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“Who’s Doing The Terrorizing?”: Lindsey Graham Pulls A Page Straight Out Of The Bush-Cheney Playbook

Apparently on Friday, before Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was apprehended, Sen. Lindsey Graham was already torquing up the hysteria by taking the position that Tsarnaev not receive his Miranda warning before being interrogated. Graham–who, not to imply anything from this, is one of those lucky men who can go into any barbershop and the get the exact look he wants simply by saying, “I’d like the Adolf Hitler haircut”–tweeted “If captured I hope [the] Administration will at least consider holding the Boston suspect as [an] enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes.” He then added “The last thing we may want to do is read Boston suspect Miranda Rights telling him to ‘remain silent.'”

The Brothers Tsarnaev will never be known as anything but terrorists, but Boston certainly doesn’t look like a town that has been terrorized to me. Defiant? Sure. Inspired? Definitely. There’s a kind of a civic euphoria arising from the realization that town came through this blow with strength and intelligence and courage. From the first responders on Monday, to the individuals who opened their homes to stranded runners, to the full-throated expression of patriotism that infused the way Bruins fans sang the national anthem, to an exemplary performance by the law enforcement authorities, Boston has a lot to be proud of. They don’t look terrorized to me.

It’s the Lindsey Grahams who are terrorizing people by suggesting that this threat maybe might possibly be so enormous that we have to deny Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his rights as an American citizen. This is a page straight out of the Bush-Cheney playbook, the idea that we have to start throwing away our most important values and traditions in order to be secure.

It’s nonsense. Denying Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his rights won’t improve my safety. Let’s face it: if I really wanted to improve my safety, I would lose twenty pounds.

By: Jamie Malanowski, Washington Monthly Political Animal, April 21, 2013

April 22, 2013 Posted by | Boston Marathon Bombings | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Scary Cruz Control”: Republican Leaders Don’t Know How To Control The Monster They’ve Created

Is there nobody who can tell Ted Cruz to shut up?

The young senator from Texas has been on the job for about 100 days, but he has already turned the Senate’s ancient seniority system upside down and is dominating his senior Republican colleagues. He’s speaking for them on immigration, guns and any other topic that tickles his fancy; Republican leaders are seething at being outshone yet are terrified of challenging him.

Consider his news conference this week to promote the Republican alternative to gun control. With Cruz on the stage in the Senate TV studio: the bill’s primary author, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a 32-year Senate veteran and longtime chairman or ranking member of the finance and judiciary committees; Lindsey Graham of South Carolina (10 years in the Senate and eight in the House); and Dan Coats of Indiana (12 years in the Senate and eight in the House).

But Cruz took over the lectern and refused to relinquish it. He spoke 2,924 words for the cameras, more than Grassley (904), Graham (1,376) and Coats (360) — combined. Factoring in his dramatic pauses to convey sincerity and deep thought, Cruz’s dominance was even more lopsided. The others shifted uncomfortably and looked awkwardly around the room. At one point, Graham requested a chance to speak. “Can I?” he asked Cruz.

Cruz is 42, the same age Joe McCarthy was when he amassed power in the Senate with his allegations of communist infiltration. Tail-gunner Ted debuted in the Senate this year with the insinuation that Chuck Hagel, now the defense secretary, may have been on the payroll of the North Koreans. Cruz also wrote in Politico that “Hagel’s nomination has been publicly celebrated by the Iranian government.” He later alleged that Democrats had told the Catholic Church to “change your religious beliefs or we’ll use our power in the federal government to shut down your charities and your hospitals.”

Now Cruz is turning his incendiary allegations against fellow Republicans. On immigration, he has described as amnesty the compromise that Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and three other Republicans negotiated with Democrats. Cruz said such a plan would make “a chump” of legal immigrants. On guns, he said the background checks Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) negotiated in a bipartisan compromise would lead to a national gun registry — an outcome the doomed proposal explicitly prohibited.

Democrats see a potential bogeyman in Cruz because of his outrageous pronouncements, and reporters love his inflammatory quotes. Republican leaders, however, don’t know how to control this monster they created.

GOP lawmakers encouraged the rise of the tea party, which now dominates Republican primaries and threatens the same leaders who nurtured it. Cruz’s fellow Texan, John Cornyn, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, could face a primary challenge next year and therefore can’t afford to cross Cruz, who beat an establishment Republican in the 2012 primary. Likewise, the Senate GOP leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, is up for reelection and has to keep on the good side of tea party favorites such as Sen. Rand Paul, also of Kentucky, and Cruz.

I’ve argued before that Cruz is more cunning than ideological. He’s Ivy League-educated and a skilled debater who has perfected a look of faux earnestness that suggests his every pronouncement is the most important oration since Gettysburg. Cruz has correctly calculated that the way to power among Senate Republicans is through attention-grabbing accusations.

