The Sunday Morning Talk Shows - The Review
With Secretary Chertoff (and featuring Pat Leahy and Dick Lugar)
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Sunday, July 1, 2007
Secretary Chertoff was everywhere.
On ABC's This Week, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff warned of Europeans who train in Southeast Asia and return to Europe, either to attempt an attack their or to attempt one in the United States. On FNS, host Chris Wallace asked if the President would propose now an "enforcement first" measure for border security. Chertoff replied that the White House had proposed what it was going to propose; what happens next is up to Congress. On MTP, Russert asked Chertoff why the United States hasn't been hit with easy-to-make car bombs. Chertoff mentioned Oklahoma City and the Clinton WTC attack in '93. On LE, Chertoff said that we can't solve the immigration problem simply by building a really big fence, a la Duncan Hunter.
On MTP, Pat Leahy confronted the White House with "choosing confrontation over cooperation." He laughed off Fred Fielding's offer of cooperation by pointing out that Fielding had worked for Dick Nixon. And Leahy said that it will be difficult for a U.S. attorney not to prosecute the President for contempt of Congress once the resolution is voted out of Congress. He doesn't want to do it, he said, but the White House has to agree to submit to repeated public harassment from the Senate Judiciary Committee. He's doing this, he said, because the American people care a lot.
On TW, Joe Lieberman suggested that the United States emulate Britain in putting cameras everywhere to monitor people in order to detect terrorist activity. Steph wanted him to say that he'd support a Republican in '08, but Lieberman instead said that the Democrats were making a mistake by letting the party's extremist fringe choose its nominee.
On FNS, Air America boss Mark Green said that he does not support the Fairness Doctrine; rather, he wants the Federal Government to use its licensing power to end the dominance of conservative talk radio. Green holds that conservative talk radio is not winning in the market; rather, he says, the big corps who run the major broadcast networks are forcing the public to listen to conservative radio. Green expects Air America to become profitable earlier than did FOX. Radio talker Mike Gallagher was on hand to laugh at Green.
On FTN, Dick Lugar stated that he wants the President to get together with a bipartisan group from Congress to discuss diplomacy and a Murtha-Pelosi style "redeployment" of U.S. troops. Lugar said that General David Petraeus's September report should be ignored as irrelevant because the Iraqi government will not get its act together. Lugar maintained that he was not saying that the surge would not work; rather, he was saying that it would not achieve its goals. Lugar said something about Turkey invading Kurdistan.
The show-by-show review is beneath the fold…
CHERTOFF ON MTP. Tim Russert's first guest on NBC's Meet the Press was, of course, Secretary Chertoff. As this was early, he could not yet say definitively that there was any link to an international terrorist organization. And he saw no specific connection to any attacks in the United States. Russert asked if we would increase the number of Air Marshalls on flights to Europe to prevent terrorists getting there from here. Secretary Chertoff answered that we'd been doing this since last August but would increase it even more.
Chertoff reassured that there would be stepped up security measures, both visible and non-visible, for the Independence Day holiday week.
Russert posited that it was easy to make car bombs, so why hasn't the United States been hit? Chertoff mentioned Oklahoma City and the Clinton WTC attack in '93.
LEAHY ON MTP. Russert next talked to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, who seems to have been adequately brief by Chuck Schumer before the interview. Russert asked him about the subpoenas his committee had issued regarding the terrorist surveillance program and how critics would argue that he's jeopardizing national security by doing so. (Russert phrased the question in a much more mealy-mouthed manner, of course.) Leahy dismissed these concerns as White House talking points. He confronted White House with his charge that they were choosing "confrontation over cooperation."
Leahy wants to know how the White House justifies itself legally.
Leahy sneered that if the Bushies didn't like a comment Tim Russert made, they could tap his phone, examine his bank account, and strip him of all privacy – even if he had no contact with someone overseas.
Leahy said that because the White House's asserted legal justification for this is constantly changing, we (Schumer and Durbin) would like to find out what it is. They do not want to let Bush become another Nixon, wiretapping political enemies for thrills.
Russert asked Leahy what he meant last week when he accused the Administration of "Nixonian Stonewalling." Leahy declared that the White House thinks it is "above the law" and that no would should question their dictatorial mandates.
"In America, no one is above the law."
This attitude is unfortunate, Leahy argued, because "it taints everything else."
Leahy said that "nobody has confidence" in Alberto Gonzales and everyone is quitting the justice department.
Leahy had confronted the White House with his threat to use "THE FULL FORCE OF THE LAW" to force the White House to cooperate with him. Russert asked if there would be a Constitutional crisis, and Leahy said that he hoped not, but that the White House had chosen "confrontation rather than cooperation."
