Daily Archives: June 5, 2010

Helen Thomas Apologizes

Helen Thomas has been an iconic figure in the White House for over four decades.  However, her status does not negate the fact that she, a journalist, made a cold and frankly, horrible comment against Israelis.  The video of the comment is positioned below this HuffPo report.

Huffington Post

Longtime White House scribe Helen Thomas caused more than a few eyebrows to perk up when video surfaced on Friday of her declaring that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and go back to Germany and Poland.

Captured by Rabbi David Nesenoff of RabbiLive.com, the footage made the rounds on mostly conservative and neoconservative sites, with some private complaints that her comments weren’t getting wider play.

Thomas on Friday apologized in a written statement, saying she deeply regretted the comments — which were offered, ironically, during the White House’s Jewish Heritage Celebration.

But even as she was trying to walk back the remarks, calls for her firing mounted. Among the more vocal was former Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who claimed to have a close relationship with Thomas when he was manning the daily briefings.

“She should lose her job over this,” Fleischer said in an email. “As someone who is Jewish, and as someone who worked with her and used to like her, I find this appalling.”

“She is advocating religious cleansing. How can Hearst stand by her? If a journalist, or a columnist, said the same thing about blacks or Hispanics, they would already have lost their jobs.”

A longtime fixture of the White House press room, Thomas hasn’t exactly hid her politics on the Middle East conflict. The day after Israeli Defense Forces stormed the flotilla, she pressed spokesman Robert Gibbs as to how the administration could stand by the blockade of Gaza and the broader treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government. A good faction of political and foreign policy observers found the line of inquiry refreshing.

The comments that surfaced on Friday were far less filtered than the quite-pointed questions she’s offered in the briefing — enough so that they’ve spurred earnest conversation as to whether she should be given a pass because of the historic perch she’s held as the longest serving White House correspondent or whether it’s time for her to leave that perch.

Here is the clip of Thomas:

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Israel Boards Gaza-Bound Ship

Washington Post

JERUSALEM – Israeli forces seized a Gaza-bound aid vessel swiftly and without meeting resistance on Saturday, preventing it from breaking a naval blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory days after a similar effort turned bloody. GAZ807

Israel has faced mounting international pressure to lift the blockade since Monday’s deadly confrontation aboard a Turkish aid vessel headed for Gaza. But it stood by the embargo – which it says is needed to prevent the Islamic militant group from getting weapons – even as the Obama administration called the current restrictions “unsustainable.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the blockade in remarks following the takeover, saying it was meant to keep weapons out of the hands of the Iranian-backed Hamas and he would “not allow the establishment of an Iranian port in Gaza.”

The 1,200-ton Rachel Corrie, which was carrying 11 pro-Palestinian activists, nine crew and hundreds of tons of aid, was intercepted in international waters, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) from Gaza’s shore and was being escorted to the nearby Israeli port of Ashdod, the military said.

The military said Saturday’s takeover began at 12:15 p.m. Israeli time (0900GMT) and took just minutes.

Footage provided by the Israeli military showed three small navy vessels pulling up to the Rachel Corrie. In a second segment, footage from an Israeli aircraft hovering about the cargo ship showed the activists sitting down in the middle of the top deck.

Military spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich said the ship’s captain had gathered the passengers in one area of the vessel, presumably to avoid violence. She said commandos clambered onto the boat by sea, instead of descending from helicopters as occurred on Monday when nine activists were killed.

Communications to the Rachel Corrie had been cut earlier in the day, so satellite phones weren’t operating during the takeover and activists weren’t reachable. Israeli warships had tailed the boat since early morning, determined not to let it reach Gaza despite the international outrage over Monday’s deadly raid.

Greta Berlin, a spokeswoman for the Free Gaza group that organized the trip, described the takeover as “another outrage to add to the nine murdered” and denied Israeli claims that troops had been invited aboard.

Berlin, who spoke from the group’s Cyprus office, said her organization would send more ships to Gaza, and that it has been contacted by four captains volunteering for the next mission.

The Rachel Corrie, whose passenger list included Nobel peace laureate Mairead Corrigan, had hoped to breach a 3-year blockade that has plunged Gaza’s 1.5 million residents deeper into poverty. But activists on board the Irish boat had insisted they would not resist if Israeli soldiers tried to take over their vessel.

The Israeli navy established radio contact with the vessel four times, before boarding it, and urged it to sail to Ashdod instead of Gaza, the military said. Israel has offered to inspect the cargo and send items permitted under its blockade to Gaza overland.   Continue Reading…

 

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Richard Wolffe: Obama Knew the Spill Was Hopeless

The Daily Beast

As the president visits the Gulf anew, Richard Wolffe reports that he was first briefed in April on how bad the spill would be. Plus: the real reason the White House is so mad at Carville—and why Obama would rather talk about the economy.

Critics have bashed President Obama for being slow to seize the political initiative in combating the BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast, now widely believed to be the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. The White House has battled back, releasing a timeline of events showing that Obama was briefed—and deploying the Coast Guard—within 24 hours of the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

What has not been previously disclosed: The president was not only briefed on the real-time events of the spill, but also on just how bad it would be—and how hard it would be to plug the hole.

