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O'Reilly Guest Host Ingraham Omits Facts to Slam Obama and . . . Cheney Rules!

Reported by Ellen - May 23, 2009 -

Guest blogged by Julie

Bill, please quit doing this to us. Let Dennis Miller host. I'll listen to his jokes, I'll even pretend to find him funny and laugh once in a while. I promise. Just please, keep Laura Ingraham off your show.

It was not to be. On Thursday, May 21, 2009 Ingraham hosted The O'Reilly Factor, to misquote President Obama's speech, present half the facts, crow about Cheney's rebuttal, and, in her bitterness against President Obama, generally act like a jilted prom date. With video.

Ingraham began, “. . . President Obama tried today to quell the growing resistance to closing down Gitmo and relocating the terrorists that are held there. And rather than specifically spelling out how his policies have made us safer, the President devoted a big chunk of his speech to blaming the Bush Administration for what he called the 'mess' at Gitmo . . . he assailed the enhanced interrogation techniques that were used on three – count 'em, three – detainees.”

First of all, if I'm not mistaken, Ingraham's a lawyer. Even if it were only “three – count 'em, three,” what part of “broke the law three times” does she not get? And, in her zeal to paint President Obama as a petty blame-placer, Ingraham failed to mention that the President devoted about a third of his speech to outlining five clear steps to addressing the Gitmo detainees (beginning on page two of the 7-page transcript provided by Politico, and continuing through page four). In addition, although President Obama did indeed, appropriately, identify the ways in which our country veered off course in the past (the past being the Bush-Cheney Administration), his comments were simply a firm point of reference to highlight the new path going forward, not unnecessary attacks for vengeance's sake.

Cut to President Obama: “They [torture policies] alienate us in the world. They serve as a recruitment tool for terrorists and increase the will of our enemies to fight us. In short, they did not advance our war and counter-terrorism methods, they undermined them, and that is why I ended them once and for all.”

“Vice President Cheney delivered an immediate rebuttal,” Ingraham announced happily. Well, I'm a little foggy here, frankly, about why Fox News is continuing to give former VP Cheney a forum for attacking our President, why, in fact, anything he says is relevant. Second of all, his own Republican Party thinks he's wounding them. And yet Fox News allows him – along with, now, his dutiful daughter Liz – liberal access to its airwaves.

Cut to Cheney: “This 'recruitment tool' theory has become something of a mantra lately, including from the President himself. And after a familiar fashion, it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do . . . .”

“This is the sort of no-frills, razzle-dazzle-free rhetoric that comes from seven years of working in the trenches to keep America safe,” Ingraham declared. “And it may be, just might be, why since January Vice President Cheney's personal approval numbers are up 8 points – that's from a CNN poll, by the way.” Well, that's pretty much looking at the glass one-third full. Although it's true that Cheney's approval numbers have risen from a dismal 29% to 37%, according to a new CNN poll, 57% still disapprove of Cheney, as compared with President Obama's approval rating, holding steady in the mid-60's (not mentioned by Ingraham).

“The President as usual tried to appeal to all sides on the Gitmo issue and in so doing laid out a confusing, contradictory approach for handling the detainees . . . On the one hand, he said he wouldn't release individuals who endanger the American people. On the other hand, he said, we must recognize that 'detention policies cannot be unbounded.'”

Laura, Laura, Laura, what will it take to get some journalistic integrity? I'll jump in here and provide the REST of President Obama's statement – the part crack journalist Ingraham left out: “Let me repeat: I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people. Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture -- like other prisoners of war -- must be prevented from attacking us again. Having said that, we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. They can't be based simply on what I or the executive branch decide alone. That's why my administration has begun to reshape the standards that apply to ensure that they are in line with the rule of law. We must have clear, defensible, and lawful standards for those who fall into this category. We must have fair procedures so that we don't make mistakes. We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified.” (emphasis added)

Ingraham, of the hang-'em-now-ask-questions-later mentality (is she really a lawyer!?), said, “And by the way, what happens if a detainee . . . is somehow found not guilty? What if he gets off on a technicality? What then? Maybe he can be put on house arrest at Bill Ayers' pad at Hyde Park. Great idea. But never fear – President Obama said he's going to work with Congress to find an appropriate legal regime to deal with all of this. How reassuring. Harry and Nancy are on the case.” Well, Laur, the election is over and Obama won, so you guys have worn out the Ayers stuff. And hey, dig back into those dusty law books and see what you can learn. With just a little research I learned, and this according to FBI Director Robert Mueller, detainees under those circumstances would very likely be subject to FBI surveillance. Plus, Republican Lawrence B. Wilkerson, who served as former chief of staff to Colin Powell, says that many of the detainees at Gitmo are, in fact, innocent. They were rounded up “with no meaningful attempt to determine who we were transporting to Cuba for detention and interrogation.” As Fox News' own Alan Colmes wrote, “There is another reason for the United States to accept detainees here if they are determined to be innocent after a trial: We want other countries to take them as well. And we can’t be a beacon of freedom unless we’re willing to do what we’re asking our friends and allies to do.”

