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Bush Administration Calls in Markers and FOX News Obliges

Reported by Marie Therese - February 21, 2006

Like a well-oiled machine, the FOX & Friends three-hour early morning lineup sets the tone and rolls out the themes of the day, as handed down from on high by John Moody (after consultation with the White House?). This morning was no exception. Peppered throughout the three hour show were loads of pro-Bush talking points, as FOX News hopped on the "support Bush" bandwagon and twisted itself into a pretzel as it tried to defend a major lapse in sanity on the part of the Bush administration.


This was a continuation of the damage control on the question of the Dubai Ports International. Lots of fast footwork on display in a desperate attempt to change the minds of the Republican base, which by and large sees George Bush's support for the Dubai takeover as a betrayal of one of the core tenets of the the "global war on terror" - that we are safe at home because Big Daddy George is working day in and day out to keep the war "over there" instead of "over here." Confidence has been eroded by revelations that Treasury Secretary John Snow's former company realized a big profit from a deal with DPI shortly before he was appointed Treasury Secretary.

Yesterday morning E. D. Hill summed up one of the new approaches FOX will try out today when she said "But which time was Congress right? When they said we can put together a committee to review it and tell us whether or not it's safe or now when they say 'Wait a second - you reviewed it and you say it's safe but we're still not convinced." If the call-in's were any indication, FOX's fans ain't buyin' it! So football guy Tiki Barber took the cover-our-backside position by saying "It's better to double check and be right than to not and be wrong."

During Monday's show Mancow (looking as thought he'd bitten into three lemons) said that he actually agreed with Hillary Clinton on this one! Republican guest will mostly try to come down on both sides of the issue, whereas - with the exception of Joe Lieberman - Democrats will push for Congressional review and ultimately Congressional action.

This morning (2-21-06) the toxic trio put forth an enhanced list of Bush administration/FOX News talking points on the ports takeover issue.

Talking Point #1 - "It's Just a Change in Management Not a Change in Operations"

KELLY WRIGHT, FOX News White House Correspondent: "Now, Dubai Ports would not provide security at any of these ports. That job will remain and is conducted by the U. S. Coast Guard, Customs and Homeland Security. The employees working at the ports will also remain American longshoremen."

Talking Point #2: "It Will Harm Our Foreign Relations"

The United Arab Emirates has been a very good ally in the war on terror.

KILMEADE: "People get on the President and they say it's not a black and white issue. It should be a nuanced issue. For example, you like the leadership, help 'em out a little bit. And if you come down and rip this contract away, diplomatically it's a disaster."

GREEN: "And, bringing up the other side of that - the issue - is that, you know, who better to vet really the terrorist organizations or elements in Saudi Arabia or in that area but a company who's based in there."


Talking Point #3: "Having It Both Ways"

"A lot of people don't realize that Dubai [sic], which is an oil company - oil country - got most of their wealth by investing in the Untied States. Now, granted, there's a lot of laxity in their security laws and in their banking laws. That's why so much money, perceived, gets laundered through Dubai because it's so easy." (Tiki Barber, 2-21-06)

Talking Point #4: "You Can't Control What's Put into the Cargo Crates"

"But then you're talkin' about where it emanates from, so that's a whole 'nother issue, so I can't control what the British put in there and you know, you can't control what's happenin' out of Jordan. You can't control what's comin' from Australia." (Brian Kilmeade, 2-21-06)

Talking Point #5: "Nobody Else Wants to Do It, Not Even American Companies"

KILMEADE: "Yeah, this Dubai Ports World has now got the bid because this British company was bought by the Dubai Ports World."

BARBER: "No American company bid on this, I think. Correct?

KILMEADE: "Yeah. I mean that's who we had. No American company bids and so this company gets it and they have a thirty year lease sitting in their lap and now, like, basically, the governors and mayors in these cities are sayin': Let's look at these contracts, see if we can break these leases."

Talking Point #6: "The Guys in Charge Are Good People and Are Lookin' Out for You"

This talking point went absolutely nowhere fast, since the guest shot it down. Tiki Barber named "a very good committee" that included Condoleezza Rice, Michael Chertoff, Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales, among others, who made the decision vis a vis the UAE takeover of American ports. He then asked former CIA operative and author Peter Brookes: "Should we be concerned or should we just take it at face value that our government says that this is OK?" Brookes said he thought it was really important for Congress to have oversight and "look at this."