Carol Browner, director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, told Obama at one of the earliest briefings in late April that the blowout would likely lead to an unprecedented environmental disaster, senior White House aides told The Daily Beast. Browner warned that capping a well at such depths had never been done before, and that they ought to expect an oil spill that would continue until a relief well was drilled in August, the aide said. That early briefing on the scope of the spill—and enormous technical challenges involved in fixing it—might help explain the sense of fatalism that has infused Obama’s team from the start.

Little that has happened since has changed their mind-set. Now six weeks later, the president’s top advisers expect the oil spill—and the negative stories—to continue through August.

The fact that Team Obama was warned of the extent of the disaster so early on suggests that White House officials were aware of the environmental challenge long before they decided to demonstrate concern via presidential visits to the Gulf.

When asked about the prospects for the new cap fitted over the leaking well earlier this week, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs voiced little optimism. “I’m long out of the prediction business on this,” he told reporters on Air Force One on Friday. “Everyone is hopeful that this works.” His comments were echoed by Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the national incident commander for the BP spill—who warned reporters against “over-optimism.”

Given the lack of technical capabilities on the sea floor, there’s not much the White House can do to plug the hole. And there are limited options for effectively preventing the oil from reaching large stretches of coastline. Instead, Obama’s team is focusing on the options at their immediate disposal—methods of news management and presidential communication.     Continue Reading…

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Stewart Slams Glenn Beck For Lying About Flotilla Raid Footage (VIDEO)

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Beck’s New Book Club Pick: Nazi Sympathizer Who Praised Hitler And Denounced The Allies

Media Matters

On his radio show today, Glenn Beck heralded and promoted the work of Nazi sympathizer Elizabeth Dilling, who spoke at rallies hosted by the leading American Nazi group and praised Hitler. Today, Dilling is heralded by White Supremacists and White Aryans who revere her “fearless” work against Jewish people.

As Media Matters’ Simon Maloy noted, Beck had kind words for Dilling’s 1934 anti-communist book, The Red Network, saying: “This is a book — and I’m a getting a ton of these — from people who were doing what we’re doing now. We now are documenting who all of these people are. Well, there were Americans in the first 50 years of this nation that took this seriously, and they documented it.” Maloy noted that Dilling has a long history of rabid anti-Semitism, such as calling President Eisenhower “Ike the Kike” and labeling President Kennedy’s New Frontier program the “Jew frontier.”

Professor Glen Jeansonne and writer David Luhrssen note in the encyclopedia Women and War that Dilling wasn’t only anti-Semitic, but a sympathizer and supporter of the Nazis and Hitler:

When World War II began in 1939, Dilling was part of the national network of anti-Semitics, anti-Communists, and Nazi sympathizers such as Father Charles Coughlin, Reverend Gerald L. K. Smith, Reverend Gerald Winrod, and William Dudley Pelley. Material generated by Nazi organizations in Germany to inspire race hated and exploit dissatisfaction in the United States found its way into Dilling’s publications. She spoke at rallies hosted by the leading U.S. Nazi organization, the German-American Bund, and had traveled to Germany, pronouncing the country as flourishing under Hitler.

Dilling called for appeasing Germany; she blamed the war on Jews and Communists and accused the Roosevelt administration of being controlled by Jewish Communists. … After Pearl Harbor, Dilling resisted wartime rationing and denounced the Allies.

So Dilling “spoke at rallies hosted by the leading U.S. Nazi organization, the German-American Bund.” Who’s the German-American Bund? Let Glenn Beck, Elizabeth Dilling fan, tell you:

BECK: The Bund gathered socially and ran Nazi camps. The camps were advertised as summer retreats where you could escape the city, celebrate German heritage, dance, drink, at places like Camp Nordlund in New Jersey and Camp Siegfried in Long Island. The camps hidden as pro-German/pro- American were attended by adults and families.

On the outside, they looked like any other camp. But the children were indoctrinated in the ideals of Nazism, breeding young Americans to become full-fledged Nazis. They marched, performed drills in Nazi uniforms. And they were taught about their racial superiority, their potential as Aryan youth.

As media scrutiny of the Bund increase, so did anti-Nazi protests, including other Americans who hated the Nazi image and Jewish-American veterans. Instead of quieting down, Bund leader Fritz Kuhn decided to hold the largest rally in their history, Madison Square Garden. These American Nazis showed their true colors, beating a Jewish protester who rushed the stage. Kuhn and other speeches were nothing more than anti-Semitic rants wrapped in the American flag protected by the First Amendment. [Glenn Beck, March 11]

British Professors Christopher Partridge and Ron Geaves wrote that Dilling was a “pro-Nazi anti-Semite” who disseminated Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. The ADL describes Protocols as “a classic in paranoid, racist literature. Taken by the gullible as the confidential minutes of a Jewish conclave convened in the last years of the nineteenth century, it has been heralded by anti-Semites as proof that Jews are plotting to take over the world.”