But Ingraham can't worry her pretty little head about pesky facts, trivialities like the law, or opposing viewpoints. As President Obama stated in his speech, reported by Politico, Ramzi Yousef tried to blow up the World Trade Center, was convicted in our courts and is serving a life sentence in U.S. prisons. Zacarias Moussaoui was identified as the 20th 9/11 hijacker, was convicted in our courts, and also is serving a life sentence in prison. “If we can try those terrorists in our courts and hold them in our prisons, then we can do the same with detainees from Guantanamo,” Obama insisted. Absent from Ingraham's Cheney-pushing, Obama-bashing agenda were any of these facts.

Ingraham continued her “Fair and Balanced – No Spin Zone” rant. “I ask you: Who knows more about keeping us safe? The FBI and Vice President Cheney or the ACLU and President Obama . . . ?” Ingraham seems to forget that at least one FBI agent, Ali Soufan, was in the thick of the harsh interrogation techniques, and states flatly that torture doesn't work. Read his courageous story here.

“ . . . a different point of view on this,” Ingraham announced. “With us now, Lanny Davis, a former White House special counsel, and Alicia Mendendez, a Democratic strategist . . . two perspectives from the left versus me. . . . what do you think the President accomplished today, Lanny?” Ingraham asked,.

“Well, he's focused on the need to balance between the rule of law – which is what has made our country great and is our real security – and the need to protect Americans from terrorists,” began Davis. Oh-oh, Laur, you're not gonna like this, get your mic-cutting finger ready. “Let's be clear about the facts here. There were two thirds of the 525 detainees in Guantanamo who were released under President Bush's and Vice President Cheney's administration. And even last October eleven were released because they were found not to have any basis to be held. There are 240 left and what he tried to do and analyze very carefully is the balance between the rule of law with, I would say, Mr. Cheney doesn't seem to be focused on, versus the need to protect America from terrorists.”

Ingraham argued, “ . . . He said that Gitmo is a mess . . . what facts justify the calling of Gitmo a mess? What facts, just tick off a few for me.”

Menendez weighed in by saying, “I think part of what we found, there have been these intelligence reports that have said that Al-Qaeda is using Gitmo as a tool to actually recruit more terrorists . . . I think that holding them there isn't necessarily in our best interests . . . and I also think that there's just a better way to do this.”

Ingraham returned to Davis, saying, “Lanny . . . one thing that I heard the President say today, and it was interesting when he said he doesn't want to do finger-pointing, doesn't want to look back, and so forth, but I was trying to count the number of references to the former administration, to President Bush and the former policies and so forth, so he's trying to have it both ways, no finger-pointing, no looking back, yet, hey look . . this is the mess these people created and their policies made us less safe, even though we had no attacks in seven years after 9/11.” But the one we did have, on 9/11, happened on Bush and Cheney's watch.

Davis replied, “Well . . . that two-thirds of the detainees in Guantanamo were released under George Bush is not finger-pointing, that's a fact. And Vice President Cheney doesn't mention that fact. Here's another fact . . . .”

“Well yeah,” Ingraham interrupted, “they shouldn't have been released probably, Lanny . . .”

“But why didn't Cheney, why didn't Cheney say . . . .” Davis argued, as Ingraham continued to talk over him.

Ingraham continued, “ . . . if you want me to defend that, I'm not gonna defend that . . . I have no idea but that doesn't mean we should follow down the road of other bad policy.”

Davis finally got a word in and pushed back. “If a man is innocent and the Bush Administration considers the detention to be without any basis they released them, and I didn't hear Cheney criticizing his release of two-thirds of the detainees. President Obama is trying to do a case by case analysis, those people who don't violate American laws – which waterboarding by the way does, a 1994 Congress made waterboarding a crime. Vice President Cheney forgets to mention that when he says he knew there was waterboarding and it only happened three times.”

Ingraham lamely offered, “Well, and Nancy Pelosi and Congress approved it . . . the Democrats on the Intelligence Committee never spoke out against waterboarding, okay? So this idea that this was all concocted by the Bush Administration and everybody else was in the dark about the fact that three, three, detainees were waterboarded, three, not 240, but three! Congress knew about it, Congress assented to this.” That's still in dispute, of course, with more members of Congress coming forward to confirm Pelosi's allegations, among them former Senator Bob Graham, and Representative David Obey.

Davis challenged, “But if we both agree that three is a violation of the law, three times directed by the Executive Branch of the government and briefed in Congress under classified conditions – if you don't see a distinction between the direction of violating the law . . . Cheney gives a speech today and says only three times did we waterboard . . . and by the way, it was waterboarding a lot more than three times . . . .”

“If your point Lanny – Lanny . . . ,” Ingraham interjected, “If it's your point that all of this was so obviously unlawful, then we have a lot of people on Capital Hill who are elected representatives who are supposed to uphold the Constitution who just don't know the law. So what's worse here?”

Weak Davis response, followed by a weaker Menendez response, fade to music, and Ingraham was triumphant and grateful she could once again present the gift of “No-bama” to Fox News, like a cat carrying home a dead mouse as a gift to its master.