Jun
20
2011

Meet the Press–But Skip the Libya Debate

There is growing Congressional opposition to the Libya war. Two House votes this month sought to challenge the White House policy– one of which passed by a wide margin. On Saturday (6/18/11) Charlie Savage reported in the New York Times that the Office of Legal Counsel's advice to Obama was that he needed to comply with the War Powers Act. Obama rejected their advice, which as Savage reported is "extraordinarily rare." Congress will be taking up more Libya debates this week, with a potential vote scheduled to stop the funding of the war. And the recent Republican presidential debate showed […]

Jun
10
2011

Anonymous NATO: We Don't Know Who Bombed That Tent

From the L.A. Times (6/9/11): A tattered tent, shreds of carpet and other scorched debris were all that were left of a favored retreat of Moammar Gadhafi just outside the Libyan capital, the aftermath of what appeared to be a NATO bombing run. Was the usually idyllic nature preserve a "command and control" center used by the Libyan military? Or was this an example of NATO attempting to assassinate the longtime Libyan dictator? A NATO official reached in Naples, Italy, late Wednesday emphasized that the Western alliance does not target people for killings, and the official would not confirm that […]

Jun
09
2011

Libya's Lousy PR

One theme of the coverage of the NATO bombing of Libya is that the Libyan government is lousy at propaganda. It was somewhat jarring, though, to see all of these headlines in the space of two days this week. It's worth pointing out– as some of these stories (and others) do– that the NATO bombing has intensified over the past few days, making these 'no dead civilians here' pieces seem curiously timed. I guess this could be seen as a message to the Libyan government: This is how the professionals do it. New York Times (6/7/11): "Libya Stokes Its Machine […]

May
31
2011

Some Muslims Like Us! The Lighter Side of the Libya War

New York Times reporter Rod Nordland (5/29/11) gave readers a lighter look at the war in Libya from rebel-controlled Benghazi. Some versions of the story were actually headlined, "In Benghazi, Warmth for West Doesn't Come from Burning Flags"–which pretty well captures the tone of the piece. Nordland observes: Americans and, for that matter, all Westerners are treated hereabouts with a warmth and gratitude rarely seen in any Muslim country–even those with 100,000 American troops–in probably half a century or more. I'm not sure there's a reliable survey of Muslim hospitality, but the idea that even Iraqis or Afghans aren't fond […]

May
31
2011

George Will: All Over the Map on the War Powers Act

On Sunday George Will wrote a strong Washington Post column about Obama, the Libya War and the law: In a bipartisan cascade of hypocrisies, a liberal president, with the collaborative silence of most congressional conservatives, is traducing the War Powers Resolution. Enacted in 1973 over President Nixon's veto, the WPR may or may not be wise. It is, however, unquestionably a law, and Barack Obama certainly is violating it. "Liberals are situational ethicists regarding presidential warmaking," Will explained, going on to suggest that George W. Bush would have been treated much differently than Obama. And Will had harsh words for […]

May
10
2011

The Shifting Standard for Indiscriminate Killing

I was struck by the contrast between two passages I came across recently: Misurata's population is roughly 400,000. In nearly two months of war, only 257 people–including combatants–have died there. Of the 949 wounded, only 22–less than 3 percent–are women. If Gadhafi were indiscriminately targeting civilians, women would comprise about half the casualties. –Alan J. Kuperman (Boston Globe, 4/14/11) In a report to be published in tomorrow's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers have concluded that air strikes [in Iraq] by U.S.-led coalition forces have killed mostly women and children. Thirty-nine percent were children, while 46 percent […]

Apr
27
2011

NYT Explains–But Doesn't Name–U.S. Terrorism

Today the New York Times describes the state of the war in Libya: WASHINGTON – NATO plans to step up attacks on the palaces, headquarters and communications centers that Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi uses to maintain his grip on power in Libya, according to Obama administration and allied officials. This "more energetic bombing campaign" included "a separate raid on Monday that temporarily knocked Libyan state television off the air." As the Times' Thom Shanker and David Sanger explain: Officials in Europe and Washington said the strikes were meant to reduce the Libyan government's ability to harm civilians by eliminating, link by […]

