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Radical Extremist Opinions Showcased on Special Report

Reported by Nancy - February 8, 2005 -

Last night (2/7) on Special Report, Brit Hume interviewed James Woolsey. Woolsey had some ... er, unusual opinions, & some decidedly unusual ways of expressing them. Otherwise, it was business as usual: quick reports about & superficial commentary on issues the Bush administration deems important.

Opening the hour, at 6:01pm (all times ET), Carl Cameron reported on Bush's budget proposal. Jim Angle followed with a report on Bush's budget proposal. For a change of pace, at 6:12pm, Jennifer Griffin reported on Condi Rice's peregrinations. Then Mike Emanuel reported on the ongoing mess in Iraq.

At 6:20pm, Hume interviewed Woolsey (former director/CIA; current director/Freedom House) about Iran & Iraq. Hume opined that Iran is a paradox because the people love the US but the govt hates the US, then asked if Iraqis want an Islamic constitution. Woolsey said that the history of the Shia is "not theocracy" & claimed that the "crazy mullahs" took over the country. He said Sistani is a better example of the "quietist tradiation" & that if Iraq follows the path Sistani prefers they won't have sharia, with its "discrimination against women." Hume asked about Sistani's health & Woolsey didn't really answer; after noting that Sistani had had to leave the country for medical treatment last year, he went off on a tangent about how Sistani has 3 ayatollahs "subordinate to him." Hume asked if the subordinates were "elected" & Woolsey said they're chosen by other clerics for their scholarship. He said the " 'turban wearers' as they call themselves" didn't run for office in the recent Iraq election. Hume asked if Woolsey meant there was "no reason to fear" an Iranan type of govt. Woolsey laughed & said that while it wasn't impossible, he'd give 8-to-5 odds that it wouldn't happen as long as the "mainline clerics" in Sistani's tradition have influence, & in fact it might "run the other way" & be very secular.

Hume switched to the "ferment in Iran" & Woolsey called Bernard Lewis "our greatest expert", then said that the US is "taking a firm stand" against the "crazy mullahs" there. Hume asked if he thought there would be an uprising in Iran. Woolsey said he didn't know but cited "general strikes in the 20th century" as evidence that Iranians can & will act if they want to. He mentioned an article in this week's "Weekly Standard" & recommended that we should translate Iraqi broadcast Iraq debates i n Farsi

Hume asked if the European efforts to handle Iran's nuclear ambitions were going anywhere. Woolsey said they "won' t turn the whole program off" & called the current state of affairs a "temporary pause." He said that Iran's claim that their nuclear program is for non-military use is a "historic diplomatic move" called "lying through their teeth." Hume asked if there's any hope for revolution in Iran, & Woolsey said that if all we do is hope" that's not much. He mentioned Mark Palmer, a "colleague at Freedom House" who apparently has written a book that says we "must engage" the Iranians. Hume asked how many years it might be before Iran has a bomb & Woolsey said "maybe one or two years."

General comments: Anyone (especially any professional historian) care to comment on Woolsey's assessment of Bernard Lewis's stature? Or on his statement that the Shia don't have a history of theocracy? I was a little surprised that a professional politician like Woolsey would think it appropriate to use phrases like "crazy mullahs" & "lying through their teeth", but not at all surprised that Hume didn't object.

There was one further segment that should be noted: at 6:36pm Hume noted that Rumsfeld had appeared on "Meet the Press" & said Rumsfeld had to have known Tim Russert would bring up the incident where a soldier questioned Rumsfeld about lack of armor. Hume played a video clip showing that incident, then played a 3-minute clip of Rumsfeld's appearance on "Meet the Press" that include Rumsfeld's response to Russert, basicaly complaining that "the media" took snippets of his answer to the soldier out of context. Rumsfeld insisted on reading the entire exchange, & Hume played all of it.

General comments: This is "news"? That a Bush admin official appeared on a news program on a different network? Looks like this was a win-win for Fox: free air time for the Bush admin, plus a "disinterested" third party (Rummy) doing some media-bashing. If you missed either Rumsfeld's response to Russert or Hume's replaying of it, note that the transcript Rumsfeld read did, in fact, include the infamous "you go to war with the army you've got" line.

NOTE TO READERS: The topics are Hume's interview with Woolsey & the re-broadcast of Rumsfeld's interview with Russert. Comments that are off-topic will be deleted.