Russert asked if Leahy were prepared to hold the President and the Veep in Contempt of Congress. Leahy said that both the House and the Senate would have to vote on it, but he was ready to go that far "because this is important to the American people."
He accused the White House of "manipulating law enforcement" against Democrats.
Russert brought up White House Counsel Fred Fielding's letter to Leahy offering the specific types of cooperation that Leahy says he seeks. Leahy Chuckled that Fielding was a "clever lawyer" who had worked for Nixon. He said that what was offered by Fielding was too limited to sate his desires. He wants, he said, to drag Administration officials before the committee repeatedly and constantly.
Russert cited Orrin Hatch as pointing out that they'd be much further along in finding any impropriety if they'd "just sit down and talk to these people." Leahy said he's talked to Fielding but Fielding is stubborn and won't let him have it his way in perpetuity.
Leahy boasted that his hearings have been excerpted on Comedy Central.
He said that when Congress votes out a Contempt of Congress resolution, "it would be vary difficult" for a U.S. attorney not to prosecute the President on it. Then Leahy said that he was not trying to play gotcha.
He accused Chief Justice John Roberts of "cavalierly throwing aside Brown v. Board of Education".
And after all this, I almost wish I still drank.
SECRETARY MICHAEL CHERTOFF ON TW. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was all over the shows this morning, always the same shot with a serene flag over his right shoulder, and of as much not as any was his appearance with host George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week. He made clear that the saga in Britain, with the two bombs, was still unfolding. He stressed that the flow of specific information regarding the situation was in the hands of the British.
It is possible that this was a copycat operation, he said, and he told Steph that he doesn't like to apply labels like "amateurish" and "sophisticated" prematurely. How sophisticated would one think box cutters were as a terrorist tool, for instance? No matter what the label, he said, the danger was real.
He stressed his ongoing concern with Europeans who train in Afghanistan or the Sudan, etc., then return to Europe to attack or then leave Europe for the United States to attack.
He said that he wished "we had the tools left on the Senate floor," meaning what the Democrat Senate took when
JOE LIEBERMAN ON TW. Steph next spoke with Independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, after teasing that the Senator might support a Republican in '08 rather than one from his former party, the Democrats.
Lieberman said that the United States should emulate what the Brits have done in London, look into putting cameras all over our major cities to monitor what people are doing. He said that privacy was not a concern, as this would be for our national security. He said that this was "common sense."
On a less frightening front, Senator Lieberman said that the "surge is working" and there is reduced violence in al Anbar and in Baghdad. He said that "we have the enemy on the run," while others want us to run before we get the job done. He wants people to give our soldiers a chance and wait until September to examine the effects of the surge.
Lieberman said that we (coalition and Iraqis) control half of Baghdad and almost all of al Anbar, and we're working on Diyala now. He respects Dick Lugar and takes whatever Lugar says seriously, but Lieberman wants to give the troops until September. (Lugar declared the effort lost and demanded a change in strategy beginning this month.)
Lieberman said we have to look at Iraq in the larger context, intoning that a Middle Eastern diplomat said that the situation there now reminded him of that of Europe in the 1930s. If we don't win, Lieberman averred, Iran and al Qaeda will.
Steph asked Lieberman if he would endorse a Republican, and Lieberman did not answer directly. He said that the Democrats were selecting their candidate in the wrong manner, allowing the lunatic core to drive the nominating process and to select the nominee while ignoring the moderate middle where the majority of voters reside.
CHERTOFF ON FOX NEWS SUNDAY. First up on FOX News Sunday was Secretary Chertoff. He told host Chris Wallace that while the really big fence had "symbolic significance" to border protection; the problem was too complex to be solved by a really big fence. Wallace asked him if the White House would now propose that Congress pass "enforcement first." Chertoff said that it was up to Congress to pass what they'd wanted. The White House had proposed its immigration measure, and the ball was in the court of Congress.
Chertoff said that there was no specific, credible evidence that the Brit bomb plots would be followed by attempts in the United States. Wallace indicated that the Brits claimed a link with al Qaeda, and Chertoff noted that it's up to the British to release such information.
Wallace asked him about cries that Iraq is the new terrorist training ground. Chertoff said that they go to Southeast Asia for training, but he did allow that Iraq is a "laboratory for techniques" used by terrorists to wreak havoc.
FAIRNESS DOCTRINE ON FNS. Host Chris Wallace had on radio talker Mike Gallagher and Air America boss Mark Green to discuss the Fairness Doctrine, although they didn't. Green had evidently lied to the producers, telling them that he favored reimposition of the Fairness Doctrine. He doesn't. Green opposes censorship, he said, but he favors the use of the federal licensing process to mandate diversity.