Brookes made the important point that, although the British firm that had the ports contract previously was a PRIVATE company, the new company is a STATE-OWNED entity and that poses some serious questions. He went on to state unequivocally that Congress had to exercise it's right of oversight given the "checkered past" of UAE.

In a later segment, the trio tried to do some damage control by talking up the committee of administration big shots that made the decision to turn port operation over to the government of UAE.

KILMEADE: "Everyone in the administration - big shots.

E. D. HILL: "Big shots. And they have all looked at this deal and they all say it's OK. And you wonder would they do something to make their own jobs more difficult? Homeland Security's even on this. ..."

Later, F&F aired a clip of former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge saying: "There's no way I can sit here and believe that these men and women at this time in our country's history would do anything, anything, to jeopardize this country's security." White House correspondent Kelly Wright even cited former President Jimmy Carter's support for the administration's decision.

In a later segment they rehashed the same arguments, even showing the same Tom Ridge clip.


OK. This one's easy. Karl Rove needed "strong on terror" fear-mongering news story to blunt the effect of the furor over Bush's support of the secret UAE port deal, so FOX & Friends rolled out the old chestnut that has stood the Bushies in good stead for many years, i.e. we're coming close to getting bin Laden.

The F&F trio reported that we nearly got bin Laden four times, even giving Bill Clinton a passing nod for his 1998 attempt. They then went on to report how close we came to kill al Zawahiri in this last Pakistani raid, because one of the 17 people we killed was Zawahiri's son-in-law.

KILMEADE: "We were so close."

BARBER: "He [Zawahiri] said the firing started out front and I ran out the back door!"

KILMEADE: "That was in that tribal region in that Pak area and he went out the back door of a mud hut. I didn't know that mud huts have two doors."

LAUREN GREEN: "The thing that he was telling us, though, is that we were right because remember the January 18th attack, we weren't even sure he was there. He's telling us he was there, so now he's telling us that our information, our intelligence, is correct and it's just a matter of time before he gets his due, I guess."

KILMEADE: "See. This is a boast. I think it heartens us up, saying we're close, our intelligence is working and we're gettin' closer and closer. Remember, we kill every #3 man they get. He's the #2 man and we're almost gettin' him!"


E. D. Hill reported that Zalmay Khalazad, the U. S. Ambassador to Iraq, "made a very pointed statement" to Iraq's leadership. According to Hill the Ambassador issued a warning to Iraq. stating "we're not going to pour hard-earned American dollars if you're going to have a sectarian agenda."

Tiki Barber followed up, saying that we've put a "lot of money" into training Iraqi police and Armed Forces "trying to make this a more responsible country," but the Iraqi leadership seems to be divided among the Sunni, the Kurds and the Shi'a. "and what's happening now is there's a lot of violence, there's a lot of suicide bombings, there's a lot of IEDs out there and, I think, the Americans are finally - we're finally getting fed up with it."

Good shill that he is, Brian Kilmeade jumped right in to elaborate: "December 15th were the elections. They were supposed to form a government. We knew it wasn't goin' to happen overnight, but it's not goin' anywhere. Even amongst the Shi'a they're havin' a problem picking a representative that would end up being - because they're the majority party - the Prime Minister. This guy al-Jaffari's done nothing but divide the country because of his lack of leadership. He gets the job and says 'I would be a lot happier if I didn't get the job.' The Kurds and the Shi'a and the Sunni aren't talkin' and guess what happens? (agitated) Our guys are gettin' killed! Our women are gettin' killed over there because the insurgency's being fueled because they don't trust the political process. You show a coming together and a feeling of inclusion and then things will start to calm down. They also put a warning out to Iran."

Boy, this really got to me! The United States has some nerve to spout this line of hypocrisy when we are single-handedly responsible for opening up the Pandora's box of sectarian strife through an illegal was and its aftermath, i.e. gross mismanagement, stupidity, greed, cronyism, torture and murder. Now we have the nerve to threaten the first democratically elected government of Iraq because they don't want to kiss our hands anymore? What unmitigated gall! As predicted months ago, this is GOP "cut & run" politics. Before he's through, Bush and his dark angels of destruction will try to invade Iran and Syria. And good old FOX News will be right there, cheering them on, using shills like Hill, Kilmeade, Doocy, Barber and Green to manipulate the malleable minds of the morning.


