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Scales Scales Back Others' Overblown Claims

Reported by Nancy - February 16, 2005 -

Last night (2/15) on Special Report, the one-on-one interview guest was Maj Gen (ret) Bob Scales, who coolly & calmly debunked the notion that there are 136,000 Iraqi troops fully trained but at the same time noted that significant progress has been made.

The first part of the program was the usual reports from the usual suspects: 6:01pm (all times ET) - Carl Cameron re Syria; 6:05pm - Eric Shawn re Oil For Food [comment: the "report" was Shawn chanelling Norm Coleman propaganda/personal opinons]; 6:09pm - Carolyn Shively reported from Baghdad re post-election "horsetrading" in Iraq; 6:12pm - Brit Hume re Chertoff being confirmed as new head of Homeland Security -- with a swipe at "some" Dems who questioned whether he had a role in "harsh interrogation methods" [comment: nice euphemism for "torture"]; 6:14pm - Jim Angle re Greenspan testifying to Cong tomorrow - "drumbeat against personal accounts in Social Security"

At 6:20pm, in the one-on-one interview segment, Hume showed a clip of Rumsfeld saying that Gen Petraeus says there are 136,000 Iraqis who have been trained for police or military functions. Hume noted that other estimates have been significantly lower, & interviewed Bob Scales (Maj Gen, US Army, ret) for a more realistic assessment. Scales said there are 4,000-6,000 Iraqis who are fully trained, fully equipped & with transportation, with another 8,000-40,000 still in "unit training." He pointed out that the biggest variable in these troops' readiness is leadership. Hume commented that "we could be there 15 years" if Scales's assessment is correct. Scales also noted that the US military "mission is changing", shifting from close combat to supporting (advising/trainining) Iraqis so that will mean fewer US personnel exposed to risk. He ended on a positive note, saying that "now they [Iraqis] have something to fight for."
[Comment: Good use of this interview segment. Scales is knowledgeable & well-informed, with access to current info, & Hume let him talk without a lot of interruptions. I have seen Scales before when he has come across as hawkish, even bloodthirsty, so it was a pleasure to see him more relaxed & able to convey useful info to viewers. Last week on Fox News Live, Sen Carl Levin suggested the same numbers as Scales did: 6,000 -- see my post from Feb 11 for more details of that interview. Keep that number -- 6,000 -- in mind the next time you hear Condi or Wolfie claiming huge numbers.]

The "Grapevine" segment at 6:31pm included: a federal judge says reporters have no constitutional right to have state officials talk to them; a new UCLA study shows that 92% of local newscasts in the 11 biggest markets didn't report on local politics during the run-up to last Nov's elections; Eason Jordan & CNN are trying to "cozy up" to "North Korea's dictatorial regime"; a 6yo in MO violated her school's zero tolerance drug policy by giving a friend a plastic bag filled with dirt & rocks, which apparently looked like a bag of marijuana to someone.

At 6:34pm Brian Wilson reported that the Even Start program is "targeted for extinction" by Bush. Then at 6:37pm Bret Baier reported on the US nuclear weapons stockpile. The military wants to research a "robust nuclear earth penetrator" While noting that the US (alone among nations with nuclear weapons) does not have current production capabilities for a complete nuclear weapon, Baier added [comment: to his credit] that "we already have more than3,000" nuclear weapons, which is enough to destroy the world many times over.

The "All-Stars" segment began at 6:40pm, & the first topic was the investigation into who leaked Valerie Plame's ID to the press, with reference to the ruling that journalists Matt Cooper (Time) & Judith Miller (NYT) must testify to the grand jury. Mort Kondracke said he doubted whether a crime had been committed, &
Fred Barnes said that Cooper & Miller are "peripheral to the real case" because it was Bob Novak column that "mentioned her [Plame's] name." Mara Liasson wondered whether Novak has been subpoenaed by the grand jury (Kondracke called that "a mystery") & noted that he previously said it wasn't Lewis Libby who leaked it to him. Hume asked "Have you ever seen a leak investig succeed?" Kondracke said no, & the others were equally doubtul. Kondracke speculated whether the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, was "hotdogging" regardless of the wreckage he leaves in his wake, or if the NYTimes & TIME are "playing First Amend hardball." This opened the door for Barnes to call Fitzgerald a "classic runaway prosecutor."

The second topic (6:52pm) was Bush's renomination of judges (e.g., Priscilla Owens, Janet Brown) previously rejected by Congress. Hume said that GOPs are planning a "powerplay" to change rules re filibusters & asked "Will it happen? Should they do it?" Kondracke noted that Dems say if GOPs do that, they will block everything & "close the place down" but said that "something has happened" because "there was an election" & "Bush won." He felt that Dems should "reserve" the filibuster for the "most extreme" nominees & that they should "use persuasion" to help people see why they object to nominees. Liasson pointed out that filibusetr is one of tools a minority party has & wondered what the consequeces of either a filibuster or the "nucl option" might be. Barnes drew a distinction [comment: artificial, imho] between appellate court nominees & SCOTUS nominees.

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