can't be out of bounds to debate it" now.

At 12:16pm, Scott interviewed Van Hipp (former Asst Secy of Army) about the military funding a "hi-tech" program to detect bombs on people's bodies. It turns out he's talking about thermal technology, & it also turns out that this is one of Hipp's pet ideas -- he was very gung ho about it, saying "we need to deploy this stuff like yesterday". When Scott asked why it isn't already depoyed, Hipp said there's a "real disconnect between those who are developing technology & those charged with deploying that technology." When Scott asked how many systems have been built, Hipp didn't answer directly but claimed that "within a short time they could have 100-150 systems up & working." Scott asked whether nobody at the Pentagon "has given the green light" & Hipp agreed, emphasizing again that "we've got to get cracking" on this.

Subsequently, Scott interviewed Sen Orrin Hatch (R-UT) & Sen Ben Nelson (D-NB) at 12:23pm about "Bush wants to send another $80 billion of your tax dollars to Iraq" & whether Congress was likely to authorize that spending [comment: short answer - yep]. they will]. When Scott brought up thermal technology, wondering whether it was a budget issue or a bureaucracy issue, Hatch said the military has only "recent prototypes" that might or might not be ready to be deployed. He also defended Rumsfeld, saying "that's why Rumsfeld is so important, [because of] his efforts to get rid of bureacracy", & "Rumsfeld is a proven leader."

In the "Christmas under attack" category, there were multiple tabloid teasers ( "how some school are taking the Christ out of Christmas carols"; "wait till ya hear about the war that's raging overseas" about Christmas symbols; "Christmas decorations & symbols are generating a lot of heat"; "we'll tell you how Christians are under attack all over the globe"; "celebrating Christmas isn't always easy, we'll tell ya where the holy holiday gets the roughest reception"; "campaign to dilute Christmas well under way in the US" but there's a "world-wide crisis going on among Christians") plus the following items:

At 11:41am, Quinn said a school district in AZ dropped carols, introducing a report from William LaJeunesse, who said that "some parents don't have a problem balancing Kwanzaa & Hannukah with Christmas", but for "some" any mention of Christmas must be banned. To a background of children singing a carol, he said that carols have been "stricken from playlists across the country" & that in Mesa AZ some songs are off limits & concerts must be 50% "secular". He also said that the words "Merry Christmas" are protected speech but wondered "can schools strike a balance?" & signed off saying there will be "Jingle Bell Rock but no Joy to the World" this year.

Finally, to cap it all off, at 12:56pm, Scott noted that it's "tougher & tougher to celebrate Christmas in this country" & interviewed Michelle Malkin [comment: rabid reactionary so-called "journalist"] about her column in the paper this morning. Malkin said the "war on Christmas [in the US] is very important" & she characterized it as "secularist grinches gone wild" but "we need to keep it in perspective" because "as much as Christians here feel persecuted, it's nothing compared to pesecution around the world." Scott asked about missionaries who were killed in Iraq, & Malkin called them "dedicated, good Americans" who "have gone to Iraq to bear witness." She added that it's not just "Islamist persecution in the Middle East" but also "totatlitarian regimes like Vietnam & North Korea" who are "torturing people for simply possessing a Bible". Scott, apparently in ref to her article, asked whether the "money that pays for this comes from Saudi Arabia" & Malkin agreed, noting that rebels waging war in Nigeria are funded by Saudi Arabia. Scott ended by saying we should "just be glad we can say Merry Christmas without someone pulling out a gun" & Malkin said "Amen."