Apr
16
2011

Gadhafi's Cluster Bombs–and Uncle Sam's

"Gadhafi Troops Fire Cluster Bombs Into Civilian Areas," declares a New York Times headline (4/15/11). The lead of the story makes clear that these weapons are considered in many countries to be illegal: Military forces loyal to Col. Moammar el-Gadhafi have been firing into residential neighborhoods in this embattled city with heavy weapons, including cluster bombs that have been banned by much of the world. The story, by C.J. Chivers, goes on to explain why these weapons have been banned: These so-called indiscriminate weapons, which strike large areas with a dense succession of high-explosive munitions, by their nature cannot be […]

Apr
08
2011

NYT Calls for Protecting Libyan Civilians by Escalating War–Like in Fallujah

Afraid of NATO killing civilians in Libya? The New York Times editorial page (4/8/11) sees the way forwardby ramping up the war: There is a much better option: the American A-10 and AC-130 aircraft used earlier in the Libya fighting and still on standby status…. But no other country has aircraft comparable to Americaâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s A-10, which is known as the Warthog, designed to attack tanks and other armored vehicles, or to the AC-130 ground-attack gunship, which is ideally suited for carefully sorting out targets in populated areas. AC-130s were used frequently in the Iraq War, particularly in the bloody fight […]

Apr
05
2011

Maddow Wonders Why Libyan Journalists Aren't Being Targeted

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow had a discussion last week (3/31/11) about the U.S. role in the Libya War with Col. Jack Jacobs, an MSNBC military consultant. Jacobs described the U.S. military's "ability to jam communications that take place between units or among units of Gadhafi's army," then referred to the U.S.'s ability to jam electronic transmissions that occur when Gadhafi's army, ground forces try to fire at allied planes. The instant that a radar system is turned on on the ground, we can detect it and in very short order, send a precision-guided munition that follows the radar beam all the […]

Apr
04
2011

LAT Finds Anonymous White House Truth-Teller

A brave, truth-telling whistleblower has emerged to tell the White House's side of the story in the Libya War. The inside scoop appears in a Los Angeles Times article by Christi Parsons (4/2/11) headlined, "For Obama, a Carefully Calculated Delay on Justifying Libya Airstrikes." Are you confused by the White House's decision-making on Libya? Fear not–everything has gone according to plan. Like, for instance, the delay in public explaining the decision to bomb: The timing was deeply controversial, but was designed to be a major part of the message itself, unfolding as the U.S. chalked up a measure of achievement […]

Apr
01
2011

Nameless Sources Are the Custom at WashPost

The Washington Post's Greg Jaffe (4/1/11): Some of the United States' partners have acknowledged that the initial descriptions of the intervention in Libya no longer apply. "What is happening in Libya is not a no-fly zone," a senior European diplomat told reporters, speaking on the customary condition of anonymity. "The no-fly zone was a diplomatic thing, to get the Arabs on board. What we have in Libya is more than that." Is"customary" anonymity something like,"Now I can tell you the truth?" (In case you're curious, the Washington Post's official policy on anonymous sourcing is that "granting anonymity to a source […]

Mar
30
2011

NewsHour Not Changing Just Yet

FAIR's alert on the NewsHour's limited debate on Libya hasn't sparked any immediate changes at the program. From last night's broadcast: JUDY WOODRUFF: For more on Libya and the president's speech, we get the views of two senators. Rhode Island Democrat Jack Reed is on the Armed Services Committee. And Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson is on the Foreign Relations Committee. I spoke to them a short time ago. Senators, thank you very much for joining us, Sen. Reed and Sen. Isakson. Before I ask you about what President Obama said last night, Senator Isakson, just quickly, do you believe the […]