Monday, September 20, 2004

Hyman & the Distortions

In his most recent “Short Takes,” Hyman says that former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright suggested earlier this year that Osama bin Laden had been captured and the Bush administration was waiting until the election season to announce that he was in custody.

First, the episode in question happened at the end of 2003, not earlier this year; Hyman is never terribly careful with the facts [thanks to our undercover Sinclair contact for pointing out this particular episode of slovenliness on Hyman’s part].

Second, the remark in question was a tongue in cheek comment made informally in the green room of the Fox News studios (which, admittedly, is not the place to be unguarded in your rhetoric if you’re a former member of a Democratic administration). Fox News spinner Mort Kondracke reported this comment far and wide as a serious allegation made by Albright, and it was subsequently picked up by Newsmax, Free Republic, and other right-wing sources as an actual story.

In fact, Fox News itself
reported the comments as evidence of a “conspiracy” mentality among Democrats, and cited as additional evidence “several” statements by Howard Dean that Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks before they happened.

Of course, this is utterly bogus. It’s been a favorite canard of right wing blatherers that Dean suggested Bush knew about 9/11 in advance. In fact, he said that nutty theories such as the notion Bush knew about 9/11 beforehand were unfortunately made more plausible by the administration’s secrecy, particularly the redaction of information about Saudi Arabia from 9/11 intelligence reports.

And this is also what’s behind Albright’s comments. She was exaggerating (however slightly) the reality of the Bush administration’s manipulation of 9/11 and the “War on Terror” for political gain. Any number of commentators have noted that spikes in the “Alert Status” seem to come at opportune moments for the Bush administration, and that announcements of “progress” in finding al Qaeda members also appear at felicitous points in time (e.g., the Democratic National Convention).

Add to this the über manipulation of the Bush administration: the rhetorical linking of Iraq to 9/11 as a pretext for a war they already wanted to fight, and Albright’s point becomes crystal clear: this administration has squandered any benefit of the doubt it had on being honest and forthcoming about the war on terror. The continual exploitation of 9/11 and invoking of blind patriotism as a way of distracting the electorate from the abysmal record of the administration is shameful and tired.

And that’s The Counterpoint.


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