Dilling’s Nazi sympathies have made her a cult hero among Aryan groups and White Nationalists/Supremacists. For instance, the group Women for Aryan Unity features Dilling in a publication whose purpose is “to honour Aryan Women past and Present.” Women for Aryan Unity writes of Dilling:

She visited the Soviet Union in 1931, where she found impoverished people, diseased and ill dressed. She saw genocide. Barely clothed children, begging. Half empty stores. The houses were dingy; roads were cracked and badly kept. She saw state-run orphanages and abortion was rampant. The women of the Soviet Union were suffering badly; the government was raising harassment, grueling work, and their children. What Elizabeth was witnessing was the aftermath of Communism. The Soviet Jews had torn down Russian churches. But she was no pacifist – she believed it was time to fight the infidels.

She decided then to acquire as much knowledge about Communism as she can, and use it as her weapon to fight it. She spoke to large audiences, and did extensive research on Communism and the Jew. She wrote excerpts exposing the Communists in the U.S. The lady was not afraid, and worked endlessly for years to expose the followers of Communism. She spoke on the radio, and met with men such as Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, Charles Hudson, and others who helped support her cause.

[...]

Many positive words come to mind as a description for such an admirable woman, but I believe the gentleman she met in the dining room of that small Denver hotel used the best word. The gentleman was University of Illinois Professor, Dr. Revilo Oliver, and it was there, paying no mind to anyone else present, she mouthed her famous words at her friend, “Do I see an anti-Semite?” The word he used to describe Mrs. Dilling? Fearless. My sentiments exactly.

Infamous racist David Duke, meanwhile, excerpts Dilling’s work on his website and states that as a 16-year old, he “found a book called The Jewish Religion: Its Influence Today by Elizabeth Dilling.” Stormfront.org, which describes itself as a “community of White Nationalists,” features numerous posts in its forum praising Dilling. “The Official Website of The Knights Party, USA” lists Dilling as one of its “Important Christian Women in History” and praises her for “Knowing the Jewish roots of Communism.”

Jeansonne and Luhrssen conclude their summary of Dilling by writing that she “had long been dismissed as a crank before her death in 1966.” And now half-a-century after her death, Dilling has found a new audience thanks to Glenn Beck.

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Bush’s Glib Waterboarding Admission Sparks Outrage

Why hasn’t Bush and Cheney been arrested for this horrendous policy, while all the while telling the American people and the world: “The United States does not torture”?

Huffington Post

George W. Bush’s casual acknowledgment Wednesday that he had Khalid Sheikh Mohammed waterboarded – and would do it again — has horrified some former military and intelligence officials who argue that the former president doesn’t seem to understand the gravity of what he is admitting.

Waterboarding, a form of controlled drowning, is “unequivocably torture”, said retired Brigadier General David R. Irvine, a former strategic intelligence officer who taught prisoner of war interrogation and military law for 18 years.

“As a nation, we have historically prosecuted it as such, going back to the time of the Spanish-American War,” Irvine said. “Moreover, it cannot be demonstrated that any use of waterboarding by U.S. personnel in recent years has saved a single American life.”

Irvine told the Huffington Post that Bush doesn’t appreciate how much harm his countenancing of torture has done to his country.

“Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,” Bush told a Grand Rapids audience Wednesday, of the self-professed 9/11 mastermind. “I’d do it again to save lives.”

But, Irvine said: “When he decided to do it the first time, he launched the nation down a disastrous road, and we will continue to pay dearly for the damage his decision has caused.

“We are seen by the rest of the world as having abandoned our commitment to international law. We have forfeited enormous amounts of moral leadership as the world’s sole remaining superpower. And it puts American troops in greater danger — and unnecessary danger.”

James P. Cullen, a retired brigadier general in the United States Army Reserve Judge Advocate General’s Corps, told HuffPost that the net effect of Bush’s remarks — and former Vice President Cheney’s before him — is “to establish a precedent where it will be permissible to our enemies to use waterboarding on our servicemen in future wars.

Cheney famously once agreed with an interviewer that “a dunk in the water” was “no-brainer” if it saves lives.

“This is not the last war we’re going to fight,” Cullen said. “Americans not yet born are going to be prisoners of war in those conflicts. And our enemies are going to be able to point back to President Bush and Vice President Cheney saying that waterboarding is OK.

“It’s just shocking to me how he can be so flip about something that is so serious,” Cullen said.

Matthew Alexander, the pseudonymous former Air Force interrogator and author of “How To Break A Terrorist” e-mailed HuffPost that Bush’s statement “is de facto approval of the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of American soldiers in Iraq who were killed by foreign fighters that Al Qaida recruited based on the President’s policy of torture and abuse of detainees.

“At least now we know where the blame for those soldiers’ deaths squarely belongs. President Bush’s decision broke with a military tradition dating back to General George Washington during the Revolutionary War and the consequences are clear: Al Qaida is stronger and our country is less safe.”

Cullen and Irvine are among 15 former military and intelligence officials currently working with Human Rights First in Pennsylvania, meeting with congressional candidates from both parties to help inform them about issues of prisoner treatment and interrogation.

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