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"There Is Every Chance We've Created a Petro-Terrorist State in the Middle East. Why Do You Feel Safer?"

Reported by Marie Therese - March 18, 2007 -

On Saturday mornings, as I monitor Forbes on FOX and Cashin' In, I frequently recall a scene from Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons, a magnificent examination of the lengths to which ambitious underlings will go in an effort to facilitate the immoral requests of a rapacious, all-powerful leader. After the protagonist - Sir Thomas More - has successfully and cleverly used British law to save his own life, he is brought down by the lies of courtier Richard Rich, who betrays his mentor for the job of Attorney General of Wales. With a withering look Sir Thomas makes one of my all-time favorite verbal throwdowns: "Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to lose his soul for the whole world ... (pause) ... but for Wales?!"

Each week as the same cast of financial experts go through their predictable puppet dance, I wonder if the money they make is worth the price they have to pay to earn it.

Forbes on FOX is a show that features a panel of Forbes magazine employees, most of whom side with their boss, Steve Forbes. By airing it, FOX News feeds the ego of the rich man and failed Presidential candidate. Of course, in order to be "fair and balanced," FOX allows a lone voice for the "liberal" point of view and that is Forbes Silicon Valley Bureau Chief Quentin Hardy. However, the rest of the panel makes sure his opinion is invalidated, ridiculed and/or interrupted at every conceivable opportunity. I consistently wish Hardy would realize he's working for the wrong company and find himself a better job somewhere else. I think he'd be much happier.

Forbes on FOX is hosted by toothy David Asman - always upbeat, always grinning ear to ear, always asking leading questions designed to elicit responses favorable to the current administration. A self-described evangelical Christian, Asman is bought and paid for and will spout anything his FOX masters tell him to.

Then there's good old Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Jr. himself - the perennial Presidential candidate who in 1996 changed his name to "Steve" in order to fool the electorate into thinking he was a man of the people. It didn't work. In his heart of hearts he's still Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Jr., scion of wealth. CampaignMoney.com lists Forbes Junior as the fourth largest donor to political campaigns in the period 1999 to 2006, with the bulk of it - a staggering total of $7,051,000 - going to the Republican Party in the year 2000.

Yesterday young Malcolm - oops! "Steve" - sang the praises of the war in Iraq as did Senior Editor and sports statistician Mike "Nuke 'Em" Ozanian and Senior Editor Elizabeth MacDonald.

Forbes Managing Editor Dennis Kneale generally sides with his boss, only occasionally venturing into the realm of disagreement. To his credit lately he has been consistent in his disapproval of the war in Iraq and its effects on the economy. Yesterday he went so far as to say that the economy "is going to perform even better" once our soldiers are back home and he bemoaned the half a trillion dollars already spent.

At one point Mike Ozanian actually tried to claim that Saddam Hussein was seeking out nuclear material and argued with Quentin Hardy who kept repeating that what Ozanian said was "not true". And this guy Ozanian is still working at a premier business magazine???!!!

Steve Forbes naturally brought up the "mass murderer" charge against Saddam, which is the one argument that always gets to me.

COMMENT: After the war, as it became more and more obvious that there were no WMDs, Saddam's alleged death tolls went up and up and up. First 100,000, then 200,000, then 300,000, then 400,000 until finally recently Sean Hannity threw out the number one million on an episode of "Hannity's America".

A little research verifies that these numbers are immensely exaggerated. In November 2003, British Prime Minister Tony Blair confidently told his people that 400,000 bodies had been discovered in mass graves in Iraq. Shortly thereafter he was forced to admit that he had been wrong as a result of an investigation done by The Observer, which reported the actual number at 5,000.

There is, however, one massacre that has been documented and for which Saddam was never tried, the one at al-Mahawil. In 1991 Southern Iraq's Shi'a - believing that President George Herbert Walker Bush would support them with military cover - rebelled against Saddam. When the Americans didn't show up, thousands of them were murdered in retaliation. In a piece of Machiavellian strategy, the Bush administration arranged for Saddam to be executed for killing 123 Kurds rather than allowing him to be tried later on far more heinous charges which would have afforded Saddam's defense team the chance to call witnesses like G H. W. Bush Sr. to testify regarding America's ignominious behavior in 1991.

Predictably, Tony Blair's original 400,000 figure is STILL contained on pages 1 and 2 of a USAID report on atrocities in Iraq under Saddam.

This permits pro-war partisans like those working at FOX News to say with "authority" that the federal government reports that there have been 400,000 bodies uncovered in Iraq. So what if Sean Hannity added 600,000 more a few weeks ago? That just means he lumped our kills in with Saddam's to create a nice round number of a million. I can just see the FOX News reasoning at work right now.

It might go something like this:

SEAN: You know, Roger, I need to do something about that nasty figure those left-wing nut jobs are throwing out. They're claiming our guys have killed 600,000 Iraqi civilians and that doesn't look good to my fans.

ROGER: Hey, John, what do you think we ought to do about this?

JOHN: Why not lump the new numbers together with the 400,000 figure from the USAID report? That will give us a cool million and now that Saddam's dead, no one can prove otherwise.

ROGER: Great idea, John! Let's do it. You know, if it hadn't been for Saddam we wouldn't have had to kill all those Iraqis in the first place, so it really is Saddam's fault!

SEAN: Yeah. You're right. So, it's a million bodies now, right?

ROGER: Right. Don't ya' just love it when a plan comes together so neatly? Now if we could just figure out a way to shut down Greenwald, MoveOn, News Hounds and that dumb FOX Attacks site. That would make my day!

Although the conversation above is fictional, I strongly suspect it is not far off the mark and would be all in a day's work on FOX News Channel!

As for the actual number of Iraqis killed by Saddam, about 1/3 of the 270 identified grave sites have been examined and there seems to be a lot fewer bodies being discovered than the massive figures that have been loosely thrown around by virtually everyone on the right side of the aisle!

Later on in the discussion Dennis Kneale noted that there are now far more terrorists in Iraq than there were under Saddam's rule. Quentin Hardy summed it up very well when he said to Mike Ozanian "there Is every chance we've created a petro-terrorist state in the middle east. Why do you feel safer?". In response, Ozanian slid into the old right-wing talking point, saying that "we haven't been attacked since we went on the aggressive (sic) ..."

Elizabeth MacDonald ended the segment by saying: "I beg your pardon. There's a lot of speculation going on. We really don't know if we created a petro-terrorist state right now in Iraq. That war isn't ended. The thing of it is - what's gonna kill us is - people who tolerate intolerance and bureaucrats like those who are stymieing the FBI, who are trying to bust up terror plots worldwide."

MacDonald has been a consistent supporter of the "kill them before they kill us" school of international diplomacy.

Which is rather ironic considering that, last week it was revealed that she spent some time working with Mother Teresa. Apparently, Mother's lessons of peace, non-violence, love and respect for the poor fell on deaf ears.