The F&F trio rallied to the defense of their GOP leaders and earned their paychecks by praising Karen Hughes for statements made during an appearance on Al Jazeera TV, namely, that Gitmo detainees are warriors who fought with the Taliban and who will fight again if they are released and American secret detention facilities (which she tacitly admitted exist) have actually stopped attacks within the border of Middle Eastern countries as well as the United States. E. D. Hill then claimed that "a lot of people who have been released from Gitmo" went back onto the battelfield, once they got home. Hill deliberately avoided giving a concrete number of recidivist warriors and did not acknowledge at all that prolonged mistreatment at the hands of American soldiers might induce even an innocent man to take up arms against his captors.

Either E. D. Hill knew full well that she was lying when she said that a lot of Gitmo detainees returned to the battlefield or she's a flack (polite word) who will speak any words her masters feed her on the teleprompter. According to DoD documents, here are some actual statistics on recidivism from Guantanamo:

From July 8, 2004 DoD Press Briefing:

ADM. MCGARRAH:  The current population is about 520.  At its peak, it was over 700.  So 234 have been released, some under the two processes that I oversee, but most under the processes that predated --    Q     Okay.  A quick question on recidivism, your version of it. A few weeks ago, when there was this big debate in Congress about closing Gitmo, in the building here we were told something like 12 or 13 released Gitmo detainees were found back on the battlefield --  

ADM. MCGARRAH:  I did mention that.  There have been a dozen -- about a dozen we know of that have returned to the fight. 
Q     Have they been returned -- well, have any either been killed or returned to Gitmo? 
ADM. MCGARRAH:  I don't know the current disposition of those. We can probably get that for you.  But to my knowledge, none of those 12 have been returned to Gitmo. 
NOTE: The status of the approximately 12 detainees who have returned to terrorism is classified secret and cannot be disclosed for security reasons.
Q     Only about 234, basically, of released -- you've only had about 12, really, that you've found evidence of -- 
ADM. MCGARRAH:  Twelve that we know of.   

By my calculations that represents approximately a 4% rate of return, a figure that hardly justifies Hill's use of the words "a lot" to describe the post-detention situation.

A May 3, 2005 article in Newsweek made a big deal out of the fact that some detainees from a group of 100 detainees had returned to the battlefield. However, on reading through the article DoD could only verify four, one of whom may well have been a hold over from those referred to in the DoD briefing excerpted above. That's still make a very small, almost negligible recidivism rate. Since August 2005 70% of the Gitmo detainees have been repatriated to Afghanistan and other countries.


At 6:26 AM EST Brian Kilmeade said this: "You know what doesn't look good? David Sanborn, who was tapped last month to head the UN [sic - it's actually the United States or U. S.] Maritime Administration, as the head up there, he ran the DP, the Dubai Ports World Europe and Latin American operations. He's with the Administration. Also written up in the Daily News today. [Treasury] Secretary [John] Snow, as Chairman of the CSX rail firm, sold its operations to DP for $1.5 billion in 2004 and then he left to become Secretary of Treasury and then he helped OK this deal with Congressional oversight. So that doesn't look good, even if there's nothing he's up to."


Dubai Ports Executive Mark Dennis has blamed FOX & Friends for starting the DPI firestorm because it was their guest, Sen. Charles Schumer, who announced the UAE connection to port operations during an earlier appearance on the show. The trio discussed an angry e-mail sent to them by Mr. Dennis claiming that no representative of Dubai Ports would appear on their show until they began reporting the news "responsibly."

Barber, Hill and Kilmeade took great umbrage at Dennis' contention that F&F was "mischaracterizing his company."

E. D. HILL: "FOX & Friends, we called and we said to Dubai Ports - World Ports - we want you to come on and we want you to tell us, you know, why this is the great deal and it should go forward and why there should be no concern. And so their response - instead of saying 'Great!' we want to put our side on, which is the fair and balanced thing - they said (reading) 'Not until you responsibly start reporting.'"

Hill went on to say that Dennis assured them that he watched their show and was upset that they did not inform him ahead of time that Sen. Schumer was going to bring it up. Barber explained that "no one knew about this" until a Miami company sued and "said they didn't want to be part of it."

As for me, I couldn't stop laughing at the thought of a Bush-supported conglomerate attacking the Bush-supporting FOX News Channel.

It made my day!

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