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Partisanship Trumps National Security On Hannity & Colmes Panel

Reported by Ellen - July 13, 2007 -

With the disturbing news that Al Qaeda has stepped up its efforts to sneak operatives into the United States, and a White House report stating that progress in Iraq has met only 8 out of 18 benchmarks, FOX News producers stacked the Hannity & Colmes panel with former Bush administration operatives for last night's "debate" about the war on terror on Hannity & Colmes. With video.

Just before the discussion, FOX News reporter Catherine Herridge gave audiences the bad news about an assessment from the National Counterterrorism Center, titled, "Al-Qaida Better Positioned to Strike the West." As the Washington Post reports, "It concludes that the group has significantly rebuilt itself despite concerted US attempts to smash the network."

That sounds like a stinging rebuke to the Bush administration’s efforts. But, not surprisingly to us, the harshest criticism in the discussion was reserved for Democrats.

Herridge’s report was immediately followed by a discussion that also included the news about the benchmarks in Iraq. The panel included former Coalition Provisional Authority official Dan Senor and former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer. There were no Democrats, no war critics, not even a neutral journalist on the panel.

Predictably, both experts wasted no time spinning the report in ways that suited the Bush Administration's purposes.

Senor called the news "disconcerting" but quickly threw focus on "other areas around the world" and warned against "a precipitous withdrawal" from Iraq.

Alan Colmes, noting that the Al Qaeda threat has strengthened along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, asked Fleischer if it isn't proof that the US should not have redirected resources away from that area into Iraq.

Fleischer said "the report doesn't say anything about that.” He must surely have known that an intelligence report would not likely criticize the president’s past efforts. As if that weren’t nervy enough, Fleischer had the audacity to claim that the report proves how “very successful" Bush has been in thwarting attacks.

Then Senor took it a step further. “Look, Alan, the important metric we need to be focused on right now is our capacity to intervene, to intercept, to gather information in advance of attacks and prevent them and the reality is that everything from the terrorist surveillance program, which is generating important intelligence to the kind of stuff our US Treasury Department has been organizing… but what we should be grateful for, is this administration has been pretty forward-leaning in keeping on top of these attacks as they're being planned and hopefully intercepting them.”

In other words, never mind the failures, let's keep on giving the Bush administration more power.

Sean Hannity, of course, used the occasion to praise the Bush administration. “There’s a lot of good news today,” he claimed. And he attacked Democrats who want to end the Iraq war as being “invested in defeat.” He declared grandiosely, “Through the prism of history, I have no doubt in my mind… that the president will be vindicated.”