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John Gibson's non-factual report furthers the administration's "big story"

Reported by Chrish - March 1, 2005

On Big Story w/John Gibson 3/1/05, Stephen F Hayes was brought on to the show as follows: "Now Osama Bin Laden is calling for the leader of Al Queda in Iraq, the head-chopper Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, to attack outside Iraq and inside the United States. So how much do we have to worry about this latest threat? Stephen Hayes is a staff writer at the Weekly Standard; he's the author of "The Connection : How al Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America". So Stephen, do you take this very seriously, that Bin Laden, from a cave someplace has gotten word out to Zarqawi, y'know, go for the homeland...?"

Stephen thinks we have to take all these kinds of reports seriously. One "could be encouraged" that OBL is asking AZ, who has "waged a fairly successful terrorist campaign" to shift targets. He wonders, why would OBL be asking AZ to do that if he had access or the ability to ask other terrorist leaders in the US? AZ has been successful, so OBL is turning to him.

Gibson asks "Does this amount to an admission that Bin Laden does not have sleeper cells in the US and he cannot activate them and he is powerless at this point to strike the US?

Hayes replied we must be very careful ever declaring OBL powerless; he has been severely crippled in coordinating attacks because he is holed up. "We" think we've got him in a 25-30km diameter circle, we have a good idea where he is, US intelligence thinks it's just a matter of time before we have him. His asking AZ for help may indicate he thinks AZ has a better network to activate than he himself does.

Gibson then asks: How can Zarqawi transform a bunch of Saudi, Yemeni, Sudanese jihadis in Iraq into normal, tourist-looking people to gain access to the US and carry out an attack here?"

Hayes replies that AZ probably has cells here; Gibson is surprised, "Zarqawi?!"

Hayes reiterates that AZ is an effective and transnational terrorist leader. The question is whether he has people in the US; Hayes would suspect he does.

Gibson asks, Does this suggest to you at all that the insurgency in Iraq has not met OBL's expectations in derailing democracy and he wants AZ to move on, or is he helpless about attacking the US and has to go to his best guy?

Hayes thinks a little of both. He says "There's no question that Bin Laden, by asking AZ to redirect his efforts, if that's in fact what happened, seems to be reaching out and trying to do other things; certainly the elections in Iraq would suggest they haven't been effective in derailing democracy there."
Gibson thanks him, repeating that he's from the Weekly Standard and the author of "The Connection : How al Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America".

Comments: Neither time that the title was given did Gibson mention that the book is published by HarperCollins, a NewsCorp holding and sister company to FNC. See the Hegemony category for instances we've caught of this cross-promotion.

Hayes comment "if that's in fact what happened," put the whole segment in perspective. There was no reporting, no sourcing, no facts, no dates...just a conversation full of speculation about something that might have happened. Was there an email? Something on a website? A carrier pigeon? A leak? A news conference? A phone call? There was nothing here but reiteration of the suspicions that there are terrorist cells in the US, OBL wants us to be attacked here again, and we're closing in on him. I'll have to go to other sources to get any hard information; from this all you get is anxiety.
The teasers for the segment referred to "terrorist chatter" and OBL "reaching out" to terrorists but gave no further information.

This current event, "if that's in fact what happened," and the appearance of this author and repeated mention of his book's long, administration affirming title, will reinforce the ill-informed Fox viewers' opinion that Al Queda and Saddam Hussein are linked and we were going after the guys who attacked us 9/11 when we invaded Iraq.

And I can't help but wonder what a "normal tourist" looks like - European? We all know how John feels about them. Who wouldn't John find suspect? This subtle racism must be acceptable to Fox viewers as there seems to be no end to it.

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