Green rebutted arguments that conservative superiority in talk radio is market-driven, asserting instead that it is the companies who own the stations who make talk radio a conservative medium. He mentioned Major League Baseball owners refusing to employ black players.
You see where this one was going and went. Green was calm, articulate, and very delusional. Mike Gallagher talked over Green and laughed at what he said, which perhaps couldn't be helped. It was Wallace and Gallagher versus Green, but that couldn't be helped either. Green's ramblings were so at variance with reality that there was little anyone could do with it.
Although at one point, Green argued that the broadcast spectrum was "scarce," perhaps meaning finite, and Gallagher laughed that argument off. However, when one considers the broadcast spectrum as that only, it is limited to the available frequencies. However, this is not an argument, as Green maintained; that the government should determine what types of political speech should be presented.
Green said that he expects Air America to become profitable in fewer years than it took FOX. (I'm not sure if he meant the news channel, the broadcast network, or both.) Green and Wallace wished him good luck with that, clearly unconcerned. Who knows? Maybe they'll give Ned a show and it will become the next big sensation.
JOHN O'CONNOR ON FTN. Former Scotland Yard commander John O'Conner indicated that the London perpetrators were "disaffected young men," under the general umbrella of al Qaeda. They are Moslems.
O'Connor said that the "style of the bombs" in the London and the Glasgow bombs are similar, with both being similar to the roadside bombs in Iraq.
"In fact," he said, "the three attempts were bungled."
DICK LUGAR ON FTN.Schieffer next spoke with the New Maverick, Senator Dick Lugar, the Indiana Republican. Schieffer posited that what has happened in England "reminds us that the war on terror is about much more than only Iraq."
Schieffer asked if Britain were more vulnerable to terrorist attacks than were we, or less so? Lugar posited that these things have happened in European capitals with Moslem populations.
Lugar says he believes it is important for the President to get together with a bipartisan group in Congress to discuss diplomacy, Middle East security buttressed by American forces doing training and border security, and pulling back the majority of American troops to other places. (To his credit, Lugar did not suggest Okinawa.)
Lugar said that General Petraeus's report in September should be ignored because the Iraqi government will be unable to get its act together. He said that we're trying to provide security for all eighteen of Iraq's provinces and we cannot do this.
Lugar said that we need some troops there to "fortify" the diplomacy.
Lugar predicted that the Turks will invade Kurdistan and the United States will be in jeopardy.
Lugar said that he was not saying that the surge wouldn't work; rather, he was saying that it wouldn't buy the necessary time for the Iraqis to come to a political conclusion. He is saying, then, that it wouldn't work, even while he is saying that he is not saying it wouldn't work.
Schieffer asked him what his colleagues thought of his little scheme, and Lugar said that they were interested. He said that Jack Warner was interested but had his own little scheme. Lugar wants "something to come of this now" rather than "punting" it until September, when Petraeus would report some positive things and some negatives. (Has he seen the yet-to-be-drafted report? Yes, that is a rhetorical question.)
Lugar said that he hopes that the President is thinking more of diplomacy now, so that we don't "have one dog fight after another in a Presidential campaign."
Schieffer asked Lugar about Harry Reid's promise to add an amendment to the appropriations bill next month which would end the war. Reid doesn't approve of this, calling it a "feel good vote" for Democrats so that they can show something to their constituents.
I don't know if it were Senator Lugar, Schieffer and the format, or me, but this came across as babble. At least it was better than Mark Green discussing talk radio on FNS.
CHERTOFF ON LE. We had Jeffrey Toobin substituting for Wolf Blitzer on CNN's Late Edition, and his first guest was, of course, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. He said he's not certain if the British attacks were "al Qaeda central" or homegrown copycats. He had evidently talked to the Brits, whom he's letting control the flow of info on this matter, and verified that they'd mentioned al Qaeda. He told Toobin that they're always looking at this possibility of al Qaeda involvement.
Toobin quoted an article in News of the World by Sir John Stevens talking about linked cells in Britain linked to al Qaeda. Chertoff said that this problem was not limited to Europe, and he repeated that Europe is becoming a "platform" for such attacks and we have to more closely watch travel from Europe.
Toobin played a clip of Duncan Hunter criticizing Chertoff for not building as much of the really big fence as he'd like, of not protecting the boarder. Chertoff countered that they've arrested more people and put more high tech on the border. He argued that you can't solve the problem simply by building a fence, pointing out that they'd discovered a tunnel yesterday.
Toobin asked him to compare the days when he prosecuted the mafia to what he's doing now, and Chertoff said that the enemy is more dangerous now. He said that the mafia was a criminal problem while now we're engaged in a war.