On immigration, his Latino credentials have helped him undermine Rubio’s bipartisanship. When Rubio made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows April 14, he was confronted with Cruz’s criticism by both NBC’s David Gregory and ABC’s Jon Karl.

On guns, Cruz’s high profile required Grassley to give the upstart a premium chunk of floor time for his trademark falsehoods. Cruz claimed that his bill was the “result of multiple hearings in the Judiciary Committee.” (It was never brought before the panel.) He claimed the opposing legislation would extend “background checks to private transactions between private individuals.” (The bill applied to only advertised sales.) Off the floor, he made the patently false claim that the “so-called ‘gun show loophole’ ” doesn’t exist.

If Republicans are willing to look the other way when Cruz assaults the facts, they may find it increasingly grating to endure his assaults on their dignity. At their news conference on guns, Grassley was made to stand silently for half an hour while Cruz gave an eight-minute opening statement (more than twice the length of Grassley’s) and fielded six questions before yielding to his senior colleague. “I’m just going to say one thing,” Grassley said, “and then I’m going to have to go.”

By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 19, 2013

April 22, 2013 Posted by | Republicans, Senate | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Elected Official Edition”: Lindsey Graham Presents The Worst Response To Boston So Far

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-The Worst) has some helpful suggestions for the Obama administration and, I guess, the thousands of FBI agents and police officers currently searching for Boston Marathon bomb suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, in case any of them follow him on Twitter: Don’t read Tsarnaev his rights, if you catch him alive, because terror:

  The last thing we may want to do is read Boston suspect Miranda Rights telling him to “remain silent.”

— Lindsey Graham (@GrahamBlog) April 19, 2013

If captured, I hope Administration will at least consider holding the Boston suspect as enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes.

— Lindsey Graham (@GrahamBlog) April 19, 2013

If the #Boston suspect has ties to overseas terror organizations he could be treasure trove ofinformation.

— Lindsey Graham (@GrahamBlog) April 19, 2013

Graham wasn’t done, telling the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin (sigh): “This is Exhibit A of why the homeland is the battlefield.”

That is just the worst, dumbest, least helpful, wonderful (and totally predictable) response to a terror attack, Senator Graham. Making America “the battlefield” is sort of the point of terrorism (well, the point is also “killing Americans” and often “somehow causing America’s foreign policy to change in a way that is actually the opposite of the way that terrorism always makes America’s foreign policy change” but most terrorists aren’t great strategic thinkers, that is why they fucking bomb civilians).

So Tzarnaev is an American citizen, and while he may be a terrorist, terrorism is a crime. In America, when we arrest people for crimes we are required to inform the criminals that they have certain rights under the Constitution — the Constitution is this old list of rules that people like Sen. Lindsey Graham claim to revere — and we do this not just to make the criminal justice process fairer but also so that prosecutions don’t fall apart because of police misconduct.

This “don’t read terrorists their rights” line is weird nonsense even if you do think “terrorism” is a magical word that turns crime into super-crime-where-the-Constitution-doesn’t-count. Tsarnaev may be doing poorly in college, but he’s presumably watched enough television that if police tell him his rights he will not be surprised to hear them.

Anyway, Graham doesn’t even have to worry because the Supreme Court and the Justice Department have already basically rolled back Miranda to the point where once you say “terror” you basically only have to read someone their rights if you feel like it.)

Graham also told Rubin that it would be “nice to have a drone up there” because yeah what is impeding this investigation so far is that no one has access to any airborne cameras. IF ONLY WE HAD AIRBORNE CAMERAS.

This will remain the dumbest response to this week’s chaos until John McCain urges war with Russia and/or Liz Cheney urges war on Chechnya.

By: Alex Pareene, Salon, April 19, 2013

April 22, 2013 Posted by | Boston Marathon Bombings, Constitution | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Nativist Vigilantism”: The Media And The “Dark-Skinned” Men From Chechnya

Jake Tapper had been up all night covering the manhunt in Boston for CNN, so maybe that explains why he seemed to rush to judgment when he said of the bombing suspects: “It certainly seems these two are Islamic terrorists.”

“Yes, but those are two separate words,” Juliette Kayyem, a CNN contributor and former homeland security official, reminded Tapper. Technically, literally, he’s not inaccurate: The two brothers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, who died in a shootout with police last night, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who is apparently cornered by police as I post this, are Muslim and allegedly are terrorists. But all morning long, Kayyem had been cautioning viewers and fellow journalists not to jump to conclusions (as CNN’s John King so infamously did two days ago when he wrongly reported that a “dark-skinned male” had been arrested in connection with the bombing.) “The fact that they’re from Chechnya,” Kayyem said, “is not a motivation.”

The big question, of course, is what was the motivation. But even before the FBI made the Tsarnaevs’ photos public yesterday, and well before we knew their names or background (they’re from a region in Russia next to Chechnya, actually, and have lived in Boston about 10 years), we all have been trying to answer why by placing the two men somewhere on a racial, ethnic, religious, and ideological spectrum.

Media coverage is fraught with that tension: Were they “self-radicalized” and acting on their own or were they part of a larger network? Were they praying to Allah or praising Jesus? Was their nefariousness domestic- or international-based? (The word international keeps popping up superfluously: Fox & Friends’ Gretchen Carlson remarked that “they saw their photos on international television.” Well, unless they were watching CNN International, they saw themselves on good ol’ American TV, like Fox News.)

In other words, were they the kind of white Christian Americans that society has a hard time calling terrorists, or were they the kind of foreign-looking, “dark-skinned” suspects that we have a hard time not calling terrorists?

Much of the media today have been careful not to assign motivations, at least not yet. As Savannah Guthrie said, “There are facts that cut both ways.”

She, Kayyem, and other reporters, including a few on Fox, have laid out reasons that the two suspects might not be big-time Islamic terrorists: No one claimed responsibility for the carnage, as jihadist groups tend to; if they were part of a politically radical network, they probably wouldn’t have been so stupid as to rob a 7/11; high-school friends describe the younger brother as a normal teenager who partied, drank, and smoked.

The estimable Richard Engle of NBC allowed that while they could have been acting alone, there’s a good chance they’re connected to a militant group, specifically, he said, the Islamic Jihadist Union, which is “an Al Qaeda faction for all the non-Arabic speakers.”

An uncle of the two, Raslan Tsarni, surrounded by a mob of reporters outside his Maryland home, fervently denied any political motivations. “What I think was behind it: Being losers, hatred to those who were able to settle themselves,” Tsarni said. “These are the only reasons I can imagine of. Anything else, anything else to do with religion, with Islam, is a fake.”

If he’d suspected anything, he’d be first to turn them in, he added. They brought shame on the family and “shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity.”

One reporter asked a question that, I thought, brought embarrassment to his profession. Reminiscent of how the political establishment demands that Obama say the magic word “terrorist” or else lose patriotism points, the reporter asked Tsarni point blank: What do you think of America?

“I respect this country. I love this country,” he said. “This country, which gives chance to everybody else to be treated as a human being. That’s what I feel about this country.”

Right after the marathon, the right tried to make it seem as if Muslims, preferably the Arab kind, had practically planned the attack on “Obamaphones.” When a Saudi man was mistakenly identified as a person of interest, Glenn Beck and some rightwing blogs spun a conspiracy story in which the U.S. swiftly deported the man because Obama wanted “to cover up Saudi Arabian and Al Qaeda ties to the attack.”

Then, the New York Post stooped to phone-hacking levels by publishing a cover photo of two young men, one of them a Moroccan-American high-school athlete, who were simply watching the marathon, under the headline “BAG MEN.”

It was in hopes of avoiding just this sort of nativist vigilantism that Salon’s David Sirota wrote a piece titled Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American.” It was still before we had any idea of who they were, when he added:

I hoped (though certainly never assumed) the Boston bomber ends up being a white non-Muslim American because in a country where white people are never collectively profiled, surveilled or targeted by law enforcement, that would best guarantee a measured — rather than a hysterical, civil-liberties-trampling — reaction to the atrocity. For this, I was lambasted by everyone from Rush Limbaugh to Bill O’Reilly to their thousands of followers for being “race obsessed” (O’Reilly, in fact, took a step into straight-up slander by subsequently claiming that I am hoping Americans kill other Americans in terrorist attacks).

I, too, hoped the bomber was a non-Muslim white American. Last night, after the shootout, a taped loop showed a young blond man lying on the street, with his arms splayed out, surrounded by police with drawn weapons. We don’t know who he was, and he may have been an innocent bystander. But for a moment, I actually hoped that the “white cap” guy in the FBI photos was wearing a dark wig and that underneath he was a blond “domestic terrorist” trying to frame Muslims.

Yesterday, after the FBI put out their photos but before we knew the suspects’ names or background, a lot of people didn’t know what to make of them: Were they white, Muslim, Italian, what? Erin Burnett sounded authentically perplexed, saying, “These two kids look like they’re very, very from here.” Most people figured them for college students, which in fact they were.

Now that they’ve been ID’ed, that relatively innocent moment is gone. We know they’re Chechen, and Chechen is not something we’ve processed racially. Or as The Onion put it: “Majority Of Americans Not Informed Enough To Stereotype Chechens.”

Unfortunately, in the end, what will matter most to our national political narrative is that they’re both Muslim and terrorists. “Islamic terrorists.”

 

By: Leslie Savan, The Nation, April 19, 2013

April 22, 2013 Posted by | Boston Marathon Bombings | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Paranoid And Ethically Challenged”: Boston And The Right-Wing Media’s Collapse

Prefacing his comments by insisting he knows “how foreign affairs work,” Glenn Beck on April 18 announced that his website, The Blaze, was breaking news about the Boston Marathon bombing: A Saudi national student on a student visa and was “absolutely involved” in the Patriot’s Day blast was being deported by the U.S. government for security reasons.

Beck went further, claiming the student, or “dirt bag,” as the host described him, was “possibly the ringleader” in the bombing that killed three people and injured more than one hundred, and the government was deliberately covering it up.

Beck urged listeners to spread the breaking news via Twitter and Facebook because, he warned, the mainstream media would ignore the revelation. But the right-wing media would pick up the slack. Fox News’ Sean Hannity helped launch the story on April 17 and continued to fan it yesterday, claiming the student had previously “been involved with a terrorist or terror activity,” while a swarm of right-wing sites pushed the paranoid tale.

By making his wild allegations, Beck was asking listeners to ignore the fact that law enforcement officials had previously, and repeatedly, denied earlier right-wing media claims that the Saudi student had been taken into “custody,” or was in any way responsible for the blast.

Indeed, officials at Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security both soundly denied the story, explaining that there were two different Saudi nationals: one recovering in a Boston hospital who had witnessed and been injured in the explosions but was not a suspect, and another in ICE custody who was unrelated to the bombing investigation. Beck responded by calling for President Obama to be impeached for what he considered the sprawling government cover-up that now surrounded the student, Saudi Arabia and Al Qaeda.

So yeah, it was that kind of week for the right-wing media. It was a debacle.

In the same week that Pulitzer prizes were announced honoring the finest in American journalism, many in the far-right media worked to set news standards in mindless, awful behavior in the wake of the Boston attack.

Faced with covering the most important American terror news story in a decade, too many players opted to just make stuff up. Prompting witch hunts, they cast innocents as would-be killers and then couldn’t be bothered with apologies.

It was a memorable week in which the conservative media’s highest profile newspaper, Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, seemed committed to getting as many stories wrong about the Boston attack as possible.

The hapless Post somehow managed to completely botch the simplest Journalism 101 fact of how many people were killed in the Patriot’s Day attack. But hey, according to beleaguered Post editor Col Allan the Post tried its best and that’s all that really matters. (It would’ve taken a “crystal ball” to get the story right, Allan now complains.) So no, there doesn’t appear to be much introspection unfolding inside Murdoch’s daily; a big-city tabloid that managed to get wrong, for days, a breaking crime story.

Yes, CNN this week was forced to concede mistakes when it reported sources had informed the news channel that arrests had been made in the case. But CNN quickly, and publicly, corrected the errors. Those unfortunate miscues happen when reporters let a be-first mindset trump the more important be-right standard. What we saw from portions of the far-right press this week however, was completely different; they almost couldn’t have gotten more stories if they had tried.

Of course Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham used the terror attacks to push her partisan agenda about immigration reform. (This, before she knew anything about the suspects.) Of course chronic Obama critics like Fox News host Oliver North attacked the president for traveling to Boston to attend a prayer service for the terror victims; to try to help comfort the rattled city. And of course Fox News couldn’t wait more than five minutes after that prayer service concluded before inviting Stephen Hayes on to criticize Obama for how he’d handled the issue of gun legislation.

That’s what anti-Obama programming looks like and Fox News saw little reason to alter that chronically caustic approach this week.

What was truly stunning though, as highlighted by irresponsible rants about the Saudi student, was the aggressive push by key conservative media players to simply concoct stories about the breaking news event.

Back to Beck:

I believe this is possibly the ringleader, this guy is absolutely involved, and we are flying this dirt bag out of the country because he has connections and we are covering up.

Keep in mind, this was after unethical right-wing bloggers had already harassed the Saudi bombing victim online, publishing his name, home address, and what they claimed were Facebook pictures of the 20-year-old Saudi national student. The same student police had cleared of any implication in the blast. (His only crime this week appeared to be his Saudi origin.)

And who led the early crusade against the bomb victim? Murdoch’s New York Post, which erroneously reported he was a “suspect” who had been taken “into custody.”

The same Post, of course, which then made headlines by irresponsibly splashing on its front page a photo of two local men at the marathon finish line, one a high school runner, and putting them under the headline “Bag Men,” strongly suggesting they were involved with the terror attack. They were not. But that didn’t stop ethically-challenged blogger Jim Hoft from referring to them six times in one report as “suspects” in the deadly blast.

“Grossly irresponsible” and “egregious” were some of the descriptions media pro’s used to explain the Post’s shocking performance this week. As one journalism professor told Media Matters, “It does appear that the Post, there is something crazy going on there.”

Trust me, it’s not just the Post.

 

By: Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America, April 19, 2013

April 22, 2013 Posted by | Right